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A Busy Little Ape

OK, OK… I know that I haven’t posted anything new here since May. However, it only looks like I’ve been on a summer vacation. In reality, this has been a surprisingly busy summer for me. And the approaching last quarter of this year doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Not one little bit. So what have I been up to? Let’s scurry through the the list.

Cover Art

I never explicitly mentioned the fact that I did the cover art for Definitely True: Year One, my first book of lies under the name M. J. Guns. Well… I did. I also wrote an in-depth guest post on RenderStreet’s blog that covers the whole design and production process I used. And of course, that was all done using free and open source software. I really like that cover and definitely had a lot fun making it. Just for fun, I submitted the cover to the monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards for June over at It didn’t win anything—I didn’t expect it to—but at least the one-liner of feedback he gave was positive (hey… I take what I can get). I’m already sketching out ideas for Definitely True: Year Two.

On the subject of book cover art, I was approached to create the cover art for another book, and this time not by one of my other personalitiespen-names. This cover was for a book called The Steadfast, by Jack Faber. It’s a survival story that features a barrage of midwest tornadoes and a westward escape on a solar-powered commuter bus. Tons of fun. Both the book and the cover. Not only did it mean I was able to make a 3D model of a commuter bus (and texture it!), but I also got to play a bit with smoke and particle simulation to generate a tornado. Only downside… Blender doesn’t have a nice way to add motion blur to smoke simulations, so I had to add some blur in post. Still, though, I’m a big fan of the result and I had a blast making it.

And continuing the subject of cover art and design stuff, a new podcast was recently launched called the Open EdTech Podcast. It’s a show dedicated to the topic of using free and open source software in education and education technology. I know the host of the show, Thaj, through some other podcasty things I do (more on that in a bit). He asked if I would put together a cover art image for this show of his. So… I did. And it was a lot of fun. For this one, I decide to try to see what I could do without breaking out the 3D graphics. So this whole thing was produced just using Inkscape. I’m pretty pleased with the result.


Speaking of podcasting, you may have noticed that there haven’t been any new episodes of the Open Source Creative Podcast for quite some time. Sorry about that. I do maintain, however, that it is not podfaded. It’s just been on a summer break. In fact, I have a new episode recorded already. I just need to edit and post it. With any luck, I’ll have that done within the next week or so. So stay tuned (which… incidentally, makes a lot less sense absent any real broadcast signal. But hey, colloquialisms. What can ya do?)

That said, I have actually been participating in another podcasty thing. The first and third Friday of each month, a group of folks gather together to record the LinuxLUGcast. It’s basically an online Linux Users Group (LUG) that records its meetings (held via Mumble) and posts them as podcast episodes. It’s a lot of fun and I always learn something each time I participate. And, being a LUG, it’s open to anyone to participate. The next show is on the 4th of September (2015). Come on by and join in!


I also attended the SouthEast LinuxFest (SELF) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Even gave a little talk there on open source creative tools. That was actually the first time I’ve ever attended a conference with a specific focus on Linux and free software. I had a great time, met a lot of cool people. Played Cards Against Humanity with a dozen people in the middle of the hotel bar… hopefully we didn’t scar the sensibilities of any innocent bystanders. Not too much at least.


And I’ve been writing, too! Not just that guest post on RenderStreet, either. Of course, I’ve been keeping up with M. J. Guns’ daily lies on, but there’s more than that. I’ve recently become a moderator over at, which includes a monthly Open Art column that I’ve been writing. The column focuses on topics that are [hopefully] important to people who use free and open source software to produce creative work.

And while that has been using up a substantial chunk of my writing time, I’m still making forward progress on a fiction serial, which I’ll be releasing under yet another pen name. So that’s a giant barrel of fun, too!

And more stuff!

There’s more to come. Be on the lookout for a little coding project I put together (currently codenamed “Junglebook”). I’m stupidly excited about it, so there’ll be a blog post on it in the next day or so. In addition to that, I’ve decided to challenge myself with what I’m calling a Creative TriMonthAlon, three months of daily creative output. It starts next month with Sculptember, then Inktober, and finally wraps up the whole thing with NaNoWriMo in November. I want to see how many people I can get to take on at least part of the full challenge, so if you’re interested in playing with us, come join in the fun. I’ve made a Facebook group (it’s the first link in this paragraph) as the primary home base for the thing, but I might add an additional group on Google+ for those allergic to the FB.

And there’s more conferencing stuff in my future. I’ll be at the All Things Open conference in Raleigh, North Carolina during mid-October and (with any luck), I’ll also be attending the Blender Conference in Amsterdam again. Both should be giant buckets of fun… so if you’re going to be at either of those confs, definitely track me down and say hi.

Whew… so yeah. That’s my update. How’d you spend your summer?