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Funny how once you become focused on a thing, you start to notice occurrences of it everywhere. This week, a bit of serendipity came in the form of this letter from Nick Disabato, talking about how he’s been learning to discard things, and being more intentional about the things he chooses to be part of his life. If you’ve been struggling with how to get rid of things, like I have, I highly encourage you to give that a read.

I’ve been trying really hard to make strides in discarding lately, so that letter gave me another boost of confidence that I’m heading in the right direction. We got rid of a ton of stuff two years ago when I moved my family from Maryland to Seattle (and I’m talking rent-a-dumpster levels of stuff), but as we unpacked, and ever since, I’ve been thinking that I still didn’t get rid of enough. As I recently wrote, that thinking has extended to my email as well. I have started to realize that the root of the problem is that I’m letting too many things into my life that serve no real purpose.

Just this weekend, I finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. While it is — like many self-help books — about a page
and a half of decent tips expanded to book form, there were three big takeaways for me:

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I had a conversation with my friend AAl on Twitter, regarding 2,051 emails in my inbox:

bobtiki-twitter-small It’s a stream from which I pluck the occasional tasty salmon. It’s not all Things I Have to Deal With.

aalgar-twitter-small So… it’s like The Den. Filled mostly with stuff you don’t need, but maybe one thing might be useful?

bobtiki-twitter-small oh god what have I done
 

At that moment, it hit me, what I was doing. The Den, as AAl and I have come to call it, is the personification of my clutter; a room in my house that is somehow possessed of a will of its own, compelling me to go out into the world and return with stuff with which to fill it.

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Hi! Sorry about that click-bait title. What one person can write an ultimate guide to anything, really? All I can do is tell you about my own experience, and some tools I find useful.

Have some other ideas to add? Hit me up on Twitter or Facebook, and maybe we can actually build an ultimate guide together, as we hold hands and drink Coca-Cola — with crazy straws from a beer hat, obviously, since our hands are busy.

Let’s get started!

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As my birthday gift this year, my good friend AAl took me to see Faith No More — which I think finally makes it all of the bands that I was really into in the 90s that I’ve now seen in person (with the exception of Curve, for whom I am no longer holding out hope that they’ll reunite and tour the US).

paramount0

Anyway, I got deafened in person by one of my favorite bands, got a killer sunburst T-shirt, and had a great time with a great friend. Can’t complain.

Useful Mac recently posted The Screenshot Spectacular, with all of the shortcuts and variations on taking a screenshot on the Mac. Very comprehensive and clear.

My favorite is ⌘⇧4 for taking a crosshair-bounded screenshot, and then pressing space to switch it to a cursor that captures whatever window is under the cursor when you click, and then (and I didn’t know this part before today), ⌥-click to capture the window without the big soft shadow around it.

Anyway, check out the whole post for even more screenshot tips-n-tricks. Thanks to Liz Marley and Joel Page for dropping screenshot knowledge.

I’ve applied to get a table in Artist Alley at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle next year, for my VFX podcast, The Optical. So, before I helped my good friends at AAlgar Productions pack up their table this year, I took some measurements. Assuming I get the table, I plan to have an overhead display clamped to the table, and bins underneath. If you’re doing something similar, here are some useful dimensions.

ECCC Artist Alley Table Dimensions

Here’s a scalable PDF of the same dimensions, all released for you to use under CC BY 4.0 (tl;dr — give me attribution, preferably with a link to this blog post, then use it however you like).

Comparison of Buffy original and widened HD looks.

This post on Facebook shows in great detail the disappointing issues with the new HD remaster of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Pivot TV, complete with side-by-side comparisons and video links. (All of the side-by-sides here on the blog are taken from that Facebook article. Thanks, mystery author!)

The questionable 16:9 cropping (or opening the frame up to see crew members and lighting rigs, as above) is bad enough, but the liberties they’re taking with Buffy’s HD color grades are ruining the aesthetic of the show.

Err… that bedroom looks dangerously sun-speckled, Angel.

Err… that bedroom looks dangerously sun-speckled, Angel.

Buffy has always been one of the darkest shows (in terms of luma levels) I’ve ever seen on TV. While I understand tiny tweaks to take advantage of the full color information and resolution of the new film scans (and the vast amount of information a Blu-ray can hold vs. the original Betacam master tapes1), brightening every dark scene makes it akin to going through a haunted house with the harsh fluorescents on overhead the entire time — It actually makes it feel more like a cheap soap opera. (And yes, at times Buffy is a soap opera, but at least it was a moody and atmospheric soap opera!)

That is one brightly-lit cave you have there, Master.

That is one brightly-lit cave you have there, Master.

The new effects aren’t terrible, and I can’t blame them for replacing those, assuming the effects were only ever finished at SD resolution to begin with — the same thing that had to happen for Star Trek: The Next Generation, when they remastered for HD. Kind of weird that the vampire dustings look more like smoke now, though:

…and it always bothered me a little that Buffy isn't holding a stake here.

…and it always bothered me a little that Buffy isn’t holding a stake here.

I’m not usually one to complain, “you’re ruining it!,” even about a beloved film or series like this, but it’s terribly sad to see Buffy being treated like this for the HD remaster. I hope the producers take a hint from the TNG Blu-rays and reassess their decision not to remaster the show in the 4:3 ratio as Joss Whedon and his crews originally intended. That Facebook post seems to hope that this is a “rough draft,” and that these issues will be corrected for an assumed eventual Blu-ray release, but I fear once these episodes are done, no one’s going to spend the money or take the time to do them yet again. Still, since only seasons 1 and 2 seems to have been done so far, fingers still crossed for season 3 and beyond!


  1. I’d assume it was Betacam SP, given the time in which it was made. Later seasons might have been DigiBeta — or even from the start, if Fox was very forward-thinking. However, from personal experience with the formats, and seeing the very soft resolution on the DVDs, I’m going to assume BetaSP for now.