Trying My Hand at Stop-Motion Animation

Stop-motion animation is pretty remarkable. I’ve been meaning to try my hand at it for a while. My goal was to make something fun and simple. It was to be jumpy and playful, not smooth and cinematic like The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The video I created is titled, War in My Wallet. It’s rather short:

Step into my office

I’m currently living in Prague, residing in an Airbnb, so I wasn’t going to build a proper overhead rig for this project. This is what I came up with instead:

Overhead shot 1

Overhead shot 2

Overhead shot 3

My overhead rig

Like most of my videos, this one was also made on the iPhone 6. It is important when making stop-motion, to never touch the camera while shooting - or risk moving it a little and throwing things off. When shooting, it is also very helpful to be able to see the display of your camera at the same time you are comfortably moving around your objects.

It wasn’t comfortable or practical for me to be looking through my iPhone while trying to bend down and shift around my subjects. To remedy this I plugged my iPhone into my Mac and then using QuickTime I mirrored the phone display onto the computer. As a remote for my phone, I plugged my headphones in and used the volume-up button to trigger the shutter.


I DO NOT recommend putting your work on the floor. War in My Wallet consists of a few hundred frames. That means I did a few hundred squats to shoot this movie.

All in all, I’d call this a successful first try. If you liked this video and want to see more of my work, check out my YouTube Channel, and don’t forget to subscribe.

The Institute of Cryptoanarchy

I’ve finally done it! I made a purchase with Bitcoin - and the future feels great. Well, I’m not sure Bitcoin in its current form is the future, but cryptocurrencies, in general, might just be.

Traveling around this summer I’ve already had to convert USD to Leones, Dinar, Euros, and Crowns - with more potentially to come. Paying with Bitcoins in Prague was such a relaxing exchange compared to many others I’ve had. No conversion fees, no foreign transactions fees, no counting coins that I don’t recognize like a kindergartener, no random nickel-and-dime crap.

Coffee. That was my first purchase. I bought a latte and a pour over. The place I went to is called Paralelní Polis. It has an industrial, edgy look to it. The Linux and VIM laptop stickers coupled with intensely bearded characters gives this place a very “down with the man” attitude. That and the sign on the top of the building that reads, “Institute of Cryptoanarchy”. This space was founded by social activists during the communist rule and it shows.

Not familiar with Bitcoin?

Here’s a podcast that digs more into the world of Bitcoin:

This podcast covers one of the big issues holding Bitcoin back moving forward:

The Solution Might Be Vlogging

When I hear the word “vlogging” I think of Youtubers, personalities, and people intensely sharing their lives. A ton of people vlog (as is evident by the constant stream of new vlogs appearing on /r/NewTubers), and only a handful have made it huge - such is the case with most things. I’ve always thought that vlogs were kind of, let’s say silly - things that my younger sister would watch. But that’s because the ones I had always come across simply didn’t resonate with me, didn’t appeal to me. Within the last year, I came across Casey Neistat, and now I don’t think vlogs are that silly.

I watch his vlogs frequently - almost daily. In watching them I’ve noticed some things that make vlogs a powerful way for certain startups to grow and even generate sales. Vlogging helps you build a unique relationship with your viewers - as a startup, these would ideally become your customers.

More …

PSA: Spotify Premium - Watch Out

Do you use Spotify Premium? Are you currently getting the student rate of $5/month? Then this is something that concerns you.

I’ve been a paying customer of Spotify for 13 months now. The credit card I had on file was about to expire (the desktop app never let me forget this) and I finally updated it the other day. That’s when I noticed my bill had doubled.

Going back through my credit card statements, I realized that this was, luckily, the only month I had been billed more than I originally agreed to. I emailed Spotify about this (they got back very quickly) and they shed some light on the whole situation. Apparently, the student rate is only good for 12 months at a time and can be renewed. That part makes sense. At the end of the 12 months, you are supposed to be notified that your rate will increase if you do not go into your settings and declare that you are still a student.

I was never notified.

Instead, I started getting secretly billed a new rate. Sure, it’s in the Terms and Conditions, but anyone that cites the Terms as a way to secretly bill you more is a shady character.

Spotify also refused to refund me the $5 I was over charged. Yes, it was in the Terms, but I never got an email and it’s never fun to see that a subscription service is suddenly charging you more than you thought.

Thankfully this only happened once, so I’m not upset about it - more so glad that I caught it early.

If you’re currently a student and a paying customer of Spotify, please keep an eye on your bill and subscription status. I don’t want this to happen to you as well.

angst_bot

What is angst_bot?

angst_bot is a Slack Slash Command that loads a random angsty song into your Slack channel.

Gif

How do I get angst_bot?

There are two ways. 1) You can download the code from Github and host it yourself or 2) you can use the server I have setup. This post is about using option 2.

Step 1

Open Slack and click on the title of your group to trigger this dropdown menu and select Apps & Integrations.

Step 1

Step 2

Click Build in the top-right corner.

Step 2

Step 3

On the left, under “Something just for my team”, click Make a Custom Integration. It takes a little while to get approved as a Slack App, and this Slash Command doesn’t require authentication or anything intense, so I’m going to walk you through setting up this integration on your own. Slack makes this very easy.

Step 3

Step 4

I bet you can guess the next one - that’s right! Open Slash Commands.

Step 4

Step 5

Here we are going to type “/angsty” into the input-box. You really could call it anything since you are setting it up yourself.

Step 5

Step 6

On the next page you’re going to scroll down until you see the section labeled Integration Settings. Under URL please paste in: “https://angst-bot.herokuapp.com/store/”. Double check this and make sure it is correct. Do not change the Method and you can ignore the Token for this integration. Under Customize Name I have put “Your Teenage Angst”, but you can put anything here - this is the name the integration will mimic when posting in your channel.

Step 6

Lower down I checked the Show this command in the autocomplete list box. My Description is “Play a random angsty song in your Slack channel”. Here is the image I used for my bot too, if you’re interested:

Matt Damon

It’s Matt Damon in EuroTrip. He’s such a dynamic actor.

Once you get to the bottom of the page, click save and you’re done! Head over to your Slack group and start spreading the angst!!!!!!!