Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Little Something New

Just a little something I've been working on. This is a larger version (than the preview) of a t-shirt I created for I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Have Problems. I Can't Tell You The Details But Could You Fix Them?

We have a sales director where I work that insists on sending an email to the company president about how much GroupWise (an email system) sucks. He usually waits until something goes wrong (yesterday I didn't get 20 messages), polls his people for their problems (without any detail) and then sends our president an email. He makes no effort to tell the IT department any details about the problems. His emails contain such helpful statements as (not exact quotes ... just examples):

"This thing simply isn't working."
"GroupWise sucks."
"Why can't you get this thing working."
"I didn't get 20 messages that I was supposed to get yesterday."
"If we were running Microsoft Exchange Server it would work."
"It's working great now but yesterday it wasn't working right."

An average user might find the above statements helpful. Let me tell you why they aren't:

  1. There are no details. If you can take the time to copy the company president you think you could say what messages you didn't get giving details such as email address, time it should have been received.
  2. Saying something sucks is not constructive. There is usually a reason why a business has chosen a particular product to use (cost, ease of use, fit with business objectives). Until you know the reason why a product has been chosen just saying it sucks is not what I would call "constructive criticism".
  3. The comments lack evidence. Simply saying that another product would work better without evidence is like saying a certain make of car is better without looking at crash, safety and maintenance statistics.
  4. You went above my head without giving me a chance to fix your problem. This sets the tone of the conversation. I'm already on the defensive and I probably am not feeling like having a constructive dialog with you.
  5. Saying things like, "Why can't you get something working?" immediately puts someone on the defensive. They are no longer in the mood to talk with you ... much less solve your problems.
  6. If you tell me that it's working great today but you didn't contact me when there were problems will NOT help me solve your problems. When you have issues ... COMMUNICATE. I probably could help you at that point. Now it is too late.
The upshot of this is there are two types of conversations we can have ... constructive and nonconstructive. By communicating with your IT professional in the manner you are setting yourself up to not be helped. There are limits to what someone will do for an individual that treats them in this manner. It may not be right but let's face it, you will go the extra mile for a person that treats you with respect and professional courtesy. For everyone else ... you're just going to do the bare minimum required to keep your job. Having any other kind of expectation is as silly as expecting someone to solve your problems without any supportive details.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Every Dog Gets It's Day

Another new shirt design. This one has a happy ending ... for everyone but the dog.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Little Lighter

People at Threadless say that my t-shirt might be a little too dark. I have created a lighter version just for them. I hope they like it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Smart People Don't Follow Advice

I was talking to my president today and something unremarkable happened. He once again did not follow my advice.

Just to preface, my president is an incredibly smart and accomplished man. I have nothing but respect for him and like him in general. He does however get trapped by the Labrea Tar Pit I see smart people fall into all the time. He doesn't follow advice by a topical expert and yet still expects good results to follow.

Every 3 months he comes to me and asks why his mail is running so slow. I go up to his desk and run his email. I see anywhere between 6000 - 10000 messages in his inbox. I always tell him that he needs to move all but 500 - 1000 of these messages into folders. I further tell him that having that vast quantity of messages is slowing down everything he is trying to do with email. His mail client takes forever to come up. Why? The thousands of messages in his inbox.

His reply is always the same, "It didn't used to do that." He doesn't bother trying to take my advice. He just falls back upon his intelligence which tells him that computers are automata and should always work the same way. Never mind that he's installed 10 programs this month and that we've upgraded his computer 5 times since the moment when, "It didn't used to do that."

Personally, if I hired someone for their expertise I would hope that I would at least try to follow their advice. I hope I would but I probably wouldn't.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

New Threadless TShirt

Well, I'm at it again. I'm trying to get a design accepted for Threadless T-Shirts. I hope that the design is original enough to get passed through. I guess time will tell.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Little Something I've Been Working On

Well, I've been at it again and I think I might be getting a bit better. Hopefully, I can turn this hobby into some real money at istockphoto. If not, there is always the enjoyment of creation.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Net Neutrality

Imagine this...
You are driving down the road and come to a toll plaza. It's the only way to get to your destination so you pay the $1.50 and move down the road. Then you get to the end of the toll road and pay another $1.50. Leaving the toll road you reach your destination, a grocery store, you proceed to buy food. You get up to the cash register and pay your bill. When you get your receipt you see a extra charge for $1.50 on it. You go to the service desk and ask why the extra charge was tacked onto your bill and they say it is to pay for you coming to their store on the toll road. They nicely explain that they are just passing on to you the charge the toll company passes on to them. You exclaim that you already paid those tolls and they say that's just the way it is.
That in a nutshell is what giving up net neutrality is going to do to this country. By enabling the toll road companies (i.e. Verizon, AT&T, etc.) the ability to charge companies for their traffic across their small section of the Internet you are going to hobble everyone. The U.S. (you know, the inventor of the Internet) is not the number one country when it comes to average connection speeds and is the most expensive one in which to have a high speed Internet connection. Do we really want to hobble this countries Internet connectivity anymore by giving in to these highway robbers? I think not.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Garden

Just a little Inkscape vector drawing I worked on this weekend. After I get better, I plan on perhaps submitting some of these to istockphoto. We'll see.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Butterflies And Apple Pie

And now for something completely different....

I've been looking at starting to sell my stuff to istockphoto and saw that their vector illustrations were very beautiful and daunting. The first problem is that I don't have Adobe Illustrator. I have Inkscape and the Gimp however. I thought I would tackle creating an image like the ones I saw being downloaded (some over 2000+ times on istockphoto). This is the result of that work. It is completely different from what I usually do (A heck of a lot more cheerful).

I first got a Gimp script from called Brush-Batch and a program called ABRViewer. Brush Batch takes any image and converts it into a Gimp Brush. Then I got some paint splatter brushes (Photoshop brushes converted by ABRViewer) and went crazy to get the background patterns for the butterfly and actual backgrounds. I got a vase off the internet and digitized it and colored it. Then I converted some bubbles from particleillusion and created some brushes from it, imported them into Gimp brushes, created some images that I then digitized and brought into Inkscape for matting. Then I used a program called PlantStudio2 (now free) to create the stems.

If only I had Illustrator (way too expensive) I would try to get this kind of work submitted to istockphoto. I'm just way to cheap ;-)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Music Is My Weapon

Way back in the day I remember a time when I used to use my choices in music as a way to shield myself from the world. That is no longer the case ... but it was the inspiration for this new work I did.
I was able to take a bunch of images from Poser and else where, vectorize them in Inkscape and then import them into Blender 3D for positioning. It's an interesting technique that seems to hold promise.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Well Deserved Rest

Ever stop at the end of a day's hard endeavours and say, "Wow. I should have had a V8" ;-). I got Bryce 6.1 today (they were having a special where you could get it for $19.99). I had to play around with it and see what I could do. 10 hours and an optikVerve Labs filter in the Gimp later and this is the result.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

For Dad

My Dad and I were talking this weekend about how we felt like people treated us like village idiots sometimes. I thought it was funny and made a T-Shirt design using that as a theme. An outward visualization of inner feelings if you will ;-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I've been trying to get a texture object to emit a SUBTLE glow in blender. I've used particles and got this far:

Then I used post processing filters to get this:

I don't seem to be getting much further than this however. ARGGHHHHHH! ;-) Time to go to bed and see what another day brings.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

For My Amusement

Just a little something for my amusement. It looked cool so I reproduced it. I might throw it on a T-shirt and buy one for myself.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I've been working on some materials for zombie skin for a small comic strip I've been looking at doing. This is my first attempt at creating "realistic" skin for those darn zombies. I think I'll entitle this piece "Surprise" ;-).

Maybe I should have called this blog "Pondering Of An Itinerate Graphics Hobbyist" instead. Lately it seems to be more about that subject than programming. I love programming but art presents a whole new set of challenges that I don't already know the answers to. It seems like when I get a programming job I already have it solved before I finish. I know exactly how I'm going to approach the problem and the only thing left is to code. With art it seems like I always begin a project going "How the heck am I going to do that."

It definitely makes it challenging. I'm sure that I will find some programming challenges in the near future that make me feel that way.

I leave you with the "before" picture that I think is perhaps a little more interesting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

This is just a drawing I worked on for the past few days. Oooohhhhh, looks evil.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A New T-Shirt To Show How I Feel About VW

I just added this to my Cafepress store at It pretty much sums up my feelings about my VW Beetle.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My VW Beetle Woes

I have a 2002 VW Beetle with 61000 miles. I took it into the shop 3000 miles ago saying there was transmission trouble. "Oh no sir. There is no trouble at all", was all I got in reply (the warranty ends at 60000 miles). Now I take it in and suddenly, "Yeah. The transmission needs to be replaced.". It's going to cost me $3800!!! My Ford Taurus is a piece of crap but at least I was able to buy a new transmission for it, installed, for $1900. I tried bringing up the fact that I took this POS to them 3K miles ago and they found nothing and that I'm only a few thousand over the warranty but got zero response. All I have to say is that I will never again own a Volkswagen and now I'm making it my mission to tell everyone I know, hit every automotive bulletin board, write letters to corporate and say what a piece of crap VW products are.
Not only has the transmission gone out but I have had it in the shop for the air conditioner twice, Anti-lock braking system, things popping off of the console that are not wear parts and turn signals that go out on a whim. If you want my advice do not get a Beetle. I am seeing all kinds of problems like this online. Please, if you value your wallet do not inflict yourself with this curse of a car.
I plan on getting the word out to everyone I can possibly reach (as an IT guy that means quite a few people) and tell them every aspect of my horrible experience with VW. The only thing that could mollify me at this point is if VW refunded me the cost of the transmission. They seem to forget that if we as customers tell ONE person not to buy a car from VW they are out more money than the transmission costs. I plan on reaching thousands through every means at my disposal.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Real Men

It's been a while. I just had to write this when an obvious thought came to me. I was seeing all kinds of men doing things that frankly shocked me. No one cares about my feelings on this (I realize) but I started formulating some of the things I have learned about being a man from people like my father. Sometimes I forget that everyone does not have a role model like I had. Thinking upon some of the things I've seen lately I realize just how lucky I was.
With no further ado, here is a list of items/rules that should define our lives as men (in no specific order):

1. Real men do housework
2. Real men don't leave their families
3. Real men have one wife and try to love them as they love themselves
4. Real men don't bully those weaker than them or let people stronger than them dictate their morals
5. Real men stand up for what they believe in
6. Real men cry
7. Real men take responsibility for their actions
8. Real men work for a living unless they cannot physically do so
9. Real men let those closest to them know they love them
10. Real men try not to look or touch
11. Real men pay their debts
12. Real men suck it up in the face of adversity (but have been known to complain on occasion)
13. Real men put their family ahead of themselves
14. Real men share their emotions with their spouse
15. Real men fail, then they they pick themselves up and try again.

That's all I have to say about that and yes, I'm still trying to live up to this list. Life is like that. If you stop trying to be better then you better be six feet under.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sometimes You Just Have To Step Back And Wonder If It's Worth It

I just put this shirt up on my Cafepress store:

It just seems like sometimes you can't beat them. People are making bad decisions around you and you know it will mean bad things if you just give in. However, sometimes people need just enough rope to hang themselves. That's when your complicity is a must so the scene plays out to its bitter end. ;-)

This shirt represents a place I've found myself lately. A place where speaking your mind makes you fear for your future. You really want to say something real to the people around you. You really want to say something to turn the tide. Then you do and get smacked. It's times like those that make you wonder if saving people from their own bad ideas is a good one.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Employment Cost Benefit Analysis

I think a picture is worth a thousand words.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bargaining For Salaries: An Interesting Article

I just read and interesting article at:

The interesting this is that this describes my work life for the last 11 years with my company. I care too much about the job, people, products, etc. to walk away from it. This puts me in the untenable position of accepting crappy raises and declining benefits (although some have been generous (like when I was going to leave for more money three years in)).

This has definitely lead to some resentment. Resentment I either should deal with or get out. I'll probably just deal with it (thus fitting the paridigm of the article).

Sunday, January 07, 2007


My wife was watching crap television tonight and I felt like designing something a little more artistic than usual. This was what came to mind. I was thinking back upon my childhood and thinking about how innocent (comparitively) I was then. I wanted to create a piece that represented that childhood innocence in the context of a non-innocent world. This is what came out.

I've opened up a new Cafe Press store at:

One of the things I'm kind of proud of on the site is the new Cynical Motivator T-Shirts I've been creating. I hate those motivational posters that people hang on their walls in offices. They always seemed so ... hmmm ... trite to me. In protest I've created some cynical versions of these posters and put them on T-Shirts. I've been having a lot of fun creating them. It's been nice getting back to working in 3D again.