Using X-Ray goggles to remix a website for the first time

I’m working with some other people in the Fall 2013 Headless version of ds106 on a final project in which we are creating a website and various media around an artificial product called the GIFaChrome camera. One thing I volunteered to do is to use Mozilla’s X-ray goggles to remix a wikipedia page to make it talk about the GIFaChrome. 

This has been pretty easy so far, mostly because I have some basic html (I mean basic, like I can do a link and sometimes, if I look it up, I know how to insert an image). 

Here’s what I’ve got so far. I can do the text, and I can even figure out how to replace the images (though I haven’t done that yet). I even managed to make one of the footnotes go to the right page (originally when you clicked on the footnotes they went to the original page rather than the remixed page). What I did is link the footnote to simply the remixed page plus “#References”:

This made the footnote jump to the end of the page. Score! Except that I will have to change these links once the page is fully done because the link is to the page as it is now, and each time I save it it becomes a new link (with a new number at the end: 4, 5, 6, etc.). So we’ll see if this actually ends up working in the end.

The thing I’m struggling with at the moment is the table of contents. When you click on the TOC links, they go to the original page contents, and the same for the footnotes. My html skills are not good enough to figure out how to fix this so that the TOC links go to the remixed website contents and the same for the footnotes. 

The problem with the TOC is that when I use the X-ray goggles I just get this: 


This doesn’t give me a link to any page, so I can’t change the link. But when I click on the link in the remixed page it goes to the “description” section of the original page, not the remixed page.

Probably I shouldn’t worry about this and maybe just take the TOC and out entirely, but I’d love it if I could fix it!

Any ideas?

Rainy day photoblitz

Week five of the Headless ds106 course is about telling visual stories in photos. One of the assignments we could do is a “photoblitz,” in which we take as many photos as we can in 15 minutes, trying to adhere to several suggestions for them amongst a list of possibilities (see previous link for the photoblitz assignment).

Today, Saturday, was the first chance I had to take the time to do this, and, of course—it being Vancouver, BC, after all—it was raining. But actually, this ended up being pretty cool in terms of photos, I thought. Okay, no shadows to play with, but some nice effects nonetheless. The hardest part was holding an umbrella while taking pictures. I used my phone just to see what it could do, which made the one-handed photo-taking easier. Sure, I could have just worn a raincoat, but I was going out later and had a fancy wool coat on. So umbrella it was.

As usual, I’m not thrilled with my phone photos. The focus is not great, usually, especially with the somewhat low light there was today. But some of the images turned out okay.

We were to start and end with images of something that shows the time, so we could capture the 15 minutes that way. So here’s the first image:


We were asked to pick our best five to upload to Flickr with the “ds106photoblitz” tag, and I did five not counting the “time” images.

This one follows the suggestion to “take a photo dominated by a single color.”


I wrote this about this image when I posted it on Flickr:

“These planters are in a pool of water in front of a building, where the rest of the outside landscape seems very “natural,” with water, pebbles, plants, etc. They stand out, though they don’t look quite as bright as they do in the image. That’s one of the reasons I like this image. They seem to shout at me here.”

The red looks almost artificial, almost too much, really in-your-face. But I didn’t do anything to the photo after taking it—this is how it came out. And I like it this way.

Here is a photo that “represents the idea of “openness.”


I liked that there were two open circles in this image, as well as converging lines (another one of the suggestions—two in one!). I think the rain makes the lines stand out even more due to the reflections in the water.

Here’s where you can find this image on Flickr.

This photo “emphasizes mostly dark tones or mostly light ones”:


This one emphasizes both light and dark tones, though when I took it I was thinking of it in terms of dark ones. There were a lot of dark tones around me today, but as I wrote when I posted this one on Flickr:

“I was happy to find a place to take a photo where there was one thing that stood out as different from the rest. I love the colour of this tree as well as that of the greenery behind it, and especially how the two contrast.”

As I noted already, with the rain today there were no interesting shadows. Except I made some with the phone by taking pictures of the trees against the grey sky. So here’s my interpretation of “take a photo of an interesting shadow.”


I thought I might have to play around with the colour saturation on this one, but it looks pretty good on its own, like a b/w image even though it’s colour. I took several of these with different trees, and most did look like they were green trees against a grey sky. This one had both the most interesting tree “shadows” and almost looked like shadows.

Here is this image on Flickr.

The last image is one taken from “an unusal angle.” The iPhone makes this easy with the ability to take pictures with a forward-facing camera. held it under some flowers:image

This one I did adjust using some settings in iPhoto. I played with the exposure, saturation and tint, to get more of the effect of transparency in the petals, and to make the colour stand out more. I also like the placement of the flowers in the frame of the image, though I’m not sure why, exactly. I just think it looks good.

I don’t know if altering the photos is part of the photoblitz idea, but here’s the original for comparison:


I like the new one much better! (I also cropped it to cut out the line at the bottom.)

Here’s the enhanced version on Flickr.

I finished a little bit late, as you can see (didn’t watch my watch carefully enough!). But it was pretty close to 15 minutes.


I was also cold and wet by this time, and I spent the next hour or so in a coffee shop, watching the rain pour as I prepped a lecture on Epicurus!

Rapping, scratching and popping the Headless week 4 audio

Link to audio mp3 (be patient—it may take a little time to download!):

Rochelle Lockridge and I had a great time recording a podcast this past weekend, talking about some of the fantastic audio that had been made the past week by participants in the Headless ds106 course.

Rochelle has already done a great blog post explaining how we managed to do the podcast itself, recording both video and audio. We initially posted it on YouTube because neither one of us had an extra 50 minutes of space available on Soundcloud, and I can’t upload files that big onto either one of the blogs I have right now (dammit—yet another reason to get my act together and get my Word Press install from my domain from reclaim hosting up and running. Yep, on my thousand-mile-long to-do list). I had no idea, actually, that Rochelle was recording video as well as audio, and I spent the first few minutes not looking very excited—it’s that face you have when you are just listening to something and aren’t interacting visually with someone.

I love how Rochelle was able to put together chicken gifs made by John Johnston (see his posts with those gifs here and here) into the beginning and end of the video, moving along in time to the music, which was the Mel Blanc and Sound Effect Man- Chicken Farm Song.

I wanted to give a tribute in some way to John Johnston’s chicken podcasts that he’s been doing for the Headless ds106 lately, and this was a great way to do so! You can hear his chicken podcasts by looking at this category on his blog.

The audio we talked about

Rochelle has already given the links to each of the works we discussed, on her blog post about this podcast, but I’ll put them at the end here too, just so I have them for future reference!

To find the audio I just searched Twitter, Google+, and the ds106 Headless blog flow for audio assignments from last week, checked that they were licensed to reuse, and if they weren’t I asked if we could play them.

I also wanted to point to Mariana’s blog post in which she suggests the radio show she wants to do with Talky Tina, for which she made the ds106radio bumper we talked about in the podcast. You can find that post here.

And I said something false about the ds106 rap by Stefanie Jeske. Somehow I heard that she said “It’s about us” in the rap, which isn’t quite right, but hey…that’s what my brain made out of part of her rap, because, I guess, that’s what it’s about for me!

Some tips/suggestions

Licensing and downloading—Soundcloud

Many people had made their works CC-licensed in some way, but hadn’t made them downloadable from Soundcloud. One of the great things about ds106, in my experience, is having people take what I’ve made and make new things from it—it’s like the ultimate validation, and it’s also like having a conversation with the other person. So if you’re willing to have that happen, or to have your work showcased in an audio or visual presentation of some kind, please do make it available to download!

On Soundcloud, it just requires ticking a box when you’re uploading your audio (you can go back and edit and do it later, too). Same thing for adding a CC license to your work on Soundcloud—you have to do that on purpose, as the default is blank, which means all rights reserved. And if it’s all rights reserved, then we can’t use it for this sort of purpose without your permission.

Amplifying if the audio is too soft/low, in Audacity

At one point in the podcast we talked about ways to make your audio louder if it’s too quiet. Rochelle suggested just duplicating tracks so you have two of one of them if it’s not very loud (though you need to make sure they’re lined up perfectly!).

Rochelle posted on her blog post about our podcast the sound effects story she did where she had to double the mosquitos track, but I’ll add it in here too, just for future reference.

I talked about using the “Amplify” effect in Audacity, and I thought I’d clarify something about that here.

In Audacity, you can select a portion of or a whole a track, go to Effects->Amplify, and choose how much you want to amplify the sound. Here’s what it looks like in a screenshot:


I wasn’t sure if you could choose to make the new peak amplitude 0 or not, but yes, that’s what the default is—unless you change the numbers, it will make the new peak amplitude 0, which basically (if I understand it correctly) means that it will be as loud as possible without clipping—without having some of the audio cut out because it’s too loud. I usually go just a bit below that, but not because I know for a fact there’s any good reason to do so. There probably isn’t.

Of course, if you want to allow clipping, you can do that with the Amplify effect.

You can also put in a negative number in the top box in order to de-amplify (there must be a word for that)—to reduce the size of the waveforms and how loud it sounds.

Noise removal in Audacity

I also mentioned that it’s possible to do noise removal in Audacity, which is especially useful if you have a track that has a good deal of ambient noise (like a refrigerator, wind, computer fan), or if you have had to amplify a track to get it to be loud enough, but have also amplified the ambient noise too (Rochelle says doubling tracks can help avoid this problem).

How this works in Audacity is explained nicely in this Audacity wiki page:

It’s a bit tricky because you have to first select the section with only the sound of the noise you want to remove, then go to Effects->Noise Removal and click “Get noise profile,” as in the screenshot below. This lets Audacity figure out what the sound is that you want to remove.


Then you select the whole track, go to Effect->Noise Removal again and then that time you can click “OK” (which, if you notice, is greyed out in the screenshot above, because I hadn’t gotten the noise profile first). You can play around with the settings in the bottom of the noise removal dialogue box if you know what you’re doing, but I don’t so I leave them as is.

Since you need a few seconds of just the noise you want to remove in order for this to work, it’s really helpful to make sure you wait a few seconds when doing a recording before you start speaking, playing music, what have you.

This is a good idea for other reasons too—if you need to insert some “silence” into another part of the track for some reason (as may need to happen if you have to edit some things out, change some things around), it’s useful to have the right “silence” to insert—that which fits with the rest of the recording. You can add in pure silence using Audacity (using Generate->silence), but it won’t sound like the empty bits in the rest of the track.

Sometimes you get a bit of a weird effect with this noise removal thing, as you’ll still get some of the noise during the “talking” part of the audio, but it will be more or less gone in the “silent” part, and you can kind of hear it go in and out. You can mask this if you want, and even perhaps remove the need for noise removal altogether if you add some nice background noise (like maybe a recording of being outside with birds, or a street scene), or use music behind dialogue.

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who created audio this week! I’m so sorry if we missed any (we were aiming for just one from each person, so some people had more than one thing we didn’t include here), but we really tried to find it all.

And a big thank you to Rochelle for recording and editing this podcast during one of my busiest weekends ever. It wouldn’t have happened if it were just up to me!

Links to the audio we discussed

1. John Johnston: ds106 radio bumper dub number two:

2. Mariana Funes: “Audio Giffing”

3. Mikhail Gershovich,ds106 radio bumper:

4. Sally Wilson, “ds106 bumper”

5. Cathleen Nardi, “Uncork at the cellar” ds106 radio bumper

6. Ary Aranguiz: sound effects story, “Invasion”

7. Dave Barr, “The Banana Peel”–sound effects story

8. Mariana Funes, sound effects story: “happily ever after…maybe”

9.  Kevin Hodgson, “Sound Effects Poem: A Life in Draft”

10. Stefanie Jeske, “Stefanie’s ds106 rap”

11. Hayfa Majdoub, “What is Philosophy?

And bumpers at the beginning and end:

Rocky Lou’s ds106 radio bumper mashup:

Ary Aranguiz, ds106 radio Bumper1: