Open Source Creative Podcast #31 – Keeping Your Project Data Safe

This week’s episode is about some critical stuff: making sure that the digital data that we produce doesn’t get lost. So we’re talking back-ups, passwords, and encryption. It may not sound like as fun and exciting of a topic as other things we’ve discussed, but it’s monumentally important. And really, the technical bits of this can be a really interesting puzzle piece together. It’s rare that I come across two people who have the same exact setup when it comes to doing their back-ups… and even rarer that they use the same password and encryption tools as well (if they use encryption at all).

Here’s a quick run-down of stuff covered in this episode:

And, as promised, here’s a link to see the rings I’ve been making out of wood for the last month or so.

That should do it. See you next week!

Analog Art: Wooden Rings

Wood Rings - ebony, paldao, red oak, zebrawood

Left: ebony | Center upright: paldao | Center flat: read oak | Right: zebrawood

So I’ve found myself another fun and interesting distraction. Bent wood rings. But first, allow me the courtesy of providing a little bit of backstory. See, when my wife and I got married, we didn’t want to have conventional gold or silver wedding bands. We wanted something a little bit more interesting. Ultimately, we opted for some that were made out of tungsten. They were dark, sturdy, inexpensive, and looked pretty badass.

That doesn’t mean that they were perfect, though. Tungsten is an interesting metal. It’s hard without being brittle. It’s so hard, in fact, that if the ring was stuck, but it was critical that it be removed (like a medical emergency), it couldn’t be cut through without harming the finger it’s on. Likely, the finger would need to be removed. I used to joke about it by saying, “That’s commitment.”

The other difficulty with tungsten as a ring is that it’s heavy. Much heavier than your typical wedding band. I used to joke about that, too. I’d say that the weight was there to remind me that I’m married. I didn’t really need the reminder, but I always got at least a courtesy laugh when I said that.

But after six years of wearing it, the weight is really what caused a problem for Heather. She actually had to stop wearing her ring regularly because it hurt her hand to keep it on for extended periods of time. Of course, we still weren’t about to dip into the realm of common conventional ring materials. So we looked around. What other things could rings be made of that would be light to wear and have at least a little bit of any interesting look?

Through a series of events that involved a snowstorm and a visit to an emergency veterinary clinic*, we stumbled across an interesting material: wood. That got us investigating. As Heather scrolled through a few websites with photos of bent wood rings, I said it.

Wood Rings - cherry and rose quartz

Cherry with rose quartz inlay

“I could make that.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Sure. Bet I could even do that inlay thing in wood or stone.”

“Then do it.”

Crap.

So since she called me on it, I’ve been working on making wooden ring experiments in my free time for the last month or so. I’ve got about 20 finished ones in nearly as many types of woods. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. And I discovered something. I actually like making these wooden rings.

Wood Rings - walnut and hematite

Walnut with a hematite inlay

I mean, I regularly do all sorts of analog traditional art in addition to my digital work and writing. However, as someone who typically doesn’t wear any jewelry, I’ve never tried making some with any seriousness. I mean, in the past I’ve done wearable craftwork projects long ago—in leather and beadwork mostly—but those were mostly one-off things intended as gifts or to see if I could make them at all.

These wooden rings have started out that way, but now when I make them, I get genuine creative satisfaction I get as when I draw or paint. It’s an amazing somewhat disheartening realization. Amazing because, well, I’ve already explained that. Disheartening because I now have another exciting creative outlet that could potentially distract me from other projects. Balance and time management are going to continue to be a struggle.

But you know what? I think it’s worth it. It certainly beats the alternative of having no creative outlets at all.

So yeah. Now I have a new gallery on the Visual Stuff section of this site. I’ve included a few choice pieces for this post, but have a look there if you’re interested in seeing more. I’ll update the gallery as I make more, but you can also see them as I make them if you’re on my Daily Creative Facebook group, or if you follow me on Instagram.

Wood Rings - zebrawood and purpleheart

Upright: zebrawood, turquoise, stainless steel | Flat: purpleheart

Oh, and as a bit of an epilogue to this, Heather has picked one as her new wedding band. It’s zebrawood with a stainless steel inner and an inlay of turquoise. Of course, I’ve discovered that her selection choice is fluid… often she lays claim to whatever my latest experiment is. Of course, I plan on making more of these, so she’ll have per pick as I keep going. 🙂

*It’s less interesting than it sounds. Our 13-year-old Labrador/Akita mix had a stroke and we found him laying outside, unable to get up from the ice (Georgia doesn’t get snow… not really),  The emergency veterinary doctor had a ring that looked like it was made of wood with some kind of stone inlay.

Open Source Creative Podcast #30 – Let’s Talk about Social Media

Late release this week folks; sorry about that. I have reasons (which I go into during the intro), but no excuses. I’ll have it up at the right time next week.

We’re on this week, though, and this week we’re talking about social media networks and the kind of love/hate relationship we have with them. We’re often at odds with the privacy policies of a lot of social media platforms. Furthermore, the level of discourse that people have on these sites isn’t always all that great. But at the same time, as people working in the creative fields, we have a need to get our work in front of an audience. Social media has the largest audiences.

What I hope to do with this show is try to ameliorate your concerns with social media and provide some tips and techniques for “juicing the algorithms” to make these platforms more tolerable to use… both in terms of personal privacy as well as in terms of social interactions.

As always, lemme know what you think!

Open Source Creative Podcast #29 – The Making of a Podcast

A fun little meta show this week. This one’s a nuts-and-bolts, step-by-step walk-through of the process I go through each way to deliver podcasty goodness to your earballs. And I do it all with free and open source software. The following is a quick breakdown of each step in the process. You can use it to start your own show or to record episodes for airing on Hacker Public Radio.

Recording is done in my car using a Zoom H1 field recorder and a Røde lavaliere microphone. The specific lav mic that I got was designed to work with phones, but since Android phones have such horrid gain control, I got an adapter for it to work with the H1. Couldn’t be happier. (OK, so every now and again I catch myself eyeballing some of the higher-end field recorders, but the H1 really is a nice recorder, especially for the price). I record to PCM WAV at 44.1 kHz. I have the levels set so my audio barely ever peaks over -4 dB.

Editing of the show is done in Audacity. Aside from just doing clean-up cuts on the audio track, I use the Normalize and Compressor effects. I didn’t have the settings for those effects on-hand as I recorded, but I have them now. So here you go:

  • Normalize
    • Enable “Remove DC offset (center on 0.0 vertically)
    • Enable “Normalize maximum amplitude” and set it to -1.0 dB
    • Disable “Normalize stereo channels independently”
  • Compressor
    • Threshold: -16 dB
    • Noise Floor: -40 dB
    • Ratio: 5:1
    • Attack Time: 0.20 secs
    • Release Time: 1.0 secs

The intro and outro are recorded right into Audacity using a Plantronics USB headset (I don’t think they make my particular model any more). After the edit is finalized, I export the episode audio to a 128 kb/s MP3 file.

Metadata tagging is done using EasyTag. Be sure to include the cover image as part of the tag data, otherwise the image won’t show up when the MP3 is played in a modern media player.

Hosting for podcast episodes is done on Amazon S3, but you could just as easily use services like libsyn, podHoster, Blubrry, or even archive.org. I personally would not recommend that you use your regular shared web hosting for these files as I’ve run into trouble in the past with flaky downloading or streaming speeds when taking that route.

Incidentally, I gather analytics on the files hosted on S3 by pulling log files using s3cmd and then parsing those logs using GoAccess to generate an HTML file with pretty graphs and tables of the data. It’s what lets me know roughly how many times an episode has been downloaded.

Distribution of the podcast is currently done on WordPress using the Blubrry PowerPress plugin. It does the job of providing an in-line player and a properly structured RSS feed. In the future, I might move to using a static site generator like Hugo or Jekyll, but not yet.

And that about covers it. Yeah, I know it’s a lot of links, but hopefully you find at least some portion of this useful. If not… there’s always next episode!

Talkatcha then.

Open Source Creative Podcast #28 – Defeating Comparisonitis

This week we have a more positive (I hope) follow-up to last week’s rant. We’re talking about comparisonitis… that feeling of “I can’t do that” when you see the incredible work of another artist or find out about another person’s level of success in a field similar to yours. I give a little hat-tip to the annual SIGGRAPH Conference and hopefully cover a few tips to help get by that comparisonitis feeling and get focused on creating our own fantastic work.

What about you? Do you ever get a sense of comparisonitis? What kinds of things do you do to beat that beast?

Open Source Creative Podcast #27 – How Not to Discuss New Releases

Missed last week, but the show is back! And boy, oh, boy… this is a ranty one. Short version: we need to change the way that we discuss the new releases of open source software tools. There’s this propensity for wanting to discuss other software or, worse, make gross generalizations about the viability of a tool based on our own limited experiences and uses cases. It’s not entirely specific to the open source community, but we do see it a lot… I daresay more than in other circles.

So yeah… this is a rant about that, and perhaps a solution (or at least a suggestion) or two about how to avoid doing it.

Open Source Creative Podcast #26 – How to Make a Living as an Open Source Creative

First things first… we have a winner for the domain for the new Open Source Creative website (it was the .org TLD):

Thanks to everyone who participated. Keep an eye out here (or even better, subscribe to my newsletter) for word on when the site goes live.

Now, this week’s show is really a nuts-and-bolts kind of thing. As the title says, it’s how a person would go about making his or her living as an open source creative… a person whose primary creative software tools are open source. I still run into people who swear it can’t be done. In a way, this is my rebuttal. This episode stays largely generic, but i do make reference to the Blender Market, the open movie projects from the Blender Institute, and a very excellent (and timely) article about David Revoy, an illustrator and comic artist who uses open source tools and produces open content.

And as a program note, there’s a chance that there won’t be an episode next week. Hopefully that’s not true… I’m on a pretty good streak here. But things are what they are. In any case, the show will definitely have an episode after that. So keep your ears peeled.

Open Source Creative Podcast #25 – The Open Content Question, Part One

This week’s show is all about open content. I’ve thought about this topic a lot and I have a lot to say on the matter. I have so much to say, in fact, that I ended up needing to cut myself off a bit before I really wanted to because I’d gotten to the end of my commute. The focus of this episode is on making the business case for releasing creative work—specifically writing—under an open content license, like one of the Creative Commons variations. Basically, I’d like to see a strategy for taking what some companies in the software world (Red Hat, Canonical, SUSE) have done with building the businesses on open source software… and applying a similar strategy for creative work. I think it can be done, but I still have questions.

References in the show also include the Blender Cloud, Blender Market, and WordPress plugins and themes.

Also, I want to thank everyone who’s participated so far in the poll I posted last week regarding the domain name to where the Open Source Creative will be moving. The poll is still open, and will be until the 14th of January. So if you haven’t responded to it yet, I’d certainly appreciate it if you would. The link to the poll is right here:

And that about covers it. See you next week!

Open Source Creative Podcast #24 – 2017 Goals

Happy New Year! Short introduction this week, folks. This episode is all about goals for the coming year. What are your creative goals for the year? What do you want to get done?

Part of my goals include continuing to do creative work each day and [try to] post it on the Daily Creative group we’ve created on Facebook. If you have a Facebook account, come on by and join in. It’s a great little collection of artists that we’ve got there.

Most importantly, I also mention in the show [spoiler alert] that I’ll be moving this podcast to its own site some time this year. That site, of course, will require a domain name. Problem is, I can’t decide on which one. So I made a little survey of the possible choices I have in mind. In the show, I give a bit more detail about the thought process I’ve got behind each of the choices. In any case, if you wouldn’t mind answering this little poll for me, I’d be most appreciative.

Thanks!

Open Source Creative Podcast #23 – Making Time

This week’s show is all about making the time you need to produce your creative works. Well… it’s mostly about that. I get to that point by briefly talking about how I read an article on The Digital Reader about a super-cool eink device called the reMarkable. I’m extremely excited about seeing how this device fares when it comes out at the end of the summer next year (2017, if you’re reading this in the future). I’ll be talking a bit more about the reMarkable and my forays into putting Arch Linux on a Surface Pro 3 later this week on the Linux Lugcast show (you can listen or participate live this Friday evening).

Oh, and Krita 3.1 has been released, go update!

After that digression, though, my main focus this episode has been on productivity… making the time to work on your projects. I break it down thusly:

  • Figure out your personal create/consume ratio
  • Make the necessary sacrifices of consume time to make room for creating
  • Optimize that time so you’re as productive as possible in it
  • Squeeze out extra minutes in seconds where you didn’t think you had time

Of course, even though I’ve listed out the rough basis here, you should still listen to the show because I go into each bit with more detail (and digressions, of course. Wouldn’t be me otherwise, right?)

My question for you this week: what kind of things have you done to make time for creating? I’m always looking for new things to try out.

And as a small second, what do you think about these show notes? Do you prefer the list-style that I’ve used on previous shows, or is this in-line format more to your taste?

See you next week!