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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Design It - The Westeros League

I finally got around to putting up my first “Design It” video.  With the 3rd season of Game of Thrones starting this weekend, I needed to hurry and get these up.

These are different than the regular game play videos.  I do not have the ability, yet, to record my desktop (Windows 8) with FRAPS.  Therefore, I have to download all the images from the sites and add them to the Windows Live Movie Maker Project as stills.   Then, I can adjust their timed length, add transitions and animations bridging two images together.   After that, I can add in the music and save the video.  Then I have to go back and record the commentary with Sound Recorder in chunks and splice them into a new project with the saved video as a clip.

Because of the time constraints, I have to somewhat plan my commentary in order to hit my marks and not go over on time.

In all, a three minute video can take an hour or two to produce.

It might be a great way to reach your audiences but there are some manual hang-ups I have work through.  

In any case, here is my first effort at the “Design It” series.   I am also going to post this on the Store blog as well.


The Design It Series - The Westeros League #1
The Storm's End Baratheons





Monday, March 25, 2013

The AngryCast update #2 - Mongo Smashes and Build It

Since the last update, I’ve been busy with recording and editing.   I managed to put together two more videos for the Minecraft series.  This brings the total up to 10.  Granted, I am still only releasing one a week.  


Part 3 - Arrow to the Knee


Part 4 - Minecraft Part 4 - Inane Ramblings of a Reluctant House Builder

I’ve also posted the last Build It video for work I did on a Multiplayer Server that appears to have gone dark.   It was a project that granted me Builder status on the server and gave me creative control.   Unfortunately, the footage is quite bad and I admit I had to make do with what I had.  At the end, there were a lot of problems with trying to record there.  There was some griefing of the landscape and missing chunks that didn’t make for some great backgrounds.


The Cult of the Creeper

And as if I didn’t have enough going on in that realm, I just got the latest SimCity title and began doing some recording of that playthrough.    For anyone who has considered doing this kind of work, believe me, you find it hard to come up with commentary on a game that pretty much makes you wait for things to happen.  I hated having to do edits to the flow because the soundtrack is pretty good.  Unfortunately, I said a lot of stupid things.  More than I usually do, so I had to do a lot of cutting.   I’ve also enabled longer videos so it ended up being over thirty minutes. 


Part 1 - Shatner You Fabulous Bastard

So, come on by, and see how I'm doing.  I know.  It's bad.  ;)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pinin' For the Fjords

My kid has grasped many concepts in her five years.  She’s quite astute and has a well developed sense of humor.  While she does not excel in straight forward joke telling, she’s got the observational and dry wit part down pat, as you have probably read in past posts.  However, she equally impressed and disappointed me in the span of five hours.

Sunday, we went to the Aviary in Pittsburgh.  The West entrance is a parent’s nightmare as it opens right into the gift shop.  This is like crack for my child.  She immediately wanted a stuffed animal as she is a stuffed animal junkie.  We managed to get through the next three hours without having to buy something but on our way out, I caved.  For $12 and ten minutes worth of heavy decision making, she settled on a parrot.  As we walked up to the counter, she took the parrot and flipped it on its back.  She then elbowed me and said, “Look, Daddy… Dead Parrot.” 

Now, I’m not sure if it’s a genetic or instinctual thing for her, but it made me laugh out loud.   I was raised on Python.  My father, the corruptor, had all three of us well versed in British humor from the likes of Python, Dave Allen, and Benny Hill.  So, this was a particularly proud moment.  Why?  I was once reprimanded, not severely, but shamed nonetheless, by our quality team in my old job over this love of Python.  I worked at a medical manufacturer and included in the return authorization for broken equipment various phrases from The Dead Parrot Sketch.  Apparently, the FDA does not have a sense of humor.  Perhaps they are German.

To have my child, who to my knowledge has never seen or heard The Dead Parrot sketch, say to me, “Look, Daddy… Dead Parrot” almost made me question that whole genetic vs. instinct issue.  However, not more than five hours later, after much debate about leaving the parrot at home while we went out, it joined the invisible choir.   The foot fell off and she freaked.   I left her in the car with her mother while I ran into the store.  She continued to sob while I had much needed away time from the situation.  After calming down from my fit of, “We spend money on stuff and it gets broke” to  “Why can’t you just leave it at home and it won’t get broke”, I busted out into a fit of laughter as my wife informed me that our child wanted to take the parrot home and bury it.  Literally put it in a box and bury it. 

So, after getting home and unloading the car, I dug up some needle and thread and she waited patiently while I performed surgery on her bird.

I called her over and she examined it.  It’s one foot was now a little shorter than the other but it passed.   As we put her to bed, bird in hand, she kissed me and said, “You did a good job.  A girl would have done better, but it’s OK.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

The AngryCast update - Mongo Smashes and Build It


Part 2 of the series, “Mongo Smashes: Minecraft” has been up on YouTube since last weekend and for the two of you who are actually wondering,  “How it’s going?” I’ll tell you.

Slow.


Mongo Smashes: Minecraft Part 2
Hole in the Wall


As a new YouTuber, I do what everyone does; watch the ticks slowly go up by one each day.

Some days I wonder:
“Did I add to that?” 
“Did the number change?”
“Should I make more?”

Well, the answer to number three is, of course you make more.  I have five more episodes ready to go.  This experiment is only a failure if we give up.  We’re still only at $37 in costs. The path to Internet infamy was not done simply by Harlem Shaking it.  We're looking for sustained interest, here, not overnight sensation.

So, expect Part 3 to be up this weekend, along with at least one more “Build It” video.  Here is the latest:


Build It: Modern Empire Logo

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Unicorn

How does one reconcile that perfection does not exist in nature? 

How do we break down preconceived notions about something that we were led to believe was the zenith of existence?  Something almost ethereal?

How do we change our approach to dealing with this new data? How do we continue, knowing that what we thought was perfect, is in fact just like everything else, flawed and in transition?

Our lives are built upon processing experiences and formulating a response to those experiences.  That’s why we believe in first impressions so much.   In those first few moments of interaction, we build the fa├žade that will inexplicably be linked to the memory of that object forever.   Anytime we recall that object, whether we have contact with it or not, our first thought goes directly to that prefabricated image.   And when we come back to it, sometimes years later, and see the fallacy that is our preconceived notion, we can’t process it.  We struggle to realize that our brain was wrong.  It is not “X” but something closely resembling “X” with other variables interacting.  Maybe it’s Y.  Maybe it’s 42.

When you have decades of that speculative data lying around, you can destroy an entire mindset with one counter argument that has proof to support it.    “The Earth is not the center of the universe, the sun is.  That means the Pope is not the center of the universe.”  That thought undid centuries of belief.   It’s the kind of thing wars are fought over.  Innocent lives are subjected to torture and pain just to hold onto something that we thought to be true.

Your brain plays this scenario out, constantly.  Scientists build careers on demystifying the process of how minds struggle to accept new data in a place of such rigidity. 

When you see it with your own eyes and your mind begins to work backwards, going over all the data like that last scene in The Usual Suspects, there is something so cool about it.  It’s almost intoxicating to realize that perfection is not that great.  When you see something in a new light,  the flaws showing, you appreciate it more.   You see things you never saw before.   The imperfections give it a sense of “based in reality.”

It’s not mythological.  It’s not perfection.  It’s not a unicorn.  It’s real.  It exists.  You can touch it.

The overall luster is something forged by life and experiences.  And while it may look damaged, or imperfect, you realize that will all those outside influences including pressure, the elements, time, and life itself, it never broke.  It stood up to any resistance or erosion.

Not because it’s perfect but because it’s built well.  It's tough.   It's able to survive.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Clever Girl

I’ve been trying to lose weight since Christmas.  28 pounds have come off since December and I notice the difference.  I haven’t done anything except eat better.   It’s not even that I have given up anything, I just don’t eat extra.  I’ve cut back on portions.  However, I may have hit that plateau where I need to step it up since I haven’t lost any weight in the last two weeks.

Naturally, the answer is exercise. 

If we can keep from being in a deep freeze out there, I’d like to get out and walk more.  My daughter always likes to go out and this is a good chance for us both to exercise and get some fresh air.   She’s more committed to the idea than I am, it seems.

Yesterday was a rather gloomy day, threatening with rain in the afternoon.  When I came home from work, she was being a bit rambunctious and wanted to go on our walk.   I was hesitant because the weather was not playing ball.  After insisting we go, I got tired of her getting herself into trouble otherwise and decided to just get outside with her to burn off some energy.

We started up the street and she wanted to go explore the neighborhood.  She doesn’t realize that, for as far away as you get from the house, you have that much ground to cover in getting back.   She wants to tackle the hills.  I want a nice easy walk and eventually work my way up to inclines.

“I want to go down the big hill.”  She says.
I reminded her, “Yeah, but then we have to come back up.” 
“Daddy, I have all this energy to burn off.  If we just go home, I will still have that energy.”
“So?”
“I’ll be bored.”
“That’s not my problem.”
“Daddy, if I’m bored, it will be your problem.”

We went down the big hill.

Now, on our way back to the house, I took it as an opportunity to help her do some reading.  She’s five and has to get this stuff nailed before first grade.  She managed to figure out “OAK” as in street, WATCH CHILDREN, and SPEED LIMIT. 

I saw one for a Fire Department Fish Fry and figured she would be able to decipher FIRE and FISH pretty easily.

She sounded out the F, the I, and the R and eventually came up with FIRE, but FISH was a little harder.

“Ffff – I…”
“Ok, now the next two letters are?”
“S and H”
“And together they make a sound like?”
“…”
“Sh sound.  They make a Sh sound.”
“Sh…  Does this say Shit?”

There endeth the lesson.

Friday, March 8, 2013

WUMF: February 2013 Edition


I was sitting there last night, waiting for my latest Build It video to compress into .WMV and thought, “What the hell am I going to post on Friday?”   Then, I realized, “CRAP!  I missed a WUMF.”  Maybe it’s because February is so short.  Maybe, I’ve just got the dumb.

38 Special
I turned 38 years old this week and as always, Mother Nature gets me the same thing, a blizzard.  Seriously, my streak is like 25-13  Every year, on or within a few days proximity of my birthday, a snow event takes place.  The Blizzard of 93 was like five days after my birthday.

And this year was stupid.   That snowfall was ridiculously overplayed and gone within a couple of hours.  The temperature did more to treat the roads than the local crews in my area did.   My kid even had school cancelled that day.   I think a 2-hr. delay would have been a substantial head start for the trucks to take care of business.   

But, it didn’t matter.  My wife took me to Dino’s in Greensburg for some wings.  I haven’t had Dino’s wings in a long time.  Which… is unfortunate, because I’ve been trying to lose weight.  Still crushed 15 for the hell of it.

40 and a hole
Speaking of losing weight, I’m still hovering at 28 pounds lost since Christmas.  I did have to do an emergency tracheotomy on my belt with my awl, though.  I had to add another hole to the inside because my belt was so loose.  I even managed to reclaim a pair of size 40 jeans in the process.  They are a tad snug, but I’m working on that.  Now that the damn groundhog prognostication is over, the weather can actually get nice and I can get outside and walk some.

Modern Empire
The Minecraft server, where I had been playing and recording videos from, is kind of defunct.  Not really sure how or why.  I was on a few days ago and one of the guys told me it was shutting down.  It was pretty razed by the time I got there.  Someone came through with world edit and sponged a lot of stuff.  I never see any of the admins or mods or even the owners on anymore.  I got directed to a new server where I was given mod status and I can pretty much build at will.   I plan on doing that once I get settled into the Mongo Smash series which aired its first video last week.  

Mongo Smashes
Yep, I done did it.  I posted the first video of me just playing Minecraft, live without a net.  I managed to record about two hours worth of material which will be chopped up into probably six or seven videos to be posted over the next month and a half.    Once EA gets their shit together, I’d like to go get SimCity and try it out.  Hopefully, I can record it.  For now, here’s the first episode of Mongo Smashes Minecraft: The Bad Seed.



Come join the Angry at TheAngryCast



That’s your WUMF, only a week late. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Beacon Shrine Part 3

The last part of the Beacon Shrine build is now up on YouTube.


It took forever to edit and post.  Here’s the breakdown of how that worked.

I recorded all of the footage President’s Day weekend using FRAPS, which I purchased. 
Then, I edited each episode down to length using Windows Live Movie Maker.  The first was about five minutes and the next two clocked in at 14 minutes and change. 
Then, I added in narration using Windows Sound Recorder.  After that was done, I saved it all into WMV format and then opened a new Windows Live Movie Maker (WLMM) project and dropped music in from MachinimaSound.

Total financial burden to produce YouTube videos to date:  $37.

Pros:
  • Cheap
  • Fun
  • Creative
Cons:
  • Cheap
  • Time Consuming
  • Frustrating
  • Resource heavy

I used cheap twice because for some reason, my videos don’t have the same quality as others I’ve seen.   I haven’t figured out if it’s my FRAPS record settings or me continually making the project into a video file in order to add another layer of audio.   In any given project, WLMM only lets you add in one separate audio track.
I know a lot of other YouTubers use FRAPS to record Minecraft but not sure if they use WLMM to edit and post.  I just saw Sony Vegas 12 on Amazon for $60.  That would push my budget for an unproven venture to just about $100.  May have to mull that one over.

The other frustrating thing is that it takes forever to work in WLMM.  Sometimes it gets hung up and I have to wait for it to stop idling.   The conversion to a video file is also tedious and posting to YouTube could take a couple of hours at least.   I’ve been up late, set a video to publish and went to bed.  Then, finished off annotations and descriptions in the morning.

Now, my biggest problem is doing the actual content.  In my previous post, I stated I had a backlog of footage to edit and post.  I have three episodes done and won’t have to record new ones to work on until almost April.   I left off after recording for one day and now I have to look at the footage to see where the hell I was when I was playing.  I did some stuff on my own and recorded it for another video and I don’t remember the narrative I was working on at this point.

Also, it seems that the server I was playing on is possibly shutting down.   I can understand.  It takes money and time to run a server.   From what I gathered these were high school kids, so as the weather gets nicer, they probably have less time to devote to it.  Sucks that I donated $10 to the server and then they started experiencing issues and possibly shutting down a month later.   I’ll remember that next time I’m on one.

Until then, I will keep going, tweaking the process and letting you know because I know you’re all just at the edge of your seats on this stuff.  ;)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Rust Butt

If you were a modern day scientist or astronomer and went back in time to the Renaissance or even ancient Greece, imagine how silly explanations for every day events would sound. After all, Aristotle thought that maggots spontaneously generated from rotting flesh. And even in Gallileo’s time, there was debate on whether sun revolved around the Earth or vice versa.

But, you don’t have to be a scientist or a time traveler to enjoy the hilarity of how simple things are explained by someone not sure of what is actually happening. You just need to have a kid nearby.

I give you, my daughter’s explanation of rust butt. Now, to set this up, I have to explain that last August we went to a local park with a giant metal slide. It’s pretty well known in the area. To ride it, people usually take wax paper or cardboard to keep from cut down on the friction. On her first trip down the slide, my kid lost the wax paper and managed to get the equivalent to an Indian Rug Burn on her ass. She waited seventh months to come up with this theory.

Daugter: “Remember when we went down the giant slide and it rained?”
Me: “Yeah.”

Daughter:
“I actually know how that happened.”

Me: “What?”

Daughter:
“I know how my butt got all red.”

Me: “OK. How?”

Daughter: “Well, the slide was made of metal and my butt was wet. (from the rain) And water and metal don’t go well together, so my butt was red because it rusted.”

She’ll be up for the Noble prize in physics by third grade, I’m sure of it.









Friday, March 1, 2013

We Used To Eat the Food


Five years ago, I did a four part series on “Good vs. Evil:The Internet”.

In my four post rant, I evaluated how the Internet has affected us as human beings, the movies we see, and our inherent nature as charitable vs. greedy people.  The overall assessment was that the Internet was evil but it was child that we ignored and did not discipline to the point it became evil.

In five years time, my thoughts have not changed.    But, in those five years, we have gotten worse.  We are the problem. 

The iPhone debuted in 2007, three years after Facebook came about on the Harvard campus.  However, the Smart Phone revolution has become one of the biggest proponents of stupidity since social media was first introduced.

We’ve passed laws to keep people from texting while driving.
We’ve seen video of people texting and walking into fountains and poles.
We’ve seen stories of celebrities having their phones hacked and personal pictures displayed on the Internet.
We’ve seen stories of celebrities and politicians sending inappropriate texts to other people, usually not their spouse.
And yet, people still do all these things.

Oh, and they take pictures of their food.

We used to eat the food.  We didn’t take a picture, put snazzy filters on it, and post it to social media sites.  And to that point.  We’ve come a long way since we had to take a roll of film to PhotoHut and wait two weeks for it to be developed.  We’ve come a long way from taking a picture that was instantly developed and had to shook vigorously back and forth, as if to accelerate or enhance the developing of said picture.

Now, we turn all of our fancy gadgetry into vintage displays.    WHY?  As if anyone believes it’s a vintage photo.   It’s pretentious.   Then, we Instagram our food.

WHY?

WHY DO WE TAKE PICTURES OF OUR FOOD?  WHY DO WE MAKE IT LOOK LIKE IT CAME FROM THE 70S?  

Just eat the damn food.

And what better way to poke fun at such silliness than to parody it by parodying another fake grunge-like style… Nickelback.  It’s like someone Instagrammed Rock to make it look harder than it really is.


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