From the monthly archives:

June 2007

The evolution of a drawing (drawing: Patched)

by Henk ter Heide on Friday June 29, 2007

in Drawing

Yesterdays mistake

Half way through my second attempt of the drawing of the color fountain I realized what I did wrong the first time. I mixed to many colors.

Color fountain 2th sketch
Color fountain 2th sketch

The idea was to make a lot of patches of colors. Then I would use my eraser as a kind of pencil and remove part of the pigment. That would give me the shape of falling water.
By adding a color on top and blending all the colors I would get something that would resemble the picture in my mind.

But that’s what I tried yesterday and it resulted in a drawing with a lot more brown than I liked.
I’ll have to think about this some more. There must be a way to draw this picture.

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Inspiration

Actually it was a waste to throw the 2th sketch out. It would have been an even greater waste if I had covered all those colors. It’s a lot of work to create a lot of colored patches and it could look really nice.
Let’s see what happens if I fill the sheet with colored patches and make the colors deeper, more pronounced.

Patched
Patched

Link

Julian Beever makes pavement drawings. Large three dimensional pictures that from the right angle look very real. He also does some oil paintings.
(The “best sites” link in the lower left corner will take you to a kind of portal page with a lot of ads. Ironically it’s called “Addfree stats”.)

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The movies in my mind (drawing: Color fountain 1st sketch)

by Henk ter Heide on Wednesday June 27, 2007

in Autism

Thinking in pictures

One of the strange things of discovering that you have autism is that you get to meet a lot of experts who tell you that you have all kind of problems you never knew you had. Among other I’ve been told that I’ve problems concentrating. When I’m doing something it could very well happen that the softest of sounds would disturb me.
This is strange because it’s not really a problem I’ve been experiencing. On the contrary. People have been telling me for years that I should pay more attention to what happens around me. When I’m doing something I seem to shut out the rest of the world and a war could break out without me noticing it.

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An other problem I’m supposed to have is a problem with seeing the generality. Apparently people with autism are very good at noticing details but they tend to miss the big picture.
This was also a problem were I at first thought that the experts were wrong. I’ve always had the feeling that I’m as good as seeing the big picture as anyone. But after trying to draw the picture in my mind I’ve found that my ideas about how I see the world were completely off.
I’m finding that I don’t see one world. I see something of a collection of little picture that are patched together to form a big picture of the world.
Only thing is that the collection isn’t complete. Of some parts of the world I’ve have hundreds of pictures in my mind and other parts are completely blank.

How to discribe this

I’ve actually read about this phenomenon before I knew that I had autism and I didn’t understand it. I couldn’t imagine the kind of vision of the world people who think in picture would have. Now I’ve found that I’m one of those people who think in pictures I’m starting to understand why description I’ve read where so incomprehensible. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time but I too have found that there is no good way to explain the way I see the world.

To really explain it you should make some kind of movie. But since nobody understands what it is we’re talking about nobody will ever make that movie.
Or will they…
It turns out that Microsoft has been working on a program, Photosynth, that is used to link large amounts of pictures. The program looks for details in the pictures. By linking pictures at overlapping details you get a kind of movie of a building or landscape.

My world

Microsoft has a working demo (IE only) were you can see a building composed of hundreds of pictures.
As you move around this building you’ll get to see the world as I see it.

  • Lots of pictures.
  • Perspective changes from picture to pictures.
  • There are hardly any pictures that give you an over view.
  • There are a lot of pictures with details of the building.
  • You get a real live feeling of the geometry the building.

Color fountain

color fountain 1th sketch
Color fountain 1st sketch

This is horrible.
I don’t understand why there is so much brown in this drawing. This was not what I had in mind.
I’ll have to try to make this drawing some other way.

Link

Do you like elephants? At this site you’ll find drawings of elephants and other zoo animals.

To my regular readers

I’m running into the problem that I can’t maintain a frequence of 5 drawings a week. I’m slowly getting to the point were I want to do more complicated projects and it is very hard to do those if you’re struggling to meet a deadline. To give myself a little breathing room I’ve build a little stock of drawings.
I can produce about three drawings in a week so I’ve dropped the posts frequence.
(I’ve just finished a very nice drawing called “Who’s afraid of yellow, red (and blue)” that you’ll get to see in one and a half week.)

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What is RSS (drawing: Erase a flower)

by Henk ter Heide on Monday June 25, 2007

in Blogging

Running into a strange symbol

If you’ve been roaming the Internet a lot you may have noticed this symbol:

rss-icon
RSS feed symbol

You find it at the end of the address bar of a lot of sites. Sometimes you find it in the upper right or upper left corner of a website. Usually it’s accompanied by a little bit of text. Something like “posts” or “comments” or “RSS”.
Have you ever wondered what it meant?

Don’t miss anything

Maybe you visit a lot of sites. You’ve noticed over the years that sites are changing. A few years ago sites were static. You would visited them ones a year and hardly anything would have been changed. But lately it’s a very different story. Many sites, including mine, change on an almost daily basis.

So you do what you’ve always done. You come across a website that’s of interest to you and you add the address to your favorites folder and ones in a while you go back.
But slowly you notice that’s it’s become nearly impossible to read all the changes of all the sites that are of interest to you. With all the interesting site your favorites folder keeps growing and to make matters worse some site can add a lot of articles in a week. Some only add a few hundred words but with others it can be as much as a few thousand of words in a week.

Have you ever thought how nice it would be if you could get some kind of warning every time one of your favorite sites adds an article?

Get a warning

You can get a warning! Free of charge!

Many websites, including mine, offer their regular visitors the option to get a warning every time an article is added.
My site actually offers two systems to get a warning when “See me draw” is updated.

You can subscribe to an email service that is send out only when there is a new article on “See me draw” or you can subscribe to something called a “RSS feed”.
Email is the old trusted way of getting a warning.
RSS is the new up and coming way. Only a fraction of Internet users use it or even know what it is.

Warning by email

But let me start out with telling you how you can get an email warning for updates on “See me draw”.
It’s actually very easy.
You just click the title of this article. That will take you to a page with only one article. This one. When you scroll down you find a form just below this article. With this form you can subscribe to an email that will warn you for updates on “See me draw”.
When you’ve entered your email address in this form you’ll notice that there are two save guards. The first save guard you’ll see is to prevent spambots from entering thousands of addresses. (I’m not quite sure why they would want to do that, but they do.) The second is to prevent someone from playing a practical joke on you and subscribing you to lots of mails you don’t want.

The warning mail does have a few drawbacks.
This is kind of an art site. I’m learning how to draw the pictures in my mind and publishing those drawings on my site.
With every email you’ll receive the complete story of the new article but for the drawing you’ll have to visit the site.
And then, of course, there is spam. Some people get loads of spam and it’s getting very difficult to find the few interesting emails among the mountains of spam.

What do you need to use RSS

As I said RSS is the new and upcoming way of communicating on the Internet. It combines the best of email with the best of websurfing.

Surfing the web is a perfect way of finding loads of new information but it’s a bit awkward when you want to regularly visit the same sites.
With email it used to be very easy to subscribe to information that is of interest to you but with all the spam it’s becoming next to impossible to use it.

An RSS feed reader is a piece of software that goes onto the Internet and gathers webpages in the same way that a web browser does. But before it gathers those pages you have to subscribe to them in the same way as you would subscribe to a mailing list.

The RSS program

RSS is a abbreviation for Really Simple Syndication or for Rich Site Summary or… There are a number of explanations. It’s a special kind of code that looks something like this:

<title>The .NET Schema Object Model</title>
<link>http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/12/04/som.html</link>
<description>Priya Lakshminarayanan describes in detail the use of the .NET Schema Object Model for programmatic manipulation of W3C XML Schemas.</description>
</item>
<item>
<title>SVG’s Past and Promising Future</title>
<link>http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/12/04/svg.html</link>

and will go on for page after page. Not something you would want to get in you mailbox, would you.

To use RSS you need a program called a RSS feed reader. RSS Feed readers come in two flavors:

I’ve used an offline RSS feed reader for a few years but recently switch to an online RSS feed reader. If you don’t have any experience with RSS feed readers I would advice you to use an online RSS feed reader. Although they basically work the same, with an online RSS feed reader you don’t have to install anything and you can read your RSS feeds were ever you find a computer.

I use Bloglines. Which is a RSS feed reader that’s perfectly suited for people who follow a large amount of RSS feeds. I follow about 190 RSS feeds. For someone who reads less RSS feeds the Google reader is also a very good choice.
I don’t have any experience with Gritwire and News Alloy but I’ve read there both are fine RSS feed readers.
The only thing you have to do to use the service is to subscribe to the site. Usually entering your name and email address is enough to use the RSS feed reader.

As for the offline RSS feed readers. They work about the same. You install the program. Sometimes you also have to tell the program where to find your browser. After that you can start adding RSS feeds.
The first four RSS feed readers in the list are free.
Both the Opera and Firefox browsers have build in RSS feed readers.

Subscribing to a RSS feed

Subscribing to the RSS feed is as easy as subscribing to the email.
When you use an online RSS feed reader you only have to click on the RSS symbol that you’ll find in the left upper corner of this site. That will send you to a page were a number of online RSS feed readers is listed. You click the link of your service and your done.
When you use an offline RSS feed reader you have to copy the address of this website to your RSS feed reader and the RSS feed reader will search for the address of the RSS feed and ask you to confirm that address. After adding a RSS feed you have to push the “update” button on your offline RSS feed reader to have it download the new articles.

Update

A few months ago Bloglines developed a bug that had me re-reading articles I had already read. I complained about it but the bug was never fixed. I didn’t even got an answer.
Although it was an annoying little bug I still liked Bloglines.
Two weeks ago they got server problems. Some of my feeds were gone. Including the feed I use to find new sites for my “Featured on See me draw” series. Despite my complains they did nothing to repair it.

I’ve switch to Google reader and although it takes some getting used to I must say that I’m happy with the switch.
The Google reader does have some good points: Articles are marked read after you’ve read them instead of marking the whole feed the moment you open it. It’s also very easy to save article you like.
A minor disadvantage is that the automatic “read” marker takes a little time. So while scrolling down the program stalls every few seconds.

Erase a flower

Erase a flower
Erase a flower

The purpose of this drawing was to find out how many layers of pigment you can erase. I could have drawn a lot of browns and erased that, but what’s the fun in that. I mix some colors and found:

  • Erasing one color works nicely (top left) but if it’s a light color you can hardly see the difference even when you put a second color on top.
  • Putting three colors on top of each other (lower middle) is pointless since you can’t see the third color. Erasing three colors has the same result as erasing two colors. When you put a fourth color on top and blend them you can’t see the result.
  • Erasing two colors gave something of a surprise. When you erase two layers of pigment some pigment is left but it’s not always the color you’d expect.
    When mixing orange with green on top you get a brownish color and when you erase it the color becomes lighter but doesn’t completely disappear. But when the bottom color is purple or green with a different color on top, the color that’s left after erasing isn’t a mix of those two colors but a light blue.

Link

I came across the website of this Canadian guy, Sebastien, who makes really nice looking comic book style drawings

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Scanner problems (drawing: Sample sheets)

by Henk ter Heide on Friday June 22, 2007

in Drawing

When I did the drawing and painting course earlier this year the teacher had the painters make several color charts to find out what kind of a range of shade of colors they could mix.
But since the colors in my pencil box come in a range of shades, I would have expected that I never would have to make them.

Yesterday I made an other attempt at drawing a portrait of the boy in the swimming trunk. With all my earlier attempts I never noticed that the boy has reddish cheeks. To draw that color I had to mix some colors since this color isn’t in my pencil box.
While I was concentration on finding the right color I forgot to look at the shape and after a while I noticed that I hadn’t tilted the nose as I had with the rest of the face.

I’m nothing if not a perfectionist so I decided that I might as well start again.

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But when I scanned the sketch I found that a not-tilted nose was the least of my troubles. It seems that for the millions of colors the scanner can scan, it can’t distinguish between orange and light brown.

That had me stumped for a while. What to do next.
For a while I thought I should just give up on this face. I could look for a picture of someone who hasn’t reddish cheeks.
(I went down town and got drunk) (Well not really but I did have a good time.)

This morning I thought that it should be possible to draw a monochrome portrait with the colors yellow and brown instead of the usual black and white.
Thinking about how that would look I realized something. If the scanner can’t see some colors it should be possible to draw a picture with a full range of colors that would change color when you scan it but still look good. A bit in the same way as a B&W copy of a color picture can look good.
Hell, it shout even be possible to have some fun with it and draw a picture that looks fine when scanned but in reality has colors that are off. With one of my first attempts at drawing a portrait I found that pink sometime scans as brown.

Before I can attempt something like that I need to know with which colors the scanner has problems and since I use a lot of blending techniques I also need to know how that influences the scan.

In the first chart I applied a thin layer of pigment and blended halve of the oblong.
As you can see it’s very hard to see a difference between the different shades of red and the lightest colors yellow are somewhat distorted.

Sample sheet blended yellow, orange, red, purple and brown on white
Sample sheet blended yellow, orange, red, purple and brown on white

For the second chart I thought that it might be possible that the problem had something to do with contrast. It could be that the snanner doesn’t “see” a color “as is” but compares them to the other colors on the paper.
When scanning a drawing you have to fiddle with a few controls to get the gamma and colors right. Especially with B&W pencil on white paper you sometimes have to except a greenish paper color because otherwise you wouldn’t see the pencil.

Sample sheet blended yellow, orange, red, purple and brown on black
Sample sheet blended yellow, orange, red, purple and brown on black

After taking a better look at the first chart I found that I too had some difficulty in distinguishing between the different shade of red. Which provoked the question if it wasn’t a question of the amount of pigment on the paper.
So in the third chart I put a little more pressure on the pencil to get more pigment on the paper.
The amount of pigment does indeed seem to be a problem. I can now see the difference of in the shades of red (although not so good in the scan). The two lighter colors of yellow are now scanning alright. There is a little problem with distinguishing between one of the oranges, the lightest purple and the lightest brown.

Sample sheet straight up yellow, orange, red, purple and brown on white
Sample sheet straight up yellow, orange, red, purple and brown on white

After doing these color charts I’ve learned:

  • to get a lot of pigment on the paper to avoid scanner problems
  • there are problems with distinguishing between mid orange, light purple and light brown
  • background color doesn’t seem to have much influence.

There are a few things I still have to try. Mainly if it’s possible to use my white pencil to create the colors mid orange, light purple and light brown in a way that they do scan. But doing color charts is about as boring as looking at them so I will do that at some later date.

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Did you know that every day about 170,000 people start a blog and about 120,000 blogs die?

Apparently most people blog for about two months and then they give up. Since most people who stop blogging don’t write a goodbye note nobody really knows why, but probably because people run out of ideas to write about.

I never quite understood that. There are thousands of subjects in the world and being on the Internet you run into them on a daily basis. So how could you run out of ideas.
Swimming trunk boy portrait blending colors 1th sketch
Swimming trunk boy portrait blending colors 1th sketch

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But this morning I run into my own little dip. I had the feeling that I was nearing the end of my rope. That it would be only a matter of time before I’d run out of things to say.

There is only so much you can tell about yourself. I’ve told you about autism. I’ve told you about my work. I’ve published my old stories that tell a lot about who I was before I found that I’m autistic (all be it in Dutch). So what to talk about next…

If this was just a other personal blog intended to tell the story of my live this would be the end of it.

But this isn’t just an other personal blog. This is the place were I publish my drawings and although I don’t know what I could talk about next, my drawings are still going strong. There are a few subjects I want to learn to draw; people, animals and trucks. Every time I run out of ideas about the next subject for a drawing, I try one of those and without exception I find that I have to try some new technique and thinking about this new technique I have several ideas about drawing I can do.

The stories I tell aren’t that important. In a sense they are only bait to get the search engine to index my page.

After climbing out of my dip I discovered that I was to pessimistic. Actually I’m still gaining speed. As I predicted a while ago my drawing skills increase and with that my drawing speed and the joy of drawing.

This week I even missed a few of my favored TV shows because I was busy drawing.

As for stories to tell. I have some. Slowly I’m getting a nose for interesting stories on sites as digg and in newspapers. Something else that I though of was something we did in school. You’d get a picture and had to think of a story. I make my own pictures, lets see if I can think up a few stories.

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“Drawing” the sport (drawing: Star field 2th sketch)

by Henk ter Heide on Wednesday June 20, 2007

in Drawing

I’ve read somewhere that if you would see a tennis player in the buff you would see that the muscles in his right shoulder are much better developed then the muscles in his left shoulder (assuming he’s right handed). I don’t know about tennis player but it might be true for people who draw.

As I predicted a while back I’m getting better in the technique of blending colors and it’s taking less time but it’s still a lot of work.
Star field 2th sketch
Star field 2th sketch

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After doing one of these drawing my shoulder is hurting a little. Half way through the second I had to go and do something else because my whole arm hurt.

Mm. After doing the drawing I find it isn’t quit what I had in mind. Maybe I’ll try something new in a while as part of something else. A star field on it self is a lot of work with a boring result.

BTW if you try to color a large surface, like I do in this drawing, you’ll often find that some pencil strokes are much darker then others. To prevent this you should turn the pencil around it’s axel while you’re drawing. That’ll give you more control on the thickness of the line. Then again maybe you want a very light color in that case you should make your strokes longer. Strokes of fifteen to twenty centimeter work nicely.

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An other dead end (drawing: Star field 1th sketch)

by Henk ter Heide on Tuesday June 19, 2007

in Drawing

I don’t know if you saw it but there is a little mistake in Nova. In the left lower corner. While I was drawing it the piece of toilet paper slipped and the surgical glove I wear to prevent dirty fingers from spoiling my drawing pulled a little bit of pigment on to the sheet.

At ones I thought “ah, this could be interesting”. There are a lot of possibilities if you can get this kind of colored sparks on your sheet.
Star field 1th sketch
Star field 1th sketch

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I went out and bought a few things made of rubber to try it.

I thought it would be nice to draw a night sky with sparkling colored bits. But it didn’t work. After spending a lot of effort to make the sheet of paper blue I felt it would be a waist not to use it.

On second thought maybe I should have. While I writing this I just thought of an other way to get the sparkling field of stars I wanted. So now I’ll have to color an other sheet of paper. Oh well, the joys of drawing… 🙂

BTW While paging through my stats log I came across a link from someone who, apparently, linked to me a while back. Curious I went for a look and found a Canadian artist who makes really beautiful drawings and paintings. You should have a look.

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Promen is running out of work (drawing: Truck 1th sketch)

by Henk ter Heide on Monday June 18, 2007

in Personal

I’m again on sick leave. Again.

I was working at Promen‘s branch in Cappelle aan de Ijsel but they run out of work a few weeks ago. Thinking that was temporary I took some holidays but I’ve none left and still there is no work.

Since they run out of options they pressured me to except placement at the “doorstroom afdeling” (the overflow department) in Gouda. Every department in Gouda I’ve ever worked turned out to be very chaotic and I feared that would also be the case with the Overflow department.
Truck 1th sketch
Truch 1th sketch

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The Overflow department is the department for people for whom Promen hasn’t any work. Nothing at this department is organized. People are just placed in this room, some product is dumped in the room and people are told to fend for them selves.

Nobody knows what is expected of them so they all roam the room looking for something to do. The moment that someone has some idea of what he could do every other person in room jumps in. Resulting in a situation where ten people are doing a job that would go better when it was done by two people.

I was brought there last Wednesday and endured it for about an hour before I fled. The second day was little better and I fled after two hours. The third day I called in sick.

I’m not quit sure what will happen next. According to the agreement I have with Promen they should place me at the department in Cappelle aan de Ijsel but they don’t have work. Promen will probably claim that this are circumstances beyond there control, which isn’t actually the case. It has been known for a few years that the demand for unskilled labor would change when the European Union would open the border eastern Europe. Promen just didn’t act on this change.

I’ll just wait and see. In the mean time I can work on my drawings.

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To tortillon or not to tortillon (drawing: Nova)

by Henk ter Heide on Friday June 15, 2007

in Technique

A tortillon  is a piece of compressed paper you can buy in the shop or can make yourselves. It’s used to pull the pigment over your sheet of paper.

I’ve used it ones to find out what I could do with it. But I was a little disappointed. I thought that it should be possible to create a nicer effect. After some experimenting I’ve found that an ordinary piece of (single sheet) toilet paper works wonders.
Nova
Nova

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If you’ve ever looked at the texture of drawing paper you’ll know that it isn’t completely flat but kind of bumpy.

When you hold your pencil almost on it’s side when you draw, you only grace the bumps. The lower parts of the paper texture stays white. When you first start with drawing you learn to see the white parts as an disadvantage but actually it isn’t.

By using a piece of kitchen or toilet paper you can spread the pigment evenly accros the paper and get a kind of glassy feel.

You’ll have to try it for yourselves to see it because it doesn’t scan that well.

For this drawing I used a second sheet of paper as a kind of painters palette and a piece of toilet paper as a brush. I colored the edge of the “palette” and used the “brush” to pull a little bit of pigment onto this sheet. Then I moved the “palette” and pulled some more pigment on this sheet.

To be fair there is one exception to the rule that blending with (toilet) paper gives nicer results then blending with a tortillon and that’s when you’re in a tight spot. A (commercial) tortillon has a pointed top which makes it ideally suited for small spaces.

A problem with tortillons is that pigment will stick to the top. If you don’t want to buy a tortillong for every color you’ll ever use you can use a blank piece of drawing paper to rub the pigment of the top.

While drawing this picture I accidentally found a new technique. I’ll try it as soon as I have the materials I need and I’ve thought of a picture to draw.

(I’ve send this drawing off to a source of inspiration.)

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Search engine optimization (drawing: Corona)

by Henk ter Heide on Thursday June 14, 2007

in Blogging

A few weeks ago I worked a while on a drawing I wanted to call “Nova”. But I couldn’t figure out how I should translate the shape in my mind to a color drawing.

This morning while I was working on my SEO I recognized that it should be possible to use the technique I used in Garbage draw to draw the picture of the Nova.

I’m not there jet. This is not the picture I had in my mind, but I know what I’m going to try next.
Corona
Corona

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SEO. Sounds like a chore doesn’t it? Well it kind of is.

A while back I told you that I want to reach a point where I can live from this site. That means that I need a lot more visitors then I have right now. My former website (about child abuse got about 2 visitors a week and I was very pleased with that. However to live from a site means that you have to get several thousand visitors a week. At the moment I get about 30 visitors a week who look at some 50 to 60 pages. Fifty to sixty pageviews per week on a site that has only been operational for a few months is nice, but not enough.

My stats counter tells me that I get about one third of my traffic via search engines (mainly Google) and a third via social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us. The remaining third are people who have me bookmarked. Thank you for the bookmarks!

To get more traffic I have to work on my SEO. Which in my case means that I have to tell search engines what my site is about and I have to tell social bookmarking sites about the range of articles I’ve posted.

Luckely WordPress has a lot of plugins that can help you with that task. Basically after I’ve written an article I have to gather a collection of keywords for search engine spiders and I have to post a link at several bookmarking sites.

In it selves that isn’t very much work. The only thing is that by the time I though of this I had already written about 50 articles. Right now I’m working my way through the backlog and that is a bit of a chore.

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