Mentorship News and Future

jeff_obrien_week2-3The Good

We are now halfway through the Intro to Digital Painting class! So far things are going great and I’ve had a lot of fun talking to the students and seeing their work. Already I have seen a lot of improvement from the students, so it’s really exciting to see them grow.

Here are two assignments by Jeff Obrien. Just from week 2 to 3 I think he made a huge leap. I am very proud of his progress thus far, as I am with everybody else’s progress. I’m really looking forward to see where people are at week 10 and 12!

The Bad

Of course there is bad news too. Initially I had planned on running the intro class at the same time as the advanced class, but the chances of me being able to run both classes simultaneously is looking rather grim.

The first obstacle is recording the demos. The intro class demos took me two months to film, which means the advanced demos will probably take even longer since they are more complicated. Once I have the videos filmed, I only have to worry about the weekly paintovers and chat.

Recording new demos while teaching the intro class and working on my freelance paintings is proving to be a little difficult. Right now I only have two weeks out of twelve finished for the advanced class.

Even after all of the demos are finished, I’m still not sure I’ll have enough time to do weekly paintovers for two classes and hold four live chats per week and still have time to work on my freelance paintings. Unfortunately I don’t make enough from the mentorship to pay all of my bills, so I will have to continue to freelance while I teach. Right now it looks like I will only be able to run one class at a time.

I had planned on starting another intro class after this one ends, but if I can only run one at a time, should I start another intro class or try and finish the advanced class? Once the advanced demos are finished, do I alternate between teaching the intro class one semester and the advanced class the next?

The Ugly

If you are a part of the group FB page, you will know that the mentorship faced a huge problem this week.

The mentorship has been running perfectly for the past 5 weeks, but last Wednesday I received an e-mail from Dropbox saying that my public links have been banned because of excess traffic. If you don’t know, Dropbox has a 200GB/day bandwidth limit. That means in one day people tried to access more than 200GB of information. I was really surprised considering we went 5 weeks with no problems.

I contacted Dropbox and they were nice enough to remove the ban. I contacted all of my students and all of the “video only” tier students and let them know to stagger their downloads and not try and download all 10 weeks of information at once. Actually, only the “video only” tier students have access to all 10 weeks, the full-time students only have access to one week at a time.

I thought the problem would be solved. It wasn’t. Almost exactly 24 hours after Dropbox lifted the ban, I received another e-mail saying my links were banned for a second time because I hit the bandwidth limit again. That means in two days people tried to access 400GB of information.

That seems insane, especially because that week I hadn’t even given any of my 10 students the video for that week, which means they weren’t even using any bandwidth. I am almost certain someone somewhere shared the links with others. It just seems weird that we went 5 weeks with no problems but then in two consecutive days my account was banned two times.

I fully expected that somewhere down the line my links/videos would be shared with others, it is inevitable when it comes to posting or sharing anything online. Every paid tutorial I have done has been pirated, even my printed book has been pirated. Even though I expected it, it still sucks.

Since Dropbox was no longer a viable option, I had to figure out a way to give my students the videos. The main hurdle with any option is my internet connection. My upload speed is around .32Mbps. I’ve even seen my speed drop to .05Mbps. We are also in the middle of a class, so I can’t expect the students to sit around for 2-3 weeks while I upload the videos using some other method.

Options like Dropbox, Google Drive, Sugarsync, etc. all have some sort of bandwidth limitation. Google Drive says there is no bandwidth limit, but after a few seconds of checking around online, I found people saying that repeated downloads of a file will cause Google Drive to give people an error message.

I can’t upload the files to my own server because I have a 100GB/month limit. I looked at other plans but some of them are several thousand dollars. I can’t start my own home server because again, I have an extremely horrible internet connection.

I can’t use services like YouSendIt because there is a file limit and/or a weekly sending limit. Again, this still requires me to spend weeks sending videos.

I thought of using private Vimeo or YouTube videos. Vimeo has a weekly upload limit. YouTube has no limit, but again I have to spend weeks uploading.

Private YouTube videos seemed like the best option. It is free and there is no file size limit or bandwidth limit. I started uploading the videos. To give you an idea of how slow my internet is, it took me 14.5 hours to upload one video to YouTube. The intro class has 29 videos and it took me 14.5 hours to upload 1.

After I uploaded a few videos I had some people test it out. Some people couldn’t access them because YouTube now requires you to link your Google+ account. People with no Google+ account couldn’t access the videos. Another problem is that you can’t download the videos without an extension, but even then you can’t download the full 1080p version, you can only download a 720p version. Maybe there is a different extension that will allow you to download the full res.

One of my students had the idea of using BitTorrent Sync. I had never used it before, so I had no idea if it would be a good option.

While BitTorrent Sync doesn’t require an initial upload phase, the files still have to be fed through my internet connection. While other students can help seed each other, it still seems to be an incredibly slow option. I’ve been syncing with my friend for almost 2 days straight and he has only synced 4GB out of 34GB. Some people are also having problems with nothing downloading. Once again, it seems that this option has several problems.

Half of these problems would be solved if I didn’t have a horrible internet connection. Unfortunately AT&T has a virtual monopoly over internet service in my area, so there aren’t any other options for me. I am moving soon, but the class will be over before I move.

I could burn the videos on DVDs and send them, but that would require buying and burning 4 DVDs per person and then shipping them. International shipping would be around $30 per person and it could take weeks before they arrive.

Bah, this is why we can never have nice stuff. I’m really not sure what to do now, especially because the “video only” tier people are supposed to get access to all 10 weeks at one time. I might have to end up canceling the “video only” tier and just stick with a 10 student limit per class, although I suppose the problem might be solved after I move and get a better internet connection. Only time will tell.

9 thoughts on “Mentorship News and Future

  1. If private YouTube seems like the best option, just put them all on a laptop and spend a day or two at Starbucks to upload them. Still sucks, but at least it would be over with after that.

    • Yeah I’ve tried doing that in the past but their upload speed isn’t really any faster than mine, so trying to upload 34GB of files isn’t really something I can do, even in a few days.

      • I just went to Starbucks and did a speed test. Their upload speed is 1.1MBps, so it is slightly faster than mine. I’m just not sure if they have a bandwidth limit considering you aren’t supposed to use their wifi for uploading huge files. I could always give it another try. The last time I tried I was just uploading a 100MB file to a client and it wouldn’t work.

  2. Hey Mike,

    Tough break,common man always seems to get a kick in the spuds when things are going well.Could you not get a friend to upload the stuff for you?…someone with a better connection?..burn them to dvds,post them to a friend if none local and walk them through the upload…just a thought ..

    Hope you figure it out. :) :)

  3. is there anyway to see more students work and progress? do they have blogs,deviant art or tumblrs? i loved watching the progress & growth of noah b. students.

  4. Hey Mike. What a shame man.. This has to be a pain. If I were you, I’d try with Youtube private and if you have a friend with better connection, maybe he could give you a favor. I hope you can resolve this.

  5. The only two options I see would be to postpone the video only tier until further notice or see if you can find a location with better upload speed.

    Total bummer, man. I hope everything works out.

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