Hopefully, April will be back to normal

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I am planning to move this blog back to its domain in April, provided that I can find hosting.  (I could also complete wipe out whatever was on there in my hosting account and re-install Wordpress on the host I was using but I’m tired of it going down randomly and I don’t want more hacking issues).

Maybe I won’t be so cheap this time and actually pay a bit for some hosting….as evidently you get what you pay for…hmpphh. I was using a free host previously (that let me install WordPress). It wasn’t too slow but it was very liable to randomly stop working. Another free host I’ve tried with WordPress…Freehostia was very, very slow (and updating didn’t work and it ran an old version of WordPress!) when I tried it a few years ago.

There is also a possibility that I stay here at wordpress.com and just map my domain but I would like the option to upload static webpages (for a few projects in the pipe) and I’ll like to customize my design.  So….

I will definitely install some sort of WP Security plug-in on my next install though!  Jeez!  (I got paranoid and already installed one the Foundation Equestrian site).

I’m too busy now but sometime in mid-late April I should work on finally a home (and hopefully redesigning) my blog.

I got hacked

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You may notice that this looks completely different. And the URL now has wordpress in it.  And old permalinks don’t work. Yes, because I don’t have time to fiddle around right now and my self-hosted blog got hacked!

I was using a free host that supports WordPress. Great, except…

On Monday (Mar 18), I couldn’t log into my blog. This has happened before and it was my login or something in my database that needed to be changed and then reset my password through WordPress. That worked again. I idly wonder how did it happen…does it really go randomly changing user names within the database itself? I think not! I wondered for a moment if I was getting hacked or something but I let it pass…

Of course, the next day I was trying to play around with feeds with The Old Reader (trying to find out if this was my replacement for Google Reader as the problem with Feedly is that I couldn’t see the number of comments). And my feed didn’t work. Hmmm… Then I went to my site and it was hacked….yeah. It wasn’t horrible hacking (nothing overly inappropriate although they did rename my author name to “f*ck” as I found out later as I was trying to import posts).

There was no easy fix (or I couldn’t find one that fast) and in the midst of essay season, I didn’t have time to deal with it so here we are.

Good thing I wasn’t on drupal, joomla, expression engine or some other blog/CMS platform without free site like WordPress.

I think I’ll eventually move again because I don’t like the limits that wordpress.com places on its users. But at least it won’t get hacked…(it would be big news if it did)
We’ll see. If I’m really lazy maybe I’ll just map my domain but meh….  But it’s better than going with a super cheap host that tend to blink in and out of existence I guess…

Unknowledgeable Tutorials: Masking & Background Blurring

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Welcome to the first instalment of Jen teaches what she just learnt…on Google. In other words, a tutorial from someone who doesn’t know what the hell she is doing. Yay! I looked it up on Google and then did it and then lived to upload it and write about it! Previous to that experience, I didn’t make much experience with masks. The good thing about masks is that you can disable them and (sort of) move them around but I don’t know a ton about them.

Disclaimer: the writer of the author does not really know what is she is doing and is doing this for the first time after looking it up on Google and using a range of techniques found on various websites (although she didn’t actually look up painting the masks…that just came to her in an obvious way). Seriously.  Also, there may be an easier and/or better way to do this but the writer just doesn’t know it.

This will work in Photoshop Elements (9+), Photoshop (any…I think. ), probably GIMP or anything that supports layer masking. But I don’t use GIMP since it seems to take me forever to do anything in it!

We will turn this

into this

Good News and Bad News

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So previously I got locked out of my blog. (Said my username didn’t exist…even though I’m the only user and I’m the admin and it’s self hosted….). At the time I was also locked out of my hosting panel so I had no access to the database.

The Good News
I regained access to my hosting Cpanel today (finally after days not being able to access it…it is a free host so there’s not really any support per se…). After fiddling around in the wp_users table of my database my phpMyAdmin  (not a good place to play, really) with some Googling (even though my solution didn’t come from Google or the WordPress forums  it came from dumb logic…maybe I should change the user_login to my login), I finally got my login to work again. I have no idea what happened that made it stop working but now it works again! So we’re back in action and I don’t have to move right away!

I fixed it though! I ventured into the database and my blog didn’t break and I fixed it! Somehow. I’m pretty proud of myself.  (Considering my database management skills are kind of…nill.)

The Bad News
I can’t get my back up database (.sql) to work but that may be just me (the files may require some manual editing). It keeps bugging me about my comment tables and such with “#1046 – No database selected”. It seems to be a common problem but I am not versed enough (i.e. not at all) in PHP and MySQL to figure it out quickly.

Luckily there are other ways to restore a blog (though I would have to start with a new install…of everything…).

I feel old: Remember Kid Pix?

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aka…the drawing program where half the fun was finding creative ways to erase things (like blowing them up). I also enjoyed blending things and playing with stamps…I really liked the multi-part stamps for some reason (hey, it sort of translates….filters and custom brushes in Photoshop :-)).  I also liked making patterns with the mirror drawing thing….

Ask Wiki if you weren’t a child of the 90’s. 

I could not find any screenshots of the version I used. But….

I probably used Kid Pix Studio (released 1995 which will be the appropriate date). Or maybe Kid Pix 2 but I think it was Kid Pix Studio…eventually anyway.

But I found a few videos

I do not know what to do…with my life

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What else is new? School and such but we’ll get to that later. I’ve actually been sick all week so in between school, mindless web surfing and sleeping, I haven’t had time to do much else.

I’m an English major so writing is pretty natural. But I like writing poetry and creative non-fiction (and ramblings). You know, things that typically don’t pay (well, if at all). I hate business writing and I hate writing around things (I hate adjustment and  polite “bad news” letters so much).

To be honest, I’m kind of tired of writing (after 6 years of academic writing) and I find it hard to focus on writing…hence why everything ends up being done at the last minute (okay, so maybe I’m a procrastinator in general). I know I will always write in some way – whether it be professionally or not (or published or not), I don’t know. I’m not sure if I’ll ever know.

But I don’t know what I want to do. I am fascinated by technology and I love the internet. Immensely  My life will be incomplete without it. I do well in text-based communication which probably draws me to it. Although there is more multimedia on the internet than ever, it’s still primarily a text-based medium.

To that end, I am fascinated with digital poetry, web documentary and e-literature. But you can’t make a living doing that can you? It’s barely known right now. And poetry is always dead as per usual (but can multimedia bring it to life?). Now that I’m learning meter…maybe I suck a poetry anyway but prose is always fair game haha.

I did do a web design certificate but I still don’t know enough for modern web development  If it was 2000 it’ll be fine but it’s not.  This is the world of mobile web, no-flash interactivity and content management systems and blogging software (like WordPress etc). Once was part of Geekery, the internet is now part of modern culture. It will change and evolve over time.

But I don’t know what will happen. No one does. Will web developers become extinct as it becomes easier and easier to have a web presence (or even forgoing the website and just use social media or whatever cool thing of the time).  Maybe?  Will web developers/designers become the typesetters (another design job that pretty much disappeared with desktop publishing by the end of the 20th century) of the 21st century? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does but we will. When the time comes.

It’s already really easy for the average person to make a simple website using any of the CMS/blogging packages out there (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla! etc) or the many online site makers (WordPress.com, weeby.com, webs.com and many other providers) and then there is the WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) website building software (Adobe Muse + others). It’s just the serious people, the tech phobic and the medium-large organizations that typically need custom coding and design nowadays…if it wasn’t for mobile apps which are currently all the rage.

That said templates and WYSIWYG software has been around for a long time (Frontpage anyone? Man, that sucked.  Yes, I did use Frontpage once a long, long time ago….horrid in hindsight). And web designers didn’t go away….

I actually never have used the WYSIWYG part of Dreamweaver, other then to lazily resize a picture or something (nor did I never figure out templates but that was no problem, I used my CSS file).

I’m using Wordpress now. And it’s okay but I think it’s a bit bloated (and slow) and the fact that it uses PHP puzzles me because I don’t know PHP. At all. (Well if I stare at it long enough I can figure out what it’s trying to do but I can’t make it work for me).

But I suck at math. So I don’t know about programming. (Patterns I can do though. Overthinking makes you see stuff like that.) I just know every time numbers are involved  all logic is shot to hell.

As for writing. I don’t know. I like creative writing but I know that isn’t really a job. It’s a hobby more or less. A productive hobby but still one of my million hobbies (why do I have so many damn hobbies!!!)

I do think writing is more future proof as it’s unlikely in my lifetime that something can completely replace a human writer. But I could also fall back on it I guess. But maybe thinking that far ahead is overthinking. Not that this isn’t.

Is there  job in overthinking? Where you can just pace around in a empty room and over think….I can do that! But really, what kind of writer isn’t an overthinker!

Wacom Graphire 3 & Bamboo Create Comparison

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Well, mostly hardware comparison since my Graphire doesn’t work properly (unless one long line drawing is your thing) and it isn’t recommended that you have two Wacom drivers on the same computer…so only the Bamboo can be active.

So I got a new graphics tablet for Christmas since my old one doesn’t really work properly anymore (well it works okay if you never want your line to end or as a mousepad). My tablet started spazzing out in 2008 since I have illustrations from 2008 that I finished with a mouse. (And most of the stuff I did in 2009 was from drawing did earlier but recoloured….).

Unlike some who are going from a older and/or smaller version of Bamboo to a Bamboo Create, I’m going from a Graphire 3 medium to a Bamboo Create. 10 years has passed since I got my first pen tablet.  The list price is/was the same for both tablets (about $200. A smaller version can be had for half the price or less but it does not have an eraser anymore.) They are roughly 3-5 generations apart (Graphire 3, Graphire 4, Bamboo, Bamboo 2nd Gen, Bamboo 3rd Gen)…well, there’s 3 generations between them and within the same category (Wacom’s consumer pen tablets).  What has changed? Is it better? Have I gotten any better at drawing since I was 13? Ha! Since 2003, I’ve been through quite a few computers (at least 2-3 I think), my monitor is now a widescreen flat panel and I’m now using Windows 7.

Model Graphire 3 6×8
Bamboo Create
Brand Wacom Wacom
Release Date 2003 (Sept) 2011 (Sept)
Size 10.8 x 10.1 x 0.71 in (physical)
8.22 x 5.94 inches (active area)
13.8 x 8.2 x 0.4 in (physical)
8.5 x 5.4 inches (active area)
Pressure levels 512 1024
Programmable buttons 2 on pen, 0 on tablet 2 on pen, 4 express keys on tablet
Additional input Wireless mouse (two buttons + scroll wheel) Multi-touch
Surface texture Smooth (plastic…unless you dirty it) Slightly textured/matte
Included software (all full versions)  Adobe Photoshop Elements 1 or 2?? (I think) & Corel Painter Classic (?). I really don’t remember anymore… Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, Corel Painter Essentials 4 & Autodesk Sketchbook Express

Some of the other specs on the Graphire3 are now hard to find and I don’t think I have the box anymore.

The Graphire3 also has an hard to pry “photo frame” cover which is can be used for tracing if you want (I rarely did that).  All mine has is the instructions for said photo frame shoved in.

Note: at the time of the Graphire 3, the Intuos professional tablet had 1024 pressure levels. As of Intuos 4, it has doubled.

Enough of the specs, let’s see the two tablets!

I think I may have a font obsession…

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…with slab serif fonts. I’m not quite sure why but I am sure beginning to identify fonts as slab serif when I see them. Which is kind of disturbingly designer kind of geeky….

I often read with Amasis on my Sony ebook reader.

The font I’m using on my blog right now is called Bitter, is also a type of slab serif. I was using Kameron before (but it looked odd for body text).  Bitter is okay, but I like it better when bolded. (I already decided that headings should be a script font that why it’s not….a slab serif).

There’s something old but modern about it. I’m not quite sure why I like it.

In my last video I used Sanchez which was guess what….yeah…

At least I’m not sub-categorizing them…yet!