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.

A Week With the Surface Pro 2

I don’t generally write hardware reviews here – mostly because I tend to just pick up technology as I go, get all excited about it for a few days, and then once it incorporates itself into my daily life it simply becomes mundane.  But recently, I got a new piece of technology that really, REALLY stands out.  I find myself using it pretty much all day – in fact, right now, outside of work it’s my sole computer.

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… if you look really closely you can see my ghostly reflection in the HP monitor. Creepy. XD

I ended up picking up a Surface Pro 2, after the untimely death of my laptop’s battery.  I’d done a fair amount of research, and got to see the Surface Pro 3 in action a couple of times at work (a co-worker of mine teaches workshops from his), and I figured, if I got one with decent enough specs, I’d be fine with a Surface Pro 2 instead of a pricier Pro 3.  I mean, if my co-worker could teach entire workshops off of it, it had to be at least a halfway decent laptop replacement, right?  So I stumbled across an open-box Surface Pro 2 on Amazon with a 256 gig SSD and 8 gigs of RAM (pretty much an exact replacement for my laptop, aside from the SSD, which is a major upgrade) for a relatively good price, around $900, and I jumped on it.  So what if it was older hardware?  It should suit my needs without breaking the bank.

And I have not been disappointed, not one bit. :D

First things first – I love the fact that I can hook up various peripherals through USB.  This is the only tablet I’ve owned so far that’s had a USB port on it!  I’ve even gone so far as to hook up a USB hub and run a wireless keyboard and mouse through it, before I picked up the Type Cover.  With that awesome little USB port, I can hook up an external hard drive, use my USB headset to deliver a workshop, use a mouse for when I need something more than a tiny trackpad… I think that’s quite possibly my most favorite feature about this tablet.

The fact that I can also hook it up to a monitor with the help of a dongle is awesome, too.  With the external monitor and mouse, it almost feels like I’m using my full desktop.  It’s not quite the same experience as using my desktop, as my desktop has twice the RAM, but it’s an incredibly smooth experience, especially for a tablet.  I’ve worked in Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and InDesign on here so far, and the only thing that reminds me that I’m on a tablet is the keyboard for the Type Cover.  In fact, this thing runs better than my work desktop – far better.

And the keyboard?  Pretty impressive for something so small.  I’ve had varied experiences with tablet keyboards, and more often than not they’re too small for me to type comfortably on.  I remember trying to type with the keyboard for my old iPad Mini – I had to squish my two hands together and take a few minutes to adjust to typing on a keyboard crammed into such a small space.  And there was no trackpad, either.  The Type Cover feels like I’m using an actual keyboard.  And it’s backlit.  Having laptops with backlit keyboards have spoiled me in the past, what with my old Macbook Pro and my recently out-of-commission Asus laptop, and in low light conditions I rely on the backlighting to make sure my fingers are on the right keys.  And this little keyboard does not disappoint, either.

Might be a little difficult to see, but those keys are all lit up.

Might be a little difficult to see, but those keys are all lit up.

Last of all – but certainly not least – is the battery life.  Oh lord, there’s nothing that makes me giggle with glee quite like hovering over the battery icon and seeing I have ten hours of battery life left.  I’ve been able to use the laptop tablet casually all day long, and have only needed to plug it in at the end of the day.  When doing more intense work like using Creative Suite, I have plugged it in just to be on the safe side, but that’s just me being the paranoid designer that I am.  (Save early, save often, or you will be very sad if your machine dies)  But for simply browsing the internet and listening to music (and oh gods the sound is amazing for such a little tablet!), I’ve been able to go most of the day without plugging it in.

And there you have it – my impressions of the Surface Pro 2 after spending a week of quality time with it.  If you’re considering getting one for yourself, keep an eye out on Amazon for good deals, and shoot for a Pro 2, as they’re cheaper considering the Pro 3 has just come out with some new models.  The Pro 2 will do you just as well, but without entirely breaking the bank!

 

Things I Want to Make (when I finally get my craft room back)

Four more days until I move!  Oh, you have no idea how happy this makes me.  Not only will I not be limited to wearing whatever clothes I didn’t shove into vacuum sealed bags and toss into the treacherous cave that is the storage unit, I will also have access to ALL my crafting stuff.  Not just one crochet hook and a blanket that’s too warm to sit under while I crochet it.  And there are a number of things I want to be making…

Crocheted Toothless

Amigurumi Toothless – yes, I want to make another one of these little guys.  The one in the picture here, I ended up giving away to a friend – and they’re so quick to make, too, so why not make another one?  (or six, or eleven, why not a whole tiny Toothless army?)

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The Modern Poncho – It’s no surprise that I have a fondness addiction to making shawls and ponchos.  And I think this one would look very lovely in a nice warm shade of brown or combo of browns and reds.  It’s a good thing I’m moving closer to my favorite yarn shop…

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I’d really like to finish the third Fourth Doctor scarf I’m working on – I’ve got less than a third of the scarf to go, and I was hoping it’d be done in time for GenCon this year, but no luck.  Plus, the only part of my Fourth Doctor costume I can locate at the moment is the coat… so unless I can magically find all the other parts in the week before GenCon as I unpack, no Fourth Doctor for me this year… :/

scooter

Crocheted Scooter – In seafoam, naturally.  Or I could make four of them – red, blue, seafoam, and red/cream, one for me and each of my housemates…  And having at least one of these would be pretty cool, considering the theme for the living room in the new place is going to be scooters…


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And finally, last but definitely not least, the first project I’m probably going to work on as soon as the dust settles and I can find my various costume pieces is the Cupcakes Pinkie Pie costume (the video above is the least violent reference I could find to it, hahah).  I’m not going to lie – I’m afraid it won’t be done in time for GenCon, but Ross says he’ll help me out, and this is the only costume I’m really working on, so here’s hoping I can pull it off…

I’m going to be busy after I unpack, haha.

Why I haven’t been all that crafty this summer

I know, I know – I’ve not only been slacking in the blog department, I’ve also been slacking in the craft department.  The last crafty thing I did was make Ross that Rainbow Dash t-shirt back in May.  “What’s up with that?” you ask.  “I thought this was The Crafty Nerd, not just The Nerd.”

Well, I’ll show you what’s up, my friendly readers.

Can't exactly craft when all my craft buckets are in the middle of a pile of stuff...

Can’t exactly craft when all my craft buckets are in the middle of a pile of stuff…

Yep, The Crafty Nerd (and Mister Crafty Nerd, and Ross, and our other housemate Gina, who is also crafty and nerdy) is moving.  And because of the joys of moving (packing, filling up a storage unit, and waiting for the new house to be ready), I haven’t had access to my craft supplies since… oh, June?  It’s a sad existence.  Not to mention pretty much all of my My Little Ponies are in storage as well (see the box under the trash can, at the back of the unit?  Yeah, all my Build-a-Bear ponies are in there, as well as some other pony plushies), and my office isn’t very fun without them.  Plus, I’ve only had my laptop for computering for most of the summer, and the poor laptop’s decided to give up on its battery, which is frustrating.  Grr.  My poor NyanMachine – you can see it there, on top of a small dresser, just gathering dust and waiting to be used to craft blog posts.

So, all my crafting has been put on hiatus, aside from one crocheted blanket and the Cupcakes Pinkie Pie cosplay I’ve been stalling on all summer, simply because I lack the motivation to get it done (and every time I think of something I could add to the costume, I realize it’s in storage and let out a sigh).

Post-GenCon, though, I promise there will be loads of crafty stuff.  And while you all wait, I can at the very least post some nerdy stuff and share some fun craft tutorials!  Until then, be patient – I promise I’ll make it all worth everyone’s while! :)

Book Review: The Hunger Games

Hunger_gamesYes, I admit, I hadn’t read The Hunger Games trilogy until, well, this past week.  I finished The Stand sometime on Thursday night, and needed something to read that wasn’t Stephen King… so I poked around on Amazon until I saw The Hunger Games, and realized that while I’d seen the movie, I hadn’t read the books yet.  And usually I’m the type to read the book WAY before the movie comes out!  (With the exception of Twilight.  I only read the books after the first movie came out because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  I’ll hold back on my opinions on the Twilight series, haha.)  I was in the mood for something new to read, and I really did enjoy the movie version of The Hunger Games, so I sat down and read it.  And blew through it in a day and a half, and ended up signing up for Amazon Kindle Unlimited when I realized it would cost less than buying Catching Fire and Mockingjay combined!  (And once I’ve got some more experience with that, I’ll likely be reviewing that too!)  And then blew through most of Catching Fire.  And then I realized – hey, I should write about these books.  They’re good.  So, here’s part one of my review of the Hunger Games trilogy!  There will be spoilers.  You have been warned.

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My Little Pony Build-a-Bear: When Good Manes Go Bad (or: how to fix a terribly messed up mane)

The original My Little Pony Build-a-Bear mane styling post is actually one of the most popular posts on my website, and because of that, I’ve had a number of people asking what to do if their pony’s mane is so horribly tangled that the only option seems to be to give said pony a little haircut.  Well, before you go that route, take a look at this little tutorial on how to fix up an extremely messed up mane.

Oh, Scootaloo... Too many snuggles, eh?

Oh, Scootaloo… Too many snuggles, eh?

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How To Train Your Dragon 2: The Review

Well, the movie’s been out for a couple of weeks now, so I feel it’s only right to finally get around to posting this: a review of How To Train Your Dragon 2.

The plot of the movie, without really giving too much of the story away, focuses on Hiccup becoming an adult and discovering more about himself as he discovers more about the world he lives in.  This movie’s set five years after the first one, and Hiccup is 20 years old at this point – an adult, but still the same Hiccup we grew to knew and love in the first movie.  There’s a lot about HTTYD 2 I want to talk about, so I’ll get the non-spoilery stuff out of the way first.

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First off, I’d like to gush about the graphics.  I’ve watched both movies pretty much back-to-back lately, and it’s very obvious how much technology has advanced since the first movie came out in 2010.  The textures look so much more real, the characters look more lifelike – at times it felt like I could just step through the screen and into this lush fantasy world.  And, strangely enough, the first thing that stood out to me when it came to just how much technology had advanced was Stoick’s beard.  It looks far better in HTTYD 2, much more realistic…

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It’s not just the beard. Stoick in his entirety looks much better this time around.

Another thing that I absolutely loved about the movie was Toothless’ antics.  When he wasn’t a central character in a scene, he was still stealing the show in the background, with his silly antics and ridiculous cuteness.  I loved him in the first movie, and I love him even more now.  And I’m incredibly glad I’ve seen the movie twice – because I won’t lie, there may have been times where I was paying more attention to Toothless goofing off in the background than I was to the main plot.

How can you not love that face?

How can you not love that face?

After the jump, there will be spoilers.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, and don’t want to spoil the story for yourself, don’t read any further!

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Cutie Mark T-shirts: make your own!

Have you ever wanted your own t-shirt with your favorite My Little Pony’s cutie mark on it?  (Or a t-shirt with a simple cartoon symbol, like Super Mario’s 1-Up mushroom or other relatively low-detail images)  Well, here’s a tutorial for you – and all you need to know how to do is operate an iron!

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Materials needed:

  • A printout of the cutie mark (or image) you want to use
  • A pen or marker
  • Fabric in each color used in the cutie mark
  • Heat ‘n Bond
  • A pair of scissors
  • A t-shirt
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Step one: time to put those scissors to work.

The first thing you’ll want to do is cut out pieces of fabric a little larger than each different area of color in your image.  I ended up with four pieces of fabric – blue, red, yellow, and white.  While you’re working with the scissors, you’ll also want to cut apart your image – I cut mine into different sections based on the colors in Rainbow Dash’s cutie mark, and ended up with a cloud and three little lightning bolts. You’ll also want to get out your Heat ‘n Bond, too – and cut out pieces that are slightly smaller than the pieces of fabric you’re using.

Step 2: Get out the iron!

Step two: Get out the iron!

Next, it’s time for the iron.  Lay out your piece of fabric, then lay the Heat ‘n Bond, paper side up, onto your fabric and follow the instructions on the package to iron your Heat ‘n Bond to your fabric.

Step four: tracing our pieces!

Step three: tracing our pieces!

The next thing we’ll do is get out our marker and trace our cutie mark pieces onto the Heat ‘n Bond paper.

Step four: cutting out the fabric shapes.

Step four: cutting out the fabric shapes.

The next step has us cutting out the fabric shapes.  It’s also not a bad idea to re-assemble the shape to make sure everything fits together – if not, you can trim things a little bit to make them fit.

Step five: lay out your design, and iron away!

Step five: lay out your design, and iron away!

This is where the fun stuff happens.  Peel off the paper backing from your pieces of cutie mark, and lay out the pieces on your t-shirt where you want them to end up when you’re finished.  Iron them onto your t-shirt according to the directions on the Heat ‘n Bond package – you may want to pay special attention to pointy ends that might come up if not properly adhered to your shirt.

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Step six: wear your t-shirt!

Once your shirt’s cooled off a bit, and you’re sure everything’s securely ironed onto your t-shirt, now you can wear it!

This is a pretty fun way to make a unique looking t-shirt – I’ve worn my Pinkie Pie t-shirt to conventions and received lots of compliments on it, and some people even thought it was screen printed – when I told them I did it with fabric and Heat ‘n Bond, they were amazed!  And as I said earlier, you can do this with any sort of simple graphic that doesn’t have a lot of detail to it.  If you follow these steps to make a t-shirt, show me the results!