Lyric Video!

For one of my classes, we’ve been learning After Effects, and our final project was to do a motion typography video.

Here’s mine: 30 seconds of Madeon’s “The City!” (Be sure to watch in HD!)

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Madness of March

I wouldn’t normally consider myself a sports watcher. Sure, I’ll watch sports if they’re on. It beats watching reruns of NCIS or Law and Order (that I’ve seen 50 times before), but I usually don’t specifically turn to a sports channel just to watch. Except during March.

I can’t explain it, but I just love March Madness. Perhaps part of it’s because basketball is so fast paced and the action doesn’t let up as often as some other sports. Maybe it’s because there’s the inherent challenge of the brackets. All I know is that when it comes to the NCAA tournament, I use as many screens as possible. Case in point: I’m typing this at work. I work in the Communication department lab, so I’m typing this on one iMac, with the Saint Mary’s v Middle Tennessee game open on the iMac next to me (in full screen, of course). Am I working? Yes. But people aren’t needing too much help today, so it gives me some quality time to keep the game on in the background.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that I’m totally going to fail all my classes over the next couple weeks.

Edit: After Thursday you can view my bracket at Yahoo!’s “Tourney Pick Em'”. Or you can view a PDF right here, right now.

Busyness and Breaks

Well, that was quite a week.

To give you an idea of just how busy my last week was, I’ll point out Tuesday. On Tuesday, I was on campus, either in class or working, from 8am-11pm, except for about an hour and a half in the early evening. Wednesday wasn’t much better than that.

It seems like this is the point in the semester that things just get ridiculously, insanely busy. I probably should have written about it on here, but I managed to get myself two jobs this semester on campus: as a lab assistant in the communication department computer lab in the Spori building, and another as a tutor for COMM 310, Creating Online Media. This was one of those weeks where having two jobs was very hectic. For student employees, there is a limit of 20 hours per week. I’m hitting 19.5 hours this week, probably closer to 20 when you add in a few minutes here and there of overage (tutoring appointments rarely last exactly one hour).

Of course, this was all combined with some stress arising from a death in the family. On Tuesday, of all days.

Basically, I’m ready for a break. Maybe I’ll try to get 12 hours of sleep tonight. But, to be honest with myself, I’ll probably end up being up until 2am watching movies with my roommates, because that’s what we do as an apartment (they’re seriously some great roommates).

Games I Love: Psychonauts

A quiet day at the lake at Whispering Rocks summer camp. For psychics.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m one of those people. The ones that gush praise on Psychonauts saying things like “it’s so underrated,” and “it should have sold so many more copies than it did.” I agree with that second one wholeheartedly. I have played through this game several times in the past, but my interest was rekindled when they released a Mac port. And they added Steam achievements! And they made one of the hardest parts of the game a little bit easier!

Let’s face it: this game has its flaws. Especially in the last level, some of the platforming is deviously hard. But this game simply oozes charm. Until Portal 2 came along, I would say that this game had the best writing and voice acting in a video game I’d ever played. That’s probably not a coincidence either: Erik Wolpaw was a writer on both Psychonauts and Portal 2.

Things are… not quite right in this paranoid’s mind.

Minor spoilers in this paragraph. In the game you are a boy who has run away from the circus to join a summer camp for psychic kids. However, things start to go wrong as your fellow campers’ brains are stolen. And the adults have to leave for some kind of “psychic emergency.” Eventually you are the only one left to try and find everyone else’s brains. For your training you go into people’s minds. The teachers’ minds are normal enough: one is a battleground from memories of war, one is a very well-organized mind that begins to get out of control as you mess around in it, and another is a giant dance party. But the minds get increasingly strange as you go off in search of your campmates’ brains. One is a legitimately insane paranoid person. Another is battling a genetic memory of his ancestor Napoleon Bonaparte. Another is haunted by critics’ views of her stage performances. And another is haunted by the image of a rampaging bull. And you literally have to enter the mind of a giant fish that has been forced to kidnap children; in that mind you are a giant Godzilla-like figure that the fish calls “Goggalor.” Each mind has its own unique visual style and every style is wonderful. The minds of your instructors aren’t really focused on anything but getting from the beginning to the end, but once you hit the asylum’s minds, it becomes a matter of puzzles to make it through each person’s mind, as you have to help unravel their problem and resolve it.

The game’s visual style is very cartoonish in a delightful kind of way, which helps to cover up the dated graphics (it is an original Xbox/PS2-era game). The game works best with a gamepad, but I’ve always played it with a keyboard and mouse and it still works fine.

This game really is one you must play. And do pay attention to the Steam achievements: they help you discover some of the great things that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Psychonauts on Steam

Super Bowl Ads 2013: What Did Others Think

Last week I made a short video, asking a few people in the BYU-Idaho Center what they thought about this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads. I thought I’d go ahead and post the video I made here. Enjoy! I’ll be posting my own thoughts by the end of the week (spoiler alert: I’m not super impressed).

Relaunch!

And my site is relaunched!

This is actually pretty exciting! I’ve done a lot of work to make my website about 50x better (*not a guarantee)! First thing I did is consolidate my web presence. I have a lot of web apps that I just don’t use anymore, so I kicked them out. They’ve been sent to the great recycle bin in the sky (or, if you’re a mac user, they were sent to the great trash can in the sky).

I’ve also had several different WordPress sites accumulate over the years. I had a portfolio site, a blog, and a photoblog I created for a class. I also have an assignment “portfolio” (not really a portfolio, but whatever) and I created a couple of blogs for documenting my NaNoWriMo writings.

No more. I’ve consolidated things in. I’ve combined the portfolio site, blog, and photoblog into this one WordPress site you’re looking at now. I’ll also be moving my NaNoWriMo journal entries into the blog portion of this site too. (The writings will be backed up onto a private WordPress installation.) Basically, everything’s in one place now.

I’ve also done a complete redesign. I’ve moved over to one of the most popular WordPress themes, Responsive, and created my own custom-made child theme for this site. The layout hasn’t changed (I was pretty happy with the clean layout), but I did change most of the colors. It’s pretty sweet.

So how did I do it? I created the new theme last semester for a class, using the mad CSS skills I learned in another class last semester. As far as combining WordPress sites is concerned, it only took a few hours of time. WordPress’s import/export feature is really, really good, and made it super easy to get everything under one virtual roof. I still have some work to do: particularly redirecting the old sites to this new one. Some of the URL schemes have changed, so it’s not going to be super easy. I’m going to have to do some 301 Permanent Redirects on my old sites. That’s going to be fun. Fortunately, I’ve got an idea of how to make it at least a little quicker.

Enjoy the new site!

Black Friday Photography Deals 2012

It’s almost Black Friday (which has kind of spilled over onto Thanksgiving night now), and that means there are tons of great deals out there on cameras and accessories! Here’s a breakdown of (mostly) in-store deals from various national retailers on photography gear. I’ve divided it into individual products and categories rather than by store, because many retailers have the same things on sale.

This information is based on the in-store deal circulars. Some of these deals may be available online, but most aren’t. You’ll have to do your own research on that. All information is provided as-is. I may have made mistakes. Some of these might not even be very good deals; I simply didn’t check to compare against normal prices. (more…)

5 Essential Portable Apps

Flash Drive

A tiny flash drive can hold great possibilities. Photo Recycled Paperboard USB Drive 2 by molotalk on Flickr.

First things first, I’m writing this post because USBMemoryDirect.com is running a promotion where you can get a free 2GB flash drive. You can either talk about the promotion on your own website, or you can simply share their promo page on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to enter to win one of 100 drives. 2GB isn’t a very large flash drive size anymore, but it is large enough for the apps I’m about to share!

I’ve long been a proponent of portable applications. I used them all the time in high school so I wouldn’t have to use Internet Explorer (I even used a portable version of Firefox from a CD that a friend of mine developed). I later found it useful when I used a homebrewed version of Paint.net (it wasn’t very portable though; it just didn’t require installation). Long story short: a flash drive with your own apps on it can be very helpful. So here are 5 essential portable apps (with a few bonuses thrown in) to put on a flash drive. I’m focusing on the PortableApps.com platform on Windows, though some of these apps are available in Mac flavors as well. (more…)

HBO GO Picks – August 2012

About two months ago, my parents decided to start getting the premium channels again. Which also means I get access to HBO GO (and its little brother, MAX Go)! There’s a lot of great and/or interesting movies on these services, so I thought I’d pick out a few of these movies to highlight each month. This month’s post will be quite long, because I’m going to include the previous picks that I’ve tweeted out (that are still available). [I would include stuff from Starz/Encore and Showtime, but my cable provider, Charter, doesn’t support either of those services yet. *CoughCharterpleasesupporttheseservicesCough*]

Update note: I haven’t done an HBO GO Picks post in a while, due to time constraints. However, a lot of these movies cycle in and out and between the two services fairly regularly, so while the links might not work any more, you might still find them on HBO GO or MAX GO if you search for them. My recommendations still stand, so give it a try!

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Linking to Your Profiles

With all the different social media sites out there (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more), it can be hard to figure out the best way to link to your different profiles and get people to like, follow, etc. The matter is complicated further by deciding whether to use interactive buttons, images, or just plain text links to your profiles. There’s so many choices to make, and so many methods, so let’s dive in.

First, you need to choose which method you’re going to use. If you’re going to just use a text link, it’s pretty easy. Just find the link to your profile, and wrap it in a standard HTML link. If you’re going to use an image, it gets a little more complicated. You’ll need to find an image to use. Then just use a link like before around the image. Don’t know how to find the link to your profile? All the information is below!

If you’re going to use an interactive button, it gets a little more complicated. The good news is that I’ve included instructions for each social network below! Just click through to the full post, choose the network(s) you want to use and go!

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