News & Stuff

These posts are short blog articles written about me, my friends, and my interests.
You can also try the frequent posts over here in my custom microblogging experiment.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Friday, February 3, 2012 at 3:41 PM in the News & Stuff section

progress in retrograde

Ambient layers from the past and future are presented to you by Kittinfish Mountain. I personally think it's here now because maybe the world was gonna end this year or perhaps because Walt Disney was theorized by Buckminster Fuller's pet chimp to be the inventor of the modern dog. This album reminds me of the last time I plugged my plastic cotton gin website into my iGenital app and the sparks flew right into the face of space future one. Well I'm not really a music critic so put down your gosh darned Cuisinart ________ Humanoid and enjoy the last days of terra earth firma by listening to this great work of music called Progress in Retrograde. I think my favorite is the final epic track Omnimover Deluxe.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Monday, January 16, 2012 at 8:50 PM in the News & Stuff section

the key to drupal

Isn't that a lovely image? I found it at a site that I dare not link to as I have plenty enough spam traffic from that country.

This week I finished another Drupal upgrade. Drupal 7! If you don't know what Drupal is, well it's basically the content engine that runs my website here. Totally a very excellent tool and absolutely free. Drupal is similar to Wordpress which you may have heard of. Drupal is very powerful, but using this power has its costs. One of them is maintenance. Uugggggh yuck. This upgrade was nail biting tedious work that resulted in my website looking and functioning nearly the same. This was my 3rd "major version" upgrade since this website project started in 2005.

Let's have a quick look at how much time these upgrades took:
  • Drupal version 4 to 5  =  10 hours of work (link to that news post)
  • Drupal version 5 to 6  =  40 hours of work (and that news post)
  • Drupal version 6 to 7  =  200 hours of work (you're reading this news post)

Isn't that looking exponential? Yikes a Drupal 8 upgrade in a couple years could be 1000 hours. Out of the millions and millions of Drupal sites out there, likely very few have upgraded from version 4 to 5 to 6 to 7. (not possible to skip a number!) That's because it's becoming to be a pain in the ass. Not that I'm really complaining. This is what I do. I am Steven Read Dot Com. But because I have laid some good eggs into this Drupal basket, I think about this stuff and like to watch out for bad apples. The archiving of data and technological creations is obviously a very complex subject. And when you are knee deep in the shit of thousands of broken data structures, trying to keep the blue train a rollin', it feels serious man! So fragile.

When planning the upgrade and seeking advice, some asked why upgrade to Drupal 7 at all? Honestly, there weren't *that* many new features that I needed. Maybe it just buys me time. As here comes Web 4.0 and Drupal 8, Drupal 9, 10, 15, 23. Yay new versions! Or maybe Drupal peaks soon and then I'll have to migrate everything to the "next big thing". Its dizzying. When will I even have time to make new art content? Technology is the master, I am the slave. Haven't I preached about avoiding this relationship? What Thee Fuck. Maybe the idea to give all your data to other companies so they can manage it for you isn't just a silly fashion. But then I would have really bad startup and/or corporate logos surrounding my work. And maybe they would go out of business and sell my data. Maybe they would change the visual interface into something very sucky. But maybe they would even let me download all my data eventually. Maybe not. It certainly doesn't sound like I would be in control of my own work. Someone else's short-term goals would always trump my long-term ones. So instead... I maintain, therefore I am.

So why was the Drupal 6->7 upgrade such a mess? Many reasons.

The first 50 hours went into reverse engineering a module which died with Drupal 6, the Category Module. This wasn't just any old module. Back in Drupal 4 and 5, this was *the* module that many folks built their sites around. You "simply" created these nice hierarchical categories and then it would generate all the other drupaley stuff like nodes, taxonomies, views, menus, breadcrumbs, etc. Seemed like Drupal paradise...

awesome drupal category module logo

...with such nice sunsets, but then you wake up with a throbbing hangover and you have to reverse engineer your entire website if you want to live to see the light of Drupal 7. After that was complete I realized the theme (basically a system of code hooks and templates) I was using also died with Drupal 6. In 2005 I originally chose an empty, skeletal theme called "foundation" which I liked for its Drupal default-ness. I ran with that aesthetic, and still do today - it's the apple of my eye. But visual simplicity doesn't mean programmatic simplicity. I had to upgrade the theme manually, which has all kinds of hooks and function calls to the Drupal API. And of course wouldn't you know, Drupal 7 has a completely revamped API with very little that is backwards compatible. Grrrrrrrr.

Yes the 'new and improved' Drupal 7 core API has thousands upon thousands of changes. Take a look here and here and scroll down the page very quickly because it's fun like that. And if you assume those documents cover all the changes, you'd be wrong. Call me a dystopian, call me crazy, but at least tell me why thousands of awesome brilliant volunteer coders would create such a nightmarish scenario? Can't we at least have a wrapper to support old interfaces for a transitory period? Drupal is a headless monster. Of course I am very thankful for having this hungry monster at home for dinner every night, but whoa. Yeah. I've been in this business a long time. Definitely not chill. But somehow I worked my way down to the bottom of the barrel here as I upgraded my custom module code, some contributed modules that I had hooked and hacked, views (generated queries), administration settings, all kinds of stuff. Some code was upgraded automagically (coder module), but that didn't peel away much. At one point during the upgrade when my site was finally running in Drupal 7, every single page type on my site had errrors and broken chunks strewn about. I have over 1000 pages here now, many containing custom programming, it's alot to test.

It was epic. Well, no not really. I'm just being dramatic. It was applesauce. Just 200 hours not including planning and preparation. I have spent more hours than that on just one painting (this yellow one for instance). But this was maintenance duty, not paint on a blank canvas. It wasn't much creative fun. Or was it? Could long-term software maintenance be "art"? Perhaps it is the key to something new. And anything worthwhile is hard work, so I'll stop rambling about my software right around now and get back to Durpal contents craetion. Maybe next time I can obtain some funding and hire someone else to help in the code kitchen. Perhaps I can also get them to help peel back for you some of this damaged metaphor usage.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 1:41 PM in the News & Stuff section

cy twombly cy twombly cy twombly

Earlier this week I submitted a short audio poem about the recently deceased painter Cy Twombly. The Dead Hare Radio Hour was seeking input via voice-mail for their latest show about mister Twombly. I greatly enjoyed the show which included thoughts, poems, and interviews including one with John Waters, and was more than delighted when I heard host Chris Albert remix my hastily scribbled poem. As it turned out the show's voice-mail number was connected to "Google Voice" which then tried to transcribe it. As I repeated only the words "Cy Cy Cy Cy Cy" over some jazz music, Google claims my poem was the following:

All right
Last night...
All right all right by 5% write back.
By clients
Side by side
Technical bud

If you would like to hear these poems then HERE is the original recording and then HERE is the version that Chris made and HERE is the entire episode #17 on Cy Twombly. This may or may not have been all that relevant to the Cy Twombly conversation but what the hell. Thanks Cy and Chris and gVoice, and be sure and check out The Dead Hare Radio Hour for more broadcasts/podcasts!

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Monday, July 4, 2011 at 4:32 PM in the News & Stuff section
artist homepage google search

For the past 3 years my home page has been dominated by a gigantic flattened spinning beach ball of death. An animated, anti-aliasing nightmare of pure pulsating color. It was kept there in the spirit of old website splash screens popular in the 90's, which were IMO functionally useless but fun and welcoming. Since tossing up the beach ball in 2008, I have seen more people doing spinning beach ball art and color gradient gimmicks than I would care to admit. I'm losing my edge. I'm losing my edge to the kids from France and London. Well today I am happy (and a bit sad actually) to report to you that it has been archived here and replaced by a new home page design. I'm goin' all pro, yo. Well, besides the fancy thumbnail hover at the top, for now it's mostly a summary aggregation of my main content types: projects, points, and posts. But that is NOT to suggest it was easy to assemble.

Believe it or not when you search google for "artist homepage" I am the 6th hit. The image above is not a joke. Bob Dylan has still got me beat, god bless him, but indeed not fucking Coldplay! (everybody knows they're just boring plagiarists) Gonna need to keep at it but I'm satisfied with where I am today with Steve Or Steven Read Dot Com. I've been working on this website "autodidocumentation" project for 7 years now. I have performed all the design and coding of this site myself, and it's even filled with thousands of chunks of my very own content, wow. Not sure where this is going but hopefully somewhere. These days Mister Steve Or Steven Read isn't much besides an artist homepage. Get out the violin. I am broke. I have few connections and am a reject of every industry and scene in America. Oh shit I am even turning 40 soon. I have no studio/working space and no shows lined up. So I just create web content. Therefore I am. A content artist. Welcome to my new home page!

[UPDATE] 2 weeks later, the redesign of my homepage has caused me to disappear entirely from the google search results for "artist homepage". The promise of new technology. It promises nothing and delivers even less.

[UPDATE AGAIN] 1 week later and now I am the number 3 hit for "artist homepage"! I got above Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan, but now I am confused. This isn't the first time I have obsessed over some silly search terms. In 2007 it was hash browns eggs bacon peas lettuce milk sprouts okra that I was hungry for. I probably need serious medical attention.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 3:27 PM in the News & Stuff section

Found a couple photography projects with similarity (and vast difference) to one of my own projects entitled eBayTV so check 'em all out! Sublime, Sublime. Two of these three collected dots were found already connected over at Michael Day's Tumblr.

Laura Splan - Mirror Mirror

Laura Splan has a project called Mirror, Mirror from 2010 where she collected photos from eBay which contained mirrors for sale. Her website has a gallery of them, while selected photos have been printed into a book currently on exhibit and for sale through the SFMOMA Shadows$hop project.

Penelope Umbrico - Craigslist TVs

Penelope Umbrico's project For Sale/TVs From Craigslist (2009) collects the photography of sellers who were caught using their flash on a blank TV screen. Her rigorous process continues as she exhibits prints while posting them for sale on Craigslist, taking into account the television's original locality and price.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 2:08 PM in the News & Stuff section

Added a few software generated videos that I made in 2006 to my modest vimeo library. 10 videos in total were made in this series and technically speaking they are supposed to be shown on a television inside of a microwave. As depicted on the TV in the Microwave project page it was shown in a gallery in Denver once but didn't sell and is currently missing in action.

Each video was made using a slowly-rotating, generative, custom software algorithm that I wrote by hand with C#.NET code. The somewhat lazy algorithm randomly chooses and places a bunch of squirmy, hand-drawn lines. Images were output in succession of their creation, with the final composition being shown briefly and then 'cooked' into colored static. You can be sure that the generative software art 'scene' in the mid-2000's had no place in their code-materialistic world for this trashy style of con-ceptual generative art. So my generative art practice got even trashier.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 3:41 PM in the News & Stuff section

In case you forgot, I made a website somewhat recently and I think its called The above image is one that I like from a page there called "Plastic Homeopath Cream". I think the website is finished. It is not really that big, but perhaps big enough. And it is a terrible website. IGENITAL DOT COM is perhaps a spoof of a spoof of a possible future sex toy gadget. You could call it CMS art. The approach is something of a hybrid of this website I made back in 1996 and this blog I made in 2007-2008. I hope you either love or hate the iGenital information and I thank you Mr. or Mrs. Future Customer for buying into this bullshit.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 1:56 PM in the News & Stuff section

numbers led clock    ipad crt enclosure

Jonas Damon has some beautiful tech-minimal designs in particular I love (and purchased one of) his Numbers LED alarm clock. The CRT iPad Enclosure almost makes me want to buy an iPad just for displaying some super slick static.

fireplace simulacra

Yury of Banana Design Labs has placed a miniature fireplace inside a miniature TV. And it costs less than $20. Tell me why you would NOT want to add this to your gadget/art collection?!

sir sampleton

Paul of SOFTOFT TECHECH has sired Sir Sampleton ... "A musical instrument app for your iPhone that's simple enough for children, but with enough features to also be useful to musicians and producers." And it costs less than $3. Tell me why you would NOT want to add this to your IPHONEONE?!

toy instruments book

Eric of Mini Organ has made a book with MBP and also a sound archive containing nothing but vintage toy electronic instruments!

meggy jr tabletop system

Michale Molero built a tabletop mini-arcade machine out of a Meggy Jr. System. Found this here at Evil's Lab. Totally inspired! And flattered that he demoed his "Meggycade Jr" unit with my Super Monkey Kong game.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 11:52 AM in the News & Stuff section
facebook island

Still hacking away at creating my own private Facebook here called Points. They are sort of a cross between a blog post and a status update and a flashlight. I don't like Facebook much but admittedly got addicted to posting content in that style. Daily life on my little island here has been somewhat lonely so I just finished building a thatched bamboo commenting roof to the Points. Its not that I think my points are so terribly interesting, nor that I'm trying to build a massive tweety followship with them, but I am pretty much saying "fuck facebook" (and twitter while we're at it) while actually doing something about it. View some Points or don't. Leave a comment, or don't. But please DO spend more time away from the Faceland... its a big web out there teeming with life.

Posted by Steve Or Steven Read on Friday, November 5, 2010 at 8:53 AM in the News & Stuff section

Yo. Have been building a new content type into my site here called Points. They are these small chunks of data similar to what one might give to sites like twitter, facebook, tumblr, dumpfm... often social in nature, but sometimes not. This year I have stopped using such sites and am making an effort to keep my online data activities "in house" whenever possible. I'm an architect and control freak, forgive me. I've been working on the web a long time and have grown weary of cool sites getting popular and selling out my data to God knows who. Well anyway, my Points are not yet bi-directionally 'sharable' in the social media sense, but they will be as soon as the magic elves of ye Internet invent a communication standard for doing so. It will come. I will wait. In the meantime I will be posting my tweety-dump-status-update-points to the world wide web right here on my very own website via HTTP and RSS. And sorry to all the Facebook friends whom I greatly miss, but to be honest I probably wouldn't hang with you at McDonalds or Wal-Mart either!