An invitation to share your mad skillz for Mad Skillz week(s)

Long time readers might remember Mad Skillz weeks. They’re an annual movable feast of reader generated goodness, and a great tool for me to pay attention to such trivial matters as exams and the like.

I know you might be reading this in a feed reader and about to move on – but don’t. Not yet. Sharing is caring. Do you care about kittens and babies and stuff? Yes. Great. Do you have something you’re skilled at that you wish other people were skilled at too? Yes. Great.

Also – if I know you read here from time to time, don’t be surprised if I email you asking for your help. Or hit you up on Facebook.

Mad skillz can be serious. They can be light hearted. They can be a professional trade secret, or a hobby that you’ve honed with years or hours, of practice.

If you have a mad skill… then…

mad skillz

It’s like show and tell. Only you’re sharing some sort of incredible, or obscure, talent or skill that you have, that you wish others had – or that is unique and interesting.

Previous years have included:

Do you have a mad skill you want to share that isn’t covered in that eclectic mix?

Do you want to promote your blog, or something you’re up to, via this medium?

I’d love you to. Especially if it is interesting and truly a “mad skill” that I might want to learn. It’s easy.

Just send me a list, or a short post, or a long post, on how to do your mad skill. Pictures are fun too.

Mad Skillz: Steven’s Guide to Wii Dance

From my perspective, Steven Tran is many things. Talented photographer. Blogger. Budding theologian/preacher. Friend. Coffee companion. Dancer.

That’s right. Dancer.

Have you ever known somebody for a while only to have your eyes opened to their true nature a surprising amount of time into that relationship? It can be disconcerting. I don’t think I’ll ever look Steven in the eyes the same way having watched him take me completely apart in a game of Michael Jackson’s Dancing Whatever on the Wii recently. It was, well, wow. It was wow.

I’ve never seen anybody play Wii dancing quite like Steven did. It was like the old days. The Timezone days. I’d be there with my friend Simon, playing Pro Evolution Soccer, or whatever the arcade equivalent was. And there, next to us, would be some very serious looking dancers. Faces still. Limbs flying. Serious expressions. Steve was like that. And he knew all the moves.

Here are his tips to dancing like a star…

  1. Practice – basics: multi-tasking is the trick, you gotta keep the beat, gotta watch the stickman for the next move, gotta time your moves right to score
  2. Memorisation: the little stick man that pops up on the screen never changes his moves for each picture, get into memorising what picture = what move
  3. “Jiayou” there’s no use playing these games half-heartedly. If you don’t look like a fool you’re not doing it right…
  4. Hold the Wiimote Correctly: having the right moves and not holding the Wiimote correctly will mean no points
  5. Practice – Goldmoves: after all your practice you’ve got to get the Goldmoves to maintain a +10K point average. Learn what they are, where they come up, and time it well…

I must confess, the whole experience reminded me of a South Park episode, it has a rude title that some might find offensive, and I haven’t watched it recently so I can’t remember if it has rude words, but here’s a link to the clip

Mad Skillz Round 2: Kicking off now

I’m about to post my first Mad Skillz Week entry for round 2. But don’t despair. You can still submit yours. Email them to me. I have quite a few. But I’m happy to extend this until I run out. Get in on the action.

Mad Skillz: Andrew on low light photography

Andrew isn’t just an opera singer about to hit the big time in Germany. He’s also a photographer of some repute. Here are his tips on low light photography. I’ll update this to include a link to his Flickr. If he’ll let me. I guess you’ll soon find out. Ahh, stuff it, it’s public domain. Here you go. Check his work out.

And here’s one of his photos – it is copyright so look but don’t touch (even though I’ve hypocritically stolen it – but we all know how I feel about copyright…).

A couple of years back I had a 10-tips article on photographing rock concerts published in JPG Mag (Read it here). So for Mad Skillz Week, here’s an adaptation of 5 tips for photographing in low light. Whether it’s a concert, candle-lit cuisine or the cool colours of the Eiffel Tower light-show, these tips will help make the most of difficult lighting situations.

  • No Flashing. Turn the flash off, it won’t help, and if it’s a classical concert*, it will get you kicked out. The flash will either not even reach the subject, or it will completely destroy an sense of performance or mood created by the low light.
  • The need for speed. This is where some manual control comes in handy. The idea is too get as fast a shutter speed as possible. If you can manually control this (like with SLR cameras and some digi-cams) you should aim for the hand-holding rule – a shutter speed that is equal to, or greater than the focal length of the lens (again, generally much easier with an SLR). Digi-cams with scene modes sometimes have a performance mode, otherwise, the portrait mode will open up the aperture, allowing for faster shutter speeds. If you have the option to turn the ISO sensitivity up, that will help greatly, though has the unfortunate side effect of introducing digital noise.
  • Closer. Related to the previous point – the less zoom you use, the slower the shutter speed you can get away with.
  • Brace. The best option is to use a tripod of some sort, otherwise, bracing the camera against a hard serface like a fence or a lamp-post can help reduce camera-shake. I keep a mini bean-bag in my camera bag so that I don’t scratch the camera in the process.
  • Squeeze. Another major cause of camera shake is pressing the shutter-release button. A gentle squeeze will help reduce the distrubance caused by pushing.
  • *Disclaimer: of course, you shouldn’t be taking photographs in professional performances, but if you happen to have a child star, then this will be of use.

    Mad Skillz: Kutz on how to play international roller hockey

    Of all the people in all the blogosphere Kutz is the only person I have lived with in Brisbane. Tim also blogs, and Mattias used to. I also work with Kutz. And go to the same college. And we play futsal together, and very soon we’ll play football together.

    For a guy who almost staged a coup on my only claim to presidential authority (QUT Christians in 2005) we get on surprisingly well and spend a lot of time together. Kutz is a deep thinker, who I think sometimes thinks so deeply he gets lost in his own thoughts while trying to articulate them. Lots of people know Kutz – both online and in the real world. His two greatest personal achievements are convincing his wife to marry him and playing international roller hockey – that’s my assessment not his. How many sporting internationals do you know? I can count them on two fingers. While the cynics out there might think that picking an obscure sport to play is kind of cheating – Roller Hockey is hard core (I watched a tournament once) and Kutz was a standout.

    Anyway, here are his tips on how to be awesome at Roller Hockey. He gets extra points for diagrams – though I suspect he was making them when he should have been writing a sermon.

    I’m Kutz and I’m an ex roller hockey player. Hoquei em patines, for those Spaniards among you.

    Roller hockey is awesome. You take 5 steps, and then all of a sudden you’re already going fast. Seriously. You don’t need to keep running. You just roll. Your legs are still. And yet you’re still going fast. A beautiful concept. Add to this the feeling of smashing someone into the wall, flicking a ball into the top corner (probably on the keeper’s stick-side) and getting to hit a ball (and, on occassion, other people) with a stick and how can you go wrong?

    Now, I used to play with a team of guys: Michael, Les, Dion, Matty, Serge (my bro), Chris, Peter and some others.

    Michael’s top 5 rules were:

    Rule #1 – Hit Dion
    Rule #2 – Hit Dion
    Rule #3 – Hit Les
    Rule #4 – Hit Dion
    Rule #5 – Hit Les

    Fun rules they were too. They aren’t, however, mine.

    My Five best* tips for playing roller hockey. (And these are genuine, and hence will interest only a very few of you.) (They will also mostly be team, not individual, principles. That’s because that’s all my dad taught me.)

    1. In negative sports**, a strong defence that puts some pressure on the opposition is the key to winning. So defend tightly, and communicate well.
    2. Don’t give away the ball close to the halfway line. Breakaways goals are imperative to avoid.
    3. If you’re trying to score, the hot-spots to skate to are here. (see diagram)
    4. When defending man-on-man (ie, you’re marking a specific player, not defending in a zone) skate in straight lines, roughly parallel to your penalty box lines. Skating in straight lines gets you there faster than skating in curves.
    5. Try to make your team-mate look good. If everyone on the team has this mentality, hockey is a beautiful thing.
    6. 6. (Unofficial, but vital) Don’t drop the soap in the showers.

    Nathan’s asked me to tell you now how applying these 5 tips will change your life. I would suggest that after intense thought and application these principles will simply confuse you if you try to use them while learning to play hockey. Our coach Eduard Karayan (ex-pro in Italian league) just let us go and have fun. So we did. :)

    * May change after more than 10 minutes of contemplation.
    ** A ‘negative sport’ is my short-hand for a sport where in any given attacking phase it is more likely that the attacking team will not score than that they will score. Ie, football(soccer). A ‘positive’ sport would be something like basketball where the expectation is that more likely than not the attacking team will score from their attack.

    Mad Skillz: Dave on regional ministry

    Dave Walker is the boss of AFES in Townsville. Or the “executive pastor”. Really he’s just the senior staff worker. He has been in North Queensland for nine years. He has, on occasion, blogged here. He is so skilled that he has actually made two submissions to this program.

    Dave is, of course, an “expert” in regional ministry and this input is so timely one might assume I asked him to write it.

    Here are his tips.

    1. Keep heaven, hell, the bible and the gospel clearly in focus. Soon, no one’s going to care where they lived here.
    2. Be content for your gifts to be used less than they could be, or for your reputation to be smaller than it might be — for the sake of loving people. (And if that feels too hard, then think of your wife’s pattern of life raising children. Or Jesus. Either’s fine.)
    3. If God enables you, have children and grandchildren – spiritually. Most regional places suffer because there are no evangelical grandparents, ministers who have stuck around in the area for a generation or two. They don’t stick around because it’s hard, and often it’s right they move on. I’m guessing, though, (I’m only 9 years in!) that persuading other people to stay and minister with or near you is a key to going long term. (But if it is time to go to the big smoke, then do it!)
    4. Grow up. It’s lovely having some older, senior leader around to tell you that what you’re doing is great, or where you should go next, or that you’re ‘really needed’ where you are. But it’s a luxury, and God may put you somewhere where you don’t have that kind of leadership around. (And if I can facetiously slip in a corollary: Don’t stay in Sydney just because Phillip says you’re needed there!)
    5. Live in a nice house, where possible. This is pure pragmatism, and fraught with danger. But it helps.

    An open invitation to people who are awesomely skilled

    Dear people who are awesome,

    I would have sent you an individual email but copying and pasting takes too long…

    I had this cool idea. I’ve been thinking about fun “guest” like series to do on my blog – I like when other blogs I read feature people in Q&A type settings. And I’d like to try this to see if I can turn it into a regular segment.

    I have tentatively titled this idea “Mad Skillz Week” but that’s a dumb name and it won’t last.

    I want you – dear friend and reader – to supply me with a list of five tips to do with your speciality or passion. I don’t really care what this is – but I have some ideas for each of you if you aren’t capable of original thought (which you are, which is why I am approaching you).

    The posts that come from this will go like this – lets, for example – pretend you are really good at scrapbooking (but please don’t do something that boring)… in most cases I’m approaching you based on the fact that you have interesting careers or hobbies (perhaps you’re an animator, a graphic designer, an opera singer, a songwriter, a roller hockey international, an editor, a poet, a student, or perhaps you write parody songs).

    Mad Skillz Week: Scrapbooking

    I will write an amusing intro about you, about your blog and possibly about how I know you (if we’ve met in real life which in all but two cases from this mass email we have).

    You will supply an intro to your topic. Perhaps about how when you first started scrapbooking it changed your life. And hopefully you’ll establish your credentials as an “expert” – though because you’re all humble Christian soldiers I will have to be unhumble on your behalf…

    Then you will provide your five best tips for this “mad skill”

    My Five best tips for Scrapbooking

    1. Buy a good scrapbook.
    2. Use good glue.
    3. Express your personality.
    4. I really don’t know about scrapbooking.
    5. This item left intentionally blank.

    Then you could put in a little bit of a conclusion sentence about how following these tips will change your life. It would be great if there are things that other people who do the same thing that you do that really annoy you – I suggest ranting about those in your list.

    Anyway. I’m thinking this is a bit like Ben’s Show and Tell so it’s not a truly original idea. Here are some reasons you should take part.

    1. You’ll get a link to your blog.
    2. You’ll get to look smart.
    3. People might like to learn from your advice.
    4. I’m trying to learn the Hebrew alphabet.
    5. I don’t really have as much time available to blog as normal because I’m using the internet via my mobile.

    All you need to do to take part is email me a subject, a list of five tips and your opening and closing sentences. My email address is nm dot campbell at gmail dot com.