New Cans

Jan. 29th, 2010 04:55 pm
tugrik: (Default)
Well, okay, I can't call them 'cans'. They're the first set of actual just headphones I've had in a while. My other audio implements are either in-ear plugs or around-the-ear DJ cans.

These arrived in the mail this week as Jaybird finally started shipping:



JayBird Gear's "Sportsband" A2DP Headphones


Remember those huge Nokia BH-604 cans I use at work? I've written about them before. They help me survive the long conference calls while providing glorious levels of sound/music isolation at work. Their only real drawback was their raw size. Not only were they somewhat socially awkward at the office... they were just heavy/odd-fitting enough to want to slide off my ears if I did anything too active. Therefore they've been moved to use at the shop, where their over-the-ear sound isolation status has been a godsend while doing lasering work (loud exhaust fans and the compressor's occasional running-fit).

The JayBirds interested me as they were lighter with a slightly tighter fit while professing to do good bass. Unlike the Nokia BH-905s I want to try sometime (at a whopping $300), these are an affordable $79. I put in a pre-order on Amazon, and after a few false starts they finally shipped out and showed up at my office desk.

Most important result: They snugly fit my charlie-brown-sized head without putting too much pressure on the ears. There is enough pressure that I don't like them for more than 3-4 hours at a stretch, but that's fine for daily office work. Overall fitment is nice. They have decently long extensions for band size, a gently-rubberized inside edge that clings to the head without pulling hair, and they're extremely slim/close fitting.

photo.jpg


(and wow, shaving my beard makes my face totally break out in freckles as normally the skin doesn't get that much sun. Utter case of gingervitis goin' on there.)

Second most important thing: They have decent sound quality. After a few more hours of listening I think the 604s have a little better bass response but the Jaybirds have a slightly quieter amp. So while the big cans would thump nicely, these are good at doing very quiet passages and low volumes without any noise or RF hiss in the way. Compared to the other 'headphone' style I used to have (the Plantronics Pulsar series) they're a huge improvement in both bluetooth behavior and audio quality.

Phone-use-wise they're just fine, if about 3-4dB softer on the microphone. This is both good and bad. I have to speak up more, like normal phone use (my 604s let me almost whisper and be heard on conf calls, which fits my in-office demeanor better). On the good side, they don't pick up nearly as much environmental sound. People talking in the cubes next to me aren't heard as much on the calls.

The controls are vastly better than the Nokias' ones. Easier to figure out by touch, better 'grippiness' and almost impossible to hit by accident. The actual use of the controls is the same as all the other major bluetooth headphones I've tried; nothing unusual there. But these are nicely rubberized/tactile while remaining flush. The only possible issue is that the ends are almost too symmetrical. If you put them on backwards it takes a moment to realize that the buttons don't work or feel quite right to the touch. A moment of feeling silly and you remember to swap them back around frontwards.

~~~~


For me and my uses, they're just fine. However, as the name "sportsband" shows, these are meant for / marketed to a different audience: gym rats. The close fit and clingy coating are to keep them on the head while running. More importantly they're rain-proof and sweat-proof. Jaybird gives a lifetime guarantee against sweat damage, encouraging their use in gyms or on the track. Keep in mind, they're not waterproof; you can't dunk them. Just that their coatings and pads won't break down if you're a sweat-by-the-bucket type. Nor should they fall off your melon while you're riding that exercise bike or huffing it around the gym.

The big plus for bluetooth A2DP headphones in the gym is the lack of wires. With the 30+ foot range you can leave your music player in your gym bag near your workout machines if you want, and not have to worry about wires going up your arm or back from a strapped-on player. Since my gym experience exists in the swimming pool, I'm going to lend them to Reveille for such testing when he gets a chance. I'll update this later with his thoughts if he doesn't post them himself.

For $79, I'm happy with the purchase. Now I have a good set of wireless headphones at work and at the shop. Eventually -- when they drop by half or more -- I'll get the super-top-end Nokia BH-905s for office use. With their crazy levels of noise rejection they should be the ultimate conference-call tool. Then these sports-band ones will be the ones I go walking with and use at home.

If there's any interest I'll gladly start bringing things like this to the local Thursday meetups for others to try; just let me know.
tugrik: (Default)
I think Stryck was right -- this is probably both the at-work cold and con-crud cold. While I made it to work yesterday, today I woke up with my head about three-feet-thick and barely able to think. Uuuuuuugh. I'm still curled up under the blankets on my hot-rock here at the lair. This plus a nice heavy dose of NyQuil put me in a nicely free-associating state of mind for watching the usual Stevesmas (aka the 2nd day of Geeksmas) presentation this morning.

Will I get an iPad? Well, yeah, you know me. Gadget and all that. Will it be all-that? Probably not. But will I have an actual use for it? I currently have a 17"MBP (personal), 15"MBP (work) and an iPhone 3Gs. The work one never leaves the office. The 17" gets shuttled between the shop, the living room and the bedroom. The iPhone is constantly on me. So where would a tablet fit in?

The iPhone is a browsing-only device. Sure, I have my SSH, VPN and desktop-remote packages on it that let me do actual work during an emergency when my laptop isn't on me, but it's a total pain in the tail. The only time the phone is really useful is for looking up and reading data. Unless it's time-critical or an emergency, I put off any real input-related stuff until I can get to where my laptop is. Also, while it's nifty to play movies and browse the web on the iphone, the screen size is a real limitation. It's handy while killing a few moments waiting in the car or similar times when it's the only device on me.

The laptop is my do-everything station. It's got more power than any desktop I've previously owned. And, while it's light and not too much a burden for all it can do, it's still a hefty chunk to haul around. I tend to only use it at the shop or at home; I don't carry it with me going out and about. Sometimes it'll be in the car while I'm in transit between sites, but it's downright onerous to pull up onto the lap while parked; I put up with the phone's limitations instead.

This leaves me with a bit of a hole in my computing life. I want something super-easily portable, yet doesn't suck for input. Something with a bigger screen than a phone but not a whopper like my 17". To solve this for the last few years I've tried netbooks and sub-notebooks; so far none of them has stuck. I ended up selling the little Dell Mini9 hackintosh I made, even. The keyboard just hurt to use and the display and speed just sucked. I had my hopes up for the CrunchPad but it kind of went down in intra-company political flames. Other attempts for a 'plunk down on the couch and use it' tablet have never really come through with an interface I've liked.

My hopes are up for the iPad, then. The magic combo for me is the size of the screen, speed of the processor, 3G availability and a keyboard (dock or bluetooth) when I want it. It could easily live on the upper shelf of my little work van and be pulled out when I want to kill time or look something up (parked, of course). A small slip-case would make it as easy to carry as my Kindle for 'bringing everywhere' like I don't with my laptop. And the decent/fun UI means it'd be worth fussing with just sitting around on the couch instead of squint-poking at the iPhone. Add in that it'll be part of the 'ecosystem' I've already chosen so all my existing data/apps are already there... sure, I'll get one.

On the hobby side, it looks like it'd be a nice tool to go with photography; kind of a Digital Photo Wallet++. Paired with the WiFi grips on my dSLRs it could be downright handy as a remote display. This brings to mind a number of app-writing possibilities I'll have to talk to Revar about.

My only real complaint has to do with "work vs. play". If I'm just playing around, the iphone is fine. The moment I have to do real work I end up fighting one major thing: lack of multitasking. I need to open an Excel sheet, copy an IP address out of there, take it over to an SSH session, run a few commands, paste the output into a remote-desktop session, then go back and update an email about it all. Having to re-open/re-start each app for each little step sucks... especially with SSH sessions dropped. The iPad will have the same problem as it doesn't multitask either. Sure, on-duty stuff at work will be a little easier on an iPad than an iPhone, but for truly complex actions I'll still need to have the laptop about. Luckily I'm only on-duty one week out of every four.

The big unknown will be gaming. I don't game on my laptop nor on my phone; that's left for the console systems. Will having a tablet-device will change my gaming habits? Time will tell.
tugrik: (Default)
As [livejournal.com profile] revar so aptly puts it, our workshop is a testament to "project ADHD". Each time you look in a new direction you see infrastructure for completely unrelated tasks. General-ism gone insane. This means it's a lot of fun. It also means that we change paths quite often and with little warning.

In this case, shortly after I acquire, learn, fix and stock the soda machines -- I'm thinking it's time to get rid of them. OMG I've never drank so much soda as I have since getting these things running. Combined with other big changes going on right now, it's just best to get the temptation out of there and let shop-attending folk bring their own stuff.

I may already have a home for the monster Pepsi machine; I'll know soon. The little Mountain Dew Dragon machine is one I'm really loathe to part with so I'll save its sale for last, if at all. But the Nuka Cola machine? That one I need to list for sale.

The editor at Kotaku who wrote about the machine, trigguring a firestorm of short-lived popularity this summer for it has agreed to promote the sale once we post it on craigslist. Maybe some crazy gamer site will pick it up and auction it off or make it into an award for something; that'd rule. But as always, if one of my local friends wants it I'd be glad to give them a deal first. Just drop me a line if so. I'm hoping to get $300 out of it -- which is a steal for a fully working/equipped Vendo 96.

tugrik: (Default)
How long is it usually between being exposed to a cold and the symptoms hitting you?

I was sniffly on Thursday before I ever even stopped by the con hotel, but only barely. That got worse on Friday, but not enough to bother me. Saturday, during the panel Revar and I hosted that morning, I really felt a cold coming on. Sunday I spent home all day feeling "bweh", but felt good enough that evening to pull by the hotel around 10:30p or so to say goodbyes and do a few last deliveries.

This morning? It was like being kicked in the face. Full on, vicious cold. I had to call in to my Monday morning meeting -- which is normally a meeting I attend in person come hell or high water.

My curiosity is because I'm wondering -- did I catch this from a co-worker and it took this long to settle in? Or is this a 'con crud' and being exposed on Friday-ish or so is what has me feeling like the underside of a shoe today?
tugrik: (Default)
(For more info on what these posts are about, please read the first one.)

A set of ribbon mics I'd ordered arrived today. Without making any attempt to do even one bit of this 'right', we just pulled them out and played with them hand-held in the noisy shop environment. A proper test will happen at a future date. This one is just kind of goofing off. :)

BlueNoise #5
(Recorded in the workshop. Voice. 1/19/2010)


Download link: BlueNoise #4


Details about the clip and Embedded Version. )
tugrik: (Default)
I found a quick supply of very low cost (but great quality) paper in 42" rolls to use for the hotel map signs you'll see posted around the convention next weekend (FC2010). I ended up with a notably larger quantity than I expected. As a result, I've got plenty for folks to use for their panels, dealer tables or events. It's matte, not glossy, so is great for visibility in weird lighting like the panel rooms tend to have.

If you want a poster printed, it's only $2/sqFt while this stuff lasts. Maximum size is 42" x 200". I can deliver them to you at the convention. It's a normal, white paper, that will last quite some time if handled decently -- but is cheap enough to handle rough and only have last for the convention weekend.

Any image format is fine, vector or bitmap. 72dpi or higher is recommended for "poster-viewing" distances. To compute square footage if you know the inch-size you want, just use this formula: (Height x Width) / 144 . Then just multiply the result by $2.

Drop me a line at tugrik@gmail.com. You can send images there up to 20mb in size. Anything bigger, please send a link for me to download it from, or ask and I can set up an SFTP/SCP site for you to upload to.
tugrik: (Default)
Our friend [livejournal.com profile] dustykat is setting up his costume with a traditional Old West Gunfighter getup: poncho, cee-gar, big ol' floppy hat, holster and el pistola. Being a convention and all, he can't really use a real gun... so I figured I'd try my hand at carving one out of wood with the 3D CNC wood router.

I'd say it worked out rather well.

photo.jpg

tugrik: (Default)
Working on awards for the FC2010 Masquerade. These ones were over-cured so they had a bubbling problem, but they were still good for paint tests. Final ones will be done on Tuesday, just a hair before the convention. Talk about cutting it close...

IMG_1003.JPG

photo.jpg



So for those of you entering the masquerade at the convention -- good luck at winning your own gold (or silver) ingot!
tugrik: (Default)
All year the local weathermen have been going off at us about how it's an "el niƱo" year, predicting all manner of world-ending storms and rain. Other than one good gullywasher back in October, it's been a really boring storm-season. The last three times they've hooted and hollered at the screen about the 'storm door being open' it's just petered out into an angry mist, instead.

So while I'm hopeful about the coming week's forecast, I admit being leery of its accuracy.



Should be quite the wet FC this year...
tugrik: (Default)
While [livejournal.com profile] cooner is now grinding away at his pile o' badge orders, I figured it was time to cut up some leather scraps and really put them to the test. I spent a few hours fussing with settings, halftoning and dealing with the organic-ness of leather. After a while I'd whipped the laser into shape. Now it can do decently realistic photos burned directly onto the leather.

I'm going to offer these for fursuiters and fans alike who want a photo-badge (or their OWN character art) if you LJ folk think they're worth selling. What's your opinion?



And hey, Dusty? I'll send ya your free badge. You've been prototyped. Muahahaha.
tugrik: (Default)
I'm hoping that folks share ideas on this one, even if they're not going to FC this year.

Revar and I have been asked to give a panel on, to quote, "TechShop Introduction: Hi Tech Tools in Artistic Expression / Building the Hi tech Studio" The short name on the schedule is "High Tech tools in artistic expression". It's to be held from 11:00AM to 12:30PM in the Fairfield room on Saturday the 23rd.

While I've got a basic idea of what to share about our little workshop setup, what would you want to hear us talk about? What would make such a panel worth you attending it?

Also -- this fandom is full of other quite wonderful Maker types. Are any of you out there willing to join us, so it can be more of a panel and less of a presentation? There are folks who dwarf our skills (like [livejournal.com profile] foofers) and other far-more-creative-than-us types who'd be great for this kind of thing.
tugrik: (Default)
For each major convention my roomie [livejournal.com profile] cooner does custom badges. The last few conventions I've been assisting him with my tools at the shop. While I'm no artist I can still be pretty helpful with figuring out cool things to do with his drawings. :)

This year, FurtherConfusion's theme is the California Gold Rush. So... why not make the badges into "Wanted" posters?



These are big-badge sized (about 4"x6") and are made of deer-skin leather and 1/8" thick alder wood. The wood is engraved on the back with the artist's logo and then cut to shape with the laser. The leather is burned with the laser at low power; just enough to make the mark very permanent without actually weakening the leather. It turns a rich, chocolatey black atop the lighter tan of the hide. It's then cut out at high power, leaving a charred edge, and permanently glued to the wood backing to keep it flat.

This one is just a prototype; the final versions will have a more natural, raggedy-edge look to the leather cut. I'm also trying out some other woods to get a more old-time or burly type of look.

If you want to make leather, wood (or both!) badges of your own art, please contact me here or drop a note to tugrik@gmail.com.

If, however, you want to buy one of [livejournal.com profile] cooner's most excellent badges -- get in line quick before he fills up! You can get all the info over in his LJ entry: http://cooner.livejournal.com/81248.html

(Additionally, you can see/comment on it on his FA page or on mine over here.)
tugrik: (Default)
(For more info on what these posts are about, please read the first one.)

BlueNoise #4
(Recorded in the workshop. Mechanical. 1/9/2010)


Download link: BlueNoise #4


Details about the clip and Embedded Version. )
tugrik: (Default)
Now all we need is to find a cheap supply of Cherry Dr. Pepper (Revar's favorite) to top off that last slot.

photo.jpg



Those slots are 3 cans deep. The big ones hold 99 (96+3 in the mechanism) and the small ones hold 52 (48+3, similarly). Slot #1 has the monster-sized Arizona Iced Tea cans so hold a fair bit less.
tugrik: (Default)
Here we are a few weeks before the convention... and I've actually caught up! I just sent out some replacements and my last two jobs just spooled (well, okay, one is waiting on an artist to respond, but no worries). All the badgework is complete, and the one final fabrication job for FC staff is underway.

This means that the Big Printer of Doom has been freed up for more prints, and I've got lots of scrap and supplies for doing lasered works. Do you need fine art prints for the FC artshow or to sell at your table? Want to do custom acrylic badges, stamps or wood designs? You've still got time to get it in by the convention!

First, the prints. Normally I don't publish my rates as they're rather low and intended to help out the anthro artist community. Word-of-mouth keeps me busy enough I've not had to seek more work. But for the pre-FC period I figured I'd price out what I had left in stock so folks could get an estimate without having to email me. If you have something that can handle Excel spreadsheets, you can download the sheet here and do your own estimate. Here's what it looks like:



The four things I'm out of at the moment are marked. Of the matte materials, PhotoRag is very light texture as is bamboo. Litho is ultra-smooth (no texture). "Scrim" is that heavy duty outdoor banner material you can put grommets through and hang up with ropes. The "Fibaprint" is a wonderful, almost-cardstock-like semi-glossy fine art paper. The two Kodak Gloss entries are best described as "poster-like" paper: shiny and tough, with very bright colors.

My gear is designed for big items (up to 42" x 205"!) So if you only want 8.5x11 prints, I'd print them out on a large roll and send them to you to cut out on your own. If you want larger prints I'll cut them down before sending. If you're going to be at FC, I'll gladly deliver them to the convention for you if you'd rather not pay for shipping!

Shipping, BTW, is about $4 for tubes/packing + however fast you want FedEx to go (ground at ~$8 all the way up to $50 for the worst overnight fees).

~~~~


As far as laserables, here's what I have in stock right now:

  • Rubber stamps (read my last post before this one for details)
  • Alderwood sheets (1/8" x 4" x 24") -- this is what all the Tikis were made out of last year
  • Any plastic that Tap plastics carries (1/8-1/2" thick, about any color) for badges or engraved artwork
  • Aluminum dogtags (black, red, purple, blue, green -- engraves to bright white)
  • Aluminum round tags (various colors)
  • Aluminum dogbone-shaped tags (various colors)

These aren't as easy to quote so please email me. I charge cost of materials + 20%, then $35/hr for lasering time. The laser can work quite fast depending on your artwork and media you want it on.

Any questions? Email me at tugrik@gmail.com or post a reply here. I'm glad to help out! Once the convention is past I'm going to delete this post as this pricing will no longer apply.
tugrik: (Default)
My order finally came in from the stamp-equipment supplier. It took a whole 10 days to get here on the Slow Boat from the MIdwest, feh.

In any case -- I now have the ability to make 0.80" round stamps. Here are the first 10 designs to be given to LJ friends who requested.



A few things I've learned:

  • 1.5 drops of ink in the base is more than enough. Eesh.
  • Big solid areas don't look so great. They cause the ink to 'bridge' over smaller pits. Outlines are the best for small stamps.
  • 6pt is about the smallest font. The 'feastofdreams.net' on the 5th stamp isn't legible (it's in 4pt).
  • The higher the detail the harder it is to make a good impression. The "Hello Kzinti" (#6 in the photo) is hard to get a good impression on due to fiddly edge bits... but you can if you try. Different inks may work better.
  • Round-edged things that match the round-edge of the plunger work great. #'s 7,8 and 9 are wonderful to work with, stamp-wise.
  • Thin things in the middle are the hardest to use (again, #5). This can most likely be solved by making a circle around the design.

Most importantly, I've found the most labor-intensive part isn't what I expected: laser-cutting a disc of doublesided tape, peeling it, sticking to the die, peeling the other side, sticking to the plunger. As a result if I'm just making a few stamps for someone, no problem... but if someone is ordering 50 to sell, I'll send them the component parts (cut die, pre-cut tape circles, the stamp-body) and let them assemble them on their own to save money. Otherwise I'd have to charge too much for labor.

For the moment if you just want me to do one stamp of this size and have reasonably ready artwork, I'd charge $5/ea (more if I have to do a ton of art-cleanup for you). But if you are ordering in a batch the price would go down since I only have to do the art-layout once. If someone did a 50-piece order, for instance, I'd probably only charge $2/ea. And then I'd have the design on-file to remake them at the bulk price any time you wanted.

Next up: working on standard 1" x 3" full sized wood-block holders, to make more normal stamp sizes.

(For the folks who recognize their stamp up there: either see me at FC to come snag it, or send me email at tugrik@gmail.com with your snailmail addy so I can send it to you if you won't make the con)
tugrik: (Default)
So, Avatar crossed that 'uncanny valley' barrier just enough to make full CG characters believable and easy to watch. This just reinforces my thought that computer graphics don't have so much of a "long way to go" as they do "a long way they can go". As more people experiment with new ways of rendering it's only going to get better.

Case in point: this is one film I need to share. I won't embed it because it's best watched directly on Vimeo's site in full-screen HD.

The Third & The Seventh

It's a simple piece about beauty-of-place and architecture from a photographic point of view. The first few minutes are a little over-heavy on the rack-focusing effect, but stick with it; it gets even better.

If you have trouble believing that it's all CG, just watch some of the composite breakdowns. :)

It just breaks my head that this thing is 100% CG. And it breaks my heart that I don't have the ability to do this level of work myself. The worlds I want to show you...
tugrik: (Default)
And now I have dead-arm. Owie. But heck, I'll take it.

I've been waiting for the shots to become available in my area for months now. I tried to go to one of the big city-sponsored clinics but with 6+ hour lines and nowhere for a big guy like me to sit while waiting... wasn't happenin'. My doc's office ran through their supply and barely covered the children and pregnant women, so all others were denied.

Finally this Monday Walgreens got a ton of them in here in the bay area. My local one didn't have the syringes until today. By 10am this morning I'd gotten my shot. It cost all of $18.

I know one person on my LJ list and two friends of co-workers who have died from this flu. I highly encourage getting vaccinated. Also, huge thanks to [livejournal.com profile] skorzy for posting about this earlier last week.

Raar.

Jan. 4th, 2010 10:35 am
tugrik: (Default)
Well, I guess that [livejournal.com profile] reveille_d isn't the only one who can get his 'Zilla on now and then. At least not when my friend [livejournal.com profile] gen is playing Spore.

*looks vaguely guilty about all the stompling and chomping*
tugrik: (Default)
Figured I'd share another Monoceros Media job with the LJ crew here.

The folks who run MAGFest, a gaming-and-music party held on the east coast right at the start of the new year, saw the glowy-acrylic badges I'd done for AC last year. They wanted something similar for their sponsors and super-sponsors.

The badges were done earlier in the month and shipped out. Clear for supporters, neon-fluorescent green for super-supporters, chrome (mirror) for staffers, all in 1/8" acrylic. They just got the box today and seem to be quite happy with the results. Having clients happy with work I send them is a huge ego boost, and as such is one of my guilty pleasures.

[livejournal.com profile] iii_demon, their staff member who contracted me for the work, took a nice artsy picture of one of the clear badges as he unpacked them. The sunlight was just right coming in his window, making for an excellent image.



(the name and number are made up for that image; he took a pic of the spare test-badge I put in the box for him)

Two more pics under the cut here. )

If you need any specialty badges or other fun trinkets for your party, convention or function, give me a holler. These are a blast to make!
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