Category Archive: Uncategorized

How to not throw a laptop out of a first floor window

September 9, 2012

On the verge of finally defenestrating my laptop my beautiful friend Tim saved it with the power of SSD.

The birth of my (awesome) son brought many changes to my life, most of them brilliant, some expected and some utterly not so. One change I failed to divine was the effect it would have on my illustration time. I’ve worked from home most of my life and as such have been able to use my work tools (desktop computer) in my own time for my own creative ends. This didn’t work out so well once I had a tiny person depending on me. My option to disappear into another room for a few hours of pixel pushing dissipated somewhat, doubly nixed as I was no longer working from home having moved into an office with the dual purpose of being a bit more professional and converting my home office into a nursery (still work in progress, I am nothing if not inefficient).

The most obvious solution was to get a decent spec laptop so that in the moments my tiny child happened to be sleeping I could pop it open and bugger about with Illustrator to my hearts content. Following a bit of research and advice I went for a Sony Vaio. It’s a nice piece of kit, looks lovely, fairly lightweight but sturdy, has all sorts of slots and ports for all manner of devices, runs like a brick. Right from the start it was a struggle to work with, it took a few minutes to boot, would overheat quickly and crash on a regular basis. If I tried to play games on it I needed to reboot after 45 minutes otherwise they became too sluggish to play. As far as using it for design and illustration went, it would open Illustrator and Photoshop but as soon as I had put together anything of any complexity it would become unbearably slow. I gave up using it for a few months as it was just depressing, it was taking hours to draw something that I could knock out in ten minutes on my desktop at work.

Recently, frustration at lack of opportunity to work on personal projects at work drove me to try it out again, I spent a couple of days desperately trying to make it work by removing anything from it that may be eating resources. I even did away with the desktop background. It made a difference but not enough to render the damned thing actually usable. On the verge of giving a thousand pounds worth of barely used laptop to charity, Tim suggested I try an SSD (Solid State Drive). I was wary, they looked expensive, but he lent me one to try out. It was like a completely different machine, no freezing no overheating, I could open Photoshop and Illustrator at the same time and work on hi-res images. Bit of research later and I picked up an OCZ 480GB Agility3
. Tim kindly fitted it for me and my technical problems have gone, a laptop which used to take a good few minutes to boot is now ready for use in under 15 seconds. The offset is that I have less space to play with but I’m happy to learn to keep my files in order in exchange for a computer that actually works.

All this does beg the question as to why Sony had made the decision to include such a crappy low-spec HD in an otherwise decent quality machine, the SSD is the only hardware change I’ve made but it’s like I’ve bought a completely new laptop. Had I been given the option at purchase to have gone for (and paid for) a decent quality HD, SSD or not I would have done so. Bad call Sony (although your walkman’s still kick arse).

This will not of course stop me procrastinating, I could have been drawing tentacled bunnies instead of writing this whinge, but there’s always tomorrow, plus I appear to have a computer which will run video games now, so might have a bit of a play before I get started.

Yay for SSDs…

Guerra de las Galaxias prints

January 26, 2012

I stuck these in my Etsy basket a while back and did nothing about it because I couldn’t afford to spend cash on art, then the other day I tricked myself while half asleep and just bought them, glad I did so as they are awesome.

John Karpinsky’s Guerra de las Galaxias – Star Wars Day of the Dead/El Diade Los Muertos prints

I just need to get some decent frames and stop trying to convince myself to try and make my own frames, it’s not worked out great so far.

IMG_0977

IMG_0979

Actionscript 3 File Browser

May 4, 2009

In the spirit of trying to cram far more into the first quarter of the year that is probably healthy I’ve been learning AS3. Just completed (well make ready for initial release) my first AS3 application. It’s a file browser/selector for the php content management system I’ve been writing since January. The CMS has been pretty successful so far, clients have been very positive about it’s ease of use and the flexibility of the code means I’ve already re-purposed large chunks of it for other projects (mostly small budget web-template systems). There’s still a lot of functionality I’d like to add to it if time allows and I’d love to make it open source and more extensible but right now I don’t have the time.

The only horrible flaw with it was the file management system, although you could upload files, group them, add meta data and assorted other stuff, the act of including one in a content page (as an inline image, link or whatever) was a pain in the arse. It was mostly done through a plugin in TinyMCE which wangs up a popup with a list of all the files uploaded to the file library as clickable links. This is fine if you have 5 files and you know the filename of the file you are looking for but it becomes ungainly and irritating if you have any greater number of files. So for my first AS3 app I put together a nice file browser which gives you thumbnails all nicely paginated with a set of filters (alphanumeric, by file group and by file extension).

It has a couple of bugs which will need to be ironed out and I’d like to completely update the layout and some of the functionality to make it a bit of a smoother process. There’s a couple of flaws with the usability which I want to address BUT overall I’m pretty happy with it for a first version and a first AS3 project. I’ve integrated it with a couple of our client’s CMS systems and I’ll see what the feedback is like.

Click here to play with the online demo
AS3 File Browser

Creativity – A statement of intent

January 5, 2009

Think of this as my New Year Resolution if you like.

For years I’ve had this horrific mental block which I’ve allowed to kill off a large amount of my creative drive. A combination of procrastination and fear of failure have caused me to give up on most creative projects before they have a chance to launch. As I age this has started to fill me with dread, every year since I was about 25 (I’m now 32) I’ve promised myself I’ll finally record my first album and for the last 3 or 4 years I’ve been convincing myself that I’ll get enough visual material together for a book. Neither the album or the book would have to actually be released in any sense so much as just finished, in a creative sense if you will.

Every year that I’ve failed to do both of these things has put me more on edge that I’m never going to do them and I spent a lot of last year thinking about this and actively trying to sort out why I’m such a failure at personal creative projects. Paid for stuff isn’t such an issue, with deadlines and paycheques pressing I manage to get stuff done with no problems, BUT I do believe that if I could extend my personal creative output my overall output would increase in quality dramatically (although this would be a nice side effect rather than the overall intent).

There is no one simple reason for my ongoing failure to actually create. I spent a while studying books on enhancing creativity, of which there are a few and some are pretty good. My favourites are:

I’d strongly recommend both the Paul Arden books regardless of any creative blocks as they are brilliantly witty and beautifully put together. I leaf through them both on occasion when a bit bored. The books did help a little, but not much. The first two go through the mental processes of creativity and teach excellent techniques, which for the most part I already use to great effect on work projects. But I learned some new stuff and it’s a step forward, I’m obviously not completely creatively retarded I’m just not capable of applying myself outside of a work environment. I should probably be a little clearer, by work I mean either stuff I’m being paid to do or stuff I’ve been talked into doing for someone else. I’m absolutely fine to create stuff as long as the end ‘client’ is not myself.

I spent a lot of time analysing my creative output and my general life patterns, habits and so on and I believe I’ve nailed it. I have three overall problems which kill off my personal creative drive:

Distraction and procrastination. I’m a sucker for other people’s projects. I’m better these days as people have to ask me to help out but in the past I’ve often offered myself up to every project out there without much thought to how much time I actually have. I find it very hard to relax and concentrate on something personal if I have anything outstanding for other people. An awful fear of letting people down drives me to put other’s projects above my own. As a good friend recently said ‘Just tell them to go fuck themselves’, which is harsh but effectively accurate, or to be more fair I just need to learn to manage my time. Other people’s projects are not a bad thing, but too often I end up doing the administration part which is no fun and not at all creative.

I also have this fear of not being involved in something brilliant, and often the stuff I’m involved in is brilliant – The History of Guns album is probably one of the most amazing things I’ve been involved in. The reality though is that not every project I get asked to join will be that good and the more I sign on to the less time and energy can be given to each project so I need to be a lot less reckless when saying ‘Yes’ to things.

Fear of mediocrity. This is, if I say so myself, fucking idiotic. The very fact it’s taken me this many years to see this shows I deserve a kick in the head. The fear that my creative output may be mediocre causes me to not bother creating it in the first place and so no practice, no evolution of skills and ideas and no creative process is had. EVERYONE makes something mediocre at times. If I don’t create something shitty I cannot learn where  I went wrong. Fucking idiot.

Blank canvas. Not in the direct sense, but in a more general form. I have interest in too many areas: illustration, photography, music, video, animation, programming and other things. When I do allow myself some creative time I often can’t even get over the hurdle of what sort of creative thing to be doing, I can switch back and forth all day trying to decide whether to photograph things, write music, draw stuff or something else so in the end nothing gets done. This is the one problem I still don’t have a strict solution for but I’m working on it. One solution is pre-planning, I will plan a day to go and take photographs or a day to spend editing music and from there stick to the plan as well as I can. I’m getting better.

One very effective mechanism I’ve found is keeping a regular sketchbook. In those times when I’d usually surf for something horrific on the internet or watch TV I’ve been drawing random crap in sketchbooks, nothing specific, just whatever comes to mind. It started with the intent of improving my drawing skills, which it has a little, but the side effect is that over time I’ve found it easier to come up with new ideas for things to draw, plus I now have several books full of assorted sketches and concepts that can be used elsewhere.

Enough drivel. My intent now is to always be working on at least one personal creative endeavor, regardless of whether they come to fruition I’m going to force myself to find time for them and ensure they are given a decent priority over other things. I’m currently working on two very different projects, one is a simple illustration project I can work on anytime I have space for a sketchbook and pen, the other is a ridiculously overblown multimedia project which involves modeling, casting, photography, locations, appropriate weather conditions, editing, music and possibly video.

Why I am telling the internet this? Catharsis and hopefully it will convince me  to carry out my threats.

Two more things. Happpy New Year, and how cool is this?

I have a mac

April 14, 2008

I have a mac. It’s an interesting experience. Not unpleasant, but certainly not the life changing experience certain people would have me believe (you know who you are).

To be specific I have a MacBook, I considered a MacBook Pro but I couldn’t afford it at the moment, plus I’m not certain what the difference is, the MacBook seems to work fine for my purposes.

This year is my tenth year of self-employment in the internet industry, and also my tenth year of not owning a laptop (actually Roger gave me an ancient one a while back but it was pretty ancient at the time and I didn’t make much use of it due to it’s massive size and weight). I wanted to give it a try and see if owning a laptop would make much difference to my work/life/existence in general, given that previous to yesterday I had no way of testing any of my work on a mac it seemed to make sense to pay the extortionate fee and get a mac laptop.

I’ve been generally opposed to macs for a while, not because of any technological reason but because of the MASSIVE SMUGNESS of a large number of the mac users I’ve met. I have a very low tolerance for any sort of aspirational marketing, actually, I believe it to be one of the main causes of the disintegration of our society. So bearing this in mind, I don’t react too well to the simpering mac fanboys. For those impressionable fools (again you know who you are) I’d like to remind you that:

  1. Owning a mac does NOT make you more creative.
  2. Apple are not a friendly local company. They are as evil/capitalist as any other company, actually possibly worse as they’ve convinced far too many people that they are not.

I get exceptionally irritated about the first point, your tools should not define your ability. Some of the most talented people I know are PC users, some of the least are mac users. But then, others of the more talented are mac users and some of the less talented are PC users, what does that tell you eh?

Since I first switched the machine on I feel like I’ve been immersed in a smugfest of epic proportions, the first time you start it up you get this HORRIFIC animation which insists on saying ‘hello’ to you in an assortment of languages while some twee music plays over the top of an uber-smug animation. I nearly wanged it out of the window before I’d had a chance to use it. Actually, there’s another thing (off the point a bit) PLEASE corporate marketing drones, stop using twee folk music to advertise your wares, it doesn’t fool us, it may fool some people, but you could sell to them by waving shiny things around a bit.

The smugfest continues unabated as a small selection of acquaintances give me a cheery ‘Welcome to the club”, do I really need make any more comment on this?

I appear to have strayed off the point rather horribly, I was going to write about my experience of using a mac for the first time after over a decade of exclusive PC use. Something seems to have sucked away my attention span, I blame this creativity inducing black box sitting on my lap.

(p.s. I’m actually quite enjoying the process of learning a new O/S, I might write some serious notes when I’ve had more of a chance to play with it)

Category: Uncategorized
Tags: mac, rant
3 Comments »

Anonymous vs Scientology

February 14, 2008

Brilliantly amusing write up by Sir DeathBoy of the recent Scientology protest in London.

Anonymous vs Scientology, the London protests.

I might actually update the blog with some stuff I’ve done soon!

Dubai Petition

February 1, 2008

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I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).

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