Funk XZBit

December 15th, 2014 by harold

Y’all ready for some funk? Instrumental, electro-now post-future Funk?

Composed in November 2013.

XZBit B is the closest musical representation of me enjoying a bike ride in sunny LA.

XZBit A is more about that car ride when the night is coming up.

Enjoy, you lucky bastards.

House concept

December 14th, 2014 by harold

Using Sketchup to sketch my future house. Yeah the blue is the vast amount of glass that allows light to get in, classic passive solar system. The shape is the result of some research. With the right full south orientation and hemp insulation that house would will be the bomb. I have more classic shapes in mind –rectangle, L-shape- but I love this one.

Now the annoying part, building stupid details like more windows, doors and shit. I have started some layout but it’s tedious. I just see it in my head and try -as usual- to visualize if it can work or not. I looked at tons of interiors through rss for months and years, getting ideas here and there. The “science” behind a good kitchen can’t be underestimated.

Now building my house is a far away dream but first I’ll never buy a house, they all suck energy-saving wise. Enjoy your insane energy bills in winter 2020. Second, it’s good to have a goal it helps tremendously with hope and stuff. Third, finances could change faster than I expect and if it happens BAM who can quickly go see people to start that project and prefab walls? That guy.

I’ll have prints of those three pictures somewhere. They’ll be worth zillions.

Street life

December 10th, 2014 by harold

It’s just that I’m kind of celebrating one year of green card and you guys are like “it’s open season for your black ass oh you can turn on your phone to record everything it don’t matter son”.

So I biked. About 90 kms/55 miles in LA last weekend. It feels good and makes me horny as hell. Another Ciclavia, another fantastic day. Passed a ninja with a Chihuahua and an old Korean lady wearing a summer dress and sporting an umbrella, pushing on her skateboard like she’s about to 3flip a set of stairs.

Ninja spotted

I also met my first Twitter follower ever, a dude who’s now pretty big but more importantly a great human being. We were on the same Eric Gardner brain wave, a bit knocked out. We hugged, he took a selfie and drinks ensued. I just wish I had money to work with him on a project I thought about last year. Only last year. It feels like it’s from four years ago.

It feels dumb to be patient, even when you have no choice.

Twitch

December 3rd, 2014 by harold

Following my rocky year, I started to launch Twitch from time to time to watch games without commentaries.

Twitch is rather big. 35+ million viewers a month, fourth largest source of Internet traffic during peak times in the United States. Not rare to see people have over 30,000 people at once watching them play a game. Those players have endorsements, sponsors, sales, subscriptions. They sell in-game skins, give them away, accept donations and it’s not just about a dollar or two you can see people getting a couple hundred pretty often. Yes, to play a game in a bedroom.

It’s fascinating.

So at first I was just watching new games being played but then I switched to watching a game I know quite well. Very addicting. It’s my TV in the background. I’d rather not know how many hours in six months but uh… I’m only watching a dude -playing left handed- and you start seeing his style, his progress. You become the coach a little bit. I don’t interact but sometimes I kind of want to give him a buck for entertaining me.

What? Yeah. No wonder Amazon bought Twitch for a fortune.

With linear games, I don’t know if it will last it gets boring pretty fast. With competitive games however it never ends. The problem is fragmentation: very few people can understand and appreciate five different games one or two already probably means that you have spent hundreds, thousands of hours in them. On TV an average viewer can decipher plenty of ball-based games and enjoy a bit any of them. With computer games it’s not the case at all. Any novice is disturbed and thrown off by one game’s complexity. For enthusiasts though Twitch becomes the only place to go to, for years to come.

Of course while I’m writing about that Valve launches Steam Broadcast.

About size

November 30th, 2014 by harold

Let’s talk about a real problem: our devices screen sizes.

We basically have four devices available. The more we’re using computers, the more both extremes –smartphone and desktop- are important. The smartphone is the swiss army knife. The desktop is Gordon Ramsay’s knifes. You can replace the desktop with a laptop –we all do these days- but if you want to edit videos or produce music or 3D, a real desktop is far better.

We can replace laptops with tablets but not completely depending on our usage: keyboards are still so important and tablets still face the X86/Arm problem were not everything is compatible or optimized.

Smartphones are getting bigger and people love it so they say because I’ve only seen one iPhone6 XL out there and it seriously looks pretty douche-y. It’s not about ease of use it’s about being obnoxious in public with your big ass screen, it’s like wearing a lime green jacket and your friends are like “come on now”.

My criteria: smartphone needs to be able to be manipulated with one hand therefore, anything above 4.7” (my old Samsung WP7) is a straight no. Screen quality and fonts are perfectly readable and I keep a bit of privacy checking my texts at a bar. I have a 3.8” phone right now (Lumia 620) and I love how I can make it fit any pocket.

Laptops… I did everything from 7” (OG EEE) to 15” and my preference is definitely in the 13/14”. It’s not too big and yet big enough to open some development tools and get things done. Mine has a really shitty screen in 768 but it’s matte and soft also, try to play a 3D game in 1080p on your 13” powered by Intel Embarrassing GMA chipsets.

I don’t own a tablet. Definitely super interested in a Surface Pro 2/3 (10” and 12”) as it brings me everything I want out of the box. Problem is it does overlap with my laptop and that tablet isn’t cheap. Cheap Android tablets just add nothing.

If I had a big desktop I’d get rid of my laptop and switch to a Surface I think. The real fight is between laptops and tablets to me. As for now my laptop is my desktop so I’ll just jump between two devices instead of three.

That’s probably better for me anyway.

Dancing internally

November 29th, 2014 by harold

I was telling my boss’s boss how much I had seen the cops that day. He pulled out his phone and asked his LAPD buddy if the cops were on alert and he gets a “yep”.

I’m standing on a parking lot under the Hollywood sign the sky is dark, pink and purple and I can’t wait to be home reading the stream of events and pain in Ferguson. In some ways it wasn’t as hard as listening to the Trayvon’s verdict while I was seeing (white) friends in Palm Springs having fun on Twitter. But damn. That lack of justice is unbearable. Dozens of those cases. We’re worth nothing I swear white folks, it is quite more than just distracting.

Of course the decision is given the week of Thanksgiving when everyone is busy getting cozy with family. Of course it didn’t stop people to protest or the LAPD to arrest three times more people than the city that started it all.

I got a lot of coverage for my blog post on tech and diversity last week. St Louis decided to make every single black person sick to its stomach this week. Right in between a black icon is going down unveiling a dark and nightmarish side.

The day of massive protests I went balling at my favorite spot. Mexicans are playing soccer, a couple of younger black dudes with braces are hooping too. A black man with three kids and a music keyboard cross the field, go sit down and start to play some licks while a black mom is watching her son ride his bicycle. It’s peaceful it’s beautiful, it’s 25°C/82°F and I need this so hard.

Then I have my white sister on Skype, tell her about Mike Brown. She only has heard of Tamir Rice recently. I’m beat. She tells me about her “struggles” and it’s a stark contrast that makes me want to go all “bitch, you have it all and you’re scared? Just go get it!” on her. Chatting about race with people who can’t relate at all and don’t have to pretty much forever, is just a despair multiplier.

I wish I didn’t have to talk/deal about it. I wish all white people were as good as the ones I usually meet like that dude yesterday who sold me a great couch or my fantastic hosts when I landed in May and didn’t know where to go. I don’t want to fear or overthink either. I don’t want to just survive I want to thrive. I don’t want to hide I want to expand and breathe with abundant diversity surrounding me. That’s when I feel rich and that’s when you are too.

Fresh Bit

November 23rd, 2014 by harold

A hip hop beat, first little instrumental I did when I moved in West Adams in June.

A 16bit funk fest, paying my respects to the Golden Era of funky console shit. The fourth generation and its sophisticated music.

Very, very different angles on music and production. Pretty happy with the results!

Talk and Dream

November 12th, 2014 by harold

Speaking up about things you’d rather hide is really not easy. Sometimes I feel like I have to explain that black folks would love not to have to explain what’s going on with race. We would love to just go by our lives.

I wonder if it’s giving me a bad image, if it’s costing me anything. I’m looking for work, I often see advices about how having a blog is something to show to potential employers but I’ve always been afraid to do that. I push myself, my ideas on here. Sometimes it’s dumb sometimes it’s bold. Ultimately I need it, it’s really good exercise and I don’t trust therapists. It might be because of the rapist part.

Fantasizing a lot about a car. I still do everything on my bike in LA and it’s fine but sometimes, you need a car.

Chevy El Camino. I can get a pretty cheap one around here. Then I would pick up my buddy:

My buddy

And we would hit the road, early in the morning. Watching the sun go up AND down, chasing squirrels and enjoying some sunny nap with chill music on the car stereo. I have pretty simple dreams.

2014 tech depth

November 10th, 2014 by harold

Emotions in games and Groupon (remember that stuff?) on your wrist. Fantastic.

This my life

November 10th, 2014 by harold

Erica Joy wrote this  very important blog post, the other side of diversity, here’s the intro:

“The prevailing narrative surrounding minorities in tech relates to how beneficial employing minorities can be for a company and/or how detrimental the lack of diverse perspectives can be. I’ve searched for, and have been disappointed to find that few studies have been done on the psychological effects of being a minority in a mostly homogeneous workplace for an extended period of time.”

This is how she feels about it and I can relate pretty much a 100% (14 years in game development):

  • I feel alone every day I come to work, despite being surrounded by people, which results in feelings of isolation.
  • I feel like I stick out like sore thumb every day.
  • I am constantly making micro-evaluations about whether or not my actions will be attributed to my being "different."
  • I feel like my presence makes others uncomfortable so I try to make them feel comfortable.
  • I feel like there isn’t anyone who can identify with my story, so I don’t tell it.
  • I feel like I have to walk a tightrope to avoid reinforcing stereotypes while still being heard.
  • I have to navigate the expectation of stereotypical behavior and disappointment when it doesn’t happen (e.g. my not being the "sassy black woman").
  • I frequently wonder how my race and gender are coloring perceptions of me.
  • I wonder if and when I’ve encountered racists (the numbers say it’s almost guaranteed that I have) and whether or not they’ve had an effect on my career.
  • I feel a constant low level of stress every day, just by virtue of existing in my environment.
  • I feel like I’ve lost my entire cultural identity in effort to be part of the culture I’ve spent the majority of the last decade in.

Adding twists for more fun: first I’m a black male, feminist basically the opposite of black male stereotypes. The thing with casual racism/sexism in a dudebro setting –in France, but tech culture is the same everywhere- is that you can take it forever, you understand where everything comes from (mostly ignorance), you’re at work, jokes, professionalism, etc. No problem. But then it wears you out. Part of  the pros of going freelance was that this problem was now solved. There is no shield or shelter nor hiding for black dudes, only taking it or running away. I still think I can take it despite the fact that it does wear me out. Oh, I can remember some painful moments but I tend not to. It’s a running thing.

Second I grew up with white people thus making me absolutely bad with race boundaries, especially at work. I don’t fit the box people put my black ass in, it’s funny for them for a while you’re different! but then they put me in the white box and I don’t fit there either. Aliens, hybrids freak people out. I do have perspective they don’t or even ever had thought of. Of course I’ve learned to shut up. Well I write, that’s true.

Lastly, game development is tech but also culture. On the tech side as a designer who knows his technical stuff, relationships with programmers always have been great thanks to being a bro too. With other designers, though… It’s been more complex. Remember we’re talking about a 2-2.5% black community. Black culture influence simply doesn’t exist in game development but is all over the place for the rest of our entertainment. I’ve always had to ponder if my aesthetic choices were too “urban” for games or design decision too black for white people. So much psychology and subtlety in the choice of sounds melodies, beats with race in mind, it’s pretty fascinating. But such a crazy overhead. Post-racial…Ha!

Back to the bullet points loop. Add the outside world like Ferguson and all the black men dead or shot by people supposed to protect us this summer and you can understand why I feel like a mix of:

and

sometimes. I just don’t know what to do or what people expect from me. There’s pressure from every corner and I try to cope with it. Like Erica I try to connect, reach out, meet up. It’s moving on, it’s slow. It feels like an escape plan and that doesn’t feel right.

I just try to do my best, all the time. Do what I’m good at. Be nice. Try out. There will be more Larry David moments. It’s OK.

I have been the only black person my entire life, token or not. I wrote a couple of days ago how working here in LA with black folks after 35 years on earth felt like… Really good? For the first time I understand what white people have been living all along and it hurts how much it would have changed me. At the same time it would have made me stay in France, probably. I now live by one of the most beautiful black neighborhood in the world. I’m an international OG 80s black nerd and more, I feel great I feel like I belong in everything I do. I hope to find more peace doing what I do with great people here in LA. Adventure time.

And now I found myself falling in love with modern architecture! That thing is so white even white people are like nope. But I’m just a designer who loves minimalist, efficient things and I can’t help but want to learn more regardless of who’s making up the majority in that field. When you think about it, wondering about race this way is some medieval line of thoughts.

Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid. And don’t forget to be You. You’ll cry. You’ll be mad. You’ll wonder. But nothing changes without you.

Thank you, Erica.