Daniel Pietzsch

Posts

Soundtrack for the weekend:

Body Count - Cop Killer (Live at Hellfest 2018)

Sepultura - Anticop (Live)


Here’s a Twitter thread (scroll up and/or down from the linked tweet) of some 300-plus-and-counting videos of police brutality: https://twitter.com/greg_doucette/status/1268391718086422528.

This is only from this past week.

Not any of these assaults is even remotely justified. Absolutely unbelievable – in the worst possible way. And this is just a small subset of the incidents that have been published or have even been recorded. Any single one of these violations on its own is outrageous! And all this is happening during peaceful protests against police brutality.


On the horrifying situation in the US

The current situation in the US is absolutely insane! In a lot of cities and areas police forces are violently attacking protestors and press. And their racist, evil, idiot president only keeps adding fuel to fire, insulting protestors and anyone else not getting in line with him. His recent speech was unbelievable: disrespectful and dangerous.

To me, it feels like there’s either going to be a revolution or something really terrible is going to happen in front of our eyes. Let’s hope it’s the former. But I fear that for the police brutality to end, it needs internal disobedience. People in power – police officers, officials etc. – need to actively turn against their colleagues and the system as a whole. And that’s tough. Because I’m sure that stupid fool won’t back down by himself.

I feel for all the police officers and other officials that are doing great work and behave the right way. But all the riot gear police are basically domestic terrorists.

I felt for the people in the US before this. Living through a pandemic in a country without universal health care (and probably no good social security system, either) and an ignorant and incompetent president is brutal enough. And now this. It’s completely awful!

I rarely comment on current political issues. But here I feel I have to. It’s horrifying. It’s scary. But to be honest, it’s not an actual political issue. It’s simply about basic human rights. “Political issue” seems to imply there’s something to discuss or consider different points of view. But it’s not. Racism, murder and police assaulting citizens is not worthy of discussion. It’s wrong!

Black Lives Matter!


2 songs. 1 issue. 25 years apart. 0 changed.

Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the name.

Body Count – No Lives Matter


Black lives fuckin' matter

How can one not sympathise with the #BlackLivesMatter movement? Generally, and especially right now. George Floyd was – unnecessarily, intentionally, almost casually – killed by a white police officer. And he was only the most recent case of many many many others in the past.

And I am only aware of a fraction of these incidents. But it still feels like there’s an incident like this in the US at least every 3 months. And that’s only what I read about. And that’s only the deaths. Imagine how many more cases of police brutality there must be that don’t end deadly. But we don’t hear about them. But which doesn’t mean they are less unjust.

And if all of this already makes me angry, how must one feel when you’re directly subjected to this shit every day? And have been for all your live. And your parent’s and grandparent’s lives?

And what if non-violent protests don’t work? Which they rarely – if ever – have in the case of “white people killing black people in the US with no real repercussions for the perpetrators”. Then I don’t know!

Maybe try something else?


How I publish to this website using iOS

This post was entirely written and published using iOS.

The reason I think this is noteworthy, is because this is a static website, generated by a static site generator — SSG for short. In my case, this SSG is Jekyll.

I’m not going to explain SSGs here. But the one thing to know is that mobile operating systems like Android or iOS lack the necessary capabilities to publish to such a site directly. Because a static site needs to be generated first. And that is a separate step that needs software that does not run on a mobile OS. There is no web interface, either. And so everyone’s workflow to get around this limitation is different. Here’s mine.

The workflow

This is the gist of it in list form:

  1. Create new content via an iOS git client.
  2. Push the new content to the remote repository stored on GitLab.
  3. GitLab CI builds the site and publishes it using GitLab Pages.

Creating new content

The main thing I need for creating new content is a Git client. This allows me to clone the repository and commit new files. I use Working Copy for this.

A screenshot of the Working Copy app, showing the Markdown source code for this very article.
Drafting this blog post in the Working Copy iOS app.

For most of the actual writing, I’m using a separate Markdown editor app called Pretext. Because Working Copy’s editor does not support spell-checking or autocorrect, and is generally not tailored for creating prose in Markdown files.

A screenshot of the Pretext app, showing the Markdown source of this article.
Editing a draft of this blog post in the Pretext iOS app.

And I’m using iOS’ built-in “Text Replacement” feature to easily insert Jekyll front matter.

Images

To get images into a blog post, I use a workflow I created using iOS’ Shortcuts app. It resizes images to 2400px in width and saves them directly to Working Copy.

Then I can reference those images per normal markdown syntax. The jekyll_responsive_images-plugin then generates all the assets I need to serve the image responsively.

Publishing

To then publish a post is as easy as pushing the new content to the remote repository on GitLab. Then my GitLab-CI configuration builds the site using Jekyll and publishes it to GitLab Pages.

And there you have it: a blog post entirely created via an iOS-only workflow.




First VP-6000 Darkroom Prints

I made my first set of black and white prints with my new Kaiser VP-6000 enlarger. It’s been a bit of an experimental session figuring out all the settings and my personal preferences. But so far I have been very happy with the results.

A collection of black and white prints on paper in varying sizes.
Trying out various paper sizes, paddings and negative formats.

Before I started printing I finally looked up how to properly use a darkroom easel (which one uses to align the image on the paper, keep it flat, crop or create a black frame around the image itself). Turns out my easel is not the most versatile. But at least now I know how to work with it and its limitations. And it’s been a great help making decently aligned prints.

And I think I have worked out most settings for a variety of paper sizes. So I think I know now how to make prints that either look good simply on their own, or that fit common frame and passepartout sizes – or both.

A large framed print of a live concert.
One of my largest prints yet: a 21x30cm image on 24x30.5cm paper, framed in a 30x40cm frame.

I also noticed a few things I like better about the Kaiser enlarger compared to the Dunco DC 66, which I used previously. Firstly – of course – it can print 6x6 medium format images. It’s absolutely amazing seeing those photos as darkroom prints.

I also love that the enlarger column has a scale on it, making it much easier to reproduce the exact same image sizes every time. Plus, a stable, locked-in-place negative carrier and filter holder make it less fiddly to work with, too.

Another large black and white print of a live concert.
Another large print in a 30x40cm frame.

This almost turned into a VP-6000 review, when I only wanted to show some first results. So, coming back to results, I made my largest prints so far: the 6x6 medium format photos were printed at 21x21cm and the framed photos shown above are a whopping 21x30cm – both on 24x30.5cm sized paper.

Printing in the darkroom is so much more time consuming than simply ordering prints from somewhere else. But also so much more fun and rewarding. Plus, the results make for great gifts. And that’s only a few reasons why I’m going to keep printing this way.


Just started bulk-loading another 30.5m-spool of APX 400.

I think this film bulk-loaded is the best deal in black and white film photography. One spool is €48 at Nordfoto and gives you 18 roles of film with 36+ exposures each. That’s not even €2.70 per canister. It’s a steal. And it’s a great film.


My first pedalboard

Version 1.0 of my pedalboard is done. Here it is:

My pedalboard's top. From right to left in order of signal chain: EHX Pitch Fork, EHX Little Big Muff, TC Electronic Blood Moon Phaser, TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion, Mooer Trelicopter, and a Fame Mini Looper.
From right to left in order of signal chain: EHX Pitch Fork, EHX Little Big Muff, TC Electronic Blood Moon Phaser, TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion, Mooer Trelicopter, and a Fame Mini Looper.
My pedalboard's underside featuring the newly added power supply.
My pedalboard's underside featuring the newly added power supply.

Overall I’m very happy with its functionality and layout. It looks quite neat I think.

And it was relatively cheap. Because none of these pedals is very expensive to begin with, and I also bought all of them used (turns out, there’s a great used market out there!).

I’ll walk you through the individual components:

Power Supply

Compared to the previous version, I now added a simple power supply – attached to the underside with velcro. Now – in theory – I only need to have a single power cable for the board.

In practice it’s not quite true, unfortunately. Because it turns out the Pitchfork often wants its own power supply in order to not introduce some hiss. So, for that single pedal, I’m still using the power supply that came with it. That’s a little annoying, but not too bad. I might simply go back to using a battery for this one.

EHX Pitch Fork

Most expensive pedal comes first. It’s my Whammy and POG in one pedal. Using an additional expression pedal, I can do Whammy-like stuff – which I currently mainly use to play the “Like a Stone” solo.

And its ability to simultaneously add an octave above and below the played note makes for a super fat sound – especially with fuzz or distortion added. Much fun this one!

EHX Little Big Muff

Been listening to too much doom metal. And Jack White. So I wanted some fuzz.

TC Electronic Blood Moon Phaser

I wanted to try out a modulation pedal. And a phaser was a nice candidate. This is a very cheap rendition, but certainly good enough as a start. Makes my sloppy shredding sound actually fairly nice.

TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion

Mainly bought to be used for bass playing. But also very handy for being able to footswitch between clean and dirt sounds with the little Katana Mini.

Mooer Trelicopter Tremolo

I blame this one on That Pedal Show. They use this regularly on their boards. And it’s a cheap pedal. And I have been listening to Portishead’s “Roads” too much recently.

Fame Mini Looper

Had this since Christmas. Pretty nice to play around with, but I haven’t used it to its potential yet.

Maybe I’ll record a little demo of the board some day (if I dare to appear on video).


Some music I’ve been enjoying recently:

  • KATATONIA – “City Burials”. Their new album. What can I say? Of course, it’s great!
  • MONOLORD. Listening to all their 4 albums. It’s low, slow and heavy. And I like it.
  • PORTISHEAD – “Dummy”. Just a wonderfully quiet and melancholic album.
  • VLTIMAS – “Something Wicked Marches In”. All-Star Death Metal. David Vincent’s vocals are just superb!
  • CRAFT – Everything. This Swedish black metal act is growing on me.
  • SOEN – “Lotus” and “Lykaia”. Still regular listening to those albums.
  • OPETH – “In Cauda Venenum”. Ever since seeing them live last time, I can’t get “Allting tar slut” out of my head.
  • RUSSIAN CIRCLES – “Blood Year”. Their latest album. Would have loved to see them live last month. But as everything was cancelled, this will need to do – which is not bad at all.
  • TOOL – “Fear Inoculum”. Still in rotation.

Corona update 3

It’s been a while since I wrote about “the situation”. In summary: we’re mostly at home, but not really quarantining ourselves.

Mask-wearing is now mandatory when going shopping here in Germany.

We still try to keep the number of grocery shopping-trips low, but we go once – sometimes twice – per week. And in addition to that, 2-3 trips to the bakery.


For the most part I feel people are pretty considerate. But every now and then someone comes uncomfortably close. Without being prompted and without warning really. And then I’m a bit startled. Next time I should say something.


Last weekend we had somewhat socially-distant meets with both our mothers (independently), mostly outside. Maybe that was risky. But it was good to meet up!

While at my mother in law, I left my old iPad Mini with her and set it up for video calls. For the first time in her life she now has an internet-enabled device and can video-call her children and grandchildren. So far it’s been working great!


And of course, I went out and “risked” buying that new enlarger. But this was all done pretty socially distant. It certainly was less risky than a visit to the supermarket.


Shit, we recently also went to the garden centre and bought plants and accessories for our balcony.

We should tune down these outings a little bit.


For me, work is a little less at the moment. But this is good. More time to spend with Zoe and give Nicole some breaks.


Yesterday, I spontaneously acquired a new (used) darkroom enlarger that was on offer locally:

My new Kaiser VP-6000 enlarger in dim light projecting a image onto its base plate

It’s a Kaiser VP-6000. And it included everything I need to make prints from 6x6 medium format negatives. So now I can finally start printing the photos I have been making with my Rolleiflex!




The URL for subscribing to a YouTube channel via RSS:

https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=ADD_CHANNEL_ID_HERE

You get the channel_id from the URL of the channel.


As much as I like Jekyll, Liquid is bloody nonsense.

It’s probably just me.

But I find its strange syntax and very limited functionality so frustrating. I always wish I could just use plain Ruby and not have to struggle every time I want to do anything in my view templates.


Düsseldorf Webcams

The city of Düsseldorf offers some surprisingly high-quality webcams. Embedded here for my own convenience, so I can watch them all at once1:

Burgplatz
Marktplatz
Rheinufer

FYI, the cams are all on the same house block, pointing in different directions. So, you might recognise someone walking or driving from one frame to the other.


My fluid website layout

With the start of this site, I implemented a viewport-based layout without a max-width declaration. That means, the width of my main page’s container is always variable and always based on the size of the screen it’s viewed on.

In my case, I’m using a vmin CSS value – which is the smaller value out of viewport-width and -height – to set both the font size and the width of the main container:

body {
  font-size: calc(1em + 0.9vmin);
  line-height: 1.65;
}
main {
  margin: 1.5em auto;
  width: 96vmin;
}

This makes the site always proportionate to the viewport, no matter how big or small.

Using the vmin unit – as opposed to pure width-based CSS units like vw or %is crucial, so that the container won’t grow uncomfortably wide. Because that would make the page very hard to read on wide screens.

This approach contrasts the (I think) more common max-width-based layouts, which I used to use in the past (for my old blog for example):

body {
  font-size: calc(1em + 0.7vw); /* see, I'm using vw here */
}

@media (min-width: 701px) {
  body {
    font-size: 1.306em; /* make font-size match the max-width of main */
  }
}

main {
  max-width: 700px;  
}

Advantages

This approach I think has two main advantages over limiting the container’s width:

  1. The content width always adopts to the screen size. For screens small and big.
  2. The font size can always be proportional to its container’s size.

And this overall makes for easier maintainability and adaptability.

Let’s explore those in more detail:

1. Container width always adopts to screen size

Making the main content’s container based on a vmin value, it will keep growing organically, no matter how big the screen gets.

Instead of utilising a fixed width – using max-width for example – a vmin-based layout will keep growing without the need for additional media query break points. It will simply grow or shrink automatically based on the viewport’s aspect ratio. No matter how small or big the screen its viewed on is1.

2. Font size is always proportional

When the content’s container grows organically, we need to make sure our font size remains proportionate to that container width.

I complained before, that when using a max-width on the main content’s container, the font size needs a maximum, too. I could use the clamp property for this but it’s currently still not very widely supported. Although this will change for the better, simply factoring in vmin for the font size, means I neither need to wait nor worry: text will always look right.

The exact calculation I’m using – font-size: calc(1em + 0.9vmin); – is not so important. Important is only that vmin is factored in, so that the font size remains proportionate to its – also vmin-based – container width.

So this basically gives me a container-based font-size.

Two disadvantages

I can think of two general disadvantages:

  1. In landscape orientation on screens with a more extreme aspect ratio2, the container width looks unnecessarily narrow.
  2. Images need to be large enough to look ok no matter the container width.

Number 1., I personally simply accept. And to deal with number 2., I use responsive images: I generate multiple sizes of the same picture and let the browser select which one is appropriate for the given screen and container size.

Summary

Overall, I’m very pleased with this approach so far. Makes for a simple, easy–to-maintain fluid layout.

  1. While I find lots of “responsive” sites cater well for small screens, often large ones are overlooked. A common issue with using a max-width indeed is, that it won’t grow past a certain point. And this will probably look a bit odd and wasteful on big monitors. 

  2. On screens with an aspect ratio bigger than 1.5, I think it starts to look odd in landscape orientation. A 3:2 aspect ratio will still look fine in my opinion – but 16:9 will look a bit unnecessarily narrow.