Adam Zerner Blog Post 12

“My question is this.  Even if you are remixing to make something new, it’s all coming from technically the same thing that was already in existence. Even if an artist is drawing inspiration from something already in place, his work is not entirely new if it is based off of something else.  Is there anything out there that’s truly novel and completely new?”

In Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences), Eliezer Yudkowsky talks about the fact that beliefs have to correspond with experiences.  Consider the classic “if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound” dilemma.  The problem with that question is that “sound” doesn’t have a clear correspondence with experience.  When you substitute sound out for a real experience, like the existence of sound waves, or an auditory sensation, the question becomes easy.

Similarly, in this scenario, I think the first step would be to substitute out “completely new” for something more concrete.  If “completely new” is to be taken literally, I think it would mean “uninfluenced by the past”.  The world seems to be deterministic, so in that sense, everything is influenced by the past, and nothing is completely new.

That wasn’t very useful, so let’s try a different replacement for “completely new”.  Let’s say that it means “without consciously using other works of art in the same category”.  In this case, I think that it is possible for something to be completely new.  In fact, I think it’s easy.

A better question is whether you could create art that isn’t even unconsciously influenced by other art in the same category.  Actually, that’s probably not possible, so a better question is probably whether you could create art that is only very slightly influenced by other art in the same category.  I think the answer to that question is still yes, but it’s difficult.  So much of the intuition and thought process behind art happens by messing with “templates” of work by others.

– Adam Zerner

Cut, Copy and Paste in Audacity

The terrific trio of cut-copy-paste is something we’re all used to from our experience with computers.  We use it so much now that we don’t even think about it.  We find our fingers habitually hovering over the command key and the c/v/x keys.

We’re all used to using cut-copy-paste on our computers with words and pictures.  Like if you copy a url to send to your friend on facebook, rather than retyping every symbol.  But the cut-copy-paste functionality is useful for more than just this stuff.  In Audacity, the cut-copy-paste functionality is very useful for mixing various sound bites together.  Before I explain how that works, let me quickly explain how “cut” works (a lot of people are surprisingly unfamiliar with it).

When you use “copy”, your thing is copied, and available for youto paste it.  When you use “cut”, you delete your thing, and the thing you just deleted is also copied, to make it available to be pasted.  So cut is basically just delete plus copy.

And now for how to do this in Audacity.  The first thing you’ll want to do is select a clip to be copied/cut.  Use the selection tool to do this.  Once you select a clip, you’ll see that clip be a darker shade of grey on the screen, as evidence that you selected it.  You can also expand or contract this selected clip to make it the desired length.

One your clip is selected, it’s now time to cut-copy-paste!  The easiest way to do these things is to use the keyboard shortcuts.  Pressing the command key and the c key at the same time will copy the clip.  Copying the clip doesn’t alter anything; it just allows you to paste what you just copied.  It will also leave the same clip selected.

Pressing the command key and the x key at the same time will cut that clip.  As explained before, this will delete it, and copy it for future pasting.  As far as remembering the keyboard shortcut goes, it should be intuitive: x = delete.

Finally, in order to paste, the first think you’ll have to do is choose what part of the track you’d like to paste to.  To do this, simply click that portion of the track.  Once you d this, all you’ll have to do to paste is press the command key and the v key at the same time.  Whatever the last think you copied (using copy or cut) will then be pasted into that portion of the track.

Good Luck!

– Adam Zerner

Who Am I – Analysis

Who Am I ( used a ton of great techniques to make for a pleasant audio broadcast.

One of the things they did was use music.  One way that music was used was by playing it in the background.  Too much background music is distracting and not good, but they used it just sparingly enough.  The hints of background music did a good job or mirroring the emotions and the feel of the broadcast.  Similar to how a sitcom uses pre-recorded laughter to help guide your emotions, I think the background music helped guide the listeners emotions as well.

Music was also used as a transition between parts of the broadcast.  This allowed the listener to distinguish one part from another.  Also, music wasn’t the only sound that functioned to distinguish between parts; various other sounds were used to do that as well.

Another thing I really liked was how they used various voices.  This allowed the listener to keep track of various streams of thought.  A lot of times a line of thought may require you to go off on a tangent slightly to explain something, so you could then proceed.  Using a different voice to go on this minor tangent helps to keep us focused on the main direction.  For example, maybe they need to qualify something with a scientific explanation, so they’ll have a scientist take 20 seconds to explain something before the main hosts proceed forward.  I wish I could do something like this when I write!

I loved the Bill Clinton part!  In addition to being funny, it did a great job of illustrating for us Bill Clinton vs. the subject.

While I liked the use of audio techniques, I thought the broadcast of a whole wasn’t good because it was lacking of substance.  It didn’t really have a point, and used lots of vague terminology that doesn’t clearly correspond to something real.  See

– Adam Zerner

Having multiple columns

Note: I’m not using dreamweaver, so I’ll just write a post on a CSS trick.

Having multiple columns is something that seems like it should be easy, but often times it’s not.  It could be difficult to get the spacing right, and it’s even more difficult to get the text to flow from one column to the next automatically.  There are tricks to get this done, but they’re unnecessarily complicated (programming very much follows Ockham’s Razor: unnecessary complication is bad).

The way that you should create multiple columns is by using the new CSS3 column functionality.  Basically, you just specify the number of columns, spacing between them, and any sort of styling used to separate them, and you’re finished.  For example:

(note: the css3 column feature isn’t fully supported in Firefox, Safari and Chrome yet, so you just have to use the easy -moz and -webkit prefixes.)

-moz-column-count:3; /* Firefox */
-webkit-column-count:3; /* Safari and Chrome */

-moz-column-gap:40px; /* Firefox */
-webkit-column-gap:40px; /* Safari and Chrome */

-moz-column-rule:4px outset #ff00ff; /* Firefox */
-webkit-column-rule:4px outset #ff00ff; /* Safari and Chrome */
column-rule:4px outset #ff00ff;

See for more information.

Happy Coding!

– Adam Zerner

How to tint a photo in Photoshop

Tinting a photo is a really useful ability to be able to do.   To start with, tinting is important.  Maybe you want to guide the users attention towards certain aspects of your photo and away from others.  Maybe you want to give your photo an “upbeat” feel, or maybe more of a “dismal” feel.  Or maybe you just want to fine tune certain things.

Also, for the casual picture taker, we don’t have the luxury of a professional photographers lighting set ups.  We have to deal with the lighting that we’re given, and the lighting that we’re given is often times imperfect.  Tinting is often a good solution to this.


In order to tint your photo, the first thing you’ll want to do is add a black and white adjustment layer.  This is what will allow you to tint your photo.  As you can see in the picture below, there will be a column that appears on the right side of the screen.  Above the color sliders, close to the top, there will be a check box that says “Tint”.  Click this in order to tint the photo.


The photo will now be tinted according to the color in the box next to the tint check box.  A default color will appear, but you could change it according to your liking.

The question then becomes… “what color is to my liking?”.  If you’ve got a really good design sense, you might be able to just have an eye for what the proper color should be.  However, an easier way to do it would be to sample from your current picture.  For example, consider the picture above.  If you want the light brown area to be tinted more like the darker brown areas, you could choose one of the darker brown areas as your tint color that you want to apply.

To do this, first you’ll want to toggle your black and white adjustment layer off.  Then you can click on your tint color square.  Then, hover your mouse over the picture, and click the part of the picture that has the color you want to use as your tint color.  This will make your tint color the color of the area you just clicked.

This is just one of the many things you could do with tinting.  Keep playing around and explore some other tint functionalities!

– Adam Zerner