October 29, 2014


A Ridiculously Simple Nonpartisan Social Media GOTV Effort

photo by Tim Ebbs

 Here's how it works:

  1. On Tuesday, November 4, vote as early as possible
  2. After you've voted, take a picture of yourself outside the polling place 
  3. Share it on the social media of your choice, along with this message:


    #VoteTag I just voted! @tweep1 @tweep2 @tweep3 it's your turn! Vote then tag 3 ppl


    #VoteTag I just voted! Friend1, Friend2, Friend3 it's your turn! Vote, take a pic, & tag 3 more people.
Can we surprise and shock the jaded political class with a record turnout? Here's hoping!


Q: What if I voted early or absentee?
A: Then you're ahead of the game! You can tag 3 people as soon as you wake up on November 4.

Q: What do I take a picture of if I voted early or absentee?
A: An envelope, a "V" for victory or voting... Be creative!

Q: What if I don't know 3 people I'm willing to tag?
A: Then just tag one.

Q: Can I tag 20 people?
A: Please don't, that's kind of spammy. Keep it small and personal so people are more likely to respond.

Q: Can I use Instagram/Vine/ello/Google+/Yammer instead of Facebook or Twitter?
A: Sure!

Q: Why do you say to take a picture outside the polling place?
A: In some states, it's illegal to take pictures inside. Better safe than sorry!

Q: What if I can't vote until 6pm or later?
A: You can still tag your friends who live in a later time zone.

Q: What if I'm voting at 6:55pm in Hawaii?
A: Then you have to be "it" until November 2015. Sorry!

Have any questions not answered here? Ask them in the comments.

October 24, 2014

18 Shorter Synonyms for "Actually"

One word that I really use a lot is "actually." In fact, I probably over-use it. At 8 letters, "actually" is quite a long word relative to the amount of meaning it adds to a tweet or text. Inspired by the exercise I did with the word "interesting," I decided to see if there were indeed any good, shorter synonyms for "actually."

Here's what I found on Thesaurus.com. There are a lot of shades of meaning in this list, so every word isn't appropriate for every context. But keeping these synonyms in mind will surely help free up some crucial characters for other words that can't be shortened.

  1. in fact
  2. really
  3. truly
  4. surely
  5. easily
  6. by far
  7. clearly
  8. indeed
  9. plainly
  10. rightly
  11. simply
  12. quite
  13. fully
  14. totally
  15. utterly
  16. well
  17. wholly
  18. verily

October 18, 2014

Digital Collage: I Dream of Texas

I thought it might be illuminating to describe how I put together the photo illustration I created to go with my previous post.

I started with an idea based on an image of the dream itself: Mary standing behind her grandfather, who was dressed in a suit and laid out on a steel table, with a map of Texas behind them. I thought that might be a little too macabre, not to mention too time-consuming, so instead I skimmed through Morguefile for pictures of women who looked vaguely like Mary as she appeared in my dream.

This is the image I started with:

I chose this picture because the girl looks very neutral: blank wall, neutral expression.
I'll be able to alter her appearance however I need to.

In my dream, Mary was sickly-looking and had bad acne. So instead of using Photoshop to make someone look better, in this case, I was trying to make her look worse. I did that by
  • Scaling the photo horizontally, then using the Liquify filter on her face to make her thinner.
  • Using the techniques described in this photo retouching tutorial to add shadows on her cheeks and under her eyes.
  • Using the stamp tool to take acne from another photo and add it to her face. I set the acne layer to overlay so it blended naturally.
  • Changed her hair from red to blonde using Image > Replace Color.
And here's how she looked after that:

Mary's had a rough few months.

Then I used the patch tool, stamp, burn tool, and brush to remove the glare on her glasses. After a little more Liquifying to shorten her chin and enlarge her eyes, I saved the picture as a flat PSD file.

I found a great old map of Texas on Wikimedia Commons that I wanted to use as the background. This tutorial on selecting hair was exactly what I needed to create the composite. 

If you look carefully, you can see I didn't do a perfect job selecting her hair,
but I figured it was close enough for my purposes.
Now the really fun part: changing all the colors to make it look crazy and dreamlike! I used the layer effects palette to add a gradient fill over Texas. Then I created a layer above but below the photo, filled it with green, loaded the photo's layer mask as a selection,  and expanded and feathered it the selection to make a shadow mask. This helped the photo stand out from the background better.

The green shadow layer is set to Multiply.
Mary's face still didn't look nearly as red as it did in my dream, so I again loaded the layer mask as a selection, created a new layer above the photo, and filled the selection with hot pink. I tried several different blending modes for the layer, and liked the way Hard Mix looked (Vivid Light and Color Burn are two other modes I tend to favor).

Girl, that color really brings out the texture in your zits!
The color looked great, but there wasn't enough detail, so I copied the original photo and put it on top with the blending mode set to Screen to capture the higlights.

Almost there...

Then, just one more layer to add the shadows and some of the natural color back in: another copy of the photo set to Multiply. Voila!

Here are the layers palettes from the two files I created.