Curiosities for June 2021
Dark alleyways with a Japanese twist, chiptune music from 2000s, and more!
We’re back again for this month’s newsletter! I’m excited to share a few things that I enjoyed this June. If I were to put a theme into it, it would be perspective.1 “Look up and under, take a step back, sit down, and see things in a new light”—most of my finds will break common traditions of how things are done!
📝 From the blog
To start things off, did you know that there are similarities between Git and Avengers: Endgame? In my June blog post, I explored how the git branching model is similar to the (Spoilers!) time-travel arc in Avengers. For example, we can model the attack of Thanos as a huge merge conflict from another branch / timeline:
It was a very fun blogpost to write, and I thought of that topic immediately after watching Endgame. It took me two years before starting because I am still unsure how to best organize the contents. In the end, I opted for a listicle to do the job.
To be honest, I still find listicles lazy, but I am happy that many people found the post entertaining! Even Excalidraw, the tool I used to illustrate, tweeted about it too:
Nevertheless, I love writing about Git, it’s like my constant companion in my developer journey. For more of my articles on Git, check out:
Git team workflow: merge or rebase?: here, I explored two common ways on how merging works in Git. I personally favor rebase, but I also see the merits for a merge workflow. To supplement this, read more about Vincent Driessen (nvie) article’s on Gitflow.
My year in commits: this one is a short reflection of my one year use of Github. I used the Git contribution graph from Github to highlight relevant points of my year. It starts from me doing open source back in 2017, and finishes with starting my first job in early 2018.
Updates from the previous month
Last May, my post about navigating the MLOps landscape blew up! It was featured in some newsletters such as DVC, Comet, and MLOps Roundup. It has also allowed me to chat with some of the leaders in the MLOps space, nice!
The topic of ML Platforms is near and dear to my heart, and I’m glad to see the space grow and coincide with a lot of open-source tooling we have today. The common movement right now is to apply software engineering to ML (CI/CD, git versioning, infra, ETL, etc.). Is it possible to do it the other way around? That is, to apply ML to software engineering and enrich both? 🤔
Here are some cool finds for the month of June!
What was old is new again. Recently, I discovered Mark Sparling’s SoundCloud. He’s the composer of one of my favorites game of all-time, A Short Hike!2 What’s cool is that since 2016, he uploaded one chiptune music a day—talk about dedication! I suggest just listening to it on shuffle.
Chiptune amazes me because what was once an artifact of old and constrained technology has become a style to be sought. Nowadays, if you want to make 8-bit music, most people will recommend using a tracker. I’m currently learning MilkyTracker, and man, the website and app took me back to early 2000s with all of its skeumorphic glory:
If 8-bit has piqued your interest, I recommend the 8-bit Music Theory channel. I know next to nothing about music theory, but just passively listening to it familiarizes me with the “language.” It’s like learning a new programming language, I usually supplement it by listening to a podcast for immersion. Right now, I’m following the FF9 series:
Of course, I can’t just mention A Short Hike without recommending my favorite tracks.
You can definitely start off with “Beach Buds.” It introduces the general vibe of the game. I love this track so much:
Then follow it up with “Somewhere in the Woods.” The transition to this track introduced me to the concept of dynamic music—each area has its own track and they blend together seamlessly well:
And for added fun, listen to “Boat Buds.” Awesome music tied to the coolest activity in the game (almost at par with beach volleyball minigame):
I encourage you to play the game yourself. You can finish it in one sitting, and collect all the achievements (if you’re that kind of folk) in six hours. It’s relaxing, beautiful, and a safe haven from this raging pandemic.
Do you like Japan and the supernatural? Worry not, because I got you covered! Don’t worry, it’s not that scary:
Walk (散歩) is a freaky Japanese horror game where you are a girl being hunted by some paranormal entity. The aesthetic is wonderful, it reminds me of those early Playstation One games running on a CRT. The environment is amazing, it almost gave me a tinge of nostalgia because of the Japanese suburb setting.
I’d say that the best part is the chase scene around the 11:10 mark. Mechanically, it explores what a second-person perspective looks like. We’re often used to first-person and third-person perspectives in games, but the second-person (“You”) is not utilized. I’d say that this game was able to capture that mechanic and integrate it with what’s happening in the background. Kudos!
If you were intrigued by second-person perspective in games, I recommend watching Nick Robinson’s video on that topic:
Jujutsu Kaisen (呪術廻戦) or JJK is something that I just binged for a weekend in Netflix. The manga is still in-progress, but we already have Season 1 and a movie coming up on December! The plot is great, breaking some of your usual shōnen traditions (kind of similar to My Hero Academia). The animation? Splendid:
If you watched the video, you might notice how interesting JJK’s power system is. I agree with you! It’s consistent and well documented:
The music is also awesome! It probably has one of the best ending songs in recent anime history (all openings are great too!):
Character-wise, I like that the main cast resembles the Naruto trio: Yuji is Naruto, Nobara is Sakura, and Megumi is Sasuke. Even their teacher, Gojo, looks like Kakashi! However, what I like about JJK is that the trio’s relationship is healthy. You have a less stupid Naruto, a less emo Sasuke, and a well-written Sakura—Yuji, Megumi, and Nobara’s relationship feels more organic and mature.
I can’t recommend JJK enough, I have already caught up with the manga and its prequel series. So far my favorite character is Yuta Okkotsu. He’s your typical sad boy and the main character of the prequels. He’ll have his own movie in December!
It’s cool that the current wave of shōnen anime can be treated as serious pieces of literature. Gone are the days when literary critique is limited to works like Neon Genesis Evangelion or Ghost in the Shell. This new wave appeals to all levels of appreciation.
I only finished a single game this month: Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion!
It’s a cute little game with action RPG elements. It feels like the creators are high, but I’m totally down for what they’re taking. Although the puzzle and bosses are on the easy side, the music drips with style.
The official soundtrack isn’t on Spotify yet, so I highly recommend checking out the playlist on Youtube! I wish they release a Bandcamp track soon. Here’s a short sampler from the main hub, Veggieville:
As you see, I didn’t play much this month, but I booted up a few games from my Steam library for the coming weeks. Here are some games I just started playing:
Return of the Obra Dinn: a wonderful detective game made by Lucas Pope (Papers, Please) where you play as an insurance agent tasked to discover the cause of death of a shipping crew. After playing the first few minutes, it felt like mystery-murder Sudoku. The visuals are amazing, and the gameplay is intriguing.
Chicory: A Colorful Tale: I bought this game because Lena Raine (Celeste, Sackboy: A Big Adventure) is the composer. It introduces an interesting “paint” mechanic that you can use to change your environment. I haven’t played it that much yet but I’ve been hearing good feedback about it. Also, the dog’s name is Pizza!
Aaand… that’s it for this month’s curiosities! See you again this July. I love hearing from you so just comment on Substack (or reply to this email) if you have any feedback or things you’d like to learn more!
Okay, I won’t always be doing themes every month. Sometimes I just get lucky that there’s a common thread in the content I consume.