This week’s mission was harder than the last, but that’s how it goes (or so they told me in Secret Agent School). I ended up putting way more time into the assignments and getting more out of them. Whereas last week I spent most of the time registering accounts and getting things set up, this week I was able to get my creativity flowing a bit more. Here’s the debriefing:
I started off the week by checking out the daily create Twitter page. After a short interruption by the Russians (always the Russians!) I was able to get started. The assignments were pretty short, but it felt good to get in a rhythm of being creative each day. The first side mission was to digitally recreate one of my first pieces of art. I used to love drawing stick figures, and I even used to write a silly comic book (“Señor Fusion”) of mainly stick figures. So I searched the internet for different tools I could use, and I found a stick figure tool on the MIT domain.
— Ahmed Khokar (@amkhokar1) January 24, 2017
I decided to make the stick figure as confusing as possible, so as to keep the Russians off my trail. It may or may not be an hidden message. After encrypting my message into a stick figure, I decided to start on the second side mission. I printed out a YouTube video using this convenient bookmarklet. I chose one of my favorite songs (“Another Day in Paradise” by Quinn) and found the weirdest music video I’ve seen since the 60s (those were the days).
— Ahmed Khokar (@amkhokar1) January 24, 2017
After a much needed nap and a check-in at HQ, I decided to continue my streak with the third side mission. A book stack tile mashup was surprisingly quick and fun. I typically enjoy wordplay, so this was my favorite of all of the Daily Creates this week. I ended up using a fun combination to tell Bob’s story of trying to remember what he forgot:
— Ahmed Khokar (@amkhokar1) January 25, 2017
Finally, I unlocked the “4 day in a row” Secret Agent of the Month achievement with the secret agent name generator. I got “Agent Hotman,” which wasn’t my favorite name – but as my boss always tells me, “You play the hands you’re dealt.” This time, I had a little fun with it by using the Mac preview tools to add some effects to my picture and split it up into 4 frames. I then added a text box with a prominent font so it would be readable. Success !
— Ahmed Khokar (@amkhokar1) January 27, 2017
In this process, I got to see a lot of other students’ work. Some people responded to my tweets, and I commented on other people’s Daily Creates. It felt good to be a part of the community even just a few weeks in. I’m going to dedicate more time next week to looking over people’s Daily Creates and engaging with the welcoming, warm, (refreshingly) positive Twitter #ds106 community. I decided to also check out some of the blogs of my classmates. My favorite post was from Danger Man Dan’s blog (with a name like that, and a reference to It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, I had to take a look). He organized the post really well, and he summed up the episode nicely. He also introduced me to a new tool that I’m going to use for future visual assignments. So, I decided to comment and let him know I appreciated it:
Speaking of visual assignments, I chose from that category in the assignments bank. I decided to do the assignment relating to one of my favorite shows, Game of Thrones. I used a nifty tool to create my own house banner. To read more about my thought process behind the design, check out my blog post. Here’s the final product:
For my second assignment, I decided to take a crack at audio editing. This process was much more difficult than I expected ! I enjoyed learning a lot, and I ended up using Audacity to increase the tempo and change the pitch of one of my favorite instrumentals (“Born a Champion” by David Travis Edwards). I didn’t realize a Russian operative had hacked my SoundCloud account and used up all my free data, so I had to upload to YouTube. However, that wouldn’t be possible without first adding an image to the audio file. So, what better image than my two favorite cats, Tipper and Topper? I used iMovie to create a slideshow. If you look carefully, the image slowly pans up so it looks like the cats are creepily watching you. . . unintended, but I appreciated it. Then I uploaded it straight to YouTube by authorizing my account through iCloud on my MacBook. I will certainly be using Audacity again, but I will say it was confusing at first.
My third mission for the week was a writing assignment. I took one of my favorite theme songs, “L’s Theme” from Death Note. This song brings back a lot of memories, as it was one of the most suspenseful show-watching experiences I’ve had. To read more about my thoughts and how I tied in the Secret Agent theme, check out my post. Even if you don’t read the post, you should definitely take a listen to the theme:
After I finished these assignments, I added my “About” page and decided to install some plugins. I started with Akimet and JetPack, and I fiddled with some of the settings for each of the plugins. It seems like JetPack in particular has quite a bit of functionality. I also installed a plugin to grab content from other pages to easily link them into a blog post. I haven’t tried it yet, but judging by how much I’ve linked to all sorts of different content already – I know it’s going to be an incredibly valuable tool.
Did I mention that I fell in love with a theme? I can’t get enough of creative web fonts. I think it they add so much to how a page looks and feels. I also like minimalist aesthetic and black and white color schemes (I’m going for a sort of black and white tuxedo vibe). I hope to be able to define that style more with CSS options (I downloaded a plugin to more easily change CSS options on the fly while keeping style options consistent on each page). The theme I found not only added all of these elements to my blog page, but also some subtle animations as readers scroll down. It really adds to the feel of the website. I’m pretty comfortable saying that I’m going to stick with this theme for the remainder of the semester and customize as I go on.
The last big mission I tackled for the week was participating in the group mission. I was assigned to CodeName: Video for my group. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about it. I got to practice creating a mission for future agents as a monthly HR requirement (usually, I don’t like dealing with HR but this time they’ve struck gold). My idea was for agents to be able to voice over any video clip of their choosing. I got the idea from a friend who linked me video clips from animated shows, except with hilarious voiceovers juxtaposed with the serious clips.
I’ll leave you with some final words before I take off, as I can hear the Russians raiding the building. I really enjoyed developing my voice through the theme for all of the content this week. These are just the early stages, but I felt like a good first step was incorporating the theme into my writing. As I get deeper into each mission, I’m finding it more natural to play my role as a secret agent. I’m looking forward to seeing how things continue to unfold throughout the year. * BANGING ON DOOR * Uhhhh… I gotta get lost fast. If they come for you, too, don’t talk ! I’ll check in next week !