House of Hacks

Friday, August 18, 2017

What is the Maker Manifesto? Part 2: Learn, Tool up, Play


Description

The Maker Movement Manifesto is a book that Harley recently ran across that presents 9 points important to makers and the maker movement. In this episode of Maker Musings on the House of Hacks, Harley gives his first impressions of the second three points in the manifesto: Learn, Tool up, Play.

The Maker Manifesto by Mark Hatch (Affiliate link)

Sample chapter (PDF)

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Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to What is the Maker Manifesto? Part 2: Learn, Tool up, Play

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Coming soon.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What is the Maker Manifesto? Part 1: Make, Share, Give


Description

The Maker Movement Manifesto is a book that Harley recently ran across that presents 9 points important to makers and the maker movement. In this episode of Maker Musings on the House of Hacks, Harley gives his first impressions of the first three points in the manifesto: Make, Share, Give.

The Maker Manifesto by Mark Hatch (Affiliate link)

Sample chapter (PDF)

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to What is the Maker Manifesto? (Part 1)

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Coming soon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Don't compare yourself to others / Only compare yourself with yourself


Description

It's easy to look around and compare yourself to other people. It's particularly easy for people to make things to compare their ability, productivity and creativity to other people in their field of endeavor. In this episode of Makers Musing, Harley and Diane talk about this dangerous place that leads to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. And they give hints about how to only compare yourself to your past self to find happiness and success.

The mentioned Phlearn article.

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For a written transcript, go to Don't compare yourself to others / Only compare yourself with yourself

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Coming soon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How to overcome ignorance


Description

We are all ignorant of things. There are many things we don’t know. When working on a project, many times we need to overcome our ignorance to continue. In this episode of Makers Musings, Harley and Diane discuss some strategies to gain knowledge when we run up to its limits and overcome ignorance so we can continue to make forward progress on our projects.

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Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to How to overcome ignorance

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Coming soon.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Perfection vs Good enough


Description

“Good is the enemy of great.” vs “Good enough is good enough.” Two schools of thought about perfection, good enough and quality when making things. In today’s episode of Maker Musings at the House of Hacks, Harley is joined by his wife Diane as they talk about these two competing schools of thought. One school takes the perspective that we settle for good enough and fail to strive for perfect. The other takes the perspective that perfection is unattainable and so we should accept good enough. Both have their pros and cons and today’s discussion involves the dynamic tension between the two.

Roberto Blake talking about defining quality: What is QUALITY Content?!

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For a written transcript, go to Perfection vs Good enough

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Today at the House of Hacks, we're going to talk about "perfection" vs "good enough."

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers.

I'm Harley, your host, and this is my lovely wife, Diane, she's joining me today for this episode of Makers Musings.

In the past several episodes I've been talking about the reasons for House of Hacks. I've talked about the name, why I chose "House of Hacks." I talked about some of the different reasons I'm doing House of Hacks: to inspire, to educate and to encourage makers. And I've talked about some of the other philosophies with House of Hacks.

Today I want to talk about the last closing statement where I say "Perfection's not required. Fun is!" And so I just want to talk about "perfection" vs "good enough" today.

So, basically there's two schools of thought. Either someone approaches the issue with the idea that "good is the enemy of perfection" or the flip side is "done is better than perfect."

Yeah, I think these have been popularized by two people. I think Jim Collins in his book "Good to Great" is the one that kind of has reinvigorated the idea of "good is the enemy of great." It has a long history but I think he's kind of the one of the ones who's brought it to the fore in recent years.

And the other school of thought again has been around for quite a while but it's been recently re-popularized by Mark Zuckerberg with Facebook fame, where Facebook is constantly iterating on getting things done rather than focusing on being perfect.

I think there's these two things both have their pros and their cons.

The first school of thought is really trying to get away from the problem that comes up with complacency. Where you're stuck in a rut and you just aren't focusing on improving or getting better. The emphasis there is on perfection because being "good enough" isn't good enough in the long term. You can get stuck and not continue to grow and be overcome by your competitors in the business world, for example, where Jim Collins is applying the principles.

On the other hand, the problem with focusing on perfection is there's... you can never get finished. Right. Nothing is ever perfect and so if you strive for perfection you never finish anything because you can always see a way to improve.

And so that's where the second school of thought tries to kind of counter balance that and say "You know, you don't need to be perfect. You just need to get it done." And so they're trying to counter balance going too far the other direction with perfectionism.

I know a lot of people have struggled with being perfect and not wanting to release things if they're not perfect or not letting someone see something if they don't feel like it's done. So these two things are kind of in dynamic tension, I think. If you focus on one to the exclusion of the other you can really run into problems.

I can really see how having to be perfect is a massive detrimental wall, brick wall, to actually accomplishing things because there have been times in my life when I've been learning how to paint or learning how to play a musical instrument and I just couldn't get it right and have given up. One instance, I was painting a flower and I looked at the flower and even though the flower on the piece of paper was pretty, it was colorful, it had a lots of contrast in it, it wasn't even close to the real thing. I told myself I am never going to be able to paint anything that is that beautiful and I haven't painted anything since. The idea of having to be "perfect" can really, really cause people to never accomplish anything.

But on the flip side of that I've also experienced the idea that having to get something done just so that it is completely finished has been frustrating to me because, from my perspective, if I'm doing something, if I'm being creative for somebody else's benefit, I want my creativity to bless them. I want it to be good enough to bless them. That tension that I have between having to be perfect and having to be good enough to bless somebody, I find balance when I let go of having to be perfect and having to be done and just say "have I done my best?"

Yeah, I think it's important to realize that we're on a journey. And because we're on a journey, we're never going to be perfect because there's always something new to learn, to improve and to get better at. I think remembering things are always in process, both us and our abilities, is a way to realize that we never really can be perfect.

One thing that I heard somebody mention, I don't remember where it was, they mentioned to release something as an "alpha" product. So we kind of set an expectation that "hey, this isn't really finished yet, it's a work in progress." It was somebody talking about some music and music they were in the process of developing and they wanted their listeners to be able to hear it but they knew they weren't finished with it and it wasn't in it's final release. I really like that where you can let people see it, let people experience it, and yet set the expectation with them that "hey, it's not done yet."

I'm also reminded of Google. They're famous for releasing software in "beta" status. GMail was beta status for years before they did their first release. It's really kind of setting an expectation, both with yourself and with your users or your viewers, to realize that you know that it's not done and yet it's usable. It's something that can be appreciated and so forth.

Another issue that can kind of come up with thinking about perfection that I just ran into a video from Roberto Blake, and I'll leave a link down in the description, where he talks about in your strive for perfection you may miss the fact that there's different ways to measure perfection. You may be striving for perfection from one perspective and you may be putting off releasing something because it's not perfect and yet you're completely oblivious to the fact that there's other ways of measuring perfection and if you're looking at it from that perspective, either you're way beyond "perfect" or you're so far to go that you're never going to reach it, that the whole idea of perfection is kind of a nebulous concept that can really cause problems. And so I really like the idea of releasing something when it's done and defining done in a way that you can accomplish it and then realize that that's just a step in the process. You learn from that project so next time you do a similar project you can improve and get better at it.

Ryan Connelley has a... from Film Riot... ends his videos with something, a phrase "Write. Shoot. Edit. Repeat." And that's really emphasizing that you really do need to practice. Right. And we get better with practice. And so if we're looking to try to be perfect right now, that's minimizing the fact that we still have more practice to do.

So that's why I end with "Perfection's not required. Fun is!" Because we need to have fun in the learning, fun in the growing, fun in the developing and we don't need to necessarily be perfect.

I would like to say that the issue of something being done is done is better than it actually it being perfect, that's kind of like... that presents a problem with attitude because, yes, it's good to get something done because if something is done, you can move on to the next and keep developing. But there's the idea at the same time that, if done is done prematurely, then have we provided our best effort? And have we done our actual best if we're just trying to get something done and off our plate?

Within software, we have a concept of the definition of done. And so we set parameters as to what it means to be done. We know going in that this is what we need to accomplish for a particular project. And anything beyond that is beyond the scope of that particular project and so we don't necessarily need to do it. So we have a good way of measuring when we're done. So we're not releasing something that's unusable but at the same time we're not going overboard in terms of gold plating things.

So until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

How to take your first picture


Description

Have your first camera? Never taken a picture before? These are all the steps to take your first picture with your mirrorless or DSLR camera. In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley shows all steps to make your very first image with your new removable lens camera.

The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Removable Lens Cameras

Check out the Phlearn channel for Photoshop tutorials.

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to Be creative on your journey

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Today at the House of Hacks we're going to talk about your very first image ever on your brand new camera.

Let's get started.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

Last week we went through unboxing a removable lens camera and all the things that were in the box.

This week we're going to be looking at taking your very first image with that new camera from the very beginning of what you need to do until the very end.

The first thing you need to do is, the battery that comes in the box usually doesn't have a charge on it, or has a very minimal charge, if it has any. So when you first take it out, you want to take the plastic off, put it in the battery charger and put it on the wall so when you're ready to make an image, you have a charged battery.

The next thing you want to do is put the memory card in. Now, there's usually a door on the side of your camera, or on the bottom, depending on your model of the camera. And you want to put the memory in.

The memory doesn't come with the camera. You have to buy it separately. So be sure you get... find out what kind of memory is required and get the right kind. Most of the new cameras use SD memory. Some of the older cameras will use CF cards. The memory just slides into the slot designed for in the camera. Some cameras will have two slots, if that's an option for your particular camera. And then the door just closes up and snaps shut.

The next thing to do is to put the battery in. Take it off the charger and it'll usually only go in one way. It just kind of snaps in. There's usually a little lock that keeps it in and close the door.

The next thing you need to do is remove the body cap from the camera body and then remove the back cover from the lens itself. Then the lens is ready to go on the body.

There's usually either a red or white dot on the camera body, sometimes both. You'll also have either a red or white dot on the lens, depending on the type of lens it is. You want to match up the colored dot on the lens with the same color on your camera body. Slide those together and you'll have a tight fit like that. And then on a Canon you want to turn it clockwise until it locks and you can't turn it back. A Nikon you want to turn it counter-clockwise. I'm not sure on other models which way it turns, but you can figure that out from your user's manual.

The next thing to do is take the lens cap off the front of the lens. There's two buttons on the side. You just push those and it pops right off.

And then you want to put the lens hood on. Now the lens hood also has a red dot on it and a red dot on the lens and you want to line those up. There's usually also a red circle that isn't filled in and you want to be sure to use the solid dot. And line that up with the solid dot on your lens. Again it'll fit in flat against the lens and you want to turn it 90 degrees clockwise until it locks into place. That open circle will lines up with the red dot when it's in the correct location.

Next we want to make sure that AF, or auto-focus, is turned on because for your first image you want the camera to be doing the focusing. If you have the option, you to turn stabilization on. On Canons that's called "stabilization" or "image stabilization." I believe on Nikons it's called VR or "vibration reduction." Whatever it's called on your camera, you want to make sure it's on, if you have that option.

You want to turn off auto-focus in cases where either the auto-focus isn't doing what you want it to do or if you're shooting video, frequently you don't want the video to be focusing on you. You want to have control of that yourself.

Stabilization you want to turn on when you're shooting hand held. You want to turn it off if it's on a tripod or a beanbag or some other stable surface that isn't moving.

The next thing you want to do is put it in program mode. On the mode selector, that usually colored green and that will put the camera in full auto mode so you won't have to think about the exposure or focusing or anything like that, any of the settings on the camera. It's all programmed for you. This is easy for your very first image.

Next we need to turn the camera on. On this particular body, it's on the top left corner and it just switches over. I have other bodies where it is on the back on the bottom left. I know a lot of cameras it's up next to the shutter release button. You have to look in your manual to find where it is on your particular camera.

So, to actually take the image, you want to use the heel of your palm and put that right next to the bottom of the camera. That leaves your fingers free to do things like focusing and zooming and, on some lenses, also the aperture control is right there underneath your fingertips.

Next you want to put your right hand on the grip and the index finger should fall naturally on top of the shutter release button.

You want to put your elbows against your body. This gives you a nice stable position to shoot with. You also want to have your feet about shoulder width apart. This gives you a stable platform to keep vibration down. When you put your camera up next to your face, your forehead can rest right on the edge of the viewfinder and that gives you three points of contact with your camera to give you a good stable surface.

So we look through the viewfinder and compose our image. Get our zoom level the way we want and then we press down half-way on the shutter release. When we do this, the camera does a number of things. It checks for exposure. It does focusing. In fact if you listen... [beep]... You hear that beep? That tells us that we have focus. In this particular case I'm in a low lighting situation and so the on-board flash pops up.

So we press down half-way.

We've got our elbows tucked in.

And when we're ready to take the picture we push the shutter release the rest of the way down.

And we hear the click.

Congratulations! You've just taken your first image.

Now the good side about auto mode is it takes care of everything for you. The bad thing is sometimes you don't want everything taken care of for your. In this particular case, I'm taking a picture in a mirror and the flash washes out the image. It reflects back at me and it doesn't make the image look the way I want.

So the second most important setting for the very beginning photographer is the "P" mode on this camera. The camera will do everything for you with a few things that you can override. You can override the exposure compensation, which is something that we won't get into today, but again you can look in your manual to find out more about that. And also it won't automatically pop up the light for flashes. You have to manually pop up the light if you want a flash.

So in this case I put it in "P" mode and take another picture and now we don't have the flash, but we still have a nice image because the camera has compensated for not having the flash.

And so now that you've taken your first image, now what?

There's a whole range of things that you can do with your images after you've taken your pictures. I know some people will just leave the images on their camera and pull their camera out when they want to look at them. When they fill up the card, they go back and delete old ones.

This is certainly fine if that's what you want but a lot of the reason that you take images is to save them and to send them to family and friends and post them online and things of this nature. So you want to get them off your camera.

The easiest way is usually the cameras can be plugged directly into your computer or you can get a card reader that will plug into your computer and when you plug the memory card directly into it and then you can use special programs like Lightroom or Bridge or programs that come with your camera to copy the images off. I generally use Windows Explorer on a PC or the Mac Finder on Mac operating systems to just copy them over. The memory cards just look disks to the computer so you can just copy them off using standard file manipulation programs.

So once you have it on the computer, you need some sort of program to manipulate them. GIMP is a free software that you can get that is kind of equivalent to Photoshop. It works differently but it does the same type of image manipulation. Photoshop is the other big gorilla in the photography world. Lightroom is another Adobe product that a lot of photographers use. You can use Lightroom and Photoshop in conjunction with each other. A lot of people that. They use Lightroom for kind of global changes and then Photoshop to go in and do specific changes in certain areas of the images.

But that's a whole world in and of itself. There's channels dedicated to doing nothing but that. One that I've find really valuable is called Phlearn. I'll leave a link to that down in the description or up in the card. It's a great resource for Photoshop tutorials and I highly recommend them. I have no affiliation with them. I just find them a good resource.

And finally, the camera in auto mode will save images in jpeg. Jpeg is a great image [format]. It's ubiquitous across the web. Every program that wants images, wants a jpeg image. The problem with jpeg's is every time you save them, the image quality degrades just slightly. The first couple times you won't notice the image change but over time, if you continue to save the images, you will see quality go down on the image.

The best way if you're going to be doing image manipulation is is to shoot in raw. This is a native format to the camera. It's different from one manufacturer to another so you need the manufacturer's software to convert from the raw file to a format that programs like Photoshop and GIMP can use. But you can convert them to a format that's lossless and so you don't have image quality problems.

The problem with raw files is usually they're a little bit flat. They don't... they're not highly saturated. Sometimes they're not quite as sharp as a jpeg would be. Your camera does a lot of processing when it saves jpeg images to make them look good. And so one thing that's great for beginners as an exercise is to configure your camera to shoot both raw and jpeg files. This will give you a jpeg that looks really good but it'll also give you a raw file that has all the information coming off the sensor that you can use for manipulation in Photoshop. And so a good first exercise is to load those both on your computer and learn how to manipulate the raw image until it looks like the jpeg image. This will give you exposure to using curves, adjusting saturation, doing sharpening. Some of the really basic fundamental things that you need to know when you're doing image manipulation in programs like Photoshop. So that's a great first introductory exercise to post-processing.

Next week I'm going to be doing "10 tips to better photos" on the Sunday episode.

Until next time, thanks for joining me on this creative journey that we're all on.

Go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Be creative on your journey


Description

Regardless of where we are in life, we're on a journey. We play different roles and have different aspects of our lives that we're taking down the road with us. In this episode of Maker Musings at the House of Hacks, Harley talks about the creative aspect of this journey we're all on in life.

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For a written transcript, go to Be creative on your journey

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

The creative journey is the topic for today at the House of Hacks.

[Intro]

I Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

This week we've been talking about the "why" of House of Hacks, the mission statement if you will and the closing paragraph I have at the end of a lot of my videos.

Today I want to talk about one of the sentences in there that says "Thanks for joining me on our creative journey." Now I want to talk about that creative journey a little bit and why I put that in there.

I believe we really are on a journey. From birth to death and, in my belief system, even beyond death, we are continuing to grow and develop and mature as people. It starts as babes and hopefully it continues throughout our entire life and beyond the grave.

We're on a journey in the different roles that we play. Whether it's child or parent or sibling or friend or employee or employer, we have these different roles that we're playing and in each one of these roles we hopefully are developing and growing and maturing in that role.

But we also go on this journey in different aspects of our life in our being we have our physical being where hopefully we're continuing to develop a healthy lifestyle and learning better what that means for us given our own each individual unique physiology and where we are in life, hopefully we're learning how to continue to be healthy physically and develop in that area.

There's the spiritual aspect where we're growing in faith and learning more about who we are as spiritual beings.

And finally there's the emotional side of our being where hopefully we're continuing to mature as individuals and becoming more emotionally mature and more stable and better people as we grow older.

We don't ever really reach a point where we know everything because once we hit one milestone that we think may be the ultimate we learn that there's a whole new vista before us of things we don't know. It's kind of the old saying "the more we know, the more we know we don't know" kind of thing. Information and education kind of broadens our horizons and our horizons just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger as we grow and as we mature.

So it really is a journey 'cause we never really stop. We just reach a milestone and decide which is the next milestone we want to try to achieve.

So the focus of this channel as creatives in the journey is to always be striving to improve our craft. We never get to a final destination where we know it all. There's always something more to learn. So the point is to try to enjoy the process as we grow and as we learn new things. To pick up new skills and to apply them and to enjoy that process.

So tomorrow, as part of my own personal learning, I'm going to be trying something brand new here on the channel, we're going to have a live stream. At least that's the plan if everything goes according to plan. We'll see. There's a lot of things that can go wrong with a live stream. Hopefully we'll come off and if so, we'll see you tomorrow on that live stream.

Monday I'll be talking with my wife about the final part of the philosophical statement, the mission statement of House of Hacks and that is "perfection." And perfection versus good enough. So that's Monday's topic.

And until then, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Friday, August 11, 2017

House of Hacks principle: Encourage


Description

In this episode of Maker Musings, Harley talks about why encouragement is an important principle for House of Hacks. This is the last of three videos where he unpacks the second sentence in the standard closing that says "Through this channel I hope to inspire, educate and encourage makers in their creative endeavors."

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to House of Hacks principle: Encourage

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Encouragement. That's today's topic at the House of Hacks.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

"Through this channel I hope to inspire, educate and encourage these types of Makers."

That's a sentence in the closing paragraph that I have in a lot of my videos. And this paragraph is there to kind of explain the "why," or the purpose or the mission of House of Hacks.

Earlier this week I talked about inspiration and yesterday I talked about education and why those are important to me as part of the mission of House of Hacks.

Today I want to talk a little bit about "encouragement."

Inspiration and education I think are actually forms of encouragement where we get inspired other people and we learn about things and projects that used to seem overwhelming, once we kind of see a little bit more about it and get more background information and have more education in the area then it kind of reduces the size of the project in our minds and we kind of get a handle on it. We get our brains wrapped around it, if you will.

So part of the encouragement of this channel is the inspiration and education that I hope to provide. But another aspect of it is to show somebody doing it. So you can see how it's done and once you've seen how it's done then that gives you encouragement if you will to go and do it yourself. If I can do it then you can do it too.

I know when I've watched people do things, it gives me encouragement that I can go do it also because I can kind of see how everything fits together and I see how the different parts interlock and come together as a whole to produce whatever project I'm looking at. I've been encouraged by a lot of people telling me "hey I can do it," they believe in me, and I want to do the same for others. I want to show them that it can be done and I want to encourage them to go do it themselves.

So that's it for that particular sentence in that paragraph. Tomorrow we're going to be talking about another section in that paragraph, but until then...

Do go make something. Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

House of House principle: Educate


Description

In this episode of Makers Musings, Harley talks about why education is an important principle for House of Hacks. This is the second of three videos where he unpacks the second sentence in the standard closing that says "Through this channel I hope to inspire, educate and encourage makers in their creative endeavors."

This is the tenth episode of Vlog Every Day in August 2017 (aka #SSSVEDA2017).

What you know impacts your design.

Bits of Binary playlist

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to House of Hacks principle: Educate

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Today at the House of Hacks, I want to talk about education.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

I'm going through the closing paragraph that I use in a lot of my videos where I talk about the "why" of the House of Hacks channel. I'm currently going through the sentence that says "Through this channel I hope to inspire, educate and encourage these types of makers." And yesterday I talked about "inspiration" and why I want to be an inspiration to people. Today I want to talk about "educate" and where that fits into this channel's "why."

When you create something, you're really being inspired by everything you know to put something together in a new, innovative way. But it's based on everything you know. So the more you know, the more you have resources to draw on in your creativity.

Yesterday I talked about being inspired by multiple things where we have a lot of different streams that come together to give us inspiration for creating something new. Well, in order to have those multiple areas, you need to be educated in those multiple areas. So the more things you know, the more opportunity you have to be... to have those things impact your inspiration in your creativity.

It's been said in software development that the best languages to learn are ones that force you to think differently. It really forces you to change your perspective in how you view things and when you have different perspectives you can look at problems differently and come up with different solutions from those different perspectives and it gives you a range of things to choose from. Sometimes by switching your perspectives you actually can synthesize different perspectives together to come up with something new.

I have a video that I talked about this a little bit that I'll leave a link to that I did a while ago where I talk about this as it relates to a design project that I was working on.

So the more that you know, the more different areas that you have, the more flexibility you have in your creativity and when you're making things.

So one of the things I want to do with this channel is provide education. I have a series that I call "Bits of Binary" where I teach about how to use the binary number system as one example. And I hope to have other types of series like that that are really didactic, very teaching oriented in terms of providing new information.

I also have a "tips and tricks" series that I do occasionally where I talk about one particular skill that's useful in making things. And when you have different skills in different areas, it's just like education and knowing different things, if you have different skills in different areas it allows you to be more flexible in your approach to solving problems.

The old saying "if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." Well, the more tools you have in your tool bag to choose from when you're creating something the more flexibility you have in your creativity and what you're making.

So tomorrow I want to talk about the last word in that sentence: "encourage" and "encouragement" and why I think that's important for me in the material I present on this channel.

Until then, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

House of House principle: Inspire


Description

In this episode of Maker Musings, Harley talks about why inspiration is an important principle for House of Hacks. This is the first of three videos where he unpacks the second sentence in the standard closing that says "Through this channel I hope to inspire, educate and encourage makers in their creative endeavors."

John Green on making an impact.

James Burke's Connections (Amazon Associate link)

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Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to House of Hacks principle: Inspire

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Today at the House of Hacks, I want to talk about being an inspiration.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

I'm in the process of going through the closing paragraph that I use in a lot of my videos where I talk about the "why" of House of Hacks. Yesterday I referenced the, and talked about, the God-given creative spark that I believe each one of us has. Today I want to start talking about the next sentence that goes something along the lines of "Through this channel I hope to inspire, educate and encourage these types of makers."

Today I want to focus in on the word "inspire."

I think that there's really nothing new under the sun. When we have a new idea, when we come up with something that's new to us, I believe it's really a synthesis of everything that we know, everything we've seen and all of our life experience to that point where we've taken different things and put them together, perhaps in a new way, but it's still based on other things. Everything we do is really a result of those who have gone before us. We're standing on the shoulders of giants as it's been said. Where we take something that somebody else has done and we combine it with something else, some other experience that we have, and put it together in a new way but there's still elements of what's gone on before.

One of the Green brothers did a video recently kind of talking about this idea and I'll leave a link to it below in the description.

Another person that's talked about this idea is James Burke in his series "Connections." This is a video series that came out, I think, in the late seventies. He also wrote a book about it that kind of encapsulated all this same information from the series.

In that he took a modern invention and went back several centuries and showed how what went on before had different inflection points where it created created something new and that lead to a new development which in turn lead to a new development which in turn lead to what we have today. And I thought that was a really interesting way of looking at the history of technological development. While it was a great series, I really enjoyed it, I watched it several times, I actually have the book and have read it several times, I think one thing it tends to focus on is kind of a linear progression through the years and I think that's a little bit... I disagree with that. I think that at each inflection point there were many things that came together in the individual's mind or the group's mind that created that new thing. Where it was a lot of streams coming together to form a new river.

And so I want to be one of those tiny streams that provides a little bit of input into somebody's life that they can take and integrate with other things that they know and create something new. And that they can then share that with the world and with others.

So I try to publicize ideas I find interesting. And so when I present something that I know has been inspired by somebody else, I always try to make sure that I credit them, leave a link if appropriate and just let people know that there is source material beyond what I'm doing that did inspire me that they can go back to and perhaps be inspired by in maybe a different way based on their experiences.

So tomorrow I want to talk about the next word in that sentence: "educate."

And until then, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Why do we make things?


Description

Why do we make things? What is it that drives us to create things? In this episode of the House of Hacks, Harley explains why he believes everyone has a spark of creativity, regardless of the form that this creativity takes.

This is the eighth episode of Vlog Every Day in August 2017 (aka #SSSVEDA2017).

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to Why do we make things?

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Today at the House of Hacks, I want to talk about why I believe everyone has a creative spark.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

This is the first in a series of videos where I decompose the closing paragraph that I use in quite a few of my videos.

That paragraph starts with "I believe everyone has a God-given creative spark."

Now, I believe in God. I believe in the Judaeo-Christian God and I believe that He created the heavens and the earth.

As such, if we look at creation from the sub-atomic particles to the vast expanses of space with galaxies strewn throughout I see incredible beauty and incredible creativity. There's things out there that we have no comprehension of that in His creativity He has created. And He has created because He is a creative and beautiful God, He has created beauty in nature and with incredible variety.

I believe He also has created man in His image. And there's many facets to what that means, but one facet is that I believe He has taken a portion of His creativity and put it in each one of us.

Now He is an infinite God and we are finite people. There's no way we can, any one of us could have all His creativity. But I believe that each one of us does have a sliver of His creativity that He has given to us.

Now for different people this manifests in different ways. Some people build families and we call those people parents. Some people build communities and we call them teachers or pastors or rabbis or priests. Some people build companies and we call them managers or CEOs, entrepreneurs. Some people like to make things out of physical objects and we call them craftsmen or sculptors. I have a whole list of them here on my shirt.

But regardless of your vocation or calling, I believe you have the opportunity to use your creative spark. No I don't have a creative spark in all these different areas. In fact I don't really have a creative spark in any of these particular areas. But where I do express my creativity is in making physical objects or coming up with solutions to problems that involve wood, metal, electronics, things of this nature.

And that's what I limit myself to on this particular channel. I don't try to go out and be all things to all people. I just try to explain things that I'm familiar with and the things that I enjoy working and hopefully other people can find enjoyment in those too where their interests overlap with mine.

So this channel is for people that have a range of interests but all kind of related to making things out of physical materials and making physical objects out of them. Occasionally I might get into software which kind of gets more into the virtual world or photography which can kind of bridge the gap between the virtual world in creating digital images and then the physical world in printing them out and enjoying them on the screen in physical manifestations.

So that's kind of why I'm interested in making things and I believe everybody really has a creative spark but I can't address everybody's creative spark so we're just addressing a very small subset of that here at House of Hacks.

So thanks for joining me on this creative journey of ours and until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Why the name House of Hacks?


Description

Why is the channel named House of Hacks? Today Harley explains the reason for the name.

My (mostly inactive) blogs:
Software: Skylark Software
Photography: Hooked on Light
Religion, politics and philosophy: The Episodic Author

This is the seventh episode of Vlog Every Day in August 2017 (aka #SSSVEDA2017).

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to Why the name House of Hacks?

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Why's this channel named "House of Hacks?" We'll find out today.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfters. Harley here.

So why did I name this channel "House of Hacks?"

Well, before I got into video, I had three written blogs. One was a software blog, one was a photography blog and one was kind of a catch-all, more philosophy, religion, that kind of thing.

And I found as I was writing those blogs that every once in a while I'd have a topic that didn't fit neatly into any one of those categories and I still wanted to talk about it. So I didn't really have a place to put it.

So, as I was thinking about video, I wanted to take this lesson into consideration. And, so I wanted something that was a little bit more broad based, something where more than one thing could fit into that topic if I wanted to make it fit that way.

So a house is a single building but it has different rooms for different purposes. So this kind of fit in with the broad collection of things that I wanted to have to designate what this channel was about.

So why "hacks?"

Well I consider myself a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. So that kind of fits in with the "hack" mentality where you kind of work away on something until you get it and you may not necessarily do it the most efficient way, the most elegant way, but eventually you get the job done in a way that's acceptable.

This fits into the old term, the old definition for "hack" where... one of the classic definitions is "modify or change something in an extraordinary way" or "a clever solution to a tricky problem." And that's kind of the sense of the word "hack" that I'm working with here.

Not the new sense of the word where it's kind of become "people that break into computers." That's not what I'm talking about. That's more, I prefer the word "cracker" or "crack" for that type of activity where you're cracking into computers and breaking through security. That's not what we're talking about.

I'm talking about putting things together, maybe not necessarily things that were meant to go together but putting them together to come up with a solution to a problem.

And "Hacks" alliterates nicely with "House." So that was a bonus.

So that's really why I came up the channel name. "House" meaning a collection of things and "Hacks" meaning putting something together until you make it work. And that's really how I kind of approach most of my creative projects. I'll have an idea and I'll go in and just working away on it until I have a solution that works for me and for my purposes.

For the rest of this week, I want to talk about the paragraph I use frequently when I'm closing my videos. That paragraph goes something along the lines of:

I believe everyone has a God-given creative spark.

Sometimes this manifests through making things with a technical or mechanical bent to them.

Through this channel I hope to inspired, educate and encourage these types of makers in their creative endeavors.

Usually this involves physical media like wood, metal, electronics, photography, or other similar types of things.

If this sounds interesting to you, go ahead and subscribe and I'll see you in the next video.

Thanks for joining me on our creative journey.

Now go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

And that's how I finish quiet a few of my videos.

For the rest of this week, I want to go through that kind of line by line, phrase by phrase and talk about why I chose those phrases for that closing to describe the whole purpose of House of Hacks. It's really kind of do a deep dive into the "why" of House of Hacks. Why I'm doing this channel.

I hope that sounds interesting to you; that's going to be the rest of this week.

And until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Removable Lens Cameras


Description

In this episode of House of Hacks, Harley shows all the things that are in the typical beginner's removable lens camera. Interchangeable lens cameras have a few more items to them than a point and shoot camera that may confuse a beginning photographer. After this introduction, the novice photographer should understand the various things that came with their camera.

This is the sixth episode of Vlog Every Day in August 2017 (aka #SSSVEDA2017).

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Removable Lens Cameras.

Transcript

So I was supposed to go live today and I was having technical difficulties. So I recorded directly to my hard disk and I continued to have technical difficulties that I didn't realize until after I'd listened to the video.

So the audio is a little bit "Alvin and the Chipmunks" sounding and I did misspeak in one place. I said "megabytes" when I meant "gigabytes."

But it is what it is and hope you enjoy the content even though it's not technically perfect.

Today at the House of Hacks, we're going to talk about the Absolute Beginner's Guide to Your Removable Lens Camera.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

I help out a friend of mine who does adult ed classes for the local university here as kind of a teacher's assistant. I help out with answering student questions during labs, help them get through what they need to get through.

In the course of doing that, the last time somebody came up after class and had a bunch of things in her hand and said "what are these?" She'd bought a new camera and there were a bunch of things in the box that she didn't really understand what they were for.

So that prompted the idea in my mind that... sometimes as people that are really familiar with a certain industry, in this particular case photography, we take for granted a lot of super basic information. So that gave me the idea that let's just go over everything you get in a box when you buy a new camera and just go over every little detail. Hopefully I won't forget anything. And just take a look at them and explain what they are. So this is a really, really super basic beginner's introduction to what comes in a new camera box.

This was supposed to be a live stream but I ended up with some problems with the stream in testing things out and I couldn't get them resolved. Just some technical difficulties that I still need to resolve. This last week has been really crazy and I didn't get as much time to prepare for this live stream as I was hoping to and so I'm going to do this as if it's live streamed but it's going to go to my hard disk and then I'll just upload it. So it'll just be a single take as if it was live streamed, using all the live stream software, just locally instead of going out over the web as it happens.

So that's what's happening today. Hopefully this next week will be a little bit less crazy and I'll be able to figure out all the little technical details to be able to get the stream to work live properly for next week.

So anyway, let's dig into it.

This isn't for any one particular camera. This is just kind of for removable lens cameras in general will have pretty much all the stuff I'm going to talk about. So I'm not getting into the specific details of this models that I'm working with here. But just to kind of give an idea of what you can expect regardless whether you're buying a mirrorless camera or a SLR camera, whether it's Canon or Nikon or Fuji or Sony or Panasonic, they're all going to be pretty much the same at the level of detail that I'm going to be looking at today.

So first off, just some miscellaneous items. Usually they all come with a carrying strap. This is a strap that you attach the ends to your camera and you just put this over your head or your shoulder. I have one that I use for my stuff so this is a new one that I've never actually used.

You also get just some paperwork for registration and, you know, don't leave it out in the wet that I always just ignore.

One very important piece of information is the manual. These have all the information that the manufacturer thinks you need to know and it's really good to sit down and go through this. Spend a couple nights in the evening and just read through it so you get really familiar with all the features of your particular camera.

It looks pretty intimidating, pretty thick. But this is three languages. This has English, French and Spanish in it and sometimes I've seen up to like five or six languages in one so they get pretty thick. But, you know, it's only a third of it in this particular case. So it's not anywhere near as long... and there's lots of pictures and diagrams. So it goes pretty quickly. But it does help to really understand what's going on inside your camera.

Some other miscellaneous things. You'll get a battery charger typically. Usually these are things that just plug into the wall and you also get a battery for your particular camera. And each camera usually they're relatively unique for each camera. Sometimes different models within a certain manufacturer might share a battery style but you do get usually a battery charger and a battery for your camera. You do usually need to charge these first thing. So when you get it, open it up, put the charger in, throw it on the wall so you can be taking pictures as soon as you can.

The next thing we'll talk about is the lens. Now this particular body... when I bought it, it didn't come with a lens. So this is just kind of a... this is another lens I happened to have but it's representative of what would come with your kit. They typically have a lens cap. It goes over the front element to kind of protect that and it's just a round disk, usually there's little clips, buttons on the sides that you press to just snap it on and press to take it off.

But it also has a cap on the back. Called a lens cap or back cap that protects the back element of the lens. It just twists on and twists off.

Coming with the lens also is one of these things. Sometimes they're flat all the way across. Sometimes they have these scallops. These are called lens hoods and what they do is they protect the... they keep the light from the side from hitting the lens, bouncing around inside and causing light flares. And so usually they have just clips that... they snap in and rotate to lock them in place. And that helps. Generally they go this way for landscape so, if they do have scallops, the larger sections go on the top and on the bottom and the shorter sections go on the sides. There are sometimes red dots in this particular case that tell you where to put it on to line it up and they go on like so. Usually with zoom lenses... zoom lenses are usually the ones that are flat all the way across. Long zoom lenses like my 70 to 300 the lens hood is just flat all the way across. It's usually the wider angles that you start seeing the scallops on them. Also, they can be put on in reverse to make them more compact but keep them with the lens so they are like that for storage purposes so they don't take as much space in the camera bag.

Another thing that sometimes comes with the lens is a bag. It's just a round, usually drawstring, bag. That's just for storage of the lens so you can keep it... kind of as a dust... keep the dust off it while it's in storage. I've seen this come more when you buy a lens individually than when they come in a kit with a camera. But someone in class said they got a bag with their camera, which was interesting. I'd not seen that before.

And the last thing that comes in the box typically is the body itself. And they have different options and different features but generally it's just a camera body like this. And also has a cover for the... it's called a body cover. And it covers up the hole where the lens goes on when there's no lens on it. And it just twists on and twists off. It mounts just like the lens does. So it comes off and the lens can be put on by taking the back cap off and the lens just snaps on the front of the camera.

Now in terms of mounting the lens, usually if you look on the front of the camera, there's a red dot and on the side of the lens there's also a red dot. Hopefully you can see that. There's a red dot. And those two red dots line up when you put it together and you twist. Canon they twist clockwise. Nikons they twist counter-clockwise. So be sure to... I'm not sure which way Sonys and Panasonics lock on but I do know the Canons and Nikons are reversed from each other. As far as the lens goes with the body there's a switch, or a button, on the side that you press to release the lens and then you can rotate it back and then it comes off. It should always be real easy and smooth to go on and off. If you have to apply any force whatsoever then something is wrong, don't apply force. It should go on and off really smoothly, really easily.

Before we get into the camera, let's look at some of the features on the lens. So we've already talked about the hood. There's a ring, typically on the front that adjusts focus. I'll put that up so you can see it. That adjusts the focus of the lens if you're going to do manual focus. And if it's a zoom lens, it has another ring on the back that adjusts the zoom. Some lenses as you can see in this lens, the front element moves in and out as you zoom. Other lenses don't have any movement, all the movement will be internal. You won't see any movement as you zoom in and out. There's also two switches. One or two switches, depending on your model of lens. Most lenses have something called AF which is auto-focus or MF which is manual focus and that switches between... if it's in AF, the camera will try to focus when you press the button. If it's in manual focus, then you're responsible for focusing before you press the button. So if you're taking a pictures and they're always out of focus, or they're mostly out of focus except for occasionally, you might want to check that switch. If you're expecting it to be in auto-focus and it's in manual focus. I've had that happen more than once, people are wondering why their images are fuzzy and it's because they're expecting it to be auto-focus and it's in manual focus. And then there's many times another switch called either image stabilization or vibration reduction, IS or VR, and that usually either just on or off. And that controls some electronics inside that help stabilize the image as you're taking the picture. Not all lenses have that but now probably most of them do. I think that covers it for the lens itself.

Oh, one other thing on the lens. There's also some threads, you can't see them in this image, but there's some rings around the front, sorry, some threads around the front of this element that allow you to thread on various types of filters. This particular filter is just what's called a UV filter. It filters out ultraviolet light and is used quite frequently just as a protection for the lens. You can get other filters that add special effects to your image if you want to use those but there are threads on there. And they can get damaged. They're a little bit fragile so if you're lens gets knocked around a lot they can get damaged. So it is a good idea when the lens is in the camera bag or not being used to make sure you have the lens cap on; it helps to kind of protect those threads.

So getting back to the camera, we have the hole in the front where the light goes through, the lens gets mounted to that. And we also have the button that always on the right, the right side. It's usually a pretty large button. That's your shutter release and that's what's used to actually take your picture. There's usually two levels. There's a half-press and that half-press does special functions depending on how your camera is configured. Typically that half-press will do two things. It will cause your lens, the auto-focus to kick in on your lens and it will also adjust, figure out the exposure you need for your image. So you do a half-press and you get focus and if your camera is configured to do this, it will sometimes give you a beep and then when you have your image composed you press the button down the rest of the way and it will release the shutter which will cause the image to be captured.

There's a bunch of different buttons, depending on your camera model, there will be a bunch of other buttons that allow you to change different functions of your camera. Enable things. Disable things. Adjust parameters. That kind of thing. I'm not going to get into any of those details because those details are very specific from one model of camera to the next and that's where you manual is real important to read that so you can understand all those things.

Working around your camera, we have a viewfinder on the back and that's what you look through if you want to take a picture, you put that up to your eye to do your framing, or if you're right eye dominant, you put it this way. And in that there's almost always what's called a diopter and on the side, I don't know if you can see that, but there's a little knob that's on the side of the viewfinder and that adjusts focus for your eyesight. It's basically kind of like reading glasses for the viewfinder. And usually it has a center position and then you can adjust it up and down. It's not a whole lot of adjustability, like if I don't have my glasses or contacts in, it doesn't adjust enough for my uncorrected vision. But it does adjust for needing reading glasses to be able to see the image. A good way of being able to adjust that is look at the things that the camera shows around the edges of your viewfinder. The numbers that indicate exposure value and the meter and those little things that it decorates the image with, get those in focus because if your image itself is out of focus you can adjust this all you want and you'll be fighting the fact that the lens itself is out of focus. So look at the edges of your viewfinder when adjusting the sharpness on your diopter.

On the back, there's also a LCD display. In this case it flips out and it can turn around and be like that. Other cameras if they don't flip out they may just be fixed and you always see the LCD display. That display, depending on your camera does different things. It allows you to preview... not preview, post view your images after you've taken a picture. If you have a live view you can use it as a viewfinder also in addition to the small one on top. You can go through all the images on your memory card. You can adjust options and change features on your camera. You can do a lot of interaction through that.

Continuing around the camera, there's a mode selector switch and depending on the model of the camera, sometimes it's over here on this side, but this controls the mode the camera is in for shooting in. And typically you have manual mode, M. There's an automatic mode called Av on... I think it's Av on most models, which is aperture priority, it may be Ap on some models. There's another one that's Tv or S on other manufacturers and that's the shutter priority mode. I won't get into any of these modes, that's a whole other video in and of itself. But just be aware that they're there. Then there's usually a P mode and that's a mostly automatic mode but where you can override things. There's usually a green icon, sometimes it's a square, sometimes it's an A, but usually it's colored green and that's full auto mode. The camera will make all the decisions when making a picture. So that's a good mode to start in before you've learned all the various nuances of the exposure triangle for example. And usually there's a bunch of other settings that are automatic settings for use from night scenes to underwater and daylight and close-up and all kinds of different things. Depending on your camera model, there may be a dozen, two dozen, different settings on there. And usually they are controlled also in conjunction between the setting on this knob and the menu settings on the LCD.

There's an on/off switch somewhere. On this particular model it's back here on the back. Sometimes they're on the front. You have to read the manual and find out where the on/off switch is.

Most modern cameras now have video mode. And video mode is controlled by... different places on different models. Some models you put it in video mode by rotating the mode selector around. And some models they have a separate switch that you switch it into video mode.

On the sides there are mounting points for the strap that I showed first and they just slide in there and loop around.

Looking around the bottom of the camera, there's usually a hole in the bottom that's always a 1/4-20 thread hole designed for mounting on a tripod. And there's a lot of things that use that 1/4-20 thread in photography because it's kind of a ubiquitous standard for mounting things.

There's usually a place to put the battery. Usually it's on the bottom. Sometimes it's on the side. And the batteries just slide in, they slide in just one way. And then the door closes and the camera's got charge.

There's a door to put the memory in. Sometimes there's multiple memory slots, depending on your model of camera. One important point is that memory, I don't think I've every seen memory come with the camera. You always have to buy the memory separately. And so be aware of that when you're buying a brand new camera that you do need to buy memory for it separately. These days, I wouldn't get anything less than 32GB. 64 or 128GB would be good sizes to get just so you have plenty of memory to work with.

There's also other connectors on the side, depending on your particular model of camera. There are extra connector slots to be able to put in HDMI connectors, to put in USB connectors, sometimes remote control connectors, other types of video, microphones. And again the features that those come with... that come on your camera will vary model to model. Again, read the manual. Very important.

Let me look at my notes here and see if there's anything else. Oh...

One thing about all these different buttons for controlling your camera, many times they're... they have multi-select mode where a particular switch, particularly the switches that roll or spin. They do one function if you aren't pressing anything or if you're pressing one of these buttons, and then switch it, it'll do something completely different. And you may have, like in this particular case, three different buttons. Depending on which button you press, rolling this will do different things. So again, be sure to read the manual. It's very important to understand how your camera works.

I think that's everything I wanted to cover in this particular episode. If this had been a live episode, I'd open things up for questions, but since there aren't I'll just explain what's going on this next week.

Monday through Saturday I'm going to be releasing some fairly short videos that talk about the why of House of Hacks. Some of the philosophy behind why I'm doing House of Hacks and, yeah, that kind of thing.

Next Sunday, which is again supposed to be a live show, and hopefully I'll have all the kinks worked out and it really will be a live show, I'm going to be talking about what you need to do to take your first photo. So tune in for that if that's something you're interested in.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

How to think outside the box


Description

It is so easy to get so close to a problem you can’t see a solution. In fact, this is probably how we live much of our lives. We’re inside a frame of reference and can’t see the picture we’re a part of. In this episode of the House of Hacks, Harley and Diane chat about ways to break out of the frame and think outside the box. Mostly this is about shifting our perspective. It can be hard to do but there are some things we can do to make it easier.

This is the second of a new video content type called Maker Musings. These will be occasional episodes where we go meta, get philosophical and talk about the process of creating projects and making things rather than the actual doing.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (Associate link)

TED-Ed talk on Creative boundaries.

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to How to think outside the box.

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Imagine what it'd be like if you could always be thinking outside the box. Today at the House of Hacks, we're going to talk about how you can do this.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers.

I'm Harley, your host for Maker Musings. This is the second episode on this series. And again I'm joined by my lovely wife Diane and we're going to be talking today about thinking outside the box.

Thinking outside the box means approaching problems in new and innovative ways. Conceptualizing problems differently and understanding your position in relation to a particular situation in a way you never thought of before.

So what you're saying is, it's sort of ironic in that it's a cliched way of to think of cliched situations in ways that aren't cliched.

Yes, that's it.

So what are some ways to start thinking outside the box?

So, one way is to educate yourself in areas that are outside your area of expertise. The idea is to get more information from different perspectives.

A couple ways of doing this would be like to go learn a religion that's not your own. That doesn't mean necessarily that you have to believe it, but just learn about it so you can kind of get other people's perspectives on how they approach the same problem but may approach it differently.

Another way would be to read a genre of fiction that you don't normally read. If you normally read romances, go read a western. If you normally read westerns, go read some sci-fi. You know. Something like that.

Again, a lot of times, they all have kind of the same story lines in terms of heros and having problems that they're trying to solve and growth of the hero but they're going to approach the situations differently and from a different perspective. So it's just kind of a different way of getting a new way of thinking about the same type of problem.

So, that's one way, what's another that you could use to kind of kick-start yourself to thinking outside the box?

Well, one way is if you're like me and you normally write you notes out, instead of writing them out, just sketch or doodle them.

Another way would be to... well, I like to draw and I've gone through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and they had a wonderful suggestion in that book that actually tells you to turn your subject matter that you're drawing upside down. And what happens is your brain no longer interprets the subject but rather see... your eyes start seeing the shapes and so your brain is working a little bit differently from either... from the right side of the brain rather than the left side of the brain.

Another way to do that would be to work backwards. For example, when I was learning how to play the piano, I would always start from the beginning of a piece and I would always really learn the beginning of the piece and get so frustrated because I could never get to the end of the piece because I was making so many mistakes in the middle of the piece and having to start over and going back to the beginning. Well, my instructor told me to actually start at the very back, or the last measure of the piece and just add one measure at a time and then you get to the point where you can add four measures at a time and work backwards. You know. A phrase at a time until you get back to the beginning and by the time you learn the beginning you know the whole piece.

So that would be a way of getting a different perspective on the problem and forcing your brain to think differently.

Another way of kind of doing that same kind of think is to just talk about it. And I think there's two ways you can talk about it.

You can either talk about it with another person who's an expert in the field. While you're both experts in the same field, there's going to be areas where they have experience that you don't and areas where you have experience that they don't. So in talking about it they can bring just kind of a different perspective but still with an understanding of the domain.

Another way you can talk about it is with somebody who has no clue about the situation. A complete neophyte. Again, because you're trying to formulate and think about the problem in a way that you can explain it to somebody that doesn't understand the situation, doesn't understand the domain, sometimes that allows you to break out of fixed ways of thinking it and switch to new ways that allow you to see the problem differently. It's kind of interesting, this is so common in programming that there's actually a term called "rubber ducking" and the idea is... the idea comes from someone who had a rubber duck, you know, that you have, play with in the bath tub. He had on sitting on top of his monitor and whenever he got stuck on a problem, he'd just start explaining the problem to the rubber duck. And a lot of times he'd have a breakthrough in understanding the problem.

So do you have another way of kind of thinking outside the box?

Right. I've gone through a bunch of books on how to write songs and one of the examples that the author talked about was actually setting limits on yourself. So for like music, try to write a song using only three notes. Or try to write a song using only one chord. Just set limits that are... they're not so restrictive that they condemn you if you don't make them or if you break out of the limits but what happens when you actually set the limits is you're forced to actually think about ways to do things differently in music, or any other topic, that you would not have thought of had you not had the limit on yourself.

So another way of applying that would be like if you're into photography, limiting yourself to a single lens. Just take one prime lens out with you on a photowalk. Or also another way would be if you're doing nighttime photography, do nighttime photography for one photo shoot without any light. So you're forced to use the existing light. Or conversely, take a flash with you and you have to use the flash during daylight hours. That'd be another way of kind of thinking about the problem differently.

This is something setting up creative boundaries and TED-Ed actually has a good video on this on their channel. I'll leave a link to it down in the description.

Harley, can you think of any other ways to inspire creativity?

Yeah, the last thing I think that we'll cover today is going out and doing something physical. Just take a break from the problem. Go out take a walk. Go for a run. Go work out at the gym. Something like that. Just to let your subconscious mind be able to work on it without your conscious mind being involved in it. So you're thinking about something else, doing something physical, getting the blood flowing to just kind of break out and be able to approach the problem from a different perspective.

But don't forget to take your journal or your cell phone so that you can make notes while you're out doing something physical.

Absolutely. We talked about that in the last episode, where have a way to write down your ideas when they do come. That's a great point. Great point.

So that's it for this episode of Maker Musings.

I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any ideas for future topics of Maker Musings, leave them down below in the comments below.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Friday, August 4, 2017

How to generate ideas and build a system of creativity


Description

Imagine what would life look like if you always were creating? If you never ran out of ideas? In this episode of the House of Hacks, I’m going to talk about having a creative lifestyle. My wife, Diane, joins me as we discuss how to put together an idea generating and implementation system that empowers your creativity so you can create a habit of being creative and develop a creative lifestyle.

This is the first of a new video content type that we’re calling Maker Musings. These will be occasional episodes where we go meta, get philosophical and talk about the process of creating projects and making things rather than the actual doing.

This is the fourth episode of Vlog Every Day in August 2017 (aka #SSSVEDA2017).

Dan Currier at Creator Fundamentals

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to How to generate ideas and build a system of creativity

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Imagine what life would look like if you're always creating; if you never ran out of creative ideas. Today at the House of Hacks we're going to talk about developing a creative lifestyle.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders an Do-it-yourselfers.

I'm Harley your host and today we've got my lovely wife, Diane, here as a special guest.

This is the first episode of Maker Musings and in this series I want to talk about making things kind of from a philosophical level. Not getting down into the nitty gritty about how to make things but more about the idea of making things and things that are impediments to making, how to make better, kind of the whole lifestyle of making. So this is the first in that series and today we're going to be talking about having a creative lifestyle. So what are our main points today?

Pretty much we're going to be discussing inspiration and implementation. Basically how to get inspired and how to develop a routine of implementing your ideas.

Awesome.

So, Harley, how do you get inspired?

Well, I think the first idea is have an open attitude. Keep your eyes open. Keep your ears open. So you're always taking in information from places that might serve as a source of inspiration.

So how does that compare with copying what someone else has done?

So the difference between copying and inspiration is where copying is you're just taking an idea and replicating it without adding in your own style, without adding in your own way of approaching things. Whereas inspiration is taking an idea, internalizing it, making changes to it that adapt it to your style, to the way that you do things and then it comes out a little bit differently.

I see. So when it comes to inspiration do you just remain open and to what you're hearing, what you're seeing? Or do you have some kind of internal thought process that develops the inspiration?

I think the first point is to just remain open. Be a sponge and take up a lot of different information from different sources and then after you've taken that up you can kind of think about it and ruminate on it and see how it applies to your particular area of creativity.

OK, because I don't function that way.

OK.

I have a hard time with remembering things that I've seen or I just enjoy seeing so many different unique creative things that I get just so inundated with creativity from others that there's just no way I could possibly remember what I saw yesterday or today or whatnot in order to go and make something similar.

Uh, huh. So that's where having a way to record things comes into play. If you have a notebook handy where you can sketch things down or write down ideas. You can also use an app on your phone. You have the Recorder app where you can kind of speak into it if you have ideas. You have other apps in there where you can draw on or... Evernote is another good app, either on your computer or on your phone that will help to... sort of work as a memory source.

So, you get to a point where you've written everything down in some kind of journal form or you have spoken into your phone to record an idea or something like that or maybe you've taken a photo of something on your cell phone to just to remember it. So how do you actually get from a bunch of ideas everywhere to the actual process of being creative?

So, starting up is one of the big hard things for me personally. There's a lot of inertia to starting a new project. I think there are a couple things you can do to reduce that startup inertia. One thing is have a space dedicated for creating in. Whether if you're an artist it'd be a studio or if you're into woodworking or metalworking having a workshop setup. If you're doing video stuff, you have a set that's always ready to go. This allows you to not to have to do a lot of setup before you start creating.

So what happens if you don't have the space to have a dedicated space in your house to do this?

Well, I have travel packs. All of my card making supplies are all in one wheeled tote that I can just take with me either to the kitchen table if I'm working at home or I can take it to a class if I'm not working at home. Or I can take it up into a friends house or something if I go out but it's all there in one space and inside the travel pack I've got my scissors in one pocket. It always goes in that one pocket so that it becomes a visual inventory when I just open that travel case up and the scissors is right there. The specific cutters are over here. The glue is over here and that sort of thing. So I can just take this visual inventory of everything that I've got in my travel cart as long as I keep it in the same place over and over again.

So that kind of segues nicely into the next topic which is reducing the friction to doing. We talked about reducing the friction to starting and then there's also the case of doing where you want to make sure that it's easy to do the creativity that you set out to do. And one thing that I'm really bad about is putting things back in their place. I'll have a tendency to put a screwdriver down and two minutes later I'll go to reach for it and I'll have no idea where I put it. And so the idea that you just brought up about having a place for everything and everything in its place is a great way of making it easier to do as you're doing. If that make sense.

Right. Yes.

I'm reminded of a carpenter with his carpenter's belt and a hammer always goes a certain spot. The tape measure always goes in a certain spot. So, they can actually just use muscle memory to grab something and when they need a tool they just think about it and it's in their hand because they can always go back to the same place to get the same tool every time. So that kind of really helps with making it easier to make things.

Dan Currier has a great quote where he talks about this in general, specifically with video making sets but I think it has a broader applicability where he says what you're doing is "implementing the pedestal once rather than every time so then you can focus on creating the sculpture." And I really like that idea where you get all the background stuff done so then your time, your energy of thought, your energy of doing can be done in creating the new stuff rather than reinventing the background stuff every time.

So that's it for this first episode of Makers Musings. I appreciate you joining us.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required. Fun is!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

All about House of Hacks


Description

Interested in making things? House of Hacks is all about making things out of wood, metal, electronics, software, photography and other similar materials. We're all makers of one type or another. This channel is for those who like woodworking, metalworking, programming, computers, electronics, photography and related things.

Subscribe for more DIY videos: https://goo.gl/0wxKv7

Watch my most recent video: https://goo.gl/uVXA8I

For a written transcript, go to All about House of Hacks.

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

I believe everyone has a God-given creative spark, but different people manifest this through different ways. The purpose of this channel is to Inspire, Educate and Encourage people that have this creative spark with a bent towards technological, engineering or craft types of things.

I include a number of things in these categories and make videos on topics such as electronics, photography, woodworking, metalworking, home and shop projects or a combination of any of these.

Episodes may contain project overviews or tutorials on techniques or skills useful in making things. They may also include tool reviews.

If this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to click the subscribe button and then the bell notification icon. When you do this, YouTube will let you know the next time I upload a video. It will also put the video on your Subscribers tab.

And whether you subscribe or not, go make
something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Who is Harley as a creator?


Description

Who is Harley and why does he make things? Today at the House of Hacks, Harley shares a brief part of his biography as a creator. This is the second episode of Vlog Every Day in August 2017 (aka #VEDA2017).

Subscribe for more DIY videos.

Watch my most recent video.

For a written transcript, go to Who is Harley as a creator?

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Who is Harley as a maker?

Today at the House of Hacks I try to answer that question.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers. Harley here.

Who am I as a maker?

That's kind of the topic for today's VEDA
entry.

Well, I come by making pretty honestly. All of my grandparents and my Dad and Mom
are all involved in making things in one way or another.

My paternal grandfather was trained as a, at an early age, as a typographer and was involved in the printing industry. He started his own printshop and had that almost up to the day he died. He was also involved in making things. I have a lot of his tools around me in the workshop or tools that he had given me as I was growing up. He was involved in all sorts of different making things. Printing was his day job where he was making things as a craftsman producing printed material but then he also had a metal lathe and a wood lathe and all kinds of saws and tools. There were tools in his shop that nobody knew what they were because they were so specialized.

My paternal Grandmother also was involved in making things. She was more on the crafts side of things. I remember... I have some pieces of jewelry that she made and my Dad tells me stories that up until Granddad started the business and she was involved in that and didn't have time anymore, she made all the family's clothes. So she was very much a maker in the kind of homemaking side of things.

My maternal Grandfather was an engineer his whole working life and everybody thought of him as this kind of cut and dried numbers only kind of guy. Then he retired and kind of all those creative juices that had been somewhat suppressed probably through his working life kind of overflowed and in retirement he started out painting, spent a lot of time making models, ship models. He made some beautiful, beautiful ship models, was featured in the local newspaper and various local displays, heavily involved in the local ship building club and then moved on from shipbuilding to more casting and sculpture work and did some beautiful sculptures, particularly of my... two of my cousins who lived nearby them. They have some busts that he made of them that are beautiful. I also have a bust of a... he called it a sea captain and it's just kind of an anonymous person that he did a sculpture. This is one of his early sculptures. I'll put a picture of it that here in this video.

My maternal Grandmother was also very creative although I never really knew it. She had a piano in the house and I always thought it was more of a piece of decoration than anything else but I got the pleasure of hearing her play late in her life and I didn't realized it but she was a very fine pianist and involved in making music.

And then both my parents are also makers in one way or another.

My Dad is much like me in that he has a workshop and he does all kinds of projects. He always has a house project or shop project going on, doing something for the cars or his tractor or whatever. He's got projects going on.

Then my Mom's focus is kind of on landscape and home improvement. She always has some painting project or wall papering project or landscaping project going on. Something to improve the visual aspect of the house.

So I come by making naturally. I kind of go after my paternal side of the family with my Dad and my paternal Grandfather in terms of my personal interests, having a wide variety within the workshop environment. I also have these other influences from the other parts of the family.

I did start young.

One of the early stories that my Mom tells is she was working in the kitchen one day. This was before my brothers were born. I was still an infant, I wasn't yet walking. And she realized I was being too quiet. So she went looking for me. She found me in the hallway. I had pulled my Dad's tool chest out of the closet and had pulled the bathroom scale out of the bathroom and I had completely disassembled it. Like I said this was before I was walking. So I was interested in how things work, the mechanical aspects of things, from an incredibly young age.

I remember I was four or five years old and I remember one Christmas I got both a Tinkertoy set and also a Lincoln Log set and I just had a ball putting things together with those creative sets. A year or two later I was given an Erector set and again I just had a blast making things out of these mechanical sets.

Hand tools. I picked up hand tools and started using them at an early age too. Somewhere, I was either four or five and I remember hitting my finger with the hammer and I caused a blood blister underneath the nail and eventually the nail fell off. Of course it grew back, it was just a temporary thing. But I do remember that's a very vivid memory as a youngster. I haven't ever hit my hand that hard with a hammer since. A good learning experience.

But then I moved on to power tools too. I was probably second or third grade when I started using the jigsaw in my Dad's shop. He tells me the story that he showed me how to use it and then walked away and went in the kitchen to leave me on my own and was pretty nervous with me working that but he was talking with my Mom and said "well, if he's going to hurt himself, he's not going to hurt himself too badly with that particular saw. So it's a good starter saw for him." I've never hurt myself with a power saw now that I think about it. I think the hammer experience was a good learning experience to watch what I'm doing when working with tools.

Later in grade school I got interested in electronics and was given a 10-in-1 electronics set and went on from that to more Heathkit sets where you build things yourself, solder things together on PCBs and make things that way. Did a lot of Heathkit related electronics kits.

As I got older into high school I started working on cars. I did a bunch of engine swaps and transmission swaps. I even changed... swapped out a body on a chassis underneath a car. So I've played around with a lot of variety of different things.

In Junior High, my interest in electronics shifted over to the software and that's something that's been a constant through my whole life. That was 40 or so years ago when I started programming. I've been programming 35 years professionally full time. That's been kind of my day job. My career has been in software development. Software is in my opinion one of the... a great, great creative field. It combines aspects of both science and math along with the creative side of things and kind of melds them together and it really is a craft. It's not a science. It's not an art. It's a craft that melds the two together. I just really enjoy writing software.

But I enjoy doing other things as well. And that's really what this channel is about, is the wide variety that people can make things with. So that's a little bit about myself, about where I come from as a maker, my background.

Why don't you leave down in the comments below a little bit about yourself. About why you're interested in making things and what kinds of things you make.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!