This year I decided that I’d practice drawing every day. I started a drawing blog called Crummy Figures where I post daily. I’ve been doing a lot of fan art recently, but a lot of the time I do figure drawing practice so be warned that some of this stuff is gonna be NSFW.
Most of the time I try to do a stream of my nightly efforts on my Twitch Channel. All the streams get archived over on my Youtube Channel, too. So go check out any of that stuff if that seems interesting.
I know they are kinda old at this point, but I just recently picked up an Alienware Alpha i5 and I love it. I wanted a way for my girlfriend and I to play computer games without having to get bootcamp working on my iMac. Most of what we play on the PC aren’t bleeding edge games anyway, but it does have capability to play most current games with pretty respectable settings. Bootcamp is fine when it works, but its kind of annoying having to restart to do anything in it. Even worse, if you have to restore your OS for any reason it just totally wipes it away (which I learned the hard way).
With those dark days behind me I now can play stuff like Rocket League and Overwatch on this teeny tiny computer. I haven’t done a ton of testing on it yet, but I’ve seen people’s videos on youtube showing Overwatch getting 60fps on it. Rocket League looks like its running at 60fps without much problem. It is also really really easy to overclock the graphics card with MSI Afterburner, which I did, just cause why not. The one thing I was sort of worried about was the hard drive, but i guess they switched up the default hard drive awhile ago which is now 7200 RPM over the old 5400 RPM one that used to be in there and it seems to work great.
Form factor and design wise there is a lot to love about the Alpha. Its tiny at just 7.87″ x 7.87 x 2.17″ so it takes up very little space on the desk. I like that the software on the Alpha lets you change the colors of the lights on the front. I sort of wish you could set it up like Razer Chroma stuff and have it slowly transition between colors, though. It feels well built, and I love that it has a tiny compartment for a USB on the bottom that you can use to put the dongle for a steam controller without having to take up one of the more accessible USB ports on the front or back.
I am super impressed with the Alienware Alpha. Should you be looking to invest in one click my link and I’ll get a small kickback. Yay!
So for years, YEARS, I’ve been using the Playstation headsets. They are wireless, work on PC, Mac, and Playstation, and sound really good to my ears. The reason I have recently moved away from them is because of the microphone quality. Since I started streaming it had become painfully obvious that the quality of microphone was really quite poor. It works fine for chat, but for something where your voice is being recorded it kinda sounds like poop.
I had recently picked up a pair of Philips SHP9500 headphones, which are incredible by the way. They are open ear-cups so you can still hear whats going on around you and you don’t end up screaming while trying to adjust the volume of your voice over whatever you’re listening to. The open design also creates a nice airy feeling to the sound, which I’ve found a really quite impressive compared to my experience with closed ear-cups in the past. They sound great. I also really love how light these headphones are. They weigh very little and feel comfortable on my head for hours. They are comfortable as hell. The last really notable thing about these headphones is that they have a removable cable…
Enter the Vmoda Boom Mic. What this is is essentially a replacement cable for your headphones that has an adjustable boom microphone built into the end that connects to your headphones, converting them into a headset. Its got an inline volume control and mute toggle, which is great, and sounds WORLDS better than the Playstation Pulse Elite, or Gold Wireless Headset mics. If you’re not into the Vmoda, another option would be the AntLion Modmic. I ended up opting for the Vmoda because it results in a single cable, which was more attractive to me.
When I tried plugging into the controller, my audio kept cutting out.
Now for most people this would be the end of the story. Since the PS4 has a headphone jack in the controller you can just plug it in and be done with it. When I tried plugging into the controller, my audio kept cutting out. After looking online I discovered that can happen if your area has a lot of wireless and bluetooth signals competing for the airwaves so I needed a way to convert it into a corded solution.
From here I got a splitter which converted the single headphone cable to a mic and a headphone jack, then used this adapter to convert these two separate signals into a single USB connection. Then added an extension USB cable so that I can sit in my chair I use to play games. The result is fantastic, albeit kind of ridiculous, but it works really well and I’ve really enjoyed both the sound quality and consistency that it provides. I can heartily recommend any of the products listed above if you want to have a similar setup for amateur streaming of videogames.
I also have a pair Custom One Pro headphones that I use when I’m using the mic and am playing with other people. The closed ear-cups provide a better seal, which means much much less sound leakage. If you have the volume up really loud on the open headphones like the Philips, the mic can pick it up which can give the people you’re playing with an echo. The rest of the setup stays the same. These headphones are very comfortable, but the soundstage and airiness aren’t nearly as good as the SHP9500’s.
Oh, and before anyone asks, the thing I have my headphones on up top is actually a rack that is meant to be used for attaching to a wall and holding a hose, but it works great for headphones.
I’ve been playing through Bloodborne on PS4. Streaming it on my twitch channel and archiving that on my Youtube. All but the first episode has live commentary (whoops). Really enjoying the game so far!
Why? Well there are a couple reasons. I really like that the Wolverines have speed hooks for lacing up the top 3 which makes putting them on much faster than something where you have to lace all the way up. I also really like that the 1000 miles use Horweeen Leather. In my opinion Horween makes some of the finest leather being produced today, so that was a big influencer.
I went with the Cordovan no. 8 color, which despite the name is not actual Shell Cordovan — a very dense and almost water-proof leather that comes from horse hide. These boots would have been much more expensive if they had been made of actual shell cordovan. There is a limited edition shell cordovan version, if thats what you’re into, but those retails for around $750. Beautiful, yes. But Woof. Instead is Horween’s Chromexcel colored to look like a style of Cordovan. Chromexcel is no slouch of a leather either, though. It takes Horween about a month to produce each piece, and there are 89 different steps to complete it. I really like the no. 8 color. Its a really awesome chestnut color almost. I cant wait to see how it ages.
I am also a big fan of the waxed laces. I’ve had round boot laces on my Red Wings, and Leather laces on my moccasins, and I definitely prefer the look of waxed cotton laces over both of those. They just look right when paired with this style of boot especially.
After wearing the boots for about a week there seems to have been zero break in time, and they feel comfortable right away. I remember when I first got my Red Wings it was about a week before I could walk more than half a mile in them without my heels being ripped to shreds. I’m pretty happy about that, seeing as I like my heels in tact.
If I had to level one criticism against the 1000 Mile Boot it would be that the insole is only a half insole. Not a huge deal, but it would have been nice.
Overall, I think these boots are worth every penny, and have no doubt that I will have them for decades to come, and that they will only get more comfortable, and look better with age.
I’ve had a bad back since being a teenager. Competitive swimming left me with small stress fractures in the lower vertebrae of my spine. Getting hit by a car didn’t help the situation either – point being, my back isn’t great. Over the past couple months my old mattress had been making it abundantly clear that it was no longer cutting the mustard. Each morning was met with a painful sitting up period where my back felt as if it was crushing into itself followed by a painful standing period. Once vertical, I’d stumble out of the bedroom gripping my lower back and begin my morning routine.
I’d heard about memory foam mattresses and how great they are, but that those benefits came with some steep costs. Namely trapping heat making for a hot sleep, and a weird feeling of being enveloped. Neither of these things sounded like something I want any part of – my search continued. Then one day at work a co-worker told me that a friend of his had bought a mattress from a sleep startup called Casper. I went over to their site at caspersleep.com (which is pretty slick looking) and read up on it. The mattress is made in New York and consists of a memory foam core, with a latex top. They say this adds more bounce to the mattress which benefits “bed sports”, sleeps cooler, and provides the much needed support someone with say a 3 minute standing process each morning may benefit from. The best part about the mattress is that there is a 40 day return policy where if you don’t like it you can have them come pick it up within 40 days for a refund.
I ordered a queen size for $850 (a super reasonable price as far as I’m concerned). My friend ended up ordering one right after me and she put down my name and email address and said I was her referrer, and they gave her $75 off and gave me $75 cash. Not bad. When the bed came, it arrived in a relatively small box I opened it up and within minutes the mattress had inflated and expanded to its full size. There was a little bit of a plastic smell to it (called off gassing I would learn later). But that went away within a couple hours. It was firmer than I had expected, but felt comfortable.
It’s been over 40 days since I received my Casper, and I am pretty happy with it. I find myself falling asleep faster on it than on my old mattress. I no longer have the lengthy and painful standing ritual in the mornings, either. I still wake up with back pain on occasion, but its not nearly as bad as it was on my old bed. And its no where near as often. I’m pretty impressed with it.
My girlfriend’s experience is a little different than mine, though. Her back is fine, but after sleeping on the Casper she discovered that she was waking up with lower back pain. According to her research it may be because on foam mattresses people tend to move around less. So if you fall asleep in a position where you are not aligned you may have some issued. I emailed the Casper customer support line telling them that our 40 day trial period was already over, but we were having some issues with the mattress. In addition to extending the length of our trial period the representative is shipping a gel mattress topper (at no cost to me), saying that it could help with her back issues and that he is sorry that she is having pain.
Last night she experimented with putting a pillow between her knees to keep everything lined up and said she felt a lot better in the morning so I am hoping that this topper will also help. I am blown away but their customer service, and genuine caring about their customers. I’ll update this post to let ya know the effects of the gel topper on both myself and my girlfriend, but I have high hopes.
Looks like Casper has changed the way they do the referral program. Use this link to get $50 off, and it will kick me back $50 as well.
UPDATE: So the topper they sent us was a Milliard Gel Infused Memory Foam from amazon. It’s great! It adds a very soft upper layer similar to pillow top mattresses. It is made with gel infused memory foam, so its supposed to have cooling properties (which I haven’t noticed really, but it doesn’t seem to trap heat which I am fine with). My girlfriend hasn’t complained of back issues since the first night we added the pad to the bed so mission accomplished. New bed forever!
UPDATE 2: Looks like Casper has changed the way they do the referral program. Use this link to get $50 off, and it will kick me back $50 as well. They also seem to have extended the 40 day trial to 100 days.
I’ve been playing a lot of the Destiny’s beta over the past week. Above is a video of me exploring and running into a Spider tank. This is before I really figured out how to fight them, and now I can take these things out without much trouble, but it was quite a struggle for me when I recorded this.
Seeing how far the game has come since alpha has been really getting me excited. I really like the intro cutscenes that they’ve added and all of the story setup now. In the alpha they just kind of dropped you into the world, and it was a little weird. Even though the beta’s level cap is set to 8, there is still a pretty good feeling of progression. From what I’ve been hearing recently, some stuff from the beta may carry over to final release. Especially rewards secured on the final day of the beta. I have also been doing a lot more PVP since the Iron Banner events started happening, and I am getting really into that too. Its going to be a painful couple months waiting for the final game to come out.
Speaking of Iron Banner, I wish the lvl 20 hand cannon I unlocked would carry forward. So cruel.
I’ve been having a lot of fun live streaming Wolfenstein: TNO on twitch. It’s the first full game I am I’ve played in it’s entirety with live commentary, and I am having a blast. At the time of this posting, I have 7 episodes archived on my youtube channel.
Edit: Just finished the 8th and final episode of my Wolfenstein play through!
I’ve never owned a nice chair. In the past I’ve just bought stuff from an office supply store, or Ikea. Normally these chairs last a couple years, then they start making noises, or falling apart. My last chair, from Ikea was fake leather and it started to make loud popping noises when you’d shift your weight or stand up, the leather finish was also worn away on parts of the seat. The worst thing about these types of chairs is that they are usually just put together so that they are cheaply produced and not much time or money goes into the visual design or the ergonomics.
I never bought the original MacBook Air, but I did play with one in the Apple store a couple of times and it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It was horrendously expensive at launch (around $1800 if memory serves me correctly), was crippled with heat problems, and worst of all it was slow (in no small part due to having to under-clock itself so that it wouldn’t overheat). With the new 2010 versions of the MacBook Air a lot has changed. The form factor isn’t vastly different, but the changes that have been made show a level of polish clearly lacking in the previous model.
Body and Case
The first thing you notice when you take the MacBook Air out of the box is that it’s incredibly slim. Even after a week of use I still marvel at its size and weight nearly every time I pick it up. The new unibody case feels solid and robust even though the screen isn’t much thicker than a couple of stacked DVDs. It feels quite rigid and gives you the sense that it could take a couple of dings without much of a problem. The screen is missing an ambient light sensor and the edge to edge glass of the MacBook Pro line, but in a form factor so small and light, the trade off hardly seems like an issue. Aesthetically I do miss the black bezel around the screen, but the MacBook Air feels like a Spartan version of a MacBook Pro so it’s aluminum bezel kind of fits.
The bottom of the computer is where most of the bulk is (if you can even call it that). The keyboard, though full-size, lacks a back-light. Not a deal breaker by any means, but something of note. The computer is divided internally front to back. The front 2/3 are occupied by the system’s batteries, and the back 1/3 is the rest of the internals. Because batteries are so heavy for their size, the MacBook air feels very well balanced front to back, which is sort of surprising given its tapered edge.
As far as ports go, the right side has an SD card slot, a USB 2.0 port, and a Mini Display Port. On the left, an omnidirectional microphone, a headphone jack, a second USB 2.0 port, and a MagSafe power port.
Not much can be said about the MacBook Air’s screen. It’s fantastic. The 1440×900 resolution found on the 15″ MacBook Pro crammed down onto a 13.3″ screen results in a picture that is extremely crisp and clear. The high pixel density makes text easy to read and makes images sharp and detailed.
One of the first things I noticed when I started really using the Air, and I did some video editing with iLife ’11 on the very first day, is that the thing is completely silent even when under decent load. Compressing a 720p movie barely phases the Macbook Air, and even though you could get the job done faster on a MacBook Pro, its performance is admirable and actually quite impressive given its size and weight. The only time the air even begins to show that its working is when a game is being played. Fans roar into action but aside from the fanfare there isn’t really any other signs of a struggle. I ran Team Fortress 2 for several minutes in a full 24 player server on native resolution and medium/high settings, and gameplay was smooth and fast. After even that, the MacBook Air’s external temperature only achieved mildly warm, never approaching the hot or surface-of-the-sun temps that the top of a core i7 iMac can achieve.
Under normal use like web browsing, streaming HD video, and the like the 13″ MacBook Air is a champ and feels zippy and responsive. Because of the built in flash storage (128GB by default) opening files feels impossibly fast and even turning the computer on only takes 10-15 seconds.
The official Apple line is that the 13″ MacBook Air gets 7 hours of battery life. For me though, I never use a laptop for 7 hours straight. If I’m on a trip or away somewhere I’d be using my Air exclusively it would most likely only be for a couple of minutes at a time to look something up, dump a bunch of photos onto it, compress a quick video, etc. and I think that it is for these types of tasks and intermittent use where the MacBook Air really shines. By default the MacBook Air is aggressively sleepy. If left alone for a couple of minutes the screen shuts off and the computer goes to sleep. This, coupled with such a long standby time means that if you’re away from the computer the battery really isn’t going to go deplete much at all. I’ve used it on and off for 2 days and had the battery still holding strong at 75% and that is a great feeling.
The MacBook Air, for all intents and purposes, is the notebook of my dreams – An extremely thin and light laptop that is ultra-portable, yet is powerful enough to roll up its sleeves and do some real computing when it needs to. I think that the MacBook Air may be one of the finest products that Apple has ever produced and I couldn’t be any happier with my purchase.