Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recent Work from Denis

By Denis Sweeney | my site: Denis408.com
March 4, 2014

Recent Work

Today, unrelated to the ides of March, I am highlighting some recent work I have done, both for my job, and for fun.
I hope to make this an occasional, recurring post to showcase my work, to repeat every year or so. As this is the first posting, I have a little catching up to do, so some works are older than one year (where noted).
The work I am showing this time is mostly done in Adobe Illustrator, sometimes with elements that started as pen sketches.

All rights reserved. Please do not copy/use/reproduce these works without permission.

Software icons

2013 "Software icons for vSphere plugin" -tree icons and CPU graphic, shown in GUI. Part of a matched set of 50 icons.
Designed in Adobe Illustrator
Custom software icons

Site and Twitter backgrounds

2012 "Benefits Babble"
Designed in Adobe Illustrator
Blog background

twitter background


2014 "Queen of Errors" screen graphic 2 inches x 3.5 inches
Designed with pen, and Adobe Illustrator
Queen of Errors

Printed Banner
2013 AYSO "Fast and Furious team banner" 5 feet x 3 feet
media: Vinyl banner
Designed in Adobe Illustrator

soccer banner

Soccer yard sign

2013 AYSO "Registration Yard Sign"
18 inches x 24 inches
Media: corrugated plastic
Designed in Adobe Illustrator
ayso sign

AYSO custom sign design
(above) My sign shown in action, out "in the wilds" of Saratoga, CA.

Network diagram

2010 "Cisco Nexus Network diagram"
Designed in Microsoft Visio
Cisco Nexus 1000v diagram

Software Wizard graphics

2013 "Three step software wizard graphics"
media: Adobe Illustrator
wizard graphic 1 wizard graphic 2 wizard graphic 3

Thanks for stopping by. 
Until next time. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Jellyfish Painting for NAID Fundraiser Show

By Denis Sweeney March 1, 2014

I'm really excited about this new Jellyfish painting I did for NIAD Win Win 2 fundraiser show.
Side view of Jellyfish. Painting and photos by Denis M. Sweeney. 

All rights reserved.

I haven't painted in ages
--easily over 10 years, and it was fun to get back into it. What better way to get back into it than for a great organization like NIAD?

NIAD Art Center is located in Richmond, CA, and promotes meaningful independent living by artists with disabilities. I created this watercolor painting as part of a benefit show for NIAD in Oakland. The opening for the show will be held in Emeryville at the Clif Bar and Company on April 5, from 4 - 6pm. 

They can use your help. The paintings are for sale and all profits benefit the organization. Or if you just want to help them out, direct donations are welcomed.
Tickets to the show are $25, if you're interested in attending. Check the NIAD website for full details on Win Win 2.

Friday, February 7, 2014

What to do when your Internet connection sucks and you'd rather not involve the Nerd Herd

What to do when your Internet connection sucks and you'd rather not involve the Nerd Herd

By Denis Sweeney
Feb 7, 2014

I suppose everybody's house has one person, who, by default, is the "go to" guy for tech stuff. I never asked to be the tech support guy at my house. It just happened. We live in a 60s-era rental house in a suburban cul du sac. The house isn't new and none of the systems in the house are new. We've been in the house for about 3 years. The people before us had some kind of satellite TV service. When they left, the dishes were just left on the roof. 
When we moved in, we tried to bring our AT&T Uverse service with us from our old place a mile away. After about 2 weeks of trying it became apparent that the service wasn't available at the "new" place. So we switched to Comcast cable for TV and broadband. They hooked us up pretty quickly. When the installation happened, I paid little attention to the actual work that they did. At that point, I was desperate for connectivity and just wanted it to work. 
Fast forward to 3 years later, and I now work from home, and our house's infrastructure is significantly different than when we moved in. During that time, the number of devices that connect to the internet has grown from about six, to about 30. Like many other folks I talk to, we now heavily rely on streaming music and video, and less on Cable TV. 
The number of connected devices in our house (WiFi and wired combined) has ballooned over the last three years, and now includes:
  • VPN connection for work
  • multiple Roku players
  • multiple console game devices
  • multiple smart phones
  • multiple tablets
  • multiple eReader devices
At some point in the last year, we found that our connection would drop unexpectedly during the day. As the house's IT guy, after many re-boots of the router, and some research, I found a temporary fix. I discovered that if I opened a console window and pinged Netflix.com from one of the devises on the network, the connection would often restore itself for all the devices on the network. That fix worked for a while, but then the frequency of the dropped connections increased. It got to the point where I would be pinging Netflix 10+ times a day, to keep things working. It seemed also, that the problem was worse when it rained. Rain doesn't happen a lot here in California (especially this year!) but I saw a pattern and it got me thinking that perhaps the source of the problem was with the wiring that brought the signal by coaxial cable from the junction box on the corner of the rental house, around three sides of the building, to where it entered the house and connected to our cable modem.  Our house was built in the 1960s and, over the life of the building, has been wired and rewired many times as different families came and went. I decided to try replacing the cable wire on the outside of my house. I really didn't want to call the "Nerd Herd" when I wasn't convinced that our connectivity reliability issues were a problem with the way our network is set up. When I started stringing a new wire, I found one splice, and joiner connecting the old, cheap, flimsy cable wire to a new piece. As I made progress along the eves, around the three sides of the building, I continued to find splice after splice. I found seven splicers in all. When I purchased the new wire, I splurged for "quad-shielded" RG6 wire. I figured that if it was worth replacing, it wasn't worth doing it half-way. 

As far as cost goes, I bought a spool of 500 ft of wire and a box of end connectors for about $70 at the Casa de Depot. It took me about 2.5 hours to string the cable.
To join it to the house, I mostly used zip strips to connect it to the existing cable wire, but I also added cable joiners (little plastic semi-circles with nails that you pound into the wood of the eves of the house). It was surprisingly fast to do. Since my house is a single story building, I was able to do the whole project with only a 6 foot ladder. This is a pretty simple project that doesn't require much in the way of special skills. The most difficult thing involved is attaching the connector ends. This requires you to strip away the insulation on the wire in a precise way, in order to fit the end on it.
Tools I used: 

  • Utility knife
  • wire cutter
  • hammer
  • pliers (I used 2 vise grips to tighten the cable connections on both ends.)
  • 6 foot ladder (scale as appropriate for your needs)


  • Cable wire: 500 foot roll of "quad-shielded" RG6 wire
  • plastic zip strips
  • hard plastic cable joiners
  • connector ends for RG6 wire
  • cable stripping/connector tool (totally worth buying)

Cable connector
Since I left the old wire on the building, I did label it with a sharpie marker on both ends as "un-used cable" and my street address so that whomever works on it next knows what is what. 
Since I switched over to the new wire, I have not had the connection drop (yet. Knock on wood!). 

Did It Solve the Problem?

Did it work, or what? -My main inspiration for rewiring, was to fix the problem of dropped connections. What I really wanted was more reliability. I didn't have a website to measure or quantify that, but I know from the drop in requests for help with computers/devices around my house, that the change has been very successful. Our wired and WiFi connected devices all seem to stay connected and I'm expected a heavenly choir to break out any moment exclaiming "Hallelujah!" The problem is solved.

If you are interested in doing this to boost your connection speed, it may have some affect, but I did not find a significant jump at my house. There was a minor increase, but nothing to write home about. To track your connection speed, try testing your connection speed before you do any wiring. I pointed my browser to Speedtest.net and did several tests at different times of day, and from 3 source servers. Afterwards I tested again, and when I compared the tests from before and from after, I only found a small increase in speed. 

Full disclosure: I hit my thumb with the hammer within the first five minutes of working on this project. It hurt like crazy, but it neither slowed me down, nor impeded me from completing it in any way. Be careful. Wear safety eye wear. Work smart. Be careful on ladders, and watch out for bees!

Monday, February 3, 2014

I Want a Groundhog Day Refund -or- Six More Weeks of Frackin Winter

I Want a Groundhog Day Refund -or- Six More Weeks of Flipin' Winter 

By Denis Sweeney
Feb 3, 2014

Well, the weather rodent has doomed us to six more weeks of winter. This winter has seen more than usual viruses running wild. Yeah, I did the flu shot early on too, but I caught it like everyone else. I've been home sick and had time to actually get bored, and analyze things. -To think too much about what is going on in my life and try to figure out what I should be doing, and look back at what I have done.

How do you know when a midlife crisis is over anyway?
I thought there would be more velour and sports cars and women included with this thing. Come to think of it, I may have been in the wrong section of the bookstore.

Looking at your life can be a good thing. -Necessary even. And I am excited to shuffle things around a bit to spend more time doing things I like. For me, that means dedicating time to making things in the art studio. Drawing, painting, collage, and building some stuff too.
Today, I visited a studio to see about getting some space. I'm still working out the details but it felt good to get the ball rolling.

While I'm glad for the state (California) getting more winter rains, I am looking forward to warmer weather and longer days. If you know how to tell when a midlife crisis is over, I'm all ears! What came out of yours and what changes did you make? Let me know in the comments.

Here's mud in your eye, Winter!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Notes from a Guy Who Went to the Adobe MAX 2013 Conference

Notes from a Guy Who Went to the Adobe MAX 2013 Conference

By Denis Sweeney
May 10, 2013

I was fortunate enough to attend the Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles on Monday and Tuesday of this week.It was a worthwhile trip and I met a lot of great people and learned a lot.I had hoped to attend more hands-on sessions but they filled up fast! I did attended sessions on:
  • JavaScript
  • Web Graphics
  • Digital Government: Adobe in the Public Sector
  • SVG Reboot
  • Community inspires Creativity
I learned about Adobe’s new sales model called Adobe Cloud Connect, which switches from an outright purchase model to a subscription model.
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Links to Adobe recorded sessions
Design and Creativity
Digital Publishing
Web Experiences

More links:
Resource site:CAN I USE
Compatibility tables for support of HTML5, CSS3, SVG and more in desktop and mobile browsers.
Great site to go to for questions about what is supported on different platforms, browsers, etc.
GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers.
Brackets is an open source HTML editor with great functionality, that Adobe is backing.

Brackets intro video on YouTube channel
Font Resource site:LostType
Pay-what-you-want font resource site.
Blog post:5 myths
Five Myths About Creative Cloud.
Adobe blog dispelling rumors/fear about what Adobe CC might be.

Here are some notes I took from the event:
  • Adobe Creative Cloud is a new sales/delivery model and it is a subscription-based model.
  • 20 Gb of space in Adobe's cloud is included
    • more space is available. cost: (I didn't hear)
  • Install Adobe CC suite of apps on up to 2 machines (mac or pc, or both)
  • apps still run locally on machine, as before.
  • Access to 1000s of fonts, included w/ subscription
  • Launches June 17. Cloud apps, and collaboration functionality.
  • some available now (cloud subscription model, CS-apps through cloud installer)
  • Cloud-apps (Adobe CC-branded apps) will be coming in June with new features and functionality.
  • Creative Suite will still exist and will get patches and updates, but will NOT get new features.
    • -->this was surprising, big news to the Adobe community, and everyone was talking about it!
  • The cloud connection will allow artist to access their files and their app preferences from any machine or device.
  • Illustrator is supporting SVG file format and can create SVG graphics/code
  • Acrobat XI is latest version. 
    • Everyone should upgrade to Acrobat XI to ensure best compatibility with Illustrator. 
  • In XI, they rebuilt it completely to ensure seamless compatibility.
  • Adobe Edge Connect is a great new tool for Web Designers/Developers. 
  • The presenters demonstrated a Designer updating code on a desktop computer, and showed how Edge Connect is used to do live testing of new code on actual mobile devices (rather than using emulators).
  • They pushed the same code with Edge Connect's temporary wireless connection, to 3 physical devices (an iPhone, a tablet, and an Android phone) simultaneously, and in real time.

I had hoped to attend the Black Keys concert, but had to catch a plane and totally missed it.