Projects, Essays, Videos, and Comics

Welcome to Marin Balabanov's Digital Playground

Creativity meets technology. Dive into a world where programming exercises showcase not just code, but the stories they tell. Read about the vibrant realms of hackathons, the demoscene, retro computers, and comics. Explore their rich history and impact.

Whether you're a fellow coder, a tech aficionado, or a pop culture enthusiast, you are welcome to join me on this journey of exploration and discovery!

Writing
How I Felt Compelled to Find a Hidden Message Without Realizing How Interesting It Would End Up Being

July 2024

Steganography in Python

How I Felt Compelled to Find a Hidden Message Without Realizing How Interesting It Would End Up Being

When a coworker invited me to a feedback call, I found a hidden message in the email. Join me as I go down a rabbit hole to decode a message that turned out to be hidden in an image. I used Python to extract the message and learned a lot about steganography in the process.

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Graffathon 2024. Coding Meets Art At the Introductory Demoparty

June 2024

Graffathon 2024

Where Coding Meets Art

In June 2024, I went to Graffathon in Finland, an interesting intro to demoscene culture. 28 participants met for this uniquely starter-friendly demoparty, enjoying a good helping of creativity and collaboration. On two and a half days, demosceners crafted seventeen impressive demos, showcasing the talents of both beginners and advanced coders. Here are my impressions of Graffathon 2024, exploring the vibrant intersection of art and technology that defines this extraordinary community.

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Distraction-free writing with a Palm m125 and a foldable keyboard

June 2024

Palming Without Distractions

Distraction-free Writing with a Palm Organizer and a Foldable Keyboard

The Palm m125, with the right peripherals, can make a great distraction-free writing tool to sustain the flow state that many writers of prose and long articles seek to achieve. Here is how a decades-old organizer can help, and what to pay attention to for a frictionless experience. This epic article has it all! (Including a hidden section about PalmOS Hacks.)

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The Books Chronicling the Atari ST Demoscene

May 2024

The Books That Chronicle the History of the Atari ST Demoscene

Over the past decade, a number of books were published that chronicle the history of the Atari ST demoscene. These books provide a detailed look at the creative and technical achievements of the demoscene community, exploring the innovative audiovisual presentations created on the Atari ST computer. Here I introduce and discuss the various volumes in this loose collection.

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Dev Projects
Archiving the Archive Thumbnail

February 2024

Archiving an Archive

My Adventures Scraping the Contents of the Archive of Digital Art

A while ago, I wanted to learn web scraping so I wrote my own little suite of applications based on Puppeteer/Node.js to grab content from the Archive of Digital Art (ADA), parse it into JSON and extract the images. Join me as I scrape the bottom of the web archive.

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Mansion of Trepidation

April 2023

Mansion of Trepidation

This is a choice-based solo fantasy adventure in the style of the 'Choose Your Own Adventure' books I developed in vanilla JavaScript. The graphics and text descriptions are generated using AI tools. The player can search the 'Mansion of Trepidation' to defeat the villain and rescue their young nephew.

Videos
Design Videos

A Wide Variety of Videos

Over the years, I recorded a number of Youtube videos on many different subjects like the Bitmap Brothers game "Chaos Engine" on the Atari ST, about the iPad apps that support the full resolution on external displays, on how to draw Captain America and a number of different design topics.

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Creating Videos Using AI

Using AI Tools to Make Explainer Videos

What if you could create your own explainer videos without much effort? I decided to try it myself and made three explainer videos in only one day using generally available and cheap artificial intelligence tools. The results are perfectly workable. Take a look at the three videos that came out.

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Comics
The Blind Woman and Cats

A Lucid Dream Comic

This is a three-page comic based on a story from the dream diary of Lucid Fera. The dreamer watches a blind woman encountering her cats and contemplating existence. I drew the comic on paper, colored the panels using Procreate on the iPad Pro, and used Comic Life on the Mac for layouts and lettering. You can find the detailed steps of the process in the project description.

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Pixeling in the Retrosphere

Timelapse Painting Youtube Videos

These timelapse videos show the process I use to paint pictures on the iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil 2 in ProCreate. They are quick and easy to make because ProCreate is superbly snappy and delightful for quick paintings and I can record the process automatically using the built-in feature in the application.

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