Tumblr: Bow Ties

A daily web log of my bow tie collection, worn successively for the next forty-or-so odd days: Clicky here

On New Toys

So I’m sitting on my bed with a little bit of a sore back and eye strain. Tinkering with tiny toys will cause that to happen to one. The tiny toy in question? The MSI Wind U120.

msi-wind1

Obsessed with the diminutive size and monumental power of Drew and Brianna’s laptops compared to my own (they own a new EEE PC and Acer Aspire One, respectively. My laptop: a five-year-old Toshiba Satellite). Sure, ol’ Euripides and I had been through a lot. He was not only my first computer, he was the last to be named something ridiculous. I went through several total system and hard drive fails–the last occurring at a critical point in the semester, prompting me to purchase my 24” iMac–installed extra ram and even a wireless card when the technology became ubiquitous (at the time of purchase, i didn’t think I would ever need to be “unwired”).

I only had the idea to get a new computer sitting in the back of my head. For the better part of this calendar year actually. I had my toshiba for 5 years now, I knew it would eventually need replacing. Still, it continued to work and did everything I needed it to, so why splurge?

It wasn’t until I started weighing the pros and cons and doing my research that I discovered it would be beneficial:

  • My little sister, Tessa, often bogarts the family computer
  • It is tax season
  • My dad uses Turbo Tax
  • Fighting would ensue
  • I could give Tessa my old computer to prevent said fighting

That was the selfless justification. Selfishly, I’d been reading and watching videos, reading tutorials, and came to learn that iit would be fairly easy to install OS X on one of these netbooks. So I thought to myself, I enjoy tinkering and I enjoy a challenge. As a fun side project, I could try to make this little thing work perfectly. Couple that with excessive hours at work (meaning extra money that could go towards bills–no fun) and you have the formula for a new laptop.

So, after an anal retentive chart, I decided what to buy and came out with a $350 Wind with a 160GB HDD and 1 GB of RAM; this is 4 times the hard disk space my 5 year old laptop contained as well as 4 times as much RAM! For half the price! ZOMG!

I obsessively refreshed UPS.com yesterday whilst at work and rushed home at 5 p.m. to unbox (it arrived at 1:46)

Aside: had to move from my bed to my desk. Sitting typing at that angle was more than uncomfortable. It hurt.


After the exciting unbox, I set about the install. I did most of the grunt work in the week prior, while deciding exactly which computer I wanted and the experts’ opinions on the best way to get OS X on the machine.

Anybody read about this procedure before? There’s stuff all over the internet. At this point in the tutorial, however, they’ll usually say something like this:

Don’t steal. Piracy is wrong. Even though you’re using a modified version of OS X, you should buy a retail copy; support the hard workers and software engineers at Apple, Inc.

So, there, I said it too. And bought it.

oskdisc1

So please don’t hate me!

Like I said, I did all the grunt work in the weeks immediately preceding the procedure. The night prior to the arrival of my babay, I took an hour and a half and installed the iso to my 8GB flash drive so I wouldn’t have to use an external USB DVD drive. Following a video tutorial almost to the letter, my install took just under 20 minutes. I must say, I was quite surprised. I guess that dvd spin speeds still aren’t up to match usb 2.0.

Anywho, I’ve got it up and running now, with minor caveats:

Photobooth doesn’t work.

Does anyone actually use this anymore anyway? It was cool when everyone first started getting macs and had never used a webcam before, but after the first month of having it on my iMac, it got really old. I mean, I’m narcissistic, but not that much.

Sound has a temporary malfunction.

It worked off the bat with a clean install, so I suspect I’ll figure it out eventually; I do enjoy me some trouble shooting. Hell, that’s half the reason I got this machine!

Headphone jack doesn’t work, nor does mic input.

On the other hand, I never used my old laptop for listening to music; that is for which I have 2 iPods, a discman, a home stereo, an iPhone and my iMac. I’ll live.

Size comparison. Nice.

So here he is. I’ve dubbed him Tadhg after an Irish chap I met. Not only does he have the most badass name, but pronounced (with an Irish accent, of course) it sounds like “tyke” which, informally on this side of the pond, is a small child. One only has to look at this photo to see from whence that was derived.

My Web Home

A long time coming, this post should be seen as my way of “celebrating” nicolauswitchger.com. True, not a major overhaul of my wordpress. I could install it natively now, the ease of use is great as is. So, props to the WordPress.com team for making those of us who don’t know CSS comfortable!

In its various iterations, my website has taken MANY turns. This is where I currently am. I realized recently that, in order to have a good, searchable, user-friendly, speedy website, I will probably have to learn XHTML and CSS at the very least. Seeing as how designers are often expected to do web stuff as well, I believe it would be beneficial to my budding career. However, the web, as of late, is something I’ve only looked at, not coded for.

The first (and really last) time I hand coded was back in late Middle School/early High School. I don’t even know if the Web was 1.0 back then. All I had was MS FrontPage (1997?) and Notepad and I preferred Notepad. I took great pride in being able to do by hand what most people needed a WYSIWYG editor to accomplish. And mine looked just as good; bear in mind, this was in the days when websites were TERRIBLE by today’s standards.

I learned coding on my own, by “borrowing” code from websites utilizing the effects I wanted to achieve and modifying said code to suit my desires. I have a feeling this is the way I should try to learn CSS, though there are so many great tutorials out there.

nickorpLater on, when my father was taking Dale Carnegie and web design courses (two separate entities, not Dale + Internet), he’d bring home books on using MS FrontPage. After the “Beatles Imagemap” and the attempt at my “corporate” (nickorp logo featured to the left…yeah)  website, I utilized this for such brilliant sites as “A Tour Of My Room!” Armed with an old Sony Mavica (which saved images to a 3.5″ floppy disk) and FrontPage, this was created. Not brilliant, or even mildly groundberaking, but it kept me entertained and probably helped me to become the troubleshooting whiz I am today (working with Microsoft Software will do that to one). Post 2005, I gave web design a rest for a good ten years or so. Ok, so it was only three, but in WWW years, that is probably about ten, no?

It wasn’t until I graduated from College that the benefits of such knowledge could be an asset. Unfortunately, I was already ten years behind the standard. This, however, escaped my knowledge, and I went ahead with it anyway.

My first attempt at creating a portfolio website was a huge joke.

antislip_stats

I attempted it shortly after taking Dynamic Digital Design at SVSU which was basically a Flash class. Our final project for this class was to create a flash-based website for a start-up company in Saginaw. The goal of the website was strictly informational and meant to get the customer to contact the firm personally so they could give them the pitch in person (or at least over the phone) but they wanted to be “timely” and have a web presence, too. After research into what other anti-slip companies were doing with their sites, I came up with this. I was (and still am) pretty happy with it.

Taking from this experience the idea that flash was the web of the future (hell, Homestar Runner had been doing it successfully for years), I set about making my first personal website in years in Adobe Flash CS3.

Let’s just say, the phrase EPIC FAIL comes to mind almost every time I recall this monstrosity. I don’t know where I got the idea for the layout, but wow. W0W. It wasn’t pretty. And it was SLOW. Flash, man. It can be done well, but I learned from the spiteful rantings of one Gizmodo blog that Flash sites are unsearchable and that is a pain in the ass. SEO or something like that. That, and the fact that even with high-speed internet, a 20MB home page takes quite a while to load.

(Here is a “link” to the home page and portfolio page. I could not find a free web host that allowed 20MB uploads, so I was stuck using MediaFire again. Warning again, they’re unnecessarily large.)

The site was live for a while on the SVSU web server until I delved a bit deeper. Actually, I found the web portfolio (I am reluctant to link to a competitor, to be honest) of a high school classmate who graduated from MSU the same semester the same semester as I and with the same degree to boot. It was simple and nowhere near as flashy (pun intended) as mine. The beauty of its simplicity irked me. So, to stay fresh and competitive, I picked up Dreamweaver again and made this. To be honest, I still don’t hate this. Though I borrowed heavily from my classmate’s idea (with the simple 4 links and horizontal layout), it’s kind of visually appealing to me still. It’s not nearly as informative as it should be, but I suppose it probably would’ve gotten the job done.

I still wasn’t satisfied though. So I set about teaching myself Dreamweaver.

picture-11
CSS Attempt

It wasn’t great, as you can see. I set it up to work ideally on a 1024×768 monitor with complete disregard for (or rather lack of knowledge of) CSS. I used div tags not knowing what they actually did. I essentially tried to set it up as I would have a flash site, but in Dreamweaver.

After cross-platform testing revealed it only looked good on Firefox and SVSU took away my web privileges, I scrapped the idea.

I don’t know where I got the idea for WordPress, likely one of the numerous design blogs in my RSS feed, but here I am. As of now, it does what I need it to do and I am quite happy with the limited amount of flexibility I am given. Maybe some day I will actually learn to hand code again. Perhaps once I do not spend my non-working hours catching up on blogs and being frustrated with myself that I have not made sufficient to look for a real job. Still trying though.

In short: I’ve tried to have a web presence for quite a while. I did a lot of “research” trying to find on- or off-line copies of lots of my old web work, but only found the above. It should be said that since I couldn’t find a lot of it, it was not mentioned. This was intentional, since I could never remember everything I did and in what chronological order. So here, you have my best attempt to collect it. For my posterity and yours.

How to Friend Mom, Dad, and the Boss on Facebook…Safely – ReadWriteWeb

I feel like I had an issue with this a few weeks ago. Nice Piece of advice, though it’s not even new news still.

My favourite quote:

The fact is, everyone has a personal life and it shouldn’t matter who sees it

And you really can’t argue with that logic. If you are out being ridiculous, you could end up running into your boss/mother/priest anyway. Facebook may make it simpler for said people to find out about your revelry, but if you’re reveling in what life has to offer, they can catch you offline too. This is just something we need to accept and get used to.

How to Friend Mom, Dad, and the Boss on Facebook…Safely – ReadWriteWeb.

Look, I still Design occasionally for fun!

I keep getting weird inspiration. I LOVE the design of the cd packaging for Panic at the Disco’s Pretty. Odd. The old style with hand drawn lettering and illustration is very in right now, but it looks really cool, I think. About a year ago, I had the same thought and made a font by tracing some cool characters from some fonts with interesting glyphs.

However, Handoodles v1.0 suffered a few fatal flaws:

  1. It was traced with too thick of a Sharpie
  2. The glyphs were created too small
  3. The font was not interesting enough

For v2.0 I fixed this. I worked LARGE, with 3 or four letters per page. I scanned them in at 600 dpi. Also, each letter was hand drawn, freehand. No tracing. Certainly, I borrowed elements from existing fonts and letterforms. I really just made it for my own enjoyment, but I thought it was so cool I wanted to show it off. So it is offered here, along with a few other fonts I designed last year.

Fancy Handoodles v2.0

Hivelogic – Regarding The Personal Web

“You’ve got to be everywhere to be somewhere” is a rather poignant thought. It might even be a good response to a question I recently was asked on my Facebook wall in regards to the plethora of websites I have linked to (here, TumblrTwitterVIRB). Why do I have so many? Couldn’t they all be consolidated into one. Dan Benjamin seems to think not, and makes the point much better than I could. Especially with my lack 0f blogging background/expertise.

Hivelogic – Regarding The Personal Web.