TwitchCon 2018, pt 1

TwitchCon 2018

This is the first time that I have been simultaneously impressed and disappointed with a conference or a convention. TwitchCon 2018 did that, and did it hard.

Now, keep in mind that the attendees are able to attend. That means they were able to afford the ticket and whatever housing and travel that they weren’t able to acquire by other means. So, when I say that my preconceptions about most streamers were confirmed by the age range, behavior, and attitudes of the attendees, please understand that I’m speaking only of those with the means to attend.

The attendees were quite young, compared to me. There were exceptions to that rule, and I was pretty happy to see as many streaks and full heads of gray hair as I did. I wasn’t the only one there dealing with an arthritis flare-up. That said, the skew toward the younger brought with it a frenetic energy that I found myself needing regular breaks from.

On the other hand, no one in their right mind would scoff at or dismiss the amount of enthusiasm and passion that both streamers and community members brought to TwitchCon. We were all among our brethren, and whatever our reasons for doing it, the love of streaming was everywhere.

It’s not surprising to me that I was exhausted by the same thing that inspired me. I suppose that comes with age.

Pieces and parts

Pieces and parts

Power can be a problem. I don’t mean the kind where you have too much power, and you get corrupted six ways from Sunday. No, I mean the kind where you need electricity to flow to the pieces and parts in exactly the ways that they expect. And since we’re using consumer parts to build the project, these things aren’t easily modified. But, you know what? This is a problem that can be solved.

We just haven’t been able to solve it yet. The PC takes the majority of the power, which we expected, and the screen takes a comparatively minimal amount. I bought this specific screen model because I saw it powered by USB in this video. Unfortunately, it won’t pull enough power either from a power brick (same brand as the video, but different model) or from a USB cable plugged into a wall wart rated for more than enough juice. I’ve reached out to the maker of the video, but haven’t gotten a reply.

It’s worth noting that the difficulties we’ve run into have had me considering whether or not I should continue the project. And then, at one point, we had the screen on and connected to my laptop, mirroring the display. And, still, that little 10″ screen is beautiful. It’s so pretty. And with that, I was determined all over again to see this thing through to its conclusion.

If you have any ideas or expertise that you’d like to lend to the situation, please contact me with the details you’d need to help with the problem, and I’ll send them your way.

I don’t wanna upgrade.

You read that right. I will be very upset when my iPhone 6S gives up the ghost. I don’t want to change, despite my knowledge that it’s inevitable. Even with battery replacement, its life is finite. And I’m lamenting it now, even though it could be years away.

I grumbled about the non-expandable storage when I switched. I complained about the non-replacable battery (unless I wanted to void the warranty) when I switched. I wasn’t sure how I was going to like iOS and the closed nature of the apps, etc, etc. My 5S was a rock, though. It’s still in use, in the loving care of my brother-in-law. It just worked. Phone calls and text messages just worked. Like, reliably. All the time.

I didn’t have to root it and install an alternative OS just to make it do the thing. I was a convert. Not quite a proselytizer, but just shy.

And then came the iPhone 7. My wife got one, and I was not enthused. Removing the 3.5mm jack was a step too far. Now the only physical jack is Apple’s proprietary one. NO THANK YOU. And how long before that is gone? But, you know, that complaint is years old, right? Why post about this now?

Well, another positive of having an iPhone has been Apple’s attitude towards encrypting as much of the end user’s information as possible. In short, they’ve been heavily for it. But now, right around the time that the new iPhones were released (don’t get me started on offering the 8 and the X at the same time and the even more confusing new naming scheme and ARGH), Apple wants to use my phone and texting metadata for creating a trust score.

No! That’s a bad Apple! *thwacks with rolled-up newspaper*

And when I upgraded to iOS 12, I agreed to this in the EULA/ToS. Great.

Did I mention that the XR is US$1,700? No?

So, do I want to switch back to Android? Hell no. Alphabet/Google is way worse about how it treats your data. Even if I wanted a vanilla Android, I wouldn’t be able to get it with a 3.5mm jack, a replaceable battery, and expandable storage. That combination just isn’t a thing.

Or is it? Enter the Fairphone 2. It does all of these things. ALL of them. And it’s €529 (US$621)! Oh, and if I don’t want to deal with Alphabet/Google? It runs Ubuntu Touch. Which has been resurrected by UBports, and is once again in full and active development!

What’s the catch? Why am I afraid to upgrade if this sweet thing is out there? Well, it’s only sold in and shipped to Europe. The Fairphone 2 is not available in the States at all. Cue the sad trombone.

Maybe, just maybe, when my rock solid iPhone 6S finally dies, they’ll be available here. A Skippy can hope.

Tie Fighter LEGO Set

LEGO Tie Fighter in the box

When your wife takes the kids to the Lego Land store, and then asks you if you want anything, what do you say? You say yes, Ray!

There was an X-Wing, a Republic tank, Anakin’s fighter from Clone Wars, a Jakku jumper, and a bunch of others. They were all nice, but nothing was really jumping out at me. I whined offhandedly about really wanting a TIE fighter, and my lovely wife brought THIS gloriousness home for me.

Partially assembled LEGO Tie Fighter

Now, on its own, this toy is intrinsically cool. On top of that, I was at a snapping point with both home and work stress. Having something to build while I did other things was a near-perfect channel for all of that frustration and angst. I spent two days following the three sets of instructions, and only worried a little about the few extra parts left over. Apparently, that’s just a thing Lego does now.

Finished LEGO Tie Fighter

The level of detail and layered coloring struck me at every stage of the build process. I’m pretty sure that there are details that, if it remains intact, will never see the light of day. And, like Lego sets throughout the decades, this one had me questioning how it was going to end up looking like the picture on the box when all was said and done.

But, like all of them, it did. And I love it.