This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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Alex is Eleven!!!

As of 8:40 UTC this morning (1:40 AM Pacific, 4:40 AM Eastern) Alex was exactly 11 years old according to my calculations that include time zones, leap years, the fact that years are not an even number of days, etc.

We’re not going to have an “interview” like we have had every other year. Alex doesn’t like them and hasn’t cooperated in the last few years. So instead, to get an idea of what Alex is like when he is nice and casual and interacting actively, here is the last full live stream he did. Right around when we did this live stream, YouTube started being fussy and sometimes deciding his live streams and videos were not appropriate for YouTube, shutting them down or removing them. Of course, there was NOTHING actually wrong with them. Sigh.

Anyway, here is Alex working on editing one of the old videos he recorded when he was six years old in Final Cut Pro, talking about what he is doing as he works. No face cam of 10-year-old Alex, just audio. And I’m annoyingly distracting in the background doing another live stream trying to edit a separate episode at the same time. Because that is what Alex wanted. But you get the idea.

What new things has Alex been up to this year?

Well, as mentioned above, YouTube has been screwing with his channel, removing the first 64 videos he ever published back when he was six. Plus they blocked some of his live streams and prohibited him from live streaming for a couple of months. That restriction has been lifted, but because things just sometimes get declared not OK even though they are no different than everything else we have done for the last nearly five years, we’ve not really put much new up since that started happening. Very frustrating. We still have eight hard drives full of videos from the last five years that have been recorded and are waiting for editing and publishing. But Alex is unsure how much effort he wants to put into it if he has to worry about things being taken down without us understanding why, or really being able to do much about it.

Anyway, what else. On the video editing front, Alex continues to increase his proficiency with Final Cut Pro X. We also spent some time earlier this year learning Motion for creating animated title sequences and such.

He has grown from playing Minecraft, where his creations are increasingly detailed and elaborate, to building mods for Minecraft. He has been using MCreator for building the mods themselves, and BlockBench for doing 3D modeling of new items and mobs. In some cases he’s even started looking at the Java code underlying some of this stuff to try to figure out what it is doing and to see if he can add functionality not built into MCreator by copying and modifying code people have used in other mods and made available publicly, or by searching the internet for discussions or tutorials about how people have done similar things in the past. He hasn’t actually published any of his work live so other people can use it yet, but he intends to. He just has this problem that he keeps thinking of new things he wants to add, so is never happy publishing the things he has already finished.

For both the editing and the mods, Alex’s vision for what he wants to create often exceeds his current knowledge and abilities. On the one hand, that means he can often be frustrated, but on the other, it is driving him to keep expanding what he knows how to do. At first, I was learning just enough about all of these tools to keep slightly ahead of him and help him figure out the next step toward what he wanted to do. At this point, while in a few cases I may have a better idea where to look to find where to start something, his actual skill at using all of these tools has far exceeded my own. He’ll still try to get me to do some of the more tedious work for him, but he has to show me how to do what he wants, and he can do it much faster than I can myself. (In most cases anyway.)

Aside from that he still does like to play Minecraft and a variety of other video games. He has YouTube channels he likes to watch and a variety of TV shows he keeps rewatching. This year he added watching the entire 2005-Present run of the modern era of Doctor Who. Then we more recently went back and started watching the classic era of the show starting with the beginning of the show from 1963. He doesn’t so much enjoy the actual stories of those old episodes. In comparison to the new ones, they are slow and clunky, and unsophisticated. But he very much enjoys mocking them for the bad acting and special effects, in many cases deconstructing it and talking about how he could easily do much better himself at this point. He has yet to actually try that though. It would be fun to watch if he does of course.

Oh. And that remote school pandemic thing?

Well, Alex has been absolutely thrilled to be at home rather than school. He has used that time for all of the kinds of things mentioned above, and more.

The actual remote school though?

Yeah. That was the first Zoom of 5th grade. Alex is not thrilled by this. I guess we’ll see how it goes and do our best, like everybody else.

Anything else?

Alex still loves his dogs Miley and Jetski.

Even with the pandemic, we’ve managed to expand our “bubble” to include his friend Kaylin, so she comes over to visit for about one weekend a month. (We thank her parents very much for letting us “borrow” her so often… she is here right now for his birthday.)

Although he still rarely speaks to outsiders, at home he is a constant stream of exciting ideas, thoughts, and opinions, strongly expressed.

All and all… eleven. Very much a tween at this point, with signs of teen starting to show occasionally.

Anyway, happy birthday Alex! Love you!