Minor tweaks on themes for versluis.com and The WP Guru sites. Updates are live on GitHub:
Minor tweaks on themes for versluis.com and The WP Guru sites. Updates are live on GitHub:
Here’s what I’ve been up to over the last 30 days. It’s been highly productive, even though what I have achieved was not quite in line with what I had set out to do. It’s always interesting for me to see how unpredictable creativity is.
I’ve turned my second YouTube Channel into an Audio Feed, which is now available on the following services:
Now you can listen to my ramblings wherever you go. There appears to be an issue with the iTunes feed at the moment, I’ll add the link as soon as Apple figure out what’s wrong with their servers.
While I setup the above feed on my supersurvivor.tv website, I recorded the process to show you how to do it. Now you can implement podcast feeds for your own projects with WordPress. Everything from installing the plugin, to configuring and testing the feed is covered in these three episodes:
If I find other podcasting related things to say, you’ll be able to find it in my Podcasting Playlist.
I’ve made two screencasts about how to create that mesmerising Vertigo Shot, also known as the Jaws Shot or Hunter Thompson Shot. It’s a combination of dollying the camera towards a subject, while simultaneously zooming out. Many film makers have used this technique since the fifties, but it’s generally credited to be used first by Alfred Hitchcock in his movie Vertigo. Here’s what it looks like:
You can watch the two resulting videos on how to create this effect here:
On this occasion, I decided to try out a new YouTube feature called Premieres. It’s a clever mechanism whereby the videos are shown “live” for the first time at a scheduled time. Facebook have a similar feature, and I’m not sure sure who copied it from whom. The idea is that fans and creators can join a live chat before and during the premiere so any questions can be answered.
It was an interesting experience, I may do this again in the future. It’s a “sort of” live stream, something I’ve often contemplated doing, but as it often is with complicated 3D software, things can get boring really quickly when humans have to wait for machines (I’m thinking render times, crashes, things not working, etc). Editing those boring bits out makes for a much more pleasing viewing experience.
To convey the Vertigo Animation into an appropriate thumbnail, I found a Photoshop effect called Radial Blur. While I remembered, I’ve made a video on how to use it:
Julia and I took some time off to visit friends in Ohio for Thanksgiving, something we’ve bee meaning to do for several years. Our plans were rather rudely interrupted by my cancer shenanigans, so being able to travel the distance from Miami Beach to Columbus, and from there to Rochester, Buffalo and Canada was a great testament to my wellbeing. I wasn’t sure how my whole body would react to long car and plane journeys, but I’m very pleased to say that I held up well indeed.
I’ve made several videos to remember the trip by, one of which is some stunning footage of the Niagara Falls on the Canadian side.
Another one was of a trip to the George Eastman museum in Rochester, the man best known for founding Kodak. I haven’t had a chance to edit the footage yet, so I’ll let you know when it’s up (probably next month).
On Thanksgiving, I felt like writing an article for the Super Survivor website about some interesting experiences I’ve made in regards to food. It goes hand in hand with a nice discovery about self awareness, exactly the kind of thing that would have made it into my book if I was still writing it. That’s what the Super Survivor website is for: to continue that process as a long-term observational note pad. Check out the article here if you’re interested.
I’ve forgotten to mention some of the quick (and more in-depth) reviews I’ve made in October, so here’s a list of things I’ve written over the last couple of months:
I’ve filmed a two-person interview with my friend Mikahil while I was in Ohio, in preparation for a microphone review I’ve promised to do. This was a nice test with my two GoPro cameras and a new dual-head lapel microphone. All it needs now is a quick introduction to the product and some editing and then I can share it with you, probably in December.
From time to time I provide feedback and make suggestions on how to improve software products that use every day. Adobe and Apple usually don’t care, so I’ve given up sending them suggestions. The Techsmith Team however are nice enough to at least consider what I have to say. Maybe I’m lucky enough to reap the benefits sometime in the future.
Before I forget the odd hour I’ve spent on such reports, here’s what I’ve shared with them over the last couple of months:
There’s always stuff to do on websites. Things stop working, things need to be added, and it’s a time consuming process. Sometimes I find it enjoyable, sometimes I don’t. Thankfully, this month I had fun doing it – even though it was a lot more than I had intended to do. Here’s a quick run down.
I’ve added small tweaks and updated the information on my main front page at versluis.com. This includes a preview to my book, a prominent link to my second YouTube channel and a link to my Patreon page.
I did this in response to some feedback I got from people who received a business card from me, promising they could read my story and find out more about who I am. Most of them only look at the front page and are confused by the lack of clear information – and quite rightly so. I felt that needed to change.
On this occasion, I’ve updated two menu items on versluis.com and wpguru.co.uk to showcase my many Podcast Feeds. The content on both pages is identical, with links to all my current podcast feeds at various services (otherwise, who would ever find any of those). I’m not entirely happy with the layout of that page, but at least it’s a start.
Speaking of tweaks, the regular JetPack Titter widget has stopped working for some reason, so all I had in my sidebar was an error message. I had fixed this issue with the Rotating Tweets widget on my other websites, but had forgotten to implement this on wpguru.co.uk up until now – so that’s fixed.
I’ve added the Super Survivor podcast feed and my other YouTube channel to the front page of my supersurvivor.tv website. I’ve been promising my readers excerpts from my video diary for a while now, but there was simply nothing to see. My diary since October is a good start, and over time my plan is to add older entires to the feed if and when I feel the time is right.
I’m also mentioning the audio version of the book and changed the graphic to the square cover. The site is using the Divi Framework by Elegant Themes, a rather complex beast with excellent front-page editing capabilities I had to re-learn on this occasion. Perhaps I should record a few Divi videos while it’s fresh in my memory.
To link up the new button properly, I needed a new landing page to showcase both the embedded audio playlist from Spotify, as well as my latest videos as thumbnails. I wanted this page to auto-update every time I post new content on those feeds, and thankfully I’ve managed to do that: the Spotify feed works with oEmbed, so all I had to do was paste the URL into the WordPress page. That alone created the swishy player on the page.
The same principle works for single YouTube videos too, but not for a whole channel. To make that look palatable, I’ve used a plugin called YouTube Embed Plus. It was a tad tricky to setup because it needed a Google API key (and getting that wasn’t straightforward) – but once in place, I could specify my channel’s URL, a gallery layout and boom. It even has a subscribe button, and the latest video is shown in full-width at the top. It’s magic!
I liked it so much that I’ve added it to a new page on wpguru.co.uk as well, showcasing my latest videos from my main channel.
I’m always amazed when I look at the amount of stuff I’ve spent time with at the end of a month. I would forget most of these things if I wouldn’t write them down. Can you imagine what my output would be like if I had more time to do these things? Or even some assistance? Or even… a strategy?
For December I’m planning to finish editing several projects that have been on my hard drives for months:
I have several ideas for DAZ Studio related videos, and I’m looking into which topics to pick. On my long list are some Iray topics (Denoiser, Canvases, Tonemapping), and some general usage tips like D-Formers.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know. Have a wonderful month everyone 🙂
Another busy month draws to a close. Let’s see if I can remember all the exciting stuff I’ve been able to create, which consisted mainly of video content.
I’ve created a 5-part mini series on how to take a rasterised image, turn it into an extruded 3D object in Blender and use it to create a snazzy logo.
I’ve used this technique to create thumbnails for two of my recent projects (the DAZ Studio 101 series and my WordPress podcast). There are many steps to the whole process and I thought I’d record how I did it. I also created thumbnails for the videos in the series using the same approach, showing bit by bit what each video is about. Like this one:
September has been an incredibly productive month for me, and I’m excited by the fact that I’m not exhausted as a result. September felt as busy as this post reads, but it didn’t feel as if I had to compromise on quality or that all important “me time”. In a nutshell: I feel like I’m “in the flow”.
Let’s take a look at what I’ve created over the last 30 days.
I finally started recording my long promised course about DAZ Studio. This is a foundation course that will allow me to explain the relatively complex matter of 3D software in an easily understandable language. At the same time, it will act as one block of how this intricate software works, with several others to follow.
Perhaps not surprisingly, within only one day of its release, I already had over 30 likes combined on the first two episodes, and several nice comments from viewers. It’s very encouraging when this happens, and it shows me that investing the time and energy it takes to produce these videos is very much appreciated by the community.
Thank you to everyone who got involved! Your feedback and input will shape the future of this course.
In total I have created 12 episode for this course so far, with many more planned instalments for October and beyond. Happy rendering!
To accompany the series, I’ve launched a new podcast feed so that viewers can listen to what I’m explaining “on the go”. This is great to re-cap concepts, or to prime aspects before following along on the screen, or simply because time to watch is not as readily available. You can get the feeds from the following sources:
The podcast is lagging behind a little bit when compared to their respective video releases. I’ve managed to upload twelve episodes to YouTube so far, but I’ve decided to drip-feed the audio episodes one every week, much like I did with the Storyist 101 course.
For the podcast (as well as for the YouTube thumbnails), I’ve created the logo below:
This was done in Blender, and there are several steps to it. I’m going to explain the whole process in several upcoming videos.
A few years ago I recorded a full course on how to use WordPress. Although the version number has increased, the principles are still relevant today. When I released it, the title contained the WordPress version number I demonstrated this on, which meant that a month after its release, it appeared outdated.
To combat this perception, and to breathe new life into this still very relevant course, I’ve rebranded it into WordPress 101, aligning it with some of my other screencast work. I went as far as creating a new icon for both the YouTube and Podcast Thumbnails too.
While I was at it, I turned the whole course into a Podcast Feed as well, adding to the ever increasing Audio Archive of my material. That’s an additional 1 hour and 48 minutes for ya’ll’s listening pleasure.
I also found time to write last month, and aside from several forum posts around the web, here’s what I’ve created for my now network of sites: 19 articles (three of them with YouTube videos). Here they are:
Earlier this month, the friendly people from ACS got back to me and told me that my narration has been approved, and my book BROKEN BOWELS – Tales of a Super Survivor is now available through Audible, Amazon and iTunes.
All that hard work from last month has paid off! I’m very pleased with the result, and very proud that my own performance of my own material has already generated 4 sales in its first week. Keep in mind that I didn’t have the time to tell anyone about this release yet! You’re the first to hear about this 🙂
And last but not least, I’ve put a new office chair together and tidied up the second desk that we’ve had for over two years, which sadly hasn’t seen much use as an actual desk but rather as a “collection platform” for… stuff. Now it can be used as a proper computer desk. Because I’ll be using it for Windows screencasts, we like to call it “Studio B”.
The back story is that my wife has recently been promoted at Instacart, so she’ll be working from home more. They gave her an Acer Chromebook, which I dully made available on an Acer 27″ monitor and external keyboard/mouse setup, and for that, she needed a chair (which we didn’t have up until three weeks ago).
When she’s not here, I can use the same desk with my HP Z600 dual Xeon workstation and make screencasts on the Windows platform. The above video is a quick time-lapse of how I put that chair together and turned the cluttered desk into Studio B.
That’s it for this month – see you next time 🙂
This August, I’ve created 9 tech articles, uploaded 16 videos, narrated and edited my book BROKEN BOWELS (twice), created/revived five podcast feeds, created logos for them, overhauled one of my websites, and took on a part-time job with Instacart.
It was a very busy month, and a lot has happened. Looking back over this extensive log entry alone, it baffles me somewhat to see just how much I have achieved! It’s all been about streamlining some aspects of my life, as well as finishing off things that have been sizzling in the background for some time.
It feels good to free up some room to take on new challenges. Here’s what I’ve been creating this month:
I spent much of this month narrating my new book BROKEN BOWELS, with the intention of releasing it as an Audio Book alongside the Paperback and the Kindle Version.
I’m nearly finished, and provided ACX, Audible, Amazon and iTunes are happy with the files, I’m expecting it to be released sometime in August.
Audio Books are are becoming very popular, and I can imagine that fellow patients could pass the time listening to my experiences while getting a lengthy infusion.
It does take forever to do, and I can’t narrate more than two hours every day or else my voice gets tired. Editing takes a while too, but at the same time it’s a very rewarding experience. I’ve described my setup and the intricate details in some of the links below. Continue reading Created in July 2018
Last month I’ve been flat out writing the last chapters of my book “BROKEN BOWELS – Tales of a Super Survivor“. In total I’ve written a whopping 109.944 words.
Not all of them made it into the final cut mind you, which by the way has an astonishing word count of over 132.000. That’s nearly three times as much as I had originally set out to write.
This month I’ve decided to start this list at the beginning of the month and add to it as I go along, rather than trying to retrace what I’ve been doing (like I did last month). The latter approach takes forever and is prone to losing something I did in the process.
Starting this list early means I can easily add to it, and even schedule the date of publication. It works great both for scheduling as well as a victory log.
I’ve spent the second half of May writing more of my book, something I’ve taken a break from for over two months. To see where I stand, I printed the whole 400+ pages out and bound them using 1″ book rings (just about fits). The book is definitely coming together, but there’s so much more I want to say. It will probably take me the better part of June finish t.
I gave myself an (already extended) deadline: Broken Bowels shall be released on the 4th of July, which means I need to deliver the final manuscript to Amazon no later than June 30th 2018.
My original plan was to have it all done by the end of March but I had reached a point at which it just didn’t flow anymore. As I later found out it was the premise that wasn’t working for me. The more I thought about it, the less I felt that an account of the events as they happened during my cancer journey wasn’t telling the whole story.
What was fascinating me more and more was the question, “how did I survive this ordeal – both mentally and physically”. And as soon as I started writing with that question in mind, things kept flowing like never before. Hence I’m very happy to report that I’m back in the game, hitting the keys almost every day and I’m very much enjoying it!
I had several very successful sessions that yielded more than 4200 words per day (about 20 A4/Letter pages) and the whole project is becoming more than what I had envisioned it to be when I started it. Here’s what I did in detail:
It’s been a very productive month for me, more so than I had expected. I must admit that before I started compiling lists of what I’ve been doing with my time I had the subtle feeling of “slacking off” too much. Looks like that’s not the case after all 🙂
In keeping with the Japanese Kaizen movement, I’ll try to write future lists during the month rather than retrospectively. I’ll be so much quicker and won’t take half a day trying to remember where I put what. Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been doing with my time in April 2018: Continue reading Created in April 2018
This month I’ve setup a Patreon campaign so that people from all walks of life can support all my many projects on an ongoing basis. As part of that, I though it might be an interesting idea to give supporters an idea to see what exactly I’m doing with my time, and as a result what I’m creating.
So starting today, here’s a list of things I’ve created during the last month. It’s quite an eye opener, even for myself. Usually what I create – be it writing, images, videos, setting up new projects, et cetera – is spread across many different places. I always knew that I create a lot, but as soon as I hit the “publish” button it becomes “the past”, and I tend to look ahead rather than behind me.
These little lists are a nice reminder of one’s hard work throughout the month. I’ll try to devote some time on the last day of every month going forward to compile what I’ve done. If I find the time, I might even go back and add more lists retrospectively.
Let’s start things off with what I’ve been adding to the world wide web in March 2018:
Articles and Websites