I need tech help

Does anyone know what the best way to check referrers to a post is? I have one that’s been sort of blowing up over the last month, to the point where something has to be linking to it from somewhere, and I’d love to be able to see where from, but WordPress’ referral logs aren’t being helpful at all.

In other news … there is no other news. I finished The Hidden Palace last night, which is the sequel to The Golem and the Jinni, my favorite book of 2013, and while I enjoyed it I don’t have enough to say to review it. That’s all I’ve got at the moment.

First World Problems

This is not a post about my stupid YouTube channel, although I’m not gonna lie: it’s related. Part of the reason I started the channel with Little Nightmares II specifically is that LNII is a game that isn’t especially challenging on either my PS5 or my computer. I wanted to start off with Sekiro, but I couldn’t get the Elgato and the computer to play nice with each other, and any time I tried to stream or record anything complicated it came off really blurry and ugly with tons of frame drops and stuff like that. Little Nightmares II recorded very smoothly, so I figured I’d start with that, and then I embarked upon this ridiculous stream of minor and major upgrades to my system to get everything working the way I wanted. New HDMI cables were the first move– I have learned so much about cables in the last two weeks that it’s flat-out absurd. I had already been looking for an excuse to upgrade my desktop’s memory, since it shipped with only 8gb, so I fixed that next, upgrading to 40gb. When that didn’t make any difference, I spent last night researching the USB standard.

And … Christ.

Long story short: there are a mess of overlapping standards for USB, both the ports and the cables, and then there’s Apple’s own answer to USB, which is the Thunderbolt standard, and even that has a couple of different versions out there. As it works out, my computer has a spare Thunderbolt port available, which supposedly can push 40gb a second? That’s … a lot, so I decided to upgrade the USB cable today.

And I don’t think the story’s funny enough to recount in full, but doing that required the following steps:

  • Ordering a proper 6′ cable from Target to pick up in-store, then getting an email an hour later that they didn’t have the cable after all, sorry about that;
  • Ordering the same cable in 3′ length from Target to pick up in-store, then getting an email an hour later that they didn’t have the cable after all, sorry about that;
  • Ordering a 6′ cable from Staples to pick up in-store, then buying it and noticing in the parking lot that it was clearly not the right cable, as it advertised “up to” 500mb per second, and I don’t know how much you know about computer measurements but 40gb is literally eighty times faster than that;
  • Deciding I did not have the willpower to return the cable today (I’ll do it tomorrow) and checking Target again to see if they had a specifically Thunderbolt cable, as I realized that that was going to be something completely different;
  • Getting a yes, according to their website;
  • Going to Target and discovering that 1) they did have the cable I wanted; 2) the cable I wanted wasn’t the cable I wanted, as Apple sells both a USB-C male-male cable that isn’t rated for Thunderbolt speeds and one that is, and that one of those is called a USB-C cable and the other is called a Thunderbolt (USB-C) cable;
  • Ordering one from the Apple store on the other side of town for pick up in-store, then realizing they want appointments for in-store pick up and calling the store to 1) make sure they had the cable before driving across town and 2) making sure that I can actually come get the damn thing before my appointment, because I was doing all this while the boy was at camp and the earliest available appointment was right when I’d have to be picking him up;
  • Driving to the mall and picking up my cable, and then getting home and having just enough time to make sure it worked and did what I wanted it to before having to go pick the boy up. I’m quite happy to report that it looks like I’m going to be able to stream and/or record basically anything I want now, although there’s still some weird color issues with Sekiro that I haven’t figured out yet.

Slightly separate issue: the Apple store also has curbside pick-up, and in fact has designated parking spots in the mall parking lot for same, but the Apple store itself is deep enough inside the mall that getting to it from (I think) the closest available external door(*) is a 5-minute walk. Not a lot in the long term, but I wouldn’t want to be the employee who got tasked with spending all fucking day lugging shit from the store to those two parking spots. Not without, like, a Segway or something like that. It’s not remotely as hot here as it is in a lot of the country (particularly the West Coast) right now, but it’s about as humid as I’ve ever experienced, and that would be an “I quit” moment real quick for me, particularly since you know those curbside pick-up people are going to be impatient as hell.

(*) I mean, it would have to be, right? That’s where the parking spaces were. Surely they wouldn’t put their designated curbside spots next to the second closest door, although that might be giving mall management too much credit.

Oh dear God that’s enough

Okay, we’re up to like four rearrangings of the office now, and I’m done. I have to be done. Everything’s hooked up except for the supplementary lights (not really necessary any longer, unless I go back to full-time online again) and the microphone, and the microphone might be a bit of a challenge, since it needs to be positionable for both the computer and the TV.

Also, I was stupid enough to move everything around without repositioning the stuff hung on the wall first, and … fuck it, it’s gonna stay covered up by things for a while, because I’m annoyed and tired.

More later, possibly. I have Thoughts about the book I’m reading, but I probably ought to finish it before I write them up, and I’m only about halfway through the book. It’s probably not fair to write the piece just yet, but it’s all that’s in my head at the moment, so the only thing to do is to finish reading it.

In which I know nothing

Not to continue harping on this, but while it will tell you that it has been four days since I have uploaded anything to my YouTube channel (smash that subscribe button!), what that actually means is that I have acquired new equipment in the last few days and the complexity level of my setup has jumped a thousandfold. What was previously hit this button on your PlayStation and maybe make sure there’s not a fan running while you’re streaming has now grown to not only include my computer and a separate little piece of kit, but three different software packages, all of which appear to do the exact same thing but in just different enough ways that overlap isn’t helping, and I’m trying to decide which one I like the most sort of at a base level so that I can start learning how to use it. Because before, the stream didn’t look or sound all that great but there were only like four things that I could adjust, so at least I knew I was streaming at the highest quality I was going to be able to.

Now, there are fourteen million things I can adjust, and I’m also not really quite used to the tv yet– and it took a minute for me to realize that what was showing up on the television was actually not related to what was showing up on my computer monitor (in other words, if I adjust the brightness on the TV, that’s not changing anything on the stream) and so now I not only need to get the tv looking right for me but I need to adjust twelve thousand different things– some of which I’m not even sure what the settings do— so that it looks and sounds good on stream.

Meanwhile, turn off the fan while you’re streaming, you dolt is still something I haven’t quite internalized.

Anyway, what I’m doing is a lot of “adjust settings, upload a three-minute stream, delete three-minute stream” thing, and I’ll do my best to not talk about this too much more until the site is actually ready for prime time.


First things first: this is the new YouTube channel, which right now is only barely real. I have managed to confirm that I have at least a basic understanding of how everything works and is a test video and a semi-real livestream that no one watched except for my son in the last few minutes, but I natter on to myself throughout it just for the hell of it. I have some calibrating to do on the TV, which is too dark right now; I’m not sure if the actual video is too dark as well because one of the things I don’t know is how precisely YouTube replicates what I have on the screen.

I also need to make some branding decisions; right now the channel is just called Luther Siler, because that’s how YouTube defaulted things; I’m considering adopting an entirely separate identity for this so I can share it here and with my kids if I want to. Or maybe I’ll lose interest next week and you’ll never hear about it again. Who knows? Not me!

If you do happen to watch the video and have any questions or comments– particularly about whether you can actually hear me as I ramble on– definitely let me know. Preferably as a comment on YT which will count as engagement. Also, if you have any clever names for the channel, let me know.

We finally got around to watching Raya and the Last Dragon last night, which you might have guessed from the telltale “Raya and the Last Dragon” graphic at the top of this post. Verdict: I liked it, but not enough to write a full blog post about it? It’s not up there with my absolute favorite Disney movies (Aladdin) or my favorite new-Disney movies (Frozen) or my favorite Pixar movies (Incredibles and Finding Nemo) but it’s a solid second-tier Disney film for me, where I won’t necessarily actively seek it out to watch but I’ll probably end up stumbling over it and watching it again in the future, that sort of thing. The character work and the animation are great (the character work is really great, actually) but the story itself stumbles a little bit, especially since it more or less starts off with the main character having to find the Infinity Stones. You’ve got to be really careful with any story structure outside of a video game where the character has to track down X of something before the story can start, and in this particular case I’m not even convinced that a lot of the conflict was necessary. But I liked it, and it jerks at the heartstrings appropriately, and it’s the only Disney movie I’ve ever seen where I can honestly say that the fight scenes were super cool. Check it out.

I just wrote a review about a book where I kept using the word “delightful” and emphasizing how heartwarming and life-affirming the book was, so naturally my next choice for reading material was Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is about the intertwining lives of two women in Kabul during the waning years of the war against the Soviet Union through to the rise of the Taliban.

This is the third of Hosseini’s books that I’ve read, and I think it’s his third actual novel, following The Kite Runner and And The Mountains Echoed, and … like, I love Hosseini’s books; the guy is a brilliant author, but his books aren’t exactly there to be enjoyed? That’s the wrong verb; it’s not what they’re for, and going from the candy-coated big gay happiness pile of The House in the Cerulean Sea to this was whiplash-inducing, to say the least. You already know most of what the story’s going to be like from the words women and Kabul and Taliban, and it’s not going to turn out that the two women are superheroes who beat the hell out of the Taliban or anything like that. Nah, they’re going to have miserable, oppressed lives, and the story ends on a happyish note but only after several decades of horror.

Is that a recommendation? I dunno. Hosseini is a brilliant writer, as I’ve said, but I kinda threw this book into my brain without thinking beforehand about how it would affect me, and I might have put it off for a while longer if I’d thought about it more.