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It’s not over yet!

February 18th, 2015

Well, it’s been a good run. I’ve enjoyed posting to Sticks and Stones, with my random musings, photos, videos, and whatever else I felt like. And rest assured, I will continue to post here (I hear in my head the audible sighs of relief from across the nation, and indeed, the world. Jokes.).

However, the time has come for a separate site, which will contain a portfolio, as well as a blog that is focused on helping churches to communicate better.

The Sticks and Stones Facebook page will be updated to reflect this, and the Sticks and Stones twitter account will soon close. Sticks and Stones updates will continue to be posted on the Facebook page, as well as my personal twitter account.

Feel free to head on over to www.joegallant.co.uk now to check it out.

Thanks for reading Sticks and Stones for the last couple of years. I hope it has been, and continues to be an enjoyable visit, when the opportunity arises. As a special celebratory treat, here’s a link to something from the archive, my music video for the Klaxons, ‘Not Over Yet’. Enjoy.

DeClutter

October 14th, 2014

As someone who regularly ‘self-accuses’ of tidying to procrastinate, this blog post about ‘Clutter’ serves as some sort of therapy.

I enjoy a tidy desk, and I also appreciate how quickly my harmonious ecosystem can turn in to a pile of paper, pens and post-its. Jeff Goins takes a look at how messiness can harm both your creativity and your productivity, and gives some useful tips to get you heading in the right direction.

Inventive


For me, it can often be as simple as knowing that a messy desk takes time to clear, so having a clear desk gets rid of that potential avenue for procrastination (or ‘Procravenue’). I’m pretty sure that logic works in some convoluted way.

Give it a read, give it a try and see how it affects your personal productivity – you can find it here.

Article link: Goins Writer

Now, courtesy of procrastination, enjoy some more of my recent workspace-related photos.

Top Blog Posts of 2013

December 26th, 2013

It seems to me that now is the right kind of time to do a ‘Top Posts’ post for this year. Probably wise given that the year’s almost up.

Therefore it gives me great pleasure to announce the Top 10 Sticks and Stones blog posts for 2013 in descending order:


Note: It’s a little difficult to accurately judge numbers, because there were some days where views peaked but not necessarily related to an individual post.

Ring – Guest Post

October 25th, 2013

I go to a lot of gigs. A few years ago I made a new years resolution to go to at least one gig a month and it’s the first resolution that I can honestly say has been a pleasure to keep. This has meant that I’ve wracked up a good number of gig experiences. I know all the top tips: (1) Don’t bother arriving at doors open, (2) dance your way to the front (it’s easier than walking), (3) always avoid taking a bag/coat. Whilst each gig is an absolute delight and I can honestly say not much makes me happier than live music, not many of them have made me leave with my jaw dropped after experiencing something massively out of the ordinary and unexpected.

So when Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival came round this year I made a point of not just going to the gigs but also to the things in the programme that made me go “What the….?!”.

So when I saw the description for ‘Ring” I knew I had to go! Here’s what it said:

“Presented by Fuel, Ring is a sound journey in complete darkness and an antidote choice. Wearing headphones that amplify every intimate detail, you are transported to another room very similar to the one you entered…

But in this room you have been recognised.

At times seductive, at times unnerving, Ring places the audience at the heart of a thrilling attack on their own identity.”

What you’re thinking now is exactly what I thought. What on earth am I letting myself into? I went on my own, which is always a bit of a leap out of my comfort zone, and joined strangers in being “recognised” in pitch-blackness on a VERY wet September evening.

We were led to a room with 6 rows of chairs facing each other. A man leaning heavily on a walking stick, Michael, welcomed us as we entered, took our names, gave us headphones and directed us to our seats.

We all had our headphones on as the lights went down. The headphones were only amplifying Michaels voice as he was talking, presumably through a microphone either on his person or hidden in the room somewhere. As it got darker there were mutterings from the audience, all heard through these headphones, and by the time it was pitch black there was a few nervous laughs and the sounds of people shuffling in their seats. Michael, with his walking stick, paced around the room explaining why it was so dark (to aid our collective imagination within this ‘group therapy’ session) and we all settled a little bit. Until he said,

“Right, now we’re going to move our chairs into a circle.”

WHAT?! It’s pitch black! How are we going to do that?! My bag’s on the floor, how am I going to find it… I’m going to trip over it and land on some ones lap! With the sounds of chairs scrapping the floors filling my ears I sat there, gripping the sides of my chair waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and ask me to awkwardly shuffle in the darkness.

But no one did.

On removing my headphones I heard nothing; no scrapping of chairs, no awkward laughing and shuffling and no Michael walking around asking people to move. Only then it was obvious that all the noise was coming from the surround sound headphones! I’m glad it was dark, I was pulling some ridiculous faces before I realised this!

For the following 50 minutes of AA/NA style ‘therapy’ I was introduced to a number of characters, their voices each seeming to come from different points around the circle we were all ‘sat’ in. They all seemed to have an issue (whether love or hate) with a character called Francis and after a short while (mostly after promptings from Michael) I realised that this Francis character was supposed to be me! So that’s what being “recognised” meant. During my time sat in the dark, not saying a word, Francis/me seemed to be the reason for loud arguments, storming outs, serenading (Why do birds suddenly appear!), and vivid story telling where we were encouraged to visualise the scene in the darkness.

All together it was an incredible exhibition of the power of sound engineering. By manipulating the sound heard it is possible to play tricks on your brain. There were so many occasions during the 50 minutes of blackness that I thought I saw a shadow pass in front of me, or feel someone hovering behind me, or lose myself to the point where I honestly believed I was sat in a circle of people in a therapy-esque setting. When the lights went back on I was surprised to see us sat in the same rows as when we started!

As you can probably tell, I haven’t stopped talking about this experience since I left that very dark room a month ago. So on that, I can’t recommend going to “What the…?!” performances enough. Of course, you are going to encounter some events/exhibitions/performances that are going to be a bit of a flop, but those are vastly outweighed by those experiences that you are going to carry with you for a lifetime.

So that’s my dare to you. Go to something that’s a mystery, and laugh with strangers because ultimately, at these kinds of things, no one knows what’s going on.

Thank you to the wonderful Daisy Carr for the first guest blog here at Sticks and Stones. Hopefully many more to come!

Some wonderful Freshers tips

September 10th, 2013

Here’s a little linky to an article by a friend of mine, giving lots of useful tips for Freshers. Stay safe, kids, and have fun!

Freshers tips: http://easea.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/tips-for-freshers/

Photosophy

May 27th, 2013

Yes, photosophy is a word I’m using to combine photography and philosophy.
And yes I had to google it so see if it’s a word.
It’s not.
But it’s still better than philography.

Never to be deterred, here are a few quotes I heard recently, whilst working on the Photography Stage at the Gadget Show Live. I thought they were an interesting insight, at least in to travel photography, anyway.

“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter”
Alfred Eisenstaedt

“If the photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”
Robert Capa

Thanks to Jacob James for sharing these – definitely worth checking out his site, I highly recommend it, there’s some stunning stuff on there.

Website link: Jacob James Photography
Definition of Philography: Dictionary.com


Jacob-James_Szenchenyi-Baths_Budapest_Hungary_12

Making Faces

May 8th, 2013

These guys are awesome – and this blog post is long overdue!

Making Faces are a comedy trio, based in London. They host a monthly comedy night, showcasing some really great talent, as well as touring with their sketch show.

I first met them towards the beginning of my time in Bournemouth. I say ‘them’ but what I mean is Ed singing a song about his car. This was at one of the first CU events I attended. Since then I’ve got to know them better, and for better or for worse we keep crossing paths.

If you clickety-click here you can see these guys in action in my kids tv show. It was so much fun working with them and I’d leap at the chance to do it again if the opportunity arose.

Check them out, and if you’re based in or around London be sure to head along to their monthly ‘Facelift‘ events.

Website link: Making Faces Comedy.
Event details: Facelift
Kids tv show: Awesome!

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Moonlit Video

March 17th, 2013

Feel free to really not care about this, but for anyone remotely interested in photography, this is a big deal.

Canon have just announced their work on a new full frame sensor that is so sensitive it can capture great detail in the dark.

To get an idea, think of a camera pointing up at the night sky. Taking a standard, short length exposure on an average night, let’s say you capture three stars. But with this new sensor the same shot, with the same settings, captures hundreds.

They’ve posted a video demonstrating the difference that this can make; it’s absolutely worth a watch. It has the potential to make moonlight look like evening sun.

What’s more it seems to have been designed with video in mind, so these results can be achieved at full HD resolution.

While it’s only in the prototyping stage at the moment, this is surely an important technological advance and I’m more than a little excited about the low-light possibilities this could bring.

Video link:
Canon Sensor Video

Article Links:
Canon Announcement
No Film School

Canon Sensor Skyline

Disk Warrior

January 1st, 2013

I had a hard drive failure this morning. As you might imagine, I was not best pleased.

The problem occurred when I was writing to the disk, wirelessly, via my Airport Extreme Base Station. Not had any problems with it before, so no reason to doubt it. Until the disk was unceremoniously removed, with my only warning being that my music stopped playing. Perhaps I should blame iTunes, as my library is stored on this same wireless drive.

After some panicked hunting of message boards I came across a program called Disk Warrior. There was no free trial so I knew it was a risk but I was desperate – every video that I have ever made was on the failed hard disk. So I reluctantly paid $110 and received a download copy, with a disk arriving soon in the post.

Altogether the recovery took less than 15 minutes, and apart from the iTunes folder being in a slightly different location, everything seems to be back. Phew.

No, this isn’t the cue for e-mails telling me I should back up better – I know, I just can’t afford enough hard drives to back up my existing 6. But I’m considering how to go about it.

Lesson learned, though: don’t give up straightaway, but look for a solution as not all hard drive problems are fatal. Of course, if it was a physical error that’s a whole different problem…

Pages .doc Support

December 6th, 2012

You know that feeling where you write a whole blog post, click save, and it doesn’t save?

Second time lucky, then.

This has made my day.

By default you can open and edit Microsoft Word documents in Apple’s pages software. However, the second you hit save, you are forced to turn your document in to a pages file, which can’t be easily opened on Windows. It’s possible to use Pages to export as a Word document, but this creates another copy, and takes time.
For example, when I’m half way through an essay and I want to share, email or print it, I have to make another copy, as my Macbook isn’t connected to the office printers. I then use dropbox to open this on my desktop Windows machine to print. But if I do a bit more of the essay and want to print again, I have to export another file and repeat the process.

But this can be changed by editing one preference file – details in the link. With this workaround the whole process is a lot quicker: I create a word document that I use Pages to edit. I then click save and dropbox automatically updates the copy on the desktop, which I open and print.

Much cleaner, much quicker, happy Joe.

Link is here: now go, be free – be productive!

iWork 09 Pages .doc Support » Lee Findlow.