A Review of the Preview of the Previewer

A few weeks ago I journalled about The Previewer, a little jquery/ajax plugin I was writing for displaying images on my current and any future websites.

It's safe to say I have gone down the rabbit hole on this one. Every time I think I've almost finished it I discover with glee other possible functionality or enhancements. I keep delving into new and foreign areas of web development that in the past I've only gazed at wistfully out the window of the bus on the information super highway. Earlier this year I worked with varying enthusiasm on a different and entirely new web application that my attention may soon return to. However, there's something about programming when its key functionality is to propagate my ego that really lights my coding fire. Not to mention just how excited I am about other things. Like, I have started writing Ajax services, discovered just how friggin pro it is to use icons instead of links/buttons, started writing dynamic (and secured) CSS and Javascript in PHP and I'm now starting to wield jQuery around like an eight year old with a chainsaw. I even spent the last two days trying to understand the Facebook Javascript API to add a feature I think will probably never even be used! But, if someone asks me later 'can you write something that implements the Facebook SDK?' I can smile and say 'I sure can!' (Have they changed it in the last week?)

So the previewer grows more awesome by the day. Oh, and I also created a development environment and everything for it on my local PC, so it's no longer online. Until it's ready, you'll just have to share in the excitement of me learning lots of new technical skills. Speaking of which, I also learnt today that you can cook bacon in a sandwich press.


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I discovered a website called The Daily Shoot which hands out one sentence photo missions every morning. I managed to complete each assignment this week - with varying levels of effort - and I'm glad I did. Even when I only spent two minutes trying to take a shot I learnt a few things and it was great practice.

Make a photograph of something that is glowing today. Use any meaning of the word you like.

Make a photograph of something that is glowing today. Use any meaning of the word you like.



Make a photograph illustrating a sound that catches your ear today.</p>
<p>Did I leave the player blurry to focus on the earphone? Let's say yes!

Make a photograph illustrating a sound that catches your ear today.

Did I leave the player blurry to focus on the earphone? Let's say yes!



Find a repeating pattern today and make a photograph of it.

Find a repeating pattern today and make a photograph of it.



For the next photo I had to unpack my Lego. If Lego was contraband this is the kind of photos the police would put on their website after seizing some smuggles.

For the next photo I had to unpack my Lego. If Lego was contraband this is the kind of photos the police would put on their website after seizing some smuggles.



What kind of other art do you appreciate? Make a photograph that celebrates it today.</p>
<p>I went a little bit meta on this one.

What kind of other art do you appreciate? Make a photograph that celebrates it today.

I went a little bit meta on this one.



Make a photograph that features a shadow as your subject today.</p>
<p>Did I leave the bottle blurry to focus on the shadow? Actually, yes I did!

Make a photograph that features a shadow as your subject today.

Did I leave the bottle blurry to focus on the shadow? Actually, yes I did!



Make a photograph of something that you find amusing today.</p>
<p>After spending half of Saturday sorting through Lego this seemed amusing.

Make a photograph of something that you find amusing today.

After spending half of Saturday sorting through Lego this seemed amusing.



Make a low contrast photo today. Concentrate on other cues - such as line and texture - to create your photograph.</p>
<p>So it turns out when you bend banana trees in half the trunk does the same thing as when you bend a banana in half.

Make a low contrast photo today. Concentrate on other cues - such as line and texture - to create your photograph.

So it turns out when you bend banana trees in half the trunk does the same thing as when you bend a banana in half.



Also here's a cicada shell in case you need proof I'm actually in NSW.

Also here's a cicada shell in case you need proof I'm actually in NSW.

Putting My Plastic in Plastic

Occasionally whilst partaking in the strangely addictive task that is sorting Lego I will look into a storage container and my brain releases some serotonin. Because, everything that is the same shape is in the same hole.
Today after my new lens arrived, plus with the tales of my Lego sorting epic starting to spread across the internet, what else was I to do but take some photos of the process?

In unrelated news, you may have noticed my hosting is becoming increasingly flaky. Do not fear! Everything is now being backed up every 24 hours as I prepare to migrate to a hopefully better server.

Sorting HQ, the couch.

Sorting HQ, the couch.



image 917 from bradism.com


Round pieces.

Round pieces.



image 919 from bradism.com


Aerial view.

Aerial view.



Minifig piles.

Minifig piles.

Reject Shop Hacker

I love my Sennheiser HD515 Headphones. I bought them almost five fricking years ago when I first started working for a certain company (which they've actually gone on to outlast). I needed headphones that would permit me to hear people yelling into my cubicle at me while I cranked Arctic Monkeys, Scratch Perverts or some Phoenix and pounded out dummy UI functions in PowerScript. (As an aside, Power Builder is a skill I have that I deliberately omit from my CV to prevent ever being asked to work in it again.) I bought them for $160 (I bartered the people at Video World on Rundle Street down $10) and immediately plugged them into my iRiver H340. This entry is going down some serious nostalgic tangents.

About 1800 days later my HD515s have arguably been my greatest purchase ever. I am talking technically, on a scale of money paid to hours used. I would conservatively estimate I average 6 hours a day with them on my head. Time added up from eight hour work days, the walk or train commute to and from the office, the hours after work when I'm programming or editing photos or searching the internet for humourous image macros. Not to mention all those plane flights, long walks, dishes washings and DJ sessions.

Here is a photo of me DJing at the now defunct Fad Bar one Summer night in 2006, the oldest photo of my headphones I can find. I'm about to drop a mashup of Britney Spear's Toxic with Mike Jones' Still Tippin'. Completely out of sync. How many things have changed since this day? So many things. But the headphones and the fashion have stayed the same.

Here is a photo of me DJing at the now defunct Fad Bar one Summer night in 2006, the oldest photo of my headphones I can find. I'm about to drop a mashup of Britney Spear's Toxic with Mike Jones' Still Tippin'. Completely out of sync. How many things have changed since this day? So many things. But the headphones and the fashion have stayed the same.



Based on my estimate of 10,800 hours of listen time with these headphones, that equates to a cost of less than two cents per hour of listening time. Compare that to, say our couch, which to this point has cost me approximately $60 per hour of use. Three thousand percent more cash per hour of use.

I have considered these kind of statistics in the past and have thought of writing a whole entry about them. Only effort stopped me. However, I bring it up today because I want to foreshadow the amount of distress I felt earlier this week when I discovered my Sennheiser's were dying. The audio was fine, outputting at its normal high quality and crispness. It was after using them that I discovered the problem, removing them from my head and noticing a tiny explosion of black powder coming from around the speakers. Upon further analysis (whacking it on the table a few times and seeing more powder emerge) I realised what had happened: after 10,000 hours of use the fabric covering the ear padding had started to tear and the crumbs of what had been the inner-padding before five years of daylight, bag rides, ear sweat and low frequencies was now piling up on my desk. It wasn't just a little bit of powder, the entire ring of padding had deteriorated.

I couldn't use my headphones without the unpadded plastic digging into my upper ear lobes and having a rim of black powder on the sides of my head after each listen. (This scenario reminded me of year 10 when the only pair of earphones I'd been able to afford for my Walkman had fluoro yellow earbuds, and I felt so self conscious about the bright colour that I'd painted them black with permanent marker. A choice I regretted while wiping black dye from my ears with a tissue every morning in homegroup for the next two weeks.) So, I set about coming up with my own solution. I figured, I already owned a sewing kit which I have used to sew on one button (quite poorly) already so essentially my options were unlimited. And while browsing the local Reject Shop for some padding or stuffing and finding nothing I was struck by genius. Sponges! I bought a three pack of thick Oates sponges for $2.

With my craft knife (and regular knife once struck by impatience) I immediately set to cutting out new rings of padding. After shaping the sponges I had to then completely cut open the original fabric and scrape/vacuum out the left over crumbs of the old padding. Once empty I fitted the new rings and after putting them on my head - drunk with giddiness - I was amazed that not only had I replaced the padding of my headphones for pocket change and saved myself the 0 I had already mentally assigned to buying new headphones, but they were actually really comfortable.

With my craft knife (and regular knife once struck by impatience) I immediately set to cutting out new rings of padding. After shaping the sponges I had to then completely cut open the original fabric and scrape/vacuum out the left over crumbs of the old padding. Once empty I fitted the new rings and after putting them on my head - drunk with giddiness - I was amazed that not only had I replaced the padding of my headphones for pocket change and saved myself the 0 I had already mentally assigned to buying new headphones, but they were actually really comfortable.



Not just comfortable, but also anti-bacterial! And the best part - apart from having my headphones back - is that I essentially also got a free sponge.

image 924 from bradism.com


Feel free to share stories of your technically greatest purchase ever.


Like my words? Want to buy one of my books? I think you'll like this one:

If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?

Chase: A Tomorrow Technologies Novella. Available Now for Less than a dollar!


The Weekly Shoot

Photos taken for the Daily Shoot assignments over the last week.

Make a photograph of a smile today.

Make a photograph of a smile today.



Today's theme is red. Red hot? Red paint? Or something else? You decide.</p>
<p>This week I received two awesome photographic toys in the mail. One was the DCR 150 macro filter and the other was my new Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 lens. The latter was the expensive toy, and I celebrated owning it by taking a photo of a) the box it came in, b) some tomatoes.

Today's theme is red. Red hot? Red paint? Or something else? You decide.

This week I received two awesome photographic toys in the mail. One was the DCR 150 macro filter and the other was my new Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 lens. The latter was the expensive toy, and I celebrated owning it by taking a photo of a) the box it came in, b) some tomatoes.



The red theme was also a good prompt to give me the idea to buy red flowers for Vanessa.

The red theme was also a good prompt to give me the idea to buy red flowers for Vanessa.



Make a feeling that conveys a sense of being outdoors today.</p>
<p>It was a good excuse for a walk, which reminded me that almost every kilometre around Engadine looks the same.

Make a feeling that conveys a sense of being outdoors today.

It was a good excuse for a walk, which reminded me that almost every kilometre around Engadine looks the same.



The sky wasn't very accommodating for a landscape on the day of this challenge, so here's a Lego alternative.

The sky wasn't very accommodating for a landscape on the day of this challenge, so here's a Lego alternative.



Make a photograph that features water in one way or another today.</p>
<p>I made this with my new macro filter and my newly sorted Lego after I couldn't think of anything water related that I wanted to take a photo of. I started to fear that all my assignments might start featuring Lego.

Make a photograph that features water in one way or another today.

I made this with my new macro filter and my newly sorted Lego after I couldn't think of anything water related that I wanted to take a photo of. I started to fear that all my assignments might start featuring Lego.



Right after thinking that it started pouring and I could shoot photos of soggy birds instead. Thanks, nature.

Right after thinking that it started pouring and I could shoot photos of soggy birds instead. Thanks, nature.



Make a photograph of a beautiful, simple shape today. Utilize lighting and focus to make it sing.</p>
<p>Slightly weird request, but sure, I'll play along..

Make a photograph of a beautiful, simple shape today. Utilize lighting and focus to make it sing.

Slightly weird request, but sure, I'll play along..



Make a photograph that illustrates randomness in some way today.

Make a photograph that illustrates randomness in some way today.



Make a photograph that illustrates a role of technology in your life.</p>
<p>I racked my brain for an idea for this photo, seeing that the vague definition of technology is so omnipresent.</p>
<p>Before you decide to judge me on my eventual choice of photo I want you to consider the technical expertise required to get the focus and lighting right for this shot, especially considering I had to balance the camera and flash unit well above my head. It's also black and white to make it more authentically artistic.

Make a photograph that illustrates a role of technology in your life.

I racked my brain for an idea for this photo, seeing that the vague definition of technology is so omnipresent.

Before you decide to judge me on my eventual choice of photo I want you to consider the technical expertise required to get the focus and lighting right for this shot, especially considering I had to balance the camera and flash unit well above my head. It's also black and white to make it more authentically artistic.

Another Weekly Shoot

Because writing is hard..

I've been pretty active the last week and neglected my daily shoot challenges a little. I had to take some liberties with the already open assignments (and also chronology). Nevertheless here are some pictures.

Make a photo of two complementary objects arranged in a pleasing composition, one large and one small.</p>
<p>I composed planes, yeah!

Make a photo of two complementary objects arranged in a pleasing composition, one large and one small.

I composed planes, yeah!



Make a photograph today that illustrates the idea of freshness to you.</p>
<p>Baby capsicum.

Make a photograph today that illustrates the idea of freshness to you.

Baby capsicum.



Today's color is green. Make a photograph dominated by green today.</p>
<p>*whistles innocently*

Today's color is green. Make a photograph dominated by green today.

*whistles innocently*



Make a photograph outdoors without an obvious horizon line.

Make a photograph outdoors without an obvious horizon line.



Continue Reading Another Weekly Shoot...

Timeless

I had some time in Sydney yesterday and I decided to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. I had expectations and I was not disappointed. Basically every cliché there could be was represented.

There were:

  • drawings of squares;
  • a video of a goat standing in a small room. The video looped between footage of the goat facing different ways;
  • Normal looking art with emotive words drawn on the top and penises scribbled on the people in them;
  • A video of very little content that makes the noise that videos make before the footage starts, but the footage never comes!
  • A fire escape diagram.

    You are not allowed to take photos in the gallery. I knew this, but I was carrying my camera bag with me, camera safely inside, because you are allowed to take photos in the streets around it and the like. However, seeing that camera bag makers seem naive to the concept of personal safety and emblazon the brand and make of your camera on your bag it was obvious I was carrying one. And as I stood in front of a loaf of bread that someone had sewn together with half a squirrel a staff member came up to me and said "No photos." "Right", I said. I don't think I could really capture this properly anyway.

    There was also some awesome stuff. Someone had indiscriminately picked some New York paper from the 60s and recreated every page by hand, I couldn't tell the difference between the copy and the real one. Someone else had taken a mould of broken drawing board and then reproduced it in plastic with fake plastic pins sticking out. It also looked real. And someone put slices of wood inside bread bags and the wood looked like bread. I hadn't actually realised it until I reflected upon it here, but I'm thinking contemporary art is just about inefficiently recreating something that already exists. Oh, also the bread guy made a sculpture of a campfire out of wood. The flames were wood chips. That was really good, I thought to myself "If I could afford it I would buy that thing and put it on display in a mansion I owned." I also remember feeling pleased that my Lego model of an art gallery the other week had been pretty accurate.

    There wasn't as much to see as I hoped at the Museum of Contemporary Art. There are only two floors and one floor was taken up with a photography exhibit. I knew it was on, but I didn't go in because it cost $15 and there was a mad line for tickets filled with mainly the elderly. I figured Google could get me to the images if I really wanted to. Also outside the entrance there was a tour group or art class or something receiving a full pep talk about their pending visit to the exhibition and how they should take a moment to premeditate before their artistic orgy, followed by hushed murmurs of agreement. I decided to pass.

    After my visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art I was filled with artistic vigour, and I tried to take some post modern photos of something. It was overcast to the point where even the grass looked grey, and I don't think my photos from that day will ever end up in a gallery. Also, I am starting to feel that certain landmarks in Sydney (*cough*, Harbour Bridge *cough* Opera House *cough*) are like bothersome photo-bombers who just have to be in every photo of Sydney you take:

    "Oh, that looks nice," I think. "I'll take a photo of.. oh fuck off Centrepoint Tower do you have to be in the background of everything?"

    While washing the dishes tonight I thought about if I might ever think of myself as an artist and if I did, what kind of art would I make? I calculated that I might make the MCA cut if I made a working, egocentric blog out of Lego and took photos of it. I have a fear that making a content management system out of Lego might not actually be that inefficient, compared to writing it with traditional web technologies though, and that's how I'll remember that I spent most of today programming.

  • Weeks are Fast

    Have I seriously been doing the Daily Shoot assignments for a month now?

    <b>Make a photograph that incorporates a circle.</b></p>
<p>A circular vignette! And within it the letter O. As in O, I should have cleaned my keyboard before I took a photo of it with a magnifying lens and a speedlight and then posted it on the internet.

    <b>Make a photograph that incorporates a circle.</b>

    A circular vignette! And within it the letter O. As in O, I should have cleaned my keyboard before I took a photo of it with a magnifying lens and a speedlight and then posted it on the internet.



    <b>What reminds you of home? Make a photograph of it today.</b>

    <b>What reminds you of home? Make a photograph of it today.</b>



    <b>Illustrate the rule of thirds in a photograph today.</b></p>
<p>Two days into this week I was happy that I had remembered to take a photo. Then I realised that all the photos so far had been taken at my desk. So here's Circular Quay... DAMMIT this should have been the first photo.

    <b>Illustrate the rule of thirds in a photograph today.</b>

    Two days into this week I was happy that I had remembered to take a photo. Then I realised that all the photos so far had been taken at my desk. So here's Circular Quay... DAMMIT this should have been the first photo.



    <b>Make a photograph today that uses layers as a compositional tool.</b></p>
<p>Petals are like layers.

    <b>Make a photograph today that uses layers as a compositional tool.</b>

    Petals are like layers.



    <b>Make a photograph featuring a path, road, or trail that leads the eye through the photograph.</b>

    <b>Make a photograph featuring a path, road, or trail that leads the eye through the photograph.</b>



    <b>Make a photograph of something in motion. Use blur to help convey the motion you are capturing.</b></p>
<p>This was a lot harder to photograph than you might think, and not for the reasons you're thinking.

    <b>Make a photograph of something in motion. Use blur to help convey the motion you are capturing.</b>

    This was a lot harder to photograph than you might think, and not for the reasons you're thinking.



    <b>Today, let's illustrate the emotion of being happy.</b></p>
<p>I almost lasted a week without sticking Lego in the light box.

    <b>Today, let's illustrate the emotion of being happy.</b>

    I almost lasted a week without sticking Lego in the light box.


    Breadism

    I can't recall what prompted it, but on Friday I was thinking about Baker's Delight's Twisted Delights. This made me search my journal for references to Twisted Delights and led to the discovery that they have been mentioned six times in the past. This ranks them the informal number one of all the Baker's Delight product mentioned in my journal (Choc Mud Scones came second). I can't remember where I was going with this, but I believe this paragraph so far has justified you reading so far. Everything else now can be considered bonus.

    Struck with the desire for a Twisted Delight at 3pm on a slow Friday in the home office I immediately decided to put on my runners and my bike shorts and run the several kilometres of hills between me and the nearest Baker's Delight.
    "This is what the old me would have done!" I thought, suffering from the echoes of reading too much about my own life from early 2005 - a time period where I ate many Twisted Delights apparently and also jogged a lot. I stood up to look for a bum bag to hold my cash while I ran and the sliding into grooves of several of my body's joints reminded me that the new me had jogged once this year and a Twisted Delight wasn't worth dying for. Seeing that on Monday I had to drop my car off for a service in town I would buy one on the walk back to the house, and then burn some of the 1307 calories in it on the return walk to my car after lunch.

    After arriving at the counter and asking for a Twisted Delight - noting with sadness that the six year absence of Jalapeno and Green Tomato Twisted Delight continued - I ordered a Spinach and Feta Twisted Delight. After I ordered the lady noted that I could get a large wholemeal loaf for only $2 extra. I greedily accepted! That was mistake number one. I barely lingered long enough for her to stamp my new loyalty card before I high tailed it out of there with a loaf under each arm.

    You see, not a lot of people know this - even the ones who read all my short stories from 2003 and may have noticed they all involved bread - but I had a problem. I used to be addicted to bread. A Breadaholic. I know that, when you look at me, you don't say:
    'That dude has a bread problem. He looks like he eats way too much bread.'
    And I don't, not anymore. But it's something I have to work hard on every single day. And sometimes it gets the better of me. Like yesterday. My Twisted Delight was for lunch. Why, when I arrived home at 9am, did I decide to bring it to the study with me instead of leave it in the kitchen? Did I just want it to sit next to me to be looked at while I began my days work? This was mistake number two. With great predictability - within hours of breakfast - I was pulling apart the cable tie and inhaling the sweet, freshly baked aroma of my lunch. Well, my morning tea. With no self control I began pulling apart chunks of bread Viking style and funneling them into my mouth. By 11am it was gone.

    After this I felt guilty. And full. Mainly both. For the next few hours I avoided eye contact with myself, I nervously fingered my AA Six Year Medallion which I for some reason bought off eBay for eight dollars a couple of years ago, then threw it into a desk drawer and slammed that shut. I did a little bit of work and replied to a few emails. 3pm came and I was both hungry and bloated. I elected to have a low carb meal and ate a tin of tuna.
    I rinsed it out and put it in the recycling bin.
    Time was spinning.
    I walked from room to room. The walls were closing in.

    The phone rang.

    It was the mechanic, my car was ready to pick up he said. He told me to come in anytime. I tied up my shoes, dug out my earphones and was about to leave.
    "It's a long walk" said the voice.
    'No.' I said. 'You're back. You can't be back.'
    "You need some energy for that walk, Brad." said the voice. "Eat some bread, Brad. Just a little. C'mon Brad. Just a little bit of Bread."
    I walked into the kitchen like there were chains on my feet. I stood in front of the bench. I looked down at mistake number four.
    Hot Cross Buns - Mocha - 8 pack.

    Fingers trembling I peeled open the bagging and tore a hot cross bun free. I microwaved it for 20 seconds. I was already so pathetic that I couldn't wait two minutes for the griller to heat up. The microwave chimed. I pulled out my bread. It was hot, chocolate melted onto my fingers. I ate it, it was good. It was so good. I walked down the hill like I was floating on a gentle breeze. Soon I was parking outside my house and heading straight back to the kitchen.

    I ate three hot cross buns in all that afternoon. I did not care that it was close to dinner time. I only stopped because I had to pick Vanessa up from work. She told me about her day. She told me she had a surprise for me as a reward for collecting her from work.
    She bought me fresh banana bread.
    We got home and she unwrapped it. It smelt so good, but my stomach moaned at the abuse. I had to eat it, I didn't want her to know that while she'd been away I'd been sitting in a dark room eating bread alone. I ate every crumb and the voice was happy, so happy. It was good. I don't remember the rest of the evening.

    I woke up this morning in a pool of sweat with crumbs coming out of every pore. I stumbled into the kitchen and found the pack of mocha hot cross buns and three were left. Summoning all my willpower I dragged the bag to the bathroom and flushed each one down the pipes. As the last one disappeared and a lone chocolate chip floated to the surface of the bowl I sat back, plonking myself on the cool tiles as I cried out with languid anguish. Then I stood up and started work. The worst was behind me, a relapse, but that's all it was. I didn't eat any bread the rest of the day. This evening I realised the chicken breast we had defrosting for dinner was losing its race against time and I went for a quick trip to the supermarket.

    My shopping list:
    - BBQ Chicken
    - Vegetables/Salad
    - NO BREAD

    I was driving back home in the twilight and for the first time today I heard the voice again.
    "Brad, you should have bought some more hot cross buns."
    'No, voice!' I said sternly. 'That will not be happening.'
    "Too late," it said. "It did happen."
    I looked down at the groceries, the mocha hot cross buns were on top, so as not to get squashed.
    'No!' I said. 'I vowed! No more bread! NO MORE BREAD!'
    "Relax." said the voice. "You can have your vows and have your bread."
    'No.' I cried, palms slapping the steering wheel in a fit. 'My vow is useless. "No Bread." I can't even say it any more.'
    "Lie," the voice urged. "Lie to yourself.
    '"No Bread."' I tried to say. 'No... You've made the words useless. Hollow.'
    "A Mochary," he whispered.