Displaying 1 - 5 of 24 entries.

GNU Mediagoblin Wedding – Hardware

  • Posted on August 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

The Issue

Earlier I mentioned getting married. One thing I neglected to say was that it was only the legal end of things. Our actual ceremony is coming up later in the year. As my wedding approaches I’ve been working on all the little logistical details that will make it go smoothly.

Since we decided against hiring a professional photographer we knew we needed some alternative to document the occasion. I’ve done wedding photography before and because of this experience I pitched the idea of crowd-sourcing our photography to my partner. She agreed with me and so we proceeded with that as our plan. Since then I’ve had a nagging desire to help make that process a more effective one.

Collaborating with my guests to get the pictures that they took could potentially be a very time consuming activity. At worst it could result in scores of burned CDs full of pictures that we’d have to sort and load onto our computers. That is when I remembered my work with the GNU Mediagoblin project. Mediagoblin, as a media sharing service, could readily help us gather and organize our wedding photos. It would even be able to accept video uploads thanks to Mediagoblin’s breadth of functionality.

I then set out to make a setup that would allow guests at our wedding to upload their photos or videos while they were at our reception. In the end my partner and I would walk away from our wedding with a large collection of photos and videos to commemorate the event.

The Solution

Tentative setup (forgive the cable mess)

Tentative setup (forgive the cable mess)

In this post I’ll be detailing the hardware I’m planning on using to make this project work. In a later post, once I’ve done more development, I’ll detail the specific additions to the software that will enable this all to work smoothly.

The only things I am not sure about hardware-wise is whether or not I want to physically secure all of these devices to something and what that something might be. If you have an idea of how I could do this feel free to post about it in the comments. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Raspberry Pi

Brains of the operation

Brains of the operation

The Raspberry Pi will be acting as the brains of the operation. It will be running a derivative of Debian GNU/Linux called Raspbian and will host the GNU Mediagoblin instance where all the photos and videos will be uploaded. It will be connected to a 1TB external hard drive (powered by its own separate wall-wart).

Linksys WRT54GL Router

Wi-Fi access point for mobile uploads

Wi-Fi access point for mobile uploads

The router, running the open firmware DD-WRT, will allow our guests to log into the Mediagoblin instance on their smartphone or tablet via wi-fi. This will be one of the two main upload methods. In the software post I will go into detail as to the mechanisms used to allow for a smooth upload process.

Toshiba Thrive Tablet

Tablet for SD card upload

Tablet for SD card upload

The tablet will allow uploads to the Mediagoblin instance using its built-in SD card slot. I may also add a USB media card reader that supports Compact Flash and other formats. This kiosk will allow guests who bring digital cameras to upload their media easily. This will certainly have some functionality built in, possibly an Android app, that will streamline the upload process and make it more tablet friendly. Once I finish that and the GNU Mediagoblin alterations I will write my second post: GNU Mediagoblin Wedding – Software.

The only other device I would want to add to this setup is some kind of automated camera turret but I decided against it to save time.


Steam Trans* Name Change Petition

  • Posted on July 28, 2014 at 11:43 pm


A friend of mine recently started a petition on Change.org that asks Valve to allow user name changes for transgender individuals on their SteamĀ  video game platform. This is something I definitely support. For someone who is transgender (see: the American Psychological Association’s informative pamphlet) having to see their birth name creates distress in their lives due to the dysphoria they feel. It causes conflict between their gender identity and the gender identity that is being imposed on them by an external force.

This is the case for someone who happened to use their birth name as a user name when they signed up for Steam. Valve already goes one step by allowing you to change your display name,which is one of the most prominent names that shows up when Steam launches and is the public name people see, but they currently don’t allow people to change their user names.

Personally I would like all users to be able to change their user name at least once. There are those who make ill-advised name choices when they are younger and they grow to regret it. Not everyone wants to be SickKegger69 for the rest of their life. Just to be clear, though, this is nowhere near the amount of regret and distress that a trans* person would experience from having their birth name shoved in their face.

I would urge you to consider signing this petition. Hopefully Valve can find a way to implement this without causing too much trouble in the system, which I know was their stated reasoning that user name changes aren’t allowed yet.

Relaxation with Meditation and ASMR

  • Posted on July 26, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Over the last few years I’ve started to adopt some practices to help reduce the impact of stress in my life. One such practice is daily meditation. I had meditated occasionally in the past but it wasn’t until I attended a meditation group with my partner a few years ago that I started to make it a more routine practice.

Two of the tools that helped me expand my practice were the books Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki. They helped me explore both mindfulness and Zen meditation styles. But even with all those resources I sometimes sought out guided meditation videos on Youtube to help me relax. It was through this searching, combined with a short-lived interest in binaural beats, that I came across the following video by Youtuber Ephemeral Rift.

That was my first experience with the phenomena known as ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). I had experienced it many times before then but I didn’t have a name for it. It was the relaxing, pleasant tingling sensation I’d feel in my scalp whenever someone was paying close personal attention to me, such as going to the hair stylist or seeing a dentist, as long as no drills were involved.

The idea that a simple Youtube video could have such a profound relaxing effect was amazing. How it worked was simple even: certain sounds, when listened to with both ears, or binaurally which is why I found it in the first place, can trigger ASMR. My list turned out to contain triggers such as whispering, crinkling, water being sprayed, and hair being brushed to name a few.

There have been a few psychological studies to study this phenomena, some of which I have participated in. If you want more info on one such study you can click on the ASMR link above to an ASMR research site or you can check out this ASMR research Facebook group. I’m looking forward to reading some of the theories regarding this phenomena and its potential social origins.

Publishing and Free Culture Licensing Revisited

  • Posted on July 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Nine months ago I posted an article about Free Culture and self-publishing and as I get closer to the final draft of one of my novels I find myself reexamining the proposal I made back then. Should I self-publish and should that creative work be published under a free culture license, such as the CC-BY-SA license that I use for this blog?

My situation has changed since then: I got married and move back to Wisconsin with my partner to support her during her last year of graduate school for her counseling degree. To best help her I need to have a steady income which creates most of the conflict when deciding what route to publish my novel. While I could certainly get a job in IT, given my background and education, there is a certain joy in the prospect of being able to earn a living based on my creative works.

I have many other works including several more novels, a visual novel, a complex programming project, and a video game on my to-do list which could readily provide the much needed financial support. However, in the interests of getting them done in a timely manner I’ve limited myself to only doing major work on one project at a time which leaves me with my novel. The question is: can I self-publish my novel under a free license and still earn a livable wage?

That was my question at first but I quickly realized that it wasn’t what I was really getting at because the simple answer to the question is: yes, you can, people have done so in the past. It then becomes a question of comfort: am I comfortable releasing my work in hopes that I will get paid for it while putting the entire task of promoting it on myself? Would I feel more comfortable trying to get my novel published traditionally, at least initially?

I should be posting information about my new novel, “Stonewall Rising” within a few months. It all depends on if I can finish this draft and prepare cover art before my wedding.

The thing that makes a CC-BY-SA license so powerful for my work is also the thing that terrifies me the most: it makes my work inherently free (as in gratis). In doing so it makes it legal to share it with anyone and everyone which has the potential of creating a wider readership. It also could mean that I could earn nothing at all from my work.

Reading Rainbow

  • Posted on June 1, 2014 at 9:55 am

About a year ago I posted about coming out of depression and rediscovering my feelings. Embedded in that story was a remix of some of the old Reading Rainbow episodes that I used watch when I was a younger. I remember sitting around a TV in my school’s library with my entire class so we could watch Reading Rainbow together. It helped break up the monotony of the day and most certainly lead to my increased interest in books.

Now LeVar Burton and his team are working to bring the collection of Reading Rainbow books and digital field trips onto the web with help from backers on Kickstarter. Within one day they quickly obtained their goal of $1,000,000 that will allow them to create this web resource and bring a specialized version into over 1,500 classrooms. Now they’re edging ever closer to their next goal, $5,000,000, which will allow them to reach 7,500 classrooms and create apps for iOS, Android, gaming consoles, and set-top boxes so that they can reach a wider audience. Reading Rainbow, Mr Roger’s Neighborhood, and many other PBS television shows helped me to explore and learn as I was growing up but as they point out in their Kickstarter, the world is changing. Television is no longer the best way to engage with today’s children.

I look forward to seeing how their Kickstarter campaign progresses. Equipping future generations with the tools needed to increase their literacy and engagement with books is certainly something I can get behind. If you haven’t pledged to the campaign yet, I’d urge you to take a look.