Flashback to Game Boy Programming…

Pixel Scenes?  No Problem.

When I stumbled across a three-and-a-half-star assignment for creating a sixteen-square pixel image of a person, vehicle, or otherwise intricate object, I considered it to be an assignment too far up my alley to ignore.  In Fall 2017, I took Computer Systems and Architecture with Dr. Finlayson.  One major aspect of the course was programming games to run on the Game Boy Advance.  For those who have never written a game for that platform in C99, the coding is terribly tedious, and requires creative debugging, since there is no console to print to on GBA.  In fact, there is no such thing as ‘print’ on GBA; letters can be made as tiny pictures that have to be placed on the screen.

After writing my own version of Pong and building a Mario-like shoot-em-up with a fellow student, I became proficient at working with pixel art.  Using some images of Mario characters and maps to start with, I ‘drew’ the characters and the backgrounds for the game.  I used the PaintX image editor for Mac to get down to the pixel level and fill in the dots, so to speak.  I completed this assignment in the same fashion (keep reading for more details).

The Tale of Cinderfella

Once upon a time, at a mining operation far away, a new mineral was discovered in the heart of Zethustra Minor.  Illuminum, as it was called, was the first mineral known to man to naturally give off light.  With one company, led by the young and ruthless Margery Stone, controlling the supply of this new exotic substance, others in the industry sought to gain information about the mining operation in hopes of cutting in on their competitor’s profits.

Peter was a lad of unmatched misfortune.  After the death of his mother in a mine-collapse, he was forced in to the same profession by his stepfather and two stepbrothers.  Peter never understood how the three people he supported survived in the Zethustran mining town; they found the deep-blue stains that the illuminum left on Peter’s skin and clothing repugnant and, for fear of the stains spreading throughout their four-bedroom shack, barred Peter from the upper floors of the house, quarantining him to his basement bedroom and bath.  When Peter was offered some cash on the side by a well-dressed gentleman for ‘inside reporting’ at the mine, Peter had to accept the job; he liked money as well as staying alive.

After some close calls obtaining samples and a brief run-in with Margery, Peter knew his employment situation could not continue much longer. On the night before Peter’s planned escape from Zethustra, he decided to attend one last company picnic to keep up the appearance of normality.  Peter never imagined the path on which that picnic would lead him…

#ds106 #VisualAssignments #VisualAssignments1879

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So, above we have Peter sneaking away from the entrance to the mine with a handful of the illuminum crystals while watching the security camera over his shoulder.  I was inspired to create this image after discussing an old story concept that my wife, Meg, had been working on in college.  I thought the ideas of a glowing mineral, espionage, and reverse-gender Cinderella sounded interesting, and the picture practically drew itself once I started clicking the pixels.  The story behind the story took me a little longer, but I think the time spent was worthwhile.

Two Hundred and Fifty-Six Blocks of Beauty

Creating this image was technically very simple.  I opened PaintX, created a new sixteen-by-sixteen pixel image, and used the pencil at the smallest size to fill in the pixels. The real trick here was knowing where to begin: for this I called on the rule of thirds.  Since I wanted to focus on Peter, I started by putting his head upward and to the right of center.  Then, I filled out the rest of his body and gave him the illuminum to hold.  Next, I made the mine entrance and mining cart. As an after-thought, I included the security cam and changed the direction of Peter’s head to be looking back at it.  Lastly, I painted in the different shades of green for shrubbery in the corner and added the blue stains to Peter’s hands and clothing.

After completing this assignment, all I can say is, “Thank God for View> Zoom In. “

Instruction With a Side of Desolation, Topped With Creation

Mastery in a Box (or at least some good ideas and how I applied them)

The tips pages had much great information on how to make great photos that pop. I’d heard of the concept behind the rule of thirds before but had never actually heard the name. I usually try to take photos that way, but it’s nice to know that I have been using a successful method all-along. What was really interesting was seeing the many examples of pictures that are appealing and to see that the rule of thirds was so prevalent in them.  The rule of thirds add-on for Google Chrome was also useful for looking at images on the web to analyze their third-iness.

Using different perspectives opened new doors to me; I ended up using that for a few photos in the photoblitz, in particular the pictures about the interesting angle, the metaphor for complexity, and the converging lines.

#ds106 #photoblitz

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#ds106 #photoblitz

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#ds106 #photoblitz

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I was relieved to hear Nigel Harstaad say that equipment wasn’t a requirement for good photography after the one tip about using the right lens for the job; I don’t have money to spend on a camera at the moment. I was pretty impressed with the photos I took for the photoblitz on my iPhone though. I guess it’s what you call “an oldie but a goodie.”

Also, from the 10 Unconventional Tips I certainly used the first: take photos of ugly things. The converging lines photo is actually a photo of the riser lid for the septic tank in my back yard. While the whole concept of indoor plumbing is quite beautiful, I personally find the waste elements of its implementation a tad off-putting.

Of course since I’m using an iPhone I paid special attention to the BuzzFeed tips. My selfie for the things that don’t belong together benefitted from the use of the main camera, as per their recommendation. Unfortunately the picture turned out a little out of focus, but I didn’t realize that until after the blitz.

#ds106 #photoblitz

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You can check out the gallery and my post about the photoblitz for more of the nitty-gritties on the experience.

Artistry in the Wastelands

In examining The Cruikshank Poor House, we clearly see some of the techniques proposed in the tips and tricks guide from Canvas. Most prevalent, I feel, is the use and at times clear violations of the rule of thirds. Consider the following image.

Cruikshank Poor House

We can see clearly here that the rule of thirds is upheld, keeping all the focal points (the old stove and the window) outside of the center box of the photo.

However in this next photo, the photographer chose to center the camera exactly on a window, such that the window is in the center of the photo and the walls, ceiling, and floor frame the window in the respective boxes to the sides, top, and bottom.

Cruikshank Poor House

This framing effect draws on the light from the window, casting the outside as bright and welcoming and the decrepit inside as dark and unpleasant. Of course the falling ceiling and bits of plaster and presumably lead paint littering the floor enhance the ominous feeling of the inside of the room, but the shadow around the window really makes the picture.

The eerie vibe this hallway shot puts off is delightfully creepy, with light occasionally entering through the many windows, then going completely dark, save for at the very end of the hall. This effect is both mysterious and foreboding.

Cruikshank Poor House

All of the work can certainly be described as being ugly, with encroaching vegetation, crumbling structure and pianos likely too far gone.  This is work that doesn’t bring warm cuddles to mind. Really, that is what makes this gallery speak to the post-apocalyptic idea, that something as grand in size and furnishing has been reduced to a shadowed haunt of a building. By using the aforementioned techniques, the photographer has captured what an abandoned, post-apocalyptic America sorely aspires to be.

So Much Better Than a Quarter Mile…

Fast Paced Battery Drain

As previously mentioned, I have an iPhone 4s: this photoblitz took me straight from 60% to 1%.  Fifteen-minute prompts can be hard on old tech.

Perfect Place, Perfect Time

Of course I decided to embark on the photoblitz around my place; it’s my favorite place to be, and I was able to get my wife’s iPod for looking at the prompts and her pretty self for a few shots as well. Best part was, I had thought to myself, man I should have done this earlier when it was lighter outside, but then we had a quick thunderstorm, and the clouds cleared away enough to get some really smooth lighting. The water left over after the storm really enhanced the pictures I took. I also took advantage of the variety of vehicles parked in my driveway as well as my two lawn ornaments and the woods surrounding the property.

To Do Again…

Well, it wasn’t a walk in the park, but it beat the heck out of sprinting: my iPhone shutter was the thing making snapping noises, not the joints in my legs. The quickness required to snap all the pictures in the required time was mildly intense; I was running around trying to think where I could find various items and settings to fit the prompts. I had to use some humor for some of my pictures since most of the stuff at my place is either fairly old or made of butterflies and sunshine.

One of my favorite pics was the one for two things that don’t belong together, so whereas Meg and I are two peas in a pod, our facial expressions did the trick.

#ds106 #photoblitz

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Probably my favorite picture though was the one with our rings for a photo that represents joy; I always love opportunities to showcase how happy our marriage is. This was definitely not my best picture, due to the fact that my hands are not very photogenic, and my fingers are really short so it was hard to actually find a hand pose to suit the picture.

#ds106 #photoblitz

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The most inventive picture I have to say is the one for “photo into bright light”. As I said before, it wasn’t sunny outside, so I had to get creative. I took a flashlight and had Meg hold it up so that it was pointing at me while I was facing the trees. Then I changed the exposure to get the light ball in the middle, with my trees all in the outer boxes of the rule of thirds.

#ds106 #photoblitz

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To see all the pictures, just go check me out on Instagram or check out the gallery of photoblitz pictures on my blog.

Media, Posts, and Pictures, Oh My!

Need Coffee Please

It’s been almost a month since the spring semester let out, and I hadn’t touched my computer since then; that was until Sunday night. This was my first time ever setting up a blog, and I am so thankful that the instructions on canvas and the respective linked instruction pages were thorough: there really is a lot of stuff to get set up with WordPress. That learning hump (much more apt description than “curve”) in combination with getting my fresh new Twitter account locked for “robot-like activity” made for a long evening, made better only by Dr. Pepper and my cat cuddling me for a little while. Oh how I missed Starbucks that evening…

Hollis Pultz Gets the ‘Gram

So, Instagram doesn’t appear to have the ability to add photos from the computer; bummer. A quick Google search sealed the deal when I couldn’t figure out where the upload button was. According to Macworld, you either have to use third-party apps or emulators to do do uploads from a Mac. Translation: I uninstalled some apps from my iPhone 4s and downloaded Instagram. Surprisingly, the lag with the Instagram app is less that it was with Snap Chat, so at least it’s mildly usable, and I don’t have to borrow my wife’s iPod. I posted the three pictures without fluff as per the assignment.

The Fluff, the Braid, and the Zoom

A Dose Of The D.C.

It’s not every Tuesday that I wake up and say to myself, “man, I could really go for solving a picture riddle.” This Tuesday was no exception, but duty called to do the daily create.

Decoding the picture took me a while, but I was sure glad that I knew that a baby goat is called a kid. Would have helped if I had heard of that sensation, but I managed. After that it was time to create my own picture puzzle. Keeping in theme with my other posts, I decided to make a cat-themed riddle: I won’t spoil it for you.

Assembling my puzzle wasn’t too bad, but it was still painful, as I haven’t yet found a picture editor on Mac that I like using. My cat picture was of course of Dina, and I sourced the other three pictures from online. Using Paint X, I started a blank canvas and copied the various pictures onto it. After I had them lined up side by side, I went ahead and cropped the picture to get clean edges and acquire the wide rectangular shape. Also, in the Slack, I installed the Twitter app so that our tweets would show up fully expanded; seems to have worked so far. Doing that was pretty easy. I just had to click on add apps button, search Twitter, install the app, and register it; that easy.

A Mild Addiction To Fiction

I think it’s fair to say that my favorite stories belong to the fantasy genre. Throughout my life I have always enjoyed stories like Harry Potter and Sea of Trolls, but due to a large amount of second-hand exposure to my wife’s audiobooks, my love for fantasy novels has recently been rekindled. We just finished the fifth and final book of the Lockwood series by Jonathan Stroud while driving back from her cousin’s graduation in Kentucky, and this is the first time that I have seriously reconsidered rereading a book series. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching movies multiple times, but the amount of time required to read a book is substantial enough that I’m usually dissuaded from doing so. So why do I want to re read this series? I was lucky to have been wearing a seatbelt while listening to the final book; I was so far on the edge of my seat that I would have fallen off otherwise.  Its an excellent series, and I highly recommend it to everyone.


I can be found on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Domain of One’s Own.  Of course my Slack name is hpultz.


The Fluff, the Braid, and the Zoom

So, on Instagram I can be found as hpultz, big surprise.  I used a photo of my cat, my tractor, and my ex-ponytail.  Not going into too much detail per instructions, but boy am I going to be much cooler and more comfortable without that extra 12 or so inches.

#ds106 Instagram 3 pictures

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NOTE: This is a repost, since my original post was done before the umwsu118 class was activated.

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