What Never Was is Never Again

by Scott ChitwoodMonday October 24th, 2011
Posted in More Than Words

“Mists of dreams drip along the nascent echo…”
              Hybrid Utterance, Battlestar Galactica

How does one properly sign-off from a personal project that spans more than a decade?  In my case, with great hesitancy and months of prolonged musing over how to best say the words that need to be said.  And then — a quick jump over the edge, writing what comes to mind in this bright and clear moment, keystrokes fall, multiply, get discarded along the way.

It all comes down to this.

Creativity must not only come from the heart, it must also call out and draw us into its mighty grasp for our best works to find an audience.  I know this because I was held there for quite a long while and will always be there to some degree.  The difference is, the urgency I once felt for designing and publishing my artwork has waned somewhat over the past several months.  This is not such a bad thing from my perspective.  As an artist I’m very pleased with where this little adventure has taken me and the circle feels complete.  To try and push it further along would be disingenuous.

Then again, total retirement may not be in the cards, a desktop or two could squirm out at some unknown point in the near/distant future.  Weirder things have happened.  What will be, will be.

My personal thanks to all who’ve encouraged me along the way, to those who’ve been inspired to find their own creative spark, and to those who’ve passed kind words my way.  Cheers!

          Scotty out!

Review: PostworkShop 1.1

by Scott ChitwoodSaturday October 23rd, 2010
Posted in More Than Words

Artistic Effects for your Images; Transform Pictures Into Works of Art

Chances are we’ve all seen these two expressions applied in some similar form to more image editing apps we can/care to remember.  Yet the true measure of this, or any other product, is whether or not those promises are delivered.

PostworkShop meets and exceeds those promises in a big way; effects are artistic, transformations run the gamut from subtle to spectacular.  Add a couple of other strengths to that list…

  • Easy to use and fun to play with.
     
  • Powerful and accessible features the average consumer can quickly understand and make use of.
     

These strengths are all due the backbone of Styles that PostworkShop uses to transform your images.  Comparably we might think of these as Effects/Filters built into other image editors (Photoshop, etc.) and we would even find that many Styles perform the same/closely similar functions to what the big kid down the block uses.  Things diverge a bit from there.

Organized within major categories and related sub-categories are 350 Styles: User, Building Blocks, Drawing, Painting, Graphic Arts, and Photo are all on the top tier.  Drill down through each of the sub-categories and you’ll find a wealth of artistic avenues to explore.

PostworkShop Styles Tab

Adding a Style to your composition is an easy drag and drop into the Style Layers menu.  And this is where things start to get interesting, adjustments to opacity and layer blending options are highly recommended for fine-tuning the default Style.

PostworkShop Properties + Preview tab

In addition to that, most Styles can be further tweaked from the Properties + Preview tab.  The Browse button within this particular dialog gives the user an opportunity to switch out the brush tip and paint media.

PostworkShop Style Drag & Drop

Though I’m not sure if this is the correct terminology, Style Stacks open the door to a nearly endless array of artistic possibilities.  Drop three or more Styles over one another, apply blending and opacity settings, you’re the Picasso of 2010 kids!

A combination of Brightness Contrast, Dreamworld, and Expression 1 Styles were applied to the image below, then I used the ‘Save Current Style’ command to combine the three settings as a new Style in my User/My Styles folder — neat feature!

PostworkShop Randy

A two-part system is used to save your work in PostworkShop…

  1. As Projects that are stored within the program itself, available at the touch of a button.  This method is non-destructive, your original image remains intact and the Styles within your composition are preserved.
     
  2. As an exported image with a nice selection of formats to choose from, including a Photoshop option that preserves the Style Stacks by converting them to layers.
     

Two additional powerful features are also built into PostworkShop; a node-based Style editor, and Batch Processing.  The application is a cross-platform product for Mac OS X and Windows.  More information, tutorials, and a users forum can be found at the PostworkShop website.

As a digital artist I’m very pleased with the results I’ve seen in my explorations of PostworkShop, it certainly makes the grade as a primary tool for pushing my photography and other digital compositions into new and exciting directions.  Three thumbs up!  I’m feeling inspired :^)

@font-face and Other Stuff

by Scott ChitwoodMonday September 6th, 2010
Posted in More Than Words

A few minor updates to site graphics have been applied, hope they brighten up the place a smidge or two.  Here’s the scoop…

  • Tiled background image is now fixed in place, doesn’t scroll with content area.
     
  • New fonts: these will only be viewable for those using browsers that support @font-face.  Fonts in use as of this update are Delicious Italic by Jos Buivenga, and Andika Basic Compact by The Non-Roman Script Initiative at SIL International.
     
  • Post author info display: this one comes courtesy of a WordPress plug-in, Author Exposed v.1.1 by Igor Penjivrag and does just what it says; invokes a little pop up when the author link is clicked.
    Author Exposed Screenshot
     

Back in the Fast Lane

by Scott ChitwoodFriday September 3rd, 2010
Posted in More Than Words

After a slow to almost non-existent Summer of new content here at the Ranch™ I was primed and ready to adopt a heavier schedule.  Too bad our early 2008 Macbook Pro went belly up at the thought of having slog through all that work again.  Here we are one week later with new guts — logic board and HDD both had to be replaced after a massive video failure.  Ack!

Scary stuff, I was expecting huge dollars in repair costs since I wasn’t smart enough to buy AppleCare.  Instead I was pleasantly surprised with diagnosis, service, and out-of-pocket expenses that were about one third of what I was expecting.  A big shout of thanks to the Genius Bar staff at Saint Louis Galleria Apple Store, you people rock!

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Ten Years of Rampant Mac

by Scott ChitwoodThursday July 23rd, 2009
Posted in More Than Words

Here we sit alongside that fabled stretch of internet dirt road.  Not rock, not gravel, nor tar, and heaven forbid should we ever attain the status of concrete and decorative striping to indicate our arrival in that elite club known as the Information Super Highway™.  I’ll not fret over that at all, dirt is as simple and pure as this life gets.  :^)

Party HatAh, but this just isn’t any other day in the dirt.  We’re here to celebrate and acknowledge ten fingers worth of years for this little experiment in broadcasting.  That right — one-hundred and twenty months of Rampant Mac is the reason for our gathering.  Strap on a party hat and get down with your bad self!  Time to spin the clock back just a wee bit…

Ever wonder where the rampant in Rampant Mac comes from?  The descriptive text on the Chitwood family crest reads, in part; “a lion, rampant on a field of green”.  I always liked that and it seemed a good fit when combined with Mac.  It was only later on that I found the two words linked in various fun ways when doing web searches.

  • “Another example of Ignorance running rampant. Mac OS is better than windows.”
  • “…for me it is so hard to comprehend the rampant mac bashing from the m$loth faithful.  what in the world does microsoft do to innovate or…”
  • “Since Apple has chosen not to comment on the fate of any of the anthropomorphic Mac icons, serious and silly speculation is running rampant.”

How can you not like that?

Early versions of the site were produced in Adobe PageMill 3.0 on a revision b Bondi Blue iMac G3 running MacOS 8.5.1.  Desktop pictures were created in Photoshop 4.0, Bryce 4, Corel Photo-Paint 8, and Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2.0.  ResEdit was used for creating custom icons, designing PPAT resources for use with the Appearance Control Panel, hacking PICT resources for MacOS Startup (MOSS) Screens, and hacking PICT resources for application splash screens like Netscape, Internet Explorer, etc.

Ancient history for sure!  Perhaps a little self-indulgent, but that’s where my thoughts have been turning these past few months.  And while there are numerous topics I’d like to hash over on this little trip down memory lane, it’s probably better to present them as little snippets rather than unload everything in one giant post — less intimidating for me, hopefully less boring for you.  History 101 Rampant Mac style, if that isn’t too pretentious or silly.

Let’s wrap this one up with a tour of RM site graphics from long ago up through these modern times.  Some of the old graphics can only be found in ancient Read Me files, others are screenshots of well-preserved HTML documents.  ‘Previous’ and ‘Next’ buttons can be accessed by hovering over each image.  Slides include descriptive text and are labelled with most recent modified date.

“And now for something completely different…”

by Scott ChitwoodWednesday June 3rd, 2009
Posted in More Than Words

Mitchell WayA quick little side trip if you’d like to come along for the ride…

My Tuesday rock band, Mitchell Way, has transmogrified into a bit of more serious endeavor in recent weeks.  Heck, a few folks have gone all wonky allowing us to play parties, shindigs and BBQs for their besotted friends and neighbors.  Good times :^)

So being encouraged (or pushed along a little unwillingly) we dropped a band page on myspace and tossed up a trio of original compositions for the perusal of our families, friends and other fine humans we know.  Getting back to that little side trip mentioned above, we’d be pretty darn excited if you’d take the time to give us a listen or include us as a myspace friend.  In fact, that would be awesomeness to the nth degree!

Now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

Presto Change-O Regurgitated

by Scott ChitwoodSunday April 19th, 2009
Posted in More Than Words

It’s that time again; we’re boarding up the old theme and slapping a new set of graphics up here at the Rampant Ranch™. Hope you like what we’ve got so far, it already feels good and right to my sensibilities. The major building blocks are in place, now it’s time to dig in and refine the sidebar and post content.

One of the really neat things about this theme ( Skittlish ) is the user defined options it offers. When first loaded up the theme defaults to a fixed width of 980 pixels and the orange colour variant.

Skittlish Options

Then, using the buttons located in the upper right corner of the site header, each user can choose whether to use the defaults, or select a fluid width site using one of the other colour variants. I wasn’t too sure about this going in but after seeing how the CSS handles the task I’m actually excited to give it a whirl. Once the default orange variant is complete it should be real easy to code the others with unique header images and sidebar backgrounds.

And, keeping the rest of our little home in mind the forum will be re-themed to better match/complement the new theme. Rolling from there we’ll dip into the wiki CSS.

Comments are welcome as we progress along the road.

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Fatal Error in the Forum

by Scott ChitwoodTuesday March 17th, 2009
Posted in More Than Words

In spite of my best efforts our forum upgrade has been a complete mess and unworkable bit of nastiness for ye ole webmaster. So, with a great amount of trepidation I’ve decided that there are too many compelling features to miss out by not implementing the latest and greatest version (4.0.1) and the trade off is wiping the slate and starting clean.

I understand how insane this might be and am prepared to take a little heat over it too; after all, I’ve been down that road before. I do promise to post back in this same spot with the new feature list and I won’t let this new version get dated at all — will keep it regularly updated so as not to fall way behind as I did with version 2.1.

Hisses, booing, or other feedback are welcomed in the comments.

Update no.1 » New forum is in place (though a little on the ugly side of UI standards). New features include no more math except for our guests; HTML tags for those who need a little help adding images, links, stylized text, etc.; Smileys; and a few other things to discover. We do have an option for private messaging but it is disabled for now, let me know if you’d like to see that feature added.