Feb 222013

This thing is elegant, its’s sweet. rad, and a little small for my fingers. But it’s so sweet to be able to type anywhere!!! I feel so cool! This takes up less space than a netbook, and weighs only a few extra ounces more than what I usually carry. I already carry my phone around. I’m over the moon! Can’t wait until my hands adapt to the new scale of keyboard, because it’s actually scaled better to my hands than a standard keyboard. I can actually stretch my right pinkie finger to the shift key! This is the absolutely coolest tech gadget I have ever invested in!! If I’d known about this earlier in my university years, I may have contemplated studying a major that involves typing long papers. The specs of this ultra-cool, productivity-improving, distraction-negating portable typing device are hard to believe: it has a rechargeable battery that should last a month or two, it weighs less than my phone, and takes up a minimal amount of space, measuring a centimeter at its thickest area. I was able to use it right out of the box.

I’ve always wanted a device like this elegant pairing: a distraction-minimal screen that shows what has been recently written, and a touch-typing compatible clicky-clack keyboard, which is light enough to take anywhere. When I realized that my on-the-go busy life with classes and jobs was getting in the way of getting my work done well, I saw that using the available technology better: my iPhone, could be the salvation of my grades without cutting back on rent-earning hours. The impediment to this, however, was the slowness of touch-screen typing: convenient only for limited. fast formats such as texting and tweeting. When looking into wireless keyboards crafted for use with pocket communicators, I was demoralized by the amount that were not compatible with apple products or were dependent on a refreshing supply of disposable AA or AAA batteries (which I would have to buy specially for the purpose, as I have no other devices requiring them). But lo! this past Tuesday, I combined the keywords ‘bluetooth’ ‘rechargeable’ and ‘keyboard’ and found the SPIDER. Call me Little Miss Muffett, I’m spilling my curds and whey over this arachnid.

After ordering the keyboard ASAP, I received confirmation later the same day that it had shipped. I had dreams that night about the keyboard arriving in record time, magically delivered to my pillow. I typed all night. The next day I stalked the shipping status page, watching as it left Texas, passed through Tennessee, then passed by me to vacation in Maryland. Preoccupied by preparations for the opening of Afterpiece, I realized that it wouldn’t be under my hands until today.

After groping the klaxon into reluctant silence this morning, I poked the alarm-inducing device and opened my email. The lack of messages on the subject of packages made me curious – I found the hours of the campus mail center, and discovered the slimness of the chance of getting my package today: there was one hour to process my package before my lunch break – the only opportunity to pick it up, as work would keep me after their closing time. Out of class, I checked my email again – no package notification. I resolved to check anyway. I was surprised by an orange slip, and was shocked! It was time-stamped only five minutes previous. I clutched the light package as I rushed through the sleet to my car.

While munching a PB+H I used a key to cut the tape of the long brown box, and discovered a beautiful keyboard sealed for my protection on a bed of white styrofoam peanuts. I rounded up the peanuts as best I could. Several escaped under the passenger seat. Any future adventures in the Subaru hatchback will be tainted by the knowledge that there are styrofoam stowaways stashed.

I contemplated attacking the sealed plastic prison with two door keys by moving with ninja-speed to create a sawing effect. I instead chose to be a practical ninja and stashed the entire package in my bag. Staying patient for several hours, the moment I clocked out of sanding duty I teleported to the tool room and equipped myself with a hacksaw. The protective casing melted like butter before my stern gaze.

Back in the car, I freed the keyboard with minor violence (the hacksaw having opened the prison but not freed the prisoner). In the fracas, the pin to bluetooth-pair was lost.

Back at the Nest for dinner, I took apart a discarded pen in an attempt to Macguyver a poking tool, but a small unfolded staple actually did the deed. Now the two are married, much to my delight.

 February 22, 2013  Posted by on February 22, 2013 musings No Responses »
Feb 202013

Team Radio Show Unite! on Flickr.

The debate heats up as ideas fly on the subject of our subject. I’m the advocate of PICK SOMETHING ALREADY so that I can plan and organize. In the great words of Sir Reginald Pikedevant, Esquire, “just glue some gears on it and call it Steampunk”.

 February 20, 2013  Posted by on February 20, 2013 tumblr No Responses »
Feb 182013

The worms died from lack of air. The whole moldy box was a health hazard anyway. I felt bad for a few days after wrapping the box in plastic and tossing it in the dumpster. The worms weren’t very lovable pets anyway, I had to remind myself – they were bait worms to begin with. I think it would just be best to volunteer at an animal shelter when I need to cuddle something furry and pet-like. The SPCA is actually quite close, though not close enough to bike (which would be incredible!).  No furry pets of my own though, exceeds my income by a good deal.

This week, I had the most fun with the PhotoBlitz exercise.  I now can use the Flickr app on my phone to take pictures at my convenience and upload them when I connect to WiFi automatically.  This makes it much easier to do photo assignments as it cuts out the steps of uploading pictures to the computer then uploading them to a website.  Its nice to have more on-the-go internet utilisation capability.  I feel empowered by the ability to better use my tools, especially the phone that is already a prosthesis through its messaging and e-mail purposes.

Pick A Bad Photo, Apply A Vintage Effect And Write Something In Helvetica

The first assignment I completed this week was the “Pick A Bad Photo, Apply A Vintage Effect And Write Something in Helvetica”,  As someone who is still overcoming the tendancy to photo-spam,  it was nice to use a photo otherwise lost in the shuffle of unsorted files, and add an accompanying quip.  It’s more interesting as a story than just an oddly-framed snapshot of a restaurant aquarium.

You’d think I’d have learned from last week’s fiasco to find a way to work on DS106 related work throughout the week, as it’s overwhelming to start working on Friday night or Saturday.  But it’s just not possible with my full class schedule and part time jobs – especially with the additional time necessary for Afterpiece preparations.  I hope with the additions I’ve made on my pocket computer with the Flickr, Tumblr, SoundCloud, and Google Drive apps, I can better blog on the go and stay abreast of my DS106 duties.  If only I could find a RSS feed app that would function well, it would be simpler to comment on other blogs. If only there were an official Google Reader app or some such…


Come to the opening on Wednesday if you’re near campus!  I’m going to have fresh cookies and my Dimensional Drawing (3D printed) individual study will be displayed.


 February 18, 2013  Posted by on February 18, 2013 Week in Review No Responses »
Feb 172013

In preparation for this exercise, I outfitted my mobile with the Flickr and Tumblr apps, so that I may efficiently upload the photos as I take them. Matters were complicated by the fact that uploading via Flickr App would crank up my cell data, so I tried to enable WiFi. My phone then informed me that I wasn’t signed up for Apogee (the dorm WiFi) this semester. I was mystifed by this revelation, as my MacBook Pro has been using this internet for the past month with no issues. Crossing my fingers, I waded through the website to sign up (hoping against hope that doing so wouldn’t deny my computer internet whilst enabling my phone WiFi). Sighing in relief, I prepared to interpret.

Photoblitzing: Exercising visual interpretation skills in a limited time period.

This week’s DS106 photoblitz challenge involves responding to as many of the following prompts as possible in a 20-minute period.

  1. Your first photo is of something that shows the current time! Document when you started the blitz. In the next 20 minutes, try to capture as many of the following photos as you can:
  2. Make an ordinary object look more interesting, almost supernatural.
  3. Take a photo that makes use of converging lines.
  4. Take a photo dominated by a single color
  5. Take a photo of something at an unusual angle
  6. Take a photo of two things that do not belong together.
  7. Take a photo that represents the idea of “openness”
  8. Take a photo that expresses a human emotion
  9. Take a photo emphasizes mostly dark tones or mostly light ones.
  10. Make a photo that is abstract, that would make someone ask, “Is that a photograph?”
  11. Take a photo of an interesting shadow.
  12. Take a photo that represents a metaphor for complexity.
  13. Take a photo of someone else’s hand (or paw)
  14. Take another photo of a timepiece that shows the time you stopped. It should be twenty minutes since step 1, right?

I’m going to give myself an extra 5 minutes to deal with the technical difficulties of using the new Flickr and Tumblr apps to post these images as I go. I’m also limiting myself to local, indoors photos. It’s cold outside. And travel time is time that I’m not using for photographing and uploading.



Phew.  I must say that was more fun than I expected.  It was also the first time that I’ve really appreciated photography as its own medium.  I usually find myself taking photographs for the purpose of recording events or inspiration, and collecting references for drawings.   Taking artistic photos can be really fun!  In order to finish within the time, I jumped around on the list: 1, 8, 10, 3, 13, 9, 5, 4, 2, 6, 11, 12, 14.  In the process, I missed #7, which I skipped several times because I was stumped mentally on how to take a picture embodying openness without falling in the cliché of door images.

Not only was I surprized by the amount of fun I had, but I’m also intrigued by how well the photos look in their inspired order:

PB 1

PB 2

PB 3

PB 4

PB 5

PB 6

PB 8

PB 9

PB 10

PB 11

PB 12

PB 13

PB 14

I’m contemplating how best to elaborate on these images with description and titles.  I feel bad for calling them each “PB #” as a placeholder as I uploaded them within the time limit.  I’ll think of something.

 February 17, 2013  Posted by on February 17, 2013 musings No Responses »
Feb 122013

These words hold nothing of the action of their creation or method of moving through space and time. They hold none of the beauteous imperfections of the pen or the callouses of walking the interwebs, and yet these words transfer nuggets of shared meaning to inspire you, the reader. These magical characters have been transferred a number of times. After this was typed on a mobile phone in the Tumblr app, it is posted for the wild world on a little site created for the sole purpose. A minute Feedburner rewrites the feed so that it is formatted correctly, then an elephantine Wordpress with a FeedWordPress plugin acting the part of a trunk lumbers along at regular intervals and sucks up any nuggets of knowledge it hasn’t previously encountered. This elephant will play with the informative package until the elephant keeper comes by and looks it over, making any changes necessary to communicate more clearly. Lo! A brief cluster of idea- generating symbols nestled in the middle of ampersanddragon.net, which can then be loaded in a process that involves ones and zeroes in a manner beyond my knowledge to jump off your screen and into your mind. Which is a process of comparable complexity to the digital transfer, involving the capturing of the digital configuration of light, inverting it, then interpreting it into recognizable symbols, which are then read for meaning: all instantaneously.

 February 12, 2013  Posted by on February 12, 2013 tumblr No Responses »
Feb 122013

Since Jeremy Bastian drew the Kolinsky Sable from the wind-tossed waves of the Omerta Sea, he has been crowned the once and future artist of all inky-scratchy pirate graphic novels. I am willing to wait for a decade if necessary for the next intricate installment. The quirky details of this intricate volume will keep me entertained until then.

 February 12, 2013  Posted by on February 12, 2013 tumblr No Responses »
Feb 122013

The tantalizing tentacles of social media tug me into the glowing nodes pulsing with bytes of shared knowledge. Soon I may dissolve and play my part in a story displayed for the world’s nonlinear stage. As I pokey-type this out on my puny phone screen I yearn for a compatible keyboard, but am still thrilled with the prospect of carrying the interactive internet in my pocket. A quip-laced commentary and keen analysis will now be unleashed!!

 February 12, 2013  Posted by on February 12, 2013 tumblr No Responses »
Feb 082013

On the afternoon of January 22, I shared the following missive on The Graphic Novel’s Canvas Announcement board:

Hello fellow Jokerz,

My name is Watkins, I am a Senior Studio Art major, and I love reading Graphic Novels.  I’ve studied them for some time with the intent of eventually writing and drawing my own (which is an incredibly time-intensive endeavor).

I hope you are all mildly enthused by the idea of working creatively together.  I want to create a blog website, or other group-friendly social media meeting ground so that we can easily and convienently communicate in text form (making it convienient to look back on past discussion and idea generation, and more difficult to misconstrue participation levels).  I have some WordPress experience and could set up a blog on my domain or UMW blogs (matters if you would prefer .ampersanddragon.net or .umwblogs.org)  I imagine UMW blogs would be convienient since we all have to be members to blog on TGN site, but I didn’t want to do anything without consulting the group.  We could use twitter to start, before setting up a website.  #TheJokerZ

As soon as we agree on a place to host discussion, we can start discussing!  If you are at all intimidated or unsure about being creative, browse the categories sidebar at MakingComics.com.  It’s filled with useful tips from passionate people.


p.s.  do we all like the name “The Jokerz”?  how about TEH JOKERZ (sic, with backwards K)?  Or we could change our group name entirely:  “_____” formerly known as The Jokerz.

Having recieved no communique for over a week, I began a comic experiment in relation to another class.

Chapter 1: Encounter.

It is a fun experiment, my first comic.  I’ve learned more about the necessity of revisions in just one page than I ever imagined.

I was very glad to have in-class contact with other group members, as well as this reply on the 4th of February:

Hi, my name is Josh.  I think that the name “The Jokerz” is fine.  I was thinking about how we could make our webcomic and I have a few ideas about how I could contribute.  I’m a English Major and my concentration is in Creative Writing so obviously I could help out with writing in some way.  I also worked pretty extensively with GIMP for an internship  so I’d also be more than willing to help out with the artistic direction of the comic.  I had a idea (which we probably won’t need because you can actually draw) that we could take photos and manipulate them so that they fit a particular style.  I was thinking we could go for sort of a Sin City-esque style – high contrast, and only using red, black, and white.  This might be jumping the gun a bit, but I think that as far as the story goes a gritty noir graphic novel like Sin City would be really cool to produce.  Even if we wind up using drawings, I could still manipulate them to give them that look.  Here’s a mock-up I did in GIMP so you can see what I have in mind stylistically: 

Comic Draft 8b


I’m thrilled that this aesthetic meshes well with one of my usual drawing techniques – inkiness.  This isn’t evident in the CAPYBARA&bird drawings, which rely more on texture and color.

hair clip sketch
1-16-13 sharing coffee with you.
beloved childhood pet
Alizarin, Betta Fish extraordinare RIP.
steampunk breakfast

These stills from time-lapse drawings may serve as a better example.  They were drawn digitally.  The inky style has great potental for drama by contrasting large textured areas of darkness with lighter detailed areas, especially when combined with color like Josh’s example.

This website should serve well a a simple, easily accessible forum for sharing images and ideas in the creation of our webcomic, and later be a making-of, to share as part of our presentation.

Two major decisions need to be made soon, as we start to develop our ideas:  How will our webcomic be formatted and what kind of story will we tell?  These ideas are inextricably linked.  Many webcomics retain the quasi-page rectangular format because the creators want to eventually make print copies to sell.  I doubt this is the case with our project, consequently we can be creative and make use of a format that will support our tale.  Whalen’s intent is that over a three-week period, webcomic posts will happen twice a week, so essentially six chapters/issues/pages is the size of the story.  A format that would be incredible to experiment with would be that of the infinite canvas as in The Wormworld Saga by Daniel Lieske.  It may seem daunting and forign, but the actual formatting/layout comic syntax is simpler because it doesn’t require page transitions.  It can give a little story more space.

I have few story content ideas, expect me to be more vocal when it comes to design and layout of the drawings.  As I’m not a fiction writer, my instinct is to find  existing content and adapt it as a comic.  A short story or brief novel (such as Alice in Wonderland) that is in the public domain could be the subject of a webcomic.

Let me know if anyone has difficulty accessing or posting to this page by way of flibberflabber@ampersanddragon.net.

 February 8, 2013  Posted by on February 8, 2013 Visual Story No Responses »