I’ve been holding off on launching my own personal website for a few years now.
And when I mean launch, actually launch and use the fricking thing. I had installed WordPress on it a millennia ago, importing everything over from my livejournal upon it. I started double posting things on both livejournal and WordPress at the same time, actually, using MarsEdit as an intermediary (I seriously can’t say enough good things about that app- buy it if you do any sort of blogging on more than one site. Hell, when I posted on insulinfunk years and years ago, I would keep all my drafts on MarsEdit before I published them on the site proper) before I gave up on Livejournal a few years ago. Since then, I’ve been posting things to my original URL (danielorta.com) from time to time, when my mind actually remembered to post things to it.
The biggest problem I’ve been facing is my own satisfation. I’ve been trying to get something off the ground, something I can be proud of. And I’ve tried- time and time again. I’ve tried multiple ideas and designs, and honestly, I’m sick and tired of the whole process. I finally have a simple, clean design I’m satisfied with.
So in short- I’m relaunching my website, now here, at DJ Orta dot com. It’ll have a small version of my portfolio work (done so far) along with some other goodies.
Countless nights. Countless days. I forced myself not to play video games- only playing Battlefield 3 when friends wanted to play with me. Games that I have been looking for, like Mass Effect 3, were barely touched throughout this month. My brand new Playstation Vita was only picked up twice, only to download new applications for it. There wasn’t a day where I was writing a screenplay. I couldn’t stop myself. And it was wonderful. Script Frenzy, at least for me, is now over, with a total of…
178 pages. 178 pages of script. I didn’t think I would write so much, but once I started… I couldn’t stop myself. Hell, there were times I wanted to slack off, where I kept saying to myself “Okay, after this page, I’ll stop and watch a movie or something.” But the movie never came. I just continued to write, write, and write. That night, I finished one of my screenplays, writing until 3 am until it was done.
The words “The End” never felt so great, but I was eager to just go back and start editing it. At that point, I forced myself to go to bed. I had work that day at 10 am. But I didn’t care. I felt like I had accomplished something new during that time, or rather, feel that sense of accomplishment I hadn’t felt in years. I compiled all the pages I had written today- counting them up in one file. Right after I had counted it, I paused for a second, reviewing over the work I’ve done so far. And then I started writing again, pouring through my work. It felt fantastic.
I originally started to write in the sixth grade. I started writing some ridiculous screenplays back then. I still have them all- I pour through them from time to time to amuse myself, to see what I had come up with as a teenager with an overreactive imagination. Back then, one person was my biggest influence, my biggest motivator to continue writing screenplays. It was Taylor.
Taylor always cheered me on to write- back then, I mostly wrote silly comedies, things that I knew would make Taylor laugh. And I loved making him laugh- his face filled with glee as I read stories aloud to him. I remember riding along with him in his Black Mini- sitting in the passenger seat as I read hastily written scripts on lined paper. I would be watching for Taylor’s reaction- that sense of relief and joy I got when he cackled in joy, slamming his palm down on the steering wheel as he proclaimed his love for the screenplay. I could think of no other joy then that very moment. After his death, my motivation to write… dried up.
I would come up with ideas here and there, but my need to get it down on paper was nonexistent. I did write the last Script Frenzy in 2011, but even then, right after I finished, I would stop completely writing. It felt like an obligation back then. I feel like that’s gone now. I’m writing screenplays every day, even if its for only five or ten minutes. Maybe in the morning, as I’m reading my news headlines of the day, I’ll flip over to Celtx (the amount of love I’ve professed about this app is bordering on an endorsement deal. I seriously wish they would have paid me for the amount of times i’ve talked to people about the app) and start to write, or edit things. I’ve finished counting my pages for Script Frenzy, and I still want to write more. It’s no longer an obligation to write- I just want to keep writing and writing more. I love this feeling. During this month, I went to go to visit Taylor. I brought the iPad along, reading to him passages of my scripts to him. Passages he would have loved.
I can’t think of a more apt thing to say now other than: holy fuck. I don’t know what came over me the last week. I’ve been spending every minute writing more for my ScriptFrenzy. Again, I have to hand it to Celtx for its syncing feature: whenever I could, I would pop open at least one version of the software. If I was stuck in line someplace, the iPhone version would be brought up to make some notes or quick changes. The iPad version would be brought up during breaks and lunch at work. The Mac version when I was at home. I just kept writing and writing. It was perfect. I hadn’t written a single page in the last six months. Call it writers block, call it focusing on work, but I had to do something, and this friendly competition seemed to have done the trick. And I still want to write more. I’ve been writing four feature length movies, two of which are approaching 70 pages each. I want to see how much I can do through the end of the month. Maybe I’ll finish at least one of them.
I’ve taken a break from writing to see how many pages I’d written this week so far for Script Frenzy. So far it seems a pretty 41 pages.
I’m actually really impressed I didn’t think I was able to write so much in the course of the week, even with taking two days off from doing it. Regularly, I planned to write only 4 pages a day, but averaging 6 is completely unexpected for me. I’m almost to the halfway point already. It helps that I’m working on multiple scripts- if I get stuck on one, I quickly move on to another.
Celtx has also been my savior through this. The syncing service has been a lifesaver while moving scripts between my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. I’m now aiming to go to 120 pages by the end of April. Back to writing, I guess.
The joke was made time and time again. Mostly by my friends in the gaming industry. Or at least, the question was given more times than I could count. “Hey, played that game yet?” Panzer Dragoon Orta. And no, I haven’t played it. I’ve never owned an Xbox. Until recently. Hello there, namesake. Used, on amazon, like new. Sweet.
I’ve been busy writing. My interest for a while now is to go into the filmmaking industry, in one form or the other. I’ve been writing scripts, in particular, since the sixth grade, so if anything, my hope is to become a screenwriter. It’s been something almost ingrained into my being- I can’t go a day without writing, without trying to come up with a character or how to try and compose a scenario or an objective for the next scene I write. Even as I work at my job, I think of what horrible thing could befall a character in one script (I’ve been quietly working on a zombie comedy series for a while now), or how to end another as the characters sacrifice themselves. I’ve read so many books on how to write said screenplays. Hell, even in my freshman year of high school, I even had a teacher who was a screenwriter- he kept piles and piles of film scripts in the back of the classroom. I would sit in the back of the class and voraciously study all of them, quite happily, in fact (most of the time not paying attention to the class). I read the screenplay for Total Recall, front to back, before I even saw the movie there. I studied the styles of the writing, how characters were defined (or not). And thankfully, he pushed me to continue this passion. Instead of playing games, or getting other work done, all I can think sometimes is to write a story, to get an idea out of my head and onto paper so it could * just stop bothering me.* I’ll write during lunch, during breaks, hell, I’ll write before going to bed, just so I have something new to think about before I nod off to sleep. At the moment, I have two weapons of choice:
Celtx for shorter scripts and works I’ve been slaving on. I’ve all but given up on Final Draft, and to have a full featured, free app is nothing short of a lifesaver. Plus, it’s multiplatform, so I’m able to run it on my Ubuntu-based netbook. Scrivner hands down, this is one of the best applications for writing anything, really. Novels, screenplays, you name it. Being able to create one file where all my research, all my notes, hell, even all my scraps of unused dialogue or ideas are kept nice and tidy in one file. My only wish for this program would be for the developers to come out with a version for the iPad, so I have no excuse to ditch the netbook and switch to an ipad for my writing needs. I write multiple projects at once, often of different genres and styles. I’ve even written close to five or six full length films during high school, but my paranoia gets the best of me. I’m always worried about what other people would do to the script, how someone could judge me on it, how I will be seen for the actions and the ideas i put forth on paper. Sometimes i can go bizarre, sometimes I can go a bit dark, and there’s always that nagging voice in the back of my head as i write them: What will people think of me for this? I don’t know how to get over it- for now, I try to write more scripts, and in time, let more and more friends read them for feedback. Who knows, living in Lost Angeles, I might get that break- that one person I run into who (with connections) could get my script read by the right people, and people could (maybe) think of me and my work (and not have me worry about how it would reflect on me). And maybe, just maybe make my dreams come true. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, keep perfecting my stories, revision after revision. After revision. After revision.
I know I’ve waxed poetics time and time again over the Mac OS X and the software it has delivered over the years. There’s a unique style design that comes with so much of the software that it has become almost a standard to the platform- giving way to unique, beautiful pieces of software that can be productive and inspired in design. One in particular, has become a bit of an organizing obsession for myself, called Delicious Library. Delicious Library is a virtual bookshelf of sorts, allowing you to organize quite literally anything you own into it. You can add all sorts of things to this digital bookshelf- Books, movies, video games, etc- things that can be added using Amazon’s own giant database of goods to identify objects by name, or even by its IBSN number. The software can use the webcam on your computer as a bar code reader, complete with the little boop sound barcode scanners make when you scan things at the grocery store coming out of your computer speakers. it’s little touches like that that give Delicious Library that little extra touch that wasn’t there before. As soon as I started playing around with a trial version of the software, i bought it and proceeded to add every last item i could to this virtual bookshelf from my actual bookcase. I would sit there in glee as it would try to read aloud the titles of the books using the mac’s own Speak Aloud software to deliver monotone renditions of titles, speaking out “Fifty cent-blood on the sand” (it sounds so much funnier when you hear it read in a monotone, robotic voice that Macs give you, trust me.). Everything I own in terms of books, movies, and videogames are now all stored within the digital recesses of my Delicious Library. I keep track of who has borrowed things from my “library” and keep all their names stored (thanks to the cross integration with the Address book in OS X, i’m able to even import their basic information to the program as well), making sure I don’t forget who had my copy of Valkyria Chronicles. You can keep track of who you allow to borrow your DVDs, and how long they’ve had them out for. Even with my room a complete and utter mess, I was at a happy standstill, thinking to myself- it’s allright Daniel- everything is organized in Delicious Library anyways. No need to worry about it. It can work for both the owners of large collections of books or dvds or just the casual collector, as I am right now. I back up the whole collection regularly as a way to keep a good list of my possessions. It feeds some sort of odd obsession i didn’t even knew I had in the first place, to get a new game and almost automatically, boot up Delicious Library to scan it in to the virtual collection. The price of the software is a bit pricey (well, not overly pricey, as you would see in photoshop or other pieces of software along those lines), but at $40 (honestly, any higher and adults my age would balk at it), it was one of those investments that I really do cherish and enjoy. Delicious Library is available in demo form, for anyone to try. When Delicious Library 3 comes (and I do hope it does) I’ll probably come running, frothing at the mouth. ps, i do plan to post news soon in the future. i just had to finish this piece. more next week
Every day when I leave the house, I walk out with two gadgets- an original model iPhone and a Blackberry curve. I use two phones on a daily basis, and while it can be quite cumbersome, it’s a system I’m quite happy with. The iPhone is a hand me down- much of the gadgets or phones I’ve used for most of my life have been hand me downs from either my mother or my aunt. Both loooove gadgets, but most of the time, they have no clue how to use them half of the time, or what to do when things go wrong (and that’s when they call me). I used a Handspring Platinum back in high school- that, combined with a fold out keyboard, gave me the ability to write my webcomic reviews (or ongoing serial stories) all the easier. I’d pop out the keyboard, plug in the pda, and write in Word to Go. (it was just showing how nerdy I really was to my classmates- pulling out a PDA with a foldout keyboard does automatically label you as a nerd, especially in high school) In college, I’d toy around with an SNES emulator I found for a Palm Zire 72 Special edition, playing Yoshi’s Island in the back of geography class. Both of these PDAs were hand me downs- from my mother and my aunt respectively. When my aunt switched to an iPhone 3GS, she gave me her first generation iPhone. After a complicated jailbreaking (i say complicated because i was cursing most of the time). I turned the contract required iPhone into an iPod touch with a camera built in. Almost anywhere I go often has a wifi point, so keeping the phone on airplane mode (to remove the power to the now useless phone) and turn on the wifi whenever possible to use the internet hotspots. The phone has been the best little present I’ve been given in years. With every paycheck, I allocate ten bucks or so for the apps on the phone (I have never been tempted to “pirate” applications on the iPhone. Paying for them is still completely worth it, and knowing that I can support part of the mac community with my purchase is worth it). And I love it. I’ll bust out the iPhone most of the time, to answer emails, check twitter, or write down a idea I had. It’s a sweet little thing, and I love it dearly. The integration with my mac helps a bit as well. Certain little applications have made it all the better- Hipstamatic, Evernote, and Gas Cubby have made it useful on the go (I can list quite a number of apps i use on a regular basis, perhaps I’ll have to make a top ten list post sometime). The blackberry, on the other hand, is a different story. I came to using the blackberry a year ago, and I really did love it. It was the first phone that I actually bought for myself, and with it, gave me some great appreciation of the phone. I quickly loved all of the features- Powerful email, nice keyboard and a great contextual menu (click the blackberry button and send your image to a certain program! click the blackberry button over a phone number and send a text to that number. All sorts of things can be done with that menu that you don’t see on the iPhone.). The honeymoon period though, lasted only so long. The amount of decent applications for the blackberry is minimal at best. An app store was created for the blackberry system, but the sluggish nature (and annoying paypal tied paying system) keeps me away from the more premium apps. Most of the apps are either really incredibly slow or don’t really work on my Blackberry- a curve 8330. The phone itself is incredibly slow- running even one application in the background forces me to stare into the blackberry’s version of the Beachball of Doom- a simplified hourglass that taunts me with every passing minute. So much of the operating system on the blackberry feels like a relic from the time it still competed with the original Palm OS. Nothing on that phone feels fresh anymore- yeah, if i had more friends using blackberries, things like Blackberry Messenger would actually make sense- but i don’t. Everyone just uses iPhones these days. Now, the blackberry is just a glorified phone- I’ll check it from time to time whenever I don’t have wifi available for the iPhone. I’ll send text messages from both gadgets (the beauty of having a jailbroken iPhone- Google Voice running on both!). My real wish is to one day seeing the iPhone on my network of choice- Verizon. While that may be a far-flung hope (and ridicule from one friend- I’m looking at you, Ross), I still have some ill conceived hope on the subject. To have the iPhone as my only gadget would be a godsend. I don’t mind the virtual keyboard so many seem to loathe- the auto-correct feature (something phones with physical keyboards should have) usually saves my hide from my terrible spelling track record. For now, I’ll be walking around with an iPhone and a Blackberry in my pockets, confusing people who see me with my two phones.
This is a post that’s been waiting in my drafts folder for quite some time now, and I figure this is a good time as any to get it out. I’ve been thinking about Google Chrome and what it exactly means, at least to my observations. I was one of many dorks who watched the livestream of the conference, who watched with a slightly underwhelming view of the announcements. No installed applications! It’s all in the cloud, baby! It was all so very new and such a weird take that I had to wait to think and process the information that flowed forth about the OS and what my take on it would be. But in all honesty, I agree with so many critics- it’s a small step. It’s a small step between a full fledged OS and something you’d find on a cell phone (a smartphone, that is). And for the applications that can run on it so far, that would be just fine for certain uses. I could probably see myself running the Google Chrome OS on a netbook someday- something that can boot quickly, to check the plethora of GMail accounts I have running (last time i counted, it’s about five so far, but that may grow with passing time), Twitter, Facebook, etc. The Google Suite has been a major part of my workflow the last six months, so the use of Chrome OS would be a welcome addition to my workflow. The ease of which I could check emails, type out some writing I had in mind into Google Documents, so on and so forth, would be a snap on the Chrome OS. Hell, I’ve used GDocs to bounce out scripts to later convert and move over to Celtx for formatting. To have the Google OS as a stopgap to between my random ideas and rough drafts to the finalized versions on my computer would be a tremendous help. Hell, this was written in Google Documents before I moved the document over to MarsEdit for editing and posting. I could have foreseeably used the OS in the process of writing this. As John Gruber stated, “The idea of a computer that does a lot less — leaving out even things you consider essential, because you can still do those things on your other, primary computer — is liberating.” To have a small netbook running chrome with my usual menagerie of permanent tabs (gmail and twitter, mostly) off on another computer while I save the system resources for Final Cut Pro or some other resource hogging application. It’s just a small resource that would complement the entire computer experience. It is my belief that the strength of the whole project can be seen in the fact that the OS itself is open source. Everything I’ve seen so far with the OS has been offshoots people have cooked up for the public to play with, and in time, I can see major companies doing the same. Imagine, what if Asus built a motherboard that had a small flash drive onboard just for chrome OS? Sure, you can take your time and boot into Windows, but you can just hold down a key when booting up and Chrome OS kicks in from that onboard flash drive and lets you check email or show that funny cat video you wanted to show to your significant other before you leave for work. A fully customizable instant on OS. Imagine the offshoots some valiant coder (or company!) could pull off with the operating system. With the code being open sourced, there could be a plethora of flavors of the Chrome OS that could come out for different uses. Perhaps one version could be created to be run on MacBooks and Macbook Pros, for quick bootups. Another version to be run on tablet PCs. What could be seen as a slow tablet could run quite briskly with its own flavor of the Chrome OS. Hell, aging computers could be given a quick update with a 10 dollar ethernet card and given a new lifecycle with this OS- something simple to allow a family member to check their email or annoy the entire household with a terrible youtube clip (if you don’t, more power to you). One offshoot could benefit my current place of work- the library. Imagine a flavor of the Chrome OS that would be designed for library use. Patrons to the library could keep their bookmarks, their settings, hell, even their own background as they come in to use the computers, as they move from terminal to terminal. The OS could be limited to have parental controls and time limits for children and for adults alike. Instead of suffering from the constant upkeep regular windows computers have to face, a simple Chrome OS system that’s self updating, and much more secure would lower the frustration and the costs of said upkeep with public use computers, such as the ones at the library. A similar system could be put into place at a cyber cafe, with little to no overhead compared to its windows counterparts. Of course, like with the actual OS, such an idea would come in the pipeline- nothing that Google makes right away is all that good to begin with. Anyone care to recall how… simplistic Gmail was back in the day? Or how much the Google documents system (remember when it was still Writely?) couldn’t do basic exportability to word documents? Everything is a work in progress at google, and I would expect Chrome to be no different. What we see now would probably be remarkably different even months down the line, even six months after the fact. It will grow, it will evolve, and in what ways, it may turn to be interesting. For what it stands now, a small step, it’s quite small. But the magic lies in the potential to where it may grow and flourish. The initial steps may be underwhelming, but where it can go is promising.