Posted in Just Fiddling

Getting Back on the Wagon

So guess what? This blog is back! Not that I actually wrote much about my fiddle adventures in all this time because… well, why don’t I start from the beginning?

Back in June, I was hitting a major slump in my practice and progress. That didn’t change at all during July and half of August. In fact, I didn’t touch my fiddle at all during those months, and I’m not proud of it.

In June I decided there just wasn’t enough content for me to keep this blog by itself, and I wanted to consolidate it with my main hobby blog. Turns out I was wrong about that, but I just had to discover that for myself.

So, I fell off the wagon in a big way. I thought about picking up my fiddle time and again… but either I just didn’t have the energy to put into it after work, or I felt the weight of negligence heavy on me. I knew that the longer I went without practice, the further I’d slip in what I remembered when I did come to practice again. And that made it harder and harder to want to pick it up.

The saddest part of this is that in June, I’d invested in a learning track with American Fiddle Method — which I really like! I’d gone through all of the starter videos and actually picked up new information about bow hold, tempos and all sorts of things. I was really on the ball, and even invested in a metronome and better speakers for my practice laptop.

I was ready and inspired to go at it and then… I don’t know what happened. I don’t have any excuses. I just didn’t practice, and that compounded as the days slipped by.

Getting Back on the Wagon

I have no idea what inspired me to pick up my fiddle today. I even had to clean the dust out of my practice corner it’s been so long. I knew I’d have to face the reality of lost information, and I did. What bit I did learn about sight reading in my first 5 months, I’m struggling to remember. Thankfully, I still remember the fingering and the bow hold.

But music-wise, I’ve rolled back to songs like Lightly Row and Twinkle practice. It’s frustrating, to be expected and… well, I guess I was going to start out at the beginning with AFM anyhow.

The one good thing I retained was my overall stamina. I was able to sit down for a 30 minute practice today without much pain or strain. When I was first starting with my fiddle, I had a lot of trouble with how long I could hold the bow and practice repeated songs because I just didn’t have arm strength to do so for an extended period. The fact that this stuck with me — or maybe that I’m holding the bow/instrument better — is encouraging.

Online Practice Log

So why did I decide that this separate blog had value after all? When I finished up today’s practice session, I really wanted to log the experience.

I noted that back in June, I picked up a paperback practice log — and it’s nice, don’t get me wrong. But I discovered that I really just don’t enjoy writing things out long hand – I’m far faster putting my fingers on a keyboard and my words on a screen (it’s my day job).

So I mused over how I could create a Practice Log online. I knew I couldn’t make it a part of my hobby blog (can’t install plugins on a hosted blog). I mulled over making a new blog, thinking about how I could modify some kind of calendar system to work the way I wanted. That’s when I suddenly realized… wait… I already have a separate blog for this!

I experimented with calendar plugins, and found one that will work for my purpose – here’s the first shot at my Practice Log including my first entry. So while I may not have a lot of posts to blog, I realized modifying things a bit gives me the log that I was looking for. And a purpose for this blog again!

I went ahead and restored the content I wrote before – I did have to fix a few links and some images. But overall, everything is here. Just goes to show you that the purpose for some things aren’t always clear at first. Now I just hope I can start filling out this practice log and stick with re-learning stuff again.

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Using Stormshade for Screenshots

Maybe you’ve noticed that as of late, a number of the FFXIV screenshots I post here seem of better quality than the shots of yore. This is because I’ve been dabbling with a shader system made specifically for FFXIV called Stormshade.

Stormshade is a version of Reshade that has unlocked the depth-buffer for FFXIV. I don’t know what all that exactly means, other than some of the visual options you couldn’t normally fiddle with are open to edit while it’s turned on.

Not only can you create your own settings based on the shaders provided, but you can also download shader presets created by the community. There’s a whole page of those on the Stormshade site. For most of the shots I take, I flip between the various presets I’ve downloaded until I find a combination of something I like to look at. One day I’ll spend some time making my own.

Note: Often, these presets are very intensive on your PC resources, so I don’t suggest using them outside of taking screenshots. A few of the presets can be used for play, and will usually be marked in the description if so.

Continue reading “FFXIV: Using Stormshade for Screenshots”