Friday I drove a few km alongside the Moselle when I heard my compact camera yell from inside the glove box. It yelled 'stop right now!' and 'why do you even have me?' So I stopped, remembered why I have it and took this photo.
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Useless Memories (Part 3)
I'm helping a friend who is carering to a group of businesspeople at their company-organised yearly get-together. For him it's a gig he is hoping will become a regular thing and a relatively reliable income some day. For me it's mostly cleaning glasses between refills. For a while, that is all my friend and I were doing: cleaning, rinsing. We took turns. At one point this guy comes up to us to let us know that his drink tasted a bit like dishsoap. He was nice and really just wanted to let us know so we can be more careful in the future if necessary. I don't see a reason for him to lie or exagerate. And he was sure that's what the taste was. It makes sense, too. We were hurring a bit sometime because there weren't that many glasses, a residue of dishsoap would be invisible but ruin the taste of the drink. But, for some reason or not, I defaulted on "But I'm not aware of me or us doing anything wrong." I didn't quite put it into those words. But my hesitant reply must have conveyed that that was how I felt about the "unterstellung". My friend was (and still is, successfully) more customer-aware than me, thanked the guy and assured him that it won't happen again. Guy was happy, friend was mad (today I think at me; back then I thought at the guy). And my stupid non-committing and abweisende reply is what I think of nearly every time I wash any dishes by hand, which since my dishwasher broke a few years ago, is a lot. I don't think I will ever either get rid of that memory or figure out how remembering it might still help me.
I don't know what the more correct title of the movie is. Some call it Have Dreams Will Travel, some call it A West texas Children's Story and I don't know where either title was originally used.
It's about the adventure that Cassie and Ben have after she her parents die and his don't even notice that that he leaves without saying anything. It's also about trauma processing, communication in relationships (parental, friendships and romantic). That's what I see in it at least.
Cassie: I think it's time for us to leave.
Cassie: Look. Those two people who you live with. They're nice and everything, but-
Ben: My parents?
Cassie: Right. But from what I can tell, they don't really have anything to offer you and they certainly don't have a thing to offer me.
Ben: So, where're we goin'?
Cassie: Baltimore. I have an aunt and uncle there. I haven't seen them since I was five but from what I can remember they're both extremely hip.
The overly compressed sound (accoustically compressed, not in terms of saving storage) is so cinematic that it's auffallend ungewohnt for a movie made in this century. But it fits the overly grainly film-look and does a good job at creating this big-life-story vibe that dominates the whole movie. Like many dramas this movie has a recurring melody, creating a melodramatic yet optimistic mood.
The characters are so well defined at first that it almost came as a positive surprise that they both have deeper personalities. But I soon got used to the movie not becoming as comedic as I first thought it might be.
There is something about some of the dialogues that make them refreshing and simultaniously irregular for child characters and very fitting for these particular child characters.
Cassie: See, a real plan is more than just some pipe dream.
Ben: Pipe dream?
Cassie: A pipe dream is an unrealistic fantasy that deludes oneself into thinking that it's an actual plan. It's a very popular expression. I'm surprised you've never heard of it before.
Ben: I didn't say I'd never heard it.
Cassie: Anyway, a real plan is an actual goal that you believe in enough to create a set of circumstances. Which leads you to, and into, a plan. Comprende?
Ben: Where do you come up with this stuff? I mean, what part of your brain works so hard it makes you think and talk like that?
Cassie: My father was a professor with a very wide vocabulary and lots of unique ideas. When he wasn't teaching his students, he taught me.
Ben: So what does your mom do?
Cassie: She never did anything.
The last line of that quote may have a different meaning that I thought watching the movie for the first time.
The fact that I was surprised by the dramatic loss of Cassie's fasade may make me naive, but for me it just means that I got a non-obvious important change of the story route. And it's nice to get t a story told with a non-obvious route. Whether that's because you're tired, three, stupid, naive or because of excelent writing doesn't really matter. Other viewers may have been able to deduct more about Cassie than I early on, with her efforts to do things in grown-up ways. I didn't even know what Ben meant when he asked Cassie what she's hiding. That just created all the more potential to be sucked in by emotions to be discovered by my naive movie-drama graving brain.
Over time I think Ben proved that he is the more grown-up one in the relationship. Not by having a large vocabulary or a life plan, but by simply by adressing the issue he sees.
In the end, Ben makes his parents choose in a away what's more important for them to have - their passionate hobbies or their son - and decides for them at the same time. The result is the most glorious mixing of (fake) sad cry tears with (fake) happy cry tears I've seen in a mov- anywhere really.
I sort of expected this movie to end without any closure. It seemed like one of these movies. But not only did it have a closure for Ben's parents and a happy ending for his part of the story. It even has a happier ending above and after that, depicting the best possible futures Cassie and Ben could have perceived to have together. A utopic extra happy ending that I didn't see necessary. I keep saying that I'd like to see more movies without a happy ending. This one has two but also shows that a movie can still be as emotional and melodramatic as it is even with a double happy endling. Maybe they felt they needed to quickly tell how happy they both end up in the future so that no viewer with a similar life story or drama kills themselves after watching the movie.
I think it's interesting that AnnaSophia Robb (Cassie) isn't seen more in movies as an adult now. She has this sort of model face that men find so beautiful and she can act, I think. Maybe she's working more as a model. Cayden Boyd too. He looks like a model for a shaver commercial now. But he only had some small TV show roles in recent years. I haven't seen him in any other role. Maybe he sucks at acting.
It's been two months since I published a new version of SBWG (and therefore since I worked enough on it to make me feel that an increase in the version number may be justified). I hardly get around to working on it, lately. But when I do, I try to make some solid small steps towards the improvements I wish do be done to SBWG.
So, now there is a new version (0.10.11) but I haven't published it yet because before I do I want to test it a bit more when I'm not as fucking tired as I am right now. Writing this entry could actually be considered part of the testing that I still want to do. But as I said, I'm fucking tired right now. So I'll continue this entry another time.
Edit 2022-09-12: I did some tests with fake content offline and feel confident that I fixed more than I broke in this version. I'll add it to the project page soon.
Two long procrastinate areas that have been overdue to get fixed for a while now are permanent caching and parallelisation. For permanent caching, the bugs that I found are fixed. Aggressive caching with option `--cache` (`-C`) works and it certain groups can be selected (excluding others) for permanent caching. In my test this speeds up everyday web site re-generations by up to 100%. But it also means the user has to be aware of the cache files that persist after SBWG is done and will be used the next time. Changes to existing entries will not take effect without removing the relevant cache files. For parallelisation, the bugs that I found and that affect the generated HTML are fixed. I still consider parallel mode to be experimental. Sometimes messages on stdout are weird or cut off. But who used very verbose mode and looks at every message anyway? Parallelisation is functional and usable is what I mean to say. In my test on a Core i5 with 4 cores (8 threads) it speeds up everyday web site re-generation by around 380% with default settings. It depends a lot on how much of web site generation is generating thumbnails and other image sizes of file attachments or gallery images. Those aren't sped up that much because the CPU already is the bottleneck for those. HTML file generation profits more from having more parallel threads than CPU cores (or threads) running.
In this entry I'm probably going to not try hard enough to give enough context for a reader who doesn't know the MLP:FiM fandom. So I guess it's written for fans, especially people who know have attended GalaCon before. But I'll try to explain what I'm talking about at least a little bit where necessary. Or maybe I'm not going to go that far into details. We'll see.
After 2 years without a GalaCon in person (because of COVID), there finally was one last week in Ludwigsburg. When in 2019 it was officially announced that there will be one in 2020, I and others were happy to hear that GalaCon was not one of the My Little Pony fan conventions that quit because the fandom was finally shrinking after a surprising grouth since 2011. I always thought badly of the Bronycon organisers for ditching the project as soon as it seemed that it might not be an easy yearly money printing operation any more. GalaCon is different and I expect the foundation behind it to continue to organise events as long as there are people willing to organise them and some fans willing to attend them. But nobody planned with the pandemic of course. So, I and others were even happier that the plans for the next in-person convention weren't cancelled. As it has turned out, the fandom didn't shrink into a tiny puddle of half-heartedness, as it was predicted by some in 2019. GalaCon started out as the European MLP fan convention because not enough people thought it worthwhile to start conventions in their European countries at first. Since then, several other MLP conventions have been held and some of them became a yearly expectance. And now, years into the pandemic, there are more MLP convensions in Europe than ever before. It seems that the USA weren't guiding the trend in this case, contrary to what almost everybody expected. I'm not saying the fandom grew in the last three years. I think the opposite is likely true. But it sure is still thriving and lots of (not huge but worthwhile) in-person events are happening this year and are planned for next year. The fact that attendance at GalaCon 2022 wasn't much smaller than in other years may be because many wanted to have one last GalaCon and couldn't in the last two years. We'll see how it goes next year. I'll assume that there will be another one of them next year. By the way, it's not quite true that GalaCon didn't happen at all in Ludwigsburg in 2020 and 2021. A few people still came and met outside the Forum. In some cases because they couldn't cancel their travelling arrangements and hotel rooms, in other cases because they don't live too far away.
steeph at GalaCon 2022
I was, like at almost every GalaCon in Ludwigsburg, a venter, selling some of my engraved LED pictures. So I didn't take much time away from the vendor table during visiting hours. But as always, I still saw and met a lot of things, ponies and people. I didn't have an time to make new LED pictures in the last three years, since the last GalaCon. But I still had enough from earlier to fill the table.
I just accepted that it's not really interesting enough to describe everything that I saw, mention everybody that I talked with and explain everything that I learned. But here is a list of things determined somewhat noteworthy by me right now. I mean, I'll try to make it shorter. I don't know if I can. (Spoiler: I stopped trying too hard after just a few sentences. Who cares?)
Starting on Friday, there was https://www.princewhateverer.com/a DJ with a mobile set at the quare in front of the forum, playing mostly electronic music from the fandom that I know and like but also performing similar music. That meant that the cops this year also found a reason to interrupt already on Friday. Good cop calmed bad cop down and we agreed that the lack of a permit isn't for the live music isn't actually relevant because we were bothering nobody and that Rainbow Dash is cool.
There wasn't much time for setting up the table. I always take too long for that. But I had enough up when the doors opened to show what the table was about. I sold a few pictures over the two days, making just a bit more than I payed for tables, entry tickets, traveling and hotel, but not enough to pay for all materials. But I bought those years ago. So I'm just glad that I could visit GalaCon more or less for free again this year. From behind my table I also met a bunch of people, including some that I know but only ever meet at GalaCon. I had some nice conversations without leaving the table. And I liked every time somebody stopped just to tell me that they like my LED pictures.
As usual I missed all the panels, games and other sessions because somebody had to be at the table pretty much at all times and my helper couldn't be there all day either. But I took some minutes here and there to visit other tables. I was stunned by some of the art. I was happy to see old acquaintances who are also regularly vendors at GalaCon and I was glad to still find a very big variety of different fan-made merch and different art. A lot of stickers this time. But as usual not many t-shirts and I again didn't get one in my size. Except for the official con shirt. But those are always very cheap, don't last long but cost a lot of money. I did get a pile of used pony t-shirts, though. Zunt brought his private shirts as part of his final sell-out.
As always the first chalk drawings started to appear on Friday. On Saturday there were many more than ever before. There was no rain during the entire weekend. But that alone can't explain why there were so many more chalk drawings on Saturday than on any other GalaCon Saturday. And there were even more on Sunday. People continued and added pictures way into dawn. Some of these drawings are really stunning. But it's also interesting to watch them develop, to watch how they are made. The result may look kind of magical sometimes. But seeing how it's done reveals that it's learnable skill that creates that look. There are some pictures of some chark drawings attached. I made way more photos of them. This is just a selection of a few that I like for different reasons.
Prince Whateverer (YouTube, Bandcamp) was at the concert. I like his songs (lyrics, music, voice). Some of the songs he writes are so strong if you knwo the context or the inspiration for them. For some I don't really knwo what they are about. But those sound good, too. Too bad the sound at the concert wasn't mixed properly. Maybe it sounded right from the monitor speakers, I don't know. But it was pretty bad from right in front of the stage, except when you were standing right in front of of the tweeters. I enjoyed the performance anyway. We has a band now, which is great! I only saw him perform alone before, with the rest of the instruments as playback. I took the opportunity to get a CD and get it signed. If I had tried I probably could have had a chat and/or a beer with him later at the pub. But he had enough people around himself whenever I saw him. He probably wouldn't have enjoyed more fans talking at him. I'm just glad I got to talk to him for a minute before he left.
Blackened Blue (YouTube, Bandcamp), another metal musician from the UK who is in the MLP fandom, was great, too. I hadn't heard him before But his stuff is definitely worth checking out. Some good remixes of recent songs from The New Generation, among many original songs.
Zunt sold out and ended his side-business. If you don't know who Zunt is, well, it doesn't really matter to you. But Zunt has been well known for buying and selling pony merch from very early on in the fandom. He imported licensed and fan-made merch from the USA and traveled through Germany selling it at brony meetups and later also at GalaCon. At this year's GalaCon he sold the last of his stuff, including his tombola wheel and raffle box. People who know his role in the German brony community can imagine how I felt taking a symbolic photo of him selling his last plushie, and sitting behind his empty vendor table. I was glad to catch that little, sort of historical moment.
The were also two new vendors this year. I mean, there are usually new vendors every year. I don't keep track of everybody. But these two I'd like to mention. Thst one guy (apparently I didn't remember to write down his name) decorated glass jars with landscapes and pony figurines and they look really great. He didn't have his own table in the vendor hall, just part of somebody else'd table. I guess maybe this was the reason that they didn't sell that well. Because they really look amazing. There are a few pictures of his work below. And if I find a webpage to link to, I'll add the link here.
The other new vendor that I talked with wasn't officially a vendor. She tried to sell some MLP-themed bracelets outside the venue. She was sent away by staff before she could sell anything. When she tried again outside of the property ground that belongs to the venue, she apparently was threatened, or at least harshyl told to stop in order to not get into serious trouble. I don't know why anybody thought it necessary to tell her and her dad that selling things here without a permit would be illegal. A 7-year-old trying to make 2 bucks didn't hurt anybody ar all. I offered her to take half of one of my tables. But when we spoke on Sunday they had already given up because she was too intimidated.
One other vendor that I'd like to mention. I mean, there would be more with products and art worth presenting. But then I'd take several more weeks until I finish this entry, and that isn't my intention with this writeup. So, this painter of whom I have to loop up the name again (Yeah, this entry is still work in progress.) had this painting at her table. She had several very good painting. But this one stood out to me and made me stop at her table every time I passes it, whether I wanted to or had time to or not. There's a picture attached. It's not so much what this piece expresses, but rather how it speaks to me. The style, technique, but also the character, her expression and the setting. That's one of the few times I've seen a pony painting and thought "Now that real art!" There are lots and lots of really great drawings and paintings that came out of the brondydom. The MLP fandom of the last decate is kind of known for that. But only very few, less than a handful, stick out to me like this. I'm not an artist and I don't know art. So I won't try to describe the painting any further. It's the one of Fluttershy below in the attachments.
The Future Of The Fandom
Some people have voiced their negative or at least less optimistic outlook on the development of the fandom, especially in terms of size, at the last GalaCon in 2019. We were all glas back then that GalaCon wasn't one of the MLP fan conventiosn that announced plans of ending things. The future of the fandom is safe, I'm sure of that. It just couldn't keep growing, especially at the fast rate many bronies were used to. And after the 4th generation series ended, it's to be expected that people move on. Now, three years later, GalaCon still had a good amount of attendees. It wasn't the fullest the venue ever was during a GalaCon weekend. It was probably just right. Very diverse and enough visitors so you definitely couldn't talk to everybody in just two and a half days, but not so full that you couldn't calmly stroll through the halls at any time.
Sunday after closing I took some time to talk more to random people, about the show and its developments, the new generation, the fandom and its developments, other fan conventions and fan events and their development. It was so nice to meet those nice people again after a 2 year long hole of no events!
I thought I'd summarise what I gathered people think of the new generation and how they expect the fandom will develop. But I didn't make a survey or something and the conclusion may, in the end, not _really_ top what most people said on the topic even before season 9 of the G4 show ended: The fandom will shrink, but the core of the fandom will stay, and G5 will have to be good if Hasbro wants a sizeable fandom to continue to exist at all. The movie was promising. There is potential. The actual G5 show hasn't started yet. So it may use that potential and keep a good amount of bronies around. I'd like that. I hope it will be a show that I can enjoy watching. But I'm not sure whether that (for me) would be a show that's very much like the previous one, or one that takes standards (both storytelling and animation) to another level.
There are a bunch of photos with descriptions attached. Most of the photos aren't manually edited at all and most of the descriptions have typos (probably). I will probably reduce image resolution and increase JPEG compression to save space on the server. The JPEG files from my GRIII (the compact camera that I took to GalaCon) are huge.
Fred - Part 2 - The Case Lid And Cooling
In this entry I'll describe how Fred's components are air cooled.
So, after removing the fan wall and unplugging the two fans in the back of the case there was no active cooling left. That's good for reducing noise, but not enough cooling for the hard drives, the CPU and the SAS controller cards. Since the case is not mounted in a rack and nothing is placed on top of it, I decided to use the space in the case lid to place larger fans.
My idea was to replace the CPU cooler with a larger one that just fits into the case and have a fan above it suck out its hot air (also pulling in ait from the RAM modules next to the CPU socket). I fount a heat sink from Scythe called Iori (SCIOR-1000). Mounted on the socket there would be just enough space for a 15 mm fan above it. As it turns out though, the heat sink is large enough to cool the CPU passively and the RAM doesn't need any additional cooling, too. So the fan above it is not even plugged in.
The Extension Cards
Since the HBA and the RAID card that I'm using are designed for servers with a proper airflow, they need at least some additional cooling. Their heat sinks are quite small for the amount of heat they produce. But there was enough room above them to place a fan that sucks the hot ait directly from the extension card area out of the case. I was told these cards usually don't have any problems getting extremely hot. But I rather don't want to have them do their things for hours or days streight without any active cooling. Replacing their heat sinks with larger ones would only be a sufficiant option if there was room for much much larger heat sinks.
The Hard Drives
I don't want to have have hard drives run continuesly without any active cooling, especially when they are sitting in enclosures that don't allow for any aitflow without some amount of pressure. There is just no-where for the heat to go on its own in these tight drawers. I decided for three 140 mm fans that would neatly in a row behind the hard drive compartment and backplane. Since the motherboard isn't that large, there was nothing but a few cables in that area of the case. I've mounted an aluminium bar that I had lying around and tucked two pieces of flat plastic between this bar and the bar that originally held the fan wall at the bottom. That way, the air that is pressed in from above gets directed only into the hard drive compartment where it has no way to escape without passing the hard drives.
Unfortunately the room around the hard drives is so small that quite a lot of air preassure is needed to cool them as much as I wanted to. Running the fans at full speed all the time is hardly enough to keep them at a temperature that I deem acceptable. I tried to increase the cooling effect by sealing all the edges and other tiny spaces where some air could escape without cooling the hard drives. But this didn't lead to a measurable difference. I ended up taking out two of the 16 hard drives to increase the size of the duct. I chose two drives in the centre so that there now is a large surface where the air cools the remaining drives. That lowered the temperatures of the surrounding drives a lot. The temperature of the drives at the edges was of course hardly effected. But those weren't the problem anyway.
I'll probably continue about the rest of the case mod in a followup entry.
Fred - Part 1 - Modding The Quiet Into A Server Rack Case
Fred is an old Supermicro rack server that I got as an attempt at building a NAS that replaces all the smaller NASs that I already had. But I like to collect stuff and it's never going to be enough. So it ended up being just another extension of my home network.
It's an old 3U Supermicro server case with 16 3.5" hard drive drawers, a good but not too bulky Asus motherboard and a nice low-power Intel CPU. I kept the motherboard, CPU and 32 GB ECC RAM. It's more than enough.
I wanted to do some mods on the case though to make it more comparible to my home and my visual taste in computer cases. In short, what I did was: Switch the PSU to a quieter one, build fans into the lid for quieter drive and card cooling, painted the case, switched the CPU cooler for passive cooling, added two HBA cards and 14 8 TB hard drives (two drawers left intentionally free).
I will tell about/may document these mods in more detail in separate entries.
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deth to rite speling!