5 Sound Stories a toy for #ds106

I’ve been working on a version of Alan Levine’s Five Card Flickr for audio rather than images. Very much a work in progress. Only tested on a mac (FF, Safari & chrome) and Windows 7 (IE9), no support for iOS (limitation of how iOS plays audio and my lack of knowhow).

5 Sound Stories

I’d appreciate any tests or playing around if anyone has a spare 5 minutes.

5 Sound Stories is a way to create short soundscapes and save them along with some texts. It was inspired by Five Card Flickr and the suggestion of pascale colonna, @colonna69, in a tweet or two.

The idea is to load a set of sounds, either from a list of keywords or at random and create a soundscape. The result can be embedded here is an example:



I am using the Freesound API which allows you to browse, search, and retrieve information about Freesound users, packs, and the sounds themselves

Freesound is a collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds. Browse, download and share sounds.

Freesound is pretty easy to use, I had a bash a while back with flickrSounds so had an idea of how to use it. Unfortunately my JavaScript skills are pretty limited so the code is a horror story at the moment. I am using jQuery to handle the requests to free sound and produce the players and interface. I suspect that there is some really neat way of doing this with object orientated coding, but I’ve just got a bunch of functions and placeholders on the webpage.

Saving to a Database

The other piece of coding I had to do was to save the generated soundscapes and associated information in some way. I’ve just copied this from Five Card Flickr. Alan supplies the source code and this is really easy to copy and alter as it is very well commented indeed.  Since this is shared under the terms of the GNU General Public License I think that means I have to make the code of this available too. The JavaScript is easy enough to see (and wince at) in the browser, but it is part of my plan to finish this, clean up as much as possible and add some comments then share it.

Twitter Help

The web aplication still needs a lot of work, I’ve had some great feedback from Alan and Pascale Colonna (colonna69 on Twitter) over a few tweets.

Pascale came up with some ideas of how this could be used in primary school which I hope, with her permission, to add to the site and Alan has pushed me to refine the UI a bit.

Pascale also noted that this doesn’t play well on an iOS device. This is due to the lack of the ability to preload audio on iOS (I guess to save bandwidth) I think I’ve figured out a workaround but it is going to be a while before I get that together.

I’d love to get more help and suggestions either via twitter or in the comments here.

Learning by Doing and Riffing

This seems to fit my learning style, I’ve tried code academy , books, tutorials but none get me into the groove as much as trying something that is a bit to hard for me. Google is a great help, although for this sort of thing it always seems to end up on Stack Overflow. Working my way through a tutorial, I never run over time, miss what real people are saying to me. This is the power of learning #ds106 style, dive in and do.


Of course one of the dangers of learning this way is a lack of rigour, no one is checking my work, there is a lot of sloppiness in my code, this is were dipping back into the likes of code academy helps. My Javascript is improving a little and my occasional visits to tutorials, learning sites etc is helped by having something to reflect on, hopefully, revisit and refactor.

The other real powerful thing about #ds106 is that participants are encouraged to borrow, copy, steal and riff off their fellow learners (with attribution). Here again I am riffing off @cogdog, Alan Levine.

This is not a MOOC,  and I am not going to label it with anything in particular but learning with pals is powerful.

I hope this will make a useful assignment or two for DS106 and I’ll be submitting soon.


20 Minute Photo Challenge: ds106 Photoblitz – CogDogBlog

So this is how we set it up:

Here is an exercise we did in class as a fun way to try out your visual interpretation skills. We give you a series of things to capture in photos you must capture within a 20 minute window of time. In this case, it is less about capturing artistic images, but just doing what you can to be inventive. Before you do this, pick a place that is likely to have a lot of variety of subjects (middle of town ro campus, your basement, whatever).

I’ve had this is mind as a short piece of fun since Alan posted this. I didn’t do much thinking about pick a place that is likely to have a lot of variety of subjects as my surroundings were quite monotonous(not in a bad way).

When I was on a walk to Loch Humphrey and Duncolm yesterday I decided to try this out. I did think about which stretch of the walk would be good, but was stuck for some pictures, I didn’t see anyone else to get a picture of their feet or paws in that particular 20 minutes although it is a popular walk and I passed a dozen or so folk in the 3 or so hours I was walking. I failed to make a supernatural photo too.

The exercise was good fun and would be an interesting one to do with a class of pupils. I will be repeating it myself. Perhaps using different sets of photo ideas.

Here is my set: ds106photoblitz – a set on Flickr, I didn’t pict the best 5, just piled them in.

To embed them here I decided to use Haiku Deck on my iPad. With the photos appeared in my photo stream as soon as I came home. I had hoped to search for and use the ones in flickr, but Haiku Deck didn’t find all of my pictures even after I gave them a unique tag. So I uploaded them from the iPad when I saved the Deck.

The PhotoBlitzer

When I read Alan’s post I copied the photo idea to my dropbox so I could find them whenever I decided to give the challenge a go. This had me thinking a bit. I though I could make a webpage that would supply a random set of photo ideas. I took Alan’s list, mixed in some from the, now discontinued, Daily Shoot site, and made a webpage that shows a random set of 7. photoblitzer.

I spent a wee bit of time shorting the challenges so that 7 would fit on an iPhone screen (iPhone 4). The page also show the current time to act as a start clock picture which will give the list of challenges. It might even be useful.

Update: photoblitzer is now updated with >160 photo tasks to draw from thanks to Alan Levine sending the whole of the DS106 Daily create photography section. I’ve also added a button to let you copy the html for the list as I though that might be useful for sharing a random set of tasks.

Update  9 Oct: I just added a toggle to the colours of the items listed, you can use the webpage, on your phone, to keep track of the pictures you take. NB don’t refresh the page.