20.34.11 - Mark

A few years ago, one of my brothers bought a screen printing kit, the two of us figured out how to print some t-shirts, and planned on doing more with screen printing. Didn't quite happen. The parts have been reused to projects, but screen printing fell off to the side. The cloth prints since then were either one-off with freezer paper stencils and spray paint (similar to this project), experiments for other techniques, to simply being large enough that a professional lab felt more practical than an attempt at DIY printing on a short time table. However, about two weeks ago a friend asked me about printing some flags.

He'd used professional printers before, but the low number and small size meant it would have been pretty pricy, and while at first I figured stencils and spray paint would work (and it would) the numbers are enough that DIY screen printing would be easier. So I started working on the kit.

Unfortunately parts of it didn't age well. The screen, ink, and tools are in good enough shape, although quite probably not enough, and the photo sensitive emulsion chemicals were either missing, or used. I was also missing the manual. I know, oft ignored, but if you're playing with chemicals its wise to do your research. In this case I turned to Instructables, and landed on the true DIYers screen printing project. While it isn't the most precise article, it's a great guideline, both for people doing it themselves and those who want to save money.

So while I was waiting for the Potassium Dichromate / Elmer's glue photo emulsion to dry onto the screen, I started working on the art. In the past I'd dig up a piece of transparency sheet and use that for the mask, but finding any, and not liking the price I deiced to try vellum paper (in large part due to the DIY screen printer instructable). Which gets me to this video.

Since I'm working off a vector art piece, I wanted to print it on to the vellum. However my printers don't run on cheap ink, so I only printed out the outline, and would fill it in by hand. Right before I started filling it in I pulled out my old point and shoot and set it up for time-lapse.

Nice short and simple video, in many ways very similar to the Pennies video I. [wow, over 4 years ago!] The slight difference is I had the camera set on time lapse, in one shot a minute factory issued mode, so this ends up being choppier than I'd prefer. I'm not sure if I want to blame my lack of (good) camcorder, better knowledge of the CHDK hack for my point and shoots, or the extended lack of a intervalometer controller for my DSLR (be it commercial product, graphing calculator, arduino based project, or a crude but simple 555 electronic circuit)

In any case

Inking (4.4MB 320 x 240 H.264 Quicktime)

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

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A Collection of Thoughts

22.54.59 - Mark

I've been lazy this past week. There have been things I've wanted to say, but nothing that really deserved it's own post So I'm going to lump a few together. There's some other stuff that I want to get out, but deserve more thought and longer posts - like how "old media" still can't produce a useful website, even after 15 years of the world wide web and a solid five years since "new media" platforms like blogging started appearing in a big way.

First up I finished George Carlin's When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops last week, and while I enjoy Carlin's material it felt like binge reading a thing-a-day calendar. I'm pretty sure they formatted it so it was easy to stop after 5 or 10 pages, which in a way helps but for a book that has a list price of $24 (I was given the hard cover edition as a gift) you would hope there's at least a little continuity.

Next, Voice actors are amazing. Period. Almost entirely unrecognized and it's a true shame. I love animation and have been chewing though some "old" cartoons from the mid to late 90's (back before the FCC's Educational and Informational rules kicked in, when Saturday morning cartoons still existed and didn't totally suck) as well as some more recent stuff (like Futurama) and it's amazing when you watch these shows and realize that in a recording booth somewhere, these guys are having conversations with themselves. It's great when you can just see (or hear) these people working - like the Simpsons episode of Inside the Actors Studio or some of the DVD extras - The live reading of the comic on Bender's Big Score comes to mind. It's a shame that more and more animated movies want to fill ranks with celebrity voices. Afro Samurai strikes a good balance - a few big name voices supported by some voice actors.

Third, and kind of similar to voice acting I never realized how amazing Who Framed Rodger Rabbit? was, and how it's the sort of movie that would never get made today. Intellectual property lawyers, standards and practices, animators, and celebrity voices would totally ruin the thing before it got started. You would never see alcoholic detectives helping cartoons, kids with cigarettes, social commentary (the description of freeways is far from positive) the same level of animated violence, or some of the more sexual scenes and obfuscated language in the easter eggs. Maybe some of them, but not all of them. It's a treat

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Holiday Bird

09.57.14 - Mark

I can get lazy sometimes. When I was out and about taking photos two weeks ago (when it was 70 degrees and sunny) I ran across this bird who has a habit of showing up around the Greenway Trail in Mount Airy, I'm pretty sure it's a Great Blue Heron, but I'm not a bird expert. The herons (there are a few that like the creek) tend to show up when I'm either without a camera or they fly away before I can make a photo. For whatever reason this one wasn't disturbed, and allowed me to watch and record for about 10 minutes before moving on.

It took me a week to get around to editing to find some music I liked for the bird and edit together the video clips and photos I took, and then it's taken me an additional week to getting around to fighting with compression settings and file formats, so after all that time I'm finally getting around to posting the video as a sort of holiday gift. Maybe later I'll get around to adding some sort of flash player so you don't have to download my, anymore large, video files.

The music under my video is "Clouds Fly as I Smile" by SaReGaMa the Artist who released it under a Creative Commons Noncommercial Sampling Plus 1.0 License. My video (like most of my content) is CC Attribution Non-commercial 3.0.

The Bird (158MB 320 x 240 H.264 Quicktime)

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License.

Oh yeah, Happy Holidays.

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Clearing out the undergrowth

13.51.11 - Mark

My RSS feed reading has been on and off for a few months. Part of that is flaky hardware, most of it is the mess of RSS feeds I try and keep up with. Up until this week I've been keeping related feeds together. All the news in one folder, all the blogs in another. It was a tangled mess and my irregular reading left a lot of dead feeds in the system next to some hyperactive feeds reporting hundreds of unread posts. When I was browsing feeds half the time was finding the good feeds with information I wanted.

Last week when 43 Folders posted a tip on organizing feeds by the value of the source rather than the topic I set it aside to use as a guide line for sorting out my RSS mess.

I'm not 100% done with the sort and toss, and I've got a folder filled with broken feeds, but I can already tell the new system is working for me. I'm staying caught up with my low signal to noise ration feeds, nearly caught up with middle of the road feeds, and I'm almost comfortable with ignoring everything I have ranked below that threshold. It feels good to have organized feeds again. Which I suppose means I need to stop putting off some of my planned code updates for this site...

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Steal this idea.

00.49.39 - Mark

It's no secret that if you create something, it can and probably will be pirated. Doesn't matter if you're a bottom rung blogger getting ripped off by spamblogs or a major studio who had a work copy stolen and placed onto bittorrent. The bottom rung blogger most likely will never know that their content was ripped, but we all know the studios and record labels love suing the pants off everyone they can find.

The question becomes, what if you "pirate" this content, and then offer fair reimbursement directly to a studio. Would they accept it, or add your name to the defendants list on the next round of lawsuits?

Fair prices for digital content have already been established, $.99 for that song you can't get out of your head, $10 for the rare album with more than one track worth listening to, $2 for last night's episode of Heroes, $5 or so for each summer blockbuster you want to download - maybe $7 if it's still in theaters.

Now send off a check (or some other traceable form of payment) for that amount, plus maybe some for those copies you gifted your anonymous friends online (based on how much of the file you shared), and see if they cash the check.

If the studio takes your money, hurray, there's some merit to those incessant anti-piracy notices after all. If not, then we get to start asking why the networks falsely claim that they're concerned with the livelihood those who create the content, or why they don't want people paying for and enjoying the company's content in a way that benefits the consumer.

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Bad Business Plans

16.19.04 - Mark

The Bittorrent store is doomed to fail. Their business model is based on having knowledgeable geeks and power users using crippled software, to pay to have their computers and internet connections used to support the store's network, while renting mainstream content that in addition to being low quality has been wrapped in stringent DRM forcing you to use one computer and forbids you from using portable devices.

Meanwhile their main competition is themselves, by having millions of high quaility, DRM-free files available on the same network at no cost, and which have the added benefit of being playable on any sufficiently modern media device.

Looking at the NYT article, they claim a better user experience, but I can't see myself or my bittorrent aware brother using the official site over TorrentSpy or The Pirate Bay and while I have no problem forking over cash, bandwidth, or even watching advertisements to compensate for my downloads I'm not accepting DRMed files. I commonly download files on a linux box and watch videos on one of a number of other devices, from a video iPod to streaming it across the network and viewing it on a laptop connected to the TV.

I can't help but think that this is nothing but an attempt to keep a perfectly legal tool and its creators from being sued by naive MPAA/RIAA lawyers.

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Live on the scene.

00.32.45 - Mark

I've been checking in on the Eastern Guilford High School fire by flipping onto the local news stations this afternoon. Unquestionably its a serious problem that the school will have to deal with over the next few months, and in all likelyhood - years.

I'm not going to try and compare this to any thing I've ever seen, heard, or experianced, as it would be stupid and wouldn't end well (I've never figured out the whole school pride thing), but I'm deeply interested in the news coverage as the events unfolded.

I first heard about it after fliping on the TV this afternoon and catching a sound bite from the local Fox station. It hooked me pretty quickly (what red blooded American isn't grossly infactuated with live disaster stories?) and I sat around watching it for a few minutes.

I don't expect great production values from the local TV stations, and would probably go nuts trying to engineer live TV, but the first thing that struk me is that there was a lot of fluff. Anchors talking about observations from a staging area hundreds of feet from the activity. My timing was fairly good as it didn't take long for the on-the-scene crew to start finding people to talk to from firefighters and parents, but the questions, again were weak.

An on camera interview with a parent picking up her children started with "First of all, what does it smell like?" Of all the even slightly relevent questions to ask a parent of a student whose school is on fire, "What does it smell like" ranks up there with "What does smoke look like?" and "Is fire hot?" as bad questions.

I turned it off shortly afterwards, but checking back later on I didn't hear many good questions. I understand its live TV, events are happening in real time, and new viewers are turning in constantly but news is supposed to be new. I'd like a little more than "Just the facts' mam.". It reminds me a lot of the 9/11/01 news coverage, when I spent most of the day watching a looping videos of a plane crash I saw live.

I suppose the point I want to reach is, is if media, new, old or a hybrid, is really capable of reporting news in real time?

Old media is good at getting a couple of basic facts out to the masses quickly, but is often little more than "something happened - fluff story at 11" while new media is huge ammounts of information distributed acorss hundreds of human filters before good stuff comes to the surface. The hybrids, so far I haven't seen much more than a thank you for reporting this story.

I'll admit that this isn't my typical beat, but it is something to think about (if any of this post makes as much sense as I hope it does).

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Local "News"

14.40.42 - Mark

There's a reason Local news paper's are suffering in the technology age, and its not just blogs and citizen media:

Local News

It's the fact that stuff like this is showing up on the front page of smaller newspapers. This example is the bottom half of the Mount Airy News' front page for Saturday May 13th. We have 1) a standard end of the year/spring brawl at a local high school 2) Information about a teddy bear "festival" where some shop will be selling $100 + teddy bears and 3) a primer on the history and origins of the Teddy Bear - as ripped off a corporate site and rewritten by some PR person in charge of the festival.

Earlier in the week the same local paper reported on how our city schools are in the "Top ten". They're not quite sure what the top ten list is for, but we're on it (and we're going to dismiss the fact that we're one of the worst school districts in the state - you know, go with the flow.)

Like I said, its not just citizen media that's bringing about the death of local newspapers.

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Good Night, and Good Luck.

19.04.12 - Mark

I just got back from seeing Good Night, and Good Luck. and I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

It is unquestionably well written and edited, and it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between the archival footage and the freshly filmed material, and it flows wonderfully. Its not a typical story archetype, with introduction, conflict, more conflict, climax and resolution, it felt more like a debate in a way, point after point with slight transistions between them and a slow fading of the characters.

That might be a problem from some people, and I'm not quite sure why Clooney insists on staring in everything he works on. Its not that his performance was bad per say, but he's developing a case of Tom Cruise Syndrome (the apperaing in every film whether he needs to or not variety, not the jumping on the couch ranting lunitic variety)

I'm fairly confident I liked it, but I'm not sure what's hooked me more about the film, the ideas Murrow had about Journalism and Television as a medium, or the politicians he challeneged while on the air. In both cases its as relevent now as it was then, if not more. All of us seem to have a tendency towards treating televisions and computers as entertainment, and not to their full potential as social catalysts.

...those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful. --Edward R. Murrow at the RTNDA Convention, October 15, 1958

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Podcast Woes

00.18.43 - Mark

I'm officially fed up with iPodder Lemon / Juice/ whatever they hell they're calling it, and NetNewsWire, while its a great RSS read is barely a solution for podcasts (at least to me), don't even think of suggesting I use iTunes, and who the hell knows where iPodderX/Transistr is (or if the new release will have bittorrent support?*). I originally didn't like FireAnt, but now that I'm subscribed to a few video blogs I'm going to see about using it some. It seems to have a much better interface for video than the iPodder / iTunes solution I'd using now, but even then looks like its a little lacking.

But that still leave me struggling for a decent pod-catcher. I'll willing to set up plenty of half baked, gum and bailing wire solutions, but enough is enough. After a year and a half someone should have come up with a solid solution, and even with as much praise as I've heard for the iPodderX/Transistr, I have a preference for shipping software (which throughout this name change, isn't)

I might be shooting my mouth off a little soon, but with the exception of iPodderX, I'm using all of the clients I mentioned (even if fireant is relatively new to my software heap)

*Edit : Oops. I guess iPodderX/Transistr has bittorrent support. I'm not sure where I got the idea that it doesn't, since it looks like its been in there since before I even started listening to podcasts. I'm going to take a better look at it, but I should probably buy a copy just because Ray took the time to correct me. Small developers rock, and I feel bad about my college student budget not allowing me to support more of them.

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