Archive for the ‘tantalizing text’ Category


Colleagues, Alan and Martha, LOST in MINECRAFT !!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
"HELP! Alan and Martha are Missing in Minecraft !!" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“HELP! Alan and Martha are Missing in Minecraft !!” by aforgrave, on Flickr

Our two Camp Magic Macguffin co-coordinators, Alan (@cogdog) and Martha (@mburtis), have gone missing in Minecraft. News is sketchy at this point, but it would appear that they vanished at or near the surface to a “ZoneStone Mine” at the border between our world and that of Minecraft, during a series of explosions at or about 19:20 EDT on July 30th. If you have not yet seen it, you may wish to view the news video feed embedded at the bottom of this post. (Caution: May upset some viewers.)

We are marshalling support for our colleagues at this moment. If you can provide assistance of any kind, please add your information to this form.

We are all hoping for the safe and soon return of our beloved friends.

The following news feed provides further details surrounding the disappearance of Alan and Martha. (Again, some images may be disturbing.)

We will be using the tag #106lostinminecraft in aid of the search proceedings.

12:03 PM July 31st Update: Close viewing of this artifact seems to reveal a number of “loops” in the video feed, frequently accompanied by an out-of-sync audio commentary. In the simplest explanation, it may be that our colleagues were somehow spirited away PRIOR to the apparent explosion, and their likenesses remained visible due to the re-played images. In a more chilling, yet possible explanation, Alan and Martha may have been caught within some kind of “Moebius effect,” often implicated within looping or repeating instances of time.

The Moebius Reflux Wave by <a href="">Stamp</a>

The Moebius Reflux Wave majestically sweeping over and returning Earth home. by Stamp

The Daily Create: Response to The Seven Day Challenge

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

A week ago, Alan Levine tweeted out a challenge to accompany a summer downturn in the number of submissions to The Daily Create:

With visions of screaming drill sergeants and mean, sand-kickers going medieval all over everyone’s case, I decided the best thing to do was to play along and do my best to meet the challenge, and encourage others to do the same. Alan’s Charles Atlas comic taunt was sufficient to prompt a similar Charles Atlas response.

I was out of town during most of the intervening days, but with pretty much everything I needed in my backpack (with the exception of my USB mic, which was with me in my wheelie bag), the bits and pieces necessary to keep pace were close enough at hand. Tethering to my phone let me post from my non-internet enabled location.

Day One: July 11th: tdc185: Draw a Tornado.

I’ve already written about this one in “Tornado, Revisited,” but here again is the “drawing,” and then my subsequently animated GIF-version of the drawing process.

"Tornado" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“Tornado” by aforgrave, on Flickr

Tornado: TDC185 (animated GIF)

Tornado: TDC185 (animated GIF)

Day Two: July 12th: tdc186: Make a photo of an outdoor scene free of any human artifacts.

My little holiday get-away had me hanging out on the south shore of the St. Lawrence river in Québec near Rivière-du-Loup, and walks along the beach during low tide were part of my daily practice. While collections of a variety of items, including “sea glass” and other human artifacts were of interest (a couple great stories to come over the next day or so), there were also wonderful opportunities to get images of nature, undisturbed.

"Nature's Artifacts" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“Nature’s Artifacts” by aforgrave, on Flickr

I snapped this image using my new 50mm lens, and later marvelled at the wonderful detail captured in this pic. Check it out in a larger form. On Monday, while in Ottawa (and dropping by the Rideau Centre Apple Store) I took a moment to view this image on a new MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Wow. Amazing.

Day Three: July 13th: tdc187: Make a video of what is playing on channel 106 on your cable? (or make it up).

This one was a natural “make it yourself” opportunity, since there was neither Internet nor Cable (and thus no Channel 106) where I was staying during the week. Although I sorted out an idea (based on a photograph I took on the beach), plotted an outline, gathered the footage, wrote a narration, and started to translate it, there wasn’t time on Friday to complete everything (a short film, entitled “Sur la plage”), and so what I edited together (while on the bus to Montreal on Saturday), wound up being a channel-surfing excerpt entitled “Les Escaliers” — a portion (and actually, only the final paragraph of the thirteen-paragraph narration) of the concept. Good thing my time was limited. The short film would have been waaaaaaaaaaay to much for The Daily Create. As it was, this took hours.

Kudos to Spencer (@robertssw87) for the channel surf inspiration. I switched it up with a bit of a rationalization behind the meaning of the “ds” for Channel ds106 on cable. And waiting for the “static” file to download over my tethered connection while on the bus heading towards Montréal was worth it in the end.

Day Four: July 14th: tdc188: Make an annoying 30 second pre-recorded telemarketing call.

While many of my TDC items early in the week were influenced by my visit to the beach, this one wasn’t. This attempts to include some of the more annoying aspects of recorded messages which I get — most notably a continually received message that always starts in the middle of the message loop. I’ve also incorporated the content from a regular spam text/email notification that my Android phone number (don’t have one, likely never will), was randomly selected as a winner for a free MacBook Air w/2 TB drive (out of stock). I know you can’t get 2 TB notebook HDs yet, and pretty certain you can’t get 2 TB SSDs yet either.

Just as the Of Bananas, Coconuts, and Organ Grinder: The Influence of Monkeys on Human Civilization radio show earlier in the course was an opportunity for me to get some familiarity with Audacity (rather than my usual tool-of-choice, GarageBand), I took advantage of this Create to practice those same skills. I’m liking Audacity more and more. 

Day Five: July 15th: tdc189: Philosophy series; Tell us about “Technology You Can’t Live Without.”

By the time the prompt for this Create had been posted, I had arrived in Montreal.  My initial inclination was to choose from between the iPhone (likely contender), iPad, MacBook, or Sony NEX-5 camera, technologies I enjoy using on a daily basis. But that’s not what I wound up choosing, as Karen (@KarenJan ) was quick to notice:

I’d been spending some time working on learning to make my first cinematic animated GIFs (still working, but a post coming soon), and had been thinking a lot about my once-most-favourite movie, Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner (it lasted as the fav for almost 20 years, and is likely now my second most favourite, supplanted in the early 2000s by Ang Lee’s  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.)  When I first saw Blade Runner, I was living in Toronto (now the most populous city in Canada, fifth-most in North America). At the time, the incessant rain in the film, together with the ongoing images of decaying buildings, made me ponder the question, “Where would I (along with the millions of other folks in Toronto) go to get water,” if suddenly one day I turned the tap, and nothing came out? And this was before the modern commoditization of (un-sparkled) bottled water.  It wasn’t too many minutes after reading the prompt that I had my “technology I can’t live without.”

Walking around the city of Montréal that day, in an incredible heat, and climbing all the way up the switchback paths to the summit of Mount Royale served to provide wonderful grist for my iPhone video camera. As it turned out, the heat the next day in Ottawa only served up additional images, and so this little Daily Create turned into a bit of a mega project. The spoken commentary at 2:00 minutes was done in one take — I edited it a bit with Audacity to remove a couple “ums” and some slightly-too-long “thinking gaps,” and then layered it back over the original video for that segment back in iMovie.

Having this TDC lens in front of my eyes for the day was a prime example of how The Daily Create can really jump start your creativity. Despite the time spent on this one, I really enjoyed putting this together. The free water handed out by the Vitamin Water folks was pure serendipity (wonderful shirt!), and the contrast provided by the vending machines at the summit of Mount Royale — and that long red hose watering the flowers, presumably pumped all the way up from the river level in the city far below — were moments of pure “found example” joy. The non-functioning “dry” fountain at the end was a great closer to punctuate the message. And the title of ‘s song from Jamendo is just another wonderful little bit to make this work.

Day Six: July 16th: tdc190: Flip the decibels. Make a loud sound soft, or a soft sound loud.

By the time this one arrived, I was back home. And a bit tired. And certainly hot. So it wasn’t much of a stretch to join up Brahms’ Lullaby (I went with an anonymous MIDI version to avoid the potential of hurting anyone’s feelings with the manglement) and the fan, duking it out for the loudest influence on the pending sleeper. Clearly, the sleeper (me) won out in the end.

Day Seven: July 17th: tdc191: Illustrate attraction in a photograph today.

The reality of the pending Seven-Day-Challenge Mashup hit this morning, and I toyed with the idea of returning to the tdc189 “Technology I Can’t Live Without” iPhone “attraction” as a means of tying the week’s work together, as a chunk of it was facilitated by the phone.  I also spent some time grabbing some video from Minecraft — scenes of how the critters there are attracted to wheat (it’s fun to run in circles and have a mass of chickens chase you), and how pairs of animals will be suddenly attracted to one another (and make a little baby animal) when you feed each of them a sheaf of wheat.  But then I found myself shooting pics of coins attached to the magnets in my pdo iPhone case. And as I moved around the room seeking some better light, I suddenly found the inspiration in shadows and location to create something more than just a photo of some coins stuck to my phone.

"Creative Attraction" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“Creative Attraction” by aforgrave, on Flickr

Still, the photo alone seemed like a bit too little effort for the seventh day of the challenge, and I was inspired with @cogdog‘s enthusiasm to generate interest in The Daily Create, and so I spent some time turning the image into a poster, and then a new ds106 Design Assignment, #611: “‘Celebrate The Daily Create’ poster”.

"Celebrate 'The Daily Create' poster" by aforgrave, on Flickr

“Celebrate ‘The Daily Create’ poster” by aforgrave, on Flickr

If you’re not yet following The Daily Create, the assignments are posted daily at 10 AM Eastern Time. Check out The Daily Create online and follow @DS106TDC on Twitter.

Seven-Day-Challenge Wrap Up (and beyond)

Given that these items represent the individual The Daily Create elements for Alan’s Seven-Day-Challenge — the next task will be to complete a mash-up of items from the past seven days into some form of narrative, the final stage in completing the Seven Day Daily Create Challenge (and Mashup Thereof).

That, and continuing towards my self-challenged #21daychallenge. As of tdc191, I’m on the 11th consecutive TDC.

Who else is looking to extend their Seven-Day-Challenge towards a consistent daily habit?  It’s fun! Unleash your creativity! 

Create with The Great

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Snoopy - It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

How would you like to have the support of six seven classic authors sitting at your table, collaborating with you as you compose your next great piece of writing?

The Greats + 1

My friend and colleague Doug Peterson has a new blog post waiting every morning at 5:01 am, and this morning’s post prompted me to immediately launch the web browser on my iPad to test out his latest find on the web, Google’s demo Masters Edition.  Shortly thereafter, I was sitting at my computer, running a screen capture as I pounded out the opening lines to my next great epic.

Now granted, I didn’t give The Masters a lot to work with. And I would assume that in their day they needed editing for context and syntax in their writing, too — in this instance, their contributions didn’t necessarily always get the gist spot on. Perhaps I was expecting that their additions would automatically improve the quality of the writing piece, and rather, need to see them more as collaborators, merely contributing suggestions. It must be up to us as the writer to make the final call.

Here is my tentative text, augmented with colour to highlight each author’s initial contribution. You will note that a couple of extra lines were added by Poe and Shakespeare after the video capture was stopped. Clearly, those two weren’t paying attention at the time. 

It was a gloomy and stormy night. Snoopy comfortably esconced huddled over his typewriter. That dratted Black Baron was up to no good again.

Suddenly, Woodstock as well as his tiny little yellow friends appeared, flittering around the dog house, attempting to cheer Snoopy up.

Under the canopy of darkness, it was a town of unnatural red and black like the painted face of a savage, the triplane of the nemesis of all good. “What shall I do presently?” imagined Snoopy, as he lowered his goggles and wrapped his scarf tightly around his neck. “This wilt be the undoing of me and my tiny little feathered friends!”

As the shining eye of heaven rose, and Snoopy’s Sopwith Camel rose into the sky and headed into battle, the birds began to issue forth their morning war cry, and the day was good. I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat. … Let not sloth dim your horrors new-begot.

Tally and My Assessment of the Contributions

I’ve indicated below my take on the contributions (how many of their suggestions “might work” out of the total number of suggestions offered).

• Nietzsche      0/0   no contributions
• Shakespeare  1/4  I kind of like “shining eye of heaven” in place of “sun”
• Dostoyevsky  0/0 no contributions
• Dickinson  0/0 no contributions
• Dickens  0/1 totally out of context, man!
• Poe  2/7  points for effort, Edgar! Not sure about that cat comment though.

While I don’t know that I would select any of Poe’s suggestions specifically, at least, “gloomy,” “as well as,” “presently,” and “imagined” kind of fit into the flow. So half a point each.  But changing the Red Baron to the Black Baron is right out. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t give Shultz a nod:
• Shultz Great characters, that dog house setting is a little sparse. 

So. This initial attempt results in a question. Would a longer engagement with the Google Docs: Masters Edition result in improved product? (Maybe a bit more engagement on my part might help?) Perhaps the act of contemplating the suggestions of others is the intent — whether their suggestions themselves are incorporated, or rather simply serve as springboards, and create pause for reflection.  Would I press on with more formal narrative writing, looking to see improvement from this tool? Or is it more of an amusement?

Perhaps you can give it a whirl and offer your own thoughts?

By the way, while a search on Google resulted in multiple instances of Shultz’s image of Snoopy typing “It was a dark and stormy night,” these two images both came from a post titled “11 Great Writing Tips and Overcoming Writers’ Block.FWIW.

If you are interested in seeing the real time authoring, I’ll be posting it to the Youtube.

Bending Time

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
"Rift in the Space-Time Continuum ... Convenient". by aforgrave, on Flickr

"Rift in the Space-Time Continuum … Convenient". by aforgrave, on Flickr

“Making night time work,
A convenient answer,
Bending the space-time.”

FlickrHaiku, TwHaiku, InstagramHaiku

I came across this solution, while seeking answers.
While still not the long-promised DayDoubler**, it’s nonetheless a start.
– At the Petro-Can, 10:10 pm.  June 11th, 2012.

I would have seen a mock ad for **DayDoubler sometime in the mid-90s, posted on a bulletin board outside the technicians’ work room at our DSB. (The room later served as our training lab, our PD library, and the home to our original web and email servers.) At the time, Connectrix marketed a variety of software solutions that served to attempt to extend memory (RAM Doubler) and storage (Disk Doubler) so that the computers of the day could do more with less than they actually needed.

The fictional Day Doubler never materialized. LOL.

Searching the web this evening discovered this text:

DayDoubler is a new product from Connectrix that gives you those extra hours in each day that we’ve been asking for. Using sophisticated time mapping and compression techniques to double the number of hours in the day, DayDoubler gives you access to 48 hours each day. With the shareware hack MaxDay, you can easily stretch your day to 60, 72, or even 96 hours! Connectrix warns that at the higher numbers DayDoubler becomes less stable and that you run the risk of a temporal crash in which everything from the beginning of time to the present would come crashing down around you, sucking you into a black hole.

Should this occur, be sure to reboot with the shift key down.

Source: Nov. 21, 1994: Brady Johnson,
TidBITS: DayDoubler.


A few years later, a colleague would regularly compliment me by wishing he had two of me. At one particularly important juncture, he wished he had three.

Over the years, I have also tried to find the companion product Clone Yourself, to no avail.



Harrowing Night

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The Sunset before "Harrowing Night"

Given that my mine is currently overrun with a variety of creatures and is imperfectly defended, I have been working on the higher reaches of the space, having protected myself by breaking the access via the construction bridge from below. My current goal is to close in the sky-high view panorama window, thereby sealing the mine from unintended external access. However, fascinated as I was by the colours of the setting sun, I waited far too long to vacate the recently-installed construction scaffold on the outside window. Before I knew it, it was too dark to make my way off the perilous structure and back to the security of my nearby mining hut. I was able to create gaps in the scaffold at either end (it was still attached to the sheer cliff face), and resolved myself to wait out the rising of the sun.

That I am still here to tell this tale the next morning is the shortened conclusion to the experience. However, the cold from the high altitude (snow is prevalent), the grunts and cries of nearby monsters, the darkness of the night, the onset of drowsiness (normally, I pass the night by sleeping), and my vertigo-fueled apprehension of falling made for a very traumatic ordeal.

Still Alive the Next Morning

Still Alive the Next Morning after the "Harrowing Night"