How-To’s

How to Rid Oneself of Writer’s Block

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I must admit, I’ve come down with a very serious case of writer’s block. I don’t think it’s contagious, but I’ve taken the precaution of wearing a face mask, and you may want to wash your hands after you finish reading this.

I decided that the best way to rid myself of this plague is to force myself to write something. Writing something is usually not a difficult task, though it seems that lately I’m all ideas. I come up with a great idea, I gradually forget it, then I record pieces and fragments. I currently have about 15 unfinished drafts in my “new posts” folder. I just can’t seem to get past the first paragraph in any of them. I’ve tried caffeine, loud music, cats, and spinning in my chair, but none of it seems to be working.

I went back and read some of my old posts. All I accomplished with that was the discouragement of myself and the editing of some of the less-well-written posts.

I tried blogging in a college setting, but I got distracted by my surroundings and instead wrote a rather depressing note.

I tried to do a photo blog, but my camera doesn’t seem to work on its “take all the pictures on its own” mode.

I’ve been working on a special blog post, but it needs to be perfect, and perfection is proving very difficult to obtain.

I thought about writing some fiction, but I discovered that my idea’s already been taken and run with for quite a distance. I do hate beating dead horses; they’re so stinky.

So, in the end, I decided to scribble a bit about my lack of motivation to write. My lack of motivation stirred an even stronger motivation to shed my lackadaisical spirit and move on to a greater state of non-writing-impairedness. (I’m having fun making up words.)

So, I’m not sure if I’ve cured the block or merely dissuaded it from affect for a while. This seems to have worked  well, as this post was written fairly quickly and with relative ease. Perhaps the writer’s block is gone. Perhaps I can once again use my keyboard for more than just logging in. Perhaps my sandwich is ready, but that doesn’t have much to do with this post… 

Good Day!

~XK

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How to Interact with People ~ 1

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Welcome to part one of How to Talk to People– an ICBGM general initiative. The purpose of this series is to teach and inform on the general concepts of real-life interaction between digitally-minded people.

Due to funding, this picture has nothing to do with the post.

For those of you who don’t commonly frequent Internet forums, let me quickly explain the concept. Forums are digital “huddles” on the Internet in which people gather, post questions, project opinions, and respond to others’ posts. Forums attract all sorts of people: nice people, angry people, helpful people, loud people, and the list goes on. Bronies, don’t even get me started on Bronies. Why did you even bring them up? 

I’m going to focus on that last–and probably most annoying–group of people in the list: the loud ones. Inclusive of shouters and ranters, the members of this troll-like group of creatures love to cause ruckus. These people love their own opinions. In fact, they love them so much, they feel they must share their golden pieces of integral knowledge with everyone they meet. Like talking to regular people about singers in bands. For hours. It’s just not cool.

So the real question, and the whole point of this post, is this: are you a forum ranter in real life? Let’s go through the list below to see if you fit the description.

  1. Loud – I suppose this is something one wouldn’t admit, but this is also a very common characteristic of a ranter. The common ranter is often very vocal, loud, and persistent—often about pointless things. Like televised golf. Televised golf is pointless.
  2. Prolific Conversationalist – Similar to the Internet’s bane, the over-frequent poster, this person strikes up conversations with everyone. This wouldn’t be too terrible, except for the fact that the conversations are all about the same things, and they usually are self-glorifying. Dude, I have the entire list of Kellogg’s cereals memorized! Wanna hear them?
  3. Conversationjacking – Like hijacking a car, but with a conversation. Have you ever been talking with a friend when a random person comes up and butts in? The new person takes over the conversation, steers it in whatever direction he wishes, and eventually drives it into the terrible Swamp of Boredom—completely oblivious to the other conversationalists that he drowned in the process.
  4. Inability to Understand Others – ie: Regard for other people. This is helpful in the general role of human interaction.

So, are you one of these people? If so, I have a piece of advice for you. Stop it! Don’t even question why; the fact that these actions are all conducive to loneliness, solitude, and  excess Internet usage should be enough to convince you to drop them from your everyday activities.

Paid for by the Internet Committee for the Betterment of General Mankind. Tune in next time for advice on how to talk with enthusiasts about their areas of expertise. 

Cheers!
~ XK

How To Make a Webcam Time Lapse

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Once again, I am straying from my normal mode of posting randomness to bring you a tutorial-type post. In this post, I am going to lay out my method of using a webcam, a laptop, free software, and Sony Vegas 9 (or freeware programs) to make a time lapse video.

First of all, I have a fairly good webcam, a Microsoft Studio, that is capable of shooting 1080p video and taking 8mp still shots, so the results of your time lapse will vary with the quality of camera. Various free programs exist that allow you to make time lapse videos, but most of them are either buggy or limited in function; I couldn’t use Tilaphos to shoot in HD, and Booru is pretty buggy.

The solution to my problem lay in a very simple method of image capture. The laptop is not able to be used for other functions while it is capturing the image, but that was no big deal to me. My solution is to use a software auto-clicker to press the photo button at a certain interval.

  1. Download the auto-clicker here. (This is safe software that I’ve had no trouble with; no installation is required.) Unzip the .zip file and save the folder to a location that is easy for you to find.
  2. Open your webcam software and browse to a screen that shows a capture image button. For those of us with Microsoft webcams, this is a little image of a camera.  
  3. Once you have opened the software and have your webcam pointed at your subject, open the auto-clicker. Set the point at which you want the mouse to click by clicking “Locate” and then clicking on the image capture button.
  4. Set the time interval (how often the software will capture an image) in the “Click Interval” section. The units are milliseconds, so if you want to take a picture every 5 seconds, set the first number to 5000. Ignore the second number, and leave the “To” box unchecked.
  5. Make sure that “Left Button” is selected, and set the number of clicks if you wish. (If you set the interval at 5000 ms, and you want to record for an hour, set the value to 720. Click the Start button and let take pictures for as long as you want.
  6. To turn your images into a time lapse in Sony Vegas, open the program, go to Options > Preferences > Editing, and set the “New image still length” to .050. When you insert the images into your timeline, the images will be the right length to play back at 30fps. Tweak your output settings to whatever you want; I set mine at 8mbps 1080 30fps in .wmv format.
  7. Alternate: If you do not have Sony Vegas, here is a tutorial detailing how to make a time lapse with various free programs. I recommend using Virtual Dub.

Here’s the result!

Have fun! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
~Chris