🌍 Alan’s World: 24/04/22

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This is my first weekly post! I’m approaching this like it’s a newsletter – except I’m not emailing it to anyone 😉

Let’s face it, probably no one is interested in what I write here, so what would be the point of emailing anyone?! Plus you need an audience to email… which I don’t have (or want)… 😅

For about a year now, I’ve been off Facebook. Let’s be honest, Facebook is a dumpster fire that brings out the absolute worst in people. For the sake of my mental health and to make it through lockdown(s), I decided I was better off without it and I haven’t regretted it for a single second. I’ve never really been that active on other platforms either.

I still use Twitter to engage with others who work in the tech community or who I have shared interests with, but generally these days I try to stay out of anything that doesn’t concern me.

If anyone’s actually reading this, you may be wondering what this long rambling introduction to the post has to do with anything. Well, the point is that moving away from social media (for good reasons) has left a bit of a gap for me to ramble on about things that I’m passionate about.

So that’s what this series of posts will be about. Once a week, I’m going to babble on about the positive things I’ve enjoyed that week to do with my interests. The structure is based on a couple of email newsletters that I subscribe to, which I enjoy receiving once a week from people I follow in the tech community. It’s interesting to see what they enjoy as people away from work.

These posts are for me, but who knows, maybe someone else might find something interesting or useful in them at some point. For now, they serve the purpose of getting me to write regularly, and maybe a form of therapy 😉

🤓 What I Learned This Week

While watching a lot of art related YouTube videos this week, I learned what the burnishing technique is. I’d never heard of this before, but it’s a coloured pencil technique that results in very smooth blends, and in the hands of a talented artist, can create very realistic finishes.

Burnishing is typically done as a finishing step after laying down many layers of shading with coloured pencils. Essentially you apply more pressure with a pencil which blends the pigment that’s already on the paper and completely covers any white spots.

Some of the artists I’ve seen using this technique are creating amazing artwork and I hope that with practice I can get similar results with this technique.

🕹 What I’m Playing

This week I’ve been replaying Resident Evil Village for the third time but this time on hardcore difficulty. Mild spoilers follow…

The opening survival sequence when you first reach the village really kicked my ass on hardcore difficulty! It took me a bunch of tries to get through it. Fighting off an endless horde of lycans for about 5 minutes had me screaming at the TV!

Luckily, I had enough cash from previous play throughs to buy the unlimited ammo for the starting pistol from the in-game shop, which helped me to just about hold them off until the time was up!

I love the Resident Evil games and enjoy going back to them every now and then for a replay. It’s always more fun when you’ve unlocked some extras too!

📺 What I’m Watching

I’ve been making a real effort recently to get back into art and I’ve been watching quite a few artists on YouTube for inspiration with materials I’ve not used much in the past. Obviously Jazza is in there, but I’ve also been enjoying artist channels who specialise in alcohol markers and coloured pencils.

As well as the YouTube videos, I’ve really been enjoying Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year (last year’s season), and have been binge watching those. I love watching other people create art, so this has been a big inspiration for some things I’d like to try out myself.

Since I’ve never been much of a painter, but would like to be with certain types of paint, I watching very closely to see how talented painters do it!

We recently binged the whole last season of Portrait Artist of the Year as well 😁

🕸 Interesting Things From The Internet

I recently came across the Every Layout website, which has fundamentally changed my mental model and approach to writing CSS and creating layouts on the web.

CSS is hard. Even though modern CSS is so good and we have amazing tools at our disposal, a lot of learning materials when you’re starting out don’t teach you good mental models.

What usually ends up happening, for most of us anyway, is that you end up writing a lot of very specific CSS instead of writing efficient CSS. The approaches that most of us learn also lead you to micromanage the web browser, rather than embracing its strengths when it comes to layout.

Reading though the content of Every Layout has been a game changer for me. I now have a mental model and approach that is going to help me to create better, more resilient website layouts while writing less CSS!

If you’re reading this and work in front-end web development, I really do recommend you check it out.

That’s it until next week!