Merri.net

About Merri

by Vesa Piittinen

Hello.

Looking at the design of this site you might be wondering “why Final Fantasy IX?” or “why Heroes III?“. So I guess I might try to explain! They are both games from the turn of the millenia. And both are games that I love, although FF9 wins if you make me choose. This I think reflects on the overall feel pretty nicely?

Back in those days I didn’t have a PlayStation, and I didn’t even have a Super Nintendo. I had just gotten into playing FF6 with an emulator and loved it, too. But I didn’t quite like what FF7 and FF8 were like: the “fantasy” got reduced even further than in FF6 and they had more focus on technology.

Then as some kind of a counter balance the gaming magazines and media of the time had stories about FF9 being a return to the roots. Fantasy would be back.

I bought the game even though I didn’t have a PlayStation.

Table of Contents

  1. Computers, more computers
  2. Understanding minorities
  3. Narrow interests
  4. Learning as I go
  5. Preferring beauty and function
  6. Stories untold
  7. Collector
  8. Different

  9. Old content
  10. Hey the pixel fonts on this site look great!
Final Fantasy 9 character: Vivi Ornitier (official Dissidia game art)
Merri
"During summer months I do some garden stuff."

Computers, more computers

Dad bought a Commodore 64 in 1990 or so. I was hooked, and in a couple of years I had learned to program. On this I was alone: I did not know of anyone else who was into coding. And, despite Internet, I never met other programmers in real life until I got hired as a programmer in 2013. I guess that tells quite a lot about me and my inability to network socially. But I did create an online community in 2000 that still has real life meetings to this day.

Commodore logo Microsoft Visual Basic 6 logo PHP logo JavaScript logo ReactJS logo

As I like programming, I like computers. It didn’t take all that long that I got into building my own. I came to like AMD as they gave better performance for less money. Really love their comeback with Ryzen! Over the years I’ve made somewhat of a small collection of old computers, even if it is hard to make use of them with the limited time that one can spare to things outside of work.

It is a shame how short lived we make stuff. I would love it if some day we could still be actively using 50 year old computers as our daily drivers! It would be great if things were designed for longevity over continuous competitive change driven by capitalist economy that we have now.

Merri
"I have never been drunk."

Understanding minorities

I’m a white male and in theory that should make life easy for me. But it hasn’t been so. Over the span of my life I’ve noticed that I have a lot of empathy for minorities. And in 2021 I started to understand and accept the fact that there is a clear minority that I belong to: I’m autistic. This explains why it has been so hard for me to connect with other people! Autists are a minority who have traditionally been forced to mask to appear to be “normal”, “like others”. And the built world and social rules have not been designed for autists in mind.

All the laws, all the malls, all the rules. By neurotypicals to other neurotypicals.

Thus we get into what I do as my job: I’m a Front End Developer, with a heavy focus on the web UI and accessibility. Or rather, usability: by doing things properly in usability side you are also taking a11y into account automatically. When doing things I’m doing my best to make it work well for everyone regardless of what they use. This is my empathy that takes care of users and their needs. And I do this even though I rarely get any direct feedback from users.

This career path isn’t really something that I would’ve put a lot of thought into as a career path or as a goal in my life. It is something that I became.

Merri
"I ride a bicycle. No car, no driver's license. Take a train or a tram when you can."

Narrow interests

As typical to an autist I have a very scoped attention. If I get interested of something, then well, I become an expert. This is socially a bit hard because it is often very hard for me to get interested on what others are talking about. And I can’t keep a lot of random information to share quickly. Instead I have deep knowledge of the things that I have had interest on. Yet it might take me a while to shift my gears to remember.

Due to these features a slower pace of life is certainly the way to go for me. Working, to me, is really just that: working. It is very easy for me to only do the productive part of working when at work. I’ve had to unlearn out of this. Nobody likes to burn out, you know.

Merri
"I have had mental health issues, but I've sorted them out on my own... kind of."

Learning as I go

In work life there has been this constant noise about how everyone has to be a life time learner, and how being focused to it is valued. I had difficulty orienting myself into this, but eventually I noticed I’ve indeed always been such a learner throughout my life. Nobody has to push me to learn stuff: I find my way into information and can’t avoid it.

There are many things that I am interested of, but one of the dear ones is language. I’ve bothered with it enough that I’m decent in translating from language to another. I lack proper tooling to do it fast and I have no desire to do it as a job, but I’ve translated a couple of games. Although more are incomplete than finished, that is just the way it goes!

Merri
"School was an autopilot experience to me. Did it only because I was expected to, but with good numbers."

Preferring beauty and function

Nature is beautiful. And we can make beautiful things. Yet, we do not: many cities these days are full of glass boxes. It is as if we have lost the ability to create nice buildings. And often we also tear away nature from our environment. This is something that bothers me for many reasons. Why building fast and “efficiently” over beauty and well thought functionality is so important if it is going to stay for decades? It is bad for nature, it is irresponsible economically when thinking over long periods of time, and it is horrible for the human mind that has to live in that environment.

No wonder so many young people are depressed these days! Oh, I didn’t remember to list how performance centric work life has become. And you can’t even make a long career in one job these days. Always have to be ready to change, ready to compete, ready to look for job. Not having a job is not an option. This kind of attitude makes me angry and I would very much prefer the slower pace of life where we actually would have time to be human to each other.

Merri
"J.R.R. Tolkien's hobbits are right: the minds of people become adult at 33 years old (earliest), not at 18."

Stories untold

So far I haven’t had enough time. I have an idea for a fantasy world and a story. Yet, I fail to find the time to make it a thing. Why? Well… I have given priority to work. The way the world works at the moment I’m bound to making money. And for now I wouldn’t feel secure abandoning work life and the money it makes me. It would be great if the world was different and if we weren’t so bound to money making and profits. We could all be making our own little creative things more instead of consuming the products made popular by big money.

With the climate catastrophe we have going on right now we really should change our ways. But I guess we like to rather buy things, drive fast on a freeway, and escape to travel than to have a livable planet. This isn’t even an opinion: it is the trade off we’re doing right now.

One idea for the story is to have an arc where things do get messed up: a climate change that comes true. Seeing how things are this is not original, but I would find it very much important to have it in alongside other, more original combinations. Besides, when it comes to everything we do, we’re all just stealing from each other: evolving what has come before us. We are walking mirrors of experience.

Maybe a day comes when I feel like I can actually focus to this idea and we end up with a story instead of just a bunch of ideas inside my head.

Merri
"I have two pink teddy bears."

Collector

What about the game? That FF9 that I bought. How could I play it if I didn’t have a console? Well… Eventually, I bought a PSone. That makes it the first home console I bought with my own money. I had bought a Gameboy Pocket and later upgraded to a Gameboy Color. And this is a trend that has continued through my life: I’ve been buying new consoles as well as collecting some “retro” consoles as well. Mostly I’ve been stuck with Nintendo. Currently I own:

  • Nintendo Gameboy (grey, blue)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Pocket (grey without power led, yellow)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Color (in multiple colors but not all of them)
  • Nintendo Gameboy Advance SP (one fully working, one with broken display)
  • Nintendo DS Lite
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Nintendo Wii U
  • Nintendo Wii
  • Sony PSone
  • Sony PStwo
  • Sony PlayStation 3 “slim”

Also around 2012 or so I bought a lot of Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and later on also Nintendo 3DS and Wii U games. Back around those times shops hadn’t quite yet caught on that many Nintendo games tend to keep their value pretty well, and I knew that they probably do. Yet some places sold Nintendo games with greatly reduced prices! It was a time I didn’t yet have a big income so it was also a way for me to ensure future money. Later it turned out that was an unnecessary measure. But I’ve mostly kept the game collection, lots of games still wrapped in plastic :)

I’ve given up on PlayStation and Xbox: I don’t have time to play, and overall I tend to favor Nintendo games on console.

Merri
"I'm pretty good in Mario Kart!"

Different

I hope the text so far has been an interesting read. Being interesting is something that hasn’t really been taught to me, yet I know I am an interesting case despite my inability to show it off. At least in real life where I am often the reserved case and avoid being the center of attention. I lack the skill to make others feel welcome in an instant but compensate by really letting everyone be what they are.

I’ve often found out that people that I befriended in my youth have been oddballs in one way or another: for example, two have later become openly gay, and one is transgender. I treated them like I would’ve treated anyone else which was different experience to them (thus making befriending easier), because neurotypical people could see that they were “off” and thus didn’t treat them like others. They didn’t match their expectations. And I don’t match their expectations, but for a different reason.

I’m a firm believer that divergence is a strength. The world would be a very boring place if everyone was the same. The world is full of minorities and we all belong to some. It is interesting to work with people who have different backgrounds and varying abilities, and it is interesting to hear ideas of people who don’t, or can’t, follow the story of the mainstream. There are disabled people who would be fully able if the world wasn’t made to disable them. There are minority cultures that would live a very sustainable life and are much better for this world than the people who go with “the civilization”.

And then there are people like me. Autists who can see the patterns, understand “the system” behind everything that is around us that makes us behave as we do. For this understanding we have to pay a high price of information overflow: too many triggers for our senses, and the added responsibility to “behave like others” to “be normal”. It is very one-sided: autists have to do most or all of the work to mask my behavior if communication is to succeed, because autistic behavior is not tolerated nor understood by the current “civilization”. This has to change.

This has been my “little” introduction to myself. It has some length, but I hope it isn’t too bad. And even all this is just a tiny scratch into who I am and what I think about this world or what I stand for.

Zidane Vivi Dagger Steiner Blank Marcus Cinna Freya Quina Beatrix Eiko Amarant
You're not alone.


Old content

Stuff that was done before the design change in 2020 or so. Kept because why not.


Hey the pixel fonts on this site look great!

This site uses the excellent Alexandria font by Teaito, based on Zidane's font in Final Fantasy IX.


The other pixel font on this site is a custom one drawn by yours truly for the Finnish translation of Heroes of Might and Magic III to allow use of longer words, and thus have less restrictions with creativity. The font is optimized for reduced width to fit well in tight spaces, sacrificing some legibility for compactness.

Screenshot from Heroes of Might and Magic 3 showcasing the new condensed font

Using these fonts isn’t as trouble free as one might like, you do have to play around with some design limitations on the web page’s layout. For example I have a JavaScript snippet that adds one pixel padding to the page when page width is odd so that centered elements don’t start playing around with subpixel rendering the text, thus ruining the visual appearance of the pixel fonts.

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