Archive for February, 2010

Final Proposal

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I’ve decided to create a series of Javascript tutorials for my digital story.
My plan is to start with the basics. I’d like my first post to be about computer programming and Javascript in general. Then, I’d like to progress with various aspects of basic programming–the Javascript “alert,” if statements, looping, variables, and anything else that I feel would be important to learn. Once I’ve given everyone an idea of how to start coding, I’d like to walk everyone through building a number guessing game called Lucky Seven that I wrote over the summer. I don’t have an example of it online, but I might put it on my site later on, especially as an aid for anyone who wants to follow along and make their own version.
Lucky Seven is a very easy game to play (If you’re clever, you can guess the number just about every time–but it can be made more difficult.) and a very easy game to code. It’s not even a lot of code.
I want to include a quick tutorial on making an HTML file that you can upload to your site early into the project, which would also benefit anyone who hasn’t been able to set up their site’s home page. After all, I didn’t choose Javascript for no reason. Javascript works with a browser, so there’s no need for anyone who follows my blog to download a compiler. Compilers are proof that computers can hate 🙂 (Just kidding, but they certainly don’t show mercy when you’re begging for your work to compile…) But that’s not the only thing, either. Anyone who completes the project can put it on their site and show it off to the rest of the class. The game page can be decorated in all sorts of creative ways, which will be lots of fun for people who like web design to try.
If I finish the tutorial before the class ends, I’m sure I can pull some other fun projects from my sleeves.
Right now, I’m thinking I’d do 1-2 posts per week, depending on my work load (Double majoring is awesome if you’re a masochist.). It would be very easy for me to work ahead if I feel like I’ll be busy, then simply post what I’ve already written later on to stay on schedule. If people actually bother to follow along with this (and they should, it’ll be really easy and fun! *wink wink*), they’ll probably have occasional issues because Javascript can be very, uh, temperamental. Because there’s no compiler, it’s not going to tell you where errors are occurring. For people who have Firefox, I’ll encourage them to download an add-on called Firebug, which is free, helpful, and only slightly frustrating. It’s a debugger for Javascript. For people who don’t want that hassle and/or don’t want to switch browsers, I’d be willing to and/or feel responsible for their suffering and give some individual help. I can give further instructions for that as well if it is necessary–I actually enjoy the process of debugging when my grade isn’t on the line 🙂

Pictures From Flickr

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

These are just some pictures that I like that I took from Flickr. As you can tell, I really like animals. I love to photograph my dogs and horses especially, but I can never take good pictures of my fish, so I’m really jealous of people who’ve mastered the art of taking pictures of moving animals underwater. I think that’s why I saw so many fish pictures that I liked (more than this, but the post got long enough).


By c080 from Flickr

I really like the background of this one because it’s so glowy and green. The fish is in focus and his outline and spots are very sharp compared to the plants in the background, which are just a blur of colors. I’m also a huge fan of plecos, and I have one named Nikki who looks a lot like this one 🙂

horse in snow

By Ben Kimball from Flickr

I love horses playing in fields and in snow. The horse is a dark bay, but the snow makes him look flecked. He stands out against the snow, and it’s just really fun to see him leaping into the air.

Fall Off Horse

For some reason, this one didn’t want to show up. I just put a link. And I swear I’m not trying to Rick Roll you again.

By New2mac from Flickr

And I also love good pictures of people falling from their horses. No, I’m not a sadist. There’s just something about catching such a brief, unexpected moment and doing it well. I’ve been riding and training horses long enough that I’ve had some pretty epic falls, and seeing photos like this makes me think about that brief moment where your mind is racing to prepare for impact and you feel like you’re defying gravity and just hanging in the air. They actually give me a sort of “hanging” feeling.

This one is also a little different because, if you don’t look closely, you might first think that it’s just a picture of a woman jumping her horse. You have to look a second time to see that she’s bracing her arms against her horse’s arching neck with no contact on the saddle. The swinging stirrup leather and gleaming iron was the first thing that gave it away.

green spotted puffer

By jupalada on Flickr

Green spotted puffer fish are such cute fish, it’s hard not to love their comical faces. They’re also such a pretty, unique color. I love how this one is on a completely black background, which seems to bring out his spots and enhance his color. Awwwwww.

Dog Drinking Drops

For whatever reason, this one didn’t show up either, so there’s a link.

By Norby on Flickr

I love how the dog’s brown spots are almost the same color as the wooden floor. I also like how the water is dripping and the dog is licking it up. His pink tongue is cute 🙂 The drops also divide the picture, and the nails in the floor do the same. They intersect, and I just think it’s really interesting for some reason.

Just keeping notes…

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

I was looking for photos on Flickr that interest me, and I found a photo of a book cover. It was called “The Emotion Machine” by Marvin Minsky. If I ever get the time to read again, I definitely want to track down a copy of that one. The description of the book has convinced me that I’ll be fascinated by the whole thing and never want to put it down.

In this mind-expanding book, scientific pioneer Marvin Minsky continues his groundbreaking research, offering a fascinating new model for how our minds work. He argues persuasively that emotions, intuitions, and feelings are not distinct things, but different ways of thinking.
By examining these different forms of mind activity, Minsky says, we can explain why our thought sometimes takes the form of carefully reasoned analysis and at other times turns to emotion. He shows how our minds progress from simple, instinctive kinds of thought to more complex forms, such as consciousness or self-awareness. And he argues that because we tend to see our thinking as fragmented, we fail to appreciate what powerful thinkers we really are. Indeed, says Minsky, if thinking can be understood as the step-by-step process that it is, then we can build machines — artificial intelligences — that not only can assist with our thinking by thinking as we do but have the potential to be as conscious as we are.

I just can’t stop thinking about just the ideas presented in that short summary. I’d look at the local library, but unfortunately the computer science section is limited to various Dummies guides for people who can’t figure out/want to know EVERY LITTLE THING about random software. And I did a catalog search for books on artificial intelligence. Nothing. Pshhh.
(So basically this whole thing was a blog-to-self to see if I can find a cheap copy online later.)

Digital Story Proposal

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I’m leaning towards adopting a persona and blogging as another person for a while. I really liked the idea we saw in class of Project 1968, where the women pretended to be people blogging from that era. I’m really not a history person, so I’d probably take a more modern approach. I don’t really know what kind of person I’d want to be, however. I thought of simply taking on a pseudonym and writing from another CompSci student’s eyes, but I might change my mind depending on whether or not I can think of a more exciting role for me to play. I do think that I’d have enough material to write about on a regular basis; even if my past and current experiences aren’t enough, I can always…uh, alter reality 🙂

February 14, 2010–Studied for Data Structures exam…on Valentines’ Day.
February 15, 2010–Got up at 6:30 AM and went to the Unix lab to work on some code. It wouldn’t compile. Again.
February 16, 2010–Someone in my Data Structures class followed up on that promise to burn the Unix lab to the ground if his project didn’t compile.

Maybe not quite like that (much more content, hopefully nothing as silly as some of the ideas I already have), but that’s the main idea.
If that doesn’t work out for me, I thought I might just do a set of nonfiction (probably how-to) posts relating to some topic that I’ll think of in the future.

I have a pretty fun idea for a how-to sort of thing and I think I’d have a lot of fun doing it. I was thinking I could do a series of posts on basic programming that build into designing a really simple number guessing game that I wrote over the summer. If that won’t keep me busy for the rest of the class, I could always do a couple of games/projects that people can add to their sites. After all, now we all have our own web space and we can put our own Javascript games on our sites when we’re finished.
Now I just have to either find the code for the game or write it again (hopefully I can find it :)) and split it into chunks.

"A Beautiful Mind" in 6 Frames

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Apparently, there aren’t many images from this movie online. I found others that reminded me of key scenes in the movie, however. This was a difficult exercise for me because “A Beautiful Mind” is one of those movies where you have to pick up on a lot of subtle things in order to understand some of the bigger things–hence this looks like a bunch of random pictures instead of the story of a schizophrenic math genius. I might redo it with drawn images later to make the story more clear.

Meeting 'roommate' Charles at Princeton

John gets slapped in bar

Working on theory

'Hired' by another hallucination to work on 'Soviet plot'

Finally saying goodbye to all his hallucinations]

Nobel Prize in Economics

AWESOME example of digital storytelling

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

I was looking around online and found a great example of digital storytelling on Youtube. Yeah, yeah, I’m on there a lot. But here’s a link to it in case you want to see it:

Hope you love it as much as I did, because I think it’s really funny 😉

My Digital Story–Outside there's ice, but inside it's nice.

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

My little sister and her friend are digital storytellers.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

YouTube is pretty amazing when you think about it. I mostly use it to listen to low-quality versions of my favorite songs until they’re stripped from the site for infringing on copyright.  I admit that I’ve taken a few cute videos of my pets and some of me riding for the site, but my sister and one of her best friends have taken their YouTube stardom to a whole new level.
They’ve set up studio wherever they go–in the barn lounge, sitting on a couple of hay bales in the hay barn, or even in the back of my car as I carry them to the next big horsey event. They work with only a cell phone, and most of the time they’re only recording sound. They each take on several roles for each episode of the Tisk Leanord Show. The two regulars that I can remember are Tisk Leanord, the host, and Gloria, who presents the random item of the day. Because this is a talk show, there are always new guests to interview. There have been so many that I can hardly remember them all, but I remember one was a bull rider who was missing a nose and one I think worked as a cart wrangler at a store. They make up comical interviews where each, uh, unique guest gets to share his or her story. The stories are generally ridiculous, but that only adds to the fun. Each show also includes a song, some of which I’ve recorded myself and kept on iTunes.
Yes, I know it’s a very low-quality video with lots of giggling, mistakes (Hey, this is complete improvisation.), and not much of a point.
Tisk Leanord Show with Lido
But the loosely-connected stories that they share are an example of homemade digital storytelling. These kids (13 and 14 years old) are able to use their fairly limited, collective knowledge of computers and technology to put together their own videos with a recording that they made themselves. (Recently, they’ve started doing video sketches and compilations of the Tisk Leanord Show too.) While I wouldn’t call their stories “compelling” or all that “emotionally engaging,” it’s really interesting and a lot of fun to see what they’ll come up with next.
Warning: They start yelling about halfway through and it’s…loud. Also, you might want to listen to the song called “Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs in order to understand the references in the interview with Lido 🙂 They’re going to sing it near the end, so you can hear it then. They also make screaming, crying noises at the end to lament Lido’s lost paint pony. If you don’t like loud noises, this isn’t the digital story for you.

My first digital story that I made

Monday, February 1st, 2010

I decided to try digital storytelling myself after reading a bit more about what it is. Yes, I know that we’re going to do more of this later in the semester; consider this a rough draft just for fun. I’m going to post some other examples by other people later on, but I got really excited when I thought of an idea.
All of these are my photos, pulled from a couple of different Facebook albums into one simple, cute story that involves my dog, Abby, my horse, Stella, and me.

This is Abby.

Abby likes to jump.

This is Sam.

Sam likes to jump.

This is Stella.

Stella just likes to play dress up!