I Made Some Free Commercial Background Music Tracks

Completely free for commercial/personal use. Here’s playlist on soundcloud with a couple songs I’ve made. Totally free, with attribution. Thanks and enjoy!

More information at my Protopolyphonic music blog here.

You can find out complete details on the license for these tracks here: Creative Commons

Link back to the original post or credit me where you use it: Music by Jonathan Brimer via (protopolyphonic.com)

Gigs and Gigs of Free New Music Every Year

South by Southwest® (SXSW®) is a yearly collection of conferences and festivals focusing on interactive, film, and music industries. You may have heard of it, maybe even attended. But, did you know every year they release hundreds of promotional music from all kinds of artists attending the festival?

Some really great bands have gotten a lot of publicity and exposure from SXSW. I’ve personally discovered a lot of great indie artists that I would’ve never heard of if not for the SXSW promo music. That said, you can find, currently, almost 70gb of music posted over the last 12 years, legally, at The (Unofficial) SXSW Torrents‘ website.

The only real downside is a lack of metadata and missing album art. Each song has just the name of the artist and song title. If you like discovering new music and don’t mind sorting through hundreds, or thousands, of songs, this is a great resource.

 The (Unofficial) SXSW Torrents

Kiss the Frog Party Game Illustration & Print

My sister was planning a “princess” party for a bunch of little girls. She had the idea of making a pin-the-kiss-on-the-frog game. So, she asked if I could draw a frog prince for her party. I did a quick search online to see what might already be out there and really wasn’t too impressed with what I found. Of course, there’s no shortage of party games and ideas on Pinterest, but I didn’t see anything that I thought was worth recreating for her party. So I decided to make my own, from scratch.

Sometimes I do a number of thumbnail sketches before I get the result I want, this wasn’t one of those times. I showed my first sketch to my sister and she said she loved it. That was it, it didn’t have to be perfect, so I went ahead and took it into Illustrator for the final graphic illustration.

IMG_3143Once I was done with the final vector illustration, my dad helped me with printing. We added a layer of clear laminate to both protect the print and keep the sticky lips from damaging, or sticking permanently, to the image. That said, we printed ten lips along with the frog prince. Each pair of lips has a number on it, from one to ten, along with some double faced tape on the back.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. But, more importantly, all the little princess’s loved it and had a great time at the party.

Illustration is one thing I do, find out more here: SharpLead.com

Download and Print PDF licensed under Creative Commons

Unclutter, One of My Favorite Clipboard Utilities

Such a great, simple little mac desktop app. On the left side you get quick access to your recently copied clipboard items. In the middle you can store a few frequently used files or folders. And finally, on the right there’s a nice little plaintext notepad.

The beauty of this utility is in the space, or lack of, that it takes up and how quickly and easily it is to access. As long as it’s running, just move the mouse up to the menubar and scroll down. Boom! There it is. Everything visible and ready to use.

A decent amount of customization and dropbox support makes it one of my favorite and most used utilities on my computer. The one thing I wish I could do is further customize the colors and fonts, especially in the notepad section, rather than just choose from two themes.

Check out the website for more info: http://unclutterapp.com/ or find it on the Mac App Store

Interview with TechToolBelt founder Jeremy Brimer

What is TechToolBelt?

Jeremy: TechToolBelt is a technology company focused on the construction & contracting industry. Much of this industry’s software and technology is very dated or complicated to figure out. We are creating updated and easier to use tools that will make their jobs easier.

What is your mission?

Jeremy: Starting off as a small contractor myself, I always saw the advantage of using different software and technology to increase efficiency and production. However, those things weren’t always available to a small contractor like me because of the expensive costs associated with software and technology. Our mission is to make up to date, efficient, and easy to use software available for everyone, small and large contractors alike.

Why target the construction industry? What’s your background?

Jeremy: Ever since I was a kid, I was enthralled with building things. First it was blocks, then Lego’s, then tree houses, and finally houses. I started working in construction as a teenager and even worked on a lot of volunteer building projects and relief effort both in the U.S.A. and other countries. For many years, I owned and operated my own general contracting business. I have always loved most aspects of construction and I want to make a real difference for this industry. I want to use my background and my knowledge to help others expand their business.

All your products are focused on roofing, why?

Jeremy: We decided to focus our first few products on the roofing section of the construction industry because, first, it was a large part of what I did when I was a contractor. I’ve not only been the one on the roof, removing and installing roofing materials, but I’ve also run multiple crews, done the sales, scheduling, and oversight of roofing projects from start to finish. Another reason, the roofing industry is a large market in itself and it presents challenges in sales, estimating, materials ordering, and coordination. Because of these challenges, sometimes it can take hours or days to write up a simple estimate with the risk of submitting a bid that is too low or too high.

How do you compare to your competition?

Jeremy: It’s no secret we have a few different forms of competition out there, whether it’s a third party reporting company or another software company. But, none of them can match us on our ease of use and cost. We have the easiest mobile software to use and third party reporting companies simply can’t compete with our cost.

Did you have investors? Are you looking for investors?

Jeremy: Yes, most companies need seed money to be able to make their dream a reality, and in our case, both myself and a major investing member invested a lot of money in order to create this concept. As far as further investments go, I’m not opposed to the thought of it, when going through some different stages of growth, capital can be key to growth.

Anything you can tell us about your future plans?

Jeremy: We have some radical changes we are going to make in the near future. We constantly are trying to innovate and change our industry and I feel like the changes to our products we are about to make will make a big difference. We also have a new enterprise option we are developing right now to cater our products to our larger customer.

You can learn more about TechToolBelt and their apps at http://techtoolbelt.com

techtoolbelt-logo-transparent-background

Kingdom Hall Specific Branch for PTZ Camera Control

It was requested that, in addition to the generic version of the Camera Control app, I also provide the Kingdom Hall specific variant of the app. So, here it is: https://github.com/counteragent/Camera-Control/releases/tag/v0.1.5. You can download the source under the “kingdomhall” branch, or download the app/installer for Mac OSX or Windows respectively.

The main difference in the two branches of the app are the presets. In the normal version the presets are all just numbered buttons. The Kingdom Hall specific one uses various icons I created to show the general use cases for a meeting at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

You can still find the normal app under the “master” branch on the Github project and the compiled binaries here: https://github.com/counteragent/Camera-Control/releases/tag/0.1.5

Project on Github: https://github.com/counteragent/Camera-Control

PTZ Camera Control App

I was recently part of a team responsible for installing PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) cameras at our local congregation. After looking long and hard for a quality and affordable solution, we ended up with two cameras from PTZOptics. One of the key features we needed in a PTZ camera was the IP stream and control. While the hardware for these cameras is great, the software left a lot to be desired.

The provided software was free and open source. That’s great, but it was a very old html and javascript app, all written with tables and inline css and javascript. In addition it was very buggy, some things as simple as typos meant entire features of the camera were rendered broken. So, I got started looking through the code and at first was just going to fix and clean up what they had provided. After spending some time with it I decided it would be worth it to completely start from scratch.

CameraControlThe base functionality of the camera is controlled through a series of urls passed over IP to a CGI script installed in the camera itself. This meant all I had to do was send a url with whatever parameters it called for to the camera’s IP address on the local network. I ended up doing this with jQuery and AJAX requests. The basic UI was built on top of Bootstrap overlaid with custom images and design for all the buttons and pieces of the interface. Rewriting the app also gave me a chance to implement some features the original didn’t have, like a kind of auto-pan function, and saving settings to HTMLs local storage for quick easy setup.

Once everything was in place I realized it could fairly easily be converted into an actual desktop app. Rather than using a web browser to access it, including all the clutter and overhead that comes with, I could have it run in it’s own window and keep the desktop much cleaner. I had never used Electron before but I had heard of it and knew that Github Inc. had built their Atom editor using it. Basically, it packages up web technologies (HTML, Javascript, and CSS) into native OSX, Windows, and Linux apps. After reading through some of the basic docs and going through the starter project I was pretty certain I could use it to build my web app into a desktop app.

A few terminal commands later I had a native Mac OSX version of my web app. This meant I could give it an icon, have it startup with the computer like I needed to, and keep it contained in it’s own small window. Probably my favorite part was designing the icon; I think it turned out pretty good. Once I had a basic app working I continued to tweak it until it felt solid. The last thing I did was to open source the project so anyone else in need of some better software for the PTZOptics cameras would have something more than the buggy old stuff to work with. If you’re interested in the code you can find it over at Github available under the GPL 3.0 license.

Update!

Added compiled, ready-to-use, release version of the app for both Mac OSX and Windows. You can get’em at GitHub here.

Open REST API for Trivia Questions

Just finished the first draft of a new open API I’ve been working on for access to trivia questions. If you want to signup for an account (all free and open, remember) you can then make calls to retrieve questions, tags, and categories. You can also post your own questions if you’ve got ’em.

Here’s a sample call to retrieve 20 Jeopardy style questions at an offset (basically pages) of 2:

GET http://trivia.propernerd.com/api/questions?limit=2&offset=2&style=jeopardy

Here’s the response (all responses are JSON):

[ { "id":"106", "user_key":"1", "style":"standard", "difficulty":"0", "category":"Firefly", "question":"From what facility did the ship's doctor Simon rescue his sister River from?", "answer":"Mental", "tags":"sci-fi,pop-culture,western,firefly,serenity,tv,movies", "meta":"", "image":null, "reference":null, "datecreated":"2015-07-21 23:31:43", "datemodified":"2015-07-27 16:39:07" }, { "id":"107", "user_key":"1", "style":"standard", "difficulty":"0", "category":"Firefly", "question":"Simon and River's father had this occupation.", "answer":"Doctor", "tags":"sci-fi,pop-culture,western,firefly,serenity,tv,movies", "meta":"", "image":null, "reference":null, "datecreated":"2015-07-21 23:31:43", "datemodified":"2015-07-27 16:39:07" } ]

For more details on how to use the API check out the homepage: http://trivia.propernerd.com

The Best Tough Camera Gets Better

What can survive 50 feet underwater, 220 pounds of crushing pressure, 7 foot drops, and 14° F? Not just any camera, that’s what Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4. The previous camera in the Tough series was among the best of the waterproof, rugged, point-and-shoot category of cameras. The new TG-4 ups the game with a bunch of improvements, including RAW shooting, WiFi and GPS built-in, Compass, 10 frame burst mode, and more. With the WiFi you can quickly transfer your photos directly to your smartphone. This would be a great addition to your toolbox for taking some great before and after shots without worrying about messing up your camera. All this for under $400.

Check out the Phoblographer’s Preview Article for more details.