It’s not Indecision, it’s just really slow Inspiration…

It’s not even that. It’s really just the fact that the more I learn the more that I like or dislike things. You can’t understand everything fully at once, you have to try it out first. Well I’ve been “trying out” Integrated Media for a year now and I have decided that it’s just not for me. I still like web design and I’m still fascinated by a snazzy interface, but I’m just not inspired to create these things the way I’m inspired to do other things, like create characters and worlds. I just can’t find myself sitting and thinking “you know, if I could make a drop down menu that did this that and the other whatsit, it could be revolutionary”…no, not so much. But I can still pause for a moment and think “if I introduced a character like this into today’s gaming world it could change the way that we stereotype characters forever” or “if I could just bring Reality.Hacked to life, I think people would really enjoy it”. Those are the types of things that I want to share with people; that is how I am inspired.

Why is being inspired so important? Was the creator of the gMail interface inspired to create it? Hell yes. Creativity doesn’t just happen and even if you aren’t aware of it everything that inspires you contributes to your overall creation. This is something that over the last 15 years (probably even before then, but I can’t really tell you for sure) I have discovered over and over again to be true. So why did I try to push that known-truth aside and try to force myself to create without inspiration anyway? The answer to that, my friends, is a mixture of lack of self-confidence and fear of being unable to make money after graduation. I love to create characters and I love to write stories (I used to love to draw them too) but the more my passion leant toward “career” the more and more afraid I got that I was “not going to be good enough” to compete with my classmates in college. I mean, it is COLLEGE afterall- a really big deal, right? Apparently not so much. Everyone I’ve spoken to says “oh yes, I learned this, this and that other whatsit in college, but the REAL challenges came with my first job/internship”. So all I can do is practice, practice, practice and prepare, prepare, prepare. From what I’ve heard, that’s pretty much what school is about. Go figure.

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The Paintbrush versus the Toolbar

This will be a short little ramble on how I feel about the separation of Art and Technology within my own major and the world in general. From this short piece of prose I hope to get some inspiration on two things:  One, the topic for my History and Theory of Digital Media paper;  Two, the themes I want to include in my next big composition “ART =/= TECH“.

To begin with, the first thing that always comes to mind when I discuss art and technology is the difference between digital art and what is now referred to as “traditional” art. Traditional art meaning that the medium chosen by the artist is something tangible and not digital and digital art meaning any form of art where a computer aided in the process. I have gotten into a bad habit of saying specifically that I am a Digital Designer, when in fact I do my designs in all sorts of media from pen and ink to Photoshop and Illustrator. That’s not to say that a large amount of my production time is not spent on the digital “side” of things, but it does mean that I don’t do everything on that “side”. I usually do most if not all of my planning and sketching on regular paper with a regular pencil or pen. I also do quite a lot of my writing on paper, even though I can type much more quickly and efficiently than I can write. The reason for this most likely lies in my own personal comfort zones.

Even though I have been using Photoshop for almost a decade now, I still feel the most comfortable with a pencil in my hand and a paper on the table than I could ever feel with a tablet pen and a screen. I love the effects of digital production and the fact that the limitations are almost entirely based in your own artistic limitations and not the limitations of the media itself. Still, for me this seems like a second step not a first step, in the process. “Traditional” media flows much more freely and quickly than digital media, without a doubt; so when those first little bits of inspiration shoot through my head I am always in a rush to get them down as quickly and clearly as possible. It’s usually a messy tangle of scribbles and mistakes, but that’s all it takes for that initial idea to come to life. I’m sure many artists feel the same way- at least, I assume that they do. Because we all started out with crayons on construction paper- nothing fancy- where you go from there depends completely on your interests and passions. I grew to love digital art from the first time I used M.S.Paint. Some people could never imagine completing a whole illustration on a computer screen.

There is another comfort-zone factor that I think exists within this debate between digital and “traditional” art and that is the tangibility, or lack-thereof. I can think of at least three friends who would never trust three or four hours worth of work on a piece to their computer’s hard drive. Being in complete control of where your work is at all times is definitely a comfort issue. If you’re more of a techie like me, then you may have some trouble getting through your head that someone would not trust their own computer to save information for them; especially since that is technically what is was designed to do in the first place. But there are some people who would rather risk carrying around their work in a plastic sleeve than ever save it to a hard drive and leave it there. Maybe it’s the idea that what you are creating on a computer screen is not really there, but just a representation of what could be there. What you are really creating when you open a new document in Photoshop and start slapping down paint strokes is a series of zeroes and ones that just happened to be arranged and aligned in such a way that they display exactly what you want on the screen. From you- the Photoshopper’s- point of view, you’re just creating the way anyone would. Step by step, working with different materials and producing different effects, but what’s there isn’t really there. It’s never really there until you make a physical copy of it, at which point it becomes tangible and therefore we once again gain total control over it’s existence. (This is probably why some professors feel more comfortable asking for “hard copies” of work than requesting it only sent through the OnCourse sharing site.)

I feel like I should be saying something far more enlightening, but this is all I have to work with for now. I think, as far as rambles go, this one is a pretty good start. I’ll need to do more in-depth research to gain more knowledge and opinions on these things though. For now, the ramble is a ramble.

Myrskyä

Myrskyä is a storm…

Myrskyä, my new Toshiba A505 Satellite laptop is a lovely, sleek, shiny black machine with small, lightly stenciled designs of lines running across the front and back of the machine. Despite it’s smart and clean exterior though, it’s a whirlwind of power. Running 64 bit Windows 7 it roars through all applications like they were nothing. Even Adobe can’t outclass Myrsky’s phenominal power. This laptop is easily the best machine I have ever purchased. It deserves something truely great to represent it. I decided to go with a personalized laptop skin from SkinIt.com, which I recieved giftcards for as a gift several years back, and never felt that (the late) AcerDemon really deserved.

SkinIt.com laptop skin teal and light green

SkinIt's Teal and Light green skin

SkinIt.com has many, many laptop skins for you to choose from, limited only by the make, model and size of your laptop. Even with those limitations, there are still hundreds of choices and dozens of themes to pick from. I saw many that I really liked, but I did not feel really matched the personality of Myrskyä. There was one in particular that I really loved, that is shown at the left there.  <—

This one here is a beautiful symphony of shapes and colors that I really love. The rich, deep teals and the nice, light greens are fantastic and match my own theme colors of the year. Also, the flowing, cloudy patterns are exactly the sort of abstract feel I want to portray the “storm” theme for Myrskyä. However, I feel that the design itself is a bit too generic in style. Also, I’m not a huge fan of the gilt-esque appearance of the golden and green outlines on the light green flourishes. It looks almost too “hotel carpet-y” for my tastes. Perhaps too elegant a design where I really want something that portrays both elegance and power.

Still, there is something about the feeling behind the movement and shapes here that I really like and I find really inspiring. I’m not sure where exactly I’m going to take it, but my own design will definitely be remeniscent of this one, if not completely inspired by it. The colors and composition especially.

Though, I would really love the colors to be brighter and more saturated; that would really suit my personality better, plus it will stand out much more than this design. I don’t want to get TOO specific with the colors, because goodness knows what their printer will spit out, but a similar color scheme is the plan. Teal, chartreuse, spring green, some light aqua and probably even some rich blues. Maybe even some orange-y yellows for contrast. I’ll just have to see what looks best in the final design.

About the über-mouse

Logitech's M305 wireless mouse

Logitech M305- blue w/dragon

Another important thing for me is for the skin’s design to have at least accent colors taken from my absolutely über-fantastiche mouse, from Logitech. It’s not just über-fantastiche because it’s in my favorite color, or because it has dragons on it, no-no; it’s really fantastiche because it’s a wireless, takes just one AA battery, senses motion and turns off when it’s not being used, has a very small USB nano-reciever that I can leave in the computer without fear of knocking it out every time I move it around (any USB port in a Storm…), AND has a small spot just for the reciever inside the mouse’s casing itself, right next to the battery. Oh yes, this was a pricey mouse, running around $35, but it is SO worth it. I’ve even taken it other places and used it on PCS and Macs in the labs as well as friend’s Macbooks and laptops. It even works with Ubuntu. Just awesome. It’s also pretty small, I can slip it in my jacket pocket to take it across the room and the scroll wheel is practically silent compared to some mice I’ve seen.

And did I mention it comes in my favorite color? It probably comes in yours too, with or without designs. When I see something in aqua or teal, odds are I’ll pick it up right away just because it’s my favorite color. This time I’m really glad I did! By the way, for no particular reason I named it “Mushroom” or “‘Shroom” for short. It may have been because of the shape or size. Whatever the reason, it’s an odd nickname, I feel like I should be something that fits the storm theme better. It needs to sound cute though, because my little über-mouse is just adorable. ❤

By the way, this counts on The Big List as item #1.

Let’s try this again- New Notebook?

OK, with a slight change in plans regarding the iPod Touch situation I have decided to focus my attention on getting a new notebook. Not necessarily a netbook, but certainly something to replace AcerDemon. The truth is, my mom’s laptop (Oldy-moldy) Owl, took a spill the other day thanks to our adorable kitty Mu and now something isn’t quite right with the power adaptor cable- or that general area on the machine. I attempted to take apart the machine to get to the area in question, but poor construction on the part of Dell (c. 1998) kept me from the power supply and all I managed to do was break the table I was working on when it collapsed under momma’s Dinosaur–I mean PC.

TL;DR? I want to give mom AcerDemon– which at least WORKS –to replace the (Oldy-Moldy) Owl.

This means, I need to get a new laptop. My parents are going to front me the money and I will pay it off in increments over the next year. Now that I have a job as a TCC at IUPUI, I will have a fairly steady income with which to pay them back. It shouldn’t be a problem, at any rate. Anyway, a few must-haves on the notebook that will either limit or expand my purchasing options:

  1. Must be a PC. NO, it has nothing to do with me hating Apple (I’m getting over that- in fact, I’m typing this from a Mac right now) it is in fact a choice based off of how comfortable I am with my computing skills as a programmer–comfortable enough to use a PC Fine, I’ll be honest, I just like PCs better, so there.
  2. I will NOT get another Acer- I don’t care HOW awesome it is. Acer gets no more money from me after last time!
  3. Needs to run Windows 7 OR Windows Vista with possibility of Upgrade is fine, since I own the OS. Needs to meet 7 specs.
  4. Needs to be able to run the Adobe CS4 Suite –
    • 1.8GHz or faster processor
    • 1GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation
    • 1,024×768 display (1,280×800 recommended) with 16-bit video card

That’s really all that I have spec-wise. There are a few aesthetic/personal things I’d like to avoid, such as teeny-tiny touchpads (or the ones that have holes and feel like little air hockey tables), less than 3 USB ports, an easily scratched surface and short batterylife. Ideally, if the battery life is less than 3 hours, I would like something in a 12-15″ screen, so I can carry the A/C adaptor with me in the same bag as the computer. A netbook would obviously solve this and I’m still in love with the supposed 9 hours that the Toshiba NB205 used to brag about, but anything from 3-5 hours would be great (the average time that I’m in a lecture or away from home).

The most important thing overall is weight. It HAS to be light. Less than 7lb, preferably less than 5lb. Oh yeah, and I don’t want to spend more than say $400-500 on it unless it’s a really epic machine.

I want, I want, I want…

I want an iTouch. Yes, me the hater of all things Apple and Macintosh, wants an iTouch. Why? Because I hate using my phone, which I can no longer send even a normal text message with, let alone access my IM or email.

“Why an iTouch? I thought you wanted an Android Smartphone?”
-I do, I do. But right now I don’t have a regular calling plan nor the money to switch to one on a company that isn’t AT&T. I still go under my parent’s phone account for my phone service (which is pay-as-you-go right now).

Why else? Well, it’s just such an awesome little thing. I can customize it to my heart’s content, play games, listen to music (I was planning on buying a new iPod to replace my screen-less shuffle anyway), use the internet~ and there are so many more free apps than there used to be.

To add to that, I’m really bad at purchasing electronics. I always buy “the wrong one” (case in point: Burikuu -that is “brick” – my Palm Centro) and I always over-pay (see previous). But I know that this is a good purchase because everyone has one. All of my friends, teachers at school, even the UITS tech support people have them! If it works for them, why not me?

Smackjeeves- What happened?

Smackjeeves, Smackjeeves, Smackjeeves. What on earth did you do? What is this? WHAT IS THIS?

This is…this is…Web design? Well, the worst part is that it’s better than the old one, right? The old one just looked like a forum. Like old-school WordPress style. But, these new one just looks…boring. BORING. And what is with that add at the top? That is the epitome of tackiness, right there. Although I am tickled that “Drug Addict” is up there with the top phrases. I knew they were doing a contest for a new logo- which isn’t too bad, compared to the last one -but I had no idea they were going to change the whole site to look like some over-used template. I’m disgusted. Just disgusted. Bleh.

I host(ed?) a comic on Smackjeeves, until I totally lost interest in drawing manga for no reason other that I don’t like drawing it anymore(?). It’s still there. No, you can’t see it- unless you already know it. It’s called Reality.Hacked though, if you want to look it up yourself. I don’t update it anymore though. Nope, nope, nope.

And now, even if I do decide to draw comics again I won’t be hosting them on Smackjeeves. I’ll probably keep reading my favorite comics there, but I’ll bookmark them outside of SJ (so, not using my favorite’s list) because the site is just too much for me. Goodbye SJ. I knew thee well.

The Things Are Against Us

This is a short entry touching on one of my favorite topics- resistentialism. Wikipedia defines it as “a jocular theory in which inanimate objects display hostile desires towards human beings”. The term “jocular” meaning as a joke. It is not a real theory, it’s just for fun. Not to be confused with “Existentialism” which is a real theory. No, resistentialism is more of a spoof on that far more complex theory -that I will note here, I care nothing about. I am more interested in how my life- in particular my purchasing decisions regarding electronics- has reflected this theory all too well.

I have several devices and machines that hate me. There’s AcerDemon (Aspire Notebook), DemonDevice( iPod Shuffle), PisaShitou(PS2) and most recently Onigiri-kun( my rice maker). It’s like they’re all out to get me. They rarely ever do things as they are told, even if the function is as simple as ‘shuffle/don’t shuffle’. And in response to my screams and shouts at their incompetence they seem to delight in bewildering me further by doing something worse the second time around; like lying about how much battery is left and then cutting out right in the middle of a song I’ve had stuck in my head. Oh DemonDevice! Why can’t you behave like a good little Apple product? Aren’t you guys supposed to be flawless??But I can’t pick on just DemonDevice because that wouldn’t be fair. The truely evil one is AcerDemon. What follows is his saga:

Acer Aspire 3050 purchased through NewEgg online. It runs perfectly fine at first. Then, it slowly pulls itself apart from the inside out. It’s like it is on drugs or something. The OS started out as WinMedia Center Edition which it slowly and steadily became unable to run. So I switched to WinXP Pro which worked for about 4 months and then slowly started to pull the same thing. It would eat it’s own system files until one day I started it up and it couldn’t find command.com. (Please note that command.com is the first program run after a Windows machine boots. If it’s not there, then nothing is there. At least nothing that you can get to.) So, of course I reinstalled the whole shebang- WinXP Pro and it worked for a bit longer. Until finally the computer just plain stopped working after POST. Hmmn. Seems like a HDD error. Let’s see what’s on the HDD by using a reader. Well, will you look at that? There’s NOTHING on this HDD. It is empty, wiped, kaput, gone, finito- dead. AcerDemon ate his own HDD. Fried it completely. Further inspection of the hardware showed that AcerDemon had in fact melted some of the insulation around the HDD as well. It had in fact overclocked the processor at one point, without any lingering damage. AcerDemon tried to commit harikiri! I was lucky that my roommate at the time had a spare IDE HDD since they evidently don’t make those anymore. So, I decided that this Windows stuff was too much for him and went with Ubuntu Linux to mellow him out. So far, so good. His BIOS is a bit old even for Intrepid Ibex (8.10) and sometimes his hardware doesn’t respond like it should, but things are going OK between us. As long as his battery stays intact, everything should be fine.

Which brings me back to my last post about getting a new notebook- or rather a netbook. When I purchase this little wonder of technology and give it a name, will it too turn on me? I do have electronics that have never troubled me (through any fault of their own). Most notably my desktop NeoDell. NeoDell is so well behaved that unlike my Shuffle and notebook, he is completely devoid of personality. As is my phone, camera, DS-Lite and printer. They are all good, well-functioning machines but they are boring. So perhaps in retrospect having a little something wrong with your device makes it feel less like a machine and more like a partner or pet. Perhaps those imperfections are what helps create a more human feel. Maybe these really are “features” and not “bugs”. And these little mistakes and mishaps they have are just part of their own way of being alive.

Then again, if that is the case, maybe the things really are against us.

New Netbook?

Many of you are familiar with AcerDemon, my Acer Aspire 3050 Notebook which has gone through 3 hard drives, 2 CD drives, 3 versions of Windows, and 2 versions of Ubuntu Linux. AcerDemon turned 3 last February which is pretty old for any computer, let alone a notebook. But despite being old, with outdated hardware and drivers that even Linux can’t always work with, it still works. Sort of. Most of the time. “It sort of works most of the time” is a good description of AD. I have a love-hate relationship with it. It’s pretty evil- I mean, I wouldn’t have named it “demon” if it wasn’t an evil machine.

(I love you AcerDemon, please don’t die on me or plan any sort of revenge as I type this. I know you are a jealous demon…)

My AcerDemon works right now and will probably continue to work as it does as long as I pretend that I don’t care, but I do plan on getting another notebook *waits to see if the power shuts off* No? OK- so I plan on getting another notebook not necessarily to replace AD but to provide me with a more convienent machine. And by convienent I mean lighter. AD weighs in at about 7lbs. Not really “heavy” per se, but for me and my weak back and shoulders it’s not light either. My coworkers at Plow Digital often joked that I needed a laptop that weighed nothing, and suggested a Mac Book Air. I am not made of money. Screw Apple. The newfound popularity of Netbooks piqued my curiosity though and I decided to look into purchasing one as soon as I got the money to do so.

I know that netbooks are really just shrunken laptops with little functinality outside of your usual Office programs, Internet and services like MSN and Skype. It’s meant for use on the go. They usually include around 1GB RAM and 150GB HDD, but I’m not sure about the sound or video card specs. I will have to look into the specs further. I do have to say that whatever I plan to sacrfice in computing power will be made up in the fact that the largest netbook I’ve looked at weighs in at 2.9lbs. Oh yes, and the inclusion of the awesome little Intel Atom processor- whatever netbook I get will have to include one of these. ❤

There are a few specific models of Netbook I’m looking at. I’ll probably go over them in more detail in the next entry.