Life of a Stick


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  • New Server, New Promises

    There was an electrical problem today and it caused the router and cable modem to be offline for an hour or two. When they came back up, my Comcast IP of some time was no longer my IP. I called Comcast and they said that the “persistent IP” feature that I was counting on hasn’t been offered for years, which means a reliable IP address is no longer something I can rely on.

    What this means to you, is that I can no longer host websites out of my house. Which makes me very sad. If you’re reading this, it means I’ve moved to a different host. And since I’m not dealing with everything myself, that has the potential to involve other people in the dangers of using Epic‘s intellectual property: the name “Skaarj.”

    In an effort to ward off any potential lawsuits, I’m going to play the “fansite” card and try to hide behind it. To begin, I’ll include the following, replayed from Epic’s fansite policy:

    Section 2 — Disclaimer

    2.1 Epic requires that a disclaimer be used in conjunction with your use of Epic IP. The required disclaimer is provided below. You must display the disclaimer on each web page of your Fan Site and on any web page containing your Fan Art, as well as on the Fan Art itself.

    “Portions of the materials used are ®, ™,(mr), and/or (mc) Epic Games, Inc., and/or copyrighted works of Epic Games, Inc., in the United States of America and elsewhere. All rights reserved, Epic Games, Inc. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Epic Games, Inc.”

    Assuming that the name “Skaarj” is Epic Intellectual Property, the above disclaimer is now displayed on the site, and will be included in the footer of every page before it scrolls off the front page updates. I’ll have to put that in the fanarts, too, it seems.

    Hope that works!

    Edit 25/09/2011: Skaarj is not a registered trademark, and you cannot copyright a name. I believe there are some laws out there specifically regarding domain names. But I don’t know the specifics.


  • Current Game Plan

    I want to lay down for myself (and so others can see) what it is I currently have planned. Please keep in mind that while I’m getting better at judging what I can do and when, this list is subject to me being lazy or busy or both. If there’s something you like on the list, cross your fingers. Or bug me about it. Either way. My current attitude is shifting more towards a focus on Gimpystick.

    Immediate plans: Sit in the magic massage chair for a good 10 minutes, then finish the Anatomy assignment due for class tomorrow. Then sleep.

    Weekish plans:
    -Catch up on my schoolwork that was painfully effected by the snow (More snow by morning! Woo. … Yay.)
    -Add the necessary polish to the Seawolf boats in SecondLife to get them released
    -Finish up Trivium and put the closing capstone stuff on it so it’s over

    Pre-summer plans
    -Pass all of my classes at DigiPen.
    -Update Gimpystick (quick and easy usability features)
    a) Make comments easier to use and reply to
    b) Auto-scale image option on upload
    c) Spell-checker
    -Do Morrowind Comics whenever able (probably not)
    -Play Ocarina of time when I’m lazy and not busy

    Summer plans
    -Start and complete the next Seawolf project in SL
    -Finish the Morrowind Comic
    -Update and universalize look and feel of website
    -Get fun new features into Gimpystick
    -Beat Ocarina of Time if not done yet, and Wind Waker
    -Beat Twilight Princess again
    -Spore, UT2k7, check out Stalker

    I don’t think there’s enough time in the summer for all of that, but I can’t think past summer right now so it goes there.


  • Imitation Trivium

    First, I believe I’ve fixed the problem with people impersonating me on the miniforum. If the name’s not red, it’s not me.

    Second, the guy who posted in my name saying more Triviums were coming soon wasn’t entirely wrong. I might as well tell those few people that read this what my plans are.

    I had an idea for a Christmas storyline last Christmas, but I didn’t realize it was Christmas until about a week beforehand, which is why we saw this comic out of the blue. School takes a whole lot out of me. And while responsible me says that I should get a job and make a few bucks over Christmas break, I’m not sure I want to wear myself out any more. I also want to just sleep. But, what I really want to do is that Christmas storyline for Trivium that’s been hanging over my head for a year.

    So nothing’s in stone, but we’ll see what happens. Remind me to post news now and then if you’re curious what’s going on. I always hate it when things I like just die quietly and never give me an update about what’s going on. Even “oops, I’m a lazy bum,” on a comic is better than silence.


  • Missing School and Pencils

    I was unable to go to school yesterday. I have two classes on Wednesdays. Biology 100 was canceled because the art dean, the great Abbott Smith, had some presentation in San Fransisco or something. So I emailed my Animation 100 professor and told him I wouldn’t be showing up and asked him to tell me the subject of today’s lesson so I could grab the notes from someone else.

    At 7pm I was able to check my email again.

    Subject: ANI 101 C Canceled 11-1-06
    Students,

    Professor Francoeur will not be able to make it to class today, and therefore, ANI 101 C at 11am has been canceled.

    Please pass this message on to your friends in this class in case this email does not go through.

    Thank you,
    Lindsay Jones
    Student Services Coordinator

    If there was a day not to be able to go to school, then today was it.

    Also, I really need to update my site now that I’m learning things. Basic drawing tutorial stuff, probably centered around Gimpystick’s section. One of the things I want to add is a little discussion I had with a friend about the basic of basic drawing materials. Oh, hey! I can add a wiki for that! That could be fun.

    Pencils: There are multiple types of pencils. Remember those bubble tests in high school where the teacher is all, “Use a number 2 pencil?” Pencils range from high “H” pencils, to high “B” pencils. H counts down to zero, and B counts up from zero, making a scale like this: 2H, 1H, HB, 1B, 2B. Kinda like the BC and AD year systems. There are some other letters in the middle where 1H and 1B meet, but I’m going to avoid those to avoid confusion.

    Now, I wouldn’t go out and buy a set of 9H to 9B pencils, though you could if you wanted. Generally, if you’re starting out, you just want to play with one type of pencil so you don’t confuse yourself. You can ask yourself three questions to find out which range of pencils to look at.

    Do you like darker or lighter lines? B pencils are darker, and get darker heading towards higher numbers. H pencils are lighter, and get lighter headering towards lower numbers.

    Do you like sharpening your pencil? B pencils wear down a lot faster since the graphite is softer. What, you thought you got a darker line without cost? H pencils are harder, so the graphite doesn’t wear away as much and you don’t have to buy new ones as often.

    How hard do you normally press when drawing? If you press hard, you’ll probably want to lean closer to the Hs. If you press very lightly, you’ll want to lean closer to the Bs. This makes it easier for you to vary the weight of the line by pressing harder or lighter.

    With that in mind, go out and buy a set of pencils, or a sampling of pencils. Say 4H, 2H, HB, 2B, and 4B. Wear them all down drawing pretty pictures and find out which one you’re more comfortable with. I doubt just drawing on a sample paper in the store will tell you too much about which ones you want — you’ll want to draw a whole picture or two with them. Your tastes may also change over time. I prefer low Bs, myself.

    Erasers: First, if you use a Pink Pearl, stop. You’re only hurting yourself. Go buy an Artgum or some white brand. You’ll never go back.

    Second, ever heard of a kneeded eraser? It’s kind of like Silly Putty. You can mold it to erase detailed areas. And since it’s not quite as effective as a real eraser you can rub it across the entire page to “knock back” a picture or a second of it. It’s useful for erasing guide lines while keeping the darker finished lines.

    Pencil Sharpeners: There are hand-held electric pencil sharpeners. I recommend them. Hand-sharpening pencils takes too long and is boring. And it compounds your frustration with the lead breaks. Also, I’ve only ever seen one (and it’s really old), but “Auto-Stop” sharpeners are awesome as they don’t eat your pencil down to nothing — they “auto-stop” once the pencil is sharp.

    There’s a little more to pencil sharpeners than just electric or non, though. Some pencil sharpeners expose more of the graphite and others sharpen it really tightly. Depending on if you prefer more surface area for drawing with the edge of the graphite, or if you use a type of lead that breaks a lot, you may want pencil sharpeners that behave differently.

    If you get a small hand-held sharpener, get multiple. You’ll lose them. Trust me.


  • Gimpystick Updates and New Member: Kicker

    Everyone please welcome Kicker to the Gimpystick practice gallery!

    I took the time to make a few updates on Gimpystick tonight. Thumbnails are slightly smaller (200x250px max, largest side only) and the main page lists images three per line instead of two. Everything else is internal code chages to make things easier on me.

    A friend and I did some brainstorming, though, and I really like the ideas we came up with. It would be appreciated if Gimpystick members shared their ideas on this subject (in the forum if the miniforum is too small) so I can know if the ideas are liked or not, but the general idea of what we came up with is thus:

    Gimpystick Showcase
    The current idea is that Gimpystick will have two parts: a practice gallery, which is the main purpose, and “Gimpystick Showcase,” which is where non-practice, finished pieces can be uploaded by the artist.

    Stats Page
    The stats page will contain things like how “daily” they’ve managed to update, how many practices and showcases have been uploaded by the user, what contests they’ve beaten, and etc.

    Scavenger Hunts
    Each user will receive a checklist of things to practice over a given time period. Participation is entirely optional. If they do a practice drawing of everything on the list, they will receive an award on the stats page.

    Theme Months
    Certain months will be set aside for drawing certain things. Participation in theme months is entirely optional. The plan is to allow the users to vote on the theme of the next month. Weeks of the month may be divided into sub categories (ie, if the theme is “wilderness backdrops”, one week might be “forests” and another might be “mountains”), and there may be special days where a certain specific topic is listed. Full participation in a theme month is recorded as an award on the stats page.

    The idea behind Gimpystick is not to pit users against each other, but for everyone to practice and (hopefully) have fun. As such, none of the contests will be user versus user, but will instead simply be awards for competing the required practices.

    These features may take some time for me to get implimented, and other features I plan to work on first include comments and private messages. I would really appreciate feedback from Gimpystick members as to how they feel about these ideas so I know I’m going to impliment something they’d like.


  • There’s Moss on my Rock!

    So I bought Photoshop, as you all know. And I also bought Poser, which some of you may not know. And a friend (tek_hed) recently gave me a Wacom tablet. And I do so love art, even if I’m not the best at drawing it and find it difficult to force the pencil to touch paper at times.

    And what have I been doing about it? Nothing! I’ve got all these neat toys and nothing is going on! I think it’s about time I got the ball rolling again and started up with my comics and stuff. So I’ve set a goal!

    Goal: Update a comic a day, round robin style. If I’m in a slump with ideas or just feeling lousy, color the Morrowind Comic instead of making a new comic. If there’s no comic to color, force myself to draw at least a one-panel filler for whatever comic is next in the rotation.

    For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been feeling worse and worse the past few weeks. I’ve been tired, lethargic, having annoying and persistant headaches, exhausted, and I’ve just generally not felt well. I’ve been visiting doctors for months, and had an MRI (that was expensive) many blood tests, and finally I had a “sleep study” done.

    According to the MRI I have a healthy brain with healthy, normal sinuses. According to the blood tests I don’t have an ulcer or infection or low iron or anything, and I’m not even malnourished.

    But the sleep test! Finally something that came back positive! I’ve got sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when one stops breathing during the night, pulling them out of REM sleep so they can fix the problem.

    So the solution is to get a CPAP (That’s a P, not an R), which fortunately is just a machine. Some sleep apnea requires surgery to fix, but most people only need a “Continuous Positive Air Pressure” machine. Basically a small air compressor that keeps air flowing in through their nose to keep the airway from collapsing.

    It’ll probably be another couple weeks before I can get in to do another sleep study so they can find out the pressure to use on the CPAP. But I might as well do what I can in the meantime. Like waking up.


  • Hotlinking

    Hotlinking is an evil internet practice that a lot of people are doing and think is commonplace because they simply don’t know better.

    For those not in the know, let’s give two examples.

    First, someone visits my site and finds a piece of art someone drew that they like. They copy the file onto their computer, upload it to their server, and put it on their site. This isn’t actually hotlinking, but is instead called art theft, even moreso if they call it their own work.

    Second, someone visits my site and finds a piece of art someone drew that they like. They go to their site and link directly to the image, making it look like the image is “on their site”, but the people actually download it from me. This is called hotlinking. They may take something as simple as a small arrow graphic, but it’s still stealing my bandwidth.

    Hotlinking is evil, because they get the picture and I pay for the bandwidth. It skews my logs and stats as I get people “visiting” just to steal a picture, but the visitor is actually at the other person’s site.

    I have a handful of people out there, mostly myspace people, that are hotlinking some of my pictures.

    What if you’re a hotlinker? First, stop linking directly to the other person’s site. Second, ask if you can copy the image over to your server and use it on your site — it’s not yours, after all, and the worst they can do is say no. If it’s public domain, you don’t even need to bother asking. Don’t know if it’s public domain? Ask.

    Also, hotlinkers beware. Some time ago I added the following to the bottom of my site: “Hot linking is expressly prohibited and if done you agree to pay an unreasonable price for bandwidth consumed.”

    I’m going to be emailing the people taking my bandwidth with some bills. Nothing hits home how serious something is as hitting someone in the wallet.


  • Getting Myself in Gear

    I think it’s about time I start up Trivium and the Morrowind Comic again. My little stress/sick/whatever escapade has kind of died down, and now I’m merely busy. And I’d like to continue them, but if I don’t start up soon I’m going to forget how to do them.

    I don’t like deferring things. When I put something off, I tend to either forget about it, or find other reasons to put it off. I have reasons not to be able to finish a Trivium today, but I’m going to set the goal that before I fall asleep tonight I will have a Trivium inked and uploaded for your viewing pleasure.

    Wish me luck!


  • What I Plan

    Currently I’m focusing my time on finishing http://www.boosterlogic.com/. I wanted to have it done by today, but things didn’t work out as well as I’ve planned, so I’m hoping to get it done by the end of the week.

    After I’m done binging on that, I plan on outputting three or four or more Morrowind Comics for a couple of weeks. At the same time my website goals are, in this order: 1) Give Gimpystick greater functionality, 2) Build a news engine for Skaarjonastick.com, 3) Build a gallery engine for Skaarjonastick.com.

    Once I have the news/gallery engines in place, however simple, I can tinkler with and customize them at my leisure. The hard part is just going to be getting a good base implimented first. For those that are unfamiliar with my habits, I don’t like using pre-built software. I like to build things myself. That way they do exactly what I want, when I want it, and I can more easily change anything when I want to because it’s in my style.

    The hard part for me is going to be getting a new visual layout. I want something that I can use all over the site — for Trivium Entertainment, my Morrowind Comic, this site, the galleries, Gimpystick, and anything else I have. I’ve asked around for some help, but everyone I know is as busy as I am. We’ll see what happens, I suppose.

    After I’ve spent a few weeks on my own website, I’m going to see about getting a job. Of course, with how communication is going with a friend of mine, I may end up with a 9-5 job before I want it.


  • Gimpy and Google

    So apparently Google indexed me recently. I’ve gotten a few hits from people searching for “inking tutorial” and went looking — I’m somehow result number six (on page one). I wonder if people just don’t have them or if I used some kind of obscure wording that people don’t normally use.

    I really need to get this site looking prettier. It’s hard to read right now, and has a placeholder banner at the top. How embarassing. You know what… how many people actually looked at this index page last month. Oh wow. Almost 700 page loads? Ya… I’m embarassed.

    Off the record, Gimpy, the author of Hustle (webcomic), has plans to restart it. A month, a year, who knows. He didn’t like the start, and a new one is planned. So look forward to it, because Gimpy’s a funny guy with pretty art.

    And I think found a friend to encourage me to start drawing in the Gimpy Stick sketch gallery again (yay!) so that may start getting updated once more.

    Threw up my todo list on the left. I think I oughta start working on it.



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