Archive for the ‘graphics’ Category

Minecraft pixelart explained

I’ve had so many people ask me if these pixelart images I’ve made are “legit” or really made block by block, or what have you. So to save myself from having to type in this explanation yet another time, I’ll put it all down here in one place to set the record straight. Read more


Obsess much?

So for … basically ever, I’ve been playing a simple logic “solitaire” game called Sherlock. Its pretty simple, has only a few rules to understand, and it is in a class of game that I have just basically always had in my life in one form or another. I have read a few studies over the years that indicate that keeping your brain engaged and active can either prevent or delay the onset of some of the cognitive disoders, like Alzheimer’s. Not that I originally considered that in my choice to play these sorts of things, I just liked them. And still do… but it has certainly reinforced my decision to continue playing them. They are a sort of litmus test for whether or not I’m “slipping” mentally, or losing my ability to solve those sorts of problems. There are certainly lots of arguments that I’m not doing a very scientific test. Yes, sure… granted. But that also isn’t my primary goal. Its just a happy side effect.
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New Hotness

So I need to prime the pump of this post with a bit of foreword. It should be noted that I am decidedly NOT a mac fanboi. I’ve used a fair portion of their kit over the years for a variety of purposes, both liesure and work related. From the technical perspective, I have evaluated their products on those basis, and am willing to state the following things about their products and mentality:

  • They have, on a regular basis, been able to innovate decidedly outside of the box
  • Their ecosystem is proprietary and exclusionary, and has allowed them to make gobs of money at the expense of a healthy market (they are definitely NOT the only company guilty of such practices. That doesn’t make the fact any better)
  • iTunes software and store sucks. Sorry, it just does. And it is getting worse as time goes on
  • Their products are incredibly sexy. They take aesthetic design to a level that most companies don’t even know exist, many more simply emulate, and almost noone can rival. Off the charts
  • They have excellent support, in my experience. I’ve not had to make that much use of it over the years, but when I’ve had to, it has not let me down
  • They have managed to create a brand and consumer loyalty index that is also rarely rivaled. Those who have bought in are damn near rabid. In markets where there are so many other options, and in the few cases where an otherwise healthy competitive market exists for the particular product set… that is pretty invaluable, and might have been one of the most important reasons they’ve stayed in business during some of the tougher times
  • They support educational markets. I dig that. Even if it isn’t for purely altruistic reasons, they at least recognize that it pays off in the long run, and have (and continue to) leverage this fact. Well played, sirs … well played
  • I’m not fond of their pricing model. I speculate that part of their strategy is (or at least, was), to play to people’s vanity and price their products as the “premium” model in the markets they participate in. Yes, sure… I can chalk some of that up to needing to recover the costs associated with their high quality of engineering and design, but not that much. Also, it just isn’t true anymore. Yet they still participate in their markets with prices 20% or higher than the nearest equivalent product, and I’m sorry, but those differences in product that were once arguably differential are, quite simply, no longer true

Ok, so now you know my stance on them. I own several of their products, and where I can rationalize the price, I may very well purchase them in the future as well. But at the moment, my general “one liner” about their current product set is “I’m kind of over them”.

Well, that was yesterday. This is today. And holy shit. If I really take a damn hard look at this, and try to noodle out what the real differences are between this product (that I’m about to link) and its competitors … the list is probably reasonably short, but not insignificant. However, maybe its just I’ve got that glossy sexy shiny thing making my eyes all blurry and all, but HOLY SHIT. Apple, I gotta hand it to you… you make some sexy stuff. Without further ado… please feast your eyes:

You’re welcome.


ObjectDock, again

So after not really getting any better feedback about a way to organize desktop clutter from thar Interwebzorz, I went back and took another look at ObjectDock. I still own a license. I believe it had upgraded at least once since I last used it, but not to any significant degree.

For those that aren’t aware of it, imagine the Mac dock, expanded into a “tabbed” interface so that you can create categories of icons. I can make it do the funky glowing, expanding icon thing on it if I want when I mouseover, but honestly, I’d just prefer not. The icon does grow very slightly (maybe 5-10% again above normal size), but I ignore it.

Most icons can just be dragged up into the new bars/tabs, and everything just works. A few things, notably Steam games, don’t work “out of the box”, and you have to manually redo those. The URL wasn’t something it grokked, since they use a funky Steam:URL format, like “steam://rungameid/57900”, for example (that one is Duke Nukem Forever). So I had to redo those by hand, but otherwise it just works. My desktop is once again clutter free. Phew.


Website Optimization

So yeah, on this topic. Here are some of the things I’ve been reading recently on that:

Which led me to several websites detailing how to optimize performance:

And then the online tools to help you identify your site’s problems:

Analysis showed my page lacking in several areas. CSS Sprites and js/css/html minify being the most notable.

Interesting, wot? Maybe y’all have been paying more attention than I have, and you’re all like… yeah? So? Thats old news. yeah? Well? Not to me. So yet another area to do some learning on, which is always a good thing. Blogs have a few things that can be easily optimized, and some that can’t. But (aforementioned static hosting aside <- provide link) I’m going to give it a go on this blog and a few other sites I own or host, and see what I can do about optimizing them. I think I should be able to get their “ratings” for optimization up to an A.

I’ve moved stuff around, and all the primary site images (essentially, the brilliant buttons) are all now actually one image, with the CSS taking care of the positioning. Took awhile to get right, not the least of which time was because PSP crashed on me. More fool me. Please, Corel, just fix the goddamn thing.

I did install plugins for wordpress that help you with the minify and consolidation, remove whitespace, etc. I’m now scoring much better on those testing tools. Pagespeed now has me scoring a 69/100, nearly a 40 point improvement!


Digital photo printing

I recently decided I wanted to try to find a clean way to make some nice prints from pictures I’d taken. Read more



Once again, I’m redesigning the desktop graphics/samurize stuff to fit my new configuration. Read more


Display love

So, with a tiny little bit of financial windfall love coming from ye olde employer, I treated myself to a new monitor.
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So you’re using a cool IM client and you don’t like the stock icon it puts in there for you? I’ve added all the avatars I’ve been accumulating over the years into my gallery. That particular album is located here for your perusal. Read more



And so in accordance with integrating the Gallery thing cleanly, I’ve decided to drop theme switching and just come up with the theme I like the best and leave it there. I still like the dark color scheme I originally had in the ‘Dark Fire’ theme, and then the layout elements/fonts from Stucco. So this is a mix of the two. Hopefully, I won’t get bored of this and change it every 2 months. We’ll see.


wp / gallery2 integration

Something that has been fairly elusive so far is a clean way to integrate WP and Gallery together. With Gallery2, this was apparently made a whole lot easier. Read more


Admin interface

And if any of you using WP are sick of how plain the admin interface is, just go here. Oh heavens, what an improvement.

Thanks Dar.

Note: default permissions in the zipfile are whacked (or were for me). chmod -R 644 * in the directory it unzips into, and its all good.


Once again I churn

I go through this about every six months or so. I’m a slave to my machine and its interface. I want things to look good, and be functional, and have all the information I want readily at my disposal. So there are a few tools I use for this adventure. Read more


A couple more…

I added a couple more themes. So here they are, in no particular order:



I’ve added a bunch more themes after browsing the most recent Alex King WP Themes competition. Good stuff over there. The ones I selected were:

There were several others that I would have liked to put up, but I encountered difficulties when converting theme to my style. They were:

Dig it.

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