Six Programs for Starving Artists

A Program List

Like most freelancers out there, I don’t have spare cash for subscription fees. Approximately 99.9% of my disposable income goes toward coffee, booze, and books.  Side-note: If you haven’t read Stiff by Mary Roach, you should. Informative but also surprisingly lighthearted.

Back to the point. Graphic design, photo editing, 3D modeling, GIS packages—the serious stuff can swallow your wallet whole. Luckily, the internet is a magical place, full of open-source alternatives to help level the playing field. Here’s my top picks.

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Processing: How to Script Spanish Verbs and Pronouns

A Processing Guide

I’ve been on siesta for about a month now, so today I’m starting a new series. This one is going to be an experiment in building language-learning scripts.

Picking up a second language is really friggin’ hard.  There are apps, but those seem to be tailored for total beginners. I took Spanish in high school, so I remember a lot of the rules. I don’t want to build from the ground up. I want something closer to a crash course. An interactive one.

So I turned to Processing.

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JSON: How to Read Your Google Location Data

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A few days ago, I was actively avoiding my life plans (and scrolling through WordPress) when I stumbled upon a GIF from Vincze Istvan showing where Google had plotted his locations over the last few years.

And my brain exploded. I mean, I knew in the back of my mind that anytime I checked my email or looked for directions or asked Lyft for a ride, my information at that particular time and place was probably being stored somewhere. That storage place had always felt far too abstract to make me paranoid.

Until I saw it projected in a GIF in a supremely tangible way.

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Blender: How to Scale Down Coordinates for a Map Scene

A GifGuide 2 Maps

Getting coordinates to scale properly to Blender units has been extremely frustrating for me since I started attempting more 3D maps. So, finally, in a fit of rage this weekend, I wrote a function to do it for me.

It scales the latitude and longitude down along the Z (height) and X (width) axes, taking into account the size of a base map oriented along those axes. In my version, it places a sphere at each coordinate set, but that can be easily changed to other objects.

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VBA: What Exactly is a FileSystemObject?

I really wish Hyperbole and a Half was still posting.

It’s friggin’ magic. FileSystemObject is how you run scripts on your files and folders in VBA. You want to create 100 files on your desktop automatically? It’ll let you do that. You want to delete files with specific names in a directory? It’ll let you do that too. It’s also pretty crucial to viruses like Anna Kournikova and the Love Bug, which I’ve been looking at recently. So here’s how to make a FileSystemObject.

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Malware Anatomy: The Anna Kournikova Worm

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I don’t advocate the use of viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, or anything else that can screw up someone’s system or violate their privacy.

It’s oddly satisfying to peak inside them though. Like disassembling a clock.

Kournikova was my first pick because she’s written in Visual Basic, which isn’t too painful to read. She’s also so old it’s unlikely anyone would be able to use this walk-through to create something malicious. Old in malware years anyway. In human years, she’ll be seventeen next month.

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VBA: How to Customize Font to Specific Text in Word

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Short one today.

I’m getting ready to write a post on worms and realized it’d be really nice if Word could mimic the font formatting that happens in the Visual Basic editor. Color coding helps me see relationships a lot easier when I’m trying to get my head around another person’s script.

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