Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stuff I like: Hypebeast, Urban Outfitters

More fashion! ] is an online publication that is less high-fashion and more street-style. A good read to check up on, if only for the neat pictures and regularly-updated information. ] is (in my opinion) an incredibly hipster online clothes-merchant, but they pull off the entire shebang with style.With an easily navigated website and regularly-updated inventory, they offer everything and anything you might expect to find present in street fashion. While some prices might be a bit off-putting, the quality of the products is worth it.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Of Interest: Radical Honesty

Check out [ ].

Radical honesty sounds like a great idea on paper, in some respects. Being brutally honest with everyone sounds like a great idea at first, but probably leads to more social awkwardness before everyone else adjusts, I'd think.

Loads of hurt feelings would probably arise, but it would also create a more "trusting" environment- in the sense that you'd be able to tell people exactly what you thought, and could expect a retort of a similar nature.

Food for thought, I guess.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Blogs I like: Videuphoria @ Blogspot

Knowing [ ] means I don't need to trawl YouTube for cool videos any more. I can just drop in and pick up intriguing tidbits of the internet!


That is all.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Unusually personal post.

Hey, folks. I realize this isn't exactly the quality post that y'all expect, and I don't really wanna turn this into a personal blog- I've got another outlet for that, anyway. I've been getting treatment for clinical depression recently, after expressing suicidal intent.

I had something of an episode recently, but I've got an appointment with my psychiatrist within the next few days and another appointment with my therapist in a week or so.

If you suffer from depression, my heart goes out to you. Shit's heavy, and most folks who claim it isn't real haven't had anything like it,  I think. A friend of mine conversed with me and made me feel better, but it's not like I instantly felt better.

Another friend of mine recommended this song, and it's one of those vaguely uplifting songs.

On the subject of Jonsi, here's a playlist of uplifting music that I'm listening to at the moment. ]

Your regularly scheduled content to continue tomorrow.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Of Interest: Coincidence? I THINK NOT. ]

Oh, statistics.

Please note: coincidence does not necessarily imply correlation.

although some coincidences make a pretty convincing case for correlation, I'll admit.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Blogs I like: Dogblog @ Tumblr ] is 99% pictures of puppies with the occasional chuckle-worthy caption.

It started over on [ ], where some older pictures are available.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Of interest: Cardboard furnishings. ] ]

Given my interest in handicrafts and a naturally large quantity of cheap (or free) cardboard available to the common man, I think it would be interesting to try and construct something load-bearing and stylish from materials that are otherwise easily affordable.

My thoughts are something like the following:

Corrugated cardboard is paper and adhesive.
Reinforcing cardboard by stacking it in layers where grains are at right-angles to one another will create a product similar to plywood.
The large quantity of empty space in the constructed cardboard results in an ultimately lightweight product.

The end-product is (most likely) going to be nothing except for cardboard and adhesive. As a result, non-toxic adhesives that also do not eat through organic material will give rise to the production of cheap (and possibly load-bearing) constructs.

I also understand that a bit of reason is required for this- I wouldn't expect to see a cardboard garage see loads of use, although such a thing might be possible.

A definite reason-for-success would be that the furnishings would be cheap, simple to construct, and require only a modicum of shipping costs (in terms of weight/mass moved from point a to point b).

Problematically, such construction requires higher degrees of skill with small-scale and large-scale papercrafts.

Just an idea, I guess.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blogs I like: NerdSpiffy @ Blogspot ].

That's the link for an entertaining otaku-gamer-blog. The author's also something of an artist, but I'd prefer that their work be allowed to speak for itself.

Conveniently enough, there's also a neat (if somewhat new) cafepress with some cool products.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Of Interest: MMOs

Check out [ ].

It's an MMO by the creator of Ragnarok Online that is apparently pretty well-done (according to online reviews, anyway). From the outside-looking-in, it appears to be very similar to Ragnarok in that characters have 6 stats (STRength, INTelligence, DEXterity, AGIlity, CHArisma, and CONstitution).

In my opinion, it looks like the design team was cutting corners with class differentiation (might I mention RO?) because the rogue/thief character is also a healer, the ubiquitous tank is still an ubiquitous tank, there's an archer/gunslinger hybrid, as well as the wizard/sage distinction that still makes little sense to me.

I'm looking to try it at some point in the future (when I'm not confined to 56K and limited net bandwidth).

What MMOs would y'all recommend?

I've played RuneScape, but I've become less of a fan of the franchise. Something about the cost of membership and all that- I liked the agility and thief skills (as well as the ability to wield a halberd), but I was dissuaded from maintaining the habit (especially given what I'd seen of the World of Warcraft bills that my friends had accrued).

Actually, looking at RuneScape's page, I realize that I am completely out-of-depth for the game at the moment. Suddenly herbs are useful and clans are serious business and it's still (mostly) free!


This was largely brought on by a resurgent interest in .hack//*, if anyone's concerned. MMOs were something of a childhood hobby, when the big events were the neighbor's birthday party and homework only took five minutes.

More to come at a later date.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Portfolio: Wallpaper.

Just thought I'd share this with y'all. It's the wallpaper I'm currently using (1.6 width-to-height ratio) and it's cut together from a few other wallpapers I like.

I'm personally quite fond of the whole ALTIMIT OS thing (although I've never played any .hack games) and I'm looking to develop some neat artsy tidbits and skins to go with it.

At any rate, I'll learn more about how Rainmeter and some of those software dock solutions work.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blogs I like: The Animal Talk @ Blogspot

Interested in fashion? Check out [ ]. Isabel Legate runs a deliciously picture-heavy blog and maintains a thorough blogroll covering the (somewhat more eclectic) fashion trends.

My personal tastes are perhaps not as well-educated or in-tune with the current trends. I see bits and pieces that I like, but most of the design choices just fly over my head.

What do y'all think?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stuff I like: Snapsort (WITH PICTURES)

This is a wall of text. In short, check out [ ] for any and all questions camera-related. They've got more information on digital cameras than you could shake a tree at.

As for the why in "Why should I look at snapsort?", read on:

I'm sure I've blathered about this a bunch to my friends and family, but I've really, really wanted to get a new camera for awhile now. The most recent and up-to-date photograph-snapping device I possess is an old film-based camera that you would take to a pharmacy or grocery store to have developed.

I was pointed to [ ], which seems to be one of the most painless ways to source cameras (used, sure- but they're up-front about everything).

Having conquered the WHERE CAN I BUY THIS dilemma, the next problem I had to tackle was WHAT DO I BUY. Cue the discovery of [ ], which is arguably one of the most comprehensive resources that accumulates, compiles, and shares relevant information about the specifications from camera-to-camera.

The site covers every camera I'd thought of purchasing, offering a service that compares the two devices and weighing their specs against one another.

It even has auto-fill support for camera names!

They even have a "Just tell me what to buy" function on the front page- you input your budget and target device, and you'll receive a simple, straightforward THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD BUY response.

Like Bing! for cameras.

If that isn't enough to persuade you to check out their site, there's even more functionality after a recent update.

You can find user-contributed videos covering what a camera does, how well it performs, and how to use features spanning the everyday to the eclectic. Kinda like YouTube, but more relevant, helpful, and camera-related.

In a nod to the userbase of their site, they've also included a nifty voting system, allowing for community-based feedback about the characteristics of a particular camera.

There's a lot more functionality on their site than my typed words can properly vindicate, to be frank. If you're interested in purchasing a digital camera, they're a go-to resource.

There are also a few things that I think they could improve on, elucidated below:

While the design is "clean", the layout could use work. I'm something of a design snob and insist that layouts be just as professional and clean-cut as their design. The implementation of social-media interfaces (including facebook and twitter feeds) is admirably supportive of the current internet trends, but leaves much to be desired. On several pages, the feeds detract from the content available and have also caused delays in page-loading when I was using a slower internet connection. This was most noticeable for me except when loading the blog - the design snob in me thinks that the feeds would look cleaner if they remained in sidebars.

The colors used by the site are acceptable in terms of form, but less so in function- the schemes used are very bright whites and low-contrast colors. The grayscale used for most of the site contributes to the professional image of the site (wordplay intended), but also causes some difficulty-of-reading, noticeable on the left sidebar.

While the feature was probably implemented with good intent, the pseudo-pop-up functionality of the "Learn More" button on most items that weren't immediately self-explanatory was a bit jarring when it required an extra click to remove the splash from the page. In lieu of what is arguably a helpful (but somewhat unstreamlined) resource, I might recommend something more like alt-text used for images.

Given my utilitarian views on internet sources (and basic knowledge of most subjects covered), it might also be worth retaining for the end-users who would prefer a distinctly-outlined and simply-explained tidbit of related information.

Also related is the graphic used for the "Learn More" icon - depending on the color of the background it's against, it will occasionally display an unsightly border upon mouseover. It's nothing terrible, just something that I find somewhat off-putting.

The highlighted (i) usually looks fine on a white background.

In short:
I think that the design is clean but could use some work insofar as color choices are concerned. Layout of pages should be reworked to reduce total number of "columns", and/or integrate components in a less intrusive fashion.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Of Interest: People you should know.

I'm certainly no accredited professor, but I've got something like a handle (in my opinion) on the literary canon.

Check out my list here. Drop me suggestions in the comments! I'm always looking to improve the list.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Blogs I like: Simply Scotches @ Blogspot

By popular demand, here's a shoutout to a broseph out there who knows more about good scotch than I ever will...

"The true men's drink" is Scotch, apparently. I'm more of a water guy myself, but I've yet to encounter a more informative resource than Chris's blog. Folks thereabouts don't just "comment" on his posts- they keep it classy.

If you're attentive enough, you can even notice some subtle wordplay and accents hidden within his posts.

Definitely of interest if you enjoy libation.

Something I didn't know: scotch is delicious.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Of Interest: Modern History Sourcebook ]

How much do you know about our history? This internet resource is ridiculously comprehensive.

Just something I thought would be worth sharing, anywho.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

So nerdy. Follow-up on the 405th post.

I don't actually know if/how this will work out, but I posted this up on their forums to see what they thought of it.

What do y'all think? I'm estimating the cost of the project to be less than 200 USD, the most expensive items being the visor and other helmet components- with the spray-on liner coming in a close second.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blogs I like: Raconteurism @ Tumblr

I'll admit that most of the stuff posted on [ ] is reblogs. That being said, it's run by a friend of mine who posts things that are somewhere between funny, interesting, strange, and beautiful.

Nothing specific, I'll admit, but it's something worth looking at.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Sending y'all this from a ridiculously chilly mountaintop.

ohmygoodness this snow is awesome.

The slopes are pretty gross at the moment, because we've had a few beautiful days in a row- but as a result, the sun has turned what was once deliciously soft powder into varying pools of slushy ski-sucking snow-like material and crusty ice-surfaced trip mines.

The groomed routes could probably use a comb-over or two, but they're manageable. The problem comes when you're skiing across a large powder field that is partially shaded by trees- the aforementioned effect turns what would normally be a sprint in the park into a grueling fight with the elements to stay upright.

Being the stalwart lad that I am, I daringly took on Snowchaser at Powder Mountain, (an amazing resort) and ended up taking these beautiful rental Wailer 105 Hybrids (a hookup from a good friend at the Timberline Ski shop) for a spin. I myself took a few spins, but emerged relatively unscathed.

Not too shabby, I'd say. The skis are quite wide, but seem to handle all sorts of terrain with ease.

What're y'all up to?

Postscript: Pictures to come as soon as I find my SD-to-USB adapter.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I've arrived at my destination (hopefully!)

I'm writing this up a day in advance because I'm not sure if the place we're staying has internet, but barring any unforeseen accidents, I should be in Utah (in mountains near Ogden, specifically) getting ready to ski, doing flips and things of the sort. I'm tempted to try snowboarding again, but I'm not sure if it's worth the inevitable injuries, so we'll see what happens.

Since I can't just leave y'all completely content-less, have a nice link!

What're y'all doing over the break?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stuff I like: Justice and Bassnectar


That's Justice and Bassnectar, respectively. Both have produced music that I enjoy and both perform excellently at live shows. If you have a chance to go to one of their shows, do so. That is all.

Well, okay- two more:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Of Interest: Shaolin Kung Fu ] is probably one of the most interesting fighting disciplines I've ever heard of. There are quite a few kata (styles, I think), of which I know a bit of Mantis and Tiger. What little I know of insofar as far as Kung Fu is concerned, when combined with my casual wrestling knowledge, substantial strength and slightly more substantial weight, equates to something like more efficient street-fighting.

Also of interest: [ ]. I'm not sure that's actually a comprehensive list of skills, but some of the concepts are interesting - in the sense that hitting yourself with progressively harder bricks to make yourself resistant to normal impacts is interesting.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stuff I like: Gilt Groupe

I was raised to be a bargain shopper- that is, to never buy anything for full price if I didn't have to.

Cue internet shopping- there are naturally things like eBay and Craigslist, and some strange services that claim to offer steals of >$1,000 USD in return for pennies on the dollar (typically with some sort of strings attached).

I'll admit that eBay occasionally offers excellent deals, and Craigslist is fine if you're looking for local merchandise that's more likely than not been used.

I don't know many folks who know about Gilt Groupe, but it's essentially a designer outlet- there are naturally fewer hits than there are misses, but the site offers breathtaking discounts. Picture definitely related:

They advertise as an "invite only" service- and to some extent, that's true. If you'd like an invitation, feel free to drop a comment with a way to contact you and I'll get in touch.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Placeholder post (and minor newspost).

I'm going to be heading out with the family later this week for a long-awaited vacation into some Utah mountains for skiing and snowboarding. With any luck there will be no injuries this year and I will continue to carve slopes without making a huge fool of myself.

A few news-clippings of interest:

I'm kinda interested in upgrading to a Droid phone from my steadfast Motorola SLVR L7, but the still-blossoming market and bleeding-edge tech could use a bit of refinement, in my opinion. It's also worrisome that (in the article linked above) it's noted that Google pulled an unusually stealthy maneuver by removing some malware from phones without first notifying anyone. Not that I don't mind proactive antiviral software, but it seems to add a bit of character to my previously ubiquitous perception of Google's policy.

Palin's been a figure of note in the media for the past few years- I'm not entirely sure why everyone's so up-in-arms about this lady, either. She seems well-intentioned, if somewhat uninformed. Haters gonna hate, yeah?

FEELS GOOD TO BE AN INDEPENDENT when I think about how I didn't vote for Obama- and then I realize that I'm still stuck with this ridiculous debt just like everyone else in the US of A, and it makes me cringe more than a bit.

I think that the whole economic system (at the moment) is messed up, sure, but I can't think of a significantly better solution besides being more conservative about how we do things. I'm sure to catch some flak for this next bit, but I think that Glenn Beck may have a point (more like lots of points), especially when he's talking about finances.

I might also suggest that we move away from the entire theoretical-assets-have-value system and return to the empirical-assets-have-value system. What I mean by this is that we don't have paper money unless we also have physically valuable items (a la precious metals and minerals) to match their value. I think this would probably have a catastrophic effect on the "American Way of Life", what with the idea of paying 200 USD for a widescreen plasma/LCD television now and thirty dollars a month for the next thirty years- but something needs to happen to change the INSTANT GRATIFICATION*** mindset- where the three asterisks indicate the subsequent indentured servitude required in exchange for services rendered.

Man, that's a long link. The whole middle-east thing is coming to a rolling boil, in my opinion. Something needs to be done, and simply "liberating" a country - whatever that may entail - isn't going to suffice. I'm thinking something along the lines of a more-than-stern talking-to is going to be required.

We could also go all British-colonial era on the collective middle-east and deliberately cause suffering to improve the nation long-term. Just kidding, that's a terrible idea.

That's all for now, folks. I'm flying out on Thursday the 10th, so there may (or may not) be posts from the 11th to the 18th.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Important: Your thyroid.

If you don't know what your thyroid is, you should go and read this right now.

If you don't want to read it, "the thyroid controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones."

Just like the Scout, it's a pretty big deal.

My mother's been dealing with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis since she was about 30 years old. She has to worry about taking artificial replacement hormones to maintain a feeling of wellness- and to ward off the possibility of muscle and heart failure. Statistically speaking, it occurs more often in women than it does in men, and it's the primary cause of hypothyroidism in North America. More on that here.

Even if you're not suffering from a disease, it's important to know how it works and what you ought to watch out for. When things go wrong in any part of your body it impacts the mechanics of the whole.

If you haven't gone to the doctor recently, make sure to at least make an appointment for a regular checkup. The cost of a visit that helps catch something early is far more valuable than the hospital visit required to clean up the metaphorical train wreck.

This public service announcement brought to you by a concerned citizen.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stuff I like: Fringe and White Collar

I will admit to watching large amounts of prime-time television.

J. J. Abrams is quite possibly one of my favorite names to see on any screen. The work that he's done (Alias, Lost, and the Star Trek movie, for instance) has never disappointed me.

Fringe is a show about a department of the FBI that investigates strange happenings that deal with "fringe science"- things like teleportation, walking through walls, parallel universes, and superpowers. Between Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson, the show strikes the balance between subtle nerdiness and delicious interpersonal drama.

Also of note is a show about "white-collar crime" - featuring Matt Boman as the stylishly-dressed Neal Caffrey, it's earned my attention as media that encourages attention to detail and good sartorial taste.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spotlight: Smokin D's Film Critiques.

As someone who only dabbles in popular cinema, I'm no expert on good (or so-bad-they're-good) movies worth watching. I tend towards the stuff that my friends and family recommend, especially of the action and sci-fi variety.

That being said, some of the subjects covered in his blog include zombie strippers and roller derby.

Check out SDG's blog.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rambling: Minecraft as a teaching tool.

(Later, I'll put up a post about using minecraft for psychoanalysis.)

I will admit that I was once something of a Minecraft enthusiast- now I'm really more of a casual minecraft player. I occasionally check up on it and discover that new features have been added (courtesy of Notch), and I've slowly come to the realization that Minecraft possesses the potential for use as a medium for nonverbal communication.

That's a bit of an odd concept on its own, I'll admit- but there's more to it than just the words up there.

Minecraft is, at the core, a sandbox game- the player is technically free to do anything that they'd wish to do, within the constraints of physics and other in-game rules.

In playing, you need:

A mouse or other pointing device to control the direction the player faces.
Two "action" buttons (Right and Left click?)
Four directional controls (Forward, Left, Right, and Backward)
A jump key
An "Inventory" button that opens the user's "backpack". (the extraneous inventory could be omitted)
A method of selecting the active item
A "crouch" key (also omissible)

In essence, you could get away with a pointing device, a control pad, three action buttons (Clicks and Jump), and some sort of item-selection control.

You also need a screen, of course- but my point is that it presents an interface that transcends the otherwise normal association of sounds and words with images and ideas.

It's kinda difficult to think abstractly in Minecraft, given that everything in-game is concrete and (within reason) doable. There aren't any "points" in-game, only how much you possess and whether you're alive or not.

There would have to be some sort of introductory gradient- starting the player (potentially a young child) in a bare room with nothing doable except for interaction with something like a button, for instance.

This button might be linked to a dispenser, for instance, which would then drop the first tool - an ax, perhaps - into the room. A door would also be switched "open", and allow procession into another room containing a tree and another button.

That's just a suggestion of sorts- but the idea is that the level would be an introduction to the ingame world. Upon "introduction" to all characteristics of common blocks, the player would be stripped of their inventory and placed within a new level that introduces the concept of crafting- complete with more buttons for dispensing raw materials. This can be conducted with visual aids if deemed necessary, or left as a discovery-based process (which could possibly lead to confusion and/or frustration).

After they've got basics and crafting down, I might consider dropping them into the "normal" world, on the peaceful setting- once they've established a regular living cycle, they should be gently introduced to monsters- not in the same sense that they were introduced to everything else, though. The user should be introduced to monsters subtly enough so that they realize that there are malevolent forces ingame but are not inexplicably killed or otherwise frustrated by the game (a la creeper clusterfucks).

At some point they'll begin mining and discovering interesting things like redstone and saddles or records- while the rules for their operation are not inherently obvious, it might be worth introducing to the player how they work.

Within this framework, we can teach the concepts of construction, physics (and lack thereof with floating blocks), some electromechanics, and do all of this without any direct teacher-to-player communication.

More to come at a later date.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stuff I like: Zero Punctuation

There are plenty of folks around the internet who review games and place their thoughts on the particulars up for other folks to look at. Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, an excellent writer in his own right, produces a compact, easy-to-understand and cleverly-constructed review of a game. The entire library is available for viewing here. Please note that his language might be a bit crude if you're not used to internet folk- if there are others around, you might consider putting your preferred personal listening apparatus in before starting a video. ] is where you'll find most of his scathingly witty reviews.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Halo Armor.

To be frank, the only Halo I've ever played was Custom Edition (and Combat Evolved for the campaign), because I couldn't find a reasonable excuse to upgrade to a 360 and purchase games in tandem with a Live subscription.

I have played while visiting friends, though- and I have discovered that I prefer the keyboard and mouse to the handheld controller.

Not really related: I'm terribad at MW2, but I enjoy playing for laughs with friends of mine on PC.

Even so, I've had a fascination with the Halo series' MJOLNIR armor since its inception with the Master Chief.

When I first discovered my interest in producing a set of armor, there were no options to do so without extensive investment in deciphering the specifications and myriad subtleties involved in every piece.

In a textbook case of the internet is awesome, within a few years there was [ ], who are mainly Halo costumers (although I have seen a few other projects on the forums).

They're probably associated with / inspired by [ ], who are Star Wars costumers. Speaking of Star Wars, I also like the Utapau Shadow Trooper costume. The idea of integrated electromagnets (or other fastening devices) that allow rapid disguise (and shedding thereof) is an interesting concept to me.

There's the ridiculously comprehensive costuming wiki over at [ ], which has a repository of Pepakura files that cover almost every reasonable prop that you'd want to model from the Halo universe.

For the uninformed, Pepakura is a program used to facilitate papercraft modeling- bridging the gap between CAD and origami, it allows the production of reference models that can be cut, folded, glued (and perhaps reinforced), allowing for relatively cheap production of armorlike props.

I recently discovered this application named Vanity by the folks over at [ ], which permits the rendering of the armor available in Halo: Reach.

I'm currently considering investing in a large quantity of clay and some mannequin pieces to create molds instead of pepping (a borrowed-verb for constructing by the Pepakura-paper-mache method) and casting my pieces from some sort of light plastic.

Another idea would be to convert the Pepakura files for cutting with the CNC Plasma-cutter, because lightweight aluminum would easily weld and look decent after some finishing work.

What are your thoughts on costuming?

Related: Here's a render of an idea I've got for a finished suit (JFO helmet, ODST chest and shoulders. FJ/Para Kneeguards). It's in color, believe it or not- but I plan on painting my suit something like a camoflauged black/gray with a scarlet visor (inspired by the Utapau folks).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Techshare: Kuler / Adobe

Adobe's the company responsible for the ubiquitous Creative Suite software bundles- I've had the good fortune to work with the packages at school but don't have access to quite the funds required to purchase such things given the budget that I have the good fortune of wielding.

Fortunately for design-minded folks like myself that also enjoy free stuff, Adobe's given the gift of kuler to everyone. It's one giant crowd-sourced swatch-generator, and it gives rise to plenty of ideas for designing neat things.

I like the template I'm using here, but I'm considering designing my own when I upgrade.

I have to learn CSS and PHP and JavaScript sometime; why not now?

It's amazing what folks can do with five solid colors. (Search zen on the kuler, for instance...)

Any graphic design resources you'd like to share?

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