Archive for February, 2012

Rap Battle

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

(Skip to minute 4:00 for the best example that smart kids are cool too.)

For those of you lucky enough to be in DuPont this evening you will have the chance to hear me rap too.

A key part of the A-MC-X radio show or any radio show are their commercials like the Super Bow(els). To keep things fresh on A-MC-X we are honoring our Alan Levine with a rap promoting his work and DS106.

First, we needed to find words that rhymed with Levine (at least he is not named orange). Here is our first list:

automatic teller machine

This proved two things: 1) I am not Dirt Mcgirt 2) The online rhyming dictionary is a blessing. Though, I did try to find a way to include automatic teller machine in our rap.

Here is a small preview:

Mr. Alan Levine the DS machine,

He is steppin’ out into da scene,

Later tonight we will be pairing my rap with the glorious Annie Belle’s beat boxing. It’s only day three but already we have a commercial. Slowly, Slowly, A-MC-X is weaving together an awesome radio show!



I present to you the final cut of a rap battle beat down.


Raging Bull Radio

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

This week I wanted to challenge myself with this awesome assignment for DS106 radio which turns a movie into a good radio show. In essence, my goal was to transform a movie’s soundtrack (music, dialogue, sound effects) into a condensed abstract version of the film. Ever since I read the details of this assignment I have been eager to tackle Martin Scorsese’s film Raging Bull.


The Process:

At first, I tried to learn how to rip audio from a video. After watching several tutorial and playing around with iMovie for far too long, I admitted defeat.

Next, I found high quality recordings of the film and used my computer’s internal recorder to capture the audio. I did struggle with trying to reduce the horrendous feedback noise. I succeed in mitigating some of the feedback but not all of it- whatever. After a few tedious hours I had all of the audio I needed.

My goal was to capture the artist feel of the film, and the contradictions of the main character, Jake LaMotte’s identity . For those of you who have not seen this film 1) shame on you 2) it will change your perspective on Robert De Niro’s skillz as an actor (damn you Meet the Parents).

Jake LaMotte is a famous boxer that is emotionally self-destructive. He is violent with a hot temper, which makes him successful in the ring but destroys his life outside of the ring.

A key element I wanted to focus on what the role of Cavalleria Rusticana’s song Intermezzo in the film. This song is played throughout the film and is implemented during high emotional moments.

Overall, if you have seen the film then the narrative will remind you of different aspects of film, however, if you have not then you might be a little confused, all the more reason to finally go and see this film!

So without further to do- Raging Bull in four minutes:

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&show_artwork=true&color=ff7700″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

A Week in Review: TDC

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Monday: Unusual Food






Tuesday: Toys                                                        Wednesday: Our Youth








Thursday: Birds                                                                  Friday: Re-Art








Saturday: Prized Possession                                   Sunday: Former Jobs








And that’s a wrap for more detail check out my Flickr account!



I Read Birds

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Here is my take on the I Can Read assignment. I created a cover of the first horror movie I ever saw, The Birds. If you haven’t seen the film it’s an Alfred Hitchcock classic about a costal town in California being attacked by ordinary birds-not birds of prey.







Melanie: Have you ever seen so many gulls? What do you suppose it is?

Mrs. MacGruder: Well, there must be a storm at sea. That can drive them inland, you know.


The cover captures the theme of the movie that thousands of birds are always chillin’ everywhere. The sheer number of the birds makes this film eerie and unsettling.

The Process

I mimicked the format of Spacesick’s design. First, I uploaded one of his designs in GIMP, and cut out his work. I was left with a clean slate. Next, I found the bird icon in the NounProject. I used the cloning tool to stamp out each bird. Then I painted each bird with the paint bucket.

It was an easy process but it was time consuming. If I had the time I would create a different design, but instead I used my free time to fiddle with the minimalist poster (see yesterday’s post).

Dead Man’s Chest Movie Poster

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

I’ll be honest: I don’t know much about graphic art. I’ve seen it. I’ve spent a lot time wandering the rooms of the MoMa looking pensive, and ds106 is currently producing a lot of hot art. But nothing has made me appreciate graphic art more than designing a minimalist movie poster.

With this assignment I wanted to experiment with texture and shape. It took me a while to figure out what movie I wanted to do, but I finally settled on the Pirates’ movie Dead Man’s Chest. Second, I needed to watch the movie again (very necessary). While I was watching the film, I was drawn to the character Jack Sparrow’s face painting as the Cannibal King.

It is a key scene to the film. The character Jack Sparrow is found on a remote island but is in a bit of a tight spot. This plot twist means that the character Will Turner (Orlando) must not only escape from the island himself but must also rescue Jack from the Cannibals.

The Design

I wanted to poster to look like a ghostly pirate treasure map. First, I search for an image in The Google for a photo of tea stained paper. I found one easily and downloaded the imaged into GIMP.

Next, I found an icon of an eye in the NounProject. In GIMP I altered the color of the eyes from black to brown. Next, I needed to draw the lines. In order to draw straight lines in GIMP select the paint brush tool, hold down shift key, and click the spot where you want to line to end (keep holding that shift key).

Next, I added the text to the poster. Last, I uploaded the image to Picnik in order to alter the tint of the color. I added a green color filter to achieve to the ghostly effect.

The Results

DS106 has produced a lot of fantastic designs for this assignment. Some examples can to found here, here and here. I did fret for a long time trying to get the lines in the design to be perfectly symmetrical. There are close, but not perfect. Overall, I am pleased with my work.

Iconic MC

Friday, February 17th, 2012

To quote another DS106 pioneer, I spent entirely too much time on this assignment. In fact, I created several different potential icons for myself, but I was never fully satisfied with any outcome. I can’t even say that I am fully pleased with this outcome, but at some point you have to concede the fight.

It is incredibly difficult to summarize oneself let alone into a singular image. However, I like to identify myself as an MC. Not only is it my name but also I like the idea of poking fun at the notion of being a Mic Controller.

The Process

I found the icon of the two speech bubbles on the NounProject. In GIMP, I used the magical lasso and selected the conjoined speech bubbles. I experimented with different fonts in different colors until I settled on the teal color. It was that easy and it was that hard.

1 Narrative/ 4 Small Icons

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

I have some news. I am in love. With the NounProject. It is a fantastic site full of simple yet dynamic icons that are for public use. It has inspired me to start designing my own icons but my roommate likes to remind me that I still have real homework pending.

So, I indulge myself with ds106 ‘homework.’ I became fascinated with this assignment, which called for creating a narrative with only four icons. It’s a brilliant challenge!

The Clues

I focused on a movie that was iconic to my childhood, because it seemed appropriate. And no it’s not those films of wizard boy wonder. I remember this film once terrified me when I was young(er) but now I just laugh at the cheesy 80’s special effects. It’s raw adventure, and promotes that smart people can be cool too.

The Process

I wanted each icon to represent a key climatic moment in the film that followed an intuitive chronological order. Or in other words, the first icon is for the first quarter of the film, etc. Next, I hunted in NounProject’s site for a symbol that matched to what I wanted to communicate. Next I uploaded the images into Chogger, because it such an easy site to get access to neat, little boxes.


Now it’s your turn, name that movie!

Comic Wars, the Animation

Monday, February 13th, 2012


Due to other ds106 pioneers success with GIFs, I wanted to challenge myself with this assignment. It took me a while to figure out what cover I wanted to do, but I finally settled on this provocative comic cover. Honestly, I do not know anything about Marvel/DC characters or comic book history, but I loved the blood on the shield, the fierce looking characters, and the refined details of this one.

On the technical side, making the GIF was a very involved process, without too much to show for it. I am still experimenting with the tools and features in GIMP, so the technical skill behind this GIF is low. First, I need to figure out the basics to creating a GIF, while hunting in The Google I found this tutorial. The guy is a little sporadic and probably 14 but he provides a solid foundation for a basic GIF.

Next, I decided to create a modest GIF by focusing on making the shield spin. First I created a duplicate layer of the original image. Next, I cropped the shield from the second layer away from the background.


Next, I clicked on the ‘rotate’ tool (the one of the two blue squares), and rotated the image by 90 degrees.

Then, I saved the image. Next, I isolated the newly rotated shield then cut/pasted it into the original layer. Last, I dragged the rotated shield into position. I repeated this process two more times until I created four separate images with the shield in four different positions.

To learn how to save the new creation, I followed the tutorial posted above. This is where it gets tricky: embedding the GIF into WordPress. To successfully embed a GIF click on New Post -> Upload/Insert -> (select your GIF file) -> Insert. Be mindful to keep the GIF in its original size. Do not be tempted to size it down, because it will not animate in your post.

Overall, this was a simple, clean animated GIF. It also marks my journey/struggle with GIMP. Soon I aspire to make a GIF like this one, it’s the dream.

Don’t Try Too Hard

Sunday, February 12th, 2012


I have never heard of the demotivational poster meme before I saw this assignment. This assignment was easy once you found the right site like this one. My goal was to take a traditionally valued quality and turn it on its head.  

Despair, Inc. is a nifty site and is super user friendly. This site enables you to upload images straight from your computer and type into a prefab template.

I selected a photo that I took over the summer. My favorite part of ‘old school’ motivational posters were the National Geographic quality photos. They always featured a stunning shot of some type of wildlife juxtaposed with some insipid catchphrase. So instead of cliche I made it real.


Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Flickr Challenge: ‘Take a photo of a tattoo”                 I may not have any tattoos to brag about but these are my beauty marks!

The Scene of the Crime

Saturday, February 11th, 2012












Flikr Challenge: “Take a photo that emphases the human hand.


Our hands handle a lot every day, and it’s easy to forget how important they are. Especially when you are burning yourself trying to kill a kitchen fire. Then you suddenly you have a really get idea for the Daily Create Challenge.

Cat Nap

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Like the rest of ds106, I participated in the Fat Cats Make Better Art Assignment.  However, to be fair, I did start this assignment last Tuesday when fellow ds106 pioneer Annie posted it. And to be fair I never touched any photo editing software before, ever. And to be fair, just telling someone to alter layers is not actually helpful (darn you Photoshop tutorials from hell!).

Thanks to Alan, and his GIMPing Layers tutorial I was able to figure out a few of the techniques I had been struggling with, like copying and pasting the cat straight onto the original art work. It was so easy and yet soooo difficult.

The Process:

I did cheat and uploaded the image to Picnik first. I needed to resize the image smaller so it would not look like Cat Godzilla napping on some girl’s poor back. Next, I added the ‘Dots and Dots’ filter in order to make the cat look more like an oil painting and less like a digital photo (which it is). I am sure Gimp has these tools too, but I already sent days playing with the program and I just needed to admit defeat.

On Gimp, I used the magical lasso to cut out just the cat’s head, front paws, and a portion of its back. Next, I click on Select -> INvert -> and then Cut. Then like magic the background and the rest of cat disappeared!

Since I already manipulated the image of the cat in Picnik I only needed to move him into the perfect spot. Then Bam! Fat cat takes a nap on art.

Overall, this is not one of the more successful conceptualization of this assignment. Some example of really cool fat cat art can be found here, here and here. And I cheated too. However, completing this assignment marks my triumph over a long struggle with Gimp. So there.

It Wasn’t Funny at the Time

Friday, February 10th, 2012

This is my version of the Comic Book Effect! I jumped on the bandwagon and I thought I would give this assignment a spin.

The Process:

First, I went into Picnik and used the ‘Dots and Dots’ filter to achieve the comic book pixel effect. Next, I altered the exposure by 30% to create the distinct comic book coloring.

Next, I uploaded my photo onto Chogger to add the two speech bubbles. There might be a better site for this aspect of the project but it’s the site I know best. In Chogger, you have four basic speech bubble options, but you can manipulate and distort each one until you have achieved your desired effect.

Last, as I mentioned in my previous post, there is no explicit embed option on the Chogger site but you can just grab the image straight from the site.

This is a fun, easy assignment and I recommend that everyone give this assignment a try!

False Hope…

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Flikr Challenge: “Take a photo that represents confusion

Walking home from work today and saw these beauties out and blooming! Seems like someone is a little confused as to what month it is!


The Daily Challenge: Blog Post Style

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I have decided that the widget was no longer an effective tool for the TDC, so I’m starting the blogz now. All of my past TDC can be found under the menu option labeled ‘DS106’. word.

Today’s Challenge calls for a photo that represents something you aspire to do or be. Let’s be honest, I’m a college kid, that answer is far to big and real for me right now. However, I do have one, small, and reasonable aspiration…. I want my motherf&#$% Peace Lily to bloom again. That’s all I ask. But that dang thing has not bloomed again since the day I bought her. It’s not fair. I nurture her like a child and instead I have a plant suffering from fertilizer burns sans blooms.

Also, I did cheat and use an old photo, but I wanted to share with you the goal, the dream.

Don’t Call Me a Hipster!

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

The goal of this assignment was to recreate a famous painting and give it a modern twist. Without any hesitation, I knew I was going to do this assignment on the infamous Frida Kahlo.

The Process:

I settled on Frida’s more famous self-portrait. It was clean, colorful, and spoke to the very essence of Frida. Next, I rounded up my friend Amanda to be my muse. Considering she was Frida for Halloween I knew she would not object to the unibrow.

When concerning the composition, I wanted to portray Frida as a modern American. She was political rebel, feminist, and Surrealist or in other words, a hipster. So I designed the costume to reflect what I image a person at Occupy Wall Street might look like. However, I did want to maintain the integrity of Frida’s unibrow, because it was a critical element of her identity (modern hipsters have discovered tweezers).

During the photo shoot I captured the perfect shot on my first try. But for good measure I took 10 more just in case.

On my computer I cropped the photo, so it would be a little tighter, and adjusted the exposure by 10%. All of this was accomplished in Picnik. Below is master creation!












Tuesday, February 7th, 2012



The goal of this assignment is to take a photo that can be chopped up, rearranged, and formatted to tell a story. I wanted to tell the story of two lovers (re)encountering each other.

The Process:

I took this photo while hiking on a very bright afternoon. First, I used a black and white filter to suggest a dream-like narrative. I altered the exposure on the image of the trees to create the ‘tension’ of a nightmarish state. Last, I used the cropping tool to focus on different aspects of the photo. All of this was accomplished with simple editing tools featured on iphoto.

I used the tool Chogger to achieve the comic book feel. However, finding Chogger was my biggest challenge. When I first approached this assignment I knew I want to use PikiStrips but I soon discovered that site is down. Boo PikiStrips. However, I persevered aka used the Google till I stumbled upon Chogger. This site requires you to register for an account but it is freeeeee.

After I register I clicked the green ‘Build A Comic Now’ Button.

 This brought me to its main set up page.


To add images you can either draw one into the white boxes, take a photo from your webcam, or upload a photo from you computer. I already had my altered images to use so I clicked on the ‘upload’ button. I did not like the size of the default boxes but thankfully Chogger enables you move, add, and delete boxes, so did not have to distort my images.


This is where it gets tricky. After you publish your comic its filed away into Chogger’s database of doom (think of a less organized Flikr). To find your photo again you will have to search its title. In addition, there is no explicit embed feature but you can just grab the image straight from the site.

Let me know what you think! For those of you who are curious about the original assignment, check out the ds106 site under visual assignments!







Day in the life of a DS106 student. word.

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

The above link is a comic I made after the Bryan Alexander lecture, it was a great night. Please note the cat.


I used the site Pixton . Sign-up is free ad you are given a lot of options to personalize your comic. I had a lot of fun playing with all of the different settings, and it was easy.


Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Our professors are beginning a new romance. As young people continue to use emerging technologies in their personal lives, a large number of educators are finding ways to meaningfully integrate technologies in the classroom, and are falling in love. And why shouldn’t they?

There is soo many shiny, pretty tools including blogs, Wikipedia, podcasts, Twitter, and Youboodtube. What makes these tools so compelling is the nature of communication on the web. As our friend Bryan Alexander writes, “Web 2.0 has led to an explosion of user-generated content” or as our other friend Tim O’Reilly says,  “[Web 2.0] harnesses collective intelligence.” Global interaction never felt so good.

Our infatuated friend Bryan shows us different techniques of storytelling and what makes a successful story. With the web, storytelling has expanding beyond our traditional definitions. A single photo is as rich of a story as Dickinson, and you don’t need to be Dickinson to have your story heard. The web enables us to share and create our own stories with anyone, including our professors.

Moreover, digital storytelling (hey ds106) extends beyond the classroom. This creative work provides students a foundation for what we’ll call 21st century literacy, which includes digital literacy (e.g. blogz), technological literacy (e.g. code), visual literacy, informational literacy, etc. Digital storytelling is exactly what students want to learn, because so much of what we do in ‘real world’ involves these skills. The situation is analogous to the education shift to using software programs in the classroom back in the mid-90’s.

Now we just need more professors to get bit by this love bug.