Resolved: More Pictures, Less Whining

I wrote kind of a long post. It was about how great Flickr used to be, and lots other internet nostalgia — Consumating, Upcoming, stuff that just isn’t like it used to be. It made me sound like an old fogey. Feel like an old fogey. And really, all I wanted to say was that Upload all to-be-uploaded Flickr photos was on my 2012 New Year’s resolutions. I also included a half-apology about posting a New Year’s resolution in February. All in all, fairly self-passive-aggressive.

So instead I wrote this. It’s about how I think it will be good to just have all my photo backlog uploaded safe, public, and forever. How I can use my DSLR again without such a burden of responsibility. It’s about getting my life a little more sorted. And not being such a nostalgia freak, even when the territory get pretty darn nostalgic. Short and sweet.

Wishlist 2011

Alright, yes, I know I’m a little late. I know that I’m so late that there’s probably no chance of getting something on this list because there’s not enough time to have it shipped from Siberia. But oh well. I’ll list them anyway, and if I get one thing listed I’ll be surprised and pleased. Just like a real Christmas!

General

I like small musical instruments, unusual hats (size x-large or large), interesting vinyl records from the 50s and 60s, any sort of animal artwork, toy dinosaurs (and other prehistoric creatures), and cool sunglasses.

Specific

Noen av munnharpene mine - some of my jew's harpsKhomus (Jew’s Harp)

Why do I want one of these? They go ‘boing boing boyoyoy-wee-ooo-yoing’. I love tiny fun instruments in general. Awhile ago I got a Schylling brand Jew’s Harp and it didn’t work. At all. Sadface.

One made near the Altai mountains would be awesome. In the words of an ethnologist “the Altai region has perfected this ideophone as far as is humanly possible”. One from anywhere in Siberia would be ok, too. But location isn’t that important; just thought I’d mention.

A real cordless drill

Look at this one. It has a real battery, different speeds, you don’t need a chuck to tighten it, and there’s a neat little flashlight that comes on when you use it. This isn’t pictured, but it also clicks into place when it’s tightened enough.

Just like Pete Goldie’s.

Feather comforter, brown (or other non-white color), size: Queen

We’ve needed a new one for awhile. At this point, our ratty old comforter has more material outside than it does inside. We’ve determined that having bed linens in white is the fastest way to get them stained, which is why non-white.

Just a Microphone Stand

We do a radio show. Sometimes we record from home, but it’s really difficult because we don’t have one of these. Simpler would be better. Not too heavy. Just, you know, a mic stand.

An Orange Public M8 from Public Bicycles

Yeah, let’s be serious, I don’t really expect anyone to get me a $1000 bicycle. But my old bike is a P.O.S. and borrowing my mom’s Huffy is getting old.

I like the Mixte frame of this, and I appreciate the number of gears. I really appreciate that it’s advertised as “suitable for all cities, even for the hills of San Francisco.” And, of course… I love the color.

Not to say that if there were a similar one on sale in a different color that I’d be at all disappointed.

A Pair of Socks with Sharks on them that are Eating my Feet

Thanks Lauren!

Glot Theme #4, Glot-o-matic, Unshelved

Rubik's Window

Well, hm. This is sort of embarrassing. Did any of you read that post I made back in November, about my upcoming website redesign? I was so excited. So eager. So naïve.

So… if you hadn’t noticed by now, it’s been awhile since then. Most elements of my design were actually implemented; others were forgotten as life went on (as it tends to). So I’ve decided that good enough is good enough — as usual. I seem to be growing more practical and less apologetic in my old age. At least as far as apologizing for personal web designs done in my free time as a  hobby, skill-building exercise, and meditation on imperfectness.

Anyways. This is the New Stuff:

  • GLOT letters at the top are dynamic div areas (pure pixels!), style-able with CSS
  • author portrait with color-changing vertical stripes behind it
  • post titles used the 04_19 font; now they use Grixel Extended
  • tags attached to a post now have the same color and have a mini-tag next to them on hover
  • “about me” spiel is revealed on portrait hover
  • recent comments appear in the sidebar (in pixelated form)
  • Tumblr quotes, delicious links, Last.fm songs in the sidebar
  • my WeHeartIt images used as filler in the sidebar
  • number of comments shown in a comment bubble
  • posts outside of the default category (Wordglot) are now specially featured on the front page
  • Flickr photos show up below the main column on the front page
  • ditto for Twitter tweets, too
  • Creative Commons license and contact link shown prominently in the footer
  • post pages now have a more interesting mono-color scheme
  • possibility to set a featured image as background for a post
  • the “not found” page is really cool — try it!

And this is the Broken Stuff:

  • spacing is off in lots of places
  • colors can combine in near-unreadable contrast
  • the tags page… is bad
  • vigorous testing was not vigorous
  • I haven’t even checked it in Internet Explorer. Really. That’s how much fuck IE.
  • comments have no pictures and are a gray box
  • no, seriously — there’s not even a place to comment at all yet

Comment below and let me know what you think!

Birthday/Christmas Wishlist 2010

  • any shirt that looks like those pictured
  • bow-ties, like real bow ties that you tie on, especially ones with patterns or polka-dots, are cool
  • 2 terabyte hard drive for cheap received!
  • a magical easily-obtainable driver’s license for wifefriend Lynae
  • accordion (note: a very complicated choice that I’d really like to make myself… at some point in the future)
  • this toy caveman is pretty awesome, and is all of $7 (for the thrifty present-giver)Although… you know, as long as I’m mentioning it here, the toy manufacturer (Papo) makes a really great Plesiosaurus and Allosaurus, too. I have their Oviraptor and it’s top-notch. Consider it mentioned.
  • iPhone 4, for better or for worse, cf. “I must have the iPhone 4 […] I need the one with more gee-bees”
  • iPhone-to-FM transmitter, car mount, case that can safely get run over by a car
  • a new comforter — because apparently 5 years should have been considered a good run
  • Better Internet – we’re considering a local Wireless ISP (WISP) named MonkeyBrains.net that requires an up-front investment for an antenna. We’re still deciding on this one, and it’s not glamorous, but an upgrade from 3M/b download to 30M/b for less per month is a heck of a win-win.
  • The Secret Museum Of Mankind, Vol. 5 – you know how often I go for physical CD media, so this better be special. Indeed it is — I have the first 4 in the series, and they’re amazing, but for whatever reason this is missing from the Internet and thus my collection.Check out this 1939 track from South Africa, from the only recording studio in sub-Saharan Africa at the time, and the origin of the melody for “Lion Sleeps Tonight”:

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Upcoming GLOT-o-MATIC

Religiously, I tune and tweak. I intuit and poke. A new Glot design is in the works.

Since November. Drew it on the 20th, here it is:

There’s nothing wrong with it yet. It’s still in that wonderful stage where nothing is broken, per se, just not gotten-to yet. But why do it in the first place?

Well, it’s exquisite process of brain-development and creative excercise and human development. I set out to learn things sometimes, then I learn them.  This time it was CSS3 and HTML5 and some Javascript. Hopefully, maybe, possibly, that pays off some day.

Very little is started, but one interesting thing I’m adding is more pictures. Below is an image from my WeHeartIt feed, which will automatically be displayed in the sidebar (just like this!):

Nifty, huh? Back to work.

Insert Title

You know how I salute people sometimes? I do it because it’s as an easy, well-understood respect gesture. It’s simple and effective. I’ve been doing it for years, ever since my ill-fated job as a door-to-door salesman in Australia. Well, Australia is different from either Bulgaria or Serbia where people are rather distrustful of the military. So when I was there this September my saluting trick didn’t work so well, but I kept doing it. Out of habit.

But I have other bad habits. One of them is putting a lot of work into an interesting creative project for a month and then forgetting about it. But that’s more of a personality flaw and not the message I’m here to get across.

Similar to my habit of saluting even when I know it’s stupid, I call people sir and ma’am. Why? Because it’s formal and therefore I can subvert it. See, cause I don’t have a real job in business or customer service, or something. So it’s ironic when I say it informally… right? Unfortunately, it’s also stupid.

Which is why when I was working the door at Bad Movie Night on Sunday and used ma’am, I was informed by an annoyed and emphatic miss that it should only be used for married women. Sorry, miss, and semantic distinction acknowledged. So with the next chance I get to fix it I did — by using “sir” instead. This also happened to be rather stupid because the next person was female, which, you know, I knew. Needless to say, this didn’t go over well either. Neither, I think, did my haphazard explanation of the problematic semantics behind “miss” and “ma’am.” Although happy to correct the error, I think next time I need to focus more on the apologizing and less on the confusing grammar. If the lady in question ever finds herself reading this, here it is more eloquently: I’m sorry to have klutzed my way into gender confusion; I can see how I might present myself like a clueless schmuck, and maybe I am, but either way I hope it won’t upset you in future. Sorry for the megillah and also for the Yiddish.

I could just change my habit to avoid gender-based titles entirely, and that’s what I’m considering. Seems perfectly sensible, all things considered. I just need something more fun than “the party of the second part.”

Getting Married

Hear ye hear ye,

let it be know that Robert John La Londe-Berg is officially changing his name to Orin Robertjohn Zebest, that he is getting married to Lynae Ariadne Zebest, and that it’s happening tomorrow. It’s an ocassion which requires marking and here it is marked. Many readers will be coming, many will not, yet it’s worth thanking each and every one of you. Thanks, and wish me best for the future. It’s been a long time coming.

Concerning Removal of YouTube Parody Videos

Background: I sent this letter to Constantin Films, creators of the film “Downfall” (a.k.a. “Der Untergang”) after a string of DMCA takedowns on April 20th, 2010, directed at many popular “Hitler Finds Out…” parodies. The videos were written about in the New York Times and even the director has said that he likes the videos. It’s unclear what made them act now when there are literally thousands of parodies and the meme is firmly established in Internet culture.

I wish to address your company regarding its recent DMCA takedown notices of “Downfall” parody videos on YouTube.

First of all, I want to say that there is a paper-thin legal justification for these acts and you should be ashamed for censoring free expression. These videos clearly come under U.S. copyright’s Fair Use provisions. It does not matter if the original film was made in Germany, or that the content used does indeed belong to you, the fact that they parody the original film means they are 100% protected in the United States. You filed takedowns through the American DMCA system and you’ve abused that system.

Second of all, this is an impossibly bad business decision. The great majority of these videos show the same exact clip of the film, and in no way discourage people from seeing the rest of the film. Quite the opposite — it should be obvious to any marketer that these videos were a vast resource of free advertising that strongly contributed to the interest in the film. Destroying that advertising, and angering legions of people at the same time, is preposterously stupid.

Lastly, and perhaps most important, there are unfortunate symbolic consequences. I must assume — since legal and business motivations are unlikely — that your lamentable decision was based on personal sensibilities. Certainly I might understand how a German company could be sensitive about clips making light of Hitler. However, not everyone shares your apparent feeling that portrayals of Hitler should be sacrosanct in seriousness. There are many who feel that videos like the ones you’ve had removed rob Hitler of some lingering symbolic power, and, further, that returning that power is most certainly an awful idea. I think you would agree that April 20th, Hitler’s birthday, was a very regrettable day for many of these takedowns to occur.

I have referred many YouTube parody posters to a video by EFF chairman Brad Templeton, and informed them that they can rightfully dispute such DMCA requests. I will be asking others not to buy or rent any films made or distributed by your company. I will also likely encourage or help people download “Der Untergang” for free if they ever wish to see it.

I urge you to reconsider your recent actions and, further, to make amends to these legitimate creators. If I were you, I would apologize privately after retracting all claims against parodies. A press release would be more expedient, but would attract more attention than I’m sure you want. Regardless of how you choose to act, please understand this — people are upset with your actions, and their concerns should be addressed.

Thank you for your time and attention,

-Me.

How to Make an Orinz-Style Icon

Everyone needs an icon these days. I’m sure that you probably have a digital camera, that you could probably take a picture of yourself and crop it into a square and upload it. Sure. But it probably won’t look good small, it may not be very recognizable, and it could even be boring. Pictures of things you like can be a better idea, but no one should need to hide behind pretty flowers because they’re afraid of how the light will cast their face (unless that’s the mystique, I suppose). I’ve always favored showing my face — there’s something open and honest to it, and it always seemed simpler anyways. So I figured out a way to show my face in an identifiable, personal, stylish, not-boring way. This is my method using Photoshop CS4, but the principles are the same in any image-editing program.

  1. Here’s an original black and white image of the top of someone’s head. I happen to be quite attached to this one, so we’ll use this.The ideal image has an interesting outside shape with lots of fluffy bits. The background needs to be a solid color, one that contrasts with the subject’s hair (or whatever the fluffy bits are).
  2. Usually, when working with Photoshop or similar image-manipulation tools, the easiest and best selections have sharp, distinct edges. If your subject is completely bald the regular-ol’ wand tool is the way to go. But I think such lines wouldn’t produce as interesting an icon and, well, most people do have some hair. The solution: the background can be quickly and smoothly removed using a tool like Vertus Fluid Mask. While it’s not free, older versions can readily be found at a large discount. Paint the areas you want to keep, and those you want to delete, and liberally splatter BLEND over everything else. Blend really is great for hair. Preview sections as you go using the T key. It’s easy once you learn the few keyboard shortcuts. Voilà!
  3. When you’re done, you will have an image with alpha transparency. This is what allows any program (that understands it) to make your image look good against any background. You need to select the pixels according to how transparent/opaque they are. But, since there’s no alpha channel (or alpha layer), and since there’s no direct way to select based on transparency/opacity in Photoshop, we have to be clever. Make two duplicates of the new background-removed layer. Invert the colors of the one on top.
  4. Change the top layer’s transparency to exactly 50%. The two layers will cancel each other out and make middle-grey. Merge your two duplicate layers into one. This layer has no color contrast at all, no details. It is, in fact, a nearly precise reversal of the elusive alpha transparency.
  5. Using the levels tool (ctrl+L or cmd+L), make the color completely black. Slide the input level all the way to the right. Although 246 is shown, you can and should go all the way up to 253.
  6. A black image makes a much better selection. So here is where you can finally select the alpha transparency. From the layers tab, switch to the channels tab. Ctrl+click (or cmd+click) on the RGB channel to select based on transparency.
  7. Once you have this selection, you have the key. To make an outline (left), simply fill the selection with a solid color. I use color stripes over my icon, and I like seeing the unique shape against all backgrounds, so I cut out a simple image of solid stripes (center) from my selection and get a translucent image in the shape of my head. When you combine with the original photo (right), these give a smooth-edged, recognizable, quite personal icon that resolves well even at small sizes.

It’s easy and fun to play with the outline and experiment with all the different things you can do. You’ll discover there are all sorts of cool things one can put on a face. To conclude, here’s a collection of what you can create with this technique:

Uncanny Silicon Valley

This record is weird and you’ll probably like it. Before I say anything else, I’ll give you the opportunity to trust my words and just go download it. I’ve long been an advocate of knowing nearly nothing about a song or album before listening to it so as not to sully the innate purity of one’s judgment. It saves you the trouble of being seduced by the idea of some kind of music only to later realize that, hey, this Brent Spiner album really sucks. But — since if I’m going to bother sharing some music I really ought to explain why — I’ll go ahead and give an idea of what “Silicon Valley,” by Raven Kane and Klaus Netzle, is like.

“Video Invasion” by Raven Kane & Klause Netzle

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

There’s no way you could find a record quite like this. It isn’t much like anything I’ve heard, although one can easily place it in the 1980s epoch. For me, the best thing about it has got to be the earnest, catchy, often absurd lyrics — with topics such as office equipment, video technology, and artificial intelligence. It’s very firmly in Neo-Luddite on all these issues. You will, in the course of listening, encounter a joyful cognitive dissonance if you ponder how many electronic instruments are used (although, to be fair, the album’s subject is enhanced by all those clicks and boops). Even though the electronics are a campy marvel of the 80s aesthetic, the lyrics are incredible. As an example, I’ve transcribed the lyrics of one of my favorites:

“The Robot” by Raven Kane & Klause Netzle

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(lyrics of “The Robot” – parentheses denote spoken words)

I Am Rusty Ceiling RobotTHE ROBOT
radical reclamation
impersonal declaration
march of the intellect
invading the realm of man
(invading the realm of man)
THE ROBOT (x 2)

Guard, defend, preserve humanity! (x 2)
Take caution at the hint
of a world where robots may replace
the entire human race
(replace the entire human race…)
THE ROBOT (x 2)

How can the passions of man be replaced by steel and artificial minds?
The spirit, fire and farts(?) of man cannot be replaced,
shall not be replaced.
Will they be replaced?
(will they be replaced?)
By the ROBOT.

L'il Ol Me? Who says I'm incapable of emotion.THE ROBOT
cold, dull & passive
indifferent to the world around it
capable of inhuman tasks
incapable of human emotions
(incapable of human emotions)
THE ROBOT (x 2)
frigid, hard, and cast of steel
modeled to move the impossible
impossible to stop the modeled robot

watch it move, watch it move
how does he think?
what does he think?
(verse repeats)

THE ROBOT
radical reclamation
impersonal declaration
march of the intellect
invading the realm of man
(invading the realm of man)

THE ROBOT (x 2)
Guard, defend, preserve humanity! (x 2)
THE ROBOT (x 2)

watch it move, watch it move
how does he think?
what does he think?
THE ROBOT (x 4)

Man, it is fun to sing. I hope this doesn’t spoil it. I was actually hoping to do more research on this album before publishing, but guess what? There isn’t that much actual information on this record. I can’t find out why these two collaborated, what they were trying to accomplish, or what the reception was. I know that I’m  happy to have found it. I know that it’s good to keep it alive. And I’m happy to help others find it, too. With no further ado, click these two techno-phrophets for a Sharebee link: