The Magic of My Little Pony and Lost Femininity

On this Thanksgiving Day, I’ve been thinking a lot about my family and My Little Pony. The former is obvious, and the latter is mostly apropos of nothing other than I happened to read an article from Polygon this morning on the subject. However, they intersect in a way that is deeply personal to me and my transfeminine experience.

My gen 1 Peachy figure. Peachy is one of the earliest My Little Pony toys that I remember.

I still remember very clearly my first encounter with My Little Pony. Since I was raised as a boy, I didn’t really have much concept of them other than that they existed (because commercials). I never experienced the girls toy aisles firsthand at Toys R Us until my sister was past infancy (we’re six years apart). My parents chose what I watched on TV, and that ended up being things like G.I. Joe and Transformers (which I definitely don’t hate, another topic for femininity and toys for another time). My first real experience with the little colorful ponies was with my cousin. When I was really young, my mother would visit her sister a lot, and my cousin (a girl) and I would be left to play on our own. She naturally had toys like a bunch of plastic cookware and food, dolls, and … candy-colored My Little Pony toys.

SeriStruct reaches 1.0

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago in my CppCon post, I’ve been working on a little C++ project called SeriStruct. Today I think it’s feature-complete to the point I can call it a 1.0 release!

What is SeriStruct? It’s a super lightweight mechanism for streaming a complex structure of data to or from bytes (either an in-memory buffer or a stream). This allows for quick transport of data across whatever medium you desire without requiring complex serialization/deserialization functionality (i.e. contrastd with something like Protobuf). Of course that comes with other limitations, mostly because this was a pet project and not meant for full productionized code. For the most part, it only supports basic data types, strings, and a couple extras like std::array and std::optional (essentially types that could have a known size at compile time).

I don’t know if I’ll actually use this for anything, but it was still fun to write, and it gave me some much-needed practice with test driven development. The code includes almost 40 unit tests, about 90% of which were written before the code they test.

Highlights from CppCon 2020

I’ve enjoyed CppCon’s backlog of content on YouTube for quite some time, but I never got the chance to attend the conference in person. So this year I decided to take advantage of the virtual format of the conference and check it out first hand. I’m so glad I did! It was a lot of fun experiencing everything in realtime despite the awkwardness of the first-time online venue. As an aside, I meant to post this a lot sooner, but it seems despite the virtual format it still came with con crud, and I’ve been sick since the conference ended.

I was a little worried that I might not be able to appreciate all the discussion, that it would be very high level and academic considering the vast amount of C++ experience attending the conference as a whole, but to my surprise the conference is very welcoming to people of all skill levels. Through the Q&As, I also heard a lot of questions from people having issues that were very relatable to my own day-to-day at work, so that was refreshing. Overall, I think one of the most entertaining and informative sessions was the AMA with Herb Sutter. I’ve always loved his talks and just participating in a long, agendaless Q&A session with him was really enlightening. Honestly overall I think the Q&As worked a lot better than with the live format conference from what I’ve seen, because here the technology made it easier to push some of the best questions to the top (through a voting mechanism) rather than the floor going to whomever happened to be brave enough to walk up to the microphone. I do wish that the conference organizers allocated more time for questions, because a recurring problem with every talk was that there would only be 3 or 4 minutes (if that) to answer questions at the end of each session.

On the other hand, networking was very awkward (for me, at least). They created a virtual hallway that was meant to give people a place to congregate, as well as virtual tables prior to the start of each talk, but I noticed probably 80-90% of attendees didn’t have a microphone setup, so it was very quiet. It was definitely a lot harder to get involved in organic conversations. It probably also doesn’t help that I didn’t have any existing connections at this particular conference to help with introductions, so I ended up not doing any networking to speak of.

With the general impressions out of the way, let’s talk about specific sessions that I liked.

Finding a path forward

It’s been 84 years (or so it feels like)…

I can’t tell you how much it’s pained me that I’ve let this blog wither for multiple years. The last time I posted was September of 2018, a little over two years to the day that I write this. The past two years were a rough time for me, and I feel like I finally have the right mental frame of mind to talk about it. September 2018 marks not just the last time I posted here, but the last time I felt truly healthy and creative in general. A great many things I wanted to pursue have fallen to the wayside in that time.

Anime that resonated with me as a member of the game dev industry

I don’t watch as much anime as I used to when I was younger, but occasionally I still find some real gems that resonate with me personally. I want to share a few with you today that are meaningful to me as a person, but specifically with relation to my career in tech and entertainment software. I’m going to reiterate that the reason I’m sharing these is because of something I saw in them personally—other people (including you, dear reader) are likely to take away entirely different meaning. On the surface, two of the three listed below aren’t related to game dev at all. But I’ll explain for each one.

Additionally, if you want to watch them yourself, I’ve included a couple helpful resources for each. One, the streaming service where you can find them, and two, a link to a YouTube review from Arkada of the Glass Reflection channel—a resource I can’t recommend highly enough. Each one is not a huge commitment if you want to watch (only 1 or 2 seasons each), and the review might help you decide more than my personal thoughts.

Let’s get started!