PHLIPPING PHOTOB*CKET THE MIDDLE PHINGER

(Note: This is a unedited paste of a post I made on a forum where my photo links were broken. None of the pictures found here at Merly A Whim have been affected. Photob*cket had become so ad-infested that it was rendered damned near unusable, such that when I created this blog, I hosted my pics on another site. Nevertheless, I am pasting my post on the matter here, in the spirit of informing everyone.)


For everyone who enjoyed viewing my work and are disappointed that they can no longer do so, I apologize. The online photo hosting site known as Photobucket no longer supports 3rd party hosting without charging a hefty fee.

I’m not made of money. I cannot pay it.

And neither can I download my pictures from the site, apparently.

Even though the language in their FAQ and Troubleshooting pages assured me I still had access to my photos and could download them, my downloaded pictures opened up blank with the error message stating that the file was broken or corrupted.

Now, I wasn’t so naive as to upload sole originals to the website. I still have the originals off line. HOWEVER, if you state something publicly, if you have it in writing in such a way that one can logically infer and reasonably expect a certain outcome, AND THEN deny that outcome … well, you’ve violated a basic principle of the social contract and quite possibly a point or two of actual law.

I don’t know if Photobucket will face lawsuits due to its decision, but in the light of recent cyberattacks worldwide, “ransomware” is at the forefront of the public mindset and the public would understandably attribute the practice to Photobucket.

Once that happens, litigation will ensue.

I’m not waiting for that particular penny to drop. I’m killing my account now. It was a free account. It cost me nothing to open. It should cost me nothing to delete.

But dammit, it rankles.

It rankles.

TL;DR. Truth? Or Something Else?

TL;DR.

You know, I have a love/hate relationship with that damned acronym.

Why?

1) For things I’m interested in or love, I have an attention span longer than a gnat’s.
2) For things I’m not interested in or love, I have an attention span shorter than a gnat’s
3) Writing anything trying to attract people who fall into category #2 MAKES ME A #2.

None of the above has anything really to do with word count. It has everything to do with the quality of the words offered.

If it’s too short and it shows, I don’t go back. I write it off. I don’t bookmark the site.

Why?

My impression is: The story or the message is incomplete and the writer obviously couldn’t be bothered to finish the thought properly. It’s a literary “Whatever, man”, an “IDK”, a dismissal of my intelligence and time.

In return, I pretty much consider the writing lame and shallow as fuck.

In other words, in writing for the LCD, how many people are we turning away who would otherwise stay to read what we’ve got?

The assertion that people (implication: everyone on the fucking planet other than me) are simply unable or unwilling to read anything longer than 250 words on the internet completely discounts amazing writers who have more than 250 words to say, as well as intelligent readers who want more to read.

My current favorites:
Warren Ellis: Orbital Operations. Here is a sample post.
Neil Gaiman: Neil Gaiman’s Journal

To be sure, the text portions on both of these blogs might not be hella long, but with the inclusion of pictures, you must scroll through several frames to read the entire post. Both blogs generally have more than 250 words of text.

I’m not a fan of infinite scroll myself, given the sheer inability to zero in on something specific without having to scroll through everything you don’t want a single frame at a time (I’m looking at YOU Facebook!), but scrolling to the end of a 1000 word entry is a piece of cake, even when on my smartphone. 1000 words is about 2.5 pages at 380 words per page, 4 pages if we are limited to 250 words per page.

Just when did 251 words become universally too taxing to read?

When people throw TL;DR at me, is it because there were too many words or they just dislike scrolling past the bottom of the top frame? And are these people using only a tablet or smartphone to read anything on the internet? How hard can it be to tap or scroll to the next frame, even on a device smaller than a laptop?

Well, people don’t have time to read “all that” on their smartphone, I’m told.

Really? How much time can one save by calling someone and having a 90-second voice conversation instead of typing it out on your thumbs and taking 5 minutes to convey the same amount of information? That’s 3.5 minutes you could have otherwise saved to do something else.

What would you do with that extra time?

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe read something longer than 250 words?

What a radical idea.

Jump on it.

Note: Word count, not including the title: 532.

The Next Patch is …

… Quite possibly this one:
 
 
Wu's Salvage Yard
 
 
Wu’s a character, no doubt, and he’s got several yards and repair facilities across the ‘Verse. This patch is for the employees who work the orbital repair yard at LaGrange point 2 off Persephone.

Should I decide to sell this patch to the public, I will update the post. For now, I’ll just enjoy seeing it here.

Oh and for those who may be interested, the Chinese on the patch actually says “Wu almost new spaceship parts”. See the translation here.

Details:
Software: CS4
Size: 3000 x 3000 px
Resolution: 600 dpi
Fonts:
Classic Typewriter, Bold
American Captain Patrius 2 Free
Real virtue
Chinese characters in Adobe Heiti Std.

Three Covers

I love Moleskine Cahier journals. The craft paper covers just invite decoration once you get them home.

I love full-size shipping labels. They are easily found in any office supply store chain and are 8.5″ x 11.0″. And they can cover all but the largest Moleskine Cahier (19 x 25 cm) in one go.

So of course it wasn’t long before I started making digital collages to print on those labels to wrap around my bare-naked Cahiers.

Making the images involve indulging my vices on several levels: browsing my favorite public domain sites online, playing with texture images from my collections, and generally going nuts scrapbooking all the different elements together. Photoshop figures heavily into it, as is making brushes to use.

Suffice to say, I’m rather hooked on making collages. Below are three I made a few years ago. They printed up rather nicely on laser printers at a local office supply store. Once I trimmed the square corners round, they were a perfect fit.
 
 
 
Blue Binoculars
 
Blue Binocular Gears
 
Images sourced from The Graphics Fairy, Obsidian Dawn, and Textures.com (formerly known as CG Textures.com).
 
 
Paris Sky, Alternate
 
Paris Sky, Alt.
 
This one is an alternate version of an image I made. I thought the line art in black made it too analogous in color scheme overall so I warmed things up by tweaking the line art from black to a warm reddish-brown. The response was overwhelmingly favorable and it was a favorite of the people I showed it to. (Ignore the letterboxing and the dotted guidelines. This was the best image saved in my files.)
 
Images sourced from The Graphics Fairy, Obsidian Dawn, and Textures.com (formerly known as CG Textures.com).
 
 
Cover 5
Cover 5
 
I haven’t come up with a name for this one but it was also destined to be a cover label. Of the three, it was the least favorite of the people I showed it to but there’s something about this one I still rather like. I’ve kept it all these years and perhaps I’ll go back and tweak it. Or not. One of the purposes of keeping a portfolio is to preserve your mistakes as well as your successes. It’s hard to judge the level of either without both for comparison. (Despite the unintended letter boxing on this image, I think it could be trimmed down to make a nifty black border. It sets off the warm colors of this collage so well.)
 
Images sourced from The Graphics Fairy and SDW Haven.
 
 
 
I may do more of these. I’ve been feeling the itch to browse through my files and to refresh my memory of what I already have on hand …

… Of course, if I do that, I might not resurface for days. I have an awful lot of files.
 
 
 

Graves Registration Patch

UPDATE: 05 Jul 2016
The patch order is IN! The patches should hit my doorstep in 14 business days or less. When I get the patches, shipping will commence. Thank you, everyone, for making this happen.
 
Gosh, I’m SO EXCITED!

UPDATE 30 Jun 2016: This patch run is ON! Collecting orders and payment now. See details in comments below!
Graves Registration Patch

As everyone might be aware, I’m an ardent fan of a certain sci-fi/western show by a certain genius (currently known for the Avengers movies and kicking the MCU into high gear …), a certain show that was killed mid-way through its first season by FOX.

Yes, I’m still a mite bitter about it. No, I won’t rant about it here.

I’ve got better things to do.

Like promote this nifty patch I’ve designed to expand the universe of that beloved show.

For those who may be interested, here’s the story for the patch:

After the U-War, massive numbers of the dead lay at Serenity Valley and elsewhere. They had to be identified and catalogued by name, DOB, POB, bio-stats, and SoCon number. The work has endured years beyond the end of the war and there are still those listed as missing. Remains do turn up periodically, found on Hera and other locations of major land battles, in the course of natural forces or human activity.

Once the remains have been identified against the database of the dead and the missing, they are sent on to surviving kin. The Graves Registration Department will diligently perform its duty until everyone comes home.

Serenity Valley is one of the locations the Graves Registration Department has established a physical facility to handle the sheer numbers awaiting identification. There are other such centers throughout the Verse during and after the conflict but unlike those others, which were clearly temporary, the one at Serenity Valley (and two other sites) are permanent. It is now part of the larger Serenity Valley Battlefield Memorial Park, ajacent to the Serenity Valley Visitor Center and Museum.

The Graves Registration Department is Federally funded but donations from citizens and corporations are always welcome.

Above is the manufacturer’s proof to show what my design will look like as an embroidered patch. It will have an iron-on backing and a merrowed edge. I’ve had a patch made by these folks before and the quality is top notch.

I will make a presentation card jacket for this patch, just as I did for my first patch: Rim Fire Mining Co.

As with anything I write out of fannish devotion, the backstory for the Graves Registration patch posted above will be appropriately edited and polished for the card jacket that will accompany the patch.

I will be up-front with you, because everyone needs to know what it’s gonna cost:

I’m pricing the patches as follows: $10 for 1, 3 for $25. Minimum run is 100 patches.

I need to pre-order 25 individual patches or 10 sets of 3-for-25 to break even and fund the run. Any patches after that will fund shipping. I’m donating my time and printing costs on the patch jackets.

Folks will say I’m shooting myself in the foot by telling y’all this but I’m not the sort that handles suspense well. If knowing the target nmbers will shorten the time we’re all waiting for a green light on the run, I’m all for it!

I am not taking money now. I am only taking pre-orders. If there is enough interest to fund the run, I will alert everyone by posting here and then AND ONLY THEN will I get shipping and billing information from those who pre-ordered their patches.

Beause of this, please only leave a serious order for what you will actually buy. I don’t want to disappoint anyone because half the pre-orders dried up from wishful thinking. I need an accurate count in order to fund the run.

If there isn’t enough interest to fund the run, then the patch will be put on hold and no one need pay anything.

It’s as simple as that.

Please leave your pre-order in the comments below. Thank you for your time and interest, everyone. If this run goes well, I will have more in the future!

Thank you, Spasiba, and Xie Xie, y’all!

A Tablet Reader for SF/NF campaign

As much as I hate tablets because of how their deficiencies have forced changes in the way things are done with all things computer, I have to admit that the future is pretty much going that way. While I don’t think that laptops or desktops will go away entirely, I think that tablets and their accessories will become the device most used. They’re too darned convenient when compared to laptops and much in the way that laptops trump desktops in convenience.

Convenience, it seems, trumps everything.

Even functionality. I’m still waiting for the tablet that will allow me to do everything I do on my laptop. For instance, this very second I am typing on a full keyboard, streaming internet radio, running CS4, using my WACOM Intuos4 graphics tablet, chatting with my friends on Hangouts, pasting text into a Word document and editing it (one of several open on my taskbar), and verifying ownership/authorship of an image on Google+. (More on that in a minute…)

Can a tablet do all that without crashing?

Seriously, can it?

Go check.

It’s okay. I’ll wait.

While I’m waiting, here’s the tablet I scratch-made in Photoshop:

Tablet


Obviously, I need to finesse the gradient overlays better and sooner or later I will either have to give in and learn Illustrator for the sake of smoother edges on my shapes, or jack up the resolution to 600 dpi.

Now about that pretty picture I slid under the tablet screen …

The photographer is Brian Matiash and you can find this photo on his post to Google+, here.

I want to be absolutely clear: I do not own the photo and by posting an image of it here I am not claiming ownership. I just needed something pretty for the screen image and the green set off the greys and blacks so well. As the picture was labled “Shared Publicly” and it was part of the background slideshow on the Google Hangouts webpage, I thought I could use it as long as I gave credit and didn’t make any money off it. This blog of mine isn’t ad-driven or monetized in any way, so I think I’m in the clear.

Please go and look at Brian Matiash’s photos—they’re all mouthwateringly gorgeous! You can find his website, here.


Details:
Software: CS4
Resolution: 300 dpi
Screen Image: Photo Image by Brian Matiash

Of Mice and Men, Paper and Pen …

Mice and men are awfully cute, making me something of a marshmallow about them (even though they can be a bit of a pest at times) but when it comes to Paper and Pen, I’m ruthless.

Utterly ruthless.

How?

I’m ruthlessly picky about them.

I have to be, considering I take them to bed with me. This is in case I get an amazing idea while hovering on the edge of sleep. And really, if a pen slides under the covers and pokes me awake, I will forgive it, if it’s my favorite pen.

(Not many men–save one–will receive such forgiveness under those circumstances. As for the man who does, I married him. I may be ruthlessly picky but I know a good catch when I see one!)

And much like an obsessive who spends a lot of time with her … well, obsessions … I am very discriminating in how a pen feels in my hand and how it moves across the paper and how the ink flows from the nib. When you spend as much time as I do writing and drawing, it is crucial to have a pen that can keep up.

Excruciatingly crucial.

Pilot brand’s G2 retractable gel pen is my go-to pen for everyday, rough-and-ready use. Not tactical pen use (for that, go here … ), but it’s the pen that lives in my cargo pockets. I just slap my leg and it’s there.

I posted my love (or lust, take your pick) for Pilot’s micro-tip pen, the High-Tec-C Maica, and while I can’t really bring myself to replace my G2s with it, as they are rather delicate, I do love it for practicing my calligraphy and Russian cursive. With so fine a tip, it is completely unforgiving of your mistakes: every waver and pause shows up in the line. Which makes it wonderfully suited for perfecting one’ penmanship, no matter what language it’s in.

But as with human beings, pens need a partner to get the most out of life. In this case, they need paper. Just as I have my favorite pens, I have my favorite papers and notebooks to go with them.

Here are my current two favorites. (And yes, they go to bed with me. Just because I turned off the lights does not mean I can turn my head off just as easily. It takes a while for those mental squirrels to shut the hell up … )

My first real grown-up affair started with this one: Moleskine Cahier Journal (I must thank my friend, B. N. Harrison, for introducing me to these. See her blog, here … )

I love that the pages are sewn in, not glued, and that the covers are craft paper brown or black. Not too fussy and just crying out to be decorated with washi tape or stickers or gel pens or paint markers or paints or … Well, suffice to say, they invite artistic alteration the way more durable covers tend to discourage.

Add the benefit of being flexible and form fitting in your messenger bag (for the large ones) or your back pocket (for the small ones), you’ve got no excuse not to have a notebook on you to jot down that important reminder from your kid’s teacher or to share a website with that enthusiast you chatted up while waiting in line for coffee.

I’ve used Cahier for years but, alas, they aren’t what you’d call inexpensive. As a result I have plenty of less expensive notebooks littering my bed, my house, and my person, because I’m not made of money and I can’t afford to replace my Cahiers at the rate I go through paper.

How much paper? Acres of it. Starting a blog hasn’t made a dent.

Nope.

My conscience ocassionally nags me about it. Enough so that I decided that perhaps I should get something really nice for those really important notes and thoughts that I want to keep handy for later. If I had something nice and expenseive, yet non-intimidating and easy to use, my self-serving stationery supplies demon whispered, I would use less paper and save the environment from my vicious predation of trees.

Hmm … see how that goes?

Yeah.

And this is what I found for an excuse—I mean, answer:

The Midori Travelers Notebook, in Passport size. It’s small enough to fit in my cargo pocket and it’s customizable. I decided to splurge and get the kit, here.

Of course, I had to look over the accessories for it. And then I had to choose the color of the leather cover. In addition to the quality of the paper, that leather cover was an important selling point for me. If this is going to live in my cargo pocket, suffer getting thrown into my messenger bag or backpack as I’m rushing out the door, and get taken on trips to the wilderness like my neighborhood WalMart, it’s got to be durable enough to protect the contents and yet feel good in my hands and be pleasing to my eyes.

So, yeah.

Leather.

Drool..

And the start of my second love affair with stationery supplies.

I’ve only just received my Traveller’s kit in the mail. I’ll carry it with me and use it and break it in. When that’s done, I’ll come back and write up my review of it.

For now, I’m just enjoying having it.

Stay tuned.

A Confession

Hello, my name is Maer … and I’m an art supplies addict.

That means I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to my pens. I’m insufferably biased. Simply insufferable.

I admit it.

When Pilot released the G2 retractable gel pen several years ago, I thought I’d finally found my forever pen. When they released the .38mm version of the same, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven.

Silly me.

I had merely gotten halfway to Heaven. Or perhaps merely scaled Everest.

My current forever obsession?

THIS.

Yes, feast your eyes and weep, my friends. It is truly an amazing pen.

Of course, having seen it comes in multiple colors (!), I’m now saving my pennies to buy the set.

Who knows? My birthday is coming up.

Perhaps my dear husband will buy me it.

In every single color.
 
 
 

A Variation of Lily, 15 x 9

Lily 15x9, Wrapped

Having done Lily 15 x 9, I wondered if I could make it repeat horizontally. So far, I think I’ve managed it. 😉

If I were to do this again, I would take better pains to alternate the corners. It doesn’t show too badly above but at 3x repeat, it looks a touch too magenta pink along the top and the lower corner to the right of the butterfly looks a little unbalanced.

Nevertheless, I think it looks rather nice for a first attempt. I might inflict more of this sort of thing.

Stay tuned!

Details:
Software: CS4 Extended
Resolution: 300 dpi
Size: 15 x 9 inches

Image credits:
The Graphics Fairy: aged paper background, florals, stamps, all-seeing-eye, handwriting, post card, and butterflies; public domain
doverpictura.com: Gibson girl image, royalty free
Creative Market: Antique Maps, by Greta Ivy; It’s extremely faint but it’s in there. Used with extended license
2 Lil’ Owls: grunge background, purchased as part of a 3rd-party bundle with extended license

All images in public domain or used with extended license permissions/royalty free permissions.

Lily, 15 x 9

Lily 15x9

As a variation on a theme to another image posted here, I thought to go a little bigger. This was made to cover the largest of the Moleskine Cahier notebooks, the 7.5″ x 9″. Of course, that means the wrap-around cover would be 15″ x 9″, as the title suggests. It’s a little oversized for a home printer, but I hope it can be done at a Kinko’s or an office supplies store with printing services.

To visualize it as a book cover, align the edge of a sheet of paper along the empty space between the words “Carte Postale” at the center top, where the spine of the notebook would go.

Details:
Software: CS4 Extended
Resolution: 300 dpi
Size: 15 x 9 inches

Image credits:
The Graphics Fairy: aged paper background, florals, stamps, all-seeing-eye, handwriting, post card, and butterflies; public domain
doverpictura.com: Gibson girl image, royalty free
Creative Market: Antique Maps, by Greta Ivy; It’s extremely faint but it’s in there. Used with extended license
2 Lil’ Owls: grunge background, purchased as part of a 3rd-party bundle with extended license

All images in public domain or used with extended license permissions/royalty free permissions.