Shift Of Focus: Change to 'Lab Nights'

Last Updated: 2022-04-17 09:30:00 -0500

Frequent fliers in the lab are likely familiar with the practice of “lab nights” here, where I was (nominally) regularly hosting a live-streamed work session on my twitch channel - so much so that one of the Illuminated Arcana flags is actually hidden in the most recent video on that channel. This practice has had its upsides and downsides.

Zoo Vet? I Quit!

AT the time of writing, that “most recent video” is over 25 days old, and that factoid sort of speaks to the problem with working this way: neither a regular streaming schedule nor my style of work are full compatible with “hey, let’s run a hobby lab”.

Mainly this has caused, and been caused by, three distinct problems:

  1. The Lab Is Not Fully Equipped. I don’t have “goof around for a living” hobby money, and as a result the lab itself is not actually fully equipped. Most frequently, this manifests as the current situation we’re in: parts delay. When it’s not parts, it’s tools. Realistically we probably spend more time in the lab waiting for parts to arrive - and waiting to be able to order those parts - than actually doing anything. That alleviates over time as we stock up, but even still - it’s hard to fill three nights a week when you’re stalling for an order of capacitors. Or whatever.
  2. Friction is created between streaming subjects. I could just as easily - and frequently have - streamed gaming, which is the standard fare of Twitch. I’m a huge fan of puzzle games, for example. However, this creates a tension. People who signed up because they liked that I ran through Quern or was learning the Oracle of Ages speedrun aren’t going to be entertained by poking around in Code Composer Studio, and the inverse is also true. This creates a weird sort of inertia and tension whenever I want to change the stream topic on the fly, and that can create resentment if I’m just not prepared to do the originally-scheduled thing.
  3. Streaming is hard actually. Shockingly, as an introvert, it costs me energy to keep the lab door open for a few hours and be entertaining and expositive while I’m working, especially if work isn’t going well. This is a double-edged sword, granted; I’ll be the first to admit just how often I get unstuck by either a timely suggestion from the audience or the process of explaining the problem.

The key takeaway here is that from now on I will no longer be actively scheduling Twitch livestreams for the lab. For one thing, I’m still not really sure how much longer I’m going to be in “waiting for parts” limbo. For another, I think it’d be more interesting for everyone concerned if I just run off and put some stuff together by myself. But there’s an upside here too: that frees up “documenting the process” spoons to be used for something else.

Less Frequent, Shorter, Better-Composed Videos

My plan for the immediate future is to collect generic footage during my lab nights, as well as shooting more composed and scripted interstital video. Instead of having to sit through three hours of a lab stream, whenever a major update comes up or if anything else interesting happens I can put together a shorter, more polished video, and put it somewhere like youtube for availability.

In fact I already have such a video planned - a quick “here’s what I’ve prepared earlier” video for PETI, which will dovetail nicely into some more focused videos on subjects like the video subsystem. Might even make a nice companion to the service manual I’m writing.

I hope to upload this sometime in the immediate future, between maybe now and the end of may.

Still a Twitch Affiliate

I’m a member of the Affiliate program with Twitch which means that I have various features available to me that allow people to sponsor my work in various means, through the use of one-time donations, monthly subscriptions, and ad revenue. However, I’m actually going to discourage you from subscribing to my twitch for a few reasons:

  1. Of all three of the platforms available for recurring subscriptions, Twitch, Github Sponsors, and the new Patreon, Twitch takes by far the largest cut of the revenue for themselves - 50%. Even Patreon doesn’t take that much, and far as I can tell Github takes nothing.
  2. Any twitch streams I host from now on are going to be irregularly-scheduled gaming streams, because that’s what I feel like doing at that moment, and wil not be any kind of an indicator of future effort, and;
  3. Let’s be honest, my emotes are weak.

All this being said - if you really really enjoyed Lab Nights and I am in the mood for an “open office” - I will periodically just go live in one of the voice channels on the Lab Discord and host chat sessions that way.

PETI is a major project intended to design and construct a virtual pet from Open Source Hardware and Software, and to encourage others to modify and tinker with similar projects. If you would like to support the development of this, or any of the other projects I’m working on for Arcana Labs, and you wanted to show your support financially, your best avenue is via my Github Sponsors account or by making a one-time donation to Arcana Labs via or through other avenues detailed here. Github Sponsors also get access to a special patrons-only section of the Arcana Labs Discord Server, where we talk about the ongoing super-secret project.