Monthly Archives: February 2012

My thoughts on Harvest Moon: My Little Shop

As I’m a lover of anything Harvest Moon, I jumped on Harvest Moon: My Little Shop as soon as I found out about it, which was about…two years ago.  I was excited–a made for WiiWare Harvest Moon, with what looked like adorable graphics (I’m a sucker for the cutesy chibi look) and the ability to get add ons? Count me in!

Once I actually had the game though, I was pretty disappointed – it plays in real time and there is only so much you can do each day, meaning there’s really only about 10 minutes of game play each day!  And unlike the typical Harvest Moon this one doesn’t concentrate on growing your farm.  The strategy of planting crops, earning money, upgrading your buildings and wooing spouses…allllll gone.  Instead, My Little Shop is all about…mini games.  Now, I don’t hate mini games, but I’m not really a mini game person.   So I played the game once, then forgot about it.

Well, a few days ago I decided to try it again and started a new game.  I generally have about 20 – 30 minutes in the evening when I veg out with a video game before dinner, and while I’m currently working on Harvest Moon SNES, I decided I needed a change of pace.  Well, I was surprised that My Little Shop isn’t that bad after all, if you only have 10 minutes to play it each day.  It actually fits into my schedule well.  I’m still not real thrilled with all the mini game playing, but after playing it for a few days I’ve realized there is more character interaction and farm upgrading opportunities than I had previously thought which is nice.  I’ll play the game for roughly 10 minutes than work on Harvest Moon SNES for the rest of my video game time (I’m in the second winter and there is NOTHING to do until spring).

Pros of the game (according to me)

-THE MUSIC.  My favorite thing about the game is the wonderful old-school Harvest Moon music.  Makes me happy every time I hear it :)

-The graphics.  I love the cute, colorful look of the game.  The flat-paper look was weird at first, kind of looks like a Harvest Moon version of Paper Mario.  But it suites the game.

-The characters. Oodles and oodles of classic Harvest Moon characters as well as new ones; it’s cool seeing all the characters from the different games.  Especially from the 64, Back to Nature, DS and Wonderful Life games.

Cons of the game (according to me)

-The mini games.  They can be hard to master and boring pretty quick.

-The lack of farming options.  I want to clear my fields and plan my harvests, instead you get a few little plots at the start of the game and you can’t harvest your crops – they just…sit there, and you water them every day. That’s it.

-The inability to marry.  COME ON, why do you think so many women play Harvest Moon? We want to date and have a family!

-The lack of actual game play.  Unless you want to play the mini games all day, there really isn’t much you can do.  This can be good if you don’t have much time to play, but you won’t be having any all-day gaming marathons with this one.

Overall, as a major fan of the series I’m glad I didn’t miss this game.  If you don’t expect it to be like a normal Harvest Moon game, you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

 

Crocheted Yoda Amigurumi

“Do, or do not. There is no try.”

So here’s my latest crochet project – a little master Yoda!  The majority of this little guy was constructed while watching Back to the Future: Part Two so the geek levels on this one are high ;)

"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?"

I made the body using sage green cotton yarn and this pattern.  The ears and arms I made free-style.

"You must unlearn what you have learned."

The under shirt and robe were made from brown and cream acrylic yarn to provide a slight texture difference, I liked how it looked a little more rough than the body.

"When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not."

Tools all website designers need – for free!

If you’re interested in website design, you’re in luck.  Nowadays coding and website building is so common you can find resources all over the place, and hundreds of useful and free software to make your HTML building a breeze.  I’ve put together a list of tools, software and resources all website designers should know and have.  And they’re all free!  I’ve ordered the list with essentials at the top and items for more advance users at the bottom, so if you’re a beginner start at the top and work your way down the list.  I’ve also included some alternative (not free) resources if you have some cash to burn.

1. W3Schools.com: one of the ultimate free learning resources of the coding world, W3Schools has tutorials on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, SQL and more.  Basically anything you want to know about coding, you can learn it here!  They also give you the code for each lesson and let you edit yourself right on the website so you can get a feel for what it does.  If you’re a beginner looking to learn HTML and the basics of coding, start here.

Alternative: if books are more your style, check out “Build Your Own Website The Right Way Using HTML & CSS ” by Ian Lloyd.  This is the book I first used when learning to code and I have nothing but praises for it, he sets everything out very simply and clearly – you can literally learn in just days. For under $20 that ain’t bad!

2. Notepad++: a nifty little free program for code editing, Notepad++ has a wide variety of features that will help your coding.  The most useful feature is the code highlighting – to activate it, open up Notepad++ once you’ve installed it and select language > H > HTML.  You’ll find your text is color coded and that makes it way easier to work with.  Unfortunately Notepad++ only works on Windows, if you have a Mac try out TextWrangler, which is supposed to work similarly (I haven’t tried it myself as I don’t have a Mac).

Alternative: if you’ve got a few extra hundred dollars lying around, think about getting Dreamweaver.  It’s my default coding program and has some really nice features, is available for both windows and mac, and if you’re a student or teacher you can get a nice discount for the program.  Everyone else, however, has to pay a bundle for it :( I personally don’t think you need to get the latest version for it to work well; my own copy is from back when walkmen were still cool, lol (okay so it’s from 2005, I still had a walkman back then!). So if you can find an older, working copy on eBay for cheap buy it!  And save that $400 for more important things.  Like food. 

3. Gimp: I’m sure you probably already know about this free little gem but I’m adding it anyway.  Gimp can do pretty much everything that other art programs can do without the huge price tag.  Unless you want your website to be dull text and borders, you need a good art and image editing program, and Gimp fits the bill.  I use it to create everything from header images to backgrounds to touching up photos, as well as a bunch of other art projects.  The web is also abound with  free tutorials to do everything with Gimp from touching up photos to making GIFs and siggies.

Alternative: you can also check out Macromedia Fireworks, and depending on the version you get you’ll pay anywhere from $50 to $300.  I do have a copy of Fireworks (like my Dreamweaver it is oooold) and I use it for about a third of my web graphic needs, simply because I sometimes find the interface easier to use than Gimp.  However I don’t think it’s really necessary for making a good website.  Fireworks can also do a bunch of really fancy web graphic stuff like roll-over menus or something (just what I’ve heard, I only use the basic functions of mine) but you can do cool menus using CSS as well. 

4. Photobucket.com: Once you have an art program you’ll need something to use with it.  Photobucket is an online picture/art/image sharing site and where I go for all my images.  All pictures can be used royalty free for whatever you may want, so it’s a great place to find graphics and pictures to brighten up your site!

5. AbstractFonts.com: while we’re still on the subject of graphics, let’s talk about font.  Nothing says “Newbie!” on a website like a nicely done header in an overly done, default font.  It just looks amateurish.  AbstractFonts has hundreds of cool fonts and they’re free! You need to pay attention to the copyright license for each font though – some fonts are free to use even for commercial uses, but others can only be used for personal, non-commercial use.  And remember that unless someone has the font installed already on their computer that they won’t be able to see it, so don’t go making your entire website out of a font you downloaded – use these fonts only for graphics and images.

6. XAMPP:  praise the coding gods for this one, as it will make your life so much easier.  Once you’ve mastered HTML and CSS and want to move on to using something more advanced like PHP (a must for larger, more complex sites) you’ll need to have a personal testing host installed on your computer, and that’s where XAMPP comes in.  XAMPP is actually a bundle of programs including the Apache webserver (it’s how you use your own computer as a host to test out your files on) and MySQL, PHP and Perl.  They’re all bundled and configured together and will save you HOURS of time and plenty of tears.

7. Filezilla:  my default file-transfer program, Filezilla is clean-cut and easy to use. This is what you need this to upload your finished website files to your online host.  You’ll want to download the client version (you won’t need the server just for uploading your files to your host).

8.WordPress.org: you probably know this one already, but this is the place to go if you want to add a blog to your site.  Just download the blog files, upload to your domain and you’re good to go!  It’s just like having a wordpress.com blog on your own site, but with WAY more options.

There you go! With these tools and resources you can make a fantastic website without spending a dime ;)

Too many DS games and never enough time

Yup, this is the DS I have - originally bought for me as a Christmas gift from my siblings :)

Everyday, I carry around a rather large tote bag in place of a regular purse to work.  Mainly because all my junk won’t fit into anything but a big (custom sewn by moi) tote.  And everyday, back and forth, I drag along my DS and game case.  The last time I played it? About two months ago.  I don’t know why I keep bringing it back and forth – visions of somehow being stranded on a deserted island and finally having hours upon hours to waste with my pearl-pink Nintendogs special edition first gen DS have floated through my mind on more than one occasion.  But until that happens, I’ll just keep playing my games in small patches with months in between powering it up.  The problem is not only that I don’t have enough time, but that there are too many games!  It would be easier to make time if I just had one game I wanted to finish; but no, there are at least half a dozen I’m working on, and more on my must-play list.  How do you make time for all that? Playing the games for fun actually starts to become work, lol.

Games on my need-to-finish list include Lost in Blue 2 (I’m like, literally one cutscene away from finishing it though), Pokemon Diamond, Professer Layton and the Diabolical Box, Trauma Center Under the Knife, Harvest Moon a Tale of Two Towns and The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Oh wow, there really were exactly half a dozen, lol).  All these games have at least several hours each already clocked in.  I’m 3/4s done with Professer Layton so that may be the one I tackle next after Lost in Blue, but I really want to spend more time on Harvest Moon a Tale of Two Towns – I’ve hardly even started it, and it’s the best Harvest Moon game for a hand held yet.

And then there are plenty of more games that I’ve only ‘tried out’ so far, such as Lost in Blue 3, Sims 2, Elite Beat Agents, ScribbleNauts, and games I haven’t even put in my DS yet such as Mario and Luigi Partners in Time, Professor Layton: Unwound Future, Magical Star Sign, and Super Mario DS.

These are only the games I actually have, I have an entire wish list of more games I want to get!  I have a tendency to get DS games more than any other type of game (Though I do play quite a bit of Wii and PC games).  I don’t know why, maybe because they’re just so small and convenient but just as entertaining as games for larger consoles.  I buy DS games like regular girls by shoes, lol.

And let’s not even get started on the PC and Wii games I have building up…

The Costumes of Star Wars (plus a fantastic website and a book I MUST have!)

I’m a major Star Wars fan, and as someone with a great interest in costume design I love studying the clothing in the movies.  I love behind the scenes extras ;) As a budding cosplayer, one of my goals is to eventually replicate every outfit worn by Princess Leia in the movies.  Including the bounty hunter disguise, lol.  While browsing around the web I was excited to stumble upon Fit for a Queen, a website dedicated to the Star Wars costumes!  While it’s main focus is the numerous and elaborate outfits worn by Padme, it also includes all the handmaidens costumes, as well as Leia’s and just about every other Star Wars character.  And not just pictures, but promotional pictures, concept art, movie stills, detail shots and behind the scenes for each outfit!  It’s wonderful!! :D  There are close up pictures of fabric swatches, information about how the clothes were made, where they were made, who made them and more!


And the site also had information about a book I’ve heard a bit about before – Dressing a Galaxy: The Costumes of Star Wars by Trisha Biggar.  This huge collector set includes 14 ‘booklets’ on everything from hairstyles to the Jedi council, royalty, military, senators, Rogues gallery, jewelery, footwear, Darth Vader and more! If that wasn’t enough it also includes a DVD, a replica Wookie Belt Buckle and FABRIC SWATCHES!!  Actual fabric swatches from the same material used in the prequels!  So it’s almost $300 for the book, but if I had that money I would so have the book already, lol.  Just another thing to add to the list of things I have to get, though this one is definitely going at the top ;)

 

Designing your own blog with wordpress.org & CSS, part 2

Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to get down to the actual editing!

1: open up the CSS Style sheet of Toolbox by going to appearances > editor.  The file in the editing window should automatically be the stylesheet; if it isn’t just select stylesheet (style.css) from the list to the right.

2: Take a moment to look over the code.  It’s okay if you don’t know what everything is, we’ll do a nifty little trick to help figure out what everything is.  We’re going to add a black border around all the block elements to help figure out where they are.

3: Copy the following code:

 border: 1px solid black;

Now add the code to the following elements: #page, #content, #main-widget-area, #colophon, #site-title, #site-description and #access.

Make sure you add the new code under the CSS already excisting for each element but INSIDE the curly brackets for that element, so it looks like:

#page {
    display: block;
    margin: 1em;
    border: 1px solid black;
}

(our new code is in bold for you to see what to add)

If you accidentally put the code outside a curly bracket or delete a curly bracket by mistake, it will cause all sorts of problems, so keep an eye on them!

4: Click ‘update’ and then check out your blog.  You’ll see that all the elements now have black borders around them – handy, isn’t it? You can now tell where everything is!  Now we’ll add a little code to center the content into the middle of the browser window.

5: Edit the #page element and add the following code:

#page {
     display: block;
     border: 1px solid black;
     width: 900px;
     margin: 0px auto;
}

Note that the previous margin declaration has been removed for the new one. Select ‘update’ to save the changes then check your blog to see the new positioning.

6: It’s looking good but notice how the font is all pressed against the sides of the boxes? We need to add some padding to the elements.  For that, we’ll be using this code:

padding: 15px;

Add the above code to #content, #main-widget-area, #colophon, #site-title, #site-description and #access.

Update the page and see how the blog looks now.

7: You’ll notice that the font looks much better, but now the main widget area is now floating underneath the content – whoops, we don’t want that.  So what happened? The padding added more pixels to each element, therefore making them larger than the 900px page width, and to compensate the widget area was pushed down.  Let’s fix that by shrinking the main widget area’s padding from 15px to 8px:

#main .widget-area {
     float: right;
     overflow: hidden;
     width: 220px;
     border: 1px solid black;
     padding: 8px;
}

Check your blog again and you’ll see the widget area is back where it’s supposed to be.

8: Notice that the assess element (it’s the bar above the content and main widget area that has the ‘home’ and ‘page’ links currently) is too wide for the rest of the page box.  Once again, our extra padding is the culprit.  Change the code to the following:

#access {
     background: #eee;
     display: block;
     float: left;
     margin: 0 auto 1em;
     width: 870px;
     border: 1px solid black;
     padding: 15px;
 }

9: Now that we have our elements nicely spaced and arranged, let’s work on editing the body of the page.  The body is the area behind our page, the space that takes up either side of the elements.  However, there is no code in the CSS file to manipulate the body so we’ll have to add it ourselves.  Go to the top of the file (right above the code for the #page element) and add the following code:

body {      background-color: #999999; }

10: Check your blog and you’ll see that everything is gray now – whoops, we want our elements to have a white background, at least for now.  Take the following code and add it to #page:

background-color: #FFFFFF;

The background of your blog should now be white.

In the next part we’ll talk about more design, add a header and begin to stylize our blog!


A Geeky Girl’s Valentine’s Message

(Dedicated to my very special someone <3)

In honor of Valentines day I’ve compiled some of my favorite movie/TV/game couples and the things I think every geek wants their lover to know.

Han and Leia, "Star Wars"

1.  Together we can save the galaxy.  And if you’re ever captured by bounty hunters, I’ll do what ever I can to save you, even if I risk being forced to be a giant slug’s metal-bikini wearing slave girl.

Buttercup and Wesley, "The Princess Bride"

2: I will love you forever and ever, and I will never give you up.  If, by chance, I am forced to marry a slim-ball prince, I will consider suicide but as I’d really prefer a happy ending you better come back from the dead real quick.

Inuyasha and Kagome, "Inuyasha"

3: No matter how much we fight, I want to always make up.  And if you dare to ever so much as even flirt with another girl…well, I have my ways.

Howl and Sophie, "Howl's Moving Castle"

4: You make me brave.  No amount of curses, monsters, witches or legions of mud-soldiers could stop me from loving you.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, "BBC's Pride and Prejudice"

5: I can’t stop myself from loving you.  We were meant to be together, no matter what.  Of course, the fact you’re good looking and potentially rich kinda helps ;)

Link and Zelda, "The Legend of Zelda"

6: You’re always my hero <3


All about Morning Musume

As someone raised in the US, it seems to me that Japanese pop bands are more similar to our sports teams than our own pop bands.  After all, it’s not very common for an American band to have twelve constantly changing members and hold auditions for new members each year.  But that’s how it’s commonly done Japan, though technically they aren’t just bands of singers, but ‘idols’, who are expected to sing, dance, act and basically entertain.

After finding the videos from the other day of Morning Musume performing Cinderella I went on youtube and Wikipedia to find out some more about them.  They’re a very cute group, focusing on mostly bubbly, upbeat dance songs.  They started out back in 1998, and are currently on their 10th generation of singers.  When they first started out they consisted of only 5 girls, today there are 12 girls in the group.

The music video for their first ever single:

The music video for one of their newest singles:

There’s quite a bit of difference between the two videos, but then, they were made practically 14 years apart.

Morning Musume performing Roger and Hamerstiens Cinderella

To those of you who don’t know, Roger and Hamerstien are AWSOME.  As a musical/broadway geek, I love their stuff.  My singing teacher told me about the version of Cinderella they did, so I looked it up (the version with Julie Andrews) and watched it today – sooo cute and charming! And while looking around I found that Takarazuka, an all-female Japanese theater company, joined up with Morning Mesume, an all-girl Japanese pop band, to make their own version of the musical.  All the characters are performed by girls (as is common in Japanese ‘all-female-theater-companies’…duh) and the actors are really very good.  It’s subbed so you can watch it even if you don’t understand Japanese.  As someone interested in Theater Arts for a career I have to give this a high rating for beautiful costume design and cute actors ^.^

Designing your own blog with wordpress.org & CSS, part 1

I decided I really would write up a guide to customizing your own wordpress.org blog, lol.  I’m going to write this guide geared toward someone who has never done CSS before.  I’ll explain how to set up a wordpress.org blog, install the CSS editor theme Toolbox, and start customizing it by editing the CSS file.

What you’ll need to do is download the blog files,  add a database for the blog to your domain host’s mysql databases, add user who can use the database, edit the config.php file in the blog folder with your database and user info, then upload the files into the appropriate folder in your domain.  Sounds complicated, but it’s pretty easy and I’ll walk you through it.

GETTING STARTED:

1. Alright, to start off, you need to head over to wordpress.org and download the blog files. I usually just download the zip to my desktop for easy access.  Extract the files.

*Note that wordpress.org is different than wordpress.com – wordpress.com will host your blog on their website, while wordpress.org gives you the files to upload onto your own hosted domain site.   Hosting your own site has several advantages, namely that you have absolute control over how your blog looks, access to hundreds of plug-ins, and the professionalism of having your own site with out .wordpress.com tacked on the end of the URL.

2. Read wordpress.org’s installation guide.  Installing it is really fantastically easy and the guide will tell you much of what I’m going to tell you.  You probably can do this with only the guide, but just in case I’ll tell you how I do it.

3. Now that you’ve downloaded and extracted the blog files, go to your hosting website and log into your dashboard (the area where you can manage your sites and all their info, databases, files, ect).  I use Hostgator personally (no real reason except it was the one my sister was using when I got into coding).   There should be a link/button somewhere around your dashboard that lets you create mysql databases.  This should take you to a page where you can create a new database and/or user.  In Hostgator this is very simple to do – you’ll find the database creator at the top of the page. Simply enter the name of the database you want to add (like, ‘blog’) and then click create.  Congratulations, you have a new database!

4. Now you need to make a user to use that database with your blog.  This is also quite simple, in Hostgator you’ll find the user creator form underneath the database creator, on the same page.  Just scroll down a bit.  Add the name of the new user (like ‘john’ and then enter a password for that user and click create.

*Note that your username for your domain will be added before the database name and user’s name automatically – at least it does in Hostgator, so read up on what your own host does. So if you’re using Hostgator and your username for logging into your domain dashboard is ‘happycoder’ then and you make a database called ‘blog’, it will automatically be named ‘happycoder_blog’.  Same thing with adding a user – add a user called ‘john’ and it will turn into ‘happycoder_john’.  This is important to remember when you’re filling out the wp-config.php file of the blog!

5.  Open up the blog folder you downloaded and find wp-config-sample.php and rename it to simply wp-config.php.  Open it up in your text editor and near the top you’ll find the following bit of code:

// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** // 

/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define('DB_NAME', ' '); 
/** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', ' '); 
/** MySQL database password */
define('DB_PASSWORD', ' ');

6.  In the DB_NAME brackets, enter the name of your database.  In the DB_USER brackets enter the name of your user, and finally in the DB_PASSWORD brackets enter the password you use to log into your dashboard.  So, using our example:

// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** // 

/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define('DB_NAME', 'happycoder_blog'); 
 /** MySQL database username */
define('DB_USER', 'happycoder_john'); 
 /** MySQL database password */
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'happycoderspassword');

7. Now that you have the wp-config.php file edited to your database and user, decide if you want your blog to appear as the home page of your site, or in in a separate area. 

-If you the blog to be the home page of your site and the main focus, you will upload the files from the blog folder directly into the root folder for your domain.  The blog will automatically show up as your home page when someone types your URL into an address bar (this is assuming that there are no other files already in your domain root, if there are you would need to remove any preexisting index.php as it will clash with the index.php of the blog). 

-If you want to use a static HTML page for your home page, (i.e, making a site that has articles and a home page, with a blog not the main focus) then you should rename the folder containing the wordpress blog files to ‘blog’, as you’ll upload the entire file into your root to keep the blog in it’s own separate area.

8. Open up whatever FTP program you use and connect to your domain.  Navigate to the root file of your domain and upload either the files from the wordpress folder (if the blog is going to be your home page) or the entire blog folder (if the blog will be in a different area of the site).

9: Open up a internet browser and type in the domain name of your site, adding wp-admin/install.php to the end of the domain and hit enter (if you uploaded the entire blog file, use blog/wp-admin/install.php).  You should find yourself being taken to installing options where you can fill out your username and password.  Once that’s done, you’ll be taken to the dashboard of your new blog, all set up and ready to customize!

*Note that if you get an error and are unable to get to the installation, check to make sure that everything has been uploaded properly and in the right place.  If it’s still not working make sure you have the right address typed into the bar, and if it STILL isn’t working, you may need to check with your host to see if they support wordpress.

10: From the dashboard, go to appearance > themes.  Select the ‘Install Themes’ tab and type ‘toolbox’ into the search bar.  When it pops up, click install and it will automatically be installed.  Now go back to ‘Manage Themes’ and you’ll see Toolbox is now added to your list of installed themes.  Select activate to make it your blog’s current theme.

Now you have successfully installed a wordpress blog on your domain and installed the theme we’ll be working with.  Next time we’ll get started actually editing the CSS!

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