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A PC-User's Purchase "Guide" (it's not...just the ramblings of an idiot) to High Quality Audio on your system.

Hello friends, today I'd like to talk about an aspect of our glorious systems that get overlooked a lot: our audio experience on our battlestations. Thanks to paoper for formatting. Again disclaimer that I am an idiot, so take this post with a grain of salt. Better info and more accurate info from people way more knowledgeable than I am is readily available from /audiophile /budgetaudiophile and /headphones, this is just a start-up guide for the beginner.
NOTE: The monster I gave birth to has become too long. I felt that instead of a short list of things to order, I needed to give context as high fidelity is really all about what sound is like in your experience. Also a fun read if you are interested. Feel free to skip to the actual list (ctrl+f active speakers, passive speakers, headphones, subwoofer, amplifier)!
I have limited the price range of the products, because this is after all just food for thought and not even a proper guide; real audio purchases will require elbow-grease and research from your end to see if the product's sound signature will match your preferences in music and sound. If your product is not here, do not worry. I have put in products that I have had experience with and those that were recommended by multiple reviewers I hold in high regard (with the exception of a 2.1 system you will see later), and I had to consider the endless number of headphones/speakers vs the ones that are worth your hard-earned cash (and products vs how they compare to my current setup which includes both "high-end" and budget options).

Introduction

I've been building systems for myself and others since I randomly took a buildapc course in middle school (currently 28) and enjoy music very much (I grew up on linkin park, dre, biggie smalls, 3 6 mafia, tupac, ac/dc, red hot chilli peppers am fond of electro and dubstep and various genres of music). I have 2 decades of experience playing saxophone, clarinet, and the electric guitar, and have performed in jazz bands, rock bands, and an orchestra. My ear is highly trained from raw musical performance and not just listening to speakers from home, as well as having the nuance to differentiate between good speakers. I have owned many many forms of audio gear (instruments, speakers, headphones, studio monitors).

So wtf is this?

So occasionally while answering questions on this subreddit (mainly on why new builder's systems aren't posting, or what components they should get, or just mourning with fellow builders for systems that have passed on as well as celebrating the birth of new systems and fellow pc builders who take their rite of passage of building their own system with their own two hands) I would come across the occasional "what speakers/headphones are best under $xx" and with the state of pc products being "gaming rgb ultimate series XLR" or w/e, it's hard to discern what audio products are actually worth your money. Note that if you are using just "good enough" cheap speakers, any of the speakers/headphones on this list will blow your mind away. Get ready to enter a new world of audio.

Why should I bother getting better speakers/headphones?

I have owned $20 logitech speakers, I currently own $1500 speakers. I have owned varying levels of headphones. The first half-decent (to my standards) speakers I had was a hand me down stereo set from an uncle. This thing was massive, but this thing was good. It's difficult to explain to you the sensation of music enveloping you with great speakers. Speakers are meant to reproduce sound, as in the sound of the instruments in the song. So great speakers and headphones can literally make you FEEL the music like at a rave or a concert or performance in the comfort of your home. This is why Home Theaters were so popular in the 80s/90s.
Upgrading will GREATLY enhance your music, netflix and gaming experience. In fact with passive bookshelf speakers, you can not only use them for your desktop setup, but also chuck them together with a tv and you've got a fine starter home theater system in your hands. You can even upgrade down the line incrementally, one speaker at a time, to a 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 5.2, 7.2 Dolby Atmos Home Theater Setup where your movies make you feel like your in SPARTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
I currently live in a small apartment with my TV right next to my battlestation, and when i want to sit down on my couch and watch TV, I simply move 1 speaker from my desk to next to my TV, turn my AVR on and I have an easy 5.1 home theater in my tiny apartment. Move the speaker, revert back to 2.1 (or 5.1 if i choose to but i dont because of badspeaker placement when I'm sitting at my desk) amazingness at my battlestation. Consider this an investment into massively improving your experience of playing video games, watching netflix, or listening to music. You think those 4k graphics and ULTRAWIDE monitor is giving you more immersion in your game? Shit...having great speakers or headphones can make you feel like you're IN NORMANDY BEACH DURING THE FUCKING LANDINGS

General considerations (or feel free to just skip ahead to the list)

Now, I totally understand using simple logitech speakers due to budget/space/easy-access from best buy or not knowing about the wider audio world. So I am here today to give you a perspective on what audio components are TRULY worth your hard-earned cash. I have owned $20 logitech speakers in college, I have owned guitar amps as well as studio monitors/other speakers ranging from $100-$1500. Do know that all of this information is readily available in /BudgetAudiophile /audiophile and /headphones . I am merely condensing all of it into a single list, and attempt to sort of explain it to the pc builders, or just an idiot rambling.
If you would like more information on specific speakers, I would check out reviewers on youtube like zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studios, and thomas and stereo. For headphones, metal751, innerfidelity, Ishca's written reviews, DMS.
Z reviews is okay and he reviews everything from amps and dacs to speakers and headphones, but he gives 90% of his products good reviews, and has affiliate links to every single product he reviews....so you see where my dislike of him as a reviewer comes from. He is still an expert audiophile , he just chooses to not use his knowledge and ramble on in his videos, plus the shilling. Great place to start for audiophiles, as he is still a professional. I just think many move on to other reviewers.
Also with speakers, speaker placement is extremely important. Get those speakers off your desk and the woofers/tweeters to your ear level NO MATTER THE COST. Stack boxes/books, buy speaker stands/isolation pads from amazon, at worst buy yoga blocks from amazon. Put your speakers on them, get ready for even better audio.
General rule of thumb: dont buy HiFi at msrp. There are ALWAYS deals on speakers/headphones to take advantage of at any given time (massdrop for headphones, parts-express, accessories4less, crutchfield, adorama, Sweetwater, guitar center, etc). Speakers will get cheaper over time as manufacturers have to make room for new products/refreshes of the same models just as with headphones. If theres a particular headphone model you want, check to see if massdrop has it (website where users of the website decide what niche products the website will mass order, and both the website and you the users get reduced pricing).
Now this list is just simple guide. Obviously for $150 budget, theres probably like 10 different speakers to choose from. You will catch me repeat this many many times but sound is subjective, I don't know what genres of music you enjoy and what sound signatures in headphones/speakers you would prefer (warm sounds? bright? aggressively forward? laid back sound signature? importance of clarity vs bass?) So consider this list with a grain of salt, as this is after all, the ramblings of an idiot on reddit.

Categories

So I will be splitting this list into 4 categories:
And before I start, bass depth and low end does not fucking equal bad boomy bass. I absolutely detest low quality boomy bass like in Beats headphones and general "gaming speakers" or w/e. Also the budetaudiophile starter package is the dayton audio b652 + mini amp combo from parts-express. All the speakers that were considered were basically compared to the b652 before making it on here (and whether they justified the price bump over the b652)

Active vs. Passive (crude explanation)

So when a speaker plays music from your pc, the audio is processed by the audio card on your motherboard, which is then sent to the amplifier where the signal is amplified, and then finally is sent to be played on your speakers. Active speakers like logitech speakers that have a power cable running from the speakers directly to the wall socket have built-in amplifiers to power the speakers, whereas passive speakers require a separate amplifier to amplify the audio signal and feed the speakers power. Active vs passive, no real difference as both types of speakers will have good audio quality depending on how they are made and which ones you buy, but in the ultra budget section of speakers (under $300) actives tend to be cheaper than their passive counter parts. This is due to the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere.
Take for instance the Micca MB42X passive speakers($90) which also have a brother, the Micca PB42X ($120) powered speakers. Same exact speaker, but built in amp vs the amp you buy. Obviously the mb42x will sound marginally better purely from the virtue that the amplifier is not inside the goddamn box. But the mb42x + amp + speaker wire will probably cost you anywhere from basic $130 to $200 with difference in amplifier and whether you use bare speaker wire or banana plugs/cables. Cabling aesthetics and management will be greatly affected, with sound quality affected to a lesser degree, or more (but at what cost?). Amp choice to be explained later.
Now generally speakers should be recommended based on your music/audio preferences and tastes as speakers and in a larger part, speaker brands will have their own unique sound signatures that some will love and others will hate as sound is such a subjective experience. But since this is meant to cater to a wide audience, note that my list is not the ALL inclusive, and again is only the ramblings of an idiot.

BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS

If you want to add bluetooth capabilities to your wires active or passive speakers, simply buy the esinkin W29 wireless bluetooth module, plug your speakers in, connect to your bluetooth on pc/phone/w/e, enjoy.

ACTIVE SPEAKERS

Simply connect to your PC or TV via 3.5mm (or the occasional usb).
Note: you may experience a hissing with active speakers that may annoy you to no end even up to the $400 mark. This is a result of the amplifier being built in to the speaker in close proximity, as well as sometimes the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere. Passive speakers do not have this unless you buy a really shitty amp. Note that while bigger woofer size does not necessarily indicate better quality/bass, this does more often than not seem to be the case as manufacturers put bigger woofers on the higher stepup model.
Note that while I have included 2.1 systems here, I would always recommend you get good bookshelves first, save up money and buy a subwoofer separate.

Example options

PASSIVE SPEAKERS

These speakers will require you to buy a separate amplifier, as well as separate cables. But the passive route allows you to have a modular audio system that allows you to upgrade parts as you go along in your life (yes I said life for once you dip your toes into high fidelity, you will get hooked onto a great lifelong journey searching for the perfect setup), or even just add parts in altogether (like having a miniamp on your desk for your passive speakers, having a separate dac or bluetooth module for your speakers so you can connect the passive speakers via USB or bluetooth wirelessly, stacked on top of a headphone dac/amp combo, stacked on top of a preamp, etc). Amplifier list to follow later.
Passive speaker specs to pay attention to will be their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1w/1m). Speaker ratings in wattage are measurements of how much power can be driven to them (higher watts, higher volume...once again crude explanation). A 20 watt x 2 channel amp (measured in 4 ohms) is enough to power 4 and 6 ohm speakers rated at 100 watts to moderate/decently loud listening levels on your desktop. Now the sensitivity thing. A speaker with a rating of 85db/1m/1w means it will produce 85 decibels of noise at 1 meter with 1 watt of power. Now this not linear....to make the same speaker go up to 90 decibels may require 10 or 15 watts of power depending on other variables. Depending on how loudly you play your music and what impedance/sensitivity your speakers have will result in your choice of amplifiers. More on this later.
The thing about passive bookshelf speakers are that you can use them in your desktop setup, AND with your TV as a legitimate starter 2.1 home theater setup (which you can upgrade to 3.1, and then 5.1/5.2, just buy a used receiver from craigslist for 50 bucks, ez)

What you will need for passive setup:

Note that passive speakers and amp require you to purchase speaker wire separately (fairly cheap) and strip them (youtube video will guide you, very easy). Or if you like clean cable management and easy setups, banana plug cables from amazon will set you straight, and while these banana plugs and cable are nice and PURELY OPTIONAL, they will add up in cost as your buy more of them for frankenstein 2.1 cabling. Also a 3.5mm to rca cable will be required. The connection will be your pc -> 3.5mm->rca->amp->speaker wire-> speaker wire->speaker. (replace speaker wire with banana plug if going that route). Subwoofer connection will be explained in subwoofer section.

Example options

AMPLIFIERS

Okay here is where we need to get into specific numbers. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers so they are exempt. But passive speakers will require separate amps and so you will need to pay attention to certain specs. In speakers you will need to pay attention to their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1m/1w). The typical mini amplifier will be class D (small form factor amps for desktop use) and their wattage per channel will be usually expressed in 4ohms. Take for instance the popular SMSL SA50. This is an amp that delivers 50 watts to its 2 channels, rated at 4 ohms. Speakers will have impedance of 4, 6, or 8 ohms usually. 50 watts at 4 ohms can be 25 watts at 8 ohms, but is probably more like 20 watts at 8 ohms, refer to product specs for specific wattage ratings at specific ohms. Speakers with high sensitivity (85-95 db/1w/1m) that have 6 ohm impedance are easier to drive with lower wattage.
But here's the thing, an the smsl sa50 will not deliver 50 CLEAN watts. Somewhere in the 30-40w range distortion will start to appear. But for reference, 30 clean watts is enough to drive sony cs5s to uncomfortably loud levels in an apartment (the whole apt, not just your room) so listening on your desktop, you only really need 10-15 clean watts (only after turning up your preamp input to maximum volume, which in this case is your youtube/windows10 volume level). Do note that if you have the space, a used $60 AV Receiver that will just shit out watts and have 5.1 surround will be the best, but these things are massive.

Example options

If you need more watts than the AD18, you're gonna need to get a class a/b amp that just shits out watts for cheap, or get a used av receiver. If you want a new one, the best budget option is the DENON AVR-S540BT 5.2 channel AVR from accessories4less.

SUBWOOFERS

Good subwoofers are expensive, and cheap subwoofers will hurt your listening experience rather than improve it (muddy boomy shitty bass). Your best bet may be to simply find a used subwoofer from craigslist or offerup, just dont get the polk audio PSW10, this is a very common sub you see on the 2nd hand market, because it is a shitty sub and so people get rid of it. Now as to whether you need a subwoofer. If you are in a dorm, don't get a subwoofer. Because.... if you live in a dorm, do not get a fucking subwoofer. Now if you live in a small apartment, fear not, proper subwoofer management will save you noise complaints. A good subwoofer will produce good quality low end you can hear and feel without having to turn up the volume. You want to look at the subwoofer's lowest frequency it can go to. That will show you how "tight" the bass will be. Now, low volume levels on a good sub will produce that bass for you without vibrating your walls (though subwoofer and speaker isolation as well as PLACEMENT (refer to the sub-crawl) will do more for getting the most sound out of your speakers without having to turn up the volume....and just turn off the sub after a reasonable time)
Now as to how to add a subwoofer to your system will depend on what setup you have and the available connections. If your speakers or amplifier has a subwoofer output, simply connect that to your subwoofer, set the crossover freuency (the frequency at which the subwoofer will start making sound) to 80hz, or lower depending on how low of a frequency our bookshelves can go down to.
If your speakers/amp do not have a subwoofer out, you will need to find a subwoofer that has high level speaker inputs. You will need to connect your bookshelves to the speaker outputs on the subwoofer via speaker wire/banana plugs, and then run speaker wire/banana plugs from the subwoofer input to your amplifier, ending with rca to 3.5mm connection to your pc.

Example options

HEADPHONES

Okay, I keep saying headphones and not headsets right. But you ask, Kilroy, you're an idiot. You're posting on buildapc for PC gamers and builders but you're talking headphones and not headsets. How idiotic are you? Pretty big, but friends hear me out. Now I used to live in South Korea, where PC Bangs (internet cafes) set the nation's standards for computers. All the places had to get the best bang for the buck pc gear to stay in business and remain competitive (all 100 computers at these places had like i5-6600k and gtx 1080 in 2015 or something I don't remember, along with mechanical BLUE SWITCH FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK (imagine 100 blue switch keyboards being smashed on in a small underground area in Seoul) keyboards and decent headsets.
So I have tried MANY MANY different headsets, here is my conclusion. Just get proper headphones and get either get an antlion modmic, or V-MODA Boompro mic both available on amazon. (short list of mics later) or get proper headphones and usb mic. Okay, I have seen the headphone recommendation list, and the only one I would give any (if at all) weight to in the usual pc websites that our subreddit goes to, is the list from rtings. These guys mainly measure monitors and tvs (very well might i add) but the writer for their audio section is lacking it seems.
Please dont get Astro AXX headphones or corsair rgb xxxxxx w/e. Please for the love of god, take your good hard earned cash and get yourself a NICE pair of cans my fellow PC users. The mic part is secondary as GOOD headphones will forever change your PC using and music listening experience FOREVER
The TWO EXCEPTIONS that I have observed to this rule are the Hyperx Clouds and Cooler Master mh751/752.

Example options

Now obviously, there's other choices. A metric fuck load of them. But I had to account for how much you should be paying (price range) for upgrades in sound quality and performance.

Example options (Wireless headsets)

Okay. Wireless headsets, now let's think why do you need a wireless headset? Do you want to walk around your house while on discord? Maybe you want to keep the headset on while having to afk real quick for a smoke break or whatnot.

HEADPHONE AMP/DAC (digital to analogue converter)

My knowledge/experience with headphone amps and dacs are...extremely lacking, I'm more of a speaker guy. But, here is a list for you guys.

MICS

Other mics? Yes, but are they worth the extra $$ for marginally better audio recording? You decide.

Concluding remarks

Cool. Stay safe in these dark times brothers. Have a glorious day.
submitted by Kilroy1311 to buildapc [link] [comments]

Affiliate-Wire - Affiliate Marketing Review

submitted by affiliscore to AffiliScore [link] [comments]

State of the Subreddit 2020: 50k Members (With Merch!), a Competition Update, AMAs, and more!

After some delays (this post was supposed to go up when we hit 50k), I present:
The 2020 State of the Subreddit!

Table of contents:
  1. 50k Member Milestone
  2. AMAs on Nerf
  3. Competition Update
  4. Subreddit Rules Clarification & Explanation
  5. Mod Action Stats
  6. Finishing Statements

For those looking for it, here is the Weekly Discussion Thread that this post took the pinned place of: https://www.reddit.com/Nerf/comments/hs6dxrnerfs_weekly_general_discussion_thread_jul_16/


50k Members!
First up in the State of the Subreddit 2020: We have hit 50k members!
While in the past, we haven’t really had milestone announcements, 50k is a more substantial milestone.
As such, we have made a design commemorating the milestone! It is available for a limited time only, so order it while you can! The sales are done through RedBubble, and are therefore available on several different items, including vinyl stickers, shirts, phone cases, and more!
Get yours here!
Please note: The 50k Subs design only charges manufacturing costs by RedBubble. There is no profit made off of sales by the mod team.



AMAs on Nerf
With how well our last AMA went, it seems like an ongoing series of AMAs is happening on the sub! While we only have one AMA in the works currently, we do plan to have one AMA every one or two months. If you have anyone in mind who may be interested in doing an AMA, please let us know via this forum!
AMA suggestion Google Forum



Finish It Up Competition Ending This Month!
We figured it might be worthwhile to mention that the quarterly competition currently running is ending this month (July)! All entries need to be posted by the end of July 31st, 2020. The entry submission post went up a few days before this post, so go submit your blasters! A comment must be made on that post in order to enter.
Some time after the 31st, a new post will be made for voting on contest entries. The votes submitted there are the ones used when determining winners.



Sub Rule Clarification & Explanation
In recent years, we have seen an increased amount of people who don’t understand the rules, or don’t understand why rules exist. The problem has gotten to the point of possible drama being made, and with the amount of subreddit users only increasing, the rules are something we are going to touch on in this section of the announcement.
Process for making rules:
The process for making rules on this sub has been fluid in the past, but generally speaking, a rule is made via these steps:
  1. A problem is noticed
  2. An internal discussion is had as to whether or not make a new rule
  3. A first draft of a rule is made, then discussed further internally
  4. The rule is discussed publicly & changed according to constructive criticism
  5. The rule is implemented
Process for enforcing rules:
A quote from rule 8
“Generally, we will warn users for a first infraction, give temporary bans for 'heat of the moment' civility violations and permanent bans for repeated or malicious rules violations. We also lock or remove posts that create more drama than positive discussion.“
All mods use the rules as guidelines when taking action on posts. Mods have full discretion with what they do or don’t remove, and if another mod (or a user) sees a problem with their decision, the problem is rectified.
Explanation of current rules and why they were added:
To start off this section, please read our Rules, because to understand the explanations, that is kind of important ;)
  1. On-Topic Content
A pretty simple rule. Stuff posted to Nerf needs to be about blasters or the community surrounding them. This rule also disallows posting of a single stock blaster, as those posts flood the sub and contribute nothing (except in rare cases, such as a very rare blaster)
  1. Be Polite
Another simple rule, be polite. There is a difference between constructive criticism and dismissive/disrespectful criticism. Please be constructive. Personal attacks are not allowed. Don’t argue, report the person instead.
  1. No weaponization, buy/sell/trade, or affiliate links
Weaponization: This rule covers blasters and ammo designed or used to harm someone. This includes posts loading real weapon ammo into blasters, dangerous Nerf ammo (Like thumbtacks), and laser pointers (All lasers can cause eye damage, don’t use them.)
B/S/T: Buying, Selling, Trading, and price checks are forwarded to NerfExchange to keep all of that topic in one space.
Affiliate links: Affiliate links are banned here, just like on many other subs, because they can easily be snuck into a post in an undisclosed way, and even if disclosed, can be used to gain money from users.
  1. No meme or ‘joke’ posts, or scripted war footage
These posts flooded the subreddit, and an open discussion with the community was had to determine what to do about them. A full ban was decided by the mod team after community feedback. Memes/Joke posts can be found on NerfChatter.
  1. Only post thrift finds on “Thursdays” (Stopped due to covid)
This same discussion also covered Thrift posts, which were flooding the subreddit. These were limited to Thursdays to reduce the amount of posts.
Thrift posts are currently not allowed on the subreddit due to Covid-19 and social distancing guidelines. It may be a blanket statement that doesn’t apply to all, but please: stay home if you physically can. Dying is bad for you.
  1. No Redundant Posts
This is a rule that many have discussed in the past. One post per rolling 24 hours, and no copy-cat questions/discussions.
The reasoning for this rule usually leads to a very long discussion in comments, so we are writing a full wiki page dedicated to the rule’s reasoning, and will be reviewing that rule in the process. It will be coming soontm.
  1. Advertisement Guidelines
A reasonably simple rule. If you want to advertise/self-promote (A self-promotion post is considered a post specifically commercially relevant to OP - a link to their storefront, youtube, etc) you must be active in the community. Along with being active in the community, a limited amount of self-promo posts are allowed per month. This rule stopped “drive by” shop spamming and adverts disguised as a normal post (“Look at this cool Recon I got! You can buy the parts at SHOP!”). It also makes the sub nicer to be on without capitalism shoved in your face repeatedly.
  1. Appeals and Moderator Actions
This is a rule that just says what we do to take action when a rule is broken. Warnings, temp bans, and full bans depending on the situation and severity of rule breaking.
  1. Site-Wide Rules and Redditquette apply
Just a rule telling you to follow Reddit’s rules and be nice.
  1. Further sub guidelines - gun/bullet position and bot, IMR position and bot.
This is a rule that explains the AutoMod’s automatic replies to some types of posts.
Gun/Bullet: Explained here.
IMRs: Explained here.

We are planning on doing a sub feedback thread in the coming weeks, so that will be the place to discuss possible problems with rules, rule changes, sub problems, sidebar content, CSS, and more.



Mod Action Stats
Along with explaining the rules, and the decision making behind them, we also wanted to make public a display of the actions we do as moderators of Nerf to add context. These statistics cover April-June 2020, 3 months.
Approved Posts: 4811
Removed Posts: 1310
Removed Comments: 721
Locked Comments & Posts: 911
Mod Distinguished Comments & Posts: 1294
Fully Banned Users: 57
Temp Banned Users: 41
Post Flairs Edited: 725
Roguellama Bad Title Comments: 162 (429 total since October of 2019 at time of writing)
Here is what all those statistics mean:
Approved Posts: These are posts that were manually marked as okay and fitting our rules. Each post was read/looked at (if it was a picture) and acted upon accordingly.
Removed Posts: These are posts that were manually marked as not fitting our rules, and were removed.
Removed Comments: These are comments that were deemed to be either spam or breaking the rules on Nerf.
Locked Comments & Posts: These are comments and posts that did not warrant a full removal, but were locked due to arguing in the comments, sensitive subject matters, off-topic discussion, etc.
Mod Distinguished Comments & Posts: These are comments and posts that a mod distinguished, which means that their name was marked as a moderator (Green text, little green shield icon). Note that not all comments and posts made by mods are done as a moderator. We like to discuss and post like everyone else does! We were all normal users of Nerf at some point before being moderators after all.
Fully Banned Users: These bans consist of underage accounts (Breach of Reddit TOS), bots, spammers, and egregious rule breakers.
Temp Banned Users: These temporary bans consist of rule breakers. Usually, a warning is given first, then if a rule is broken again, a temp ban is used. After a certain amount of temp bans, a full ban can be used.
Post Flairs Edited: Sometimes people don’t flair their posts, or they flair it wrong (flairing a review as a WIP for example). These are posts that had their flair corrected by the mods.
Roguellama’s bad title comments: Roguellama has been going on a crusade against bad titles on the subreddit. This is the (staggering) amount of comments he has made warning about a bad title, and proposing a better title to use in the future.
As can be seen from these statistics, mod life on Nerf is very busy! While some things can be automated (Rule 6 violations, IMBullet autoreplies, etc), the majority of work on the subreddit is still done by hand, and the workload will only increase with more users.



Finishing Statements
I’m sure I can speak for the mod team when I say I never expected Nerf to grow to this size, this quickly. Thanks to everyone on the sub for sticking around, we appreciate it, and cherish the community we have here.

And with that, I declare the 2020 State of the Subreddit post finished! Thank you for reading!

Edited 7-17-2020 because reddit broke some formatting.
submitted by SillyTheGamer to Nerf [link] [comments]

Tuition Analysis

This is a continuation of the post before about questioning the tuition rate in the context of the current possibility of online classes only.
https://www.reddit.com/rit/comments/hjzhb8/plan_of_reopening_for_the_sake_of_tuition/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x
I am going to address some finances and possible solution paths.
"The school had a 26 million surplus after the 2018-2019 school year"
In the context of the school, revenue, etc. this figure seemed really small. I contacted an accountant and paid for some consulting, and the information they provided is that at the end of 2019, RIT had 86.5 million "in the bank, ready to go for next year" after reviewing the audit. This is in the Cash and Cash Assets section on page 3 of the audit (balance sheet), first-line for 2019 column.
"2B Dollar Donation"
This is not supported on this audit anywhere, however, at the end of 2019 RIT did have around 2B in total assets (flex), but that includes everything, every facility, building, fountain, brick, etc. Not very relevant to the question of money they had available to re-invest at the end of the 2019 school year.
2019's hindsight isn't 2020
This is incredibly important to consider, past results don't show future outcomes. So I want to do some math on each extreme side of the possible surplus to see if there is any possible figure or possible outlook for 2020 to support RIT's current position on not changing any pricing. I will be as concise as possible. I am using the most up to date information I can get my hands on.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Let's assume the surplus stayed the same (Optimistic considering pandemic increasing RIT's cost of operation for the Spring 2020 semester)
Figures:
Cash on hand: $86,500,000
Enrollment: 19,000 (rounded from 19,047 per 2019 President Report)
Tuition Cost: $30,000 (Avg. cost after aid, so optimistic as possible for us, rounded from 29,895)
Calculations:
Surplus from tuition payments: 86,500,000/19,000 = 4552.6 or 4553 tuitions/students
% Of students creating surplus" 4553/19,000=.239 or 24% of total enrollment creating the surplus
Therefore, if they were able to maintain the surplus considering the pandemic, then we have a cushion of 15% enrolled students. If enrollment drops by around 24%, give or take, the surplus is burned.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Let's assume the accountant and I are wrong, and the surplus was really lean at only 26 million.
Figures:
Cash on hand: $26,000,000
Enrollment: 19,000 (rounded from 19,047 per 2019 President Report)
Tuition Cost: $30,000 (Avg. cost after aid, so optimistic as possible for students, rounded from 29,895)
Calculations:
Surplus from tuition payments: 26,000,000/19,000 = 1,368.4 or 1,369 tuition/students
% Of students creating surplus" 1,369/19,000= .072 or 7.2% of total enrollment creating the surplus
Therefore, if they were able to maintain the surplus considering the pandemic, then we have a cushion of 15% enrolled students. If enrollment drops by around 7.2%, give or take, the surplus is burned.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Staff is a major portion of their cost and can't be reduced due to this.
This is 100% true, for 2019 salaries and benefits accounted for close to 400 million out of total expenses of 583 million. That's pretty much 70% of the total expenses. If it were a meat-uh-ball, it would be quite spicy.
Other considerations/assumptions:
Tuition only made up 50% of total revenue for 2019, so it may not weigh as heavily into these surplus figures as my numbers state. However, tuition is the most significant revenue stream they have, the other relying on contracts and investments mostly. It's an optimistic figure because most of the economy is pretty unstable/deficient, and the stock market isn't super-duper either. I am functioning under the assumption that for the 2020 school year, a larger majority of revenue is going to have to come from tuition, which would support their inability to reduce the cost.
Donations are another thing to consider as well. With nearly 88 million in 2019, it may be able to help in 2020. However, I am making the assumption these donations are from alumni or significant business owners that have affiliation with the college. My assumption here is that these people won't be donating as much because they may be facing greater financial strain due to the pandemic. I don't believe donations will be significant for this coming year.
Solution paths:
Attend a cheaper college this year:
Many helpful Tigers directed us to the registrar process and way to assure transfer credits. Personally, this process has bit me in the tail before, but I am only one person. The suggestion to get everything in writing, get approval from your advisor that they will actually transfer, should be enough to assure you aren't wasting time and money. Many in the comments supported this and stated it worked for them. Transferring back and forth may be tedious (SNIPSNAPSNIPSNAPSNIPSNAP! You have no idea the physical toll that two transfers have on a man!) but it may save you a boatload of the almighty dollar.
*Also, remember that tuition isn't a flat cost! The average term it takes to pay back a student loan currently is 21 years, and closer to 26 years for a loan great than 100k. Depending on your interest rate, that 15k (hypothetical) you save by transferring could be reducing a much costlier future debt.
Skip this year:
This I believe this solution to be a bit problematic. Skip this year, and pay more tuition next year as we know it continues to go up. Not to mention having to retain the important information you need for your area of study for a year. Every Sylvan learning center commercial has told me this is not a good thing.
It's a bit unfair as well to the people on their last year, right at the finish line. To put them from one year to two years to get their degree just plain sucks. Who takes a water break on the last mile of the marathon?
Screw it and just go anyways, even if we go 100% online:
This works for some majors, but RIT is largely a college for engineers, computer science, and digital design. A lot of students depend on the facilities to get their work done, and without them probably they won't be able to do what they have to or get their work done.

Closing:

I researched a lot and I approached the situation trying to build an argument for RIT to re-open. They seem very dependent on tuition for funding. In 2019 it made up revenue of 300,000,000 against a staff cost for salaries and benefits of 400,000,000. I get why they can't reduce it, it's a huge risk, and reducing the staff's pay by 25% or firing 25% just to break-even is going to throw the college into a state of low morale and chaos.
The important thing here is safety, which raises the question I was trying to get to in my original post. I can't find any better reason to re-open than budget, to encourage retention of enrollment, and keep students happy to be at RIT. The budget is a small consideration in the face of possible sickness/ death of staff and students.
The sympathy for the college's position following the "screwed if they do, screwed if they don't" mentality creates a false equivalence. One costs money and strenuous measures for safety, the other puts everyone at risk of a serious illness. Health outweighs money every time, and not considering it may end up costing the college more in the long run if things go south.
After all of this research, consulting, argument building, and such, I am still left confused. Why risk re-opening? If money is the deciding factor, can we cut waste? Is there any wiggle room in a budget consisting of 2 billion dollars in total assets to reduce tuition or cover staffing somehow? Did the budget not include any type of cushion for emergencies or unforeseen natural catastrophes?
There is an answer in these numbers, somewhere. I hope we can find it.

Did you really just do all of this to get to the same questions???
Yes.

"OH BROTHERRRRRR THIS GUY STINKS!"

Yeah, I know in all of this typing and argument structuring there is a lot of room for error. If I get any corrections I will make sure to edit this post so it reflects proper figures and reasoning.
Thank you, everyone, I appreciate all the engagement and resources provided in the first post!
Sources:
https://www.rit.edu/sites/rit.edu/files/docs/2019_presidents_report.pdf
https://www.rit.edu/fa/controlleaccounting/auditstatements.html

TL;DR
In the parking lot today, there was a circus. The copier did tricks on the high wire. A lady tried to give away a baby that looked like a cat. There was a Ritchie impersonator and a Munson impersonator. A strongman crushed a turtle. I laughed and I cried. Not bad for a day in the life of a dog food college.
submitted by kulpjongun to rit [link] [comments]

Applying to ART College: A Megathread

Hi! After using this sub for much of my junior & senior year (on a separate account), I've noticed there’s fairly little information on applying to art college. As such, I thought I'd compile all my knowledge and research about applying to art school as someone that used to obsess over the A2C process for both normal and art schools.
This ended up MASSIVE as I tried to stuff everything I could think of related to applying to art school in here. Hope it helps some of y’all out there :-)

Introduction

Having applied and researched applying to both art and normal schools, I feel that applying to art school is much more straight forward. There are so fewer moving factors and it's definitely much less of a crapshoot than applying to T20s and Ivies. If your art is good enough and you know what they're looking for, I think getting into even the top art schools is very doable and a lot less scary than one might initially think.
For some context, I'm currently an incoming freshman at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and was accepted with highest merit scholarship to all art schools I applied to, including RISD, Parsons, Pratt, and SVA. I was a 2019 and 2020 YoungArts winner in Visual Arts, a 2020 Scholastic National Gold Medalist, and a 2017 Congressional Competition where my art was hung in the U.S. Capitol for a year.
While part of it was hard work, another part of it was also figuring out how to navigate the process and choosing where to apply my effort. Figuring out what AOs want is super important if you want to maximize your chances at success.
Applying to art college is ultimately a game that anyone with a drive to create art can learn how to play, no matter how much art experience you have. And if you know how to play, it becomes a lot easier to succeed!

The Portfolio

The portfolio is no doubt the MOST important part of your application. This is a selection of your artwork that AOs will look at to determine if you're qualified enough to be admitted. Grades and ECs often matter little to none depending on the school, so if you're set on art school, make sure to focus on creating the best portfolio you can.
Depending on the school, they may ask for anywhere from 10-22 pieces. Each school has different quantitative requirements; make sure you check their website and/or Slideroom portal (where you'll upload your portfolio) for details.
Important note: Please keep in mind that my portfolio was mainly 2D fine arts with a little bit of Graphic Design from my time at RISD Precollege, which I attended in the summer before 12th grade (2019). As such, most of the research I did was about fine arts portfolios and I don't know if the information here is as applicable to portfolios with or centered on photo, video, animation, etc. It's also most specific to RISD & other top art schools in the U.S. (but we're all overachievers here anyway lol).

Major-specific vs Non-major-specific portfolios

Some schools want portfolios that are specific to the major you apply to (though this is relatively rare) or portfolios that are "focused" on (rather than only on) a specific major (this is a little more common). They may not even mention it explicitly on their website, so make sure you clarify what the school wants.
The advice & info I'll give is about non-major-specific portfolios (which schools like RISD (especially), Pratt, Parsons, SVA, SAIC, MICA, etc. want/accept), so keep that in mind!

What to include in a portfolio? (For art schools)

While this honestly varies from school to school, I know that top art schools not only want to see technical skill, but conceptual thinking and experimentation as well. I think a current RISD student that gave a portfolio lecture at RISD precollege put it really well—RISD (and many other top art schools) look for things that they admit they can't teach you, like a POTENTIAL to grow, a drive to experiment and explore, a proclivity for a type of thought-process that they think makes great artists. Realism and technical drawing skill are all things that anyone can learn with enough practice (and at many art schools like RISD, Pratt, and Parsons, you WILL be practicing through foundation year studies).
That being said, schools still want to see that you have adequate technical skills to build upon. You want a mix between technically-strong pieces and conceptually-strong pieces, i.e. pieces that show off your rendering abilities and pieces that show off your ability to put ideas and thought behind your pieces. Of course, these two categories can heavily overlap (and it's probably better if they do!), but if they don't, make sure you have BOTH in your portfolio.

Technically-strong pieces

Technically-strong pieces are pieces that demonstrate your mastery over your medium. Many this means super-detailed colored pencil still lives, well-crafted and purposeful sculptures, intricate landscapes, accurately rendered buildings, etc. In addition to making things detailed, technical skill also includes a strong grasp of color, light, composition, form, space, etc.
Tip: Composition especially is something many art school applicants don't pay much attention to (according to some AOs I've talked to), so make sure you're not putting everything right in the center of your page/canvas/etc. Also, play with cropping and having parts of the subject & objects go off the page rather than containing the entirety of the subject/object within the bounds of your page.

Conceptually-strong pieces

Having a portfolio of impeccably rendered but purely technical pieces may get you into some schools, but top art schools will still turn you down. I know of so many people who've submitted portfolios full of hyperrealistic graphite shoes or tools or other objects, only to be rejected. Such portfolios show that the artist lacks the ability to go beyond depictions of life and given another dimension to their art—a conceptual dimension.
By "conceptually-strong" pieces, I mean pieces that are idea and thought-driven rather than just purely technical. Think about how you can indicate a narrative within your piece or say something.
Think also about how you intentionally choose certain compositions, certain lighting, certain colors, certain styles, certain painting techniques, etc. to help subtly build the narrative of your piece. This is really important as it shows you're thinking about these things.
This DOESN'T necessarily mean that there has to be some explicit "moral" or message to your piece; trying to spoonfeed a story through very explicit (i.e. not-subtle) imagery can result in cheesy symbolism and pieces that feel cliche.
(I hope to add more to this later when I can put it into words better—this category is so broad and vague and I wish I could be more specific. Feel free to ask more specific questions about it below!)

Mastery over a range of mediums

Top art schools like seeing that you skillfully use and experiment with different mediums. Maybe if you mainly work with pencil and pen, you can try paint, which is wet and a lot looser than highly controlled dry mediums. Maybe you can try 3D!! Many high schoolers are scared of it so it'll make you stand out (if it's well-executed).
Tip: You can also play with combining multiple mediums in one piece. Consider less conventional mediums like e.g. painting on wood (having the wood show through under the paint can create a cool effect, plus you can also burn wood to create designs & cool effects), creating texture with crumpled newspaper, incorporating wires to create a 3D aspect, etc. The list goes on and on!
That all being said, don't put in a bad piece just for the sake of showing that you work with different mediums. If the piece isn't very good, it can end up hurting you more helping you :')
Additionally, some art schools may not care all that much about seeing a range of mediums. This is definitely more of a thing at schools like RISD.

Life studies: figure drawings, still lives, landscapes, etc.

Art schools want to see that you can draw from life. This means literally looking at things IRL and drawing them instead of drawing from a photograph. These pieces don't have to fully executed, fleshed-out pieces—it's common for people to send shaded black-and-white charcoal sketches of figures. They can also be sketchbook pages from sitting at a coffee shop, a park, a train station, your room, and just drawing the people, animals, objects, scenery, etc. around you. This is also a time to combine mediums if you want to add a splash of color to pen/pencil drawings. You can have fun with it!
That being said, it's still very important to display well-executed technical skill, ESPECIALLY for still lives as those are probably the most common life drawing + are in nearly every single portfolio and probably the easiest of the 3.
Tip: Put shadows underneath your still lives; don't just have them floating in a blank white page! Try to also draw at least some part of the background so that the object is indicated in a space. Play with composition and try to break away from putting everything right in the middle of your page/canvas with nothing going off the edges (bc still lives are like that and it gets very boring!)
If you can't access live nude models for figure drawing, there are some online resources where you can draw nude models meant for this exact purpose, both timed and untimed (posted below!). Though it won't be from life, it may still be worth including as human anatomy is important and something many art schools focus on, especially in your first year.
Although the vast majority do, some schools don't care about life studies or purely technical pieces at all (notoriously parsons!), so make sure you do your research through attending National Portfolio Day & contacting admissions with questions (more on that later).
Note: You should only submit a few of these!

Sketchbook pages

This very much depends on the school—some really want to see them and some may only want to see your best, most completed work. Typically, a school that DOES want sketchbook pages will explicitly ask to see them. Make sure you check their website or ask them!
If they DO want to see sketchbook pages, you can include thumbnail sketches, planning for another piece, life drawings, small experimentations, anything that gives a "behind the scenes" look into your art making and thinking. It's great also to show sketchbook planning for another piece you have in your portfolio. Schools like RISD really want to sketchbook pages so make sure you keep one!
Note: You should only submit a few of these!

School-specific assignments/tests

Some art schools will require you to create art based on a specific prompt. This prompt may change every year or stay the same. This is an important chance to show how you tackle an art assignment given by the school itself and a good assignment response can really boost your portfolio. I wouldn't go as far as to say these "make or break" your portfolio, however, as schools have explicitly stated that the rest of your portfolio is also important and not to devote all your time and energy onto the assignment at the cost of a lower-quality portfolio. Still take it seriously though!
Cooper Union (tbh it's the only school I know of that does this) gives a "home test" where they mail/email you a list of prompts to make art from that they assess you on. There's also a bunch of questions you have to answer (I don't know much about the home test so please let me know if this info is wrong or misleading!).
RISD's this year (just released a few days ago!) is "Identify something in need of repair. Use any material or approach to fix it." and an accompanying written response (further details here).

Portfolio tips

Be creative. Come up with unique concepts.

I'm sure someone out there is reading this thinking, 'Well, DUH, it's art school! Of course I have to be creative,' because I'd probably think the same. Yet, you'd be surprised how often AOs continue to see still lives of fruit or glass bottles, green landscapes, a portrait painted with a flurry of unnatural skin tones, etc.
Don't make things just because everyone else is making them. I guarantee you that you don't need a still life of fruit to get into art school. Instead, think about what pieces like that show AOS (for still lives, it'd be technical skill) and think about ways you can show those same skills but in a less-generic way. This piece by @lemoncholy_(IG) (link to a timestamped youtube video) is a great example of a fun and original still life that also works in a narrative while displaying technical skill.

Break out of rigidity

Common among applicants who are really skilled in realism are portfolios full of tightly rendered portraits and scenes from life, but nothing else. This is bad because it shows you don't know how to experiment and that your artistic skills and vision are limited within the very narrow realm of photographic realism.
Play with adapting a "looser" hand. Watercolor is great for this because it's so fluid! You can also play with combining realism and abstraction or illustration. An artist that I think does this well with oil paint is Jenny Saville. You can also experiment with stylizing some of your realism. Degas's pastel portraits

Don't place everything in the center

I mentioned this earlier, but placing things in the dead center is probably the most common composition that high school applicants use, usually without a particular reason why and just because it's the "default." Many AOs I talked to really emphasized it so definitely play with putting things off-center and asymmetry!!

Have backgrounds. Yes, even to still lives!

Also mentioned earlier, but pure white backgrounds should be avoided whenever appropriate. They can make pieces look unfinished and usually happen because people are scared of them. Break out of your comfort zone! Even if the background is simple, it still indicates the object in a space instead of it just floating in space.

Don't be afraid of color

Try to make more than half of your pieces in color! I'm not sure if this is as much of a problem now, but don't be afraid of it! It's much easier to work with it when the colors are controlled, like with colored pencils, versus when you have to mix your own colors, like with watercolor.

Make your artistic choices intentional

Why did you choose this certain composition? This color palette? This style? This lighting? Realism vs semi-realism? How can these choices help build a narrative without having to shove it down the audience's throat through explicit imagery?
Answering these questions can help you make more intentional and meaningful choices! and explaining these choices in the description will definitely give you a boost as it shows you're thinking deeply about critically (critically thinking) about your art-making.

Spend time on your written descriptions

Honestly, even if the work itself is subpar, a stellar description that reveals a lot of depth to the piece can save it and show that you think a lot about your artistic choices and art-making in general. From then, it just becomes an execution issue which you can work on in school.

Quality > quantity, but don't add too few pieces either

Don't try to reach the max-pieces limit with "filler" pieces that aren't very good. It'll bring the overall quality of your portfolio down.
At the same time, don't include too few pieces. If it asks for 20 pieces, try to give at least 13. If it asks for 12, try to give at least 9. Not every piece has to be absolutely outstanding!

Common mistakes

A purely technical portfolio

I'm sure I'm beginning to sound like a broken record at this point lol, but this is super important!! It's so so common for technically amazing applicants to get rejected because their portfolios are all just technical studies without any narrative or conceptual thought behind the majority of their pieces.
Tell narratives through your art. Go to art museums. Ask yourself what it means to be an artist and your role in society. What power does art have that other methods don't? How can you use your art to say things and reach others in ways that only art can?

Fanart or anime

Especially anime. They don't like it at all. The reasons are a little BS imo :( but you can't fight them; just don't do it.

Master copies

Mastercopies are when you replicate/copy famous pieces of artwork—art from "masters"—as accurately as possible.
This is a lesser offense than including fanart/anime and whether schools actually care will vary from school to school, but I know that schools like RISD & Parsons really don't like them and RISD specifically advises against them. They don't show any originality and the display of technical skill is also damped by the notion that it was copied from someone else's art.
Personally, I think master copies are actually super beneficial to people learning a certain medium and I really encourage people to do them as studies. Just don't put them in your portfolio!

Badly photographed pieces

The documentation of your pieces is an often overlooked yet highly important part of your portfolio. Try to take photos of work outside in bright but shadowy areas. This way you get natural light but not the glare of direct light. Rent a camera and learn how to use its basic settings or use a phone with a high-quality camera.
Crop your photos to the edges of your piece. Alter weird lighting, contrast, and color inconsistencies using a photo editing software. Photoshop is perfect for this as it's super powerful. If you don't have a subscription, PM me and I can help you with getting it for free.
Art Prof also has tooons of stuff on documenting your work here in the middle/second column of links near the top.

What makes the best portfolio? (For NON-art schools)

When submitting a supplementary portfolio to non-art schools, non-art schools typically prefer high-technical skill works and fully fleshed-out, finished works. Unless your experimental pieces are also highly skilled, it's best to go for very well rendered pieces that also have some conceptual thinking behind them.
The people looking at your supplementary portfolio may often be normal AOs that don't know much about art, and high-skill pieces will seem most impressive. And whereas the applicant pool for top art schools like RISD consists of many high-technical-skill low-conceptual-skill portfolios, supplementary portfolios to non-art schools on average usually aren't as good so you don't need as many risky, conceptual pieces to stand out.
Plus, non-art schools don't give two shits about your "potential to grow" in art so show off all the current skill you have rather than what you could have in the future! Especially if you don't even plan to do art in college.

Ordering your pieces

The order of your pieces does matter. You want to leave the best impression you can on the AOs and psychology plays a part in it. People generally agree that the first two and last two pieces should be your strongest pieces. You want to start and end with a bang.
Other than that, it's up to you and depends on your portfolio pieces. You could try grouping similar pieces together, but if two pieces are too similar to each other, it can seem repetitive and you should probably take one of them out (instead of just moving it somewhere else). You could also play with mixing things up, but be careful not to break the cohesion of your portfolio by jumping between pieces that have completely different purposes and moods—you want the order of your pieces to flow without seeming boring or repetitive.

What is Slideroom?

Slideroom is a portfolio uploading site where the majority of schools (including non-art schools) will ask you to submit portfolios on. Each school will have their own Slideroom portal (usually something like "[schoolname].slideroom.com") and you'll have to submit your portfolio separately for school you apply to.
When you upload pieces onto slideroom, you'll have the option to add a title and description for your piece. You may also have a box for year, medium, size, etc. depending on if the schools asks for it.
Tip: I highly recommend creating a separate document/spreadsheet with all your artworks' names, mediums, years, sizes, and descriptions as you'll have to put in that information again each time you submit a portfolio to another school (there IS an option on Slideroom to copy all your entries from portfolio A into portfolio B, but portfolio B may ask for yeamedium/size/etc. while portfolio A may not, which would require you to put it all in for portfolio B).

More tips!

Two ~1hr Youtube videos about "art school portfolio secrets" with tons more tips from Clara Lieu (former adjunct RISD professor) @ Art Prof!! Here and here.
A bunch of portfolio tips + more common mistakes by Art Prof (again lol) here (same link as the one about documenting artwork)!

Grades, Tests, Extracurriculars, Awards, Classes, etc.

Academics

Generally, grades and test scores very little to art schools. Most art schools barely care about your GPA and SAT, if at all. Even RISD, which probably cares the most out of all the art schools, has accepted people with sub 3.0 GPAs and sub 1200 SAT scores. Contrarily, many 4.0 UW 1400+ SAT people have been rejected because their portfolios are subpar. And it makes sense when you think about it, as academic strength matters little relative to your artistic strength when at art school.
Extracurriculars are more or less the same deal. Some schools only ask for art related ECs, so it's nice to have a few. It also may give you something to talk about.

Art Competitons/Awards

From my understanding awards also don't matter very much to art schools, and at least not as much as your portfolio. I know people who've won numerous Scholastic National Medals that were rejected from schools like RISD. IMO this makes sense, as art school AO's would definitely trust their own judgment when looking at someone's portfolio over that of a competition's that they aren't affiliated with, especially since they're admitting them to art school, which values potential, while competitions value skill.
Some schools give a few scholarships based on art competitions like YoungArts, Scholastic, etc. I always think it's a good idea to try for these as you often have nothing to lose except for your time and the application fee and you may end up with some portfolio pieces while preparing for them.
There are mainly two large art competitions that I know of:

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

This is probably the largest art competition in the country. It has both regional and national awards. It's not too difficult to get some regional awards and it looks good on a resume. Anyone 7th-12th grade can apply and you need to do it while affiliated with a middle school/high school art teacher.
They have many different visual arts categories such as photography, drawing & illustration, sculpture, mixed media, design, digital, comic art, etc. They also have a whole writing section that also has a bunch of different categories.

National Youngarts Foundation

This is a fairly prestigious competition with only ~50 winners nationwide, only half (or less) of which are Finalists. For visual arts, you submit a portfolio of 10 pieces that generally follow some unifying theme (the specifics change from year to year so make sure you check their site for details). Anyone 15-18 OR in 10th-12th grade can apply (so many college freshmen still qualify!). The due date is in October and if you get notified if you're a winner in December.
There are also many other categories outside of visual arts, such as theatre, writing, singing, dancing, classical music, etc.

AP Art

I personally never took this class as it wasn't offered at my school, so I wish I could say more about it. From my understanding, this class is a good portfolio builder, and many who take it before 12th grade end up with portfolio pieces. I think most art colleges don't allow you to use AP Art credit in college.

School Art Classes and Private Art Classes

In terms of getting you into art school, I don't think having these on your transcript or resume will increase or reduce your chances at all. However, these are definitely great opportunities to work on portfolio pieces and get feedback from teachers and peers.
Private art classes (if you find a good one) are definitely a great place to work specifically on portfolio pieces. Usually your instructor will work closely with you to build a portfolio and create pieces. Having not really done or learned anything in my school art classes, private art classes definitely helped me churn out a lot of art for the first half of high school.

Choosing an art school

Your major matters

The quality of your education at a certain institution will be VERY major dependent. While it may be tempting, don't just look at acceptance rates because they can mislead you (sidenote on this: try to get acceptance rates from students or the school's website because the ones Google reports are always much higher for some reason).
Even reputation can sometimes be misleading—for example, while RISD is sometimes considered the "Harvard" of art schools, it has a poor animation, video, and photography department. Contrarily, SVA has a great animation program despite having a high acceptance rate and despite some of their other departments being questionable in quality.

Flexibility in switching majors

If you aren't sure which major you want to go into or unsure if you necessarily will want to stay in your current major, keep in mind how easy or hard it'll be to switch majors. Some schools require you to apply to a certain major and are very inflexible about changing majors. For example, to do Fashion at parsons (which is famous for their fashion), you have to specifically get into the Fashion major because it's so competitive and they probably judge the applicants at a different standard.
Additionally, their first-year curriculum is completely different from all the other majors' first-year curriculums (which is usually a foundation year where ALL majors take the SAME classes on fundamental art skills like drawing and design). If you get into Parsons for something else, I've heard it's relatively easy to change majors from say Illustration to Graphic Design to very hard to change majors into Fashion.
It also may be hard to transfer out of such majors. Animation at SVA has a different first-year curriculum than most of the other majors (which also have a foundation year) which SVA brings up as why you can't switch from Animation to GD or Illustration but why you can switch form GD to Illustration or vice versa. I've heard of people who went into SVA for animation but realized after their second year that they didn't actually like animation. As a result, they either had to stick with it for another two years and 140k later or drop out.

Location

This is true for both art and non-art schools. Depending on your major, it may be easier to find work in more urban areas or certain cities. That gives schools around SoCal or NYC an advantage compared to schools in, say, Florida. Make sure you consider if that's something important for you and your major.

Connections/Networking

This may only be applicable for 'industry majors' like Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Textiles, etc. and not so much for very fine-arts majors like Drawing and Painting. But for those formerly mentioned majors, I've been told straight up that you pay for art school for the connections and the networking. Reputable schools have well-connected faculty and networking events with renowned companies and employers. This is super important in art industries like Graphic Design, where your salary can fluctuate GREATLY depending on where you work.

Ultimately, the name doesn't matter that much

While prestige may help someone graduating from a NON-art school find a good job, for art schools, your graduating portfolio matters a LOT more (NOTE: The portfolio I mention in this section is the one you build during your time at art college. The portfolio I mention in the next section and for the majority of this post is the one you apply to art school with). This is the body of work that you come out of college with and is what hirers (for industry majors) are looking at to decide if your artistic vision and skill is what they're looking for. The best art school for you then is the one that helps you build your best body of work, and that may not be the well-known big-name schools.

Do you like their student work?

Some schools have an affiliated Behance site where students (and alums) can post artwork that they make. You can usually filter the work in the site by major and year. The URL is typically "portfolios.[schoolname].edu" but I'd look up "[schoolname] portfolios" or "[schoolname] student work" in google as many schools don't have an affiliated Behance site.
This is a great way to see what students are currently making. You may find that you particularly do or don't like the work produced, and that's a really important indicator for whether that school would be a good fit for you.

Other options

Art at a non-art school

This can sometimes be risky imo as art programs in non-art schools are often small and not very good. Especially when there's only one professor for your major, you run the risk of getting a limited/narrow education in a field that requires fresh ideas and creative problem-solving (for most majors). The quality of the education may also just not be very great, and you'll also have fewer peers to grow from (Your classmates in art school are super important imo as you'll constantly be learning and growing off each other. You literally spend a third of your time in art school getting feedback from your peers.).
That being said, there are definitely some non-art schools with a strong arts and/or design department, like Yale, UCLA, and Carnegie Mellon. It can be hard to find stuff about this online and I wish I knew some better ways to research this, but it's best if you can talk to a professor or art student who's more 'in the know' about this stuff.

What if I don't only want to do art?

Most art schools only offer a very arts-centered education. Some have an art history/liberal arts requirement but those classes are limited. You'll still have to take some non-art classes, and if that's enough for you, great! But if not, you could consider doing art at a non-art school, where you'll have access to the school's non-art majors and courses too.
At RISD, you not only have a (relatively) heftier liberal arts requirement, but you also have the opportunity to take classes at Brown University right next door starting your sophomore year. However, I've heard that it's actually pretty difficult to schedule these classes as RISD classes are usually really long and the two universities don't really work together to coordinate classes.

Dual Degree Programs

There are also some dual degree programs, most famously the Brown | RISD dual degree program. This shit is competitive as fuck to get into (3-4% acceptance rate) but an amazing opportunity as you get a degree from both Brown University and RISD after 5-years. You can find a lot more info about it online. Overview of some specific logistics about its admissions here. There's also the Tufts SMFA 5-year dual degree which also has a 4-year option if you only want a degree from Tufts.

FAQs/Misc

I only recently got into art/I don't have a lot of experience. Do I still have a chance at top art schools?

Contrary to popular belief, people who are good at art are rarely truly "talented." Much of it is really just practice, practice, and more practice. Even with talent, practice is still essential (just like how talented athletes still have to train really hard in order to do well).
But imo, you can practice "smartly" and not-so-smartly. I know of multiple people who only started making art mid-high school or never took an art class before an art camp the summer before 12th grade and these people got into some of the best art schools in the country! They weren't secret Van Gogh's who had finally uncovered their god-given talent; they just knew how to build a portfolio that highlighted their strengths over their weaknesses and showed they had potential above all else.

How expensive is art school?

Top art schools are as expensive as top non-art schools. Some, like RISD, are notorious for being stingy about giving money. It's a sad reality. However, there are definitely other affordable but decent options outside of the big-name schools. Remember that a school might be alright overall but really good for your major, specifically!

How do I know if art school is right for me?

I struggled with the same question and am honestly still struggling with it. Is art to you a hobby or a passion? Would you be ok with doing art as a job, even if it means sucking some or most of the joy out of it? Would you be willing to go into debt for a degree that may be hard to pay back?
Do you want to go to school with passionate and driven students doing what they love? Do you want to go to school with students all more-or-less doing the same thing as you? Are you ok with focusing mainly on art but dabbling in other subjects too?
Ultimately, you can also always transfer schools!

Resources

Oh boy,, my favorite part lol. Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with any of the links or organizations below :’)

Portfolio reviews

National Portfolio Day - A collection of days throughout the year where you can have your portfolio reviewed & critiqued by representatives from a whole host of art schools. There's typically one in a certain state/region per year. It's a great opportunity to get legit feedback on your portfolio and I highly recommend people to attend if possible, especially if they're unsure about what direction to move forward in with their portfolio. Also a great time to ask art schools questions!! Calendar here.
Virtual National Portfolio Day - NPD but online through Careereco. Many schools also attend. Dates for upcoming VNPDs are on the NPD website. Their most recent one (as of the time I'm writing this) was on May 22nd, 2020; you can find the details for that one here.
This is still fairly new (first one was in 2019) and can get very hectic with long wait times but the whole thing usually runs the whole day from ~6 a.m.–5 p.m. EST. I'd definitely recommend NPD over VNPD if possible.
AICAD - If you can't make NPD, you can submit a 5-piece portfolio online to have it reviewed by a select list of art schools that you get to choose from. Not many schools participate but some decent ones do, like RISD and MICA. You'll get an email with feedback.
In my experience, a lot of schools used it as an advertising platform and I didn't get that much useful feedback on my portfolio. However, some schools (like RISD) did give feedback and it's definitely worth trying though if you want as much feedback as possible!
Art Prof Portfolio Critiques - Art Prof, a free online art education service, posts 30+ min critiques of user-submitted portfolios on their Youtube channel. The reviewers include art school professors and grads. You can buy a review on Art Prof's website.
They also have a ton of live art piece critiques (scroll through the created playlists) on all categories of visual art that you can submit your own art for for free!

Portfolio Examples

Admitted Portfolio Youtube Videos - A playlist of admitted art school portfolios + tips + general videos with info about art school. As of now, it hasn't been updated with the Class of 2020 acceptances, but has most of the ones from before then.
Art Prof Portfolio Critiques - (as mentioned above!)

Learning

Art Prof - The HOLY GRAIL of free online art education. The founder and head, Clara Lieu, is a former RISD Adjunt Professor. There is a TON of useful stuff on here, including tutorials in oil paint, marker, animation, printmaking, 3D, etc; ideas for art and portfolio pieces; guides on composition, light, portraits, etc; guides for photography art; etc. Literally sooo much useful content.
Here's a post with a ton of useful info on art school portfolios!
They also have a Youtube channel that is also incredibly useful and heavily integrated with their main site. As mentioned earlier, they have a lot of full portfolio critiques which you yourself can also purchase. You can also submit art on their site to get critiqued on their channel. They have tons of useful guides on just about everything art related, like it's seriously crazy. Literally God Prof.
New Master's Academy - Tons of solid lessons on all sorts of fundamental art skills, including anatomy, oil paint, watercolor, etc. A not-free subscripton based service. They also have a Youtube channel where they post some critiques and lessons here.

Reference Photos

Figures (nude and clothed)

Line of Action - Timed nude and clothed models. Also has facial expressions, animals, landscapes, etc.
Quick Poses - Timed also; same as Line of Action but the images vary more in quality (though they're also more diverse).
Artmodeltips.com - Tons of nude poses with some clothed. Not timed.
Senshistock on DeviantArt - Clothed and nearly-nude poses. Many are from dynamic perspectives and they're overall more suited for anatomy reference in illustrations but still serve as good practice.

Royalty-free images

For when you want to heavily reference a photograph that isn't yours. It's a good habit to start building as it's you could get sued using copyrighted photos + it's looked down upon. Take reference photos yourself if possible!
Pexels
Pixabay
...and tons more!
Hope this was helpful! I knew this would be long but it's now very very close to the 40k character limit lol and I'm out of space. I'll definitely try adding and editing stuff as I remember more art school-related content.
Feel free to ask any additional questions below and I'll try to answer them if possible!! I'm sure there are some things I've unintentionally glossed over, so please don't hesitate to ask :') If you have questions about specific schools, I may also be able to help!
submitted by batsbatsrats to ApplyingToCollege [link] [comments]

Index Comfort Mods and Accessories

Index Comfort Mods and Accessories
So I've had my Index since wave 1 deliveries which feels like forever ago now, thankfully I've also been lucky and not had to RMA anything either. The Index is undoubtedly a big comfort step up over the original Vive I used previously but there's always some tinkering you can do and things you can buy to go even further. So, due to an abundance of time and boredom of late I've been acquiring and trying some out and hopefully these thoughts will help new users, and perhaps longer terms users too, to figure out what might be worth getting to pimp their Index experience.
Blanket disclaimer I did not receive any of these products free or in return for reviews here or anywhere else, any links are for info or convenience and are not affiliate links.

Grip Boosters
These are basically 3D printed moulds that snap onto your index controllers and make the whole thing feel chunkier and, hopefully, nicer to grip and squeeze. When I previously used the index controllers I'd often find at the end of sessions my hands would hurt; cramps in fingers or pinching type feelings in places and this would put me off games with lots of grip type motions like No Mans Sky.
I picked up a pair of boosters from an Etsy seller where you can find these quite easily, often printed and shipped for very reasonable prices, I also grabbed a controller stand in the same colours while I was there and I do highly recommend one of those too just for keeping things tidy around the desk.
The grip booster make everything a lot more comfortable for those of us with larger hands and I've seen reports of them also helping people with small and medium hands too, if you find you have any grip related pains then it may well be worth giving these a try regardless of how big your mitts may be.
Grip Boosters and Stand
Tiny Magnets!
I always found when putting my Index on I needed to grab the body of the HMD and tilt it slightly forwards off the forehead and onto the cheeks more to get a clear image and in many cases this helped a lot with 'godrays' and internal reflections and the many other things you've probably heard of affecting image clarity.
Many people on here reported that adding a small stack of tiny magnets to the connection points on the top of the face gaskets helped by tilting the headset itself without the need to do it manually each time and compromise the comfort of the gasket fit. I picked up a pack like these on amazon: (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00TACKN4M) If you source them elsewhere look out for the size and pull strengths to make sure they're about the same.
I found I had to stack between 4 and 6 magnets on the top 2 connection points to get the desired effect but once you find the number that works for you it should make things that little quicker, easier and comfier to plonk the headset on and off without as much adjustment, it helps the image quality for me and takes the gasket pressure off the cheeks and back to being more evenly spread.
Magnets on Gasket
Studioform Enthusiast Kit
I picked this up direct from their website here: (https://www.studioformcreative.com/product-page/index-200-gram-7oz-enthusiast-kit) this combo kit includes a small counter balance weight which velcro straps to the back of the headset and a forehead strap that in theory takes the weight off the thin front to back strap of the plain Index. Fair warning, this ships from New Zealand and took about a month to arrive for me, that's corona delays however so I understand but it's not your amazon next day delivery.
The counter-weight at the back is nice and well made, it's simple and it does the job but I'm not sure you'd want to use it without the forehead strap element as the extra weight it adds is simply going to go straight down through that top front/back strap and on numerous long sessions I've found that can get quite painful at times even without the rear weight added. The idea here is it lifts the weight off the front of the face, I'd say it's reasonably successful at this but the difference isn't going to be life changing. I was initially worried the way it velcro straps around the bottom back piece of the headset would be noticeable and uncomfortable but once it's on I personally can't tell it's there.
The forehead strap is the much bigger piece of material you receive and frankly it's a little fiddly to fit correctly, even designed to wrap either side of the off-ear speakers they seem to get in the way and adjusting it to your head while wearing is hit and miss, I found I often tightened it up lop-sided. It can also be tricky not to make it lift the HMD too much and distort the image, I felt I had to loosen it to the point I wasn't sure it was helping as much anymore. That said since getting it fitted in a way I was happy with I've never since felt that painful digging in of the front/back top strap so it's at least improving that. On the subject of long sessions, or indeed more energetic sessions, that forehead strap is thick and comfy, great, but it makes me sweat like nobodies business, sure it's there to soak up most of that sweat before it runs down to your eyes but, well, hot and wet is the best description after a bit of Beat Saber or similar. For me I think I generally loose a lot of body heat through my forehead and this is basically putting a big fuzzy blanket over it.
On balance this kit should provide the most overall comfort benefits and it certainly delivers some incremental improvements, and it's not a particularly expensive kit so if you get that top strap pain from long sessions it's probably still worth it, but maybe turn the AC up if you have it! Also, don't run the cable through the back weight strap, they say you can but I just found it felt weird and pulled the cable in ways I guess I just wasn't used to.
https://preview.redd.it/0dvune473h651.jpg?width=4000&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=08b7f86f4cbdb628565383710c82ac3b86a546b0
KIWI Pro Cable Management
I'd seen and heard of systems like this for years but never paid them much attention as for me the cable was a necessary evil and one I worked around, staying less mobile in games, using full locomotion options to mean I didn't have to move much in my space and I largely felt this was fine. The biggest regret of my VR life is I didn't take these more seriously sooner, I wish I'd had it installed before I played through Alyx and pretty much all the other room-scale games in my catalogue.
When setup correctly (and there was a little hit and miss to start with) the difference is a revolution, I genuinely feel un-tethered and wireless now, which as the SO points out is ironic since all I seem to have done is add a whole bunch more wires to the situation! I use the split ring setup as seen in the manual and various online reviews, which puts basically 4 of the 6 pulleys in the center of your room, make sure the other 2 are strategically placed to keep the cable out of the way up to this point too.
The initial mistake I made was the keep the cable taught between the PC and centre hooks and then left all the rest of the cable hanging in a big loop right next to me in the centre of the playspace, big mistake, you'll wrap yourself round the neck instantly and hit the dangling cable continuously. The secret is to tightly attach the headset cable to the centre point with about a foot of slack between the back of the HMD and the rubber attachment point, a foot in this case because if I stand directly under the centre point I want no slack cable between the ceiling hook and me, or just enough slack that nothing is pulling at that point, ie use the distance between your head and the ceiling. The rest of the cable I generously loop and leave hanging slack between the other cable points, these will easily stretch out as you move, I can lay on the floor on the opposite side of the room before I run out of retractable cable length, using the ring hook method means you have 1.8mX2 from the furthest central ceiling mount, more than enough for most play spaces.
Install was super quick and easy, the sticky pads are super sticky and hold just great, you wanna be pretty sure of your plan before placing them however as I hear they're not easy to remove or reapply. Once up the HMD cable very easily clips in and out of the cable hooks so you don't have to live in a jungle-gym of cables all the time, that clip device seems hardy but I'm slightly concerned how it would handle hundreds of detaching and re-attaching, that said again this isn't the most expensive product ever so if they wore out I'd probably bodge something together or just buy a new set. I got these on amazon pretty cheap (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VPVXY2D) they claim to be silent, which is true enough once you're in the headset anyway. I can't recommend this setup enough, since we're not getting wireless Index's anytime soon that I know of this really will give you 90% of the feeling of freedom.

Note the short length between HMD and first clip
Leave good slack in the rest of the cable
Summary
All together these products and bits cost less than £100 and I think, given that I spent the same on a bloody DAS all those years ago, that the overall improvement to my playing experience as a result makes it well worth it, I don't regret a single one of these purchases and I use them all regularly. If you have any specific questions about any of them just let me know and I'll answer them if I can!
submitted by ojhilt to ValveIndex [link] [comments]

Covid-19 update Monday 20th April

Good morning from the UK. I am late today but with good reason, my wife has had a really tough time this weekend with mental health (she is on meds for OCD, anxiety and Bipolar Type 2). Lockdown is tough for us all, but believe me it’s harder still for those with pre-existing mental difficulties. It could be worse, one of her friends (who has been sectioned before for mental breakdowns) is having to manage her mental health whilst fulfilling her duties as an A&E (ER) doctor in Wales. How my wife’s friend does it I have no idea, the stories coming out of UK hospitals are deeply disturbing (this link is 2 weeks old).

Anyway, onto supply chain; this morning I read an article from Forbes about the problems supply chain disruptions can cause. Here’s a lengthy quote:
“Our firm recently polled executives at major corporations around the world to ask them about the operational risks they perceived to their supply chains, and the response strategies they had in place. The results were enlightening. Executives identified a broad range of risks (see chart below), from volatile commodity prices (which 43% considered a major challenge), to protectionism (31%), to piracy (just 7%). That executives identified such a broad range of risks told us that global supply disruption is indeed a top-of-mind issue for managers of global corporations.
When we asked a subsequent question about the strategies in place to mitigate these risks (see chart below), we found no favorites. Rather executives were across the board, choosing a number of different approaches, but not necessarily those best suited to the operational risks they were facing: 33% of respondents indicated that they would make no changes to their supply chains, 20% intended to decrease the number of production locations, and 15% planned to increase the same; and a range of other options as well.
Given the nature of the modern, global corporation and the complex supply network that has developed around it, it is unsurprising that executives have not aligned on a unified strategy to mitigate supply chain risk. No longer does a supply chain consist of a simple process from factory to warehouse to delivery (if indeed it ever did). Rather, as new sources of supply have arisen, new markets have opened, and companies have sought greater scale and specialization. Supply chains have evolved into a network of hundreds of suppliers, sub-contractors and distribution centers, adding tremendous complexity…
...I was recently at a conference of supply chain executives in the United States who told me that planning is dead – the best they could hope to do was respond to risks as they arose. Who has the time, and what is the benefit, of planning in a world of continuous change, demand-driven marketing, and intense pressure for instantaneous responses?...
...In an environment where changes in global supply chain can be as sudden as they are unscripted, companies have to arm themselves with both foresight and peripheral vision, an understanding of the long-term, and agility to deal with the short-term. More than ever, companies have to provision for multiple scenarios and they can only do that by engaging in a dynamic and multi-dimensional scenario-based strategic planning process.”
----------
I like the last two paragraphs of the article in particular. In case anyone wants to read the rest of the article, it’s dated May 2010 and written in reaction to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and the chaos it caused to supply chains around the world. Plus ça change; it seems some boardrooms didn’t adjust their supply chains after that black swan event (maybe due to the cost and the resulting negative shareholder pushback). Link to the story.

Virus news in depth

Our Pandemic Summer: The fight against the coronavirus won’t be over when the U.S. reopens. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself. - The Atlantic has written a lengthy article about what the mid-long term looks like for the US in relation to getting back to normal after Covid-19. “I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.” The article goes on to look at the pharmaceutical supply chain; “According to a University of Minnesota analysis, about 40 percent of the 156 drugs that are essential parts of critical care are becoming limited. Many of these depend on supply chains that involve China (where the pandemic began), Italy (the hardest-hit region in Europe), or India (which halted several exports)” … “Albuterol, the drug used in asthma inhalers, is scarce. Antibiotics, which control the secondary bacterial infections that afflict COVID-19 patients, are being depleted. Basic painkillers and sedatives, which are needed to keep patients on ventilators, are being exhausted. Hydroxychloroquine, the drug that Trump has repeatedly touted as a COVID-19 treatment despite a lack of good evidence, is running out, to the detriment of people with lupus and arthritis who depend on it. “It’s like everything we give to patients, we’re in short supply of,” said Esther Choo, an emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University. “We’re now scrambling to find the backup medications, and we’ll run out of those too.””
(cont’d) If it turns out that, say, 20 percent of the U.S. has been infected, that would mean the coronavirus is more transmissible but less deadly than scientists think. It would also mean that a reasonable proportion of the country has some immunity. If that proportion could be slowly and safely raised to the level necessary for herd immunity—60 to 80 percent, depending on the virus’s transmissibility—the U.S. might not need to wait for a vaccine. However, if just 1 to 5 percent of the population has been infected—the range that many researchers think is likelier—that would mean “this is a truly devastating virus, and we have built up no real population immunity,” said Michael Mina, an epidemiologist and immunologist at Harvard. “Then we’re in dire straits in terms of how to move forward.” The article is lengthy and also discusses options for reopening the economy and society in the USA.

Virus news in brief


My usual sources are as normal The Guardian and CNN live blogs unless otherwise specified.















Personal note: If you are on the Eastern seaboard of the US and in a hurricane prone area, it would be a good idea to review your hurricane plans and supplies now, e.g do you have a generator and does it work, spare fuel, batteries, candles, do you have enough long life food already stored + cleaning products, do you have an alternative method of cooking food, what’s your evacuation plan, etc etc. See https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-plan for help with this and note FEMA is already under a lot of strain due to the virus and would thus likely struggle with a major hurricane impact on the US seaboard - see also this USA Today article dated 6th April this year on that topic).



Supply chain news in depth


Susceptibilities of Solar Energy Supply Chains - The Global policy journal has written a detailed review of the supply chain disruption faced by the solar panel industry here. Whilst manufacturing was significantly reduced from January to March in China (down 13.5%) and is now almost fully recovered, its reliance on materials from around the world mean the supply chain is exposed in other parts. China has the majority market share in the mining or processing of most minerals used in solar panels, such as: silicon, aluminum, selenium, tellurium, arsenic, cadmium, and gallium. However, China still depends on many other countries to complete their solar panels, such as Peru for copper, Saudi Arabian oil for energy, and Japan for silicon wafers. In mid-March, Chinese owned mining company MMG Ltd reduced operations at its Peruvian copper mine after Peru declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus. Due to the damaged mining link in the supply chain, an initial spike in solar module price is expected due to shortages of materials for solar wafers and module glass, affecting the solar industry for months to come. Kangping Chen, the CEO of the top solar module supplier in the world, JinkoSolar, stated that around 400-500MW of Q1 2020 shipments are likely to be postponed to Q2 2020. The 500 MW postponement is approximately 14% of JinkoSolar’s 3.6GW quarterly solar panels production last year. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) stated that “before the pandemic hit, the solar industry was poised to set a record for deployment in 2020,” with solar installers being America’s fastest growing profession. A new SEIA survey now suggests cancellation rates for residential solar systems in the US are now at 19%, with postponement rates hitting upwards of 50% in some areas.

Illinois adjusts on the fly to meet medical supply needs in a coronavirus ‘Wild West’ - The Chicago Sun Times details a story from about two weeks ago where Illinois officials tracked down a supply of 1.5 million potentially life-saving N95 respirator masks in China through a middleman in the Chicago area and negotiated a deal to buy them. One day before they were expecting to complete the purchase, they got a call in the morning from the supplier informing them he had to get a check to the bank by 2 p.m. that day, or the deal was off. Other bidders had surfaced. Realizing there was no way the supplier could get to Springfield and back by the deadline, Illinois assistant comptroller Ellen Andres jumped in her car and raced north on I-55 with a check for $3,469,600. That’s just a taste of the “Wild West” world of emergency procurement taking place over the past several weeks as the state fights for equipment and supplies to protect frontline workers and patients in the battle against COVID-19. Most of that work is being performed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration through a rapid-procurement strike team, pulling together procurement specialists from around state government under the auspices of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. As Pritzker has made clear at his daily briefings, it’s an effort made all the more difficult by the absence of a strong, coordinated White House response. That’s left Illinois competing against other states, foreign nations and even our own federal government for the same materials. They’re all looking for what we have come to know as PPE or personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, gowns and face shields — plus coronavirus testing kits and swabs and, most prized of all, ventilators to help those most seriously ill keep breathing.

SWABS, STAT! Inside the Maine factory racing to supply America with virus test swabs. - If you’ve ever used a home DNA kit, opened wide and said “ahh,” or measured the depth of a knife wound in a stabbing victim, chances are you’ve used a device made by Puritan Medical Products Co, says Bloomberg. And if you’re tested for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, it’s quite likely that the swab used to collect a sample from inside your nose will have been made by Puritan, too. Located in Guilford, Maine (population 1,521), Puritan is one of two companies that make essentially all of the swabs used for coronavirus testing. (The other, Copan Diagnostics Inc., is in Italy, an epicenter of the deadly virus.)
(Cont’d) “Swabs could be a weak link in broadening testing,” former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted on March 16. That was four days after Puritan first started getting calls from the U.S. government, according to Timothy Templet, executive vice president for global sales, who entered the conversations himself shortly thereafter. “I’ve been on the phone since Saturday with many government organizations—Health and Human Services, FDA, working groups—just trying to provide accurate information regarding the ability to produce as many swabs for the country as we possibly can,” he says. The federal government, however, doesn’t buy directly from Puritan. Instead it helps coordinate with Puritan and other medical suppliers and distributors to get the swabs where they need to go. “We are ramping up to produce and wrap a million swabs a week that we need to put into the supply chain across the U.S.,” Templet says. His problem? Not enough machines or labour to meet demand.

**In Pursuit of PPE (**Or if you prefer, “how I managed to buy some PPE on the American black market for my hospital”) - The New England Journal of Medicine is not something I often read (Actually I’ve never read it before in my life) but this article caught my eye: As a chief physician executive, I rarely get involved in my health system’s supply-chain activities. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed that. Protecting our caregivers is essential so that these talented professionals can safely provide compassionate care to our patients. Yet we continue to be stymied by a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the cavalry does not appear to be coming. Deals, some bizarre and convoluted, and many involving large sums of money, have dissolved at the last minute when we were outbid or outmuscled, sometimes by the federal government. Then we got lucky, but getting the supplies was not easy.
(Cont’d) A lead came from an acquaintance of a friend of a team member. After several hours of vetting, we grew confident of the broker’s professional pedigree and the potential to secure a large shipment of three-ply face masks and N95 respirators. The latter were KN95 respirators, N95s that were made in China. We received samples to confirm that they could be successfully fit-tested. Despite having cleared this hurdle, we remained concerned that the samples might not be representative of the bulk of the products that we would be buying. Having acquired the requisite funds — more than five times the amount we would normally pay for a similar shipment, but still less than what was being requested by other brokers — we set the plan in motion. Three members of the supply-chain team and a fit tester were flown to a small airport near an industrial warehouse in the mid-Atlantic region. I arrived by car to make the final call on whether to execute the deal. Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse. When fully loaded, the trucks would take two distinct routes back to Massachusetts to minimize the chances that their contents would be detained or redirected.
(Cont’d) Hours before our planned departure, we were told to expect only a quarter of our original order. We went anyway, since we desperately needed any supplies we could get. Upon arrival, we were jubilant to see pallets of KN95 respirators and face masks being unloaded. We opened several boxes, examined their contents, and hoped that this random sample would be representative of the entire shipment. Before we could send the funds by wire transfer, two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrived, showed their badges, and started questioning me. No, this shipment was not headed for resale or the black market. The agents checked my credentials, and I tried to convince them that the shipment of PPE was bound for hospitals. After receiving my assurances and hearing about our health system’s urgent needs, the agents let the boxes of equipment be released and loaded into the trucks. But I was soon shocked to learn that the Department of Homeland Security was still considering redirecting our PPE. Only some quick calls leading to intervention by our congressional representative prevented its seizure. I remained nervous and worried on the long drive back, feelings that did not abate until midnight, when I received the call that the PPE shipment was secured at our warehouse.

Supply chain news in brief








Good news section


Deserted Thai beaches lure rare turtles to build most nests in 20 years - Thailand has found the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches bereft of tourists because of the coronavirus pandemic, environmentalists say. In Thailand, with 2,765 infections and 47 deaths, travel curbs ranging from a ban on international flights to an appeal to citizens to stay home have brought a collapse in tourist numbers, but freed up the beaches for wildlife. The 11 turtle nests authorities have found since last November were the highest number in 20 years, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center. “This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” he told Reuters. No such nests had been found for the previous five years. Leatherbacks are the world’s largest sea turtles. They are considered endangered in Thailand, and listed as a vulnerable species globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They lay their eggs in dark and quiet areas, scarce when tourists thronged the beaches. People have also been known to dig into their nests and steal eggs. (link)

Minnesota trooper's roadside gesture during traffic stop brings doctor to tears - A state trooper pulled over a doctor for speeding on an east-central Minnesota interstate, told her she should know better and sent her on her way grateful for receiving only a warning and not a ticket. The trooper also gave her a fistful of coveted N95 medical masks that were issued for his protection from the deadly coronavirus pandemic. “I burst into tears,” Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua, a Boston native and cardiologist, wrote in a detailed Facebook account of the traffic stop on March 21 along Interstate 35 in North Branch as she traveled from work in Duluth for a break in Minneapolis. “I think he teared up a little as well before wishing me well and walking away.” Janjua also saw the masks handed to her as having value beyond their role in stemming the virus’ spread. “This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking,” she wrote. “The veil of civilization may be thin, but not all that lies behind it is savage. We are going to be OK.” (Star Tribune link)
submitted by Fwoggie2 to supplychain [link] [comments]

PC User's Guide to Hi Quality Audio

Hello friends, today I'd like to talk about an aspect of our glorious systems that get overlooked a lot: our audio experience on our battlestations.
I've been building systems for myself and others since I randomly took a buildapc course in middle school (currently 28) and enjoy music very much (I grew up on linkin park, dre, biggie smalls, 3 6 mafia, tupac, ac/dc, red hot chilli peppers am fond of electro and dubstep and various genres of music). I have 2 decades of experience playing saxophone, clarinet, and the electric guitar, and have performed in jazz bands, rock bands, and an orchestra.
So occasionally while answering questions on this subreddit (mainly on why new builder's systems aren't posting, or what components they should get, or just mourning with fellow builders for systems that have passed on) I would come across the occasional "what speakers/headphones are best under $xx" and with the state of pc products being "gaming rgb ultimate series XLR" or , it's hard to discern what audio products are actually worth your money. Note that if you are using just "good enough" cheap speakers, any of the speakers/headphones on this list will blow your mind away. Get ready to enter a new world of audio.
Now, I totally understand using simple logitech speakers due to budget/space/easy-access from best buy or not knowing about the wider audio world. So I am here today to give you a perspective on what audio components are TRULY worth your hard-earned cash. I have owned $20 logitech speakers in college, I have owned guitar amps as well as studio monitors/other speakers ranging from $100-$1500. Do know that all of this information is readily available in /BudgetAudiophile /audiophile and /headphones . I am merely condensing all of it into a single list, and attempt to sort of explain it to the pc builders, or just an idiot rambling.
Couple things to note: I originally thought I would make a 5 minute low effort post with just a list of speakers and headphones, but this turned out to be longer than I originally anticipated. If I repeat myself in certain sections, it is because I wrote this abomination in multiple sessions with edits....or I'm just an idiot...probably the latter. If you would like more information on specific speakers, I would check out reviewers on youtube like zerofidelity, steve guttenberg, nextbigthing (nbt) studios, and thomas and stereo. For headphones, metal751, innerfidelity, Ishca's written reviews, DMS.
Z reviews is okay and he reviews everything from amps and dacs to speakers and headphones, but he gives 90% of his products good reviews, and has affiliate links to every single product he reviews....so you see where my dislike of him as a reviewer comes from. He still knows his shit and is a great entertainer whilst talking about audio products.
Also with speakers, speaker placement is extremely important. Get those speakers off your desk and the woofers/tweeters to your ear level NO MATTER THE COST. Stack boxes/books, buy speaker stands/isolation pads from amazon, at worst buy yoga blocks from amazon. Put your speakers on them, get ready for even better audio.
General rule of thumb: dont buy HiFi at msrp. There are ALWAYS deals on speakers/headphones to take advantage of at any given time (massdrop for headphones, parts-express, accessories4less). Speakers will get cheaper over time as manufacturers have to make room for new products/refreshes of the same models just as with headphones. If theres a particular headphone model you want, check to see if massdrop has it (website where users of the website decide what niche products the website will mass order, and both the website and you the users get reduced pricing).
Now this list is just simple guide. Obviously for $150 budget, theres probably like 10 different speakers to choose from. You will catch me repeat this many many times but sound is subjective, I don't know what genres of music you enjoy and what sound signatures in headphones/speakers you would prefer (warm sounds? bright? aggressively forward? laid back sound signature? importance of clarity vs bass?) So consider this list with a grain of salt, as this is after all, the ramblings of an idiot on reddit.
So I will be splitting this list into 3 categories: active speakers, passive speakers, headphones and amps/dacs. And before I start, bass depth and low end does not fuc**** equal boomy bass. I absolutely detest low quality boomy bass like in Beats headphones and general "gaming speakers" or w/e.
Active vs. Passive (crude explanation)
So when a speaker plays music from your pc, the audio is processed by the audio card on your motherboard, which is then sent to the amplifier where the signal is amplified, and then finally is sent to be played on your speakers. Active speakers like logitech speakers that have a power cable running from the speakers directly to the wall socket have built-in amplifiers to power the speakers, whereas passive speakers require a separate amplifier to amplify the audio signal and feed the speakers power. Active vs passive, no real difference as both types of speakers will have good audio quality depending on how they are made and which ones you buy, but in the ultra budget section of speakers (under $300) actives tend to be cheaper than their passive counter parts. This is due to the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere.
Take for instance the Micca MB42X passive speakers($90) which also have a brother, the Micca PB42X ($120) powered speakers. Same exact speaker, but built in amp vs the amp you buy. Obviously the mb42x will sound marginally better purely from the virtue that the amplifier you buy will be better than the shitty one in the pb42x. But the mb42x + amp + speaker wire will probably cost you anywhere from basic $130 to $200 with difference in amplifier and whether you use bare speaker wire or banana plugs/cables. Cabling aesthetics and management will be greatly affected, with sound quality affected to a lesser degree, or more (but at what cost?). Amp choice to be explained later.
Now generally speakers should be recommended based on your music/audio preferences and tastes as speakers and in a larger part, speaker brands will have their own unique sound signatures that some will love and others will hate as sound is such a subjective experience. But since this is meant to cater to a wide audience, note that my list is not the ALL inclusive, and again is only the ramblings of an idiot.
BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS
If you want to add bluetooth capabilities to your wires active or passive speakers, simply buy the esinkin W29 wireless bluetooth module, plug your speakers in, connect to your bluetooth on pc/phone/w/e, enjoy.
ACTIVE SPEAKERS
Note: you may experience a hissing with active speakers that may annoy you to no end even up to the $400 mark. This is a result of the amplifier being built in to the speaker in close proximity, as well as sometimes the manufacturer cutting corners elsewhere. Passive speakers do not have this unless you buy a really shitty amp. Note that while bigger woofer size does not necessarily indicate better quality/bass, this does more often than not seem to be the case as manufacturers put bigger woofers on the higher stepup model.
PASSIVE SPEAKERS
These speakers will require you to buy a separate amplifier, as well as separate cables. But the passive route allows you to have a modular audio system that allows you to upgrade parts as you go along in your life, or even just add parts in altogether (like having a miniamp on your desk for your passive speakers, having a separate dac or bluetooth module for your speakers so you can connect the passive speakers via USB or bluetooth wirelessly, stacked on top of a headphone dac/amp combo, stacked on top of a preamp, etc). Amplifier list to follow later.
Passive speaker specs to pay attention to will be their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1w/1m). Speaker ratings in wattage are measurements of how much power can be driven to them (higher watts, higher volume...once again crude explanation). A 20 watt x 2 channel amp (measured in 4 ohms) is enough to power 4 and 6 ohm speakers rated at 100 watts to moderate/decently loud listening levels on your desktop. Now the sensitivity thing. A speaker with a rating of 85db/1m/1w means it will produce 85 decibels of noise at 1 meter with 1 watt of power. Now this not linear....to make the same speaker go up to 90 decibels may require 10 or 15 watts of power depending on other variables. Depending on how loudly you play your music and what impedance/sensitivity your speakers have will result in your choice of amplifiers. More on this later.
The thing about bookshelf speakers are that you can use them in your desktop setup, AND with your TV as a legitimate starter 2.1 home theater setup (which you can upgrade to 3.1, and then 5.1/5.2, just buy a used receiver from craigslist for 50 bucks, ez)
Note that passive speakers and amp require you to purchase speaker wire separately (fairly cheap) and strip them (youtube video will guide you, very easy). Or if you like clean cable management and easy setups, banana plug cables from amazon will set you straight, and while these cables are very nice, they will add up in cost as your buy more of them for frankenstein 2.1 cabling. Also a 3.5mm to rca cable will be required. The connection will be your pc -> 3.5mm->rca->amp->speaker wire-> speaker wire->speaker. (replace speaker wire with banana plug if going that route). Subwoofer connection will be explained in subwoofer section.
AMPLIFIERS
Okay here is where we need to get into specific numbers. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers so they are exempt. But passive speakers will require separate amps and so you will need to pay attention to certain specs. In speakers you will need to pay attention to their impedance (measured in ohms) and their sensitivity (measured in xx db/1m/1w). The typical mini amplifier will be class D (small form factor amps for desktop use) and their wattage per channel will be usually expressed in 4ohms. Take for instance the popular SMSL SA50. This is an amp that delivers 50 watts to its 2 channels, rated at 4 ohms. Speakers will have impedance of 4, 6, or 8 ohms usually. 50 watts at 4 ohms can be 25 watts at 8 ohms, but is probably more like 20 watts at 8 ohms, refer to product specs for specific wattage ratings at specific ohms. Speakers with high sensitivity (85-95 db/1w/1m) that have 6 ohm impedance are easier to drive with lower wattage.
But here's the thing, an the smsl sa50 will not deliver 50 CLEAN watts. Somewhere in the 30-40w range distortion will start to appear. But for reference, 30 clean watts is enough to drive sony cs5s to uncomfortably loud levels in an apartment (the whole apt, not just your room) so listening on your desktop, you only really need 10-15 clean watts. Do note that if you have the space, a used AV Receiver that will just shit out watts and have 5.1 surround will be the best, but these things are massive.
If you need more watts than the AD18, you're gonna need to get a class a/b amp that just shits out watts for cheap, or get a used av receiver. If you want a new one, the best budget option is the DENON AVR-S540BT 5.2 channel AVR from accessories4less.
SUBWOOFERS
Good subwoofers are expensive, and cheap subwoofers will hurt your listening experience rather than improve it (muddy boomy shitty bass). Your best bet may be to simply find a used subwoofer from craigslist or offerup, just dont get the polk audio PSW10, this is a very common sub you see on the 2nd hand market, because it is a shitty sub and so people get rid of it. Now as to whether you need a subwoofer. If you are in a dorm, don't get a subwoofer. Because.... if you live in a dorm, do not get a fucking subwoofer. Now if you live in a small apartment, fear not, proper subwoofer management will save you noise complaints. A good subwoofer will produce good quality low end you can hear and feel without having to turn up the volume. You want to look at the subwoofer's lowest frequency it can go to. That will show you how "tight" the bass will be. Now, low volume levels on a good sub will produce that bass for you without vibrating your walls (though subwoofer and speaker isolation
Now as to how to add a subwoofer to your system will depend on what setup you have and the available connections. If your speakers or amplifier has a subwoofer output, simply connect that to your subwoofer, set the crossover freuency (the frequency at which the subwoofer will start making sound) to 80hz, or lower depending on how low of a frequency our bookshelves can go down to.
If your speakers/amp do not have a subwoofer out, you will need to find a subwoofer that has high level speaker inputs . You will need to connect your bookshelves to the speaker outputs on the subwoofer via speaker wire/banana plugs, and then run speaker wire/banana plugs from the subwoofer input to your amplifier, ending with rca to 3.5mm connection to your pc.
HEADPHONES
Okay, I keep saying headphones and not headsets right. But you ask, Kilroy, you're an idiot. You're posting on buildapc for PC gamers and builders but you're talking headphones and not headsets. How idiotic are you? Pretty big, but friends hear me out. Now I used to live in South Korea, where PC Bangs (internet cafes) set the nation's standards for computers. All the places had to get the best bang for the buck pc gear to stay in business and remain competitive (all 100 computers at these places had like i5-6600k and gtx 1080 in 2015 or something I don't remember, along with mechanical BLUE SWITCH FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK (imagine 100 blue switch keyboards being smashed on in a small underground area in Seoul) keyboards and decent headsets.
So I have tried MANY MANY different headsets, here is my conclusion. Just get proper headphones and get either get an antlion modmic, or V-MODA Boompro mic both available on amazon. (short list of mics later) or get proper headphones and usb mic. The TWO EXCEPTIONS that I have observed to this rule are the Hyperx Clouds and Cooler Master mh751/752.
WIRELESS HEADSETS
Okay. Wireless headsets, now let's think why do you need a wireless headset? Do you want to walk around your house while on discord? Maybe you want to keep the headset on while having to afk real quick for a smoke break or whatnot.
MICS
Cool.
submitted by Kilroy1311 to pcmasterrace [link] [comments]

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