Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sing Robots Series: Current Status

Just a brief note. The series has six episodes completed. People have asked if I'm going to re-open it, and I may, but only after completing at least three more episodes, and probably only after re-editing the existing episodes as well.

I found the biweekly schedule hard to keep to, especially when aiming for high production values. Here's the credits sequence for the new episodes, which I will probably retcon onto the existing ones as well:



Similarly, here's an excerpt/preview of an animated diagram which I use to explain why web sockets can be valuable for scaling purposes:



This kind of thing is hard to churn out on a biweekly basis, because my After Effects skills are not what they used to be.

Ironically, a big reason I'm doing this series in the first place is because I want to get back into using After Effects and get good at it again. Years ago I not only developed skill in After Effects, I even did some hand-drawn animation. My promo videos for Teaching The Robots To Sing have provided opportunities to flex my After Effects skills, as have the videos themselves, but in general, it's really hard to create a new video every two weeks and stick to a high level of quality.

Many people would tell me to eschew the visuals and prioritize the schedule. I understand, but that's not the goal for this project. Michael Hartl from The Rails Tutorial gave a presentation where he introduced me to a saying of Amy Hoy's: "worry about it when you're rich." The basic idea is that perfectionism is the enemy of bootstrapped entrepreneurs. But I've done the bootstrapped thing, back in 2010, and I did it very effectively. My goal with this video series is not just to make money, but also to make something awesome in the process.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Public Service Announcement For Apple TV Owners Who Have Children

The Apple TV ships with a Flickr screensaver which allows you to pull images off Flickr matching a search keyword. For instance, mine is set to "puppies," so my screen saver usually shows images of puppies.

However, Flickr search is not perfect. If a Flickr user has uploaded a picture of a happy anime St Bernard having sex with an underage human female, and tagged that picture "puppies," you may be left wondering what the fuck is the deal with the Japanese.

It is distinctly possible that children of a young age might be better off not viewing this particular image. I have no idea who I would recommend this image to, and I think whoever it turned out to be, they would not be flattered, but that's another question.

The only thing I can recommend to parents is that they exercise good judgement. The Apple TV is too good not to buy. However, it would certainly be awkward if a child in their "monkey see, monkey do" years interpreted an image like that literally.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fight Church

"Nuttiest Flavor Of American Christianity" is an unbelievably competitive contest every year, so it's a rare pleasure to see 2012 set for a landslide:



What makes this even more interesting: compare it to the incredibly old tradition of spiritual martial arts in Asia. Is beating the crap out of people for Jesus any weirder or more blatantly rationalized than beating the crap out of people in the name of the Buddha?

I'd say no, but I'd also point out the enormous differences between Tai Chi and mixed martial arts which make Tai Chi so much more suited to spiritual practice. For instance, in Tai Chi, you're much less likely to punch another dude in the balls.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Heroku-Style Deployment On EC2

Everybody loves the way you can just git push origin master in a Heroku project and see your changes live on the web right away. If you're on EC2, Slicehost, or any other non-Heroku environment, it's exceptionally easy to hack that functionality into your own project.

This is literally all the necessary code:

You set this running, make sure port 54321 (or whatever) is open, and configure your GitHub post-receive web hook. GitHub will POST a big JSON update to the hook every time you push to any GitHub branch, but all your Sinatra app needs to do is check that JSON for "/refs/heads/master", as in the gist, to differentiate master from any other branch.

This assumes a very simple app with no need to restart any app servers or what have you, but any additional config or setup you might need to do can quite happily live in the backticks as a shell script.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Facebook Stories Temporarily Banned From Hacker Newspaper

Hacker Newspaper now hides any Hacker News story which mentions the words "Facebook" or "Zuckerberg." The change isn't checked into git; I might change it back again later. However, if I had an actual spreadsheet for my Facebook attention budget, it would look like Groupon's finances. At this point, the only way information about Facebook could justify taking even more of my attention would be if the company cured cancer, ended war, and delivered a mint-condition Italian sports car to my front door free of charge.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Monkeys And Synthesizers

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Acting: I Play A Bernie Madoff Type

A friend of mine from an acting class put together a pilot for a web series. I first appear in the video at 1:53, and then I get arrested by the FBI at about 6:09. I'm only in two scenes, but I got to rant and rave, and get arrested, so I count that as a win.