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~

Winter Holiday Plans

As usual, after arriving at my parent’s home for Winter Break, I am left with little to do but chat with friends online, watch TV, read, eat home-cooking, play with cats and sleep. A nice, contented existence compared to the hectic life of finals, but perhaps a bit too mundane for me. Some Christmas shopping here and there, a plan for this and that party, a little designing~ this has been my day. Since my family is rather short of funds this year, we are spending more time at home with the cats. Lovely little kitties. :3

It was a main plan of mine to design and put up my portfolio site during the holidays. I have done little planning into it, but I know I want it to be minimalistic, lots of white space- but still colorful, and definitely themed with cubes (not cubecats, per se, but cubes since I love them).

While creating my portfolio site, I will also be planning a matching redesign for this blog as well as an iGoogle theme (because I keep getting bored of the ones they offer) and wallpapers, icons, etc- for my own use. I really want to bring it all together with one theme that says “Krystal Weber”.

A pixelart of a tofu-cubecat

<[ Krystal Weber!]

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.

Tinier Me VS Gaia Online (on hold)

After thinking through it, I can see where TinierMe has room for improvement and I can also see that more users and more content will clutter it further so that one day it may be as gaudy and cluttered as Gaia. At this point, it is not really a fair comparison. That being said I have decided to put the rest of the series about Gaia Online versus TinierMe on hold until TinierMe reaches a more stable level.

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.

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.

Monday, Monday…

Yes, today was the first day of my internship and it went really well. Everyone was very friendly and our project seems very interesting (even if I personally am not enamored with the concept itself). I’ll be collaborating with a coworker to design a website and the IU for a game. We spent hours going over it, I’ve never spent so long just planning out something with someone before. It was nice because there was a lot of creative energy, even if there wasn’t a lot of physical energy (Monday, anyone?).

Those readers who are not familiar with my N241/N110 final project will probably know nothing about the Flele Project site Sing With Me. In encourage you to click the previous link if you are curious because I am certainly not going to re-explain the Flele Project for the forty-millionth time. It’ll take two minutes out of your life- two minutes I’m sure you can spare for the sake of your curiosity. Anyway, with that out of the way I wanted to mention that I’ve been pretty fired up about it ever since I got my first “request for tech support” e-mail. Obviously I didn’t make it clear enough that I didn’t develop this applet, only made a skin for it and did a tiny bit of (admittedly tedious) code editing. Still, I’m more than willing to troubleshoot for people who are interested. After all, I did leave my e-mail right there on the home page.

What really got me excited today though was the e-mail I received from someone in the Philippines who has created a Windows Installer for SSP.exe so that users don’t have to extract their own files from the .ZIP provided on the site (she also included the latest shell packs and translated several of the shell names that were previously displayed in Japanese only). Admittedly, this isn’t too big of a feat, but it made me realize that other English-speaking people are interested in this little widget and that if other English-speaking people are interested, then maybe other developers who speak English might be interested, and if that’s the case then maybe we could code a version of SSP.exe that runs entirely in English! Eliminating the need to install Japanese character sets and use translation maps for untranslated menus altogether!

What I really want to do is finally talk to the original programmer. I don’t speak or write Japanese and from what the site says he doesn’t speak or write enough English to accept tech-support messages in it, so that limits me to…well, nothing! I need to find someone fluent enough to translate tech-heavy messages into Japanese so that we can communicate and I can learn more about his project and he can learn more about mine! This is what the Open Source community is about- communication! This is what I have a passion for- this is why I struggle through learning Linux. I love the people aspect of tech. I love the technicians, the hackers, the coders, the programmers, the developers, the artists, the beta-testers, all of the people that make it work- I want to be a part of all of that! That’s why I chose to major in New Media.

And thinking on it now, maybe that’s also why I want to focus on Web Development. Web Dev is all about communication. People to computers, computers to computers, Computers to People and People to People. But, it’s written communication- posted or drawn -so you don’t have to go out and meet everyone in the world just to make a connection. Of course, meeting people is great too! There are so many of my online friends that I would love to meet “IRL” someday, but for now it’s great to talk to them online as well. This new and evolving form of communication we have developed constantly fascinates me. I am in a love-hate relationship with the people of the internet, but my love for the internet itself is unconditional.

And you can’t get much geekier than that last sentence.