Seb Lee-Delisle

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PixelPyros digital fireworks – tour funded!

Thanks to your amazing response to my request for help finding venues, I’m excited to announce that the PixelPyros tour is now definitely happening – we have 9 dates in 5 UK cities across two months starting at the end of September.

It’s been an insanely busy time – as soon as we had a confirmation of interest for each location we put forward our Arts Council funding application. As it was such a large grant it would take 12 weeks to process. So you can imagine how we felt when we found out 3 weeks early that our application had been approved!

That was just a few weeks ago and since then we’ve been working so hard to get the final details together. I’ll be blogging about my process here, starting with my experiments with lasers (I told you I was adding lasers to the show, right?).

In the meantime here are the dates :

28th September Brighton – The Level
18th October TBA (midlands)
1st November TBA (midlands)
14th November TBA (north)
15th November TBA (north)
16th November TBA (north)
17th November TBA (north)
6th December TBA (north)
7th December TBA (north)

I’ll be announcing where each of the dates are over the next week or two (we’re not allowed to go public until we have all the paperwork sorted).

Follow @PixelPyros on twitter for updates.

Posted in PixelPyros | 1 Comment

Securing my WordPress sites

I’ve recently had a horrible bout of spam bots attacking CreativeJS.com, so I thought I’d write a (rather mundane but hopefully useful) post about what I’ve done to combat them, as much to serve as a reminder to myself as much as anything.

Robot attack by flickr.com/donsolo
Robot attack by flickr.com/donsolo

TL;DR
Install Anti-spam plugin
Install All in One WP Security plugin
Check your log files and add malicious IP addresses to iptables

I moved all my hosting to Linode a few months ago – it’s been a steep learning curve understanding how to run a Linux server, but I’m glad that I got here. Don’t get me wrong – I love a GUI, but there’s also something I really like about low level command line access. I’m not sure what – maybe it’s just because my early computing experiences were so low-level.

Thanks to the excellent Linode tutorials (and help from CreativeJS team member Paul King) I’d got the server up and running, but I found that I kept getting intermittent outages – page requests were timing out (thanks to the free website monitoring tools Pingdom and StatusCake). It seemed like there were too many people accessing my pages, but Google analytics wasn’t reporting unusually high traffic.

Investigating the access logs I noticed multiple requests for the xmlrpc.php file. I think that this file provides an API for external applications to interface with WordPress, even allowing you to add comments – hence the reason why we were getting hundreds of spam comments.

Akismet was catching them, but I installed the Anti-spam plugin for WordPress which stopped them all dead. It was brilliant.

AccessLogs

But I was still getting hundreds of requests for xmlrpc.php and it was clogging my sites up. The access logs showed that the client was purporting to be the “GoogleBot/1.0”, but I confirmed that it wasn’t using the method outlined on this Google Webmaster Central blog post.

I initially blocked the IP address in my apache httpd.conf file, which stopped the bot accessing the file, but at this point it was making around 50 attempts per second and my log files were getting so large that my server hard disk space had run out!

So I also added the malicious IP addresses to iptables which stopped the bots getting to my server at all, at least it was no longer registering in my access logs.

Finally I installed the amazing All In One WP Security and Firewall plugin which so far seems amazing, and probably renders my messing around with iptables and httpd.conf unnecessary.

So far the server seems a lot happier, it certainly feels good that I’m starting to get a grip on this sysadmin stuff!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

CreativeJS comes to Manchester and Amsterdam

Machester&Amsterdam

[UPDATE] Ticket sales start on Thursday 16th May 11am.

Yes! Lots more workshops coming! I’m running both CreativeJS 2D and the brand new CreativeJS Games workshops in Amsterdam and Manchester in June.

Tickets go on sale next Tuesday 14th May at 11am on Thursday 16th May at 11am but in the meantime, save the dates :

17-18 June – CreativeJS Games – Amsterdam
19-20 June – CreativeJS 2D – Amsterdam
25-26 June – CreativeJS Games – Manchester
27-28 June – CreativeJS 2D – Manchester

And there’ll be a 15% refund if you book both courses. For more information or to register interest for a specific workshop visit the training page.

The Amsterdam dates have been chosen to coincide with the excellent CSS Day – it’s the Friday before.

Posted in Training Courses | Comments Off on CreativeJS comes to Manchester and Amsterdam

I’m coming back to NYC! (kind of)

IMG_1323

I’m coming back to New York! Well, kind of. Due to unresolved issues with US immigration, I’m actually unable to come back for the time being. So I’ve teamed up with talented author, teacher and speaker Val Head to bring my CreativeJS for Designers workshop to the city.

Val will be teaching the majority of the workshop, but I’ll be presenting some segments remotely from the UK using magical interweb telepresence technology!

So if you’re a designer who would like to learn JavaScript from scratch, this course is perfect for you.

Save the date : 16-17th May and I’ll put them on sale Wednesday at 11am NY time. Full course info and a nice little video can be found on the training page.

If you want a reminder right before, make sure you’ve registered your interest on there.

And I’ll see you (at least virtually) in New York!

Posted in Training Courses | 1 Comment

Yes! I have a podcast!

Creative Coding Podcast logo

I’m always astonished how many people I know don’t realise that I have a podcast. So to address this, and also to celebrate our new half-hour weekly format, I thought I’d post about it!

In the last 4 weeks we’ve had some spectacular guests : Brendan Dawes, Jer Thorp, Stacey Mulcahey, and Clare Sutcliffe from CodeClub. We’ve also started broadcasting our podcasts live through Google Hangouts, and the videos end up on this YouTube playlist.

Jer Thorp on the Creative Coding Podcast

Our most popular episodes have had over 30,000 downloads and we have a 5 star rating on iTunes – you can join us live on Friday 3pm GMT, when our special guest is Eben Upton, co-inventor of the amazing Raspberry Pi.

The Creative Coding Podcast – or subscribe in iTunes

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PixelPyros tour – I need your help!

[UPDATE 2] We have now confirmed our Arts Council funding and 9 dates in 5 cities! More details.

[UPDATE]I’ve been overwhelmed by interest today, and we’re currently talking to people all over the country! We only have 4 slots and it looks like we’ll have to start getting choosy. If you want us to consider you, please get in touch! Mail [email protected] or tweet me at @seb_ly

Very exciting news this week is that we’re putting together a tour for PixelPyros in the Autumn this year and we’re even adding lasers! But I really need your help to do it.

We’re looking for UK city councils, events, and locations where you think our show will work. Perhaps there’s a “White Night” type event where you live? Perhaps you know the council like to promote cool outdoor events in your city? Or maybe you run a tech conference that would like something a bit different for your after party?

Even if you don’t, perhaps you could help spread the word with a tweet or social media update of your choice? I’d be very grateful! Ideally we’re looking at dates between September and November but there is obviously some flexibility there.

We’re applying for Arts Council funding which will hugely subsidise the events, but of course we’ll need to bring in some money from the organisers too. So if you’d like us to bring PixelPyros to you, please get in touch at [email protected] or tweet me.

Posted in PixelPyros | 2 Comments

Keynotes and comedy nights

I’ve got a couple of really fun speaking engagements coming up.

Festival of the Spoken Nerd

16, 17, 18 April 2013

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I was invited to do a short slot at the Spoken Nerd’s new material night in London last year and it seemed to go down so well that they’ve invited me to do 3 nights at their big London show at the Bloomsbury Theatre! It’s a great fun night, I can’t recommend it enough, and I can’t wait to bring glow stick controlled fireworks to the show!

Future of Web Design London

13-15 May 2013
Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 17.15.13

I’m really pleased to be doing the opening keynote at this year’s FOWD. I’ve never been to one before but it looks like a stellar line up. Use discount code “seb” for 10% off! I’m doing a talk called “Mind the Gap” about merging the abyss between coders and artists.

Worthing Digital 28th March

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I’ll be talking about my work and my long journey to get here. So if you’re based near Worthing, come and say hi!

Posted in Speaking | Comments Off on Keynotes and comedy nights

New CreativeJS workshops for Spring 2013

CreativeJS workshop

Having just moved house, I’m ramping up to full speed and getting together new workshops for Spring including a brand new CreativeJS course.

tl;dr : New CreativeJS games and non-coders courses for March and April go on sale next Tuesday 19th February

March 27-28 – CreativeJS Games, Brighton UK – more info
April 11-12 – CreativeJS for Designers, Brighton UK – more info

New CreativeJS Games training!

Asteroids

After years of making casual games for clients like Sony, the BBC and Nickelodeon, (one viral game has over 70 million plays so far), I’m really excited to bring this experience into a brand new CreativeJS games course.

We’ll be working through loads of example game code and we’ll be covering all the essentials like animation, collision detection, physics, and of course, how to make your game actually fun to play! There’ll be mobile specific things like touch controls, and optimising for devices, and we’ll even take a look at turning your 2D games into 3D.

It’ll be a really fun workshop and I can’t wait to share all the good stuff I’ve learned over the years.

March 27-28 – CreativeJS Games, Brighton UK
Tickets on sale next Tuesday, sign up for a reminder email on the training page.

CreativeJS for Designers

(Formerly known as CreativeJS for non-coders) This is the most fun way to learn all the core concepts of JavaScript. You don’t need any JavaScript or programming experience at all (although a little HTML and CSS will be helpful). All the examples are graphical effects and simple interactions so you get an immediate visual representation of the code you have just written.

April 11-12 – CreativeJS for Designers
Tickets on sale next Tuesday, sign up for a reminder email on the training page.

Posted in Training Courses | Comments Off on New CreativeJS workshops for Spring 2013

Review of 2012

Seb Lee-Delisle me at dConstruct, photo by hellogeri

Historically, I’ve not been that timely in writing my annual review, and this year is no exception. But I have been consistent – I’ve managed to pull one together every year since 2007! And it’s been a great way to chart my progress through my what-I-call career 🙂

So let’s take a long hard look at 2012, and see what it’s got to say for itself.

Digital Artist

Lunar Trails

Well it was certainly busy, I’ll give it that. And there were some big milestones. It’s the year I came around to the idea of calling myself a digital artist. I always shied away from such a seemingly pretentious title, but I realised that I can be my own type of artist, one that makes accessible projects that are just there for the fun of it, without necessarily any deeper underlying meanings. And that’s the kind of artist I’m happy to be.

PixelPyros official video from Seb Lee-Delisle on Vimeo.

There were three big art projects for 2012, in chronological order PixelPhones (still in progress), PixelPyros, and Lunar Trails. All three represented a huge learning experience for me, the PixelProjects are both made with C++ and openFrameworks (with a sprinkling of JavaScript) and Lunar Trails was the biggest electronics/hardware project I’ve ever undertaken (a combination of JavaScript, Processing and Arduino).

Speaking

My speaking career has also coming along nicely. There’s been the occasional after-lunch slot (organisers think I wake the audience up in the traditionally snoozy grave-yard slot) I’ve also given the opening keynote several times (something I love and hope to do more in 2013).

@seb_ly lighting up everyone's phones at Mobilism
Lighting up everyone’s phones at Mobilism by Brad Frost

Speaking highlights for me include Mobilism where 300 phones were synced together in a PixelPhones demonstration in a beautiful Amsterdam theatre, and dConstruct, where hundreds of high-brow attendees went mental with glow-sticks here in Brighton.

Workshops

The CreativeJS workshops are still proving popular, and the new course for non-coders seems to have gone down well – the promo video has had over 20,000 views and I even took it to the BBC news team in March.

Disappointment

But it wasn’t all plain sailing – in June, due to some poor legal advice, I was refused entry to the USA, and was incredibly lucky not to be flown straight home.

But they let me stay long enough to visit the excellent Eyeo Festival and I got to hang out with friends in NYC. So no complaints!

Another disappointment was a charity gig in New York for which I created a special low-bandwidth PixelPhones to work with 60,000 phones. It fell through at the last minute. Perhaps I’ll share the full story at some point.

In the overall scheme of things, these minor disappointments were more than overshadowed by the amazing successes.

Web

MMOAsteroids A playful highlight this year was my April fool’s joke; a fake multi-player asteroids where many were convinced they were in a retro MMO shoot’em-up.

And of course the CreativeJS website is still going strong with a full team of writers.

Podcast

The Creative Coding Podcast has become a little more sporadic this year but there were a couple of real highlights. My favourite episodes featured interviews with Kyle McDonald and Zach Liebermann. The most popular episodes have been getting over 30,000 downloads so I guess Iain and I had better pull our finger out for 2013!

In summary

2012 was pretty epic. Lots of new experiences, new friends. I learned so much, was busier than ever and still don’t quite seem to know where all this is going. I’m going to just continue following my nose, and find more intriguing projects to make.

Coming next

2013 has already been pretty amazing (with the New Adventures conference and workshops in Oxford) and it’s not letting up any time soon. I’m talking to various parties about scaling up PixelPhones for stadium size gigs, there’s the possibility of Lunar Trails travelling around the world, and I’m applying for a grant to take PixelPyros on tour in September.

And big changes at home too with a new Brighton flat I’m moving into this week!

If you’re still reading, thanks for indulging me, and I promise to blog more in 2013.


Summary by month

January
Attended New Adventures Conference
CreativeJS workshops in Manchester and Leeds
Posted ‘Angry Birds’ live coding video from Update conf

February
FITC Amsterdam

March
Non coders’ courses at BBC and in Brighton

April
MMOsteroids
CreativeJS workshops in Amsterdam
DiBi conference keynote
BTPlay
State of the Browser “Battle of the Browsers”

May
SourceDevCon london
Mobilism Amsterdam
CreativeJS workshops brighton
Reasons to be Appy London Multimedia Teachers conference Denmark

June
Eyeo Festival
Reasons to be Creative
NY Cancelled workshops

July
Private training at the Unit
First trip to Japan – conference and training

August
PixelPyros preparation

September
Pulled off PixelPyros
dConstruct glow sticks
CreativeJS workshops in Brighton x 2
onGameStart in Poland
LXJS in Lisbon, Portugal PixelPhones NYC that didn’t happen

October
WebExpo
Lunar Trails preparation

November
Dublin Lunar Trails installation
LWS London presentation with Remy
Sold remaining PiM shares to current directors
Found a new flat

December
Lots of training!
CreativeJS workshops x3
Taught degree course module at Sussex Downs College

Posted in Annual Review | Comments Off on Review of 2012

Goodbye Plug-in, and good luck!

Around 10 years ago I set up a company. It didn’t seem like a big deal. In fact, it was merely a tax entity for my freelance career. I had this idea that I could sell a customisable web site service where you could choose which options to “plug-in” – hence the name Plug-in Media.

I never really planned for it to expand any more than just me but things started to take off when I partnered up with the creative genius Dom Minns. Ours was a highly fruitful collaboration – with his imagination and creativity, and my technical background, a period of high quality productivity ensued.

Later we were joined by kids’ digital specialist Juliet Tzabar and her skills and experience led to the project that won our first BAFTA – Big and Small for the BBC.

I was involved with some really fun projects but as we became more and more successful I was spending more of my time doing “business stuff” – meetings, accounting or managing people, and less of my time actually building things. It was becoming harder and harder to do the things I loved – my side projects, blog posts, writing tutorials, open source libraries and travelling the world speaking at conferences and sharing things that I have learned. I was becoming unhappy.

So over the last few years, I’ve been gradually less involved with the business. As our work diverged and we began moving into slightly different areas, I felt I had become less useful to them. So last week I finally sold my remaining shares back to them, and now I am no longer part of Plug-in Media.

It’s quite a strange feeling, but not a bad one. Separately we are both flourishing. They’re busier than ever with amazing projects for clients like the BBC, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and now have 3 BAFTAs, the most recent for the Psychoville website. And I’m really enjoying my new found career as a digital artist, along with the increasingly ambitious projects I take on, like PixelPyros and Lunar Trails.

I’m proud that I had a part in creating such a great company, but it’s no longer mine – their success is now entirely due to the hard work of their current directors.

So I wave goodbye to my friends at Plug-in Media. Good luck, and I wish you every success on your onward journey.

Posted in News, Plug-in Media | 7 Comments