This Is The Best

Hey the world is full of cool stuff!

I'm not exactly going out on a limb by proclaiming the merits of Baba Yetu, Christopher Tin's award-winning masterpiece. Since its release as the “title screen” track for Sid Meier's Civilization IV, Baba Yetu has garnered praise from all corners.

Which is wonderful. Tin is a wonderful and accomplished composer, and this could rightfully be considered his masterpiece in the oldest sense of the word: this is the work that grants him the status as a master. But what does that mean to you and me? Here's why this song gets a post:

It feels amazing.

Listen to it again. How can you not be moved by this music? If you speak Swahili you understand the lyrics, the rest of us had to read the Wikipedia article to learn that the song is a translation of the Lord's Prayer from the New Testament.

But no matter who you are there is power in this music. There is simplicity as it starts, swelling into grace and optimism and grandeur that includes all of humanity in its sweep. This song hasn't aged in the thirteen years since its release, nor will it. Like all the true classics, Baba Yetu will be relevant and fresh forever, like Moonlight Sonata or Kind of Blue. This is music for the ages.

CleanShot icon

I've always been a fan of the Unix “One Thing Well “ mentality: Apps should do one thing, and they should do it as best they can. So I keep an eye out for apps that live that mandate. It's so satisfying to find something that does what it's supposed to do and does it without making a fuss.

So I'm here to tell you about one I just discovered: CleanShot.

CleanShot is a capture tool. Intended to act as a stand-in for Mac OS's built-in screen capture capabilities, it improves them in small but impactful ways.

As the name implies, CleanShot cleans up your desktop for you, so that when you take a screenshot it doesn't reflect the actual messy state of your desktop. By default it hides desktop icons, but if you want it can also replace your desktop wallpaper. When you take a single-window screenshot it places your window serenely on a background of your choice, centered and un-cluttered by anything else you actually had open when you took the screenshot.

it's the difference between this:

and this:

I didn't actually close any windows between the two, CleanShot just hid them.

I realize this is a tiny little one thing well, but the presentation makes all the difference sometimes. This is a nice little tool to add to your belt.

I remember when I started playing this game. Someone at work asked what everyone was playing these days and I spoke up first.

“Oh man, I found the best game, you guys. It's called Stardew Valley and you can grow crops and get better and better sprinklers to take care of your crops, and you can make friends in town...and you...can go...fishing...why are you all looking at me like that?”

Okay, so it's not a gamer's game. You don't really “win” at Stardew Valley. Except, lemme tell you, you so do.

Stardew Valley is a few years old now, and on just about every platform. I should know, because I've bought four copies of it. (Steam, GOG, Switch, and iPad, in that order). I played it for a great many hours when it came out, three years ago (or thereabouts). And now that it's on iPad I'm playing it again.

It's like going home. I know all the people in Pelican Town, I already love their personalities and eccentricities. The Stardew Valley Soundtrack is incredible, perfectly suited to the action in the game, and beautiful enough that I listen to it fairly frequently even when I'm not playing. The art style is simple, inviting, and effective, and the writing is subtle and nuanced. The fact that the entire thing was put together by one person is utterly amazing.

The iPad version had some work done by others to port it to iOS, but they've kept the game essentially unchanged, just adapted for touch controls. And I find that I like the touch controls best. It's simple and intuitive to just tap where you want the farmer to do whatever it is you're trying to do.

If you haven't already picked up this gem of a game do yourself a favor and do so now. If you have, go dive back into Pelican Town. It's worth the visit.

I've been a huge fan of Wondermark for, wow, it must be a decade or more now. David Malki ! (that's how he writes it, so that's how I write it) has honed his craft of taking old woodcut illustrations and bringing them to life in amazingly modern ways.

And recently he's started one of his incredibly rare story arcs. All tied together around the improbable phrase “check out my sick elephant”. I've found it incredibly amusing and kinda refreshing to see an through-line in what has always been a one-off type of comic.

Anyway, this:

I'm so happy we live in a world that has things like this in it.

It makes me happy that we live in a world where things like this make total sense, given that you're part of a select group of webcomic fans.

If you haven't already, go check out #Wondermark. You'll be glad you did.