I wonder why street pass is not a thing on the Switch

Recently I’ve been playing a lot of “Etrian Odyssey Remastered” on Switch. A lot of people compare this game with the DS originals regarding the mapping, which is the main charm of the series. I’ve been thinking a lot about the game’s street pass feature in the 3DS.

Street pass was a feature where a 3DS could see if another 3DS was nearby, and then exchange information if they had the same games in the memory. What information changed depended on the game. In Etrian Odyssey, you could mark one of your characters to send, which other people could add to their party. In Animal Crossing, other people’s villagers could come visit your island. In Rhythm Heaven, you could get statistics and ghosts of other players. Even if you didn’t have any games in common, the 3DS included a standard functionality where you could get the home country and region of people that you connected with, and you could do a kind of “scavenge hunt”, trying for example to street pass with people from all provinces in Japan, or all countries in Europe.

Street pass was a really fun feature of the 3DS. I loved to go for a walk with my DS in my back, and look forward to what the Street pass would bring me when I was back home. It gave an extra flavor to go on local trips. There were even a few places in Tokyo were people gathered just to street place with each other — I remember going to the little benches in front of Yodobashi Akihabara to get the Dragon Quest street pass from other people (I don’t even remember what the street pass was, though… maybe random dungeons?).

I’m a bit puzzled, and sad, about why the feature was not added to the Switch, though… I wonder if later games in the 3DS stopped using it, and Nintendo felt it did not made sense to add it to the Switch, or if it was a battery saving measure…

Keyboard Fixing Failed!

Tonight my wife asked me for help fixing the keyboard of her notebook. One of the keys was stuck, and not being pressed correctly. Playing with the notebook, it was clear that something was stuck under the key. Ideally, all I had to do was to pop the key off, inspect what was wrong inside, and pop it back in.

The problem was: I had never popped a keyboard key before, neither did she, and we were both stumped.

A little bit of searching for her laptop model and “key” and “exchange” led us to this Youtube video.

Screenshot of the Youtube Video mentioned in the post. The video's title is "How To Fix Replace Keyboard Key for Lenovo Ideapad - Individual Key Repair - Letter Arrow Etc"

The video was actually quite easy to follow, and filled me with confidence. Out of an abundance of caution, I first tried the procedure on two “dead” laptops I had on hand – an old mouse laptop, and an out of commission laptop of the same brand as the target computer. In both cases, I managed to remove and reinsert the key a few times without almost any issue.

Feeling confident, I tried the procedure on my wife’s computer… it seemed to work, at first, but when I tried to put the key back into place, the bottom part would not stick. The top of the key was affixed correctly, but the bottom of the key was loose and pushing up, which made matters worse than when we first started. :-(

I tried to remove and reinsert the key a few times, with identical results. As far as I could tell from a visual inspection, all parts seemed to be in place and not broken, so I’m not sure what went wrong… I guess we’ll have to take the computer to a nearby shop tomorrow or the day after to get someone who know what they’re doing to take a look at it :-(

Oh well. We try things. Sometimes they even work!

Hello 2024!

A pico8 animation. A green dragon flies over a body of water, against a morning sky. Mountains and trees scroll in the background. The words "Happy New Year" wave at the top.

Like last year, I spent the morning of January 1st working on this little animation. But other than that, 2022 and 2023 were really different.

If 2022 for me was not bad, not great, 2023 was… well, let’s start with the good. Several posters and papers in GECCO and ALIFE was good. Being active in the Artificial Life Newsletter was good. I started taking more care of my health, with visible results.

Somewhere around August, though, I feel like I lost control. Too many things happened at once, and I started feeling like I was falling behind and playing catch-up on everything, personal and work-wise; choosing what I could afford to leave by the wayside.

My naturalization process didn’t progress at all this year. I did very little programming. Besides the papers (which were submitted in March), research feels in a rut. RPG too. Journaling or blogging are distant dreams. In short, the later half of 2023 feels like a wasted blur.

So the overall feeling is this need to center myself and turn these things around. Be more active and less reactive in the work and personal arenas. Even as I say that, I still feel reluctant to set clear goals for this year.

But maybe I can start by building a proper emergency kit this weekend, given the huge earthquake we had today the west coast.


Permacomputing (link to permacomputing wiki) is a movement/aesthetic about computer systems that are sustainable / resilient. It is a response to the idea of eternal growth in the area of technology.

I learned about this term a few weeks ago on mastodon. I can’t find the link anymore, but it was a blog post about the failure of the free software movement, describing permacomputing as its spiritual successor. This week I had the time to give a good read at the permacomputing wiki, and I found it exceedingly interesting.

For a while I have been worried about things like planned obsolescence, eternal growth, scaling as the only way of progress, bloat, conspicuous consumerism, etc. While computer systems in my youth felt like something that could free and raise people as individuals, today they feel wasteful, uncaring and asphyxiating. On the other hand, I have been attracted to aesthetics that see computing as smaller, simpler, more connected with our physicality and ecology. However, this has always been a very lonely feeling — I have always thought that these dreams were pure nostalgia, me being “an old man shouting at clouds”. Learning about permacomputing made me realize that there were people thinking about the same things, and in much deeper and more proactive way. It was a nice feeling.

Reading through the wiki, I came across many terms and concepts that I have seen among people working on Alife, such as alternative forms of computing, like DNA and fungal computing, and robust systems, like Dave Ackley’s T2 project. I wonder if this is something that some people in the alife community has engaged with (even though there are also some in that community that embrace the eternal growth mindset). Something to look forward in Hokkaido later this year. The term Unconventional Computing in the wiki was a nice throwback to my PhD years, since I remember once participating in an “Unconventional Computing” workshop at Todai, just because the name felt interesting. Back then, the concepts were way out of my depth, and I didn’t get a lot out of it. Maybe it is time to revisit it.

Indeed, although as a global movement, permacomputing seems very utopian (more so than the Free Software Movement must have felt back when it was proposed), it also feels like it matches my primordial concepts about evolutionary computation and alife — how computation could behave as a pseudo-biological substrate for long term self-sufficient evolution — or how artificial creatures could find their own niche, and grow in their own direction, if given just the right kind of push. This idea seems to diverge from the permacomputing ethos in that it does not place humans in the center of the technological landscape, but I feel that merging computation and nature in a sustainable, evolving way, even (or specially) in the absence of humanity, is still an appealing dream.

Anyway, this might be worth studying more in the future as a disinfectant for the cynicism that grows out of the bleak techno-corporate environment that I feel myself immersed into these days. But let’s see if I still remember this in a month or so… (maybe I can plant these seeds in more fertile ground?)

Making a Mega-Dungeon, a room a day.

At the beginning of this year, someone over at Mastodon suggested a challenge where you write one Dungeon Room each day, and at the end of the year end up with a 365-room Mega-Dungeon. (Does anyone have the link to the original post?)

At the time, I thought it was a really neat idea, but was busy with other things (I don’t even quite remember what… maybe Ludum Dare?). I followed some initial posts, and then I eventually forgot about it.

That said, the idea was still shaking around at the back of my head, and the new academic year beginning in April gave me the excuse I needed to give it a try. So I bought an year planner at the local bookstore (unfortunately, I couldn’t find one with a nice grid), and started writing the dungeon this week. Well, to be honest, I began on Thursday, so I wrote the first four days all at once then.

The rules are simple: (1) Each day, I draw a dungeon room and write the room description on the planner. (2) Each week corresponds to one dungeon floor or area. (3) I try not to think about the next areas or rooms too much in advance. (4) On each area, I write a random monster table, and brief descriptions of the monsters.

I am using Labyrinth Lord like for the monsters in this first week, although I probably need to re-read the book to remind myself about magic items and rules. I am a bit concerned about the place feeling a bit disjointed or boring, but I’ll try not to worry about it too much for the moment.

Here is a quick preview of what expects the adventurers in the first area:

A drawing of two RPG adventurers in a dungeon, being attacked by giant ants. One of them is standing, wearing armor and wielding a weapon. The other is laying on the ground, covered in ants.
(Found on an image search, author unknown. Probably some D&D supplement)

I hope this works. I have been looking for some sort of writing habit to work on every night, and gratitude journals weren’t quite cutting it. If I can turn this into an actual adventure in the future, even better!