Twine and Flex

As I work through the Udacity classes on front end web development, I’ve been discovering some pretty good resources on “Flexbox”, a very handy way to make text move around your web page in easily predictable ways that allow your designs to adapt to different sized screens (laptop, tablet, phone).
Here are some of my favorite links. They may help you as well:

In addition to that, I’ve been reading a great book from No Starch Press called “JavaScript for Kids” by Nick Morgan. I have also been looking around at a free, html-based interactive fiction (IF) language/platform called Twine. So I made a little (very basic) tutorial on JavaScript using Twine. JavaScript is Fun.

I had some programming issues making even this tiny script, because I started reading a tutorial on Twine 1.4 and then realized that it has moved to Twine 2.0.x, and changed the syntax. Now, I discovered, you can choose 3 formats for your markup. I chose one called SugarCube because the syntax made the most sense to me (other options are Harlowe and Snowman).

Twine is great fun because it lets you create a branching story in a graphical way; when you link two passages you actually see the link. Then it lets you leverage all the CSS and HTML and scripting language tricks you know to add functionality and cleverness and even more interactivity, images, even animated gifs. And you can test and debug it all before you make it live. Twine publishes its games as a self contained html page using a wiki format called Tiddlywiki. This makes them extremely quick to load and run in a browser.

Of course, having a good story is the crucial part.

Online Learning Tools (Part 4)

I’ve showed you some of my favorite tutorial sites. Now I’m going to briefly describe some of my favorite tutorial podcasts. I love podcasts. I listen to them on my long commute, and sometimes while I’m at work. I sometimes embarrass myself by starting half my conversations with “I was listening to a podcast and someone said…”  Here are some of the ones I have found truly inspirational:

When looking for podcasts iTunes, I always find a lot that have “podfaded” and aren’t ‘making new episodes. They might be worth looking up, but I didn’t list any. I also avoided podcasts marked “E” for “explicit language”.

Web Development:

Start Here
This is a really wonderful podcast, designed to step you through the process of becoming a web developer. They have homework assignments, too! These guys are sincere about what they teach, and invite feedback.

Build & Launch
A new podcast for 2015, you can easily listen to this from its beginning to its current episode, and I suggest you do! Justin Jackson will make you want to make things! He gets me fired up. For season 1 he had a goal to launch a new project every week. I can’t wait to see what happens in season 2.

Coding 101
I don’t catch this one very often since I can’t watch a video podcast while driving to work, but I do recommend this for anyone who wants actual code examples. Father Robert Ballecer is a good teacher. I’ve watched this on my Roku.

Art:

Chris Oatley’s Artcast/Paper Wings
I have never seen anyone as intense about art as Chris Oatley, except perhaps Jerzy Drozd. These fellows take visual storytelling more seriously than a lot of Christians I know take Christianity, and it blows my mind.  Be prepared to analyze everything and come away realizing you don’t work hard enough! (Chris Oatley’s Artcast and Paper Wings are basically one show with two feeds, but that link will get you all of them.)

Lean Into Art
Jerzy Drozd is a master visual story teller who isn’t afraid to let you see the inner workings of his art, life, studio, and mind. He shows you what it takes to be a full time artist, and what you have to give up for your art. He is sober and personal and sweet and friendly and makes me want to attend his classes. These podcasts sometimes come with art challenges you can post via twitter to get comments and critiques.

Pencil Kings
Mitch Bowler finds a new rising star to interview in each episode, and they are always proof that if you are in the right place at the right time doing the right thing you can create your dream job. Or at least, someone somewhere did. But they never make it look easy!

Additional Resources:

These two I found while researching iTunes to see if there were any other good resources. I haven’t actually listened to them much yet.

<Web>Agency </Podcast>
A Responsive Web Design Podcast

 

Jetpens (Part 1)

I have discovered that I really like pens (by which I also mean pencils). I guess I always knew this, but I just realized “it’s a thing” and I’m not the only one who likes pens. So I found a few blogs of people who actually review pens. And via those blogs, I found some pens I wanted to buy.

I really love my Pentel P205, so much so that I didn’t have to go find it to remember the actual pencil part number.  So when I went to Dave’s Mechanical Pencil blog and looked at his “top 5 mechanical pencils” I was aghast to find it wasn’t on his list! And it had been edged from the top five by something called a Graphgear 1000. Vat ist dot?! (Yes I got so excited I went into really bad Jägermonster accent.) I had to go buy one stat!

(And I… ok just lied about that because I see now that the pencil that actually edged out the Pentel P205 was something else, but that makes my story much less compelling.)

But no one else reads this blog so I shall blithely continue.

I also started reading The Pen Addict blog. Many of his neatest pens are from Jetpens. So I decided to make an order. Now, Jetpens had the Graphgear 1000 pencil that I wanted… but they also had many other pens that I wanted. Specifically I had it in my head that I wanted a good fountain pen. First I checked Levenger, which is a lovely site that I have long drooled over, then I realized that I was too cheap to buy a pen there.

So I started throwing pens into my cart on Jetpens instead. And when my total started approaching $75 I got scared and removed most of it. Alas, I removed my Graphgear 1000! But, you ask, why did you remove the pencil you wanted so much? Because I found it locally!

Googling, again, I discovered an art store selling them right nearby (within an hour, that is), called Utrecht.

I was going to tell you all about the new pens and pencil I bought, but this is post too long without it, so I’ll add that info next time… HEY LOOK, I’m going to post more than once in a month!

If you read this far, here is an unfinished sketch, and my Pentel P205. I was considering starting a whole bunch of blog posts just to highlight “unfinished sketches” since I never seem to finish anything…

Things Unfinished

Webcomics

I have a poor track record with actually keeping up with reading Webcomics, notwithstanding the fact that I keep considering making one. But these webcomics are ones written by people I actually know (or at least, have chatted with). So, for your consideration, I present an incredibly biased list:
My long-time great friend JB has TWO comics – not regularly updating, but fun to read the archives. And any day she plans to start them up again, really. Follow Gwen, Rremly the dragon, and friends with: http://www.catharsiscomic.com
Further, JB breeds and sells Crested Geckos! You can follow their fictional antics here: http://www.jbscresties.com/comic (And if you are in her area you could buy one!)

DJ Trousdale is a fellow Christian I met on deviantART. Check out his comic here: http://djtrousdale.com/hexfactorial

Sticky (or at least that’s the nickname I know him by) has a Morrowind-based comic here: http://www.skaarj.com/comic/ That was a fun game. I didn’t finish the expansions – I keep meaning to.

I just met Samantha on Ustream last week, as she worked her way through the “24 Hour Comics Day” Challenge.  I have a big soft spot in my heart for overweight red-haired magic users (you in the peanut-gallery, shush) so I fell in love with her comic: http://www.witchytech.com/lifesawitch

Urban Fey is written by a mother-daughter team! I know Windy (aka. Kim) from JB’s comic’s forum, and also deviantART – what a tangled web 2.0 we weave. I was also in their Guild Wars guild. Go Team Mystic Sheep! Anyway they have a novel take on the court of the Fey: http://www.urbanfey.net/ AND are in the process of working on some more comics too! See what’s coming: http://www.mysticsheepstudios.com/pages/comics.html

I know Natalie from watching her illustrate other podcasts, and from deviantART. She has a webcomic of mad science and underwater adventures: http://radioisopod.com She also has a podcast! I did a guest mad science bit on it, once. Natalie has webcomics over here too: http://thesecretlair.com but if I told you about The Secret Lair, well, they wouldn’t invite me back. (I have an honorary title and that’s all I can say.)

Got a comic yourself?
Tell me about it!

 

 

 

Unfortunate Food

This was from the 4th of July. It really didn’t taste bad, but the presentation…

This instantly reminds me of James Lileks great books on “Regrettable Food” such as this one. (Amazon link )

But you can tool around for a long time on his website, looking at his goofy collection of… things… in the “Institue of Official Cheer”: http://lileks.com/institute/index.html

Yet a Few Games More

(The title was a riff on the delightful podcast of Paul Tevis, that you can find here.)

 

As mentioned in the last journal I bought a card game, called Rage. I also bought Farkle, and played Save Doctor Lucky. (Note: not Kill. You lose points if you accidentally say Kill.)

Now, Rage was very fun, even though I don’t like trick taking games. The fun part was the company I played with. Farkle was less fun, because I lost, and I’m not always a good sport – and it was so hard I had to make a house rule to add an extra die. We also tried it with two extra dice, but that made it too easy. Save Doctor Lucky worked surprisingly well, considering we only had 3 people. I used a chunk of glass that looked like an ice cube for Doctor Lucky’s meeple. I didn’t think about how ironic that was, on the Titanic. 

I was playing with my family. And it turns out that shorter games work better with them. Much as I wouldn’t have minded buying a copy of Wealth of Nations or Pandemic, I can’t see many of my local friends playing it. (Not counting my game group – they are actually an hour away so I don’t consider them “that local”.)

Here are some more fairly-quick-to-play games on my radar screen. If you have any experience playing these I’d love to hear about it. (Also I shall be checking out BoardGameGeek.com)

 

Tuesday I began a game of Spirit of the Century, a storytelling game of pulp action heroes! Let me just say that any game that involves crazy scientists with explosives (note: they were not the enemy!), and fighting ninjas on a train in 192- is 100% supreme in my book. The game play may be podcast, and I apologize in advance for my own voice and annoying (to me) laughter. But I do not apologize for picking on Chance Random, the Improbable Man With The Strange Arm Of Living Wood That He Inexplicably Got From Mysterious Druids Under Cardiff* Being a woman of [mad botanical] science (in this game, especially), that bothers me to pieces. The next time we play won’t be until April, but I’ll be working on my maniacal laugh.

 *Perhaps that is not his official title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Quest for Immortality… in Houseplants

I am plagued with very little natural light at home and very little natural light at work, so, through a many-years-long series of trial-and-error experiments, none of which were mad. NONE OF WHICH WERE MAD I TELL YOU.  I have divined a very VERY short list of the Absolutely Impossible to Kill NIGH-IMMORTAL HOUSEPLANTS.

 

Croton – this is a lovely plant that often has shades of red and yellow on the leaves.
Not to be confused with cubes of crunchy bread, or Cybermen. I can’t say much about it, but there was one that my mother got in a get well arrangement that hung around for months and months with very little care, so I expect they fall into the category of “thrives on neglect”.

 

ZZ Plant – it looks like a Cycad but it isn’t! I named mine Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander for obvious reasons (and also I name most of my plants after wizards. My [not very healthy] Hawthoria is named Howl.). Ok I’ll get botanical for a second.I really like Cycads, ever since I read The Island of the Colorblind by Oliver Sacks. So I sort of wanted a cycad. This is, as I said, not a cycad, but it is called ZZ which stands for Zamioculcas zamiifolia because it has leaves (foliage) that look so much like a Cycad of the genus Zamia – hence “zamiifolia“. And that’s how you decipher plant names, for the record. Anyway I give mine a good soak only once a month, and not much light, and it’s growing like gangbusters!

 

Snake Plant (also called Mother In Law’s Tongue) – several species of Sansevieria –  this thing “thrives on neglect” they say. And they are right! You can throw it in the dark corner and water it once every few months and it will probably still not die. My cat has knocked mine over twice, though, and attempted to bite the tough leaves. They also seem to have their own international society where they do… something. Most likely involving Death Eaters. I mean hey, it’s SNAKE PLANTS.

 

Dumb Cane – Dieffenbachia –  this one is so easy to grow you often see it in offices/get-well-soon planters. But don’t eat it! This one’s poisonous in a particularly painful way. Did you see the disgusting episode (or two) of House where the guy’s tongue was all swollen? Yeah don’t eat this. It has Calcium Oxalate crystals in it that form needle-like crystals right into the moisture in the tongue (throat, etc.). So does skunk cabbage and just about anything in Araceae. Don’t eat any of them. But I’m probably the only one around here that sticks wild plants in my mouth so I’m preaching to the choir. Since it is an arum it has flowers that look “like calla lilies”, with a spathe in the middle, and the ones in the office here have little red berries. Don’t eat those either.

 

Dracaena – these come in many forms and so I can’t tell you how to identify one, exactly. But some other person with a lot of time on his or her hands made a whole domain dedicated to them and so I shall link you.

 

All of these plants are easy to find anywhere from a nursery, to a hardware store, to a WalMart. So if you have no green in your thumb, take heart – some plants will grow anyway!

 

NOTE: If you Google “#1 houseplant” you will get Golden Pothos (Devil’s Ivy).

This is, in fact, living in my cubicle right now, but it isn’t mine – it’s the company’s plant. It was invading my cube so I cut a bunch off and made it into a “laurel wreath” to put on the IT guy’s head yesterday. So I will say it’s certainly another good, healthy plant, but I haven’t raised any myself to know how to care for it.

 

 

Steampunk Artisans, Inspirations, Resources [EDiT]

Oh! And just to plug the two other sites I know that use the Aspire WordPress template…
(And both are neat sites!)
http://steampunkspectacular.com and

http://steampunkwallpaper.com (great images! I’m using one right now!)
I’m not going to bother to explain what the Steampunk genre is all about this time.
Feel free to check out the Wikipedia entry. But what enthralls me about it, is the beautiful combination of craftsmanship, technology, history, magic, sci-fi… wow! No wonder it’s growing!
I want to do more in this style myself!

Steam-type Dragon by Rachel Ross
Steam-type Dragon by Rachel Ross
Now, to start linking to people.
Four folks on deviantART whose Steampunk stylings really inspire me:


Porkshanks also on Etsy.
Earthenwood Studio also http://www.earthenwoodstudio.com/
Her husband is a great fantasy artist, too.
And of course, some other resources for you – these already include just about everything:

http://crabfu.com/ (even includes drawing tips )

Brass Goggles

Datamancer

And don’t forget

Girl Genius comic! (I am so frustrated, I can’t find my copy of Volume 5)

Finally, PMOG is a free browser-based Steam-stylized game (only for Firefox)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meta

I am trying to add to this blog, if not every day, a lot more often than I did in December (or else how would anyone even find it?), so pardon me if some topics are kind of weak. While we’re at it, I’m sure it’s wrong and terrible to start a blog with an apology about its contents.

Do you have a blog? And does your blog have a topic? (plug your blog in my comments!) I am afraid this one doesn’t really have a set topic; it’s usually just about something I feel like writing. It’s not quite my LiveJournal (at which I fail) or NaNoWriMo, but I am trying to write more, until it is somewhat a habit. I should see if Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing podcast says anything about how to write engaging blog posts.

I, Rachel Ross, sole author of Glimmerville.com, give you, dear reader, permission to SKIP this blog whenever you want, because I’m pretty bad about reading other people’s blogs. Stick it in your Google Reader or any other convenient RSS aggregator, and if the headline appeals to you by all means read it. But if it doesn’t I promise not to be mad at you for not reading it. There isn’t a single blog out there that I read every entry to.

But I don’t know much about crafting blog entries.

So I thought I’d check out a few lists of tips by people who do.

 

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/40-ways-to-deliver-killer-blog-content/

http://www.jackhumphrey.com/fridaytrafficreport/the-quillo-method-to-creating-killer-blog-content/

http://website101.com/RSS-Blogs-Blogging/blog-writing-tips.html

http://www.dailyblogtips.com/

http://www.instigatorblog.com/5-blog-writing-tips-to-get-more-comments/2006/10/04/

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2006/02/12/writing-tips-for-non-writers-who-dont-want-to-work-at-writing/

http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2007/05/07/best-blog-basket-101-ways-to-create-original-blog-post-content/

Now I’m off to take notes on these myself!
I’m sure this blog post violates all the principles of a good blog.

Also check out this authoring software:
http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter.html

 

Nouveau

Author’s Note: I tell you right now I am too lazy to put accents in every time I type the word “Faberge” so just imagine them.

 

I love the works of Mucha, Lalique, Faberge, Tiffany… I just got back from the Artistic Luxury exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art (going through January 18 – hurry, if you want to see it! Next it moves to San Francisco, I believe.)

That exhibit was worth every penny! Never since 1900 have the works of Lalique, Faberge and Tiffany been together like that. It was jaw-dropping to see so many gold, diamond and platinum encrusted items.

My folks went too, and my mom would have liked to walk out with the House of Faberge Snowflake Brooch  (c. 1900, diamonds, platinum) as did so many other people there. It was one of the most appealing items and so images of this brooch were on the signs advertising the exhibit. We were curious exactly how many carats were in that brooch (and other things), but museum cases don’t list details like that. Probably so fewer people are tempted.

 

Another amazing thing in the display was the “Adams Vase”. It was on loan from the Metropolitan Museum so I will send you to their page  (it has the information, and close up photos – for some reason we weren’t allowed quite that close to the 23 lbs of gold and gemstones).

 

But what I love is not the material, but the form! The organic whiplash curves, the suggestions of feminine shapes, the naturalistic leaves and blossoms, the snakes and herons, the butterflies, bats, frogs, wasps! Nature re-imagined.

 

If you are looking for references to make your own Art Nouveau-inspired designs, I highly recommend looking for the economical books by Dover press. Dover prints many books, most of which contain copyright free art you can even use as clip-art. Here (But when I bought them, they didn’t come with fancy-shmancy CD ROMs of the art) and Here  and of course Amazon (Hmm I just saw a book I don’t have. Oh the pitfalls of browsing the web! Uh…well now my cart has about three things in it…)

 

Another great Art Nouveau resource is this online exhibit from the National Gallery of Art. This site contains an “audio tour” of 18 beautiful pieces. It also shows a timeline of the Art Nouveau movement, which really only spans about 15 years.

 

Finally, here are some links to information on specific artists.


Alfons (Alphonse) Mucha

http://www.goodart.org/artofam.htm

http://www.muchafoundation.org/MHome.aspx

http://www.mucha.cz/

 

Rene Lalique

http://www.renelalique.com/

http://www.collectics.com/education_lalique.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/tips/lalique.html

 

House of Faberge

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Faberg%C3%A9

http://www.pbs.org/treasuresoftheworld/a_nav/faberge_nav/main_fabfrm.html

http://sxuhero.com/faberge/

 

Louis Comfort Tiffany

http://www.metmuseum.org/explore/tiffany/menu.html

http://www.jlsloan.com/lct1.htm (interesting article about rivalry with John La Farge)
http://www.queensmuseum.org/exhibitions/tiffany.htm

 

But before I attempt to name EVERY Art Nouveau artist, just check out this list that good volunteers at Wikipedia already compiled: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Art_Nouveau (I tried not to link you to Wikipedia over and over, but I couldn’t help this one.)

 

 

When I got home I started bidding on Lalique perfume bottles on ebay. Keep your fingers crossed!

 

Edit: Just swept to remove “Fabrege”.