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Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor Video Chats Onstage With Fan Dying of Cancer

25 Nov

The best use of technology I’ve seen in a while:

Above, Reznor Facetimes with Andrew Youssef, a photojournalist who has been battling terminal cancer for nearly two years. Youssef would have been at this very gig, but for health reasons could not make it, so Reznor got him there in another, very unique and personal way. Youssef has chronicled his story in his ongoing column at OCWeekly, titled, “Last Shot.”

Reznor_Youssef

Trent Reznor Facetimes onstage w/Andrew Youssef, diagnosed w/stage IV cancer. Photo via Consequence of Sound.

I first heard about Youssef in a writeup at Consequence of Sound, who summarize the event and Youssef’s story perfectly:

Whether you’ve followed Youssef’s story from day one or are just hearing about it now, it’s the kind of beautiful, gut-wrenching moment that not only proves the power of music but of a little human kindness.

Youssef replied, “I’m speechless” via Twitter after the performance:

I’ve been into Nine Inch Nails since before I saw them at the first Lollapalooza about a million years ago. I’ve followed Reznor closely ever since, respecting his music and commitment to his craft. Here’s another reason for respect, to both Reznor and Youssef.

What do you think? Have you heard of similar stories? What would you do in this situation? Let us hear from you in the comments.

5 Excellent Image Sharing and Discovery Tools

22 Oct

Over the past few years of exploring art and developing my own creations through Instagram and smartphone apps like Hipstamatic and Dynamic Light, I’ve come to appreciate the merits of different websites for purposes of expression and curation. Here’s a look at my top 5.

On each of these sites I house some variation of images I make, and I also explore them daily for inspiration. Following is my take on what makes each special and how I get the most from them with their unique characteristics:

500px: The Premiere Gallery

Check me out on 500pxI use 500px.com exclusively to house all my photomontage art. It has the fastest, cleanest, and overall best display, where the focus is on the art with the community and everything else coming after that. There’s a simple mechanism for favoriting, liking and commenting if that’s what you’re into, but primarily the site is about experiencing the art, and there’s generally more refined content than other image-sharing websites. http://500px.com/rsmithing

Pinterest: Mass Consumption Imagery

Check me out on PinterestPinterest is where I tap into a huge image-appreciating community, sharing my montages and other creations that happen along the way on a board called “My Creations.” Not everything there is totally fleshed out, but it’s decent enough to be on display, and interesting enough to repin and share across other boards. lt’s more transient and fleeting than other venues, but feedback in the form of repins and likes helps keep me interested. Plus, I follow a ton of cool boards there along the likes of what I produce, so it’s great visual candy for when the mood to browse strikes, or if I just want to curate some dreamy images or other photomontageshttp://pinterest.com/rsmithing/my-creations

Instagram: Keeping Things Fun

Check me out on InstagramIt’s funny; Instagram is what got me started on this journey of creation and exploration, yet it’s not the ultimate destination for me that it once was. Don’t get me wrong; I find and enjoy many great creations there, but I don’t share my most refined stuff there. The site has so quickly become so saturated, complete with spam and terms of service issues, leading me to keep a certain kind of profile there, and that’s fine. I’ll occasionally post a fully completed photomontage, but I tend to keep it light and more experimental on Instagram. http://instagram.com/rsmithing

Flickr: The Mother Lode

Check me out on FlickrFor me, Flickr has truly evolved into a fantastic tool and a force to be reckoned with. My photostream there is a hodgepodge of montages, original source material, experiments, and a running log of stuff that may or may not fall into any of these categories or even see the light of day. I’ve had a Flickr account for many years, but have only recently delved into the full experience it offers – chiefly because it’s such an excellent tool to share Instagram images on Pinterest and other sites like Tumblr. Plus, you can’t beat its sets/galleries/collections organization, curated groups, favorites browsing and full-size resolution viewing options. http://flickr.com/rsmithing

Tumblr: A Curated Garden

Check me out on TumblrAnd finally, there’s Tumblr, the place where I highlight everything I like, pin and favorite on all these sites, mainly through automation and RSS feeds via ifttt.com, but also through the occasional upload and reblogging of something cool I come across there. It’s taken me a while to get into Tumblr, but I’ve found a ton of great stuff there and have managed to be featured at some cool Tumblr-based blogs like Lensblr and Minus Manhattan, which is always a great feeling, reaching folks with an interest in the kind of art I like to make. http://rsmithing.tumblr.com

What do you think? Do you employ different websites along the same reasons but for different executions? Are you on any image sharing websites? Have you heard of these already, and what’s your experience been like on them? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Pontiac Introduces Smart Watch

9 Sep
Pontiac Introduces Smart Watch

K.I.T.T. – I need you buddy!

If you’re a Gen-Xer, there’s a chance you might have had a favorite TV show back in the early ’80s, Friday nights on NBC: Knight Rider. Sort of Dukes of Hazzard meets “the future” with David Hasselhoff as a renegade crime fighter…. with a smartwatch! Not to be outdone, Nissan has just introduced a smart watch of its own (yes, Nissan), following Samsung and perhaps Apple.

But let it be known that Pontiac was first, by way of K.I.T.T., the crime-fighting 1982 Firebird Trans-Am of Knight Industries.

Sites I Have Recently Come to Enjoy

30 Aug
The Savoia

Another cool blog: The Savoia

Here are some websites I’ve discovered via other websites, with excellent shareable content …

I’m a regular consumer of and contributor to Pinterest and StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon’s mission, of course, is to deliver the best of the web based on personal tastes, and I happen to use Pinterest in a way that leads me to other sites with similar content — i.e., compelling visual art and photography.

I’ve arrived at many destinations just by clicking through to the original sources of things I find interesting:

Denis Budkov

Photo by Denis Budkov in an ice cave near the Mutnovsky volcano in an area of northern Russia via The Colossal

The more this happens with the same sites, the more I seek them out specifically. I now frequently rebroadcast content from these portals on my Twitter stream, or mention them here — in addition to simply enjoying what they have to offer.

If you’re a fan of my stuff (chances are that’s the case since you’ve read this far), definitely have a look at these others – you just might find a new favorite.

7 websites with highly tweetable content

What do you think? What are some new-to-you websites you have enjoyed lately? Do you click through images or writing you like to other sources and find interesting destinations? Let us hear from you in the comments.

How Do I Print My Screen?

19 Jun

Press the Print Screen button (PrtSc).

The Print Screen button

The Print Screen button, located in the upper right corner.

On a Windows PC this captures what’s on your screen, ready for Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, or anywhere you can paste an image. After pressing “PrtSc,” go to your document and click “Ctrl+V” or go File > Paste to place the image. You can then click & drag the picture’s corners to resize it.

If using a Mac, hold the Shift, Command and number “3” keys at the same time. An image file appears on your desktop automatically upon release.

How do I save my screen as a jpg image?

On a PC, the fastest way is via MS Paint after hitting Print Screen.

Just go: Start > type “paint” > click to open, then paste & save.

Steps to saving your screen as an image

How to save your screen as an image using MS Paint

That’s it!

A colleague asked me to do this for him recently, and instead I showed him how so he would know forever. So I thought I’d see how directly I could write a blog post illustrating the process. I hope you found this useful.

What do you think? If you already knew how to get a screen grab (or “screen shot,” or “screen capture”), how did you learn to do this? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Mixtapes were great. Cassettes? Not so much.

26 May
Grandpa Cassette

Grandpa Cassette” by Zack Finfrock aka Splashed Ink, Los Angeles, CA. Available at Threadless.com

Have you ever toiled at a crappy job only to reminisce years later and think, “you know, that was a pretty fun time?” Our brains have a cognitive bias toward hanging on to the positive and letting go of the negative. And that’s what I believe has been happening with the ever-growing number of modern references to cassette tapes.

Amid all the nostalgia I see these days for mix tapes or the cassette format in general, I’m decidedly glad do be done with tapes now and forever. I do not miss the “good old days” of how music used to be consumed. Here’s why:

Tapes sucked.

There’s no denying the absolute fact that cassette tape quality was capricious at best, and crappy at its core. Even the concept of the “best sounding tape” sounds like an oxymoron. Is it live or is it Memorex? Are you kidding me? It’s definitely Memorex.

Peter Murphy of Bauhaus in a UK Memorex cassette commercial

The chief redeeming quality about cassettes was that they were very easy to copy, so that made sharing and compiling music very straightforward. Mixtapes were something I enjoyed in a sublimated sort of way, since their inherent transience belied their crappy quality. Because, of course, the price for the whole endeavor was progressively eroding quality through generations of copies. But hey – it was still cheaper than actually purchasing new music. And even that never quite felt right – spending good money to hear music in cassette form? It’s like part of the deal was that you understood you were getting ripped off.

Dig the irony of the company who came to dominate mp3 players getting its start thanks to cassettes. Image by Ethan Hein via Flickr.

Dig the irony of the company who came to dominate mp3 players getting its start thanks to cassettes. Image by Ethan Hein via Flickr.

CDs were a welcome end to all this, but even then, record stores and record companies grossly inflated the prices. Why? Because tapes sucked so badly that consumers were willing to pay a premium for everlasting quality. I see CDs as a bleak transition period, followed finally by the now-developed world of mp3s, bringing us to where we are today. I did away with all my CDs in 2002, going full-on digital from that day forward and have never looked back – I even had a Rio before an iPod. And while they do have some memory-biased charm, and despite my years of close interaction with them, I am happy to leave cassettes in the past.

What do you think? Did you ever spend a lot of time with cassettes? Do you have fond memories of doing so? When is the last time you touched a cassette? Have you gone completely to digital music? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Evernote, Three Months In

19 Apr

At the beginning of this year I made it a point to get in the habit of using Evernote. I’ve kept reading its praises and since I’m in the world of collecting ideas for future blog posts, it made enough sense to give it a try.

evernote

I should say that I’ve previously relied on emailing myself ideas, links, images and other content, filing them away under “read later” or “ideas” in Gmail. This has kinda worked, but I don’t really find myself going through that content often. The idea of a standalone app dedicated to capturing ideas and organizing them at least makes sense to me for that reason. I get the concept, but it’s still taking work to make myself use the program.

Part of the adoption curve for me is having content actually in Evernote. Without many notes to search, there’s not much to draw from, so I can see how some users may get turned off if, say, within a week or two they aren’t reaping tremendous benefit.

But so far for me, it’s been at least good for peace of mind, knowing that all the stuff I’d otherwise be emailing myself is now tagged and easily referenced. In fact, it was the process of going through my notes in Evernote that led to this blog post, so hey… there’s something! I’m interested enough to keep using it, and I’m surely only scratching the surface, given the capabilities some of its power users explore. There will be more to come on this for sure.

What do you think? Do you use Evernote or a similar service? What’s your process for capturing ideas, to-dos or things go investigate later? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Dynamic Light App Review

13 Mar
Dynamic Light App

Dynamic Light App

The iPhone app Dynamic Light by Mediachance has become one of my favorite photo manipulation tools. I create many black & white montages, and Dynamic Light’s unique filters (especially “solarize,” “edgy,” and “re-exposure”) almost always yield interesting results — either for montage fodder or even standalone images. It saves at full resolution, is very fast, and improves with each update. It adds an element of randomness to the photo editing process that I enjoy, yet its effects are actually very sophisticated, particularly for producing distressed or distorted-yet-recognizable treatments. I recommend it for anyone looking for a simple, yet very unique bag of tricks to add to their photo manipulating repertoire, for less than the price of a soda ($.99). Here are some before and after examples of my favorite filters:

Dynamic Light Edgy Filter

Edgy

Dynamic Light Re-Exposure

Re-Exposure

Dynamic Light Solarize

Solarize

Video: Dynamic Light in Action

What do you think? Ever used Dynamic Light? What are some of your go-to photo manipulation or photo editing apps? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Russian Meteorite Aftermath Video

15 Feb

I don’t see what all the hubbub over the latest meteor in Russia is all about. I mean, based on this documentary of what happened with the Tunguska meteor event in the early 1900s, clearly the proper authorities are on top of things. This film happens to be set to the music of Metallica, but there are subtitles, so feel free to watch with the sound lowered if this type of music isn’t your fare.

And here’s another Russian meteor video featuring the music of Leona Lewis. No word from scientists yet as to whether the music triggered this most recent event as some type of wrath from the heavens.

What do you think? Ever seen a meteor streak across the sky? Anything to be concerned about here? Let us hear from you in the comments.
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