Inconsequential Updates

This weekend I upgraded to Big Sur and nothing whatsoever broke unexpectedly1 (yet), so I did a round through the various places I take notes and realized there was a fair bit I hadn’t managed to write about and hadn’t been worth writing standalone posts for as yet.

Creature Comforts

Even though I try to spend as much time as possible using my standing desk, I do sit at my regular one every day (usually in the evenings), and in order to reduce the clutter on it and increase actual usable desk space, I’ve been looking at VESA mounting arms to lift the monitors that flank my iMac off the desk.

Unfortunately, my original 24” Apple/LG Ultrafine Display’s VESA back panel is currently MIA2, so I was only able to to do half the job–I got an Invision MX150 monitor arm to hold my LG 29WL500, which besides rotating and tilting manages to hold it at exactly the right height for me to be able to reach the entirety of the desk on that side without any constraints.

Of course I’ve since filled the space underneath with equipment and mugs and whatnot, but at least now it’s all within easy reach.

A SHIELDed Nook

Another thing I did was move the NVIDIA SHIELD to my office so I can sit on my tiny reading couch and watch TV news over the ridiculously small amount of time I can spare for lunch or at the end of the day without having to warm up the rest of the house or distract the kids from their homework.

What I originally told myself was that it would be the perfect one-stop console–besides NVIDIA’s own service (and the Steam games I can run on it) I was going to set up all the retro emulators I’ve been meaning to run but never had the time. But hasn’t yet come to pass.

I ran the xCloud public preview on it for a couple of weeks and found it much more convenient to play Halo than messing about with DeX on my Samsung S8, but in practice my attention span wavered due to the pandemic and I haven’t yet had the time to side-load the new Xbox Game Pass app to try it out.

But there were two things of note that have been lingering in my drafts folder from when it was still in my living room:

  • xCloud gave me trouble until I disabled AI-enhanced upscaling (which was incredible on my 4K TV, but not very useful on the 24” monitor I’m using now)
  • The HDR color space handling is a bit weird, and markedly different from what the Apple TV puts out (HDR or not, there is a brownish tint to most things that I never quite figured out).

The former may well apply to emulators as well (which is why I’m making a note of it), and I’ve yet to read up on the latter, but I suspect getting the right kind of colorspace aligned between source material, the SHIELD itself and the TV is something that needs sorting out.

Waiting For Time To Play With Godot

Since that time I have kept playing around with Godot a little more (maybe half an hour a week, if that), and have come to two conclusions:

  • Compared to Unity, it has an absolutely tiny default footprint and runs on all my machines including the little netbook I have taken to use as the weather warmed up.
  • There is a sizable chance they will “pull a Blender” and become the go-to platform for an entire generation of game developers, which makes it worth exploring regardless of any other consideration.

I currently lack the time (and inspiration) to actually build a game, but I see a lot of entertainment potential in using it as an animation engine, and it is quite (surprisingly) good for basic cross-platform GUI tools (the editor itself is written in Godot), to the extent where I’m currently toying around with the idea of using it to replace a touchscreen dashboard I have running on a Pi (as soon as this is fixed).


  1. Obviously, the usual suspects like my ancient version of Steam and other 32-bit-only apps like Caustic are dead, but nothing broke that I really need right now (and, quite ironically, the Epic Games Launcher still works…) ↩︎

  2. If you happen to have one of these VESA backplates laying around and have no need for it, reach out and I’ll pay for shipment–I’d love to get rid of the original monitor stand and sort out that side of my desk… ↩︎