Category: Miscellaneous

The Crafty Nerd hangs out with The Five(ish) Fangirls!

First off, I apologize for the inadvertent hiatus – work was absolutely crazy, especially with preparing to go off to my first-ever professional conference!  However, that’s all done now, including all the pre-conference poster-making (I made a poster about making research posters, and made it Spaceballs-themed, and everyone loved it, haha), flailing around in airports as I try to figure out where to go, dealing with ridiculous jet lag, and consuming ridiculous amounts of caffeine to balance out said jet lag.  Now that the majority of the work-related craziness is done, I can focus more on fun stuff – like the poor neglected blog.

Although speaking of work… I might have mentioned my co-worker Rachel a time or two on the blog – she’s one of The Five(ish) Fangirls, and has a weekly podcast focusing on all sorts of fandom fun-stuff.  (And her cube at our Indianapolis office is just as nerdy as mine down in Bloomington.)  With the My Little Pony movie recently having been released, the Five(ish) Fangirls decided to do a podcast on My Little Pony, and guess who they invited to be on the podcast! 😀

So, yes, I got to hang out with the Five(ish) Fangirls last night and ramble about nerdiness and ponies – which was so awesome.

Alright everypony, time to gather round for today’s friendship lesson! Join us, along with special guest Beth from The Crafty Nerd, as we discuss the phenomenon that is My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. We get tangental, and possibly a bit deep into why this fandom has grown to the size and reach that it has, without any signs of slowing down. Plus we bring back the news!

Please ignore my ridiculous moment of completely forgetting what company is responsible for doing the new Sailor Moon dubs – it was at the end of a long day and my brain was mush, hah.  I had so much fun rambling about My Little Pony with everyone, though – and hopefully I get to go back on the show again for other fangirly stuff!  (Like Sailor Moon – my inner rabid Sailor Moon fangirl could talk for hours about all the Sailor Moon things, hah.)

Check out The Five(ish) Fangirls’ site here!

Costuming through the years: the Crafty Nerd edition

Oh, costuming.

I’ve been a huge fan of wearing costumes, ever since I was a kid – the more elaborate, the better.  Halloween was always my favorite time of year, because it meant dressing up – granted, Halloween in the mid- to late 80’s typically involved those costumes that came in a box, with the weird masks and vinyl jumpsuit things…

I’m Tenderheart Bear in this one, I think this might have been from… what, 1987?

Once I got a little older, I discovered the world of more exciting costumes.  I’d try and find something better and fancier than the previous one, because dangit, I wanted to pretend I was someone else for the day.  And once I got old enough to handle a sewing machine with some skill, I started making my own costumes.  They may not have been amazing, but I sure as heck felt awesome in them.  Case in point: my first ever costume, a handmade Princess Toadstool costume from 1997.

My first venture ever into costume creation. (Don’t mind the tape around the edges – had to use Google Photo Scan to scan this in from an old scrapbook!)

Granted, my sewing skills were still pretty limited at this point, so the only part of the costume that involved any sewing was the skirt – but my thrift store skills were epic even at the tender age of fifteen, and I managed to get everything else I needed to put together that costume – gloves, pretty red heels, and a floofy petticoat.  Sure, the crown and brooch were made out of construction paper, and my wig was a cheap one from Spencer’s that smelled horrible, but dangit, I was Princess Toadstool, and I was happy.

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Steven Universe: my new obsession

You may have seen some more Steven Universe images creeping into my blog as I’ve been posting (infrequently as its been, I know) – and there’s a reason for that, friends.

I am ABSOLUTELY OBSESSED WITH THIS SHOW.

omg omg omg

I haven’t been this enthralled with a show since I discovered Sailor Moon back in 1997, you guys. I love the characters, I love the overwhelmingly female-positive vibe of the show, I love the fact that it tackles issues like anxiety and relationships, I love the gripping and occasionally deep storyline, I love the music, I LOVE IT ALL.

I love it so much that I made it the focus of my research for a class I took last semester, Content Analysis for the Web.  (And once I polish up my papers, I’ll even post them here, for those curious.)  I love it so much that I’m considering getting a Rose Quartz themed tattoo.  I love it so much I named my new car Lapis.

She’s no longer rocking Janeway’s old plate, but there’s my Lappy!

Seriously.  I love this show.  So much.

huuuuuugs

I’ve got my desk covered in as much SU merchandise as I can find.  I’ve got a plush Steven on my bedside table.  I have Steven Universe boxers, for crying out loud, haha.  I feel like I used to back when I discovered Sailor Moon… but there are lots of others out there who like Steven Universe, too.  And episodes keep coming out.  And it’s all over awesome and wonderful.

So, yeah, in case you couldn’t tell, I like this show.  A lot. 😀

March Book Madness! (and a contest!)

visioninsilverMarch seems to be the month of the year where all of my favorite authors conspire against my wallet and release books from their ongoing (or new, as in the case with one author I adore) series.  And this year is no exception – I have not one, not two, but three books from authors I enjoy coming out this month.

The first one is Vision in Silver, by Anne Bishop, which was released on March 3rd, 2015.  I’ve been following Anne’s works since 2004, when a friend of mine gave me a copy of the Black Jewels Trilogy, the start of what turned into a seven book dark fantasy series.  He said “this isn’t really my style, but maybe you’ll like them?” as he handed me the stack.  I devoured all three in roughly three days, and then got excited when I learned she was still publishing stories in that universe!  Vision in Silver is a novel set in the world of The Others, an alternate universe to our own filled with Anne’s unique take on supernatural creatures.  You’ll find shapeshifters, vampires, and prophets in the world of The Others.  The setting for the books is a modern-day society where these Others are more populous than humans – and don’t take kindly to humans trying to encroach on their territory.  Vision in Silver is the third book in the series – I’m currently finishing the first book, Written in Red, to refresh my memory before I read through Vision in Silver.

PrudenceCoverThe next book I’m excited about is Gail Carriger’s Prudence, due to be released on March 17th, 2015 – it’s the first book in the Custard Protocol Series.  Gail’s already written two book series’ in this universe, a steampunk version of our own world set in the late 19th century with a heaping dose of the supernatural.  I’m excited for this series – Gail’s first books, the Parasol Protectorate series, got me incredibly excited about the steampunk genre.  Her writing style is sassy and sometimes over the top, her characters are strong and likable (especially Alexia Tarabotti, Prudence’s mother), and there’s a liberal dose of humor sprinkled throughout her novels.  Plus, the way she writes her vampires and werewolves is refreshing – a different take than most books.  Her vampires are fashionable and almost prissy, and her werewolves are humorously rough around the edges.

With this being the first book in the Custard Protocol series, I’m not entirely sure what to expect.  What familiar characters will we run into during Prudence?  What sorts of ridiculous adventures will we get to read about?  And – the biggest question, for Gail’s fans – will everyone’s favorite vampire, Lord Akeldama, be making an appearance?  With this being a new series, readers who’ve never dipped their toes into the world of Gail Carriger’s novels can jump right in and not be lost, and then read through her other two series (The Parasol Protectorate series and the Finishing School series, a set of young adult novels set in the mid-19th century in the same universe as her other books) if you decide you want more.

Diamond-Conspiracy_finalAnd last, but certainly not least, is the latest entry into the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris – The Diamond Conspiracy, set to release on March 31st, 2015.  The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels are also in the steampunk genre, taking place in the late 19th century as well, and focus on two characters who are just about as different as night and day – Wellington Thornhill Books, the Ministry’s dashing archivist, and Eliza D. Braun, a field agent for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences.  Where Books is quiet and calm, Braun is very in-your-face.  They take very different approaches when it comes to solving problems, and as you might expect, eventually opposites end up attracting… one of the sub-plots from the first book ends up working its way to a more major plot point as Books and Braun end up developing feelings for each other.  The books (of which The Diamond Conspiracy is the fourth) are full of action and adventure, mystery and intrigue, and interwoven with various subplots that help tie the stories all together, with a heaping helping of steampunky goodness thrown on top for good measure.

I’m so excited over having a month of good books to read, some of which I’ve been waiting a while for – and I’m going to share that excitement with you, with The Crafty Nerd’s first ever contest!

The Crafty Nerd’s March Book Madness contest!

The rules for entering are simple: post a comment on this entry with what book you’re excited about that’s coming out soon, and the winner (chosen randomly) will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card!  Pick up the Kindle version of that book you’ve been wanting, or put the gift card towards a hardcover copy of something you’ve been looking forward to reading!  The contest will run until March 20th – so tell me what you’re looking forward to reading soon!

Two years of The Crafty Nerd!

I can’t believe it’s been two whole years since I started The Crafty Nerd!

I believe this calls for a PARTY
I believe this calls for a PARTY

In those two years, I’ve done a lot of awesome stuff…

And there’s a lot more awesome stuff to come, of course!  I’ve got more books to review (three in March alone!), more conventions to attend, more costumes to make, more crafts to blog about, and more games to play.  I hope to do bigger and more awesome things in the coming years, and I hope you’ll all stick with me as we go into our third year!

Distracting myself

This was me last week, ugh.
This was me last week, ugh.

Just in time for the holidays, Ross and I both caught an epic cold.  We both spent the entire week flopped onto flat comfy surfaces in various spots in the house, watched a lot of TV, and slept a lot.  And I did a lot of something that I haven’t done in a very long time.

Yup, The Crafty Nerd finally got her craft on.  And gosh, did I miss it.

Festive ponies!
Festive ponies! (and yes, that is an ironing board on top of a bathroom sink.  Had to get creative since I can’t find the brackets to hang the ironing board on the door…)

First off, I finally finished making Christmas stockings for Ross and I, featuring our favorite ponies.  I’d actually started Ross’ stocking in September, and got the punch embroidery most of the way done, but when I received the original stocking I’d planned to put Fluttershy on in the mail and found out Fluttershy was way too big for it, I set aside the punch embroidery in frustration and forgot about it for a month or so.  On a random trip to Kroger recently, though, I found these giant stockings in the holiday section on sale, and snatched them up – they turned out to be perfect!  I finished Fluttershy, cranked out Twilight Sparkle in a week, and did all the fiddly work this week while I was sick – trimming the extra fabric from the punch embroidery, gluing everything together, cursing at the glitter glue pen when it made a mess of Ross’ name on his stocking, then finding an awesome way to fix the glitter glue goof-up.  I’m really happy with how they turned out.

Cross-stitch, how I missed you...
Cross-stitch, how I missed you…

I also did some counted cross-stitch – and ended up with two really pretty projects!  (Well, almost two, I’m nearly done with Rainbow Dash…)  Sailor Moon came out amazingly, and Rainbow Dash is so vividly colored!  Sailor Moon’s already up in my Etsy store, if anyone’s interested in snatching her up, and Rainbow Dash will be up in a few days, I’m pretty sure.  Ah, the trouble with making so many awesome crafts is that you run out of places to put them.  Hopefully someone else can give my crafts a good home…

I’ve also been working on one last project, but I’m trying to keep it a secret, as it’s a Christmas present for someone – but I promise I’ll show pictures after the holidays!  All this crafting has put me in a better mood, though, that’s for sure – it’s been a very pleasant distraction from a lot of things that’ve been going on.  With the nasty weather today, I’ll probably spend the rest of the night crafting instead of going anywhere.  I had to scrape ice off Scooterlou before I rode home from work today.  Ice.  Off my scooter.  But hey, Rainbow Dash cross-stitch awaits, and then even more projects waiting in the wings (Pinterest is doing a really good job of organizing them for me)… so I don’t care if the sky spits out more ice.  I’ve got crafts to make. 😺

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.

Make your day a little nerdier

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been ridiculously busy lately.  Between work and classes and craft projects, I barely find time to just sit around and indulge in my nerdier (and craftier) side.  However!  I’ve found ways to get around that, and work a little more nerdiness into my day in little ways.  Here’s a random assortment of how I make my day a little nerdier, in no particular order.

Rocking a nerdy lunch box

2014-02-04 08.05.04
Because food is always better when it’s brought along in a companion cube.

I found this beauty on ThinkGeek’s website – I’ve been hunting for a fun lunchbox for ages, and since it’s nearly impossible to find a squishy My Little Pony lunchbox for a reasonable price, I snagged this lovely little Companion Cube lunch box.  It does a fine job of making my otherwise dull and mundane days a little more fun.  Plus, it’s a Companion Cube!

Nerdy socks

frida socks
Gotta love Frida’s unibrow.

Because nothing says awesome more than a pair of fun nerdy socks.  I’m sure most of you already know I have a thing for socks – the more ridiculous, the better.  Like these Frida Kahlo socks.  I love Frida, and I enjoy her artwork – and when I saw these in San Francisco, I had to get them.  I mean, come on.  I have a bachelor’s degree in Art History.  How could I not get artist themed socks?  (I also have a pair of socks with Van Gogh’s Starry Night on them, and yes, I have worn them with my Van Gogh’s Irises skirt)  It’s just another way that I can indulge in some nerdy fun.

Covering my desk in nerdy things

2014-02-03 09.29.36
So many ponies! Among other nerdy things.

I think this picture of my cubicle says it all.  Ponies, Sailor Moon, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Wreck-It Ralph stuff, and even a tiny little Genuine Buddy model on top of my desktop.  Since I pretty much live either at the office or in the library, covering my desk in fun nerdy stuff is one way I can get my nerd on while at work.  (Yes, I have been known to play with the little ponies while trying to get some inspiration for work related things.  Don’t judge.)

Music!

white
I could listen to this album (and the two following it) over and over again.

There’s just some music that puts me in a creative mood, or a nerdy mood, or a combination of both.  I tend to listen to a lot of electroswing while I work – and while I craft, too.  If I remember right, actually, I made my entire steampunk costume while listening to Caravan Palace, one of my most favorite electroswing groups, and I’ve been listening to the White Mink, Black Cotton mixes pretty much exclusively the past few months…

Swapping nerdy office pictures

Ross has way more ponies at his desk than I do...
Ross has way more ponies at his desk than I do…

A good friend of mine, Ross (you might remember him as Rainbow Factory Dash from GenCon), tends to send me pictures of his desk.  Which is covered in ponies.  Which prompts me to send pictures of my desk.  Which prompts more pictures of his desk.  It’s a vicious cycle, this nerdy show-off business.  It keeps things fun, though, that’s for sure. 😀

What kind of stuff do you guys do to make your days a little nerdier?  Share with me!  I must know. 😀

The Digital Humanities Nerd: A Love Letter to XML

Here’s a little blog that might be way too nerdy for most – but I wanted to share it here, because XML makes me happy. 😀

Crossposted from here.

I’ll admit, when I took a look at the title for one of our readings for this week, “A Gentle Introduction to XML”, I scoffed a little. I’ve done work with XML, quite a bit of it. Heck, I’m even teaching two workshops in XML this semester. But knowing how to assemble the code and knowing the history and the specifics behind it are two different things – something I’m realizing after reading through the XML readings for this week.

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Crafty Nerd PSA: Chrome crashing? Pop-ups on Firefox? Blame BetterSurf.

Edit 1/30/14 10:57 am:  It seems like a new influx of people are getting infected with BetterSurf – and the BetterSurf malware may be behaving differently than it did when it landed on my system.  So, for those of you who are stumbling across this page in your efforts to rid your system of BetterSurf, please understand the following:

  • The steps I compiled were from my own experience.  This is how I got rid of BetterSurf – your experience may be different.
  • I do not work in tech support – I just teach people how to use computers.  While I know enough do do system troubleshooting on my own, I am by no means an expert.  I can’t reach out from the depths of the internet and help you get rid of BetterSurf aside from what I’ve posted here.
  • If you want to know more about what BetterSurf does, or the steps below don’t work for you, check out this site.

I’m happy that this post was able to help an incredible amount of people (over a thousand at last count), and I hope it helps more people out as they deal with this unpleasant bit of malware/adware.

Edit 11/15 8:34 am:  I can’t believe how many people I’ve helped out with this!  If any of you who’re stumbling across this post are of the nerdy or crafty persuasion, please visit The Crafty Nerd’s Facebook page, or add my blog to your RSS reader of choice.

Still not quite sure how this virus is being spread around – some rumors have it as coming from YouTube, others remark that it’s hitting web developers pretty hard.  If you hear anything about where it’s coming from, post about it in the comments – I’d appreciate it.

Edit 11/14 6:14 pm: Holy crap I think this is the most visitors my site has ever had in an entire day ever.  I hope this walkthrough’s helping people out – share it with everyone you know!  I’ve added a section on how to remove some of the additional files that BetterSurf may have sneaked into your computer.

I know, I know, I don’t tend to do this sort of thing here, but as this was a sneaky little bit of malware that crawled into my Chrome installation without any sort of fanfare… I figured it might not be a bad idea to share with my readers.  (Plus, I’m all kinds of angry.  I’ve been spyware/malware/virus free since I don’t know when, and having something sneak in undetected… grr.)

I noticed yesterday that Chrome on my desktop and laptop computers had been crashing – while I figured it was just the Hangouts extension crashing the whole works (in the reviews of Hangouts on the Chrome Web Store, it’s notorious for crashing in all sorts of spectacular ways) and it was nothing to be worried about.  Well, this morning, Chrome crashed so spectacularly that I had to go into Task Manager and clear out the stuck Google Crash Handler processes before Chrome would even open up again – and then as it did open, a little pop-up from Chrome appeared saying “Extension BetterSurf was installed, and has been causing problems” or something to that effect, and gave me the options to disable or remove the extension.  (I’ve seen a similar window when the Adobe PDF reader extension was giving me issues.)  Since I’d never seen BetterSurf before in my life, and certainly hadn’t installed any extensions lately, nor visited any remotely questionable sites, and I also have AdBlock running on my computer too, I removed it – and then visited Google Search to see what else was out there about this.

I first found this forum thread on the subject – which was exactly what happened to me.  Chrome crashed, upon reboot the extension was installed.  The extension’s not limited to Chrome users, though.  Firefox users are affected as well, as noted by this post.  The extension seems to pop up windows advertising similar services/products to sites you’re currently visiting – which is never a good thing.  There’s also an analysis overview of BetterSurf over at Malwr.com, for those interested.

So, it might be a good idea for everyone – whether or not you’ve installed any extensions lately – to go take a quick look at what’s installed and get rid of BetterSurf if it’s there.  For Chrome users, just go to the Options menu in the very upper right hand corner (just under the Close button), point to Tools, and then click on Extensions – it’ll bring up the list of all the extensions you have installed.  If you see BetterSurf in there, click the little trash can icon to the far right of BetterSurf’s listing in your extensions – Chrome will confirm that you really want to remove it, so click Remove, and it’s gone.

There it is, lurking in my Firefox extensions.  And I haven't even opened Firefox since the AJAX class I took in July!  Grumpy Jasmine Cat is not pleased.
There it is, lurking in my Firefox extensions. And I haven’t even opened Firefox since the AJAX class I took in July! Grumpy Jasmine Cat is not pleased.

Firefox users – go to the Firefox menu at the top left of your Firefox window, then click on Add-ons – it’ll bring you to the Add-ons Manager.  Click on the Extensions tab, and should you see BetterSurf there, click Disable.  Firefox will require you to restart, so do that, go back to the Extensions tab on the Add-Ons window, and it’ll show you that BetterSurf has been disabled.  There’s not much else you can do from here.

Yep, this sucker just made itself at home...
Yep, this sucker just made itself at home…

This next part is for both Chrome and Firefox users.  The last thing to do is to remove the BetterSurf folder from your Program Files folder on the hard drive – mine showed up in the Program Files (x86) folder.  Drag that sucker to the recycle bin, right-click and then select Delete, either way will get rid of it.  Make sure to empty your Recycle Bin afterwards.  If you go back to Firefox afterwards, you’ll notice it’s not in the list of installed extensions, which is exactly what we wanted!

This next part involves a little bit of digging.  Another post mentioned the following, regarding this stupid BetterSurf crap…

There are several other things it does to your PC, including a TASK it schedules to run called AmiUpdXP, which you can find and delete from c:\windows\tasks\AmiUpdXp.job on windows 7.

 

Other things I have found: A folder is created in your appdata/local called SwvUpdater which is referenced by the Task to run Updater.exe – the frightening part, since it will be able to download and execute any future malware/virus/worm.”

I went and investigated on my own computer – and found the AmiUpdXp.job in Tasks, as well as SwvUpdater in apps/local.  Since I’ve deleted them already (and my computer hasn’t imploded), there are no screenshots for you, but here’s how to take care of the next part.

To ditch the AmiUpXp.job file, you’ll need to go into C:\Windows\Tasks – inside that folder may be a couple of different things, I deleted the AmiUpXp.job file and moved onto the next step.

SwvUpdater is indeed malware, according to ShouldIRemoveIt.com – and you can read more about it and what it does here.  I may have been ridiculous and just deleted the folder for SwvUpdater, but you can actually uninstall it via Windows, too.  Just go to Control Panel, then click on Programs and Features (or Uninstall a Program if you’re in category view).  Scroll down, and look for Software Version Updater.

See it?  This stupid little thing's been hiding in my computer since October, apparently!
See it? This stupid little thing’s been hiding in my computer since October, apparently!

Select Software Version Updater from the list, click the Uninstall button at the top, and there you go.  (To double-check that it’s really gone, for those of you who feel like it, go look in your User/AppData/Local folder and make sure that the SwvUpdater folder is gone.  You’ll have to make Windows show hidden files and folders first.)

Nobody’s quite sure how this little piece of malware snuck its way onto computers- rumor has it that it’s been spreading through YouTube somehow.  Hopefully this’ll help people who’ve been infected with this stupid add-on get rid of it!

This has been a Crafty Nerd PSA – hope this info helps my fellow crafty nerds, and others around the internet!

New side blog: Go Scooterlou!

I’m working on a much more interesting and much larger post – on my recent trip to Chicago, no less, and about music nerdery – but until that’s all ready, I’ve got a tiny little tidbit for those of you who love hearing about my scooter (or who’re just curious about her).  I’ve started up a little Blogger blog, Go Scooterlou!, that focuses on stories about my scooter, pictures of her and other little Honda Metropolitans I encounter, and other scooter-related stuff.

You can find it here!

My Nerdy Workspace

I’ve been pondering posting about this for a long time, and with my home office finally getting cleaned up over the weekend, I figured it might be a good time to show off my nerdy workspace.  (I also sometimes refer to it as the nerdy girl-cave, heheh.)  I will warn you now – my workspace is incredibly cluttered, and ridiculously pony-covered.  Proceed with caution.  🙂

2013-05-12 14.37.11

 

Here’s the view upon heading into my office.  You can already tell it’s quite an eclectic nerd-splosion, from the Princess Peach backpack and change purse hanging on the doorknob to Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash hanging out on the pillows on the bed.

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The Crafty Nerd Plays Video Games: Street Fighter II Turbo

2013-04-20 17.16.49I finally got around to hooking up the Super Nintendo I bought before Christmas.  I know, I know, I should have hooked it up long before, but I’ve been way too busy lately.  I did some living room rearranging this past weekend, though, and figured, why not hook it up while I’m in the process of hooking everything else up?  Once I got it all hooked up, I popped in Street Fighter II – it’s one of my favorite games, and after watching Wreck-It Ralph so many times, I’d been itching to play for quite some time. So, come sit with me on my living room floor as I play Street Fighter!

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