Week 22.22

Singapore grappled with a potential poultry problem this week as Malaysia banned the export of chickens to protect its domestic market from rising prices. We get just about all our fresh chicken over the causeway, which leaves only frozen supplies (mainly from Brazil and Portugal, I think). Despite frozen chicken making up the vast majority of consumption today, people panicked and smash bought all the chilled chicken off supermarket shelves, some buying hundreds of dollars worth; I don’t know how they intend to eat it all either. The greatest threat is to our national dish of chicken rice, which seems hard if not impossible, to achieve with frozen fowl.

I did what had to be done and ate two large servings from my neighborhood chicken rice stall, all at once, as a farewell to our precious perfectly poached plucked poultry. I’d love to say that I’m now sick of it and won’t want any for a while, but honestly I could eat it Very Regularly if it wasn’t a terrible idea.

Went out for another drone flying session with my dad, no crashes this time. It was an extremely warm day, but I discovered that if you hover it above your head, the down thrust is just incredible, like a fresh breeze on a cliffside, and it cools you off in a minute. Are mini drones the best portable fans in existence? I think so!

The digital artist Tabor Robak launched his latest project, Colorspace, as an NFT series on Artblocks. I’ve been excited for this: they are tiny interactive, animated programs reminiscent of the 64K demo scene from the earlier days of PCs. Thematically they are matched to that era, simulating a desktop computer experience gone haywire, overtaken by swirling virus-like growths that break through the 2D plane and take over UI elements.

I got up in the middle of night to mint one, but all 600 went so quickly that my transaction failed. Thankfully they’re now on the secondary market for not much more. The NFT art scene still seems to favor static images closer to traditional art, which strikes me as missing the potential of this new format. I’ve mostly been collecting generative pieces that couldn’t exist traditionally: favoring those that are ephemeral, ever evolving, or at least in motion.

Drifting by Simon De Mai is one such project. By animating layers of simple geometric shapes over each other, and then adding cinematic lighting and shaders, it creates extremely cyberpunk scenes that can be read as anything from an endless descent down a megacorp’s elevator shaft, to a microscopic examination of advanced microchips.

The second season of Ghost In The Shell: Stand-alone Complex 2045 was released on Netflix, and I had to watch the recap movie they cut together from bits of Season 1 to remember what happened before. I think it came out before the pandemic! After that I binged the whole new thing over the weekend. In general agreement with the critics, it’s not quite classic GITS, but it’s still good to have something. S2 definitely of overall higher quality than S1.

I was getting a lot of Instagram ads for a game called Peridot and skipping over them without thinking… until… it dawned on me that this is Niantic’s new AR game which isn’t supposed to be out yet. Turns out Singapore is one of their guinea pig (ahem, soft launch) markets!

So I installed it and have been impressed by the leap forward that this is versus Pokémon Go’s AR mode. For one, it hasn’t made my phone too hot to hold. My creature also navigates the physical world very realistically with rock-steady positioning and impressive foreground occlusion (I have an iPhone 13 Pro so I assume LIDAR and ARKit are doing the work here). They’re also doing something neat with computer vision, so not only can the game tell the difference between grass, soil, sand, water, and other surfaces that your creature can dig into, but it also gives you tasks like “show your creature a dog or a cat” or “bring it to a tree trunk”, and will know when the camera is pointed at one.

It actually made me go out and take my new pet for a walk, and it ran ahead of me and beside me just like a dog would. When I brought it beside a body of water, it ran ahead and jumped in (complete with splashing animations). And this all ahead of what Apple’s going to show at WWDC. The AR glasses life is going to be something.

My WordPress.com plan for this site came up for renewal and I learnt that they recently changed up their pricing structure to be more expensive while giving fewer benefits, which has gotten the community a little upset. Thankfully, I’m able to keep my legacy premium plan and so I have.

But this is all indicative of the current sad state of the web. Blogging is not popular, and there are few good options left for anyone wanting to start publishing in their own corner of the net, away from social networks. WP probably needs to start making more money from their hosting business, and I’d still much rather pay them for it than run/rent my own server and muck around with the open-source version.

I’m still hopeful for some catalyst in the near future that will bring decentralized self-publishing back into the mainstream.

This is the last post of my sabbatical era. It’s been great! Going back to work is bittersweet. My next update will probably be brief.

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