Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Newest paper sculpt project!

Sonic Screwdriver trio for my friend's birthday.

An interview with Adam Harum of Transolar Galactica.

They achieved their Kickstarter goal, and now the world gets more of their award winning sci-fi comedy!

Doctor Who themed lip balm!

Brought to you from Earthtastic! and A Bit of Geek.

Minecraft paper sculpt!

My submission to the Mojang community art contest. Watch the video!

A TARDIS desk lamp!

Instructions and babbling on how to make a TARDIS lamp from foam core!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oh the books.

I think this is going to be a pretty brief entry about the books I've been reading. That's the plan, anyway.

Reading is an interest that goes on and off for me. When I was very little I expressed no interest in books or the alphabet and my mom was concerned that I might have a learning disorder, but once I got into kindergarten I picked everything up just fine. It wasn't that I was bad at it, I just wasn't that interested in it. I think that has kind of stuck with me my whole life, until Harry Potter came along. The books absolutely spurred my interest in reading and I became ravenous, but only for Harry Potter books.

I would read the series over and over again, waiting for the next installment to be released. I still ready plenty for school: Hamlet, 1984, The Odyssey, Twelve Angry Men, Brave New World, and on and on. I enjoyed them too. I liked reading, but not enough to spend my free time on it. Free time was for friends and video games.

Three or four years ago I was given a book for Christmas that I had a lot of fun with: Kevin Smith's 'My Boring-Ass Life'. There was something about that book that ignited a reading frenzy in my head, and I went on a streak for over a year where I would start a book the same day that I finished one (just about, anyway). I plowed through autobiographies, historical fiction, fantasy, pre-teen novels, pretty much whatever was thrown my way.

Then someone threw a stick through my spokes by giving me a copy of Wicked to read. I hated that book so much. It brought my reading marathon to a screeching halt and I have had a hard time picking it up ever since. I reverted to re-reading Harry Potter and half-heartedly picking at new books. Serious bummer.

Andrew is a rabid reader. He was more than happy to recommend some titles for me, and he sent me off to Ireland with nine new books. They are a random assortment spanning multiple authors, but eight of the nine are fantasy novels. My favorite genre.

We decided that we'd like to have our own book club of sorts. You know, read along together and talk about what happens. So far we haven't done a very good job of keeping up with it, mostly because I have more leisure reading time than he does. I imagine that'll get sorted out once I'm there.

But anyway! The first book I ate was Night Mare by Piers Anthony. Absolutely fantastic. I am in love with this universe and I am absolutely delighted that there are multiple books in the series. Even happier is the fact that he gave me two novels in the series. I started and finished Castle Roogna within a few days of finishing Night Mare. I am stoked to read more books in the fantastic Xanth universe. It has to wait though, y'know, until I have more of them in my possession.

For now I'm going to start The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett. I believe I'm going to enjoy it very much. I anticipate finishing it before I leave on Friday, and then I'm going to start Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on the plane. I've seen the movie but never read the book and I'm really looking forward to it.

I'm very happy to be so pumped about books again.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Exerting great power at work.

I had a difficult time deciding if this entry should go here, or in my photo blog. Technically, the majority of what I'm going to write about relates directly to my photography job here in Ireland. However, I've done absolutely zero photography at the studio; I've been doing all computer/IT work. With that in mind, I figured that the information would be more relevant here in geek central.

The photographer took me on as a studio assistant with power over digital asset management (hereafter referred to as DAM) and anything else to do with organization and internal structuring. I'm not sure my photography skills were really important after he learned that I spent my senior year at Evergreen learning DAM. I'm not an expert by any means, a year is not a long time, but I do pretty well and it's more knowledge than a lot of other people have.

It's good to have a system. Most people don't.

Initially I was set to work designing wedding albums on the oh-so-fabulous-to-use tablet PC. It quickly became apparent that I wasn't going to get any internal restructuring done during business hours. With the help and encouragement of Andrew, (I was nervous to demand certain work hours) I told my boss that I needed to change my schedule so I could work after hours on the computers.

This proved to be quite successful, and next thing I knew I was working 2-8! It's nice to have those two hours of quiet after the studio close at six, just the computers and me.

There are three machines and they are all old and bogged down. Years of pictures that didn't need to be on the hard drives, old programs, downloads, just cobwebs strung through the data. So, I started with the tablet PC and set to comparing the photos on the C drive to the photos on the backup drives to make sure everything was stored properly.

I'm going to use this moment to talk about how I don't really care for Picasa. There's no option to store photos in their original location without duplicating them. This infuriates me. What a waste of space! And yes, the files can be manually deleted, but then that's just a waste of time. Aperture isn't the perfect program but at least it gives me the option to store the photos in their original location AND not duplicate them so I'm not getting doubles all over my freaking hard drive! GAH!

I spend a lot of time in there like that.

OK, so with that aside, the computer was full of weddings and family shoots because the boss likes Picasa and no one (until now) deletes the projects once they're finished. So yeah, lots of old photos just chillin' and taking up space on the C drives. Annoying.

Right as I was ready to reinstall Windows and wipe that sucker clean, the computer started to give me a peculiar error on startup. Right after the BIOS screen it shows a 'floppy diskette seek error' error. F1 to continue or F2 to enter setup. I got all up in that BIOS and looked up so many FAQs and tutorials and nothing that I tried fixed the problem. All of the final signs point to hard drive failure. I let everyone in the studio know, so it's in their hands now since I'm leaving in less than two weeks.

The Windows install went smoothly, and after installing the relevant drivers we were good to go. I sealed it up with an anti-virus and ad-aware program and reconnected all of the hard drives. Even though I expected to be doing a little bit of photography, I'm not disappointed with my experience. I love working with computers and I've learned a great deal about networking and troubleshooting. Now that I know how to do it it is very simple, but before I got to the studio I didn't know how to share a drive or map a drive on a computer network. Easy peasy at this point! :D

My adventures have brought me through to completion on the second of three computers in the studio. That one took a lot longer to compare and copy pictures; the hard drive was super full. It's running better now, but it still likes to restart randomly. No error, no warning, no 'wtf I encountered an error lol wanna go to safe mode?' upon turning back on. I wondered if it was a bad file or something, but after wiping it and it still does it I'm going to go ahead and say it's a hardware problem. Again, I let everyone in the studio know. Hopefully they can get someone in to pinpoint the issue so the whole computer doesn't come crashing down.

Not to mention the additional 45 minutes required to 'setup' Windows.

On Friday I finished clearing off the third and final computer. It is schedule for reinstall on Monday, mwahaha. After that's done I'm going to write up instructions as concisely as possible so other people can do the reinstalls when necessary. I didn't write anything down while I wiped the tablet pc, but I wrote step by step instructions as I was wiping the second computer. At this point they just need to be refined and carefully worded so even people that know nothing can do this. I'm doing all I can to make sure the systems function well after I leave because they were in a sore state when I arrived.

I think it was Wednesday that we experienced a special problem. The computers are all outfitted with multi-size card readers, seeing as it's a photography studio. The cameras all take CF cards, just for reference. We discovered that someone (fingers point to the previous student work experience that we had in) had jammed a CF card in past the receiving pins and the card had fallen down into the card reader casing.

See that bottom left opening? Yup, just... fell right down in there. Not supposed to do that.

We call that a problem.

Fortunately I am a skilled and brilliant person (and oh so modest too), so I was able to remove the card reader from the tower and retrieve the CF card. My boss was mighty impressed with me, but then again he was ready to start poking at the tower with a knife while it was still on and plugged in. We were good though: I turned it off, removed the side, disconnected the card reader unit, located a tiny screwdriver from the construction workers outside (it is so wacky at the studio), took off the top and grabbed the card. I wish I had taken a photo of my handiwork! It felt good knowing what I was doing, and it was all the better when the computer turned back on and the card reader still worked. Ha!

Well I think that's it for now. Just know that I'm ass deep in computer problems at work and next week I'll be talking about video games again. Yay!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Minecraft and the wolves within.

So much has happened in the Minecraft world that I hardly know where to start. I believe that when I left off over a month ago I was talking about Andrew expanding our castle wall. Also, the fabulous ship that he built and the fact that the lava was glitching through the cobblestone and setting the bookshelves on fire. Yeah, that sucked. But hey, I have a lot more news this time around.

We'll start off with something a bit comical. I still don't even know how this happened. The game can get a bit laggy at times (the worlds are huge), so on occasion I'm shooting arrows and they're not firing. My best guess is that I shot a bunch of arrows, they were delayed, and then I walked into them. Talented, right? It was funny. I mean, clearly we were having repeated death issues. He was engulfed by lava. Twice.

Following the completion of my triforce above the entrance to our castle, I decided to build another beautiful monument: Kuribo's shoe. Anyone who has played Mario 3 (Andrew we need to fix this disgusting problem of yours) experienced the thrill and joy of world 5-3. Is Nintendo ever going to bring it back? I hope they do. Hear my plea! I want more of Kuribo's shoe! The opportunities for its use are rife! Maybe in Super Mario 3DS? Perhaps that's wishful thinking, but that's all I've got! Either way, this was quite the undertaking because of all of the black wool that was needed. Many squid were slain and sheep sheared to construct this boot. Eventually I'm going to add Mario's head the top, but we're working on other projects at the moment.

Back in March I experienced this rather epic chunk error. That would be our lava covered library split perfectly in half. I thought it looked pretty badass.

Some of my favorite moments in Minecraft occur after I haven't played for a few days and Andrew has gifts for me. He surprises me with 64 item stacks of red flowers, yellow flowers and as much wool as he can find. If he's had some particularly fruitful days then I get a special gift of clay or even ink sacs from squid! What a gentleman, right?

Our latest project has us building a train depot. We're in the process of connecting our homestead with another guy that plays on (and runs) the server. There aren't actually trains in Minecraft, but we're building a very nice depot all the same. It has a very tall glass ceiling, pillars, elegant stairs and an almost complete underwater viewing wall. I'll be putting in some classy couches soon. Andrew added a waterfall elevator (it takes some getting used to) that leads to an open spaced plaza. He did a nice job of connecting the train depot area with our pit digging area.

Speaking of the pit, it's coming along nicely! We're starting to get down deep enough to find diamonds (!!!) and Andrew has already dug down the edges to the admin rock. Because of all the caverns that occur that far down it's getting a little difficult to dig consistently. There are pitfalls everywhere and we die a lot while we're working on it. At this point I think he has found (and obsidianized) all of the lava flows, so at least that danger has been abated.

But back to the plaza area! It contains a lot of smooth stone, which means we've been doing a lot of furnace cooking. We have to be really careful with the smooth stone because if we misplace it, and then have to break it down to remove it, it turns into cobblestone! I think we've done well though. He included a nice grassy area off to one side and I decided to build an extensively girly garden. Girly things are bound to happen from time to time. I told him I needed some more yellow flowers to complete my colorful masterpiece and he suggested that we do some off-site exploration. He brought up the fact that we'd been so engulfed in construction that we hadn't had a chance to explore in a while, so I agreed.

What followed was extensive traveling and a rather epic cave structure. We got lost, plain and simple, and filled our pockets to the brim with loot from the caves. I guess I forgot to take a screenshot (shame on me) but we found not one, but TWO dungeons, and both of them contained cocoa beans!!!! This means we can make cookies! I am so excited! It was really only when we were ready to head back home that we realized how lost we were. Fortunately we had found gold and red stone, so he set to making some compasses that would point us back in the general direction that we needed to go. We set up camp near a familiar landmark and proceeded to get the crap attacked out of us by creepers and skeletons. The 1.5 update really seems like it includes greater mob spawning. 

Although, it could be the addition of rain (which makes the landscape dark enough to spawn mobs) creates more opportunities for mobs, and there aren't actually more being made at once. If that makes sense. Either way, we got blown up a few times just trying to cook some things. Eventually I put up some walls and started to dig for coal. It was a rough few in-game days, heh.

The most exciting recent addition to Minecraft is the wolves! This patch was released a few weeks ago and I about peed myself when I found my first wild wolf. Andrew and I loaded up on bones to feed them and then we set off trying to find some. They're pretty uncommon so we had no idea how long it would take to stumble across some. I started yelling (in game) when I found one and quickly took a screenshot. When they're wild they have these silly lazy eyes. After you give it a few bones it decides to love you and it becomes tame. It suddenly wears a collar and its eyes become friendly.

Say hello to Sir Woofington (the 1st!)! Since finding our first wolves, we have found many many more. I believe that we have fifteen each. We keep them parked in the town center (another project that is being worked on!) for the most part and only take a handful at a time when we go hunting for wool and leather. When the wolves are running free they tend to get in the way and you can accidentally hurt them. Or, if you're like me, you can accidentally hurt someone else's wolf and said wolf will fucking murder you. So, lesson learned; don't try and shoot a creeper when it's close to someone else's tamed wolf. You will not survive. 

And speaking of creepers, I took this shot while working on Kuribo's shoe. It was silly to watch Andrew baiting the thing, its tiny feet flopping around. He drew it in close enough for me to get with my bow. I'm proud to say that I'm a fairly decent shot in-game, haha! Stupid creepers.


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