Arcane: League of Legends and a New Benchmark for Digital Animation

I want to start with a warning. The show you’re reading about is not for everybody. Adult language, drug-use and addiction, intense violence, suicide, murder, insanity. Don’t let the word “animated” fool you into thinking I’m talking about a cartoon. This show can get dark.

I am late to the party for the nine episode Netflix animated series Arcane: League of Legends, but squeezed it in over the holiday and can’t help but share some feelings about it.

A little backstory on the show’s subtitle: in a way, Arcane is an origin story for a large handful of characters from the 2009 Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) video game League of Legends by Riot Games. (It’s worth explaining that this game further popularized a fan-favorite map/mode called “Defense of the Ancients” [or DOTA] for Warcraft III. In it, the general idea of Warcraft – building up and battling two armies of varying strength against each other (called an RTS or Real Time Strategy) – is replaced with taking on the persona of one of a select group of “heroes” in a 5v5 match defending bases. Ten players playing ten heroes in two teams. League of Legends has gone on to inspire a generation of MOBA games and even worked its formula into first person shooters such as Overwatch, Team Fortress 2, and Apex Legends.) You do not need any of this knowledge to enjoy the show, but here’s why I mention it: While I’ve never played the game, I know that in League of Legends you can pick any hero before you jump headlong into battle – and you’ll have a fighting chance of winning. This is because in order to continue their decade (plus) of success, Riot Games has had to achieve expertise in one thing more than anything else – and that is the concept of balance.

And it is this concept that lends a sobering dose of realism to characters steeped in fantasy, magic, and impossible feats. Where many video-

Inktober 2019, Part II – Can I make it to November?

Inktober 2019, Part I – probably should have gone to art school

Cold Brew Coffee

I did not understand the draw to cold brew coffee until this week, when I put my birthday present to the test. I got a Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Maker through Amazon from my lovely wife Melissa. I’m about to sell you on this idea. Ready?

First, let’s talk cons. It uses an entire 12oz bag of coffee and has limited use filters. It came with two 10 use filters, that need to be refrigerated between gigs. Brewing takes about 24 hours and involves layering cups of water with course grounds.

Am I talking you into this yet? Didn’t think so. Let’s talk pros.

  1. It doesn’t make cold brew coffee, friends… it make cold brew coffee CONCENTRATE. And no, I’m not yelling at you to pay attention, I’m saying this stuff is hyper potent coffee juice. To get to the approximate taste of a normal cup of coffee you have to dilute it in a 1:7 ratio. PRO-TIP: Dropping a spoon into your cup may help you eyeball what 1:7th looks like.
  2. That’s a WEEK’S worth of coffee, almost entirely at-the-ready (particularly if you do like cold/ice coffee, but just adding hot water does the trick if you want hot coffee, and it does so consistently well.)
  3. That means you get to drink coffee all week long, and only make it once a week. Are you doing the math on this?
  4. They also made the system so that the glass pitcher is large enough that you can still have some left over from the previous batch and simply add to it; meaning after the initial sacrifice of time, you never have to be without coffee if you time it right. Which I won’t, but it is the thought that counts.
  5. Better taste partially due to less acid! I suspect this has something to do with the dilution, but right on the package it says so. That acid causes some of the bitterness that folks try to get rid of with additives… that bitterness is mostly gone. Some small part of me almost missed that bitterness, but I got over it. Plenty of other things to be bitter about.


Did you try to make an ice mocha type of beverage?
I did indeed and it was amazing. I added chocolate syrup and an abundance of milk instead of straight up water, a couple of ice cubes, and it was indistinguishable if not better than something from Starbucks. I think the lack of bitter allows anything you add to the drink to stand out a bit more. Hard to say. Especially hard to say while I’m drinking coffee. Which is right now.

Did you try to make a pumpkin latte?
No. I did not. A pumpkin latte is an affront to God. Pumpkin belongs in a pie or on a porch with a candle in it. Relax, I’m kidding. But you’re a horrible person for asking this question. 😉

I’ll cut us off here. Suffice to say I’ve tried mixing up ratios of ice, water and milk… I have yet to get it “wrong.” It’s like it is a potion of transformation that turns you into a barista.

Anyway… seriously. Awesome. Get one. Highly recommend.

My Uninterrupted Workday is Shorter Than Yours, and that’s OK

I start work at around 9:00am, like most people. But at 3:57pm something happens that disrupts my workday and interrupts the flow of task-completion. Because while there are benefits to working from home… a continuous workday is not one of them.

What disrupts me? It is as yellow as a bumble-bee and significantly larger than a breadbox. It also has a diesel engine. It is a school bus. More to the point, it is the precious cargo aboard this particular vehicle that causes a hiccup in my productivity.

My two children run wildly across the street screaming “DADDY!” and we discuss how their collective day went. Did you finish lunches? No? Sure, finish the snack that you didn’t eat. (But wash hands, first.) Do you have homework? Do you need help? Of course you’d prefer help. Let us not forget that daily reading assignment, and the challenge issued by your teacher to read even more minutes. Sure, I’ll initial completion. And is that a math review? A test is coming? What about your writing workbook?  Forgotten at school? But that has the spelling words in it! We need those to study and do today’s activity. We better drive back to school.

It’s a barely-controlled, sometimes explosive ratio of chaos-to-joy. As much of a pain as the coming home ritual seems to be, my family is my life — more so than anything. Do I get a chance to make up for that lost hour? Yes! Sometimes I do that late, late at night. I mentioned benefits of working from home? Making weird hours is one of them. What I’ve discovered is that the inverse is not true: I can’t make up for missing this crucial time with my kiddos.

The good news is that it is highly likely that you will never even notice as I switch hats from “design nerd” to “daddy.” As my client, I hope it isn’t annoying. In fact, as my client, I think it is important for you to understand that putting projects on a freelancer’s plate is what puts actual food on these little people’s literal plate.

So yes, I will find a way to meet your deadline, because that’s what I do.  And you bet I’m available between the hours of 9:00am and 3:30pm for your conference call. After that, I am much less likely to be available, unless you happen to be good at tutoring common-core math.



Google’s Mobile Friendly Update

Chances are, if you’re a business with a website, you’ve thought long and hard about how it would look on a laptop or desktop computer. If you’re wise, your site is mobile-friendly as well… But did you know that Google is now actually penalizing websites that don’t have mobile-legible content if you search using a mobile device?

What does this mean in English? Imagine a customer standing a block from your place of business, looking up businesses of your type on Google and having a competitor across town, (or anywhere in the world, for that matter,) show up first, for no reason other than you don’t have mobile-friendly content on your site. That’s exactly what would happen in this scenario. Time for an update!

Check out Google’s own statement on the subject.

Hosting for WordPress and Joomla!

The one thing I hear more often than anything else when it comes to CMS systems like WordPress or Joomla! is that the client wants this technology on their site because they plan to edit the content themselves. The client usually has no problem finding the actual content, it is the updating process itself that becomes daunting. Result? More often than not, the site goes untouched, even with training or extensive documentation. A site without growth isn’t good for the client, or for a designer/developer: relevance comes from being current. Being current comes from updates.

The solution? What if hosting and updating were in one package? The client would be motivated to gather content on a regular basis, and hand it off to me; I would then update the site.  I’m not going to mention pricing here, as it will depend on how many updates per week is appropriate to your needs, but hit me up in the contact tab and we can chat about it. Thanks!