Christmastime Is Gone

Sooou, I guess I was too lazy and/or busy this month to update, despite having come up with a couple subjects to write about. It’s the last day of December, and I should have mentioned this almost four weeks ago, but…

New layout! Even though it’s been up for almost a month now. Inspired by some plaid I saw in a commercial a long while ago. I really tried to make a layout that didn’t look like I designed it, but I think all my little me-ish touches here and there make it fail in that regard. :o

Oh! And after ages and ages (a couple years, I think) my blog is back to the basic two-column setup. I was inspired by [an old layout of mine (link to layout archive, simple geometrics)]. I still like that layout. One of the few from way back then that I still feel like sticking up here. hee! I like the simplicity of it, but it’s still attractive.

The current layout, I’m not so sure about, I always get stuck on wanting to use a light red-hued color for the background. Hopefully the color I settled on isn’t too offensive or too gross.

I also finally, finally, set it up so that the site stuff pages use the same layout as the main page. Just the About page, Colophon, all that. The Archives still have their own design… for my own reasons.

Anyway, I hope anyone reading this had a happy Christmastime or the holiday of your choosing, religious or not, and I hope your New Year’s goes well, and that 2011 will be a better year, whether or not 2010 was a good year for you.

held on high

I managed to crash Windows Explorer tonight. :O

A little bit of info: I own a Dell Inspiron 2650 laptop, bought in the summer of 2002. Currently runs on 384 MB RAM (somehow the video card takes up 128 MB of the installed 512? I don’t understand it, but meh), was at 256 ’til about a year or so ago. (No I am not kidding.) My hard drive is 27.9 gigs (my mp3 player is bigger! at roughly 28,000 MB).

Normally when I’m working on my sites I like to have the following programs open: Windows Media Player (or Winamp, depends on which playlist I’m listening to); Volume Control (crazy songs all having different volume levels); Mozilla Firefox; FileZilla; Notepad; Windows Explorer (er, you know, the “My Documents” et cetera folder windows…); Adobe Photoshop 7 (hah, I realized this year that it’s outdated by three whole versions now); Linotype FontExplorer X (when are they gonna release a non-beta Windows version? :( ); Calculator (to figure out em sizes); and sometimes, Spider Solitaire, to entertain myself while my computer’s trying to process something.

It never really bothered my laptop before, running all those programs. (Well okay, maybe FontExplorer is a drain, but I don’t have it open that often.) But it seems like the past couple of months, I’ve complained more about my laptop’s speed.

And two things I noticed this weekend: (one) when I click on a program in the Start menu, the menu doesn’t disappear after a second anymore, it just sticks around until the program opens up … a few seconds later (this includes Spider Solitaire and Calculator); (two) Firefox’s Bookmarks responds way slower than they used to. Sometimes I can’t even get the Bookmarks menu to open when I click it. D:

So yeah, Windows Explorer crashed tonight. All I tried to do was highlight another file, to see the dimensions of the image and then everything … stopped … responding.

I’ve been planning for a number of months to reinstall XP on this laptop this summer, to try and improve performance. A lot of computer help sites (er, members of support forums, rather) suggest doing a fresh install regularly once a year. *boggles* So I thought, hey, once in 6 years, my performance should definitely improve, right?

Well at the moment I’m feeling it won’t have much of an effect. :( I think all the programs I have on here and use regularly, they’ve just got too many add-ons, updates, doohickeys, and whatnot compared to six or even two years ago.

Plus, my laptop has picked up this annoying whine that appears every so often. It might be tied to the fan running. Or it might be the the hard drive whirring. Whatever it’s doing, it bugs the heck out of me. I don’t like extraneous noise, or repetitive noise, of which the sound is both.

Then I was reading the Wikipedia articles on Linux, Debian, and Ubuntu (unrelated to my computer woes; [wow, the whine started up not more than half a minute after it stopped O_o *cough* back to my previous thought] XKCD had a comic about a Debian flaw and I was trying to figure out what the heck it was talking about *snrk*), and found out that for Ubuntu, the minimum required RAM is 384 MB. For Windows XP 128 MB is recommended, which I have thrice over. So I guess Ubuntu is out on this laptop. (Although when I get a new laptop, I’ll probably still install it on this laptop just as a trial run.)

I don’t know what to do! I don’t have money for a new laptop! Besides, it seems like all laptops suck nowadays. N’s Dell laptop keeps not reading the BiOS (it’s so funny! every time he starts up his computer, it says there’s no BiOS! HAHAH— okay I’m being sarcastic). C’s Dell laptop battery lasts only a couple minutes. (I guess that’s not really the laptop itself … but my battery still lasts almost two hours, despite being two years old, or however old it is.)

There’s a MacBook, but that thing costs mucho bucks! Money that I do not have, and am not willing to borrow from any relative! (Cough, Bank of N.)

And … well, I guess there are smaller, less popular brands out there that are good, but I don’t really feel like researching. I want my six-year-old laptop to work! :( It’s so nicely designed and simple and all one color and not ugly.

In other news, [inangeling-dot-net] has a new layout! After how many years? It would have been two years this July. Wow! That’s the longest I’ve ever had a layout up. I don’t know if I’m happy with the layout. The guinea pigs just don’t look right to me (this means I need to own a guinea pig in order to draw them right! woot! going to the shelter tomorrow! *snrk*)

I (sorta, somewhat) used wolftlou’s Musician’s Element colo[u]r palette (adding my own pink to the pig, and muting the blue for the background).

I think a major problem I have is with the alignment of the Sites list and Et Cetera list. Soou much empty space around them, ugh!

I might end up going back to the prevous layout, rearranging the text so it’s a vertical layout and not a horizontal one, or at least making the divs larger so it’s not hard to read. But in the meantime, new layout, yay go check it out, see how I morph guinea pigs into weird positions for my own amusement.

worth her weight in gold, but not in typography

I finished reading Thousand Pieces of Gold the other day. The story was all right. A bit short in parts. I had to get used to how the book would jump spans of time. No, I’m still not sure I got used to it in the end. But it wasn’t too bad.

Polly Bemis’ story is so incredibly heartbreaking. It’s amazing, all that she went through, and she just kept going. (Well I guess you don’t have any other choice, if you don’t die…)

I don’t know though. The story seems lacking, somehow. I know, being a “biographical novel,” that it tells Polly’s life story, but in a way that makes it more story-ish. But it doesn’t really feel like either a biography or a novel. The beginning started well, the whole thing seemed fairly contiguous, but after being sold to the lady the story got more disjointed and jumped more and more from event to event.

I’ll just have to keep the book and try reading it again at a later time. Like I do with all books that don’t wow me. (The only book I got rid of after reading only once, or not even once, I couldn’t even finish it, was Mary, Called Magdalene. I expected it to be at least as good as Song of the Magdalene, by Donna Jo Napoli, if not better, considering the author, Margaret George, said she did research for her historical novel. But once I read that Mary supposedly heard an iconic idol talk to her, the book just went waaay downhill from there. I stopped reading at Jesus’ crucifixion.)

One part I found interesting, was Polly having to confine her body into special bindings. First her golden lotus, binding her feet so they were smaller. It made me think about other cultures where women had to change their body shape to conform to standards of beauty.

I don’t know much about other cultures and their histories (I am so ignorant. *hangs head*), so the only thing I could think of was corsets in western society. With the golden lotus, girls and women were limited in mobility, relying on servants to move them from place to place. With the corset, the women were free to move of their own accord, although I’m sure they couldn’t run away if their life depended on it. But it did restrict their lung capacity, and fainting couches were commonly used for when they couldn’t get enough oxygen.

And now? In western society women will starve themselves to look like models. I think that’s the most detrimental to health, no? We haven’t gotten much better. And in China leg lengthening surgeries are performed, where legs are broken and slowly stretched to grow more bone mass. Then there are those eyelid glue products in Japan (and other far east countries? I don’t really know) where you have to jab a stick into your eyelid just to get that eyelid line. I don’t know if there are any bad long-term effects with that though.

But back to Polly. Later, while she was still in China, it was mentioned that her mom gave her a bodice that would flatten her chest. I’d never heard of that before, and wondered why that would be a standard of beauty.—Although in Japan, with the kimono and the obi and everything, they had women looking like logs as well. I just don’t get it. But then I do live in a time when “bigger is better”…

Then even later in Thousand Pieces of Gold, Polly had to wear a corset! The unfairness of life! Going from one confinement (which she never quite got over—her feet had been bound for too long before they were unbound, and never fully regained their mobility) to another. I wonder if she willingly wore the corset after she got out of slavery, or choose not to, or felt she had to in order to fit in with other midwesterners.

The photos included in the book were a nice touch. They made the story, and Polly, more real. (I think the last photo of her is so cute!) Because haha, it being a biography doesn’t make it real enough.

Despite all of what I’ve said so far, the only real complaint I have is with the printing. The typeface isn’t a monospace one, but it’s set so large and dark that it feels like one. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Courier or other monospaced fonts like other designers do. I guess code runs deep in my veins. *laugh* But I definitely don’t want to read a book set in any such typeface.

What’s even worse is that I could forgive the typesetting (perhaps it’s meant for an older audience, who have poor eyesight), because there’s a much worse typography sin committed in the book—there are double spaces after every period! Gasp and shock and horror! Since the type is set so large, there is less leading required to make it legible and so it looks to me like it’s 110% of the type size. Nothing wrong with that. But because the type size is so large, the word spacing is also large, and therefore the double spacing is extra doubly large! And I see all these empty areas in the text, and augh I can’t stand it! As my typography teacher said, “You could fly a plane through there!” In this book, there’s more space for planes than at LAX!

I shouldn’t complain though, I got the book at my library for $1. If I do decide to keep the book, I’ll just give this book back to the library (they can make another dollar, woot!) and go find a nicer printing at Borders.

*gasp* nekkid! (of CSS)

I decided to go along with CSS Naked Day (although I’m not signing up, I just don’t care that much), so the whole site is plaintext for at least the next 24 hours. (I know, I’m late for the world-wide 48 hours of April 9th. :( )

I heard of it last year, but I was too late to participate. (Or was it some sort of grey theme site I saw? I don’t really remember. I like the CSS-less theme better anyway.) This year … I am a little bit early for America, woohoo! *laugh*

(Hm, my knowledge is lacking in the area of time zones and eastern/western hemispheres and … such. I know I’m about 17 hours behind Australia … and eight seven hours behind wherever the Greenwich Mean line is. Which means … well I’ve got 27 hours until April 9th is over. At least 32 hours for April 9th to finish … at least through Hawaii. Where is the last land mass to pass to the next day??)

The only thing that really bugs me about this is the Times New Roman. I am no longer a fan of Times New Roman, or its original Times typeface created for The Times in London. But I … must … not … touch!

(If anyone’s curious [another reason why I decided to do this: I have no idea how many people regularly visit this site and figured, why not, it couldn’t hurt too many people :P], I don’t like Times because it’s meant for newspapers: the letters are all smashed and thin and I like round letters, like Tahoma, or Georgia. I can’t stand Arial/Helvetica because they’re so skinny.)

the jester and the monk went out one night

New layout. Yay! After I complained in some previous post that I had no inspiration for a new layout I went out to a scrapbooking store (for class supplies) and saw a paper design that I liked (the diamond pattern) so I matched it up with this image I’d found earlier while on the lookout for old woodcuts (for class). I like it all right at the moment. Will probably tire of it soon. But I think I can wrangle the layout into a non-overflow one once that happens.

I still have to work on style for the text. It’s what kept me from making this post yesterday when the layout went up, but since I spent most of today working on my book (for the same class mentioned previously), I never got around to finishing it, and would rather say yay new layout before it’s done than a few days after it first went up.

I’ll probably split the “sidebar” into three sections instead of two. I’ll probably toss in the RSS feed from LibraryThing and I feel somehow like I’m following the latest trend by doing that, but oh well. It’ll make this blog look less abandoned in between posts. XD;

I also want to add a colophon. Why? I’m a dork I guess. I love the idea of it. I first read one in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I had no idea what it was, but I liked knowing what typeface they used. It edged me a little bit deeper into loving book design. *grin*