Trip to NYC: Day 5

Due to lack of internet in some places and lack of energy on my part in most others, I haven’t been online long enough to update anybody on my adventures in NYC except for the occasional Facebook status update. I’ve been keeping track of the important events in a sketchbook, using stupid little sketches and phrases to mark the events as I go along. When I return home, I’ll scan these pages. Unfortunately following my trip to California, my camera lacks a battery charger, so no photos from me this time around. But you know me, I love lists. So here, have a list!

NYC Days 1-5 (in no real order):

-NYC is hot, averaging 90’F with 90% humidity each day

-Minor league baseball is somewhat dull, they have to do a lot to make people excited about it

-I ate peanuts at the park, complete with leaving the shells under the seat in front of me

-I bought a knock-0ff Tokidoki bag from a random street vendor in SOHO

“There are so many hot Asian guys here; it’s like the closest I can get without walking down the streets of Shibuya!”

– Is 16 blocks a mile? Oh, how many miles I’ve walked.

-I’ve only had Dr. Pepper once since we arrived here. This here is a Pepsi-Cola town.

-Cash-Only, cash-only, cash-only…or minimum $15 credit card charge

-Taxis don’t care if you’re jumping up and down, unless you’re IN the street you won’t be seen

“I can’t tell if some of the people here are crazy or just really friendly”

-There’s a Chinese take-out place called “U LIKE”, underneath the Chinese characters read “take out” and nothing else.

-I got to eat chocolate (and buy buttons) from the Chocolate Bar. They are located in NYC, Dubai and Qatar- no where else on earth. The chocolate was interesting, but nothing special. The button says “Wear More Chocolate”.

– #26 in the ball game did nothing but practice pitching for every at-bat. He’s my hero.

-I had the best french toast ever, with real Vermont syrup. I tried to sketch it and it looked like a bleeding sponge. The bread was light, fluffy and porous.

-The “Think Coffee” coffee shop cups said “made from plants, not plastic”

“If it’s made from plants and not plastic, why isn’t it green?”

– UNIQLO is a Japanese fashion store with only one store in the US. It’s really cool.

-I’m pretty sure UNICLO [yoo-nee-clo-wuh]  is supposed to be “unique clothing”

-Apparently in Japanese sizes I don’t have a 29″ waist? Why can’t things fit as easily as just “S”?

-I don’t think half the fire escapes on these apartments could support an actual human being

-I had Fish n’ chips that was made with something other than Cod.

-Cafe Bari has the best sweet peanut sauce I have ever tasted. Chicken Satay win.

“NYC seems to be the only place it’s OK to be foreign and not have to act like you fit in. Ironic, since it’s the most iconic “all-American” city in America.

-Average stuff here costs more than Indiana, but about the same as California.

-SUV Taxis may be terrible for the environment, but they sure are wonderful for my sore feet.

-The Metro may be great for the environment, but it sure is a terrible experience to go through.

-They recycle here, Yay!

-After all that walking, I got a blister on my finger. The index finger of my left (non-dominant) hand. I will never figure out how or why. It’s just there, being annoying.

-Did I mention it’s hot? Too hot to stay inside the apartment we’re staying in. Yay for stores, cafes and other places with A/C.

more later…

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Myrskyä

Myrskyä is a storm…

Myrskyä, my new Toshiba A505 Satellite laptop is a lovely, sleek, shiny black machine with small, lightly stenciled designs of lines running across the front and back of the machine. Despite it’s smart and clean exterior though, it’s a whirlwind of power. Running 64 bit Windows 7 it roars through all applications like they were nothing. Even Adobe can’t outclass Myrsky’s phenominal power. This laptop is easily the best machine I have ever purchased. It deserves something truely great to represent it. I decided to go with a personalized laptop skin from SkinIt.com, which I recieved giftcards for as a gift several years back, and never felt that (the late) AcerDemon really deserved.

SkinIt.com laptop skin teal and light green

SkinIt's Teal and Light green skin

SkinIt.com has many, many laptop skins for you to choose from, limited only by the make, model and size of your laptop. Even with those limitations, there are still hundreds of choices and dozens of themes to pick from. I saw many that I really liked, but I did not feel really matched the personality of Myrskyä. There was one in particular that I really loved, that is shown at the left there.  <—

This one here is a beautiful symphony of shapes and colors that I really love. The rich, deep teals and the nice, light greens are fantastic and match my own theme colors of the year. Also, the flowing, cloudy patterns are exactly the sort of abstract feel I want to portray the “storm” theme for Myrskyä. However, I feel that the design itself is a bit too generic in style. Also, I’m not a huge fan of the gilt-esque appearance of the golden and green outlines on the light green flourishes. It looks almost too “hotel carpet-y” for my tastes. Perhaps too elegant a design where I really want something that portrays both elegance and power.

Still, there is something about the feeling behind the movement and shapes here that I really like and I find really inspiring. I’m not sure where exactly I’m going to take it, but my own design will definitely be remeniscent of this one, if not completely inspired by it. The colors and composition especially.

Though, I would really love the colors to be brighter and more saturated; that would really suit my personality better, plus it will stand out much more than this design. I don’t want to get TOO specific with the colors, because goodness knows what their printer will spit out, but a similar color scheme is the plan. Teal, chartreuse, spring green, some light aqua and probably even some rich blues. Maybe even some orange-y yellows for contrast. I’ll just have to see what looks best in the final design.

About the über-mouse

Logitech's M305 wireless mouse

Logitech M305- blue w/dragon

Another important thing for me is for the skin’s design to have at least accent colors taken from my absolutely über-fantastiche mouse, from Logitech. It’s not just über-fantastiche because it’s in my favorite color, or because it has dragons on it, no-no; it’s really fantastiche because it’s a wireless, takes just one AA battery, senses motion and turns off when it’s not being used, has a very small USB nano-reciever that I can leave in the computer without fear of knocking it out every time I move it around (any USB port in a Storm…), AND has a small spot just for the reciever inside the mouse’s casing itself, right next to the battery. Oh yes, this was a pricey mouse, running around $35, but it is SO worth it. I’ve even taken it other places and used it on PCS and Macs in the labs as well as friend’s Macbooks and laptops. It even works with Ubuntu. Just awesome. It’s also pretty small, I can slip it in my jacket pocket to take it across the room and the scroll wheel is practically silent compared to some mice I’ve seen.

And did I mention it comes in my favorite color? It probably comes in yours too, with or without designs. When I see something in aqua or teal, odds are I’ll pick it up right away just because it’s my favorite color. This time I’m really glad I did! By the way, for no particular reason I named it “Mushroom” or “‘Shroom” for short. It may have been because of the shape or size. Whatever the reason, it’s an odd nickname, I feel like I should be something that fits the storm theme better. It needs to sound cute though, because my little über-mouse is just adorable. ❤

By the way, this counts on The Big List as item #1.

Let’s try this again- New Notebook?

OK, with a slight change in plans regarding the iPod Touch situation I have decided to focus my attention on getting a new notebook. Not necessarily a netbook, but certainly something to replace AcerDemon. The truth is, my mom’s laptop (Oldy-moldy) Owl, took a spill the other day thanks to our adorable kitty Mu and now something isn’t quite right with the power adaptor cable- or that general area on the machine. I attempted to take apart the machine to get to the area in question, but poor construction on the part of Dell (c. 1998) kept me from the power supply and all I managed to do was break the table I was working on when it collapsed under momma’s Dinosaur–I mean PC.

TL;DR? I want to give mom AcerDemon– which at least WORKS –to replace the (Oldy-Moldy) Owl.

This means, I need to get a new laptop. My parents are going to front me the money and I will pay it off in increments over the next year. Now that I have a job as a TCC at IUPUI, I will have a fairly steady income with which to pay them back. It shouldn’t be a problem, at any rate. Anyway, a few must-haves on the notebook that will either limit or expand my purchasing options:

  1. Must be a PC. NO, it has nothing to do with me hating Apple (I’m getting over that- in fact, I’m typing this from a Mac right now) it is in fact a choice based off of how comfortable I am with my computing skills as a programmer–comfortable enough to use a PC Fine, I’ll be honest, I just like PCs better, so there.
  2. I will NOT get another Acer- I don’t care HOW awesome it is. Acer gets no more money from me after last time!
  3. Needs to run Windows 7 OR Windows Vista with possibility of Upgrade is fine, since I own the OS. Needs to meet 7 specs.
  4. Needs to be able to run the Adobe CS4 Suite –
    • 1.8GHz or faster processor
    • 1GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation
    • 1,024×768 display (1,280×800 recommended) with 16-bit video card

That’s really all that I have spec-wise. There are a few aesthetic/personal things I’d like to avoid, such as teeny-tiny touchpads (or the ones that have holes and feel like little air hockey tables), less than 3 USB ports, an easily scratched surface and short batterylife. Ideally, if the battery life is less than 3 hours, I would like something in a 12-15″ screen, so I can carry the A/C adaptor with me in the same bag as the computer. A netbook would obviously solve this and I’m still in love with the supposed 9 hours that the Toshiba NB205 used to brag about, but anything from 3-5 hours would be great (the average time that I’m in a lecture or away from home).

The most important thing overall is weight. It HAS to be light. Less than 7lb, preferably less than 5lb. Oh yeah, and I don’t want to spend more than say $400-500 on it unless it’s a really epic machine.

I want, I want, I want…

I want an iTouch. Yes, me the hater of all things Apple and Macintosh, wants an iTouch. Why? Because I hate using my phone, which I can no longer send even a normal text message with, let alone access my IM or email.

“Why an iTouch? I thought you wanted an Android Smartphone?”
-I do, I do. But right now I don’t have a regular calling plan nor the money to switch to one on a company that isn’t AT&T. I still go under my parent’s phone account for my phone service (which is pay-as-you-go right now).

Why else? Well, it’s just such an awesome little thing. I can customize it to my heart’s content, play games, listen to music (I was planning on buying a new iPod to replace my screen-less shuffle anyway), use the internet~ and there are so many more free apps than there used to be.

To add to that, I’m really bad at purchasing electronics. I always buy “the wrong one” (case in point: Burikuu -that is “brick” – my Palm Centro) and I always over-pay (see previous). But I know that this is a good purchase because everyone has one. All of my friends, teachers at school, even the UITS tech support people have them! If it works for them, why not me?

Post-Christmas, Pre-New Years

It is now after Christmas and all pre and post holiday shopping is complete. All the great deals following the Christmas rush have been snatched up and I got some really cute stuff from Target, including a Target-exclusive, limited edition Kit the Cat from the Skelanimals series. I love the Skelanimals, who are a perfect mix of creepy-macabre and ADORABLE. I used to be frightened of skeletons as a child, so it’s surprised me that I found them so irresistibly cute. My Kit the Cat has angel wings and a little crooked halo. I will post a picture later. Posted!

Kit from the Target Skelanimals collection as an angel for holiday 09

Now, cute things aside (but not pushed aside, because pushing cute things is mean!) I still haven’t put much effort into designing my portfolio site yet. I still need to do sketches and some research. I’m pretty sure I am going to use the Gallerific technique that we used in my N341 class, since it is a fairly simple jquery plugin (that even I can utlize, ha-ha). I still plan to go with a mostly minimalistic approach, but I do want it to be a bit flashy to impress possible employers, of course. The ideas are coming slooooowly…

Also, new cubecats to come! More later on that~

“Bloggage”

It’s the blog equivilant of “snackage”. I’m not sure exactly what it means, but I like the sound of it.

OK, well I feel somewhat guilty for not having blogged about anything since my last post of whiney introspection. Honestly, I’m doing better by way of health and such. I drink nutritional drinks everyday full of protein, vitamins and something that makes it sort of taste of chocolate. They are expensive, but keep me alive and alert. I also finally got my new glasses! They are 50% weaker- meaning I see 50% clearer than I did with my old glasses, which were too strong. I’m near-sighted and far-sighted, so I will be getting a second pair of glasses just for reading made out of my old frames. My new frames are super-snazzy though. I feel more creative just wearing them. They look like creative-person glasses. Whoo.

So, as for artsy-things, not much progress as far as inspiration. I made a painterly-esque CG portrait of Neo-Nana, a personification of my desktop PC, who I originally designed as a vector doll to practice my skills. I have yet to design her clothing, which will be a mix of Sweet Lolita Fashion and Cyber Punk. Lots of black, lots of lace, and LOTS of cute. It should be fun~ I haven’t designed such an in-depth character in a while. She also has three little sidekicks (her mice, since my computer has 3) but I haven’t made official designs for them as-of-yet.

Also, this year instead of making a usual wishlist or telling people to get me whatever, I threw together a quick Holiday page on my Google sites page that lists my favorite colors and things that I wouldn’t mind owning. I also included on the page a link to my Amazon wishlist, for people who prefer just working from that.

As for myself, this season I am making CUBECATS! Yes, Cubecats, my own little adorable creation. Cubecats are about 1″x1″ in size, white or blue (depending on whether they are tofu cubes or ice cubes) and have little ears and tails. I am making a large number of them out of white felt and a few larger ones out of off-white fleece. I’m not a great seamstress and I make a lot of time-consuming mistakes, but I still love working on them. And I hope people will like receiving them. For my far-away friends, I’ll be designing papercraft versions that resemble this one except there will be different versions and sizes. (And maybe some extras…hmmmn),

 

TinierMe vs. GaiaOnline- Part 2 (updated)

This post is old and outdated and no longer reflects my current views on TinierMe.

However, unlike the previous updated post I still stand by my opinion that TinierMe is overall a prettier site and it’s much easier to make friends there.

(Comments have been disabled as of 07.04.11- feel free to treat this as an archive post)

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Once again, design and usability-wise TinierMe wins out because of simplicity. While the number of items is still limited and the systems are still being worked on, the organization of the inventory and how easy it is to change your avatar in TinierMe is preferred to the multi-page system on Gaia Online. At least, for me.

Also, on a different note, the style of the avatars in TinierMe is less flashy and much cuter in my opinion. It’s obvious that mostly female users are on TinierMe, compared to what I think is around 40/60 M/F on Gaia. I will have to double-check those stats though, it’s only an estimate. Despite this, most of my new friends on TinierMe are male- and international. I’ve already made friends from Denmark, Finland and various parts of the UK. I love making international friends, it’s so fun and exciting. GaiaOnline is “international”, but was created and is hosted in America while TinierMe is a product of Japan, making it more internationally accessible.

TinierMe vs. GaiaOnline- Part 1 (updated)

Wow, it has been a year and people are apparently STILL referring to this for information. Well, I personally don’t use TM anymore (or Gaia Online for that matter) so I never bothered to update this article reflecting that, but I suppose I should now that it’s my most-commented-upon article.

This post is old and outdated and no longer reflects my current views on TinierMe. I personally think that now they are about equally bad.

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Part One will focus on the differences in the website design- the first thing I noticed when I went to sign up for TinierMe suggested to me by a friend from highschool that I hang out with on deviantART and GaiaOnline. TinierMe is still in Open Beta and there isn’t much to do yet, but so far so good. It’s cute, fun and I love the interface. Here’s a comparison of the two “main profile” pages that appear for users when logged in and the two main pages that show up when a user reaches the site unregistered or before logged in. They show the best examples of layout.

(click to enlarge)

TinierMe’s site is cleaner and more minimalistic and modern. They picked a orange monochromatic scheme with light accents of green and gradients in greys and whites. It’s all very clean and well organized. My main page here includes a simple 3-column layout with a navigation bar to the far left, a space for links and content in the middle and my own personal panel to the far right. All of the major content sits neatly above the fold and it’s mostly text and small icons so it is not cluttered at all. The navigation panels on the left and right are consistent throughout the whole main portion of the site. It is, overall, a very nice, clean and well presented site that is easily navigated.

GaiaOnline’s site is packed with stuff. This page displays only the “My Gaia” page which shows my avatar, house, car and status on the left, and an RSS-type feed of information about my friends on Gaia, and other activities which I can set specifically to show by changing my Feed settings in the middle. My main navigation and avatar are located in the header at the top of every page. There are easily five or six different forms of navigation to be found, from drop-downs to links and tabs. Gaia Online recently updated the look of it’s user interface again to make it more, what I consider, Web 2.0-y. Things are rounded and shiny, but not at all what I would call clean and neat. There seems to be stuff everywhere and to a complete newbie this page alone would be a nightmare to navigate. Plus, GaiaOnline doesn’t seem to understand that all the best and most-used sites are going for the jell-o layout; none of that left-aligned crap that leaves 500 pixels of background pattern for me to stare at on the right.

TinierMe is still new and there aren’t any advertisements or promotions yet, so it’s bound to get more cluttered, but for now it’s very nice and impressive design-wise. Much more-so in my opinion than GaiaOnline, which is understandibly much larger and therefore more cluttered, but still, I would sacrifice a little content to regain simplicity, especially in the menus and navigation. Not to mention, Gaia doesn’t seem to have a color scheme anymore. I don’t know what happened, but for now I much prefer TinierMe to GaiaOnline. Opinions may change as the site evolves, we’ll see.

Ninja Things

Well, I started my classes and then almost immediately managed to get sick. Again. I really rock at getting sick. It’s like a talent! The only good thing about getting sick this time around was that I only had to miss two classes because I got sick at the end of the week. So, I didn’t have to force myself to go to class; I had plenty of time to stay in bed and get better. I watched a lot of TV and read quite a lot of manga online.

One of the manga I decided to read was Tsuki no Shippo started as a fan-scanlation and by the end was just the straight scan of the English release of the book (which made me feel guilty, but not guilty enough to run out and spend $150 to buy the series!). I only realized this when the normal “Tsuki no Shippo” was replaced with the title “Tail of the Moon”. It was a very cute manga with a pretty good plot and fun characters. It follows most shoujo manga rules: silly girl gets cute guy; always a hot bad guy that falls for silly girl; hot guy that dislikes silly girl and wants to get rid of her; etc etc etc. I was reading another manga by the same artist/author called Hadashi de Bara wo Fume that followed the same basic character development.

The other ninja-themed thing was today’s purchase of Mini Ninjas! I got it for the DS because I have completed all my other DS games (except My Sims…can you really “complete” it?) so it’s probably not as awesome as it is on the “normal” consoles, but I’m pretty pleased with it. I like the character designs (can’t wait to play the flute-toting-blowdart-shooting female ninja!) and the gameplay is pretty good. I’m bad at finding my way around places, even in games, so I’m having a bit of trouble being so tiny in such a large environment and I get lost easily and for long periods of time, but it’s managable. My only great qualm is that you have to save at NPC save-points instead of being able to save whenever and wherever you want to. All the major battles and dungeons have save points before you enter them, but those are few and far between.

It brings to mind another game I played back in high school called Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon. The only major difference being that Mystical Ninja was played on the N64 and actually required the memory card expansion pack. You know, the one that you had to like pry out with a lobster fork or other dangerous utensil? Yeah, that memory card expansion pack. Anyway, despite the fact that I didn’t have said card for 2 weeks after I borrowed it–and therefore had to play it from the beginning over and over–I loved the game. It was bizzare and Japanese and just plain awesome. I mean, you used a pipe to hit things. Yes, a pipe, like the kind you smoke out of. And there was a level where you have to play Yae (the kunoichi) and she turns into a mermaid and you have to swim through miso soup and avoid chunks of tofu. Yes, it was that awesome. I actually learned a lot about Japanese culture- especially demons, ghosts, toys, foods and ceremonies. I want to own that game again. Is there an emulator for it? I would still want it for my still-functioning N64 though!

Ninjas are fun times.

*poof*

Flashblock

Do you ever feel guilty when you ignore adverts online? I seriously doubt it, right? I certainly don’t! Even if I worked for a company that used one I doubt I would. Occasionally if I get really sick of them I’ll use the Flash dropdown menu (you get it by right-clicking on the Flash media) to “Pause” the advertisement, if possible. On the AcerDemon- my 3 yr old laptop with terrible hardware issues which runs Ubuntu 8.10 – Flash adverts are more likely to crash my browser than anything else I could possibly do. Evidently Flash is just really BIG.

So I solved my problem on AcerDemon’s Ubuntu Firefox by using an add-on called Flashblock. I won’t go in too in depth about it because I will encourage you to click on the link and see for yourself (it’s a Mozilla site, no adverts), but I can say that I think it’s fantastic. Not just for ads, but Flash content in general. I wouldn’t be able to do half of what I can online without it. I think I will add it to my list of small site donations I will make once I get my new job on campus. I’m thinking three or four dollars, but it depends on my paycheck.