Automatic Llama

Sorry I don't work here, but I'm happy to help anyway.

Low-resolution Experiments - Jan. 26 2021

Original image. Source photo by Raspopova Marina.
Commodore 64 resolution (320 × 200) and 16-color color table.
GameBoy (original) resolution (160 × 144) and four-color color table.

General Process

I used Adobe Photoshop, but the general process is the same in the open-source alternative GIMP:

  1. Choose the image and crop it so it suits the proportions of the reference display.

    For this project, I started with the above photo of, what else, a llama. I cropped it square so it would easily suit the proportions of any display.

  2. Change the image size, in pixels, so it matches the desired resolution.

    If you're trying to replicate how the image might look on a specific display, find its resolution and use that. The Commodore 64, for example, had a resolution of 320 × 200, so I resized this square image to be 200 × 200 so it would fit within the 320 × 200 display.

  3. Set the color mode to Indexed Color (the exact name might vary by tool but it should be something like this) and define the color table to match the color table used by the reference system. You can find the color tables used in most old computers on Wikipedia. That's where I found the color table for the C64 and the original Game Boy.

Still Winter - Jan. 20, 2021

The Sun's still far away. Being inside will have you looking inside. This isn't good or bad, nor is it interesting. How old was I when I realized that nobody wants to hear about anyone else's dreams? Too old.

A static shock when I touch the leg of my desk will wake my computer. This can't be good. I wonder what my computer dreams about? Probably files.

My friend bought an old electirc organ. Analog. It would let out a very faint hum, some combination of notes, when none of the keys were pressed. The soul of the machine.

Site Update - Jan. 19, 2021

Lest this homepage become too heavy, I've archived all of the 2020 "posts" on their own page, 2020 Archive. I added a link to this archive at the bottom of this homepage, which I suppose will continue to function as a kind of blog, now limited to the present year. Assuming this website continues for years to come, I'll add a new archive page and link for each year that passes.

I want to make my artwork more accessible. My output seems to fluctuate throughout the year, making art easy to miss during a "trough" period. When I browse other folks' sites and they have an "Art" link, I go right for it. Visitors to this site should be able to do the same, so I'll probably add my own Art page.

This has become a site about itself, but aren't all sites? "The medium is the message" and so on and what have you.

RAM Jam - Jan. 14, 2021

Every now and then I remind myself that I have a lot to learn about computers.

About two years after building my first PC, I decided it was time for more RAM. It was running just fine with two eight-gigabyte modules, but since I've been doing more with the Adobe creative suite, particularly InDesign, I figured 32 GB would be even better. So, I hopped on Newegg and got the same exact 2x8 set I've been running.

After installing the new modules, I powered on and was greeted by the dreaded blue screen of death. On my third attempt to restart the system, I managed to get to the Desktop, before it crashed again.

Troubleshooting mode engaged, I unplugged the system and removed the new modules. To my horror, it was still crashing on startup. It's one thing to get a bad new RAM module, but could I have somehow wrecked my old RAM installing the new ones? Even worse, could I have somehow wrecked the motherboard?

Now sweating, I restored Windows with only the original RAM modules installed. I crossed my fingers as I restarted the system yet again.

It worked and seemed to run just fine. Relief. I ran the Windows Memory Diagnostic test on the old modules. It found no errors, and the system's been running fine with the old modules since this all happened last night.

I haven't tried to install the new RAM again. I don't think I will until it's safe to run to Microcenter or Best Buy at a moment's notice.

My biggest concern now is that I may have done some tiny amount of damage that will cause some insidious instability problem days or weeks down the road when I'm in the middle of something important.

If you're going to work inside of machines, you have to stay calm and analytical about it. You have to take on every problem as a chance to learn more, even if you're forced to learn fast, in the middle of a once-in-a-century global pandemic.

So far, here's what I've learned in my post-installation-attempt Googling sessions:

I'll try again eventually. When I do, I'll make an effort to approach any issues as opportunities to learn more. Until then, I'll continue reciting my incantations over a cryptic medallion fashioned out of an old Pentium II chip hung on a thread made of old resistors to keep this rig running through the pandemic.

Jan. 6, 2021

I spent so much of last summer outside--walking, riding bikes--that the dark and quiet of Fall and Winter seemed to come down with more weight. There's also this crushing global pandemic, making those trips to the bar that remind us why we usually appreciate staying in impossible. But this hasn't stopped me from enjoying other kinds of activity.

Shiitake and I put out the second issue of Ear Rat Magazine last week. I had a blast doing the art directing and working with all of the great entries. Submissions are open for the next issue. The theme is "ripped off." Seeing what awesome stuff people cook up should keep me warm through these cold months.

I've also been getting back into eating Eggos and drinking coffee. That's kept me pretty busy.

Jan. 4, 2021

I just finished reading Neuromancer by William Gibson. I can't explain the plot or accurately describe Gibson's vision of the future, and yet I feel I get it.

This book will obviously require another read, and I'm excited for it!

Jan. 3, 2021

I've been playing a lot of Banished, a rustic city builder for PC. It's fun and inspiring to plan a little city with little buildings that all serve the needs of the people.

There is no currency in Banished, only resources, projects, and citizens. It's fun and inspiring to imagine a city that makes sense, a city whose success is measured by the health and happiness of its citizens.

You choose the buildings and their placements, and the builders build them. If you need stone, you plan a quarry and assign stonecutters.

Some jobs are more dangerous than others. Stonecutters, for example, are often crushed by rocks. I have not made peace with this. One of the many mods should allow you to assign safety inspectors.

2020 Archive