my things

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Instanssi 2019 & DIY Time lapse rotator

This weekend, Instanssi was held for the 10th time. Here is a video from the party place:

I used a time lapse rotator I made: I combined a camera mount head and a kitchen timer with some hot glue. There are ready-made solutions available, but my DIY version differs in a few ways:

  • It has a ball swivel for other kinds of camera angles
  • It has a magnetic base instead of a standard socket on the bottom
The magnetic base instead of the socket can be both a positive and a negative, depending on the case. Of course, there are some fancy electronic solutions with adjustable speed, but my device suits my needs. Here is a picture:

I participated in the Graphics compo with this piece:
It placed #11/14. The picture is made with my Canon Ixus 170, InkscapeFlame PainterGimp and vvvv. Its title is "Metta Bhavana", which means "the development of loving kindness". I'm sure the world could do with a bit more of that!
The lotus in the picture is this floating candle holder from AliExpress.
This picture is dedicated to my friend, who passed away on the 10th of February, 2019. May his passing remind us all of the three characteristics of conditioned existence: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, not-self. Life is fleeting and fragile, all the more reason for compassion and kindness. As the Buddha said:
Life is but a breath 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Jumalan 2019

This past weekend, Jumalan 2019 was held. It is mostly a LAN, but there are demoscene competitions also.
I entered in the Graphics compo with this work: titled, perhaps fittingly ("Jumalan" means "of God"), "Divine Transmission". It's about the foundations of mathematics, mathematical intuition, and the sense of beauty associated therewith. I consider geometry to be particularly pure and "real", in the sense that geometric concepts such as a circle can be found to correspond with external objects that are typically considered "real", in their attributes as well as their behavior. I also believe mathematics to be universal, and to generally be discovered rather than invented. So, delving into math can feel like tapping into something profound - even divine. In the field of so-called "Sacred Geometry", an aesthetic pleasure is readily found, but its source is not apparent or easily understood. 

The rays are once again made in Apophysis. The background flower of life lattice is made in Processing. The final image is composited with Gimp. The image placed 4th out of 4 in the compo.
I also took part in the Fast GFX compo with this piece, titled "psychedelic screech". The theme for this competition was "the most annoying sound in the world". There was one hour to create a production that portrays this theme. I used Processing and Gimp for my image and the Ecosia image search to find the Clef image. It placed on a split 8th place out of 16.

The final production was a music video for a track by my friend shroomi - monkey do. I used my newly-acquired Korg Nanokontrol 2 with Resolume and vvvv visuals. All of my patches were music reactive, but it turns out there is a small issue with the sound driver: when HDMI output is selected, there is no output from the stereo mix. Stereo mix works fine when using speaker output. So, I replaced some of the audio reactivity with just random values. I also used the AceFractal and AceCellular effects from the AceFX FFGL plugin pack. The result was once again recorded with my EZCap284-based recorder. The whole thing was routed through Ugreen HDMI cables, with which I've been very satisfied.
I did a few runs through the song (the audio did not get recorded the first time, as I had not switched to the HDMI output for sound), and mixed these together into the final result you see here. The video clips are from Shrooms.

In Buddhism, there is the concept of a "monkey mind". It is the mind that is constantly scattering its attention here and there, running after this and that. It can be tamed through meditation and noticed through mindfulness, but this song, and the accompanying video, are all about "monkey see, monkey do".
It takes true imagination and creativity to do something you have never seen done before, and very few monkey minds are capable of this. For them, creativity is rare at best; they live according to what they have seen and experienced, ingrained habits and behavior patterns that propagate through the monkey community. The video is also about the contrapunct to that: original thought and behavior, not treading the beaten path. It placed 3rd out of 4.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Vortex 2018

This past weekend, Vortex 2018 happened. I took part in two compos: graphics and wild.
The graphics entry is called Mandala Offering, because it is based on that buddhist tradition, even though it does not strictly adhere to the traditional form. The idea is to offer your world, the universe, and especially things you are attached to. So I put in a pizza, as I am still somewhat attached to food. I can go without, but the occasional craving is there. However, I decided to remove it from the final image. Here you can see the picture with the pizza:

There are spiritual figures and a background of vast space (made in Apophysis). This space image is a fractal flame, and it represents space both inner and outer (mental abstractions and conciousness, as well as the outer space of form). There's also a connection to the technique of multiplying the mandala when offering, for example by imagining each atom, or maybe, in this case, pixel, of it as a copy of the whole mandala, and so on. The border represents the four-fold division of space into the cardinal directions.
In the middle is a Dharmachakra , with eight spokes representing the noble eight-fold path. The hub of that is what I call a tricycle (its actual name is Gankyil). This stands for the three poisons, greed, aversion, and delusion, which I offer to be exchanged for their counterparts, generosity, loving-kindness and wisdom. Eg. in my delusion/ignorance, I am greedy for spiritual truths and teachings, and I would like to exchange this condition for the wisdom of true penetration and understanding of the teaching of the Lotus Sutra of all laws as void and abstract. At the same time, I would like to relinquish my attachment even to this thought of attainments, to a development of wisdom. I recognize that I have a desire to understand the spiritual truths spoken by the Buddha, but the Diamond Sutra quite clearly says that "If someone says the Buddha has spoken spiritual truths, he slanders the Buddha due to his inability to understand what the Buddha teaches". I also have a desire to attain Nirvana, even though the Heart Sutra says there is "no attainment, with nothing to attain". However, I see these desires as empty, so they don't cause me much suffering. Still, I am attached to the Buddha as a teacher, and deluded in thinking that he has taught something, that there is wisdom to develop, so I also give him up.
I think of the tricycle as standing for other three-fold divisions as well, such as past, present and future. I made this tricycle image in Processing. The Dharmachakra ☸ is made in Inkscape, and the final image composed in Gimp. Here is the final compo version, without the pizza:
Which do you like better? In the compo, my piece was voted #3/3.
The other entry was to the wild compo: a music video continuing the "anagram series" started by v-ten: dim car hell, v-three: call mind. It placed on a divided first place out of 11 entries.
The music track is Valmet Children's Aegon.
 I used an Akai APC40 borrowed from a friend with Resolume. I used an EZCap284-based recorder to record the live output from Resolume (the record function of Resolume is not enough to fulfill this purpose).

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


The previous post made me realize another production was also missing from this blog: Meshraker's music video.

Meshraker from Valmet Children on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Assembly 2008

Browsing my blog for a link, I realized I had not posted about this video:

v-ten: dim car hell from Valmet Children on Vimeo.

It participated in the short film compo at Assembly 2008, where it did not pass the jury selection.
Why it came to my mind now I'll elaborate on later, but suffice it to say that a continuation piece might be forthcoming on this, its 10 year anniversary!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

FFGL Drip mixer

I made a new FFGL mixer. The effect is the same as in my earlier Graffathon entry. There are two versions of this effect: one where the source being mixed into is revealed from behind the dripping source, and another where the second source also drips into view. It would be possible to make one where the second source drips into view in front of the first, but I didn't.
It's perhaps best demonstrated by this video:
The source is available on Github. There is also a release with Windows binaries (32 and 64 bit). For other platforms, you will need to build from source.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Instanssi 2018

I recently got a new computer because my netbook broke down, so I'm able to create more freely (without the netbook's restraints). So, I wanted to make something, and Instanssi 2018 provided the perfect opportunity to do so. I had a few days to learn tooll2, which I used to create this production.
It placed 12th out of 12.
The music is available on Valmet Children's new web page.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Flashlight Tuning

Some time ago, I got a G700 zoomable flashlight. I've been very happy with it; however, thinking back on a scout flashlight that I used to have way-back-when, some improvements could be thought of:

  • Color filters
  • Morse code sending
  • Dimming
Now, my old scout light didn't have any dimming, and the G700 has some; three stages, full-bright, and two steps of brightness below that. These are cycled so that the first full depression of the butt cap switch turns the light on; subsequent strokes of the switch cycle the modes, in the order of full - less - least (and then strobe - SOS - back to full). Now, pushing and pulling on the emitter hood (the part of the flashlight usually furthest away from the holder) applies the zoom. I would really like the hood to be turnable along the light's body axis, as well - actually, it turns, but what I'd like is for this turning action to function as a dimmer. I don't understand much about electronics, but seeing how there are already discrete dimming steps, some kind of Pulse Width Modulation is likely to already be at play, no? So, what remains to be added are electronics similar to a camera's focus ring, to control said PWM dimming.
Another thing, adaptable from a camera, that would be a great addition to an already neat flashlight would be a half-depressible button: such that, when pushed half-way, it would turn on the light, but turn it off again when released; then, as the light currently functions, when pushed all the way, the light would remain on. Kind of like some cameras, where you can push half-way for autofocus, and all the way for shutter release. This would yield a true Morse-capable flashlight: it kind of seems backwards that I could Morse to my heart's content with my scout's flashlight, but can only set this modern torch to a preset SOS pattern (the way it worked in this scout light was that you could push the switch for momentary light, then turn it for persistent light).
Well, seeing as modifying the dimming, or the butt cap button were beyond my skill level, I decided to at least add color filters and a way to Morse, albeit in a hacky, workaround kind of way.
So, with the help of my friend spiikki, we modelled a ring with blender to fit the hood of the flashlight, into which I drilled some dimples at the 5w hacklab. This, combined with a filter, allows for a snap-on filter, in this case red.

The next step would have been to make a hinged shutter for this same mount using the filter ring as a base, but unfortunately, I lost the flashlight that had these modifications. I've since gotten a new one, but this one hasn't been modified, at least not yet.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Daily Dharma

To pass on the gift of Dharma, I developed a Twitter bot that tweets one verse from the Dhammapada Dharma Store each day. The source code is on Github.
Effective awk Programming was a great help while I developed my first awk program, to weed out verses too long to be tweets.
Dhammapada is available for free on Project Gutenberg, or on Amazon.
Whatever way you discover Dharma, it is like finding priceless jewels on your path.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Language learning

I just came across a nifty little script for the awesome mpv media player. I made a slight improvement to it: multiple language support, seeing as I always like to have subtitles, in case I can't make out a word, and because I find that having subtitles in a language you're learning, provided the audio is in a language you can understand, is a great way to keep in practice.
Here are some other resources I have used in learning new (human) languages:
  • Duolingo
    • Very nice interactive language training, free!
  • Free Rice
    • Best for building a vocabulary, this site has many subjects besides languages, and also works like the Hunger Site, in that your clicks give food to those suffering from starvation.
  • CouchSurfing
    • The way to learn to speak a living language is to converse. Having guests over, or visiting people in areas with other languages, is a great way to make that happen.
  • ConversationExchange
    • A neat way to find foreign-language pen-pals, this site lets you lists languages you know, those you'd like to learn, and will do the match-making for you.
  • Bookmooch
    • Another way to learn is to read in the language you're learning. Bookmooch will help you find books to read, especially if the language you're trying to learn is english - which most of the books on offer are in.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sea Initiation

I did not write "Sea Christening", as it has unwanted christian connotations. In fact, in finnish, this ritual is something like "wettening"; and that amply describes mine. Sea water spray, obviously.
I've been sailing for a few years, but so far, only sweet waters. That changed.
I sailed with the sailing galleon Albanus from Turku to Mariehamn. Thanks to Suomen Nuorisopurjehtijat for organizing this trip, and to the captain and crew for making it happen!
From there, the adventure continued, and began in earnest when I got a message from the captain of the sailing yacht Gust. We met in Godby, and from there, set out for Örö, where Snupu was to have a sailing date on the coming weekend.
Along the way, fair sailing weather turned to a storm. Gust kissed... then again. The sea is a harsh lover, so the kisses were with rocks. The bow of this plywood boat split. As I write this, it is in the very hospitable marina of Seglinge.
There are treasures along this route. We saw two rainbows, one very broad.
As Gust is now in dire need of assistance, donations  are more than welcome! Read more on the Gust blog. There are also two separate wishlists available, for those who are pondering how much to give, and to what end the money will go:

Of course, direct material donations are very appreciated, as well!

My photo gallery.

Here are some more photos from the voyage of Albanus: 
I ran out of money on this trip. When this happened, I went to Heavenly Senses in the Sittkoff Gallery to get a "Anti-Stress" incense, to ease and to help me think on how to sort this situation out. It turned out I was 5 cents short. I explained that I needed this incense specifically to balance out my monetary woes, and that I had given the sales attendant my last coins. She was very understanding, and let me have it without a further word.
I spent the last of my dough on attaining Nirvana, and on Mercedes' Chocolates to accompany it.
Pride was ongoing. I couldn't afford a flag. Pride goeth before a fall... in love, I should hope.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Liberty in Software

Give me liberty, give me death, or give me liberty in death.

I just now put up a small improvement to a Python program that I made.  It made me think of something I think of almost daily: how great free software truly is.
The program linked to comes from now-deceased Crunchbang Linux (it has continuations), which is the distro I installed on my netbook when I got it from a friend. Eric S. Raymond, a man I respect and otherwise hold to a high esteem, recommends Ubuntu. I wouldn't - why? Because Ubuntu is derived from Debian (as is Crunchbang), but is not binary-compatible with Debian. So, for a general-purpose, reliable & mature (just celebrated its 23rd birthday) OS, I'd recommend Debian. If I were to install for myself, now, I'd probably choose Kali, another Debian derivative - just because of all the tools that come pre-installed. Doesn't really matter what distro you choose; but, unless you are already running a free/libre OS, or have pressing reasons not to, please, do choose one. You can always change later (my path has been Red Hat > Ubuntu > Crunchbang > Debian).

Thursday, June 23, 2016

War as a Tool

Recently, something I read got me fired up, so I put down some of this stuff.
Scarcity of the impose variety - everything for us, deluxe top notch, nothing... oh.... I mean crumbs to them; that's trickle-down, and that's the ruling economic principle. So all you get down-river from our toxic plant is worse poisons than the shit that people gasp at, that goes in the Ganges, that people can actually bathe in and feel refreshed instead of acid-burnt, like our tetra-fuckumups or whatever you didn't learn to fear in chemistry class due to budget cuts?
Dow chemical and friends are not to be feared, unless you're the enemy "du jour", an Indian piece of collateral damage or some slant-eyed Indo-China gook, fuck those people you've never met, not like you'll get a napalm strike in your back yard as long as you stay on our good side, and we don't do it by accident, like those few nuclear bombs our flyboys have accidentally dropped on our soil, to date. See, the fact that they didn't detonate just proves manifest destiny, and that the big dude upstairs is on our side. Just ignore the fact that in one instance, at least three redundancy safe-guards failed simultaneously. It's not like that could be construed as any kind of warning; you're reading too much into stuff, go back to sleep and be a good citizen. Not like there's any danger if your infallible leadership is wrong; besides, to err is human, and have those people shown much humanity in their actions? Thought so.
Oh hey, did you hear? They finally got the eternal war machine in the teeth of the war crimes tribunal! Turns out, every serviceperson's justification was the same: the order came from on high. I guess they we're successful in washing out personal ethics and morality from those folk in basic training, and then the superceding principle of "your responsibility is to turn down and refuse immoral orders" became what it really is: word rattle.
But guess what? They went up the chain all the way to the top: the commander-in-chief, the head honcho with the big hat. The answer was still the same! Well whoop-de-doo, I guess we were a theocrary all this time! It was God's work, so it's their responsibility - not the people's, 'cos have you seen any real power in those voices that cry harshly far into the night, begging for their children's safety overseas? Nah, man!
Well, past attempts to bring God to justice have been less than successful, so it looks like the system is fool-proof. Keep those wheels turning, and keep them well-lubricated, with blood for oil. More meat for the grinder! At least we got us our hamburger... hill. Who'd dare to throw a wrench into the works of such a wretched, yet functioning machine? You might get hurt by shrapnel, unlike on those no-knock guns-blasting warrantless searches that gunslingers get to go on. I mean, there's gotta be a reason they call the sight on that carbine "ACOG", right?
Of course, anyone willing to look behind the curtain will see a wizened banker family named Rothschild pulling the strings, not God, but who'd care to see the true face of our rulers? Just obey.
 “If my sons didn't want war, there wouldn't be any” -- Gutle Schnaper Rothschild
"Ours is not to wonder why, ours is but to do, or die." - Military motto 
Well, my measly country of five million is no better (although not engaged in plundering resource wars abroad currently; more like peacekeeping). The politicos cut welfare, education, research, medicine, infrastructure, but those are just too common for them to care about; common stuff is for commoners. It's a much more hefty power trip to spend 10 billion €uros on weapons to maim "those other folk", meaning anybody's child but yours, and on a persistent atmosphere of high-tension terror. Keeping the herds fearful? Priceless!
Oh yeah, words like "mine scare" and "persistent horror effect" are surely not terrorist parlance - if it's the Defense Minister talking! Source criticism, or lack thereof, huh? Sounds like an exploitation of trust with regards to source, but then, no-one seems to mind day-to-day exploitation of their very beings; their bodies turned to work for scraps of food, so that they'll work another day; their emotions played on, like an orangutang might play the harp.
Be glad there's currently no draft, so that there's less of a visible protest against sending young-uns off to kill, wound, harm and die for the fat cats' interests of the day, and for their entertainment. In here, there's a "weapons duty", ie. conscription. If you're born into a certain type of body, that is. There's also a full-time Equality Minister, who got grilled about the fact that only males have to serve in the armed forces (or else). She made the reply that yeah there's inequality there, because if a woman wants to serve voluntarily, she must pay for her own entry medical examination. The questioner was stunned to silence, the minister went on with her life and didn't fix even this problem that she herself recognized and voiced.
Now, there's been a wider recognition of the blaringly obvious in-your-face fact that the law "you must grab a weapon and serve. If you are male. Unless you are a Jehova's Witness, or unless you live in a certain island that's been granted an autonomous status, being the right to decide for yourself" just might be less that egalitarian. Well, the suggested fix by one of the current ruling parties, the third-largest such political entity in Finland right now, was to make women fall under the same mandatory conscription. So yeah, if you see the need to take a fork in the road, of course it's possible to go full-steam in the wrong direction.
Unofficially, you see, it's been the recognize state of affairs that's even been said aloud by some in political discourse: a woman is already duty-bound, and that duty is to make babies, 'cos a man can't. But two women can (for real, these days). Women make 'em, men destroy 'em. Shakti-Shiva. Ok, checks out, but I don't agree with turning a woman's body into a state's baby factory. Of course, there's no legislation to force them to do so, so I guess it wan't really a comparable situation to begin with, now was it?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Webhack 2016

This week, I participated in Solita Webhack, an information security event where we got to try our hacking hand at real-world web applications. I'm under a Non-Disclosure Agreement about the specifics, but fun was had and some holes were poked. The timing was great, as I've been studying the Web Application Hacker's Handbook, which helped me uncover a lead on a potential vulnerability relating to session cookies. I even picked a physical lock while I was there!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

War Against the World

Recently, certain theocratic groups have been a constant source of news. It is my view that politics and religious fanaticism do not mix well at all.
Even in "liberal" Finland, there's been statements such as "the government has gotten its mission from God", and that God is to be feared. It follows that the government's mission is a fearsome one; and that much would seem to be true. Be that as it may, it looks like the powers that be have shed their pretense of being empowered representatives of the people, and elected instead to answer to a "higher calling" (other than the Christian Party, which has always been like that, I suppose).
In fact, on close inspection, a lot of finnish society is influenced by christian theism - and many would like to keep it that way (eg. certain songs being sung at school). There is also no separation of church and state, here: a few christian sects have the prerogative of collecting tax, and are formally supported by the state apparatus. Even the flag has a cross on it, by jiminy!
Here is a video production that plays with some of these themes.

It was originally meant for the Wild compo at the aptly named JumaLAN 2016 (Jumalan = of God). Unfortunately, I was unable to book edit times for the last parts before the party, so I sat on it for a while and now released it at Simulaatio 7, where it got disqualified. The name is from a series called Black Sails that deals with piracy in the West Indies. My political standing is firmly anarchist, but I've voted Pirate in the past.
An effect in the video, I'm sure you can tell which one, is a re-hash of pakkoruotsi by HTeL. Here's the video capture of that:

It is a protest demo against mandatory swedish education. Christendom came to Finland from Sweden by way of the sword, so I think the placement of this demo within my work is apt. But, rather than take the path of the aggressor and follow the finnish adage "what would remove evil if not evil?", I think we should adapt to this teaching of the Master, the One-well-gone, Buddha:
putting away all unkindness to sentient beings, he abstains from destroying life. He lays aside the cudgel and sword and, full of humility and pity, he is compassionate and kind to all creatures that have life
(emphasis mine)
And, thus, we come to the main themes of this productions, which are the overt and covert symbols of violence in our society. I, for one, feel a decrease, not an increase, in security, when armed thugs and neo-nazi paramilitary forces on patrol cross my path.