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.

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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.

And so it begins…update on the desktop.

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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…

Audiophile power conditioners.

voltsGiving 5oo€ for a audiophile power conditioner sounds crazy but depending on the tech inside it might actually help prolong the lifetime of your Hi-Fi gear. Yes, I actually wrote that and I’m not joking.
Archimago’s blog has a great objective test and review about a power conditioner from a very reputable brand called Belkin.
Belkin unlike some audiophile brands actually has some pretty amazing engineering behind their surge protectors and power conditioners.

Sadly its not always the case with audiophile brands, often selling their so called filters and cheap surge protectors inside glamorized power strips.
Anyone with a little knowledge about electricity will notice the ripoff on the components and so called tech. I had the sad vision of a so called power conditioner selling for 5oo€ that had a very minimalist construction, so minimal that my Lidl brand surge protector power strip might have more engineering inside.

Audiophiles will buy that kind of gear and expect better sound because the power line is being filtered, but the gear in question is so basic any DIY enthusiast can actually build something similar from way less money and do a better job at filtering and surge protection. I won’t point fingers at bad brands because I don’t want any legal problems but I advise anyone who really needs a solid power conditioner to search for reputable brands like Belkin or APC.

I also advise anyone who doesn’t have a surge protector to buy one for their sensitive gear, I might actually save the day, specially during thunderstorms.

Raspberry pi + Wolfson Audio Card project.

 

So I finally finished my Raspberry pi + Wolfson Audio Card project.

Yea, I was lazy….anyway I now can play 24-bit, 192KHz lossless audio on my rig and there’s no need for a power hungry computer.

The Pi box is behind the TFT, its a simple black box similar with the one with a wood front in the photo. HDD is next to the decks and yea I’m gonna disconnect the blue LED ou cover up that light.
I did a little overclock to the CPU but nothing too serious, heat dissipation is enough and the box has an open back.
I also have a little hub to connect the keyboard and mouse.

Software wise the Wolfson cards suck…most distros out there aren’t compatible with it.
It runs the OS image provided by the amazing Ragnar Jensen.

As for playing music, it does sound nice and there aren’t dropouts or noticeable hum.
Anyway I’ll put a decent keyboard on the thing when I can.

On a final notice, stay away from this board as it doesn’t have decent support.
There are better things out there these days.