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.

Smackjeeves- What happened?

Smackjeeves, Smackjeeves, Smackjeeves. What on earth did you do? What is this? WHAT IS THIS?

This is…this is…Web design? Well, the worst part is that it’s better than the old one, right? The old one just looked like a forum. Like old-school WordPress style. But, these new one just looks…boring. BORING. And what is with that add at the top? That is the epitome of tackiness, right there. Although I am tickled that “Drug Addict” is up there with the top phrases. I knew they were doing a contest for a new logo- which isn’t too bad, compared to the last one -but I had no idea they were going to change the whole site to look like some over-used template. I’m disgusted. Just disgusted. Bleh.

I host(ed?) a comic on Smackjeeves, until I totally lost interest in drawing manga for no reason other that I don’t like drawing it anymore(?). It’s still there. No, you can’t see it- unless you already know it. It’s called Reality.Hacked though, if you want to look it up yourself. I don’t update it anymore though. Nope, nope, nope.

And now, even if I do decide to draw comics again I won’t be hosting them on Smackjeeves. I’ll probably keep reading my favorite comics there, but I’ll bookmark them outside of SJ (so, not using my favorite’s list) because the site is just too much for me. Goodbye SJ. I knew thee well.

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.

MySims Party + de Blob

Whenever people ask me about video games, I can usually say “oh yeah, I’ve played that, or seen it played before” and then discuss with them about different aspects of it, etc etc. But I always reinforce the fact that I don’t consider myself a gamer. This is usually followed by me talking more about it and the other party saying “and…you’re NOT a gamer?”. Then I have to say something along the lines of, “I don’t play that much, I just don’t do much else to compare the time to!” – Which is uber-pathetic, but true.

I don’t own many consoles, just an old N64 and a PS2, but my roommate Li owns a Wii and that’s usually our main choice of gaming entertainment. Last night, we went to Blockbuster to rent some Wii games since we were getting bored of our main Wii game- Super Smash Bros. Brawl; which is awesome, but Li and I are so close in skill level now it’s just not a challenge anymore to play each other. We wanted something new and different. We almost picked up Mario Party 8, but there are so many similar games out for the Wii right now that don’t have that annoying board game feature that MP is so (in)famous for. We opted for MySims Party, which allowed for personalization of characters, which is always a plus for Li and I who are self-proclaimed “customization whores”. It just seemed like more fun to get to see a little character of your own creation running around, losing mini-games rather than Peach and Daisy (we would never play anyone else).

Actually, MySims Party may in fact be even more annoying due to its long and redundant animation sequences between each mini game. I’m not really sure who on the R&D team decided that we needed to the characters get on the little bus between every mini-game, but we got pretty sick of it and switched over to our second rental after about 45 mintues or so. My personal pet peeve with the game was this horrible UI error that seemed to happen when focusing the Wiimote’s cursor over the various selection buttons. When the cursor is in motion over the buttons it flickers like crazy as if you’re moving back and forth on and off of the button. I hate watching cursors twitch, it is an awful distraction. Therefore, I can’t stand this particular problem and probably won’t be picking up MySims Party again because of this and the redundant animation issue.

The other game we picked up was much better. In fact, Li and I are looking to purchase it used, first chance we get. That game would be the somewhat uncelebrated game de Blob. I remember seeing the commericals for it. They were your typical “anyone and everyone can play!” type commercials that the Wii games are so well known for nowadays. If I recall correctly, the commercial featured some kids (boy and girl) playing the two-player portion of the game by wildly flailing and flinging the Wiimotes around in a lively yet realistically inefficient fashion. It’s a terrible representation of the actual gameplay, which involves short, quick, downwards gestures with the Wiimote and the use of the A, Z, C and joystick on the Nunchaku.

The game has a simple, yet fun concept that revolves around the story that a city of blobish-looking jellybean people who live for and love color has been attacked and taken over by an organization called INKT, who drain the color out of everything. You, as the hero Blob, join a group of revolutionaries called Color Underground who ask you to spread the color through the world again by absorbing it and flinging yourself against buildings. Luckily, you were named Blob for a good reason, you’re a blob of water who has no problem absorbing paint in mass quantities. There are a few drawbacks to being a blob of water- you shrink when you get too hot (you boil away, I expect), you get sick when you fill with ink and when you get too fat, you slam into buildings and wind up sliiiiiiding down reeeeeeally slowly.

I’ll be continuing this review later…thanks for reading.   Google Cake