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Answering questions about PeerTube + Curated Playlists


Currently Feeling: groggy

nyan nyan nyannyan...

Currently Listening: My washing machine


PeerTube is a decentralized alternative to Youtube that does not (currently) support monetization, and is not controlled by a single entity, and also happens to be my current obsession. Although the official website goes over the basics of how to use it, the official documentation assumes something of a technical background and a lot of people remain confused. I know I had a number of questions that weren't answered by the website.

So I'm not going to write up a complete, comprehensive introduction to how to use PeerTube, because it seems you can find those on every blog on the internet. If you're looking for that, there's a good one written up on Medium here:

https://medium.com/we-distribute/getting-started-with-peertube-ec5dbf007058

But I am going to answer a few of the questions I had that I had to search around for, and hopefully this will help someone out there. Continue reading "Answering questions about PeerTube + Curated Playlists"

Vintage Computers in your browser


Currently Feeling: creative

nyan nyan nyannyan...

Currently Listening: Tingting ASMR


Ever wanted to play around with vintage computing, but don't have the time/money/space? I get you. I love old PCs and other gadgets, but I'm really pretty limited on space and what I can bring into my house. And in some cases, I just don't have the money or time to devote to keeping them in running condition.

Fortunately a lot of really great, smart folks have taken the time to emulate a variety of different systems and you can run them right in your browser! I love playing around with these things and using them to run programs. A few of them let you upload and download files to them, so you can run your own applications and download any files you've created. I really like playing around with the paint programs in these in particular.

https://system7.app/ - Emulates MacOS 7
https://macos8.app/ - Emulates MacOS 8
https://macos9.app/ - Emulates MacOS 9

These MacOS emulators are great, and even let you add and remove files from them. They even support networking! Unfortunately I've had some issues with them crashing after a little bit of use in my case (on Windows 10). Hopefully you'll have better luck than me.

https://archive.org/details/win95_in_dosbox - Windows 95, courtesy of archive.org
https://jamesfriend.com.au/pce-js/ - This is another MacOS 7 emulator, but also contains links to many others!
https://classicreload.com/Windows-1-01.html - Windows 1.01. It's got a lot of ads, though, and I couldn't find it hosted anywhere else yet.
https://classicreload.com/win3x-windows-31.html - From the same site. Turn your adblocker on!
http://retroweb.maclab.org/ - Little hard to use, but this one has several emulated systems
https://www.pcjs.org/ - More emulated systems. There are a TON here and they're lots of fun to play with!

Tiny Game Reviews: Toree 3D and Macbat 64


Currently Feeling: hungry

Lumpy Space Princess shocked Pikachu face!

Currently Listening: Suspect Podcast season 1


MacBat 64


Screenshot from MacBat 64's beach level

First up today I'll be talking about an adorable little game called MacBat 64. It’s clear from the start that the goal was to emulate the style of early Nintendo 64 games, and in that aim it succeeded very well! I mean, the whole thing gave me warm feelings while I was playing it, and I loved the character designs and fuzzy textures. The music nailed the style of Kirkhope’s old tunes, to the point where if I had heard them on their own, I would genuinely have wondered if they were outtakes from Banjo-Kazooie or its sequel.

As far as the gameplay goes, well it’s very simple. For me, this is not a problem, because I like chill experiences that are about more than just skill. As someone who makes games myself, I’m always interested in seeing how developers can keep gameplay fresh while only using a few tools--in this case, movement and jumping controls. There is no punch or attack, except for a few special sections, and I was impressed by how many different puzzles the levels were able to throw at me with only that set of tools.

There are a lot of easter eggs that you can find after you’ve completed the experience, which is about an hour long, maybe. It’s clear from all the little extras that there was a lot of affection put into this game, and I love to see it. After having enjoyed both this and the Toree 3D, which I’ll also be reviewing below, I’m officially a fan of this developer.

Overall Impression: Very cute! Fun and simple
Time to complete: About an hour, maybe more, but not much.
You'll like this if you like: Old Rareware games, nostalgia trips, simple platformers

This is from the vaporwave style level. Music on this one is awesome!
Woodsy level, featuring Kiwi!

Toree 3D


Screenshot from one of the city levels in Toree3D

Toree 3D is a cute little retro-styled platformer with very simple controls that can be completed in an afternoon. The style is cute and very reminiscent of games from the PSX era--maybe a little too cute if you’re not into bright graphics. You play as the titular Toree, a little yellow bird who can run quickly and jump, and you’ll be trying to collect all the little stars in every level in order to complete them. The levels are laid out in a way that makes me want to speedrun them, so although the game isn’t on rails, I kind of think of it as a runner game. There’s no story or anything, although some of the characters show up in more than one place, so…I guess there’s some kind of idea behind it? I don’t know, that part kind of confused me, but I enjoyed the game nonetheless.

I will say that the music, while good, doesn’t really match the game much. Since the game is pretty laid back, I would have preferred a soundtrack that was a bit less…boisterous. Not that the music is bad or anything, I just felt it didn’t match.

The game also has the ability to unlock a few characters (one of them is Macbat!), and you do this by meeting different challenges on every level--I think you either collect all the stars or try and complete them in a certain amount of time, although I haven’t unlocked everything yet so I can’t be sure. All in all, I really enjoyed my time with this game, and I’ll probably come back to it again in the future.

Overall Impression: A little “loud” visually and musically, but lots of fun
Time to complete: an afternoon, maybe more if you want to 100% it
You like this if you like: VERY BRIGHT COLORS, games like Bit.Trip Runner, low stakes gaming

Snowy level. He's got little earmuffs and a scarf!
This level makes me think of aircraft carriers.

Software Review: Christian Greeting Card Factory

Greeting card software is such a weird niche to me. I think partly it's generational—the act of giving greeting cards seems to be less common than it was, and more and more people (of all ages in my experience) are forgoing the act of including cards with gifts as time goes by. I think this is probably because we're more connected than we used to be. I suppose the act of using greeting cards grew from the practice of letter writing, and since that has mostly moved online, giving decorative cards seems out of touch and unnecessary, especially when we have better ways of sending each other pictures, sentiments, songs, video, etc. This is a shame in a way, because looking at greeting card art throughout the years is an interesting window into the styles and customs of the time.

That said, there's probably always going to be a card section in most stores, at least as long as gift cards remain popular and need to be shoved into something. I don't think most of us really fret over which ones we're going to buy as long as they match the sentiment we're going for, so buying dedicated software for making custom cards is going to be left to hard-core card senders only. And that of course leaves out all the folks who would simply use an online card maker, of which there are TONS. How many of you even purchase software anymore? The few necessities, like office products and the ever-growing Adobe suite, are all going subscription only, and have scaled-down free versions for people who don't need full functionality. I've purchased a few things myself for specific hobby needs, but I'm weird and I like retro stuff, so I don't think I'm a typical consumer.

So when one of my family members found the "Christian Greeting Card Factory" at a local thrift store for a whopping two dollars, we all giggled and marveled at the novelty of not only a dedicated software package for making cards, but a niche religious one at that! And of course I had to install and review it. So if you're interested in old software and kitschy clip art, click below! Continue reading "Software Review: Christian Greeting Card Factory"

Tiny game review: Self Checkout Unlimited


Currently Feeling: groggy

Spock & Jim OTP

Currently Listening: My cat demanding attention


Over the years I've accumulated a number of games over at Itch.io, some free, some paid, and some part of the many bundles they do. Since the site is geared toward indie developers and encourages users to post works in progress and experimental games, many of these aren't quite long enough to do a full review or web shrine like I have over at my Games page. But being short on play time doesn't mean you can't still create something meaningful or fun, so I figured I'd feature a few that I've played here, and maybe help people wade through the huge library Itch currently has and find something they like.

Today's entry is about a walking "abandoned mall" simulator called Self Checkout Unlimited. It's high on visuals and vibes, and low on difficulty. Very chill. Click through to read the whole thing and see screenshots!

Screenshot of the main concourse from Self Checkout Unlimited, featuring the fountain and escalators Continue reading "Tiny game review: Self Checkout Unlimited"

Aliexpress 1/3 Doll Review and Customziation


Currently Feeling: peaceful

All hail my Sailor Pluto icon

Currently Listening: Bluemind ASMR podcast


My newest doll project

Doll enthusiasts and collectors know that one of our favorite pastimes is scrolling through AliExpress to see what weird hybrids and cast-offs they have available for sale. This is how the doll community discovered the Catwalk Kitties and the Trashion Alley dolls, and many of us have discovered different brands after they’ve been ripped off or sold as extra stock through the site.

This is also how I discovered UCanaan/Doris dolls a while back, but not before I had purchased a “factory” doll under a generic name, covered with a few defects here and there but otherwise fine. This used to be the most commonly found doll body sold under the “BJD” label that wasn’t actually a resin BJD, but now they seem to be using Xinyi bodies, which are slightly different. There's been some discussion about these in the doll community and how they're all rip-offs of the original Night Lolita dolls, and how these companies keep getting bought out and/or changed. I'm pretty ambivalent about it myself when it comes to non-resin dolls, because I suspect these companies trade and sell things to each other behind the scenes, and business tends to work differently over there, and we'll never really figure out what belongs to who.

Anyway, I paid a grand total of around $20 for this girl out of curiosity and then threw her in my closet after looking her over, because I didn’t particularly feel inspired by her at the time. I don't like to start work on a doll until I have a clear idea of what I'm aiming for, because I feel I run the risk of not liking the end result. Under the cut, I'll talk a bit more about my process and what I finally decided to do with this one.
Continue reading "Aliexpress 1/3 Doll Review and Customziation"

My Giant Podcasts Masterlist


Currently Feeling: good

I'm obsessed with podcasts and have been for a while. Parts of my job see me working long hours alone updating tons of machines at certain parts of the year, and it can get pretty boring, so I keep my earbuds on me and listen to different things as I work. It's also an excellent way to keep chores and shopping interesting, and now I'm invested in a number of them, so you know how that goes...

Anyways, I'm always interested in trying new ones, but once you get past a dozen or so it gets difficult to keep track of which ones you've liked and which ones you have yet to listen to, so I've been keeping a massive Google Spreadsheet with info, links, ratings, and short reviews on all the ones I've listened to and have on my "to listen" list. Lo and behold, Google Spreadsheets also has an excellent "Export to HTML" function that means I can pull it out and upload it here!

So if you're looking for a curated list of podcasts that I've found interesting, check out the page below. Do note that it's always going to be a work in progress, so some of the info won't be filled in until I get to that particular podcast. But I currently have over 300 podcasts listed, so I'm sure you'll be able to find something you like!

external Link FrugalGamer's Giant Podcasts Masterlist

Hatchihoni Review and Guide


Currently Feeling: sick

Today I'm going to be talking about an odd pet that I found on AliExpress a while back, the Zodiac Friends/Hatchihoni vpet that's currently only available in Chinese. Here's the link I purchased it from if you're interested:

Zodiac Friends Electronic Pet on AliExpress

I picked this one up because the screenshots looked very different from the pets I've seen on there before, although I half expected it to be a Touma/QPet clone when it arrived. Fortunately, I was wrong--this pet is actually quite unique, and although it uses several stolen Tamagotchi assets from different color editions, the individual pets are unique, and the gameplay is very different.

There is no English option on this pet, and it’s completely in Chinese, so I’ve been relying on Google Translate and context clues to figure it out. This hasn’t turned out to be too much of a problem so far, although it did take me like two days to figure out where the stats screen was (press the left button on the Pet Info screen), because I’m…special. I've created a menu tree for you to reference below the cut. Continue reading "Hatchihoni Review and Guide"

Dark Cathedral Dress for Zombie Shake Rochelle Goyle


Currently Feeling: productive

Rochelle Goyle in my handmade custom Dark Cathedral dress.

Much like the Getting Ghostly Draculaura I blogged about recently, this Rochelle doll was part of an Ebay purchase I made ages ago. I've opted not to remove her factory paint because I love the little cracks all over her face and body, but I did want to make her a custom dress. And since Rochelle is a gargoyle, what better to use as inspiration than a dark cathedral? I've always loved studying architecture, and gothic architecture in particular is so much fun. So extra! This theme let me go crazy with the ornamentation, and fits especially well with the spooky season this month.



Click through the cut to see the rest of the TONS of pictures I took, plus details of how I made everything!


Continue reading "Dark Cathedral Dress for Zombie Shake Rochelle Goyle"

Small updates and stuff


Currently Feeling: tired

So I've actually got several things I'm working on at the moment, but they are rather long projects and will take a while to add to the site. One is a review of a couple of off-brand virtual pets that I've been playing with, while another is a sewing project I've been working on. These are both rather extensive, however, so they take a lot of work to type up and add photos to, plus proofreading, etc. etc. In the meantime I've just been adding little things here and there.

The main site has a new layout for Halloween! It'll come down after the spooky season, though I'll probably archive it on the About page for fun. If you've been playing with my Dollmaker then you may have noticed I've added all sorts of stuff in several categories. I like to draw up little items in my free time here and there, and upload them whenever I get the chance, so that will probably keep growing over time. If you look through all the tabs, you may notice some popular characters from your favorite movies and TV shows.

Also, I'll be taking off the "new" tab from my Instagram archive link, but it will continue getting updated as I post there. I just don't really want to take the focus off other things I may be adding over time.

Latest Sewing Project - Draculara Custom Dress Ensemble


Currently Feeling: creative

Draculara with a custom poofy black velvet and red satin handmade dress, trimmed with lace, and holding a handmade purse

A few years ago, I found this Getting Ghostly Draculaura on Ebay for sale without any clothing. She had obviously been played with, but was in relatively good shape, and I just loved her face and slightly translucent plastic. So I picked her up, and she sat in my doll box for a while.

Eventually, though, I felt she deserved a full outfit, and although I do sometimes customize my dolls, I wanted to keep her face as-is, because I just think it's so sweet and cute. So I went to the thrift store to find some fancy fabrics that might make a good doll dress. I soon came across this ridiculous (but very well made) women's vest made from black crushed velvet, and a bit more digging turned up an incredibly bright red jacket covered with sewn-in sequins and decorative stitching. They were both in great condition, and fairly cheap. Win!

Click the cut below to see before pictures, and then check out the full completed photoshoot! Continue reading "Latest Sewing Project - Draculara Custom Dress Ensemble"

Fuck Facebook and Instagram


Currently Feeling: angry

So here’s something rich. A lovely creative developer named Austin Huang created an app a while back that lets you browse Instagram without being tracked or logged in. I found out about it because I was browsing a list of Humane Tech up on Github that mentioned it in their Social and Fediverse section (P.S. check it out it’s cool). Anyways, by the time I traveled over to this person’s site, the app had unfortunately been taken down because of a very threatening letter that Facebook had sent them. The letter itself has kindly been uploaded by the creator, and you can read it in all of its bullshit victim-blaming glory right here:

https://github.com/austinhuang0131/austinhuang0131/issues/2

Can I just point out the incredibly obvious hypocrisy of accusing a third party developer of violating insta’s T&C by, as they put it, “Using or sharing user data without the users’ consent”???? I know this person doesn’t have the time, money, or will to fight this bullshit demand, but I highly doubt that everything in this scare letter is actionable, especially the bit about voluntarily sending them all sorts of code and data that they would undoubtedly use to try and patch whatever holes their walled garden may have. I very very much hope they did not get that information, because they have no right to it, not from one person who built an app for viewing their site.

But let’s be real about what they’re really concerned about here--the main thing they’re taking issue with is the ability to use the service while being anonymized, which a ton of folks want because a) they don’t want targeted ads, and b) some of them have friends and family on the service, but don’t want to get an account to view their content, mostly because of said ads. Facebook is really only upset because this app lets them do that, which screws up their metrics and keeps them from being able to sell their users the way Facebook is known to do. I do hope these things keep popping up too fast for FB to shut them down, because this cancerous business model needs to go.

To be honest, IG is the only social media I really have left. I do have friends and family on it that I don’t connect with elsewhere, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve told them that I can’t communicate with them this way. I could make that jump, but the part that keeps me from doing it is that IG allows me to connect with several art communities that are very niche and not present elsewhere, at least in such large numbers. In particular, the dolling community, which is vibrant, but small, and it’s difficult to find most of its members in one place anywhere else (except for one very toxic not-to-be-named forum which deleted my account. If you know, you know). Since most of the doll community is art-focused and does customizing, painting, sewing, etc., there are quite a lot of them there, and tagging features makes it really easy for us to find each other. I really hate giving that up, though I may start to look for connections in other places moving forward. Pinterest has a similar presence, but since they do almost as much ad-targeting and tracking, so I’m not sure if that’s much of an improvement, or if I’m just replacing one evil with another. I will say I’ve been posting less these days, though, since I’m just too disgusted to engage with IG’s BS most of the time.

Not that I’m against being the change or anything, but it’s usually a lonely enterprise until others show up.

An Incomplete Review of the Giga Pets Farm


Currently Feeling: frustrated

I picked this up on Ebay recently because it looked really different from the other Giga Pets I've seen, and also I love games with farms. The review is going to have to remain incomplete for now, however, because I've set it aside after struggling with it for a while. Earlier Giga Pets are known for being more difficult to care for, and that coupled with the unique gameplay that comes with having multiple pets and crops to care for was a bit overwhelming for me. I kept a running log each day and I was playing with it, so click below the cut to see my thoughts and how my first run with this one went.

Giga Pets Farm crops screen


Continue reading "An Incomplete Review of the Giga Pets Farm"

Unicorn Amigurumi


Currently Feeling: creative

I've been crocheting for years, but I never really made any amigurumi until recently. On one of my trips to the craft store, I happened to look through their book section, which I usually visit for coloring books, and came across this adorable book here. I ended up choosing the creature on the cover first, since I liked it so much, and after several months of starting and then putting off the project, I ended up with this adorable little thing:

Banana for scale

Click the cut for details and more pics Continue reading "Unicorn Amigurumi"

My latest nostalgia kick - Tamagotchi & others


Currently Feeling: impressed

So every few months or so I get obsessed with some fun thing or another, and I fall into the collecting hole. It's something I have to work to not get too spendy with, otherwise I can really get carried away, but it's fun as long as I keep an eye on it. My last interest was cassette tapes, which I'll probably end up putting on the site in some form or another eventually. This time around it's virtual pets. Bandai has been rebooting their original Digimon and Tamagotchi lines for folks like me who want to revisit their childhood toys, and they're pretty cheap right now, so I picked up a purple and pink P1 (first gen, that is) Tamagotchi, and a re-released Gigapets Pixel Puppy (they're revamping theirs too). Below are my thoughts about both of them.

Continue reading "My latest nostalgia kick - Tamagotchi & others"