terriko: (Default)
2014-03-29 12:33

Sparkfun's Arduino Day Sale: looking for inspriation!


Arduino Day 2014


Sparkfun has a bunch of Arduinos on crazy sale today, and they're allowing backorders. It's a one day sale, ending just before midnight US mountain time, so you've still got time to buy your own! Those $3 minis are amazing.

I wound up buying the maximum amount I could, since I figure if I don't use them myself, they'll make nice presents. I have plans for two of the mini ones already, as part of one of my rainy day projects that's only a little past drawing board and into "let's practice arduino coding and reading sensor data" stage. But the rest are waiting for new plans!

I feel a teensy bit guilty about buying so many arduinos when I haven't even found a good use for the Raspberry Pi I got at PyCon last year. I did buy it a pretty rainbow case and a cable, but my original plan to use it as the brains for a homemade cnc machine got scuttled when John went and bought a nice handybot cnc router.

disassembled pibow case
A pretty picture of the pibow rainbow raspberry pi case from this most excellent post about it. They're on sale today too if you order through pimoroni

I've got a few arty projects with light that might be fun, but I kind of wanted to do something a bit more useful with it. Besides, I've got some arty blinky-light etextile projects that are going to happen first and by the time I'm done those I think I'll want something different.

And then there's the Galileo, which obviously is a big deal at work right now. One of the unexpected perks of my job is the maker community -- I've been hearing all about the cool things people have tried with their dev boards and seeing cool projects, and for a while we even had a biweekly meet-up going to chat with some of the local Hillsboro makers. I joined too late to get a chance at a board from the internal program, but I'll likely be picking one up up on my own dime once I've figured out how I'm going to use it! (John already has one and the case he made for it came off the 3d printer this morning and I'm jealous!)

So... I'm looking for inspiration: what's the neatest arduino/raspberry pi/galileo/etc. project you've seen lately?
terriko: (Default)
2014-03-11 00:59

Birchbox Beauty Box February 2014

This box was oscars-themed, I guess. Not really my thing, but better than valentine's, and probably more appropriate for birchbox than olympics, I guess.

Birchbox Beauty Box February 2014

I was mostly just irked because that juicy couture stinky sample really messes up the colour scheme. ;)

Actually, if I had to describe this box in one word, that word would be stinky.

Let's start with the perfume:

Juicy Couture Couture La La Malibu - 2.5 oz



The outer package:
Juicy Couture Malibu Eau de Toilette Spray

And the inside:
Juicy Couture Malibu Eau de Toilette Spray

Does pink sugar actually smell different from other sugar? I'm not sure I can tell, since this also claims to smell like mandarins and that seems more like wishful thinking than truth to me. I find the resulting scent strangely generic, like that lingering smell of all the combined perfumes in a shopping mall. It smells a bit familiar, but not really in a good way, more in that "I think I smelled a candle like this once, in the dollar store" kind of way.

To me, this smell immediately evoked the image of a teen girl you get stuck next to on the bus on a hot day, where you spent the whole trip wishing she had a better idea of how much perfume is appropriate or at least had better taste in scents. Combine this with the marketing, and I feel like this is a scent for people who wish they were self-centered so-cal teens. I gather perfumes are more based on image and brand than actual scent, and I'm disturbed that "horribly entitled so-cal teen brat with dubious taste" was ever considered a marketing win. I want to say something vaguely positive like "maybe ok if you're trying for something youthful..." but let's be honest: I hate it.

And, on top of that, a light spritz on one wrist was enough to make my eyes slightly itchy for hours afterwards, whereupon I finally gave up and scrubbed it off as best I could. Definitely not for me, and bad enough for me that I hope it's not for *anyone*.

I'm not sure what to do with the rest of the sample -- if anyone wants it, let me know, otherwise I might dump it down the drain to do something more fun with the teensy glass spritzer bottle.

That disappointment aside, let's move on.


In fact, let's evolve through me putting on a bunch of face goop, because I took these pictures so I could compare as I went, and I might as well use them for more than one purpose.

First, the bare-faced selfie, me with no makeup whatsoever:
Me, No makeup whatsover

In case anyone's wondering, the curling of my normally straight hair is a side-effect of the way I've been coiling it up out of my way while it's wet. There's actually nothing in my hair except maybe some lingering leave-in conditioner from my shower ages before.

Also, see that camisole? Totally bought from PACT, in the same style as the cami I liked so much from my Wantable box. This subscription thing is working!

I have just picked up the smashbox try-it kit thanks to my birchbox points and a nice 20% coupon they gave me for sticking with it for 6 months.

Some underwhelming packaging:
Smashbox Try It Kit
And products inside:
Smashbox Try It Kit

So first step was primer and BB cream plus a little bit of colour corrector:
Me with primer and bb cream on

This was also my first time trying the Beautyblender sponge, also bought from Birchbox thanks to points and coupon. This is an expensive, hot pink sponge applicator that is supposedly God's gift to makeup, and I decided I wanted to try it. I think I didn't quite pat enough water out of it, so my makeup is a bit thinner than it might have been. Probably just as well, it's not like I really needed it today.

So let's look at product #2 now:

ElevenSkin Perfection Eye Creme + Concealer



Perfection Eye creme + Concealer by Eleven Skin

Can you tell I had fun photographing it?

Here it is on my face:
Now adding the eye concealer...

It's a bit hard to tell from the bad lighting, but it has a distinct but not-too-obvious effect. It came in a tube with one of those diagonal-with-a-hole applicators that I see mostly in lip balms, but since I was trying the beautyblender makeup sponge already, I used the sponge to apply it. It may have been a mistake, as I think I would have benefited from a slightly thicker application than I managed.

I like this concealer/lotion a lot, since I was having problems with my existing concealer (it went on fine, but by the end of the day it would often highlight or deepen the lines around my eyes). It seems a little wimpy as a concealer, but subtle is sometimes the order of the day for my work makeup and the smooth application and nicer all-day wear has me convinced.

That said, I haven't tried a lot of different concealers yet, so my enthusiasm might be just due to having used an incredibly bad product in the past.

I'm not sure yet if I'll buy more, because I think I'd like to test a few more before making a decision. This isn't likely to be the sort of category where I bother with more than one product long-term, and since I usually leave my eyes bare, it may take me a while to use the sample. But as of right now, this is the top of the list.

Continuing with the makeup, here's the next layer, where I added blush/lip stain and finishing powder:
Closeup on the blush and finishing powder

This is using the benetint (from my previous birchbox) as both a cheek and lip stain. And then patting my new smashbox finishing powder over it on my cheeks because it was too much. The finishing powder container is my new favourite thing, because it has little holes and then you turn it and a small amount of product comes out, allowing you to get just a bit of loose powder. I'm sure this is a totally common way to do it, but since I know jack-all about makeup, I'd never seen one before.

It's the weekend and I just bought a wet and wild eyeshadow palette that reminds me of Twilight Sparkle, and my next stop is the library, so for my own amusement I thought I'd try some eyeshadow:

Eyeshadow.  I'll go with "subtle" rather than "ineffective"

I think the eyeshadow is rather too subtle, just a hint of pink-to-purple across my eyelids, but I wasn't in the mood for eyeshadow heroics.

And that brings us to product # 3 in this review:

Beauty Protector Protect & Oil


Beauty Protector hair oil

Before we talk about the actual product, let me say that (once again) I feel like the graphic design of this product sample was not very well thought out. The clear vial of hair oil has a logo on one side and printing on the other, meaning (as you can see from the photograph) that even when I did my best to carefully position it (and even provide a strong distracting background element), it looks kind of messy. They really missed the boat here, as I think the little sample vial could have been really elegant if they'd put some thought into it. They could have removed the back printing (which really doesn't say anything useful; I got the application instructions off the birchbox card) or reduced the number of words and put it below the logo, or maybe they could have done a two-colour printing to increase legibility.

Here it is applied in my hair, a few drops into the ends while it was dry:
Now with hair oil!

In case you forgot, here's what that original bare faced picture looked like so you can compare it as a before image:
Me, No makeup whatsover

Aside from the lips, I'm not sure you see much difference for all that work, but I'm now coated in sunscreen, which is really the only part of my "makeup routine" that I consider important.

I don't think the effects of the hair oil are particularly visible on first application (although perhaps after I've been using it a week I'll feel like it's had an impact), but it's still very noticeable in person because you can *really* smell it. It smells quite strongly like all the other beauty protector things, so now I most definitely have an odor. While I generally like the scent they use, I found the hair oil a bit more stinky (err, strongly scented) than most of their products.

As a result, I feel like this is really more of a hair perfume than a hair oil (and that any oil effects may be secondary to their aim of getting their scent in your hair), so if you like the beauty protector smell and want to have it floating around your face, this might appeal to you. For me? I think the scent is too strong, and while I'll use up the sample because my ends are looking a bit frizzy from winter, I'm not even slightly tempted to buy more. Admittedly, that might be because I accidentally bought two bottles of their detangler due to not paying attention when I placed by birchbox order, so I'm currently feeling like I may OD on beauty protector scent.



So let's move on to the last two products...

Juara Candlenut Body Creme


Candlenut body creme

First, a packaging note: this was a really annoying sample to open. Although the top is perforated, it ripped off without leaving enough hole to get any product out, and I wound up having to find scissors. Even once it was open, the harder foil-lined cardboard was not a great feeling for squishing it out. It reminds me of a lube sample of the kind that kills the mood due to annoying packaging. On the bottom of the sample is says "Xela Pack &trademark;" so this is apparently a package used by others.

As a body lotion, this seems pretty decent. It's a bit thicker but not overly greasy, and did a nice but not mind-blowing job on my rough, winter-dry elbows.

However, this is so strongly scented that I'd feel uncomfortable wearing it in public, let alone in places like concert venues, public spaces, and workplaces that discourage use of heavy scents. Just a small dab on my elbows was enough to make me feel like I'd overdone it on the scent. So this isn't really viable for me as a regular use thing, and I don't love the scent enough to use it on my "days off" either. It would have to have some crazy exceptional results if I were going to use it at all, and it really doesn't. Not for me!

Also, while it doesn't make my eyes itch the way the Juicy Couture perfume stinkbomb did, it's smelly enough that it made me anxious to be wearing it, wondering how long before I started having some sort of reaction. As is, it makes my nose feel a bit raw, but probably just due to the volume of scent rather than the specific elements of it.


AYRES Bar Soap


Ayres bar soap in Patagonia

This smells like something my grandmother might like. I don't mean that in a derogatory way -- she's a woman of distinct taste and much better fashion sense than I -- but she and I don't love the same scents.

The jasmine & lavender give this a slightly floral bouquet, but the fir (and possibly the ylang ylang?) gives it a slighly more husky scent that makes it kind of interesting.

But mostly, it just smells too strongly for me. I haven't really used this yet because after the array of other products, I couldn't stand any more stupid scents so I'm detoxing a bit before I try it out.


Here's one last picture to show you the size of all the samples in context:
Birchbox Beauty Box February 2014

These are all pretty small samples, which would bother me a lot more if I didn't dislike most of them anyhow.

In summary: The eye concealer is the only one of these products I'm excited about, as it replaces an eye concealer that wasn't working for me. Everything else... pretty much stank too much, even the one where I like the scent they use, and most of them I did not like.

I'm pretty disappointed with this box, because I feel like there's a clear "I dislike stronger scents" theme to all the problems I had with this one, and thus it's the sort of thing that maybe could have been captured if they'd ever asked my preferences. (Sending me perfumes was a waste of time, as I not only won't wear them but socially can't.)

Obviously, I knew the risks when I signed up and one bad box isn't going to make me cancel given that I'm usually pretty happy with the subscription, but it's still sad.

That said, I once again had a lot of fun photographing this box, so at least I feel like I had some fun with it!
terriko: (Default)
2014-03-08 11:51

Birchbox Beauty Box January 2014

For the new year, Birchbox went with an inspirational theme to their add-ins, if not so much for the products themselves.

Hello 2014

Inside is a book of inspirational cards.

Quite often, I find this sort of inspirational stuff a little vapid, and given that I regularly question the intelligence of the folk who write the copy about the products I've received, I wouldn't have been too surprised if I hated the series of inspirational cards they produced. But I don't. In fact, they've paired some cute typography with some of those "get yourself out of a rut" type tips that aren't entirely awful if you're just needing a little kick. I like these enough that I may hit up the dollar store for some cheap frames and put some of the cards out on display.

Here's the happy one, front:
happy happy happy happy

And back:
5 ways to get happier

(Sorry about my overzealously narrow depth of field there, but you can probably read some of it.)


So, let's talk products!

Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk



Klorane dry shampoo

I was quite curious to try this, as I'd heard about dry shampoos ages ago thanks to women's mags, but since I never actually bought any of the products advertised within, I'd never tried it. It's basically talcum powder you put in your hair to absorb oils so you can go a day without washing it. Birchbox put up a gif tutorial for using dry shampoo that is fairly amusing because their model has great expressions. My only complaint is "second-day = dirty" (and thus needing a product) implication seems like edging into unnecessary products based on shame marketing for a lot of adult women. My long hair, for example, does better with a day between washings lest the ends get totally dried out.

The first time I tried this product, I had terrible sneezing fits all morning and wondered if it was related. I didn't have as much trouble the second time, though. Here's some pictures:

Before:
Dry Shampoo Before
After:
Dry Shampoo After

As you can see, it's not a huge difference, possibly because I was hesitant to use too much lest I have sneezing fits at work. But it does get rid of enough unwanted shine up top that I could go to work without feeling like an unwashed teenager.

There are two problems for me here:
1. This leaves product in your hair. As someone who rarely puts more than a miniscule dab of leave-in conditioner in, I find this makes me feel like my hair is really dirty, even if it looks cleaner.
2. Also, while it does absorb oil, it also clumps up all those dead skin cells coming off your scalp. This makes me just a little itchy. And also makes me feel gross.

As a result, I was desperate to wash my hair when I got home both times I used this product. I suspect those both might be general issues with dry shampoo and not bugs in this particular formula, so it's possible that dry shampoo is just not for me. I'll probably use the rest of this, because even though I don't love it, sometimes you're just in a hurry. Here's an "appropriate" card:

20140210-IMG_1029.jpg

End result: This totally helps me run out the door looking less greasy in a pinch. However, it's not even slightly as good as having remembered to wash my darned hair the night before.


Whish Three Whishes Body Butter



Whish body butter in pomegranate

This claims to smell like pomegranate, but makes me think I smell kind of like a toddler has drooled red lollipop onto me somewhere. It's reasonably effective as a moisturizer I guess, but it smells like really cheap awful candy that's partially digested. It's $0.16/ml, which maybe doesn't sound so bad, but for $0.03/ml I could just use lubriderm and be moisturized and *not* smell like I might attract ants at any moment. (For those who prefer US fl oz: Whish is $4.73/oz to Lubriderm's $0.82/oz)

I'm probably over-stating it: the smell isn't *that* bad and sometimes it's fun to smell like candy. Just, maybe not candy that was abused by a 2 year old and smeared all over your pant leg with sticky fingers. What I'm getting at is it's really not the sort of scent that would inspire me personally to spend 5x as much on an otherwise equivalent product.


ORIGINS Smarty Plants™ CC SPF 20 Skin Complexion Corrector



ORIGINS Smarty Plants™ CC SPF 20 Skin Complexion Corrector

The card reads as follows
Smarty Plants CC
SPF 20 Skin complexion corrector

Instantly: Color corrects and visibly perfects so you look radiant and flawless.
On demand: Antioxidant infused formula helps neutralize skin damaging effects of city smog and pollution.
Over time: helps recycle environmental stressors into vial hydration so you keep your youthful good looks longer.



WTH does recycling environmental stressors into hydration even mean? I'm pretty sure they just told me this thing will make acid rain, fog, and also random pollutants stick to my face Or possibly that it will keep my sweat in if I stress out. Gross.

Discard the product nonsense. Here are the things you actually need to know about Smarty Plants:

1. This product smells like plants. Maybe sort of like a freshly-picked something-from-the-mint-family? I like it, since I like plant-y smells. But I was surprised about the smell since every other product I've tried in this category seems to avoid having much scent at all. (And I approve of the trend of having unscented stuff on your face!)

2. It is very sheer. So sheer that I have serious doubts about its ability to provide the stated 20 SPF in a normal application. But if you want to tone down a bit of redness without, say, covering up your freckles, that's handy. (S -- you might want to try it?)

I have no idea if the sheerness a feature of CC creams since no one seems to know if there's any difference between them and BB creams, really.

3. The people who write their product descriptions were smoking behind the bleachers instead of going to science class.

Anyhow as far as the product goes, it's nice, light, and smells like plants. I generally approve of this, but I'm not entirely sure it fits a very solid beauty niche. It is nice if you don't want to look like you've got foundation on. Here's a photo of me wearing it:

Smarty Plants CC on the human face



Their marketing, however... the best I can say is that the product detaches from the card of stupid that came with it:

ORIGINS Smarty Plants™ CC SPF 20 Skin Complexion Corrector

Although actually, they used some serious glue on that sucker, so it's not *easy* to detach.

And now, for the most inappropriate of the inspirational cards:
20140210-IMG_1028.jpg


Benefit Benetint



The benefit sample had much better packaging:
Benefit Benetint sample box

And then, inside, it tells you how to use the product:
Benefit Benetint sample box: put this product on your face

This can be summarized as "put this product on your face and smear it around artistically" but they make me feel like I have a nice internationalized Ikea makeup package. In a nice way.

For context, this sample is really tiny:
Benefit Benetint size comparison

But given that you use a couple of drops, it's still a decent amount to use.

Benetint is a product I actually had already gone out of my way to try, since I'd been curious as to what other subtle lip stains were available after I tried Staniac in my first box.

Benetint is a teensy vial of coloured, rose-scented water. I wasn't really expecting it to be outright liquid. I find it fairly nice if I want a subtle cheek colour, because it's easy to blend in with my BB cream, doesn't dry super fast, and is not too darkly pigmented so it's hard to be heavy handed. On the other hand, sometimes I'm pretty sure I'm getting more colour from the friction on my cheeks than I am on the product.

Although the instructions suggest that you should dab it on your lips, doing so resulted in it dripping into my mouth sometimes. Gross. Instead, spread it along your lips and get a nice subtle colour change. Definitely nice if you want to hide the fact that you're wearing any makeup at all, as the water doesn't leave any of the tell-tale signs a cream lipstick would. That said, it also doesn't hydrate or protect your lips.

I like it, but I don't know that it excites me enough to go out of my to get more. However, it does come in some reasonably fun box sets, so I expect I'll wind up with more eventually. I got it with a Benefit set called "sugarbomb" which maybe sometime I'll review for you if I'm ever actually caught up on my subscription stuff.

Ahmad Teas Assorted Teas



Ahmad Tea samples

I think that these were better than the average bagged tea. The scents were really lovely, but there was a faint but noticeable bitter aftertaste that just didn't appeal to me. However, I'm particularly sensitive to bitter (as in, I'm one of those people with bonus taste buds), so it's likely that these will be perfectly lovely to someone without my sensitivities. (This isn't self-diagnosed; I took the test in high school biology. It was terribly disgusting.)

That said, rather than buying this tea, do yourself a favour and head over to Captea and get some nice loose leaf instead. (If you're near Denver, go visit the shop! The baked goods are amazing, the place is very down to earth, and the tea is absolutely lovely.)

Ahmad Tea retails at 20 teabags for $3.50. Each teabag, according to my scale, is around 2g, so that's 40g or 1.4oz of tea, or $2.5/oz. My favourite Masala Chai from Captea is $5.25/2oz or a very comparable $2.62/oz.

Since I have a pretty comprehensive tea stash and a friend in Denver who's apt to bring more when he visits, I won't be buying any more of this, but I am totally happy to have gotten this in my box, because I like trying new tea, and it really did smell nice.

Before we end this, I've saved my favourite card for last:
20140210-IMG_1030.jpg

In summary, I enjoyed trying all these products, and was particularly glad to have finally given dry shampoo a shot even though it turns out it's not a thing I love. (But now I know, without having invested in a full-sized bottle!) I don't think any of these are things I'll be rushing out to buy, but since most of my goal in trying out a makeup box is to try new things, I feel like I got my $10 worth of entertainment out of this one.

On top of the actual time spent trying the products, I'm enjoying the time I spend doing product photography for these reviews. It's really forcing me to think about lighting in different ways, as well as getting to experiment with some new tools and new backdrops. And that actually is awesome.
terriko: (Default)
2014-03-01 22:39

Google Summer of Code: What do I do next?

Python's in as a mentoring organization again this year, and I'm running the show again this year. Exciting and exhausting!

In an attempt to cut down on the student questions that go directly to me, I made a flow chart of "what to do next" :

gsoc

(there's also a more accessible version posted at the bottom of our ideas page)

I am amused to tell you all that it's already cut down significantly on the amount of "what do I do next?" emails I've gotten as an org admin compared to this time last year. I'm not sure if it's because it's more eye-catching or better placed or what makes it more effective, since those instructions could be found in the section for students before. We'll see its magical powers hold once the student application period opens, though!
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-24 00:55

Wantable Intimates Box, January 2014

This is my favourite wantable box so far!

Let's start with the boring and work our way up:

Wantable Socks - Color: Black



Wantable Socks
Wantable, your system isn't so good with colour, is it? Pretty sure that's not black.

These are a cheaped out part of the box, for me. I could buy these at the drug store for probably $3.99 or less, so the claimed $6 by stamping a wantable brand on the tag is pushing it.

That said, they're kind of cute neon socks. I'm not a huge fan of short socks since I've moved out of the desert and have discovered that short socks often result in damp ankles, and I hate damp ankles, but I'll enjoy these when I'm not leaving the house, anyhow.

Hiding the more intimate parts for those who might not want panties showing up on their feeds... )

PACT Navy Bandana Camisole



PACT camisole

I love love love this piece. It fits me perfectly, has a bit of runching in the front so it sits properly on my boobs, goes down to my hips, it's soft, and it even claims that profits of the sale went towards urban garden projects. How cool is that?

My only complaint is their flavour text about the organic cotton, which I'm too lazy to look up right now but it included something like "it's certified organic, which means no harsh pesticides" FAIL. Certified organic means a restricted set of organic pesticides, not no pesticides, and many of those organic pesticides are plenty harsh and dangerous.

20140210-IMG_0937.jpg

Mis-information aside, PACT seems like a pretty cool company. They're a bit hippy-dippy, but they claim to be sweatshop-free and their prices are reasonable, so I'm willing to give them a bunch of money. The hard part is in deciding what I want and how many tank tops I can justify buying at once...

Claimed value: $28 (Actual value: Originally $30 on PACT's website, but currently marked down to $12)

Summary


Lots of winners in this box, and only one pair of panties that was annoying. I discovered a new brand which I like, even if they don't understand what certified organic means. I am pleased!

... which is just as well, because February's box is so underwhelming that I may return it entirely. Stay tuned for pictures!
terriko: I am a serious academic (Twlight Sparkle looking confused) (Serious Academic)
2014-02-17 22:30
Entry tags:

Book review: Cress

Cress (Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
Cress (Lunar Chronicles)
by Marissa Meyer

This is book 3 of the Lunar Chronicles, which started with Cinder and continued with Scarlet.

This is a sci-fi series with characters inspired from fairy tales. Some of the big moments are there, and the motivations (Scarlet, for example, is looking for her missing grandmother), but for the most part the characters are their own. If you like princesses who also fix androids and get covered in grease, this is a series you should be reading.

Cress is a Rapunzel who's trapped in a communications satellite being forced to hack spaceships and newsfeeds as a spy for the evil queen. I was horribly disappointed, given her repeatedly demonstrated computer skills, that unlike the other girls, she had to be the one who's sitting around dreaming of a dashing hero to rescue her from her "tower" in space. But in many ways, having her start there is giving Cress (and even the man she casts as her hero, much to his disbelief) a fair bit of room to grow. I quickly got so caught up in the adventure story that it didn't seem to matter so much that I thought she was a bit too traditional a princess.

It's hard to tell you much about the book without spoilers, but there's adventure and politics and daring rescues (more than one!) and spaceships and hacking and opera. (There's also violence, mind control, and torture. The latter is definitely not described in great detail, but it's definitely worth warning about.) If you liked the Vorkosigan series but wanted it to be mostly about women and less about women-that-Miles-totally-has-a-crush-on, this might tickle your fancy. If you like fairy tale retellings and also space ships, ditto. If you're looking for a book for your kids that isn't too heavy handed about feminism and social justice but it's still there *and* with romantic subplots, this is not the best in the series, but it's still there.

I continue to love the series, and despite my initial misgivings about Cress, I found myself caring about her along with the motley crew that's being assembled here. I am eagerly awaiting the next book!
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-17 20:24
Entry tags:

Audiobook Review: A Wounded Name

This is a review of an audiobook I got free-in-exchange-for-review from Librarything. Flipping through reviews, it seems I'm of the minority opinion in that I thought this was brilliant despite being hard to read/listen through:


A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison
A Wounded Name
by Dot Hutchison

When I heard about this retelling of Hamlet set in a semi-modern private high school and told from the point of view of Ophelia, I was worried that it would be like the dubious graphic novel retellings I've seen of other classic literature.

This, however, is different. It's more like a fairy tale retelling, haunting and odd, where the fairies are as terrifying as they are magical. It's a picture of madness and depression told with a modern psychology eye but in almost classical prose.

I though the audiobook narrator did an excellent job of rendering Ophelia, mad and sane at once, filled with the passions of a teenager who you know is never going to see the end of the story.

It's a beautiful rendering of the classical tale from another perspective, shining light into different smaller tragedies within the whole. It's not an easy thing to read, watching the characters spiral into oblivion, but it's definitely a unique take on the tragedy.

Note: this book is likely very triggering for depression, self-harm, suicide -- some of it is as one might expect from the source, some goes beyond.

Edit: Those local to me, feel free to ask to borrow this!
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-17 19:42
Entry tags:

Book Review: Mara

I've been reading a lot of stuff that didn't grab me quite enough to recommend or not-recommend, but my sister's careful reviews of the novels she reads has made me feel guilty about my lazy evaluation strategy. ;)

So, here's a graphic novel I finished yesterday:

Mara TP by Brian Wood
Mara TP
by Brian Wood, Ming Doyle (Illustrator)

A quick flip through the book told me that it was dystopian sci-fi volleyball, and that was enough reason to take it home from the library. I recognized Brian Wood's name, because I've liked him on some things, but not so much on others.

The story starts by grounding title character Mara into a world of expensively-sponsored high-stakes sports in a world that drafts children for sports and war, but Mara herself seems to care more about her brother and her friend and teammate than she cares about the politics of sponsorship. I guess it's because of this solid grounding that I found the second half of the book was a bit too emotionally adrift. It's a great concept, and I can see the bones of a story in there that I would have loved, but it didn't quite come together for me.

Would I recommend it despite the ending? Yes. But I still mourn for the story it maybe could have been.
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-16 22:48
Entry tags:

Photogenic Mailbox in Snow

The snow is gone at this point (now it's all "risk of flooding" and "high winds" out here), but I thought I'd share a photo from last weekend:

Photogenic Mailbox in snow

This mailbox has a little spotlight above it (presumably so people don't drive into it or so that the mail carrier can find it), which always amuses me. I personally refer to it as "photogenic mailbox" because of the spotlight. Photogenic mailbox is apparently also photogenic in the snow, not just the dark.

I imagine I'll use photogenic mailbox in a presentation about GNU Mailman, someday!

Note: you can actually see the spotlight, or evidence of it, if you look at the photo carefully. I should have photoshopped that out, but it turns out photoshop was installed on the hard drive that died, so I haven't sorted that out and gotten it re-installed yet.
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-09 19:27
Entry tags:

Wondering about the review brain-dump?

We're snowed in.

It's awesome. :)
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-09 13:43

Birchbox December 2013 Beauty Box

Birchbox really went out of their way to make the December box thematic:

Birchbox December 2013

And then you opened the outer layer....

Birchbox December 2013


As you can tell, I have a terribly feminine aesthetic, with the rose petal and the utility knife. The latter is holding the box open for the purpose of showing the inside. I'd intended to cut it out but once I started taking photos I figured I should just go all out. :)

Inside the box:

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle



Beauty Protector Leave-in conditioner
(Sewing machine spindle for scale)

After trying a similar product in a previous box, I wasn't too excited to see this.

However, it turns out to be a really lovely leave-in conditioner. I would even say it's a slightly better detangler/conditioner than my existing brand.

Incidentally, it smells pretty much the same as the other products in the line, which is sort of plant-fresh. I like it, but I'm not sure I'd go so far as to suggest that this stuff is an effective perfume.

The one thing I don't like about it is the packaging. The logo looks great and is legible in red-on-white, but I find it looks unappealing, cheaper, and is hard to read on the red plastic. Here's the comparison:

Beauty Protector packaging: I don't love the black on red effect.

Price check: My existing brand is Herbal Essences split end protector something something, which I remember paying around $6.99 for 6oz ($1.16/oz) and currently retails on Amazon for either $1.65/oz or $1.46/oz depending on how much you buy. Anyhow, Beauty Protector retails for $21.95 for 8 oz, which is $2.74/oz. Probably around double the price, maybe even more since you can get the drugstore brand on sale.

That's a pretty big difference for a fairly minor upgrade, but given that this will probably last me years and save me a little bit of detangling time every time I use it, it might be worth it to me. Definitely within the "acceptable personal splurge" range, especially since I can use birchbox points to get it.

PS - I presume that this is vegan like their other products, but I didn't actually see that mentioned.

The Honest Company Winter Wellness Exclusive Kit



Honest healing balm

When I heard that this was made by some actress who, upon spawning, felt a need to protect her children from evil chemicals or something I was frankly pretty skeptical. But despite the whole company inception story, I actually like the product!

This is a slightly thick moisturizer. How thick? Let me show you!

Honest healing balm

Not close enough?

Honest healing balm

Okay, maybe we're getting gross here.

It's not as thick as the more intense glycerine creams, but it's definitely leaving a residue all over your hands. I don't mind this as long as the product is effective, and it totally is.

It's got a scent that reminds me of the weird herbal medicines my German neighbour was always recommending (many of which worked; he was actually a pretty skilled herbalist), so I actually like it. It strangely reminds me of juniper, which is not on the ingredients list. The scent also not too strong to use around other people, and the packaging is cute, so it will probably be my new work moisturizer this winter. Woo!

It's basically a bunch of plant oils and beeswax. That doesn't mean it's safe, of course, but none of the plants in the ingredients list set off warnings in my brain at least, and they weren't making any outrageous claims on the package I received. Even their website seems to make fairly reasonable claims about it, which is basically "this is a moisturizer that moisturizes." Incidentally, birchbox did not tout the diaper rash prevention properties. ;)

How expensive is it? It retails from the company for $12.95/3 oz ($4.32/oz). For comparison, our giant bottle of moisturizer runs around $0.73/oz according to Amazon, but that's probably not too fair because this is a much thicker moisturizer of a different stripe. My favourite thick hand creme is O'Keeffe's Working Hands Cream (or as I call it "manly hand creme" since it's so clearly marketed at men), which retails for $2.42/oz on Amazon and less in home depot the last time I checked. Either way, Honest Healing Balm is expensive compared to my existing alternatives.

Manly, manly hand cream:


However, Honest Healing Balm is a little less thick, making it more reasonable to use at work or when I'm planning to touch things fairly shortly after applying it, so it may hit a useful sweet spot of "effective when my skin is actually damaged but not inconvenient to use." I would consider picking up more, although realistically birchbox seems to be meeting my "small tubes of moisturizer" needs pretty well.

Also, this is organic if that matters to you. And it will totally help with your diaper rash, or so I'm told.

LA FRESH® Travel Lite® Makeup Remover Wipes



20140210-IMG_0942.jpg

I haven't actually tried these, because I'm saving them for travel purposes as they are in nice little packages.

That said, I'm going to mention there that baby wipes are generally much cheaper per wipe than makeup wipes, probably much better tested/safer, plus it's easier to find in unscented varieties. Of course, a washcloth is probably better (and more exfoliating!) but there are times I don't want to have all my washcloths stained with weird lip products.

twistband™ Speciality Pack



Twistband's niche seems to be in making hair elastics don't share any of my priorities for hair ties:

My biggest concerns in hair elastics are as follows:
1. Does is stretch enough to go around my hair?
2. Does it hold my hair up for hours?
3. Does it get stuck when I try to take it out / does it pull my hair out?
4. Does it last for more than a few uses?
5. Is it cheap enough that I won't be sad when I inevitably lose it?

Twistband's big selling points seem to be:
1. This won't dent your hair.
2. It's pretty enough to wear around your wrist!

I suspect that this whole hair dent thing is a conspiracy to make people self conscious about stupid things so they will buy more stuff (see: shame marketing), but I suppose maybe this is a problem for someone? But if it was, why did I never hear people say that scrunchies were good for this in the 80's and 90's?

As for #2:

Twistband

Really?

This isn't a bracelet, it's a sparkly bit of elastic you tied a knot in. Don't kid yourself. Also, it itches, so I didn't leave it on.

This is reasonably effective as a hair tie, as far as I've noticed. (It's winter so I'm not ponytailing my hair for nearly as long as I would in summer.)

Did you know it's really annoying to take a selfie of the back of your head using an SLR? I tried anyhow, just for you:

Back of head selfies with an SLR are hard.

So... yeah. Twistbands run $12 for 6 on Birchbox, or $2.00/each. My regular metal-free elastics run around $0.10/each at the grocery store, and you can often find them at the dollar store for much much less. I'm pretty sure it's not worth 20 times the price to me (let alone more), at the rate I lose or them, so unless this proves to be indestructible and somehow never gets lost it's not going to win. Plus, I'm pretty sure I can get decorative elastic and tie it in a knot myself if I liked that aesthetic.

Oh well, at least it's a thing I can use.

EDIT: I originally listed these as $0.50 each, because I guess my brain couldn't believe that these were actually $2 hair ties.

LAQA & Co. Fat Lip Pencil



Laqa & co Lil' lip

I believe the colour I received is called "Ring of Fire" which is at least awesome. The colour itself is a nice bright red. It seems to have a little bit of a fuscia undertone in this photo, but I suspect that's due to a combination of the lighting (sunlight-off-snow because Portlandia is snowed under right now in a little freak of mother nature experience) and my very chapped lips:

Laqa & co Lil' lip on the human face

Yes, I realize I am not the bestest at applying lipstick. Also, faces look weird that close. And SLR selfies are not a good idea. Whatever, I didn't feel like spending hours setting up lipstick photos today 'cause I was trying to get photos for for All The Reviews.

It applies fairly smoothly. I found it rubbed off pretty easily on glasses, my hands, etc, which was kind of annoying. It more or less feels like a lip gloss in that respect, and it might even a bit more moisturizing than most since it feels like it provides an actual barrier on my skin.

Laqa & co Lil' lip

Apparently this small size (see with sewing machine spindle above) is available as a lipstick duo. Normally I am a huge fan of small lip products since I can stick them in my pocket and re-apply when I feel like it. Unfortunately, carrying this in my pocket has a bit of a problem. I was worried the issue would be in knocking off the cap, but that seems pretty good. However, what does happen is that the product gets rolled up and squashed against the top of the lid repeatedly:

Laqa & co Lil' lip

As you can see, there's a giant smear on the top and the product is already listing to one side from being squashed all the way at the top.

So yeah, not a pocket tool for me. Perhaps LAQA & Co. needs to do a bit of testing on their packaging, as this happens every time I have put this product in my pocket, and it even happens in my bag sometimes. In contrast, I have probably half a dozen different lip balms that get the same treatment and it's fairly rare to see them smashed up against the top of the cap. Perhaps it might be time to consider the classic square lipstick base designed to not turn when the cap is closed or something:

20140210-IMG_0978.jpg

(No, that's not lipstick, but I only started buying lipstick recently so it's the only thing I've got in that type of packaging).

I'm not going to bother pricing this out because I'm not really considering buying it. I enjoyed receiving it, but when it comes to buying there are probably better formulae out there, definitely better packaging possibilities, and bright reds aren't that hard to find.

In summary...



One last look at the box:
Birchbox December 2013

I love the conditioner, I like the hand cream, I enjoyed trying the lip pencil and hair tie even though I will purchase neither, and I imagine the makeup wipes will be fine but I haven't tried them yet. Acceptable for $10!
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-09 11:26

Wantable December 2013 intimates box

This month, the box was half the size, but apparently packed with just as much stuff!

Subscription box stuff

I approve of smaller shipping boxes in an environmental sort of way, so I like the change. Plus, I'm hoping that this means they're thinking about their shipping and won't screw it up so I owe shipping when the box arrives, because that was unclassy. (However, it hasn't happened since that first box and I've received 5 now, so it seems they've fixed the problem!)

A thing I don't love about wantable's website: Not only do they not have product links easily available (you'd think this would be something the product providers would want!), but sometimes they don't even tell me the brand of the item. Which is relevant in the December intimates box:

Short Sleeve Tee- Amethyst Heather



This is a Bella t-shirt. You know, the ones that are one of the cheap options for women's cut shirts if you want to get shirts printed? I realize these retail for something ridiculous like $30 on Bella's website (presumably to match the printed markup cost?), but if you get them blank in bulk for printing they're like $7. Threadless-type stores seem to sell them printed for $10 pretty regularly. So I feel like Wantable's claim that this is $22.00 worth of value may be sort of disingenuous.

I actually like the shirt, though. It's a nice dark maroon-purple heathered colour, and Bella shirts actually fit me reasonably well, which I know because I have a few from conferences and stuff. Here's this particular one:

Subscription box stuff: Bella t-shirt

It's a bit tight but comfy and something I will in fact actually wear. So I guess I'm pleased with the shirt itself, but feel like maybe wantable cheaped out a bit on this?

Claimed value: $22. Actual value, probably closer to $7.

Betsey Johnson Intimates Bikini Hot Pink



Subscription box stuff

Like the last time, this item demonstrates an appalling sense of taste. It looks especially bad next to the socks in this month's package. But not nearly as bad as when you look at it more closely....

20140210-IMG_0920.jpg

Yup, leopard-print crotch on the inside of those suckers.

At this point, I have to conclude that Betsey Johnson has a brand dedicated to people with incredibly terrible taste. Or perhaps people who like to pretend to have terrible taste in a hipster-ironically sort of way? Which frankly, is just a different type of terrible taste.

But, I find these so hilariously bad that I will wear them, so what does that say about me?

As undies, they are actually pretty comfy. They are low in the front and fully cover your butt in the back, which I find a very weird choice because it basically means every time I lean over these panties are all "hi there!" which would be I guess kind of fun way to avoid showing butt-crack if they were attractive. Unfortunately, they're really not, so when I lean over you get "OMG YELLOW-ORANGE LACE" like the white "blind the dangerous thing" signal of the white tailed deer.

I leave this to your imagination.

These are hilarious in the same way that bad thrift shop clothes are hilarious, but they're not a win with me, Wantable.

Claimed value: $12, or 3 for $27. Since I can get victoria's secret panties that I know fit me for around $6, this is not a terrible bulk price, but if I chose my own panties I would never have chosen these.

OZONE Socks Basket Weave



These socks are probably actually the neatest part of the December box. I'm not in love with the colours, but they're kind of handknit-style and comfortable.

Socks from Wantable's December intimates box

There's a few textures in play here: a smooth stockinette bottom/toe/heel, textured top, and differently textured cuff. I presume from the name that the top cuff is "basket weave" stitch although it doesn't look much like it when stretch out on my strong walker calves. I don't really know my knitting stitch names well enough to tell you what the stitch on top of the sock is called. More experienced knitters, feel free to chime in.

Socks from Wantable's December intimates box

One thing that I did find interesting, especially in light of the "so strong it bruises" elastic from November's socks, is the elastic in these, which goes below the very large cuff, where the colour change starts:

Socks from December's Wantable Intimates Box

Claimed value: $13. Which is probably around what it would cost me in yarn to handknit socks, so not terribly unreasonable.

Luster Bralette Black



Last and most definitely least is the Bralette:

Subscription box stuff: Soft bra

It's not a bad shape. The cross-back straps mean it's unlikely to fall down, and I like the shaping in the front.


Their "M/L" is basically a compression bra on me. This has some usefulness for me as far as breast-binding for costumes go, and it's stretchy enough that it's comfy.

That said, it's undeniably not really my size. Unfortunately, while wantable touts that you can return individual products, it's not really worth it because of how they handle it. I have to return enough product to get my wantable-assigned value below the $36 I paid for the box. Since I actually like the shirt ($22) and the socks ($13), I'm going to get a maximum refund of $36-$35 = $1. That's not worth my time.

Oh well. I'll either keep it for crossplay costuming, or I'll see if my sister wants it, I guess.

Claimed value: $38.00. Not horrible if it were the right size, I guess. To me, actual value is around $5 to replace tensor bandages for breast binding.


----

Total claimed value: $85
Actual value to me: maybe $25-30

So for a $36 box, that's pretty darned disappointing, even though I liked the items.
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-09 10:40

Wantable November 2013 Intimates Box

I'm really behind on the Wantable box descriptions, which is a side-effect of really being behind on photo processing in general. But on the bright side, I can tell you how much things actually got used!


V-neck Bra Heavenly Pink



This is actually the least used of the bunch: it's a little light pink soft bra in the same style as the coobie camisole I loved in my first box. I like it, but just not quite as much as my existing soft bras, which are of this crossover style, which I find stays in place better the way I move.

It's almost identical to the cami, except shorter and pink, so it was actually kind of disappointing in that it wasn't a new thing to me. It's moderately useful since I have relatively few light-coloured bras, at least.

If I took a picture of these, I can't find it, but basically imagine the pink of the bandeau in my previous box, but the shape of the beige cami, only missing everything below the bra band. Yeah, this felt like a repeat in box 2.

Emerald Bay Socks



These are mid-length argyle socks, from the same company as the pink knee-highs I got in the first box. Here I am on box #2 and I'm already starting to wonder if Wantable actually has the deals in place to pull off this intimates box thing long-term or if I'm just going to get the same things over and over again.

I like these socks aesthetically, but they have such strong elastic at the top that they leave basically wounds on my calves after I've been wearing them all day. Good if I don't want my socks to slip while walking, but if I don't remember to shove them down to my ankles during the day, they nearly bruise. I wear them because it is awesome to have walking socks that don't slouch, but I have mixed feelings about them and look forwards to the elastic starting to stretch. Having noticed the excessive elastic problem in these, I realize that it also happens with the knee-high ones, but since they go over top of my calves, it's not so noticeable.

If I took a picture of these, I can't find it, but basically imagine the pink socks in my previous box, only green and shorter. Can you say repeat?

Betsey Johnson Intimates Sleep Shorts Houndstooth



Subscription box stuff

I actually wore this for the first time this weekend, because it's a bit too cold for shorts in the house (seriously: not a great choice for a November box, Wantable). They look... hilariously bad on me. Like cheap, ill-fitting booty shorts. I'll use them anyhow because this amuses me and they're more comfy than my existing sleep shorts, but definitely not a thing I would have bought myself.

Subscription box stuff

Seriously? Houndstooth, hot pink lace, rosettes? Teensy little ass-pocket? That is comedy gold right there, in some sort of bad taste blog. You'll understand if I don't photograph myself wearing these for those aesthetic reasons alone, but I'll tell you that they also are weirdly saggy in the front, too tight in the back, and while I'm sure J's going to appreciate the rear view because he thinks I look great no matter what, they do not make me feel attractive at all.

Edit: Nope, even he thought they looked weird on me.

Snowflaked Slipper Sock- Grey



First: I am *so* glad that wantable has put in a review system so that I can see what they'd sent me without having to pretend I want to return the package.

Second: I really wish they'd made it so there were links to places to buy the products/get more info, because I like to have such links on my own blog.

Third: The slipper socks I received weren't grey.

Subscription box stuff

That meta-discussion done, I want to say that this was the real winner of the whole box! I absolutely love these, and I have from the moment I got them:




They're warm, they're thick, they're comfy. They don't even seem to make me generate excessive amounts of static (my existing socks combine with the crappy carpeting in our house to make me zap every metal surface in the house this winter). My only complaint is that they do slide around a bit on my feet (though they have grippy bits for the floor), so I have to be careful on stairs.

I love these so much that they completely made up for the rest of the box, with its repeats and its dubious booty shorts. But I can already tell that this whole wantable intimates thing might not last for me unless they step up on the supplier front.
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-09 09:52

The naming of things

My former hackerspace, in fundraising for the new space, offered up a reward tier that let you name one of the rooms, which was a pretty fun perk. "My" room is going to be #16 on this map, the larger of the two electronics labs:

680_Haines_NW-Floorplans_numbered_mods_marked

Being the sort of person I am, I named it the "Pink Fluffy Unicorn Dancing on Rainbows Laboratory" thanks to this earwormy video. (Original song here, punk version here.)



They can call it PFUDOR labs for short or something. I actually proposed it as a joke when the campaign first was getting set up, but it got so many laughs that I decided it was actually kind of fun to have a name that really didn't take itself too seriously.

A few days after I made the official declaration, I got an email from an adult male friend there, bemoaning my choice of names in a gentle, joking, but also a little bit sincere way.

He is a friend and I don't want to mock his words in public, but I saw the email and thought THIS IS HOW I KNOW I HAVE CHOSEN THE RIGHT NAME. If this even a little hurts the manhood of even someone who knows me and my sense of humour, then you know that the anti-girly sentiment often prevalent in hacklabs is going to be rankled by this for as long as the space lasts. So now not only do I get to earworm my friends, but I run the risk of affronting people who haven't quite dealt with their own minor misogyny? And maybe give the hacklab an excuse to fill a space with rainbows, with all the connotations thereof? That actually kind of sounds like a bigger social win than I was intending, but maybe, just maybe, it'll combine with the already excellent people at Quelab to help keep the space as friendly and fun as it can be.

So next up I'm going to be buying a friend's pony patterns, a bunch of stuff from adafruit, some fabric, and I'll be making a hilarious e-textile pony with glowing rainbow neopixels to go in the space. Because I am not very subtle. ;)
terriko: (Default)
2014-02-03 02:54

Pictures of knitting in sunlight (a work in progress)

This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

I don’t tend to share work-in-progress shots for a few reasons:


1. I knit a lot on the go, where it’s not too convenient to take pictures.

2. I am really really bad at processing all my photos, and more of them just adds to the laod.

3. I just don’t think of it.


But I did think of it today, and it’s gotten me thinking a bit about useful general photography tips I need to remember when knitting:


Knit photography #1: Be careful of focus and depth of field


I love small depths of field in general photography and beautiful bokeh (aka the blurry bits) and all, but when taking pictures of my knitting, I need to make sure that the focus is where I want to be, and covers enough of the area around where I’m trying to draw the eye:


My very sparkly stitch marker


So here, I’m taking a picture of my pretty little stitch marker, and I’ve only left a small row of knitting in focus.


Since this is a maker blog, I’ll say that I made the stitch marker myself, for values of “made” that include “I bought a bunch of beads that had rings through them and separated them then re-closed the circles.” My project *sparkles* in the sun right now thanks to the beads, which is fun when I’m actually knitting in the sunbeam.


The narrow depth of field actually works well for something that small, but when I’m showing a series of stitches, I have to remember to adjust my photography style so that people can see the stitches well.


That can mean making sure the section is really flat:


Triangle lace stitch thing


Or it can mean just making sure the depth of field is big enough for the area in question:


Sweater Neckline with simple lace holes


Knit photography #2: Yarn has weird light properties


Colour Whorl


When you look up close at yarn, you can usually see that it’s at least a little bit fuzzy. This helps make it warm and soft, but also means it has some weird light properties where it will seriously glow given enough light. This can be awesome, or it can be really irritating, but the important thing to remember is that photographing knit/crocheted fabrics in bright light can be challenging in different ways, and each yarn is going to be a little different.


The extreme contrast isn’t always a bad thing: it can help you showcase lace. In theory. In reality, I always seem to end up with hyper-real photos, or ones with huge dark patches that just don’t look right:


Trying (and failing) to showcase some lace


And the sun is pretty bright already, so even if the yarn didn’t pick up the light so well, it could be a mess:

Demonstration of knitting photography in the sun and why it can be challenging


You can fix these things, of course, with some messing around in lightroom/photoshop, but then you lose out using the extreme contrast to show stitch definition, and you can make the project look a little dull:


Demonstration of knitting photography in the sun and why it can be challenging (2)


I suspect it’s going to take a lot more experimentation before I can quickly snap off a few photos in sunlight! But for now, I’ll be thinking critically about what I do and practicing doing it until I feel like I’ve got the kind of photos I want for matching with my patterns.


And with that, I give you one more photo where I’m proud of the light. This one showcases the rainbow nature of my stitch markers:


Rainbow stitch marker


So pretty!

terriko: (Default)
2014-01-27 01:44

Colour-changing Nintendo 3DS XL case

This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

My brother got me a Nintendo 3DS XL for Christmas this year, and he picked out exactly the one I would have chosen for myself, a special edition with the new Mario and Luigi RPG. (Of course, he’s the one who got me hooked on those games in the first place…)


It’s a beautiful little piece of hardware, and I’ve been carrying it around incessantly not only so I can play it at lunch, but also because the 3DS has some sort of meta games where you get points for walking around and for passing other people who also have 3DSes. As I am mildly obsessed with games that involve walking (I’m working on creating one for me and my sister to play together, but that’s another story), this means that the 3ds lives in my purse or backpack and I was worried about it getting horribly abused.


Thankfully, I have a sewing machine and I’m not afraid to use it!


So here’s my new DS case:


Colour-changing Nintendo 3DS case


I was originally going to make this quick and just do two seams up the side and not finish any of the edges. But once I’d started, it seemed so easy to just put some nicer square corners in by sewing across the ends and then finish the top. The fabric’s a bit hard to keep straight because it’s thick and a bit grippy so it’s not my best machine work, but I remember learning how to square corners like this in home ec in grade 7:


Colour-changing Nintendo 3DS case


Wait, you may say, what’s with that weird yellow corner? See, here’s where it gets interesting…


Colour-changing Nintendo 3DS case


Yup, that fabric is changing colour based on temperature. (Also, check out my strangely coincidentally matching manicure!) Remember those old Hypercolor shirts from the 80s/90s?


Colour-changing Nintendo 3DS case


The fabric was part of a sampler box that Quelab got filled with weird samples of sparkly plexiglass and thin veneers and, apparently, some colour-changing industrial fabric. I think it came from instructables? It was filled with interesting materials for projects, anyhow. I am still sad I never found a use for the sparkly plexi, which I refused to take until I had a plan for it, but Adric convinced me that it was cool if I took a chunk out of the very large (and slightly damaged) piece of colour-change fabric.


I’d been trying to think of something sufficiently interesting to do with it, something that sufficiently highlighted the colour change, and maybe the fact that it’s actually sufficiently transparent that you can see a LED through it:


Colour-changing Nintendo 3DS case


But today, as I was flipping through my small fabric collection trying to find something for the 3ds case, I decided that just something I’d be using all the time is sufficiently interesting and gives me a chance to play with it and show it off regularly. Plus, I’m looking forwards to seeing the heat spots in my purse, which is filled with many power-hungry electronics like the 3DS.


It’s already fun for demonstrating how quickly evaporative cooling works:


Colour-changing Nintendo 3DS case


(Fun fact for those of you who don’t live in the desert: New Mexicans cool their houses with evaporative cooling, also known as a swamp cooler, which is a formalized version of a wet towel over a fan, ’cause mold and mildew isn’t so much of an issue in the desert. So you think a lot about evaporation when you live there for 2 years… and then move to the west coast almost-rainforest. Will my clothes ever line dry here?!)


Colour-changing Nintendo 3DS case


I don’t like being all “perfect is the enemy of good” or the sort of uncluttering fanatic who gets rid of things because there’s no immediate use for them, but there is something very satisfying about actually using an item I’d saved rather than having a never-diminishing collection of “cool things that I should use for something.”


Of course, I still have a little bit of fabric left…

terriko: (Default)
2014-01-21 16:26

Vampire Sleeves (sort of a shrug?)

This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

I was out shopping one day with a friend and saw this book:


Vampire Knits: Projects to Keep You Knitting…
Vampire Knits: Projects to Keep You Knitting from Twilight to Dawn
by Genevieve Miller


I didn’t buy it right then, because I didn’t know how to knit and wasn’t sure what I’d do with it, but apparently it stuck with me because I picked it up later thinking I’d give it as a present or something… but then I learned to knit. So now it’s mine, all mine!


I’m not much for making full sweaters yet, because I’ve learned that projects that don’t fit in my purse never get finished. But I figured a pair of sleeves wouldn’t be too bad… but it still took me a year to finish them because I kept getting sidetracked by other things I had to try.


I just call mine vampire sleeves because of the book they came from, even though they don’t look very vampire-y in the colour I chose!


Here I am, smugly showing them off:

Vampire sleeves


One of my pet peeves in clothes is having them too snug across the shoulders, so I’m pleased to report that the lace here is pleasantly stretchy:


Vampire sleeves


The only problem with them is that the lovely autumn browns I chose don’t really match a whole lot of my clothing. They look good with the dark blues and blacks, but not so much with the reds I don’t think and definitely not with anything that has pink tones. When I was looking for something to wear with them for these photos, I was amused to discover that they mostly matched my ereader cover:


Vampire sleeves


My favourite part is the yarn. It was Shimmer hand-dyed lace yarn from Knitpicks, which I’ve only just found out was discontinued. Sadness! It was such a joy to knit with.


The pattern is relatively simple, well-written, and the photography is lovely. It really is just a pair of sleeves, opened up at the back and grafted together. I do like that the lace pattern causes the ends of the sleeves to be a little wavy:


Vampire sleeves


Pattern: Sidhe Shrug by Ashley Fay.

terriko: (Default)
2014-01-20 23:55
Entry tags:

Book Reviews: The Dragon Slippers Series

Dragonskin Slippers by Jessica Day GeorgeDragon Flight by Jessica Day GeorgeDragon Spear (Dragon Slippers) by Jessica…

Dragon Slippers, Dragon Flight and Dragon Spear by Jessica Day George

Creel's aunt tries to sacrifice her to a dragon in an attempt to attract a knight who will marry Creel and raise the status of her whole family (and most importantly, her aunt), but it goes awry when Creel decides that she doesn't want anyone to get hurt and decides she's going to make a deal with the dragon instead. But who'd have thought dealing with dragons could have such far-reaching consequences?

Fun! Adventure! Girls and dragons as friends! A smart and resourceful heroine! Politics, culture, embroidery, annoying little dogs and monkeys! For all that it definitely plays into archetypes, it's still clever enough in the details to warrant a read. My inner 10 year old is very pleased with this trilogy.

Note: I came at this one having read the first two of the author's Twelve Dancing Princesses books, one of which I previously reviewed.
terriko: (Default)
2014-01-20 23:40

What Terri's Playing: Puzzle Agent

The game I finished today is Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent. Despite the similarity in names, it's not very much like Puzzle Quest, the last game I mentioned.

Telltale games presents / Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent / A dark and twisted puzzler

"When White House inquiries to the Scoggins Eraser Co. are answered only with curious puzzles, Nelson Tethers from the U.S. Department of Puzzle Research is sent on the case."

If you've ever played Professor Layton and thought "you know what this needs? more inexplicable gnomes. and also screaming" then this is the game for you!

For those who haven't played the Layton games, this is similar in that it's a mystery where you wander around the game world gathering clues and solving brainteaser-type puzzles to get more clues. It's got a neat sketchy art style, entertaining voice acting and music, and a creepy little storyline. (Spooky, but not so much scary as surreal.) I found the puzzles clearly explained, and there's a hint system if you get stuck. (much to my surprise, the game told me at the end that I'd never used hints, so I can't tell you how good it is.)

I'm a pretty big fan of Telltale thanks to Monkey Island, and this fits a similar but not identical adventure game niche in my life. Less snark, more weird, but still enough clever to be fun.

According to Steam, I put in about 3h of play, which makes it a pretty short game, but it's fun and currently only $5 (plus, you know, steam sales & game bundles). If you're into brain teasers but don't have a huge amount of time for a game, it's worth checking out!
terriko: (Default)
2014-01-20 20:49

Mystery Munch: A Simple Android Game

This is crossposted from Curiousity.ca, my personal maker blog. If you want to link to this post, please use the original link since the formatting there is usually better.

I’ve been brushing up on my android skills for work, since I’ll be helping do security reviews on Android apps. Since I hadn’t written an app in ages, I thought it would be fun to take an Android 101 course on coursera just to force myself to do a couple of assignments and learn some of the things that come from actually writing the code and not just reading about it.


Some of these things-you-only-really-learn-by-doing kind of suck, like where I hit a bug in the hardware acceleration that caused me to lock up my entire computer requiring a hard reboot. Or discovering that making screenshots from the Nexus 7 emulator is apparently a Sisyphean task.


Frustrations about the fiddly bits of development aside, the assignment was ridiculously easy (although given that I used to *teach* a mostly equivalent Java course, that’s not a surprise — I’m really only in this for the deadlines, although the prof’s forays into computer history are pretty fun too.) The first part was an explicitly-defined app that I didn’t find interesting, but the second was “make an app of your choosing!”


So here’s what I chose:


Screenshot for "Mystery Munch" -- my very simple android game Screenshot for “Mystery Munch” — my very simple android game


Mystery Munch is half a battleship game: you click around to find the “food” hidden in the grid. It has no graphics, but it’s smart enough to make random layouts and notice when you won.


I always liked marking the game assignments best, back when I was a teaching assistant, so I figured I’d make a very simple game to amuse my peer reviewers.


The apk is here, if you actually want to play. I’ll get the source code up later once I figure out how I want to share it. Additions to the game will be welcome if anyone wants to make something from it!


This is the product of a Sunday afternoon of coding (I’ve been doing the course on work time, but I figured to save questions about releasing this code, I’d do it entirely on my own time), so it’s not amazing, but it’s mine and I’m amused by it! I’m thinking I might make some silly little pixel art to make it prettier and do some iterative improvement just because I can, if I don’t get sidetracked by another game I’ve been wanting to make for a while…


Incidentally, in case anyone’s wondering: I totally aced the assignment, and it seems I amused my peer reviewers. Mission accomplished!