PC 2012 – The Idea

May 16, 2012

So my primary desktop has been flakey lately, blue screening occasionally, and not handling games well. I’ve also been really upset at how LOUD it is. Even just using a web browser is an exercise in listening to the cpu fan change speeds constantly. I decided to start prep work on a new PC with the goal to have it finished before 3 day weekend in the end of May.

Primary goals of the new system:
1.) Quiet
2.) Powerful enough to be a 3 year gaming computer
3.) Low power
4.) A decent development machine (any gaming pc will basically also qualify here, except 3 monitor support would be a nice perk)

My current system was supposed to be quiet, and it wasn’t bad at the beginning, but it’s never been great. I would love for it to be flat out silent when not gaming. So I put some time in getting up to speed on current hardware and this is what I’ve come up with:

The SSD I’ve had for a month and a half and just never installed. Got it on sale, no real thought put into it. There is some method to the madness behind the rest of the products.

One of the first things that may jump out at you is there is no mechanical harddrive at all. That is on purpose. I have a home server that stores the majority of my large files. While I may put a low rpm large capacity drive in the computer someday, I wanted to try it this way first.

I’ll be posting later on some of the reasoning behind more of the parts, and the effectiveness of the build itself after I’ve had a chance to put it all together.


March 10, 2012

If you don’t know, Kickstarter is a website designed to crowdsource funding for creative projects. I’ve seen a few projects that have seemed interesting on Kickstarter, but I finally pulled the trigger on one.

While I did grow up playing point and click adventure games, that’s not a big reason for my choice. I’m much more interested in the documentary. I don’t necessarily have high hopes that it will really show the parts I’m interested in, but I think it’s worth taking a chance on. And the game will be a nice side bonus. Plus I want to encourage the crowdsource funding of game dev.

2011 Recap

January 11, 2012

End of year update!

First some stats:
2011 weight (stable, but still 10lbs higher than I want it to be, anytime it’s in the 170′s I’m happy with it though.) Down 7lbs on the year (but I’m up a little now.)
2011 weight

Lifetime weight (for comparison, since I started caring.)
life time weight

I’ve been bad about not running with my ipod much since April (sorry Sonja!). I did a 5 mile leg of the marathon relay in June, and a couple 5ks here in Sioux Falls in Sept/Oct. I think I’d like to work up to a 10k by summer and possibly a 1/2 marathon by year’s end. This is kind of a big change in mindset for me, as I found little use for things over 5k before, but 5k’s are becoming something you just do, so it’s probably time for tougher goals, and I don’t really want running faster to be one of them as I only really enjoy doing official races with friends.

I don’t have the #’s in a spreadsheet yet, but basically, in 2010 I could maybe do 1, at one point in 2011 I could do 40 in a single set (160 a day). I’m back down closer to 20 right now, but that’s ok because:

In December my motivation to run was lagging so I decided to finally start going to the gym with Seth. I don’t really care to share my weights on major machines right now. Suffice to say I was stronger in college and I wasn’t really a tough guy then. Good progress so far though. Benchpress up 10lbs, Squats up 20, Offsetting my pullups by 10-20 less. Major goals are Benchpress own weight, Legpress 3x own weight. Squat 1.5x own weight. 15 legit pullups (currently not really able to do even one).

Moved into the dev department, though I keep all my prior responsibilities (should avoid all major new projects in the area though I hope). Working in Silverlight/WCF now which is a nice change of pace from classic asp/vb6.

Broke the screen back in November. Looking forward to whatever gorilla glass replacement gets unveiled at CES this week.

Hello World only. :( I need to work on this one.

Minimal progress. Another area needing attention and $$.

Fixed the critical issues, but at the end of the day I’m still driving a 13 year old car. I have no desire to get a better one for myself, but I could see wanting something nicer for others. I really struggle with that though, since the easiest way to meet financial goals is to not spend money and this is big one. :/

Shorn bald, since June.

Working on it. :/

Halloween 2011

November 3, 2011

Dread Pirate Roberts or bald Zorro?

The world may never know, but Jeff’s Pee Wee Herman did win us some drinks…

Lawson Wedding

September 13, 2011

Lori and Travis had their big day. Everyone had a lot of fun. True to form, I was an usher (seems like I’m always an usher). Though that was hardly needed since 4 ushers was a bit overkill for the little church.

Good times. Congrats!


July 31, 2011

Went to SDCC 2011 with Mike, Sonja, and as a last minute thing, Opello.

Frontier screwed us big time on the way out, we got to stay overnight in the Denver airport freezing to death (from the dried sweat of being stuck in Sioux Falls for 2 extra hours in the not nearly airconditioned enough 100+ degree heat).

Went to the zoo.

Stood in a line.
Stood in a line.
Stood in a line.
Stood in a line.
Stood in a line.

Met Zach Levi. (Stood in a shorter line.)

I think we all had a fun time, but everyone was a little on edge from the bad flights/no sleep. Oh well, lesson learned, pack a coat even when it’s 100 degrees outside and 1 travel day is not enough :/


June 15, 2011

Went to deadwood. Ran in the marathon relay with Sharla, Kristine, Andrea, etc… Lost $4 gambling. Almost lost my ID to a bouncer. Sonja hi-fived a lizard. Got to hang out with Bobby. Etc…

It was a good weekend.

Well that didn’t take long

March 4, 2011

Or at least it didn’t take infinity, which was how long I figured it would take. All it took was a horribly debilitating neck injury apparently.



Unfortunately all that great progress (of attempting to get back to what I could run a year ago…) has not been consistently reflected in my diet… pizza and cookies do not a lean dan make. There has even been some fast food.

Oh well, I’ll get there eventually.

2010 in review.

January 3, 2011

Finally some follow through on the big goal established in 2009 (lose weight and get back into shape). I’m not where I want to be yet but I’m much happier with where I am at. I recorded a low of 185.2 (currently up from there, but still under 190).

weight 2010

nike running 2010

Combined with the ~80ish miles of run/walk I had before my nike+ (which was my awesome birthday present from Mike and Sonja), I ended up with around 275miles in 2010. I’ve already set the 2011 goal at 365 miles, no walking. We’ll see how that goes.

I plan to do monthly running challenges with the stakes of a lunch meal bought by the loser with Sonja in 2011 (which I have not told her, we’ll see how that goes over…) The trial run of that motivation in December seemed to help. Nike says I won, but she insists she has 22+ unsynced miles and won. I suppose I’ll trust her this time. If anyone else wants in, just friend me on nike+ (zombiefooddan).

Fast food was almost completely eliminated in 2010. I did probably eat that junk 1-2 times a month, but all in all much better. Now if only I could kick this pizza addiction. I have a couple friends on the celiac diet, but eliminating grains is not really something that appeals to me. Too much love for french toast.

I acquired a new phone in the fall. A Droid X. I like it. The latest updates to navigation and maps have been big improvements (a.k.a. they are usable now). It’s a bit of a step up from my Razr. Though honestly my only issues with the Razr were texting was a pain and being 4 years old it’s 3rd battery wasn’t the greatest anymore. (I picked up 2 razr batteries on the extreme cheap a few years ago. Occasionally it’s useful to have one of the the most popular phones in the world.)

Razrdroid x

Work was… interesting and at times frustrating this year. I don’t like to blog about it, maybe I’ll recap it some in the future. I’ll be on my 3rd boss in 3 years as of tomorrow. Hopefully that goes well. Looking to not have a repeat of 2009 and 2010 where I have a combined ~650 hours of uncompensated overtime to help them meet project time-lines that I never seem to get to have realistic input on. I love the people I work with and what I do but sometimes I really hate how I end up having to do it. I am gaining an appreciation for good project managers at least.

So that’s 2010. Lighter. More runny. A little passive aggressive.

See you in 2011.

Making of Zombie Disney Halloween 2010

December 5, 2010

This is a picture guide into the making of the Winnie-The-Pooh ‘mascot style’ head I created for Halloween this year. Our group theme was ‘Zombie Disney’ because we wanted to participate in the Zombie Walk downtown.

Unfortunately I can’t find my original sketches, but I started this project by sketching front and side views of a decent looking winnie-the-pooh head onto graph paper. I then did a second set of sketches where I kept the basic features and proportions the same, but turned his grin into a frown, gave him a scar, enlarged the eyes, etc… to zombify him. I did a final third sketch just to check the proportions to my own head to ensure I would be able to use the eyes and mouth for seeing/breathing as I was planning.

I then spent a lot of time on youtube and how-to sites, trying to figure out the best way to go about actually constructing the head. Most of the better masks out there shared the concept of a foam structure supporting it, so I decided foam carving was probably the way I wanted to go. I wanted the head to be much larger than my own, to keep the teddy bear proportions roughly correct.

Shopping time:

A day of Rockband 3 later, time to start carving that giant sheet of 2″x36″x72″ foam into something resembling a mask. Foam is expensive, so as much as I wanted to, I decided not to start with a giant block and just carve it down like professional mascot manufacturers do. Instead I would start by making a foam facemask and building the iconic bear head over it.

Wrap the foam around your head, and cut it so that you can make a cylinder:

Hot glue gun time, and I hope you like hot glue, because I put about 30 sticks into this mask. Smooth your newly cut edge and glue the foam into the tube shape. Spend a decent amount of time getting this done very well because this is the basis for the entire mask.

After the glue has cooled, put on the mask, and mark your eyes and mouth. Pay attention to where the glue seam is, you probably want it off to the side or the back (I used the side). Cut decent eye holes, and a mouth hole to breathe out of. (Note: One of the last things I did was to make the mouth hole much larger. It is easier to remove foam than to add it.) Be careful when doing this that you always clear the inside of the mask of foam shavings and always close your eyes when putting it on, taking it off. I got a tiny piece of foam in my eye one day and it was not a pleasant experience.

Figure out where the top of your head is, and how much foam you will need to round off the mask at the top. Cut the excess off. Cut triangles into the future ‘top’ of the mask. I did 4 and started by gluing the points together, but you can do this part however you feel appropriate. However you do it, you will want to trim some foam off the inside of the triangles so that it is the outsides that come together, not the insides. I cut my triangles down to the point that I wanted the rounding to start and left enough to have as tall of a head as I wanted.

I wasn’t too worried with how pointy the top looked at this point because i knew I could fix it later with either shaving, or just pushing it down when I get to the cloth exterior stage.

Next was the nose, My first nose ended up being far too small (I actually used it almost without changes as the lower jaw). My second nose was deemed good enough and used. To make the nose I put 3 pieces of foam together to form a giant brick. Then I drew the front, side, and bottom views onto the brick, and just set to work shaping it with scissors. This is the result:

I was having a hard time envisioning how the final mask would look at this point, so I made a ‘brow’ quick from some scrap foam, and was held the nose to the mask to figure out it’s exact positioning.

Satisfied that the current revision of nose would be large enough, I attached it with glue.

Realizing I would need to move the mouth hole, I decided to first attach the lower jaw to the bottom of the mask to make sure I got that part built up sufficiently so that it would not be weakened significantly by the new mouth hole. This is also the point where you can finally start to recognize that yes, this will look at least modestly like a bear.

At this point I re-examined my original drawings. I’d known for a while that I would need to do something to build up the cheeks, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I decided I had enough foam left that I could put 2 layers on if I didn’t go all the way around the head (and that the back of the head needed to be mostly smooth instead of bumped out by the cheeks anyway). I committed to the first layer, being careful to ensure my ‘cheeks’ went all the way down to my jaw so I could reinforce the jaw to mask attachments behind the scenes there to support my ‘air’ addiction.

Almost immediately I realized I would need a second layer of foam to get to my target cheek size (large, round). After applying the 2nd layer, I did the nose style sculpting again, drawing my shave points from front and side perspectives and then using a scissors to trim away the excess. Note the cut outs to differentiate the cheeks from the jaw.

And the right side next, but we can see a problem forming. The brow isn’t living up to the size of the mask below the eyes. (Here is a better shot of the left side jaw, since I didn’t take a picture of the right side pre-forehead.)

I decide the whole upper head could use some girth, so I add foam. Wanting a smooth forehead, I put the smaller cuts to preserve the slope of the head to the sides.

You can see I shaved the 2nd layer of upper head a little near the bottom, to keep the first part perfectly vertical. I also filled in the top of the head, using 2 scraps of foam with bottoms that sloped in for a perfect fit. This 2nd layer of foam gave me a much nicer shape for the upper head. As you can see the shape of the entire mask is essentially done at this point. Here you should finish carving out the eyes and mouth to desired size. I carved a lot of foam out of the inside of the nose/mouth area so that there is more room for my nose and so I can breath more easily.

“Skin” time. I had a great deal of cheap ‘yellow/orange’ cloth on sale for this costume. I decided to hand sew the nose pieces and then pulled them into place, only gluing the very ends. I should note that the few marker lines I didn’t shave off did show up a little under the cloth, so anyone making their own mask might want to cover those with a lighter color before starting on the skin.

I bought spray on glue for this part, but decided to heck with that when I figured out my cloth was thick enough to handle the hot glue just fine. We’re now up to the night before I needed the mask, so I didn’t take many pictures of the skin going on. It was all done with one layer of cloth and hot glue. I used cloth scraps for a ‘patchwork’ look to it since he was supposed to be a zombie head, but honestly when it was all done that method wouldn’t have been horrible for a normal head either.

Ears were done with 2 more pieces of foam, sculpted after I had the cloth on the head, and just glued cloth to them and then the ears to the head. The eyes were made from very sheer costume cloth, with stichwork plastic mesh as frames (cut a ‘frame’ in the correct shape a few squares wide at every point, and sew the cloth onto the frames, then glue the frames in place. Visibility was not great on the final product, but I think that was mostly to do with someone spraying fake blood right onto the eyes before we got to the zombie walk.

Black felt was used for the nose, eyebrows, and inside the mouth. I ran out of time before the zombiewalk to add the scar, but that was going to be yarn, with over-sized ‘stitching’ and stuffing protruding.

The rest of the costume was comparatively simple for me, since i had other people do the outlining, pinning, and sewing. Outline a me sized suit of the cloth, cut it out (include extra to cover shoes). Sew around the outside with a sewing machine. Turn inside out, add a red t-shirt, add fake blood, ready to go!

The fake blood dried brown on the cloth but it did look pretty awesome for the first 45 minutes or so. It was really messy though.

Here is a quick shot of the entire group.