The Somewhat Depressed Nerd

I’m sure most of you can tell, by the lack of posts over the past month, that all is not well in Crafty Nerd land.  I’ve been struggling with a bit of depression lately, brought on by a number of things…

Pinkie_Pie_is_depressed_S3E03

Yeah, this has pretty much been me over the past month.

 

  • Seasonal affective disorder tends to kick my butt during fall, as the days get much shorter and the nights get longer.  I’ve found a couple ways to fight it (walking when it’s nice out, putting natural light lightbulbs in my office, working on things I enjoy), but it still keeps dragging me down.
  • Divorce also tends to mess with one’s emotional health… and I am going through one now.  It’s rough.  Not going to lie.
  • I’ve been swamped with work, too.  There were a few weeks where I’d have three 12-hour days in a row, and I’d just go home and pass out.  That’s not much fun at all.

All that combined has been dragging me down quite a bit.  I’ve got a few craft projects I’m working on, though, and I have ideas for new blog posts, and it’s turning out that next year’s convention season is going to be absolutely ridiculous – so I have lots to talk about.  It’s just getting the words out there that’s the problem lately.  I even dropped out of NaNoWriMo this year – and that’s saying something, because I absolutely love NaNoWriMo.

So what am I gonna do about it?

Pinkie Mode ACTIVATE

Pinkie Mode ACTIVATE

I’m going to channel my inner Pinkie Pie, as best I can.  I’m gonna do the things that make me happy, like coding in XML and crafting and watching My Little Pony.  I’m going to ride Scooterlou!  YES, the very same Scooterlou I sold to get Mia - you can read the whole story on my other blog.  I’m going to decorate my tiny little Christmas tree with lots of little ponies.  I’m going to work on my epic costume for next year’s convention season.  And I’m going to encourage myself to be happy.  😺

NaNoWriMo 2014: not quite ready yet

Yes, my wonderful readers, it’s that time of year again…

Participant-2014-Web-BannerYes, November is almost upon us, which means National Novel Writing Month!  And I am nowhere near ready.

I at least have a plan.  I’m rewriting an old novel entirely, the novel that earned me my first NaNoWriMo win – previously known as Love, Lies, and Sand, it’s been renamed as Caught Between and so far I have three chapters planned out.  Three.  By this point when I’d originally written Love, Lies, and Sand/Caught Between, back in 2010, I’d outlined maybe ten chapters and was nearly vibrating with the need to write.  This story needed to come out, and oh, when I started writing I couldn’t stop.  I was so incredibly excited.  And things weren’t too terribly different then – grad school, working, etc.  So why am I so far behind this year?

It might be because I’ve had at least two 10-hour days a week at work for most of this month.  It might be due to homework and that crazy midterm for Representation and Organization that was due last week, that made me want to bang my head on the wall because I couldn’t formulate good answers to ANY of the questions, let alone three of them.  It could also probably be that I’m struggling with depression, too.  Who knows.  What I do know, however, is that come Friday night, I’ll be here, at my computer desk, a bowl of leftover Halloween candy by my side and a mug of coffee fueling my creativity, ready to write when midnight strikes and it’s officially November.  I’ve got my NaNoWriMo scrabble tile necklace ready.  I’m going to crank out a new “Novelist at Work” sign for my tablet probably today or tomorrow.  I’ve at least got three chapters outlined.  I’ve got a bunch of print quota on the campus printers I can waste on printing out the old novel, so I can tear it apart and write it anew, hopefully well enough so that I can feel comfortable sharing this novel with the world.  I am going to hit 50 thousand words.  I may even surpass 75k, the amount of words that Love, Lies, and Sand/Caught Between hit when I’d finished it originally.  I might even hit 100 thousand words.  How amazing would that be?

I can do this.  Even though I’m not ready at all.

 

Straight from the future: Review of the LG G Watch

When I first heard about smartwatches, when the Pebble first came out, I thought “oh, they’re just a fad, they’ll never take off.”  Then again, I said the same thing about smartphones and tablets, and now I’m on my fourth smartphone and currently own two tablets (although one likes to pretend it’s a laptop), so…  Anyhow, time passed, more smartwatches were released, and then I heard about the Android Wear operating system – in short, a tiny version of Android meant to power smartwatches.  That caught my attention, as I’ve been an Android fangirl since I first used Froyo on my first ever smartphone (an HTC Hero).  In fact, I can tell you exactly how many Apple mobile devices I’ve owned – two.  A second gen iPod touch, and a first gen iPad mini.  But I digress.  Anyway.  Smartwatches with Android?  Sign me up!  I got rather excited when I found smartwatches on the Google Play store, and read quite a few reviews about them which got me even more excited.  And then I told Ross about them – and he got excited too.

2014-10-14 07.38.22

A close-up of the LG G Watch, attempting to control my camera for me.

We both ended up snagging the LG G Watch, straight from the Google Play store (it was on sale for $179 when we got our watches).  And paid rush shipping, because we’re both impatient.  And once the boxes ended up on our doorstep (the UPS guy thought we’d both ordered the new iPhone, because they came in roughly phone-shaped boxes – I let him know otherwise, haha), I tore right into mine and started playing with it.  Sure, there’s not a whole heck of a lot you can do with the watch on its own – it’s meant to work as an extension of your phone – but even so, it’s amazing to be able to check and dismiss your alerts, pull up information about your commute, see when the next sportsball game is, control your music, pause Netflix, and more, all from your wrist.

The battery life on this little guy is pretty good – an average day’s use involves me checking and dismissing alerts, using the pedometer to count my steps, occasionally responding via voice to a text message or Google Hangout chat, and telling Pear (a handy app that reminds you to grab your phone if you’ve left it behind) that yes, I really did mean to leave my phone at my desk while I wandered to the other side of the CIB to get a snack.  And with that day’s average use, I tend to get home at the end of the day (often around 8 pm) with around 50% battery life left.  Which is pretty impressive for a device with a screen that stays on all day!  There are also apps that allow you to customize your Android Wear experience – for example, I make use of Wear Mini Launcher so I have access to the app menu a little more easily, and I also use Facer to create custom watch faces (which you can see in the image on the left, with the pink and black background, built to match my phone’s background).  If you’re a Starbucks lover, you can even pay for coffee with your watch using one of the many apps available to show your card’s barcode – Ross and I use Coffee Time, and enjoy the reactions we get from the baristas as we pay with our watches, haha.  Heck, if you’re an ’80s kid who always wanted a calculator watch, much like myself, you can even download an app to turn your watch into a little wrist calculator (Calculator – Android Wear is my favorite).  There’s quite a bit you can do with this little watch!

What my watch typically looks like when it's not active, just without the "plz let me control your camera" thing.

What my watch typically looks like when it’s not active, just without the “plz let me control your camera” thing.

Overall, I’m pleased – while I wish it could do a few more things (it’d be nice, for example, if the pedometer data could be backed up to another service so I can keep track of my step history), for what it is, it’s pretty awesome.  Plus, I feel like I’m living in the future when I’m shooting down the street on Mia and feel the watch vibrate on my wrist because I’ve received a text.  Sure, I feel silly shoving my wrist into my helmet to shout a response at my watch, but I also feel pretty darn epic, you know?  I’m talking.  To my watch.  While sitting on my scooter at a stoplight, sending a text message.  (I do practice safe riding, and don’t screw with the watch while Mia’s moving, I don’t want to have another incident like that crash involving a shoddy cellphone mount startling me as it and my phone plummet into my lap, causing me to lose my balance and topple over onto the pavement at 25mph.)

If you happen to want a smartwatch of your own, you can get them in a couple of places – Amazon, for one, and also the Google Play store – and there are a few varieties.  There’s the LG G Watch, like what I’ve got, which is water resistant, has a 1.65 inch screen, and gives you the option to switch out the watch band for something different if you choose.  (I do like the G Watch’s band, though, it’s actually pretty comfy to wear.)  There’s also the Samsung Gear Live watch, which I almost went with – in addition to being water resistant and having the same screen size as the G Watch, it also has the added functionality of being able to check your heart rate via the watch, which may be handy for fitness nuts.  For those of you who prefer a more traditional round watch face, there’s the Motorola Moto 360, which has many of the same options as the Samsung Gear Live watch.  One of the biggest things to keep in mind as you pick out a smartwatch is to remember that this is the first generation of Android Live smartwatches – and there are bound to be some bugs.  Apps will crash, the voice recognition will mangle your text messages occasionally (which can be amusing, albeit also frustrating), and other unexpected things will happen.  If you’re looking for a smoother smartwatch experience, you may want to wait until the next generation of watches are released.  However, if you’re like me, and you like to experience the newest technology, then these watches are a good starting point for those looking to get into the smartwatch world!

oh god how did this get here I am not good with computer

Alo! I’m Ross. Or as far as this readership knows by me thus far, Rainbow “Factory” Dash. I can post here, right? After all, I did craft a device to harvest the blood of unworthy Pegasi in order to create rainbows. And rainbows are neat, right? Of course they are! And if you disagree, well, say hello to the bloody ends of my Mobile Pegasus Device!

mobile_pegasus_device_by_thegodlikehobo-d6i4z6o

Beth, I’m insane. A friendly FYI.

Anywho! I once ran a blog with a wealth of (largely Debian/Ubuntu/Arch) Linux info, regaling my adventures in the Lunixes and command line. Because sweet merciful Jesus, I love the flexibility of Linux and the command line. I’ve totally forgotten what I was going to write abou… OH I REMEMBER. So this blog of Beth’s is awesome. Recently we worked to migrate it from shared hosting (barf) to my (overt plug for Linode) VPS. And gods do I enjoy it. I say “do” because I love my Linux servers, and constantly research, test, implement, Oxford comma, novel programs in order to maximize performance. Even if it means a few extra steps (e.g. resetting OPcache because I disabled thingies that make it check for file updates periodically) after installing WordPress updates. We’re a LEMP (Linux, nginx, MySQL, PHP) shop here, and are proud of it! Meow?

PS
Production is my test bed. Please excuse / notify me of any current and future breakage.

Comic books, markup, and geeking out with an academic purpose

For those of you who’ve been following the blog since I started writing early last year, it should be no surprise to you that three-quarters of the year, I’m up to my nose in school work, earning my Masters degrees in Information and Library Science.  (And yes, that’s right, two degrees – I added the Library Science degree on at the end of the spring semester last year.)  And as most of you know, I try my hardest to work my nerdiness into, well, everything I can.  You’ve seen my cube in my office building, covered in My Little Ponies.  You saw Scooterlou with her yarn-covered wire basket.  (And I saw Scooterlou recently – and she still has her basket cozy attached!  A fellow crafter bought her, and is considering sewing beads onto her cozy, but I digress!)  So, it should come as no surprise that I’ve managed to work my nerdiness into my graduate work – and that it’s come effortlessly, too.

One of my professors (and my academic advisor), Dr. John Walsh, is a comic book fan.  A large one.  There’s a big chunk of his office dedicated to action figures.  He’s even created a markup language entirely dedicated to comic books: Comic Book Markup Language.  I learned about CBML during the Digital Humanities class I took with Dr. Walsh last semester, and of course got very, very excited about it – in fact, so excited that I delivered a presentation on it for one of the presentations we had to do.  In short, CBML is an extension of the Text Encoding Initiative guidelines that gives digital librarians and archivists a markup language that’s more appropriate for documents that combine both text and graphics on a page – like comic books, for which the markup language is named.  You can use it with the TEI guidelines to mark up an entire comic book – sound effects, scenes, advertisements, news, and fan mail.  (If you’re interested in learning a little more about CBML, you can either check out my presentation from Digital Humanities last semester, or you can read this article by Dr. Walsh from Digital Humanities Quarterly.)

A snippet of a page from the Twilight Sparkle issue from the My Little Pony comic micro-series.  You can see a scan of the original inked page in the background of the header - I actually own that page!

Part of my presentation from last semester: a snippet of a page from the Twilight Sparkle issue from the My Little Pony comic micro-series, all marked up. You can see a scan of the original inked page in the background of the header – I actually own that page!

One thing that I noticed while doing my research on CBML for last semester’s presentation is that aside from a few snippets in the Digital Humanities Quarterly article, and from some examples on the CBML page itself, there’s not really any large-scale projects using CBML out there for people who are interested in seeing exactly how it works, and how an entire page from a comic book may look when it’s completely marked up.  I talked to Dr. Walsh, and asked if he’d mind if I started putting together some examples of CBML so others could see how it looks when it’s in use for existing comic book pages, and maybe build up a small repository of comics.  He said it sounded like a great idea, and while it’s been off to a slow start (moving got in the way, and then sorting out a schedule for the new semester), I’m currently working my way through marking up the first issue of Captain Marvel Adventures.  And once I have that put together, I hope to put together a small website where people can actually view the marked up pages, and download the XML files that are working behind the scenes to display images and text together.

I plan on documenting the process as I go along – and what better place to talk about it than here, on The Crafty Nerd?  After all, marking up pages from a comic book feels partly like assembling a craft project – you look at the page, and assemble the markup pieces to build the textual version of the graphical page.  And, come on, we’re working with comic books here.  This project will be right at home here. (And besides, I’m not quite sure if I want to start a third blog just for this project, unless it really takes off and becomes something huge.)  I hope to post something here every few weeks about the progress I’m making, and even show some of the work I’ve done!  And if any of this sounds of interest to any of you, my readers, feel free to get in touch with me – I’d be happy to ramble on about CBML with you.

Instant Reaction: Sailor Moon dub episode 1!

I’m sure many of you have already heard that Viz has released a new version of the Sailor Moon dub, far better and more accurate than the DiC version from the mid-’90s.  Well, the DiC version was the one I grew up on – and while it’s what sparked my nearly two decade long love of Sailor Moon, it was incredibly cringe-worthy.

Exactly.

Exactly.

So, when I found out that Viz had redubbed the English version, and remastered all the original Japanese music, I had to give it a watch.  I wasn’t entirely sure I’d like it, considering how very used I am to the old dub voices, but I had to watch.  For science. (And, conveniently enough, it’s on Hulu!)  And as I started watching, I caught myself posting my reactions to Twitter – and then realized it might just be better to collect them all here, to share with everyone!  So, here’s my in-the-moment reactions to the first episode of the new Sailor Moon dub!

Continue reading

What I’ve been up to these past few weeks

“Hey, Beth! You seem to have fallen of the face of the Earth entirely!  What the heck happened?”

Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly what you’re asking right now.  Yes.  So I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to, in glorious picture format!

Sleeping kitty = such cute

Sleeping kitty = such cute

Taking pictures of sleeping cats!  Because kitties are cute, and I now have one living with me.  His name is Steve.  He likes to watch Battlestar Galactica, enjoys kicking the carpets in the bathroom around, and his favorite pony is Pinkie Pie.

2014-09-17 10.53.28

WE ARE IN THE FUTURE

Playing with my new smartwatch.  Bryan says it’s a fad, they won’t last, but honestly?  I love it.  I partially justified the purchase by saying that it’s research for when I re-write an old NaNoWriMo novel for this year’s NaNoWriMo.  Since it’s set in the future, I gave the characters wrist communicators, and, well, HERE IT IS ON MY WRIST RIGHT NOW.  Granted, it needs a cellphone to work with, but we’re getting closer!

2014-09-19 07.51.20

Getting a jump start on Christmas crafting!

Punch embroidering, because I haven’t done it in years.  I’m making a couple of Christmas stockings, and then I might see if anyone wants to commission me for anything, because gosh do I enjoy doing this and I forgot how fun it is.  Plus, it’s getting harder and harder to find punch embroidery stuff (apparently the place I shop from online is now the ONLY online store selling punch embroidery supplies!), and I may as well do it while I can, right?

main_page

I love Digital Libraries.

Doing homework.  And yes, my most recent bit of homework involved reviewing an online digital archive of comic book art.  Have I mentioned how much I love library and information science?  Because I do.  I really do. :D  My next bit of homework, for Representation & Organization, involves writing a script of how a typical grocery shopping trip goes, and then comparing it with the actual process of shopping in order to spark discussion about mental models and how they match up to the actual process or task that one is trying to complete.

2014-09-19 07.52.10

On the banks of Racquette River, with its banks of blue, stands our honored Potsdam College, stirring sight to view…

Drinking lots of coffee and feeling rather homesick.  This is the time of year I really miss Potsdam – even though the stupid lack of sunlight and the near-constant dreary grayness made my seasonal affective disorder crap way worse than it needed to be… I miss the trees changing color, the nights getting downright chilly, and the hint of winter in the air, even in September…

2014-09-19 07.53.12

Yes, this is pretty much a tiny Chun-Li.

Getting minis ready for painting!  It’s been entirely too humid out to prime minis, but that doesn’t stop me from scraping off the extra plastic bits and filing the rough spots down so I can prime and paint when the weather is good.

And that’s what I’ve been up to, in illustrated form!  Now that I’ve settled in for the semester, posts will occur more regularly, and I do have some exciting things in the works!  Have an idea for a topic you want to see on the site?  Leave a comment on this post, and chances are, I’ll cover it. :)  I’m always looking for new crafty and nerdy things to talk about.

Gen Con 2014: The Cosplayers!

As with any awesome convention, there are tons of awesome cosplayers – and here’s a post showcasing all the ones I found!  (Please excuse my facial expressions in some of them, haha – I’ve got a couple of derpy faces going on in pictures I’m in.)

And as a bonus – here’s a link to one of the many recordings of the Costume Parade from yesterday!  I like this one especially, since at about 9 and a half minutes in, you get a good minute and a half of Cupcakes Pinkie and Rainbow Factory Dash action, haha.

GenCon 2014: Day One

Sporting my shiny press badge!

Sporting my shiny press badge!

Today was the first day of the biggest convention of the season – Gen Con!  This is my third Gen Con – and my first one as press.  I was super excited to pick up my press pass, and Ross and I cheerily wandered through the convention after I got my badge, looking for fun costumes and things to do.

The one thing about Gen Con is that there’s almost… too much to do, to be honest.  So many games, so many panels, so many exhibitors to visit.   I never know where to go first!  And every year, it seems I take a different approach to the first (or, in the case of 2012, the only) day of Gen Con.  In 2012, Bryan and I pretty much wandered through the exhibition hall for five hours, stopping frequently for pictures, spending oodles of money, and walking until we were exhausted.  2013 was a whole different ball game – it was my first year spending all four days at the convention, and not only that, but a friend had a hotel room that needed filling, so the three of us literally lived at Gen Con for those four days.  The first day was pretty much entirely spent flailing around the exhibition hall, making new brony friends (like Ross!), attending panels, playing games, and spending absolutely stupid amounts of money.

This year was a bit different.   Bryan decided to sit this year’s Gen Con out, so Ross and I decided to go together, and commute all the way from Bloomington (as getting a hotel this year wasn’t an option, thanks to housing selling out within TWO HOURS of housing registration opening!) to Indianapolis each day.  And today was pretty low key.  We wandered around the exhibition hall, and found some very awesome goodies to take home – Ross picked up a very epic looking skull mug and an awesome Nightmare Before Christmas/Alice in Wonderland crossover print, and I picked up a few more minis from Impact! Miniatures‘ Chibi Adventurers line.  Ross dressed up in the most ruffly clothes I own and confused a number of people who thought he was a girl, haha.  And I got to meet up with a friend of mine from college, who I haven’t seen in forever and is enjoying his first Gen Con as we speak.  But other than that?  We did a lot of walking, a lot of looking, and I learned that even the most comfortable looking heels will not be good for your feet at a convention.  At all.

I noticed there weren’t too many people dressed up in costumes today.  Typically, the big thing I take photos of are people in costumes, but I think I only saw a handful of people dressed in out-of-the-ordinary clothes.  Here’s hoping tomorrow will bring more costumed con-goers!

But yes, all in all, today was a laid back day.  I’m not anticipating the same for tomorrow – Ross and I are dusting off our Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash costumes, and are going to parade around as My Little Ponies for the day!  And hopefully find some games to explore and panels to enjoy, too.  Keep an eye out here tomorrow for day two of the Gen Con Report!

61 Levels Later… (or, eight months with HabitRPG)

Started out as a lowly warrior, back in December...

Started out as a lowly warrior, back in December…

How many of you remember me posting about HabitRPG, the to-do and habit building site/app that turns your life into an epic adventure where you can earn experience for taking the dog for a walk?   Well, if you can’t quite remember it, here’s the post I wrote.

I’ll admit – when I first started using HabitRPG, I was thinking “oh, I know me, I won’t stick around for long.  I’ll use it diligently for a few weeks, and then stop.”  That’s usually how it goes with me – but not this time.  Oh, definitely not this time.

Logging in day after day, checking off my to-do list and daily habits and getting experience for them, well, the novelty did wear off after a little while.  But then I went on some quests.  I fought Vice and got some pretty impressive goodies such as a staff that makes my awesome Mage just that much awesomer.  I conquered The Spirit of Spring, The Hedgebeast, and Octothulu and earned quite an impressive menagerie of pets. And most recently, I banded together with all the citizens of Habitica to fight off the Dread Drag’on of Dilatory.  The quests are definitely one of the things that keep me coming back.

And I can play with friends, too.  There’s two ways to do this – you can have a party of people you go questing with, or you can create a guild and participate in challenges.  Either way is a great way to keep yourself coming back.  There were some days where I was feeling lazy, and didn’t really feel like logging in and marking my stuff off as done… but then I’d remember I was part of a quest with my party members, and if I didn’t log in, they’d take damage, and I didn’t want that to happen – which motivated me to get off my butt, get stuff done, and help fight off whatever boss we were tangling with at the moment.

From lowly warrior to epic Mage, with a Mantis Shrimp as my pet!

From lowly warrior to epic Mage, with a Mantis Shrimp as my pet!

Now it’s been around eight months since I got an account and started leveling up my little character.  And in those eight months, I’ve developed some good habits.  No snacking late at night.  Walking every day, and taking short walk breaks when I’m in the office all day.  Making sure I actually eat breakfast AND lunch each day.  Keeping hydrated by making sure I drink enough water.  My habits and daily tasks are constantly evolving, too.  When the end of August comes and classes start up again, I’ll likely be adding tasks to make sure I get my homework done.  And with the new house, there’ll be new chores too (I expect to be vacuuming a lot more often, given I’ll not only have carpeting pretty much everywhere, I’ll also have a cat!), and of course I’ll need to get into the habit of doing them regularly.  And I know HabitRPG will help me with that!

So, if you’re already on Habit, look up the guild The Crafty Nerds.  It’s the official guild of The Crafty Nerd (you’ll know you’re in the right place if you see Scooterlou as the guild leader, I mean, come on, who else would name their character after their old scooter but me), and I’d be happy to have you there!  And if you’re not, why not join up?  It’s free, it’s easy to get the hang of, and will definitely help you build some good habits.  Plus, the retro art style keeps things fun, and the wide variety of quests to do, pets to collect, and people to meet in the Tavern will keep you coming back.