Webber here, just a quick but somewhat important update.
After doing some research and looking around various retailers online, I managed to win an eBay auction for a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 IS STM Lens, and I am VERY excited.
What do all those numbers mean, and why am I so excited?
Well, here's the quick summary: the "55-250mm" part indicates the focal length of the lens, which is how much it can magnify (aka zoom) light.
A higher (aka longer) focal length means more zoom.
Anything longer than 85mm is considered "telephoto", meaning your camera will take pictures as if through a pair of binoculars.
Photos... with a high zoom factor... like binoculars... If you've been following my site for a while now, know what I'm getting at: Finally, some QUALITY bird pictures!
Unfortunatley, the lens will take anywhere from 1.5-2 weeks to get here, so I'll be twiddling my thumbs with my 18-55mm kit lens for the time being.
In other news, I've spent my extended weekend pruning, tagging, and re-training my first LoRA!
...Which is now considered "old and outdated", despite only being about 2 months old (ML timescale, everyone...).
More concise activation words and better tagging overall has really helped the quality of outputs.
Still in the midst of testing, however.
Yours truly, Webber
As I opened the Neocities HTML editor, I notice that it's been exactly three months since my last update.
So much has happened in that time that I'd really love to write about, but due to real life obligations (see first item below), I'll make this update short:
I moved back to college to start my second year.
I was actually looking forward to going back because I managed to get a SIGNIFICANTLY better suite/roommates compare to last year (we don't talk about that).
What I was quick to noice is the lack of general electives in my schedule.
When I was a senior in high school visiting colleges, I remember talking to other engineering major students and noting how... exausted they looked.
Now... Now I understand...
All of my classes except for one involve either calculus or vector algebra and it is KILLING ME.
Regularly staying up past midnight working on calculating static equilibrium, mass balancing CSTRs, or deriving the electric flux four out of five days a week is reeeally grating.
Alright enough of the doom and gloom.
Around the beginning of August, I finally bought something I've always wanted, but could never have: a bona fide prosumer DSLR, the Canon 20D!
I've always had an affinity for optics, which is what really got me into birding.
Now that I have less and less time to myself to go far out of the city to look for birds I haven't seen, I felt like I needed something to satiate that feeling of... "discovery", and seeing the world through a different view...
And what better way to do that than with a proper camera!
Since then, I've taken 14.5 GB of photos (RAW+JPEG and exposure bracketing don't come cheap!), and had an absolute blast!
Whether it was walking through Central Park with a friend and a tripod, or just looking out my window, the art of crafting the perfect picture through that tiny viewfinder has been nothing but pleasure.
Side note: shout out to Nicholas Brezonik!
...I have no idea who this man is, but his name is being attached via metadata to every photo I take (I bought everything used), and the 20D is old enough (2004 isn't that old...) that I simply cannot find the required software to change the owner's name.
If you, reader, somehow know how to change the Owner's Name, PLEASE let me know! My e-mail is on the front page.
Lastly, my fascination with machine learning has been rekindled!
(That's the proper name for "AI", by the way. This frankly misleading label for really advanced mathamatics as "artifical intelligence" by the media is a whole can of worms that I won't get into.)
... I feel like I'm putting a target on my back by saying this, but I geniunley enjoy chatting with LLMs and directing pieces with Stable Diffusion.
There's something rewarding about having an idea in your head, and using your prooompting skills and technical know-how to make that come to life is something I find really rewarding.
Protip for any readers interested in getting their feet wet with "AI": don't get scammed. Use Paperspace. $8/month for unlimited usage of a cloud GPU beats any other subscription service out there. No usage limit bullshit like Google Colab. No censorship like character.ai or other sites.
Disclaimer: I was going to write a whole article on my 6+ months of experience with machine learning, (and I might, when I have the time!), but for any Neocities artists reading this (hello!), I'll give the short version of it:
I 100% agree that "AI art" = bad. If you're an artist, and you enjoy doing what you do, and making what you make... KEEP. FUCKING. DOING. IT.
"AI art" is not, and can never be, a replacement for human artistic talent.
Does it make sexually compromising images of your favorite characters I mean have you SEEN civit.ai? absolute cesspool! pretty pictures? Yes.
Are these pictures as good as, or better than something a human artist could make? Absolutely not.
...This wasn't a short update at all.
Total website revamp complete! A new layout, less stuffy colors, and a new font!
Despite having effectively unlimited time to work on projects due to summer break, I had been putting off doing anything constructive for about a month now.
Not for any good reason either, just sheer laziness and decompressing from the constant stress of college work.
Which is unfortunate really, because that's a month I won't be getting back.
Enough thinking about the past! Time for thinking about the future!
I won't be making any promises, since a quick skim through the below update logs reveal that I have... rather poor consistency for delivering on things I hint at.
Instead, I'll just silently work on things until they are done, and let the actually finished piece of work do the talking.
In other news, I added a new birding entry to the Life List page.
I think what I am sorely lacking is SOVL, aka passion plus inspiration.
I have been passionate for ideas in the past, but this "passion" always seemed to fizzle out after no more than a week.
Which leads me to question myself:
Are my ideas actually any good?
Am I just not putting enough effort?
What's holding me back?
I think part of the solution for me is to truly get inspired.
Like, have something really penetrate deep into my very being kind of inspired.
Which is not something that you can really encourage outside of reading new books, going to new places, etc.
As always, I'll sort myself out.
Hello again, websurfers!
I just noticed that it's been almost exactly one month since my last entry.
As much as I'd love to report that between then and now my days have been PACKED with sunshine and rainbows, they have not.
I lost about three weeks of any creative work due to mailing out my laptop for repair.
About halfway through that period, I accidentially dropped and broke my phone!
Thank goodness for the 3-2-1 backup strategy!
Only within these past couple days did I set myself up with an older phone and get my laptop back.
In retrospect, I could have made due with the crappy computer terminals that my campus library offers, but with how busy my classes have kept me, I couldn't bring myself to chip away at any writing or the "SOON™" you see on the home page.
Now for the good news: bird-bros and -sisters, I am very pleased to report that I recently spotted an uncommon (for my area) Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker!
I managed to snag a photo by carefully aligning my phone's camera with my trusty 7x35 binoculars, which wasn't easy.
I'll post the pictures on the Birding Log page soon (i.e. if I remember to do it this weekend).
As of this rainy Friday night, my final exams are two weeks away.
This translates to me twiddling my thumbs until a few nights before, where the weight of these exams will finally sink in and I'll give these tests the studying they deserve.
After wrapping up finals, I have a summer class to take care of.
Gotta maintain my nine credit advantage somehow!
Thankfully, it's virtual, so that leaves lost of free time to max and relax... and work on someting creative at LONG LAST.
Until then, one thing is certain: there is never any rest for the weary...
Wow, it's been a while.
College hasn't been easy recently, especially not after losing a week due to a stomach bug.
But I'm back, and had some ideas to boot!
Firstly, I think an aesthetic refresh is in order.
Despite making several visual updates beforehand (see the below), I kinda don't like the whole "dark on orange" look.
Feels a little too stuffy for my tastes.
However, because I'd need to relearn CSS and HTML for the third time, I'm putting this item lower on my list.
Secondly, you might be thinking: "What's what the ominious 'SOON™...' on the front page?"
Well, you'll have it wait and see :) .
It's my first time using Inkscape, and my first time making something like this, so we'll see how it goes.
I always tell myself "I'll write this totally killer idea!" and just... not do that.
Not that I think my ideas are weak or anything, I just feel like the commitment itself is daunting.
Combined with my inherent perfectionism and desire for short term gratification (which seems to be all the rage these days), I get stuck in analysis paralysis.
Always thinking to myself "Is this twist set up properly? Is this character believable? Do their actions make sense?", it really sucks.
tl;dr skill issue, I'll pick myself up eventually.
Yesterday's update was not the last layout refresh.
I REALLY hope today's update is, for my own sanity.
Better flexboxes, new variables, less spaghetti HTML and CSS.
Jeez, I've spent the past few days mostly refining the layout and yet there's only one real page of content…
I have ideas for pages, don't get me wrong, but the process of drafting, writing, and finally setting up the HTML will take some time.
Also, I resurrected by Paperspace account.
What does that mean for you?
You'll have to wait and find out on one of my new web pages! Which I haven't even started…
At least you can say hello to Butchy on the homepage!
The third (and hopefully last) layout refresh!
Additional pages, more centralized CSS, and better margins/padding.
Did I mention the new font?
Switched from Courier New to Robot Mono, which reads a bit easier in my opinion.
Alas, the font comes at a price: no more background MIDI :(.
As much as I love these little files, I felt like I'd rather have more zounds than sounds.
Remember from yesterday when I said I'd rework the Birding Log?
Well, it's back, and better than ever! Pruned the bird list to only my nicest photos, and added more recent videos in the form of .gifs.
Lastly, I've heard reports that there is a secret link of some kind on one of the new pages, but I don't have the time to investigate… Could you help me out and give them a once over?
Another layout refresh!
Spent most of the day reworking the website's flexboxes, only to end up preferring the old flexbox design.
Changed everything to iframes for easy updating, so today wasn't a complete wash.
Also considering whether to scrap the MIDIs for some more fitting .mp3's.
MIDI has the old skool vibe, but mp3 has more fitting music.
More pages coming soon!
Planning on reworking the Birding Log page with a better gallery (hopefully).
Big layout refresh!
Really like how it turned out, especially since re-learning HTML, CSS, and some JS was tricky.
Not quite done yet.
Now featuring MIDIs!
Went to my local cemetery to see where I'll be six feet under in about seventy years.
Because the cemetary itself has a bit of forest, I brought my 7x35 binoculars just in case I saw something.
Quick Fun Fact: "7x35" refers to the specification of binoculars. The pair of binoculars I used magnifies the image 7 times, and has a 35mm objective lens diameter (the lens you see out of; bigger = brighter image).
About half an hour after arriving, I saw what I assumed was a bird of prey perch in a tree a distance away from where I was standing.
The most direct route to the tree was via a small, concrete path that ran in between several rows of gravestones.
I saw it as good of a path as any, and slowly made by way over, trying to be as quiet as I could as to not disrupt the dead silence (heh) of the cemetery.
Roughly halfway through my journey, I accidentially stepped on some dried acorn shells, which ground against the concrete and made a terrible crunching sound.
Luckily, the sound didn't scare the bird away from the tree.
What it did scare was an unseen American Robin that was sitting behind one of the gravestones in the row in front of me!
The startled robin fluttered it's wings loudly, which in turn startled me!
Instict promped me to backpedal, giving the robin enough clearence to take off, shooting down the remainder of the path as fast as it could.
Feeling the adrenaline rush of a fight-or-flight response, I looked back up at the now birdless tree.
A few minutes after this incident, I heard some odd vocalizations coming from behind me.
Instantly turning around, I closed my eyes, held my breath, and listened for the silence to be broken by the sounds again.
When they eventually came, I turned my head towards what I thought was the source of the sound.
Lo and behold, there was a bird I had never seen before!
After looking through my binoculars to confirm that "Yep, I don't know what I am looking at", I quickly aligned my camera with my binoculars lens and snapped a photo.
A few seconds later, the bird flew off.
As of writing, I am fairly certain that the bird in the picture below is a Yellow-Shafted Norther Flicker.
I could be off with the "Yellow-Shafted" part though, seeing as this is the first time I've needed to identify a subspecies of bird.
This past summer, I was lucky enough to live right next to not one but two bird nests!
Instead of using my phone's camera, I used an actual videocamera that had telescopic zoom, resulting in some really exceptional footage!
First, I saw a House Sparrow nest in my neighbor's tree from my beroom window by chance (first gif below), which had three baby chicks, one of which didn't look too happy.
A few weeks later, we found a Northern Mockingbird nest just in front of our front porch (second gif below) with four baby chicks.
I feel like the chances of two birds nesting not more than 50ft away from each other is very slim, but I'm glad it happened!