I’ve had a cold since Tuesday and I feel very sorry for myself. I thought it would be better by now, but if anything I actually feel worse. My nose is running, I can’t stop coughing, and my throat hurts. This is much worse than covid was for me.

I recorded a piece of music for this week’s Disquiet Junto project, which directed me to improvise a shaker and make music with it.

I made one from a pill bottle and some mung beans. I started off trying to make something percussive, but that didn’t go very far. However, I discovered that the shaker made some great textures when rolled around a stereo mic and fed through a non-linear reverb, then drowned the whole thing out with drones from my Elmyra.

I switched all the images on this site from JPEG to WebP. My installed version of Gimp lacked the Resynthesizer plugin that I wanted to use, so I installed Gimp via flatpak instead so that I could use it. But then I found that this version of Gimp was lacking the Save for web plugin that I used to tweak JPEG parameters to come up with a good balance between size and quality when exporting photos to post here.

That led me to the discovery that I could now just use WebP everywhere (except for outdated, insecure, unsupported copies of Internet Explorer, but those people are probably too busy dealing with ransomware attacks to care). After a bit of experimentation, I found that using cwebp with a desired signal to noise ratio of 43 dB gave good results. So now my workflow is:

  • Export image as WebP at 90%; this makes the file size manageable with almost no visible difference, and I have a good source image for future format changes.
  • Compress it to a published form using cwebp $< -af -psnr 43 -o $@ in the Makefile I use to process images

This gives me better quality, smaller files, for less work. Some people put more effort into serving different resolution versions using srcset, but unless different aspect ratios are needed, I’m unconvinced by the point of this. The devices with the highest resolution are things like phones that have the most constrained memory and processing power. If you’re going to give those a high resolution image, then you might as well serve the same thing to desktops. They can downscale well enough, and a lot of desktops have high density screens now anyway.

I might add a resizing step in future so that I can preserve the largest possible resolution in my source images, but scale them down to a size that’s a reasonable maximum today.

You can see an example in this post from earlier in the week.

Google announced that they’re laying off 12,000 people. Microsoft announced 11,000 a few days previously. 18,000 at Amazon. 11,000 at Facebook, er, Meta. It’s not that they’re all losing money – they all (Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, Microsoft) made more profit in the year to the end of September than the preceding twelve month period – but something has changed now that money isn’t cheap any more.

I’m glad I’m not looking for work right now, but it does make me nervous.

Other things that make me nervous include the Tories’ batshit plan to just turn off nearly half a century of laws and see what happens and the increasing weaponisation of transphobia in the UK, an obvious, malign, but also apparently successful ploy to try to distract us from the obvious and rapid deterioration of our material conditions over the past decade.

It’s been cold outside. There was still frost on the cars at 11 this morning.