I was never a big fan of writing. I’m a very stereotypical nerd/engineer in that respect as I always struggled to get my thoughts down on paper, especially when I was told I wasn’t elaborating enough. I became frustrated with the arbitrary word counts as everything I needed to say could be summed up in a couple paragraphs and struggled with gathering supporting arguments. It got easier when I started writing documentation professionally, since all you really need there are the facts, but I only really started to enjoy writing about 6 months after I started this blog when I started to force myself to punch out at least 1 post per weekday.
I’ll be honest with you though, I still struggled with the basics for quite a while. Back then inspiration was a lot easier to come across than it was today (thanks to me not having a massive back catalogue of stuff I’ve already written about) but writing anything more than 500 words was a complete chore as the engineer in me yelled continually that anything more was just me waffling on. Over time however I came to realise just how to trigger that part of my brain that knows how to break down a subject into several key points that I can then turn into a paragraph each and now I routinely find myself writing 1000~2000 word posts on things that I’m passionate about.
Of course the small bit of recognition I get amongst my friends and peers for my various musings here go a long way to keeping me coming back to continue writing. It’s why whenever I hear about a friend starting up a blog I’ll link to them, subscribe to their blog and comment on their posts as I know how hard it is when you’re first starting out. I was shouting into the darkness for a good year before I got anything above what I’d classify Internet background noise so I know exactly what it can feel like to do something with seemingly no return. Of course most of the benefits don’t come from page views, but they certainly help to keep you on track to improving your writing (and hopefully other aspects of your life too).
Now I don’t necessarily recommend doing what I do exactly as whilst it’s been immensely helpful for me it’s also had the rather undesirable side effect of giving me a crazy OCD for getting a post out every day. Whilst some of my most complimented bits of writing come from the days when I have to drag inspiration kicking and screaming out of the dark reaches of my brain it would probably be a whole lot better, at least creatively, if I only wrote when the inspiration hit me. Indeed some of the best blogs I read come from those who only write when they really have to. That’s not to say that all my posts are forced out (the majority, thankfully, aren’t) but unless your goal is SEO and page views blogging or writing whenever suits you is probably the best option.
I’d also go out on a limb and say that any sort of online creative expression (whether blogging, vlogging, tweeting or whatever) will help you better yourself in some way. Of course I think some mediums are better for certain things (blogging is best for writing, of course) but giving yourself some sort of creative outlet, even if you think you aren’t that good, will do wonders for you. Sure many people already have these, especially those who make a living off their creativity, but having your own place of expression where only you are in control is definitely something worth having.
I’m not going to say that everyone in the world should blog, more that if you’re looking for a sure fire way to improve your writing and being able focus your thoughts then starting a blog might be the way to go. Plus there’s always the possibility that what you jot down will gain you an audience that will keep coming back for your musings, something that’s extremely gratifying (even the trolls, to a point). Hell if you’re worried about what people might think then just open up notepad every time you want to write something down and save the files off in some random location. Even doing that I think you’d be surprised of the improvements after a while, I know I certainly have.
3D is one of those technologies that I’m both endlessly infatuated and frustrated with. Just over a year ago I saw Avatar in 3D and for me it was the first movie ever to use the technology in a way that wasn’t gimmicky but served as a tool to enable creative expression. Cameron’s work on getting the technology to the point where he could use it as such was something to be commended but what unfortunately followed was a long stream of movies jumping on the 3D bandwagon, hoping that it would be their ticket to Avatar like success. Since then I’ve only bothered to see one other movie in 3D (Tron: Legacy) as not one other movie demonstrated their use of 3D as anything other than following the fad and utterly failing to understand the art that is 3D.
Last year was the debut of consumer level 3D devices with the initial forays being the usual TVs and 3D enabled media players. Soon afterwards we began to see the introduction of some 3D capable cameras allowing the home user to create their very own 3D movies. Industry support for the format was way ahead of the curve with media sharing sites like YouTube allowing users to view 3D clips and video editing software supporting the format long before it hit the consumer level. We even had Nintendo announce that their next generation portable would be called the 3DS and boast a glasses free 3D screen at the top. Truly 3D had hit the mainstream as anyone and everyone jumped to get in on the latest technology craze.
Indeed the 3D trend has become so pervasive that even today as I strolled through some of my RSS reader backlog I came across not one, but two articles relating to upcoming 3D products. The first is set to be the world’s first 3D smartphone, the LG Optimus 3D. It boasts both a 3D capable camera and glasses free 3D screen along with the usual smartphone specs we’ve come to expect from high end Android devices. The second was that NVIDIA’s current roadmap shows that they’re planning to develop part of their Tegra line (for tablets) with built in 3D technology. Looking over all these products I can’t help but feel that there’s really little point to having 3D on consumer devices, especially portable ones like smartphones.
3D in cinemas makes quite a lot of sense, it’s another tool in the director’s kit to express themselves when creating their movie experience. On a handset or tablet you’re not really there to be immersed in something, you’re usually consuming small bits of information for short periods. Adding 3D into that experience really doesn’t enhance the experience at all, in fact I’d dare say that it would detract from it thanks to the depth of field placing objects in a virtual space that in reality is behind the hand that’s holding it. There is the possibility that 3D will enable a new kind of user interface that’s far more intuitive to the regular user than what’s currently available but I fail to see how the addition of depth of field to a hand held device will manage to accomplish that.
I could just be romanticising 3D technology as something best left to the creative types but if the current fad is anything to go by 3D is unfortunately more often misused as a cheap play to bilk consumers for a “better” experience. Sure some of the technology improvements of the recent past can trace their roots back to 3D (hello cheap 120Hz LCD screens) but for the most part 3D is just used as an excuse to charge more for the same experience. I’ve yet to see any convincing figures on how 3D products are doing out in the market but anecdotally it’s failed to gain traction amongst those who I know. Who knows maybe the LG Optimus 3D will turn out to be something really groovy but as far as I can tell now it’s simply yet another gimmick phone that’s attempting to cash in on the current industry obsession with 3D, just like every other 3D consumer product out there.
I always feel like there’s a creative side to me that’s always struggling against my logical brain. I love creating things but when it comes to anything artistic or something that doesn’t follow a strict set of rules it seems that my internal wiring gets all crossed up and I write the whole experience off as illogical. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate good creative works, far from it. People who have the ability to create fascinate me in a way that I can’t push aside. One of the great examples I was shown recently was the YouTube celebrity Ronald Jenkees and here’s my favourite of his videos:
His story is quite amazing having only ever taken music lessons for 3 months (which didn’t work out) and prefers to just jam out on his keyboard with FL Studio providing the beat. I spent almost a whole afternoon just checking out his work and subsequently spent a couple frustrating hours on FL Studio trying to create my own tracks. I think I’m suffering from what I’ll call the IllDoc caramel problem whereby everything I do doesn’t appear to be any good since I’m listening to it for hours on end. That doesn’t stop me from thinking that I can buy my way out of the problem with more gear (I just know I’ll get good when I buy that keyboard!), but I know I’m just ogling gorgeous tech.
You may be asking yourself what the point of this post is since I’m just randomly linking to stuff I like and whining about how hard it is to be creative. Well the thing is I meant to write this post a long time ago, in fact almost 2 months ago when I got back from Turtle Island. You see whilst on the island I had revisited one of my old creative passions, photography. I initially got into this because I wanted a good camera to take with me on a trip to New Zealand with my now wife and became obsessed with DSLR technology. I set myself a budget of about $1000 and ended up with a Canon 400D and a standard lens. The next 6 months were filled with me annoying my friends and family with my new toy as well as taking a couple opportunities to try my hand at a couple artistic shoots.
So here I am pimping out some of my work again after buttering you up with some other creative people. Have a look, let me know what you think and feel free to give me any criticisms or ask questions about them. Most of these were done in the moment and are my favourites out of the bunch. If you’re crazy and want the high res versions they will be available soon in my gallery page, which I’m still working out how to set up properly (that was another reason for the long delay).
To be honest I’ve never been the most creative guy. As a child I was horrible at drawing and anything that required lateral thinking I pretty much threw by the wayside. I guess that’s why I was drawn to computers and mathematics, they’re pretty straight forward and there’s always logical steps you can follow to get to your goal. Over the past few years I’ve begun to realise my creativity in other areas, and this blog has been a wonderful outlet to express myself. It’s a strange sort of coming of age for me, since now I’m starting to encounter all those problems that my much more creative friends have talked about.
He puts the problems that I’ve faced as a late creative bloomer into perspective. Whenever I sit in front of my computer and begin to write I always have to question whether or not what I’m writing is complete trash or if the whole idea of this blog is merely a feeble grab at some Internet fame. When I first started out my little hater kept telling me that every day someone didn’t visit my blog was a sign that I was not meant to do this sort of thing. He was kept at bay for several months until recently when I logged in to see the ugly 0 there again. All that doubt came flooding back and I started to question why I was even bothering doing this in the first place.
The good news out of all of this is that the last couple weeks of spotty posts haven’t been due to me caving into my little hater. With the starting of a new job and subsequently less time to blog I’ve usually lacked the time to post consistently. I had a rythym going at my old job and I just need to find that again with my new workplace, I’m sure I’ll get the swing of it in a month. The bigger, and more important reason is that I’ve been semi-secretly working on a new web application. With my 100th post coming up I felt I should do something special and it just so happened that I was planning to do a 1.0 release to the public this weekend, and my 100th post will introduce my application along with a cursory look back over the past 6 months or so of this blog, just for old times sake
So stay tuned, hopefully you’ll like what I’ve tried to do.