About my stencil hobby.

My second attempt, after this photo I made some corrections.

I really need to dedicate more time to some of my “hands on” hobbies, I love stencil and lettering so these days I watch a lot of streams of painters on Twich just to have some tips and ideas how to deal with my own creative craft.
When I started drawing on jackets, it was mostly because I wanted unique designs, everyone likes to have unique pieces that show their own character, so that was my way of having cool stuff on the cheap.

My main problem with painting clothes is my love for black and dark blue colors, most paints need a lot of layers and the ones that don’t need it are expensive as hell.
I want to try stencil with bleach on black and color the bleached areas after.
Got some cool ideas for T-shirts besides the typical nerdy things that is.

I suck at drawing but I have no problems with stencil or copying line art, I got a fairly strong hand and when I was a kid my favorite thing was to copy layouts of warplanes from books and magazines so I could paint them after.
Thanks to that, I don’t have problems working with stencil on my clothes but I still want to learn new refined skills from painters I enjoy. Some of their techniques can be brought from the digital realm in to the stencil crafts, specially the way the mix colors and use shadows.

I don’t plan in doing stencil craft tutorials mostly because there are tons of material in Youtube already, but I might show some step by step or just works in progress as I make my T-shirts. Painting jackets is expensive not only because one needs to have a denim jacket around but also because denim requires a lot of paint if you want a nice work.
T-shirt on the other hand only require a pre-washed cotton base and I can buy them for 5 or 8€, so it’s really the best medium to work on if one wants to practice stencil.

Sorry for the rant but I just wanted to share what was on my mind, in a way it’s normal that I want to return to the “hands on” crafts because I do miss the days I worked in actually creating something that would endure time and leave a legacy to future generations, my current job is nothing like and that makes me sad.

Improving self-taught English.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

First of all I should say there isn’t a silver bullet to solve all problems one must face to learn beyond the basic English. Save yourself a boring reading if you are looking for that on this post.
To master and learn a language is no easy task and I admit both my Portuguese and English could be way better if my education was higher and the environment where I was born nurtured it from the very beginning.

When I was younger I hated school with all my heart, so much that after the basic required by my country I went to work for my father. My first job required a “hands on” skill learning and no need for language skills.
Sure that I was well paid for doing my job after I mastered it, but I should have continued school and was dumb for not doing so, because my English and Portuguese could be way better right now.
So without much options and with a new full-time job, I had the need to at least improve my English because it was a important skill at my new work, thus I started to learn English and I continue to this day.

I’m not the best example of a student. I’m lazy as hell, my grammar sucks, the structure of my writing is wrong most of the time, even so I keep going because one day I’ll be a better writer.
There is a Russian artist by the nickname Dzikawa that often says on her Twitch streams “Just Do it!”, besides referring to a fun viral video of Shia LaBeouf screaming “Just do it” at full lung power, she is also saying that people should try and try again until their practice becomes second nature. I agree with this because even an old dog like me can learn a trick or two with enough practice.

I already wrote on my blog how I buy things on eBay, in fact I also use it to find good English books to use as reference when I’m writing for this blog.
For example anything by Oxford is good, The Times style and usage guide book is a must have even if a bit impractical.
Just avoid any legalese related books unless you are a lawyer or want to be one!

If possible read in English whenever you can. My writing skills developed after reading a lot of English novels and biographies.
You’ll start to be aware of little details and even correcting some things that seem a bit off or strange when you read them out loud.
Always read stuff you truly enjoy, because that way you’ll have a reason to push your studies forward.
Don’t like reading books or magazines?
Read websites, blogs and go to chat rooms where English language natives hang around.

Disable subtitles on movies and series and above all don’t hear dubbed stuff, to learn English one needs to know the spoken language and translate it in real time, the best way to do it besides movies/series is to practice with real people, in that regard I’m lucky because I got a job which allows me to practice all the time.
Most cities have workshops and groups of people who gather to help and learn new languages, so it might be a good starting point if one isn’t shy.
Having friends abroad is also a good way to improve both spoken and written English, you will be forced to reach out and understand them.

Last but also important, if you are European you will probably learn British English at school but be exposed to American movies and series. Nothing can be done to avoid this so speedway/motorway, color and colour between many other options will have to be dealt sooner or later if you want to write in English. Choose a country and stick with it.

On a last thought about this subject, English teachers are the best ones to correct and point you on the right path, cherish them.
Learning alone is boring so find someone to write to and practice with if possible.

Communities and sellers.

tumblr_inline_mlaiu3hvfk1qz4rgpOne of these days I was visiting a Brazilian headphone community at Facebook when someone asked if his motherboard was compatible with a pair of headphones and if he needed a external DAC.
Now, this is normal on that community thus I went and read some of the replies until my eyes gazed at so much bullshit that I had to reply to the apparent intelligent user who wrote it.

His reply to the question was something along the lines of telling the person to change the power cord of the PSU and also change the SATA cable for a special audio one, he followed all of this bullshit by giving a link to a very known Brazilian audiophile community that has some really nice members but also a lot of pseudo-science bullshit. Sadly this link was of the last type.

My reply was simple, all elements inside a computer case are made to tolerate a lot of interference, if that wasn’t the case CPUs would not process data, power cables are important for their amperage and will not change the audio or affect the DACs of the motherboard. SATA cables are made for data not audio, and adhere to specifications which are on paper.

Things went down hill from there, after the guy laughed at my reply I dismissed him as the typical audiophile which believes in voodoo and went my way.
That was until someone in the group told me he was a seller of audiophile gear, after a fast Google search I found his site and BEHOLD, he sold very expensive audiophile cables, with prices high enough for me to raise my eyebrow.

I was looking at a snake oil seller, just my luck. Everybody knows I love them!
I went back and told everyone that I didn’t know the guy was a seller and that I would have not interact with him had I known it beforehand. I avoid this type of people like the plague because they go against everything the audiophile hobby represents.
Anyway, another group member called him out as a charlatan and the seller actually left the community after that.
I must admit I had a little fun with his departure comment and shown him the way out, just like a good internet gentleman. Maybe I was a bit out of line but I hate snake oil sellers.
To be sincere the guy could have stayed because nobody would have cared anyway.

Now I’m sure this was not the last time a seller tried to sneak in to a community to guide future costumers. A nudge there, a push right or left and voila new primed costumer in the horizon.
I believe people who sell or are related to manufacture companies should always disclose where they work before interacting in a community.
In this case the seller could have put a visible link to his site on his Facebook profile but he didn’t do it. Clearly the idea is to sweet talk less informed people in to believing bullshit.

This is another fine example why one should be careful with reviews, opinion makers and hype. Bullshit is just around the corner and it will jump at you when you least expect it.

Spotify, so I was wrong.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

A little disclaimer, I’m not being paid by Spotify or have any kind of commercial deal with them, I pay my subscriptions from my pocket.

I love the physical medium, after all I still avidly collect CDs and already shared that I think streaming services hurt the music industry in the long run.
After some heavy resistance I subscribed to Spotify Premium, even if it goes against some preconceived opinions I got about streaming services, stuff like:
1. I’ll never ever own the music.
2. Streaming wastes my smartphone data plan if I’m not careful.
3. Artists are not paid enough by Spotify.
4. Subscription services make music disposable.

To the above I had to consider after some resistance:
1. I also watch YouTube and will never own that content.
2. Ok, at least in Premium one can download the songs to hear later and that’s a nice touch to save my short data plan.
3. I’m sure it surely beats having their music downloaded for free on the internet.
4. Well, if you love music it will never be disposable.

So why the hell did I start using Spotify Premium after all?
– The free option sucks hard if you enjoy choosing the music you want to hear. It’s ok if you need a radio like option. Premium is the way to go if you want to control the music.
– The quality is way better in Premium, I’m an audio enthusiast after all.
– I don’t need to change CDs to put some music for my kids, choosing music was never so easy and my kids love it. 5 hours of Disney songs…just press play.
– I got a stand alone application for Linux, thus I don’t need to store music on the tiny SSDs my laptops use.
– It’s possible to use a smartphone to control what other device plays from any place in the world thus making Spotify Premium the best remote control in the world.
– It’s a fun way of knowing about new artists.

Less attractive things.
– Some albums are not available.
– Some artists still refuse to let Spotify stream their stuff, and I totally respect that.
– It’s a service so it can change prices or even be terminated.

Again I don’t make money from saying good things about Spotify, I just think it’s a really cool way to enjoy music without too much work from the end user.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my CD and Lossless collection but sometimes I just need to have some music handy without too much worry about changing CDs.
As a plus it sure beats using Youtube.

And so it begins…update on the desktop.

By Cephas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Some days ago I wrote that I would build another desktop computer, so today I updated that post to reflect some unforeseen changes, specially the compatibility with the RAM which seems to be an issue with some motherboards, including mine.

The update was also necessary because I  have purchased most of the base of the system, the final piece will be the Ryzen CPU.
Sure I still have some money to spend in the GPU, RAM, PSU and SSD but those can wait a little.

Some lose thoughts about the build:
The CPU had some strange problems with Linux, AMD is now solving some of the shitstorm with some microcode patches and whatnot.
I might be biased because I’m gonna buy one, but the AMD Ryzen is one hell of a CPU, seems Intel finally moved their ass and started fighting back, the CPU wars are back and I like it!

The DDR4 RAM support for the Ryzen is a mess, I had to actually buy HyperX because there is so much conflicting information around the forums and DIY community, looks like if you buy a RAM module which isn’t approved by the manufacture company your chances of getting a no go at boot are very high, add that to the Ryzen picky nature when overclocking and it’s a pain for DIYers.

I love videogames, I don’t consider myself a hardcore gamer because I don’t spend hours gaming every day, but I do love to play my stuff specially RPGs like the Witcher and Elder Scrolls series.
The problem of having a decent CPU is that you really need a decent GPU to come in to the fray when you want your videogame fix.
Right now the AMD GPUs are out of the question, even if I like them very much.
NVIDIA has better support for Linux and I use Linux for everything besides gaming so this is KO even before the match starts. I’m now considering the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1060 by Gigabyte and Asus, both present a bottleneck when paired with the Ryzen CPU I intend to buy.

In terms of storage I need a SSD for Windows 10 but I’m still on the edge if I should go M.2 or SATA, I’ll research a bit more first.

On a nerdy note I have a name for the desktop, it will be called Blackbird because I love both the bird and airplane. Deal with it I’m a nerd…