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My Giant Podcasts Masterlist


Currently Feeling: good

I'm obsessed with podcasts and have been for a while. Parts of my job see me working long hours alone updating tons of machines at certain parts of the year, and it can get pretty boring, so I keep my earbuds on me and listen to different things as I work. It's also an excellent way to keep chores and shopping interesting, and now I'm invested in a number of them, so you know how that goes...

Anyways, I'm always interested in trying new ones, but once you get past a dozen or so it gets difficult to keep track of which ones you've liked and which ones you have yet to listen to, so I've been keeping a massive Google Spreadsheet with info, links, ratings, and short reviews on all the ones I've listened to and have on my "to listen" list. Lo and behold, Google Spreadsheets also has an excellent "Export to HTML" function that means I can pull it out and upload it here!

So if you're looking for a curated list of podcasts that I've found interesting, check out the page below. Do note that it's always going to be a work in progress, so some of the info won't be filled in until I get to that particular podcast. But I currently have over 300 podcasts listed, so I'm sure you'll be able to find something you like!

external Link FrugalGamer's Giant Podcasts Masterlist

Hatchihoni Review and Guide


Currently Feeling: sick

Today I'm going to be talking about an odd pet that I found on AliExpress a while back, the Zodiac Friends/Hatchihoni vpet that's currently only available in Chinese. Here's the link I purchased it from if you're interested:

Zodiac Friends Electronic Pet on AliExpress

I picked this one up because the screenshots looked very different from the pets I've seen on there before, although I half expected it to be a Touma/QPet clone when it arrived. Fortunately, I was wrong--this pet is actually quite unique, and although it uses several stolen Tamagotchi assets from different color editions, the individual pets are unique, and the gameplay is very different.

There is no English option on this pet, and it’s completely in Chinese, so I’ve been relying on Google Translate and context clues to figure it out. This hasn’t turned out to be too much of a problem so far, although it did take me like two days to figure out where the stats screen was (press the left button on the Pet Info screen), because I’m…special. I've created a menu tree for you to reference below the cut. Continue reading "Hatchihoni Review and Guide"

Dark Cathedral Dress for Zombie Shake Rochelle Goyle


Currently Feeling: productive

Rochelle Goyle in my handmade custom Dark Cathedral dress.

Much like the Getting Ghostly Draculaura I blogged about recently, this Rochelle doll was part of an Ebay purchase I made ages ago. I've opted not to remove her factory paint because I love the little cracks all over her face and body, but I did want to make her a custom dress. And since Rochelle is a gargoyle, what better to use as inspiration than a dark cathedral? I've always loved studying architecture, and gothic architecture in particular is so much fun. So extra! This theme let me go crazy with the ornamentation, and fits especially well with the spooky season this month.



Click through the cut to see the rest of the TONS of pictures I took, plus details of how I made everything!


Continue reading "Dark Cathedral Dress for Zombie Shake Rochelle Goyle"

Small updates and stuff


Currently Feeling: tired

So I've actually got several things I'm working on at the moment, but they are rather long projects and will take a while to add to the site. One is a review of a couple of off-brand virtual pets that I've been playing with, while another is a sewing project I've been working on. These are both rather extensive, however, so they take a lot of work to type up and add photos to, plus proofreading, etc. etc. In the meantime I've just been adding little things here and there.

The main site has a new layout for Halloween! It'll come down after the spooky season, though I'll probably archive it on the About page for fun. If you've been playing with my Dollmaker then you may have noticed I've added all sorts of stuff in several categories. I like to draw up little items in my free time here and there, and upload them whenever I get the chance, so that will probably keep growing over time. If you look through all the tabs, you may notice some popular characters from your favorite movies and TV shows.

Also, I'll be taking off the "new" tab from my Instagram archive link, but it will continue getting updated as I post there. I just don't really want to take the focus off other things I may be adding over time.

Latest Sewing Project - Draculara Custom Dress Ensemble


Currently Feeling: creative

Draculara with a custom poofy black velvet and red satin handmade dress, trimmed with lace, and holding a handmade purse

A few years ago, I found this Getting Ghostly Draculaura on Ebay for sale without any clothing. She had obviously been played with, but was in relatively good shape, and I just loved her face and slightly translucent plastic. So I picked her up, and she sat in my doll box for a while.

Eventually, though, I felt she deserved a full outfit, and although I do sometimes customize my dolls, I wanted to keep her face as-is, because I just think it's so sweet and cute. So I went to the thrift store to find some fancy fabrics that might make a good doll dress. I soon came across this ridiculous (but very well made) women's vest made from black crushed velvet, and a bit more digging turned up an incredibly bright red jacket covered with sewn-in sequins and decorative stitching. They were both in great condition, and fairly cheap. Win!

Click the cut below to see before pictures, and then check out the full completed photoshoot! Continue reading "Latest Sewing Project - Draculara Custom Dress Ensemble"

Fuck Facebook and Instagram


Currently Feeling: angry

So here’s something rich. A lovely creative developer named Austin Huang created an app a while back that lets you browse Instagram without being tracked or logged in. I found out about it because I was browsing a list of Humane Tech up on Github that mentioned it in their Social and Fediverse section (P.S. check it out it’s cool). Anyways, by the time I traveled over to this person’s site, the app had unfortunately been taken down because of a very threatening letter that Facebook had sent them. The letter itself has kindly been uploaded by the creator, and you can read it in all of its bullshit victim-blaming glory right here:

https://github.com/austinhuang0131/austinhuang0131/issues/2

Can I just point out the incredibly obvious hypocrisy of accusing a third party developer of violating insta’s T&C by, as they put it, “Using or sharing user data without the users’ consent”???? I know this person doesn’t have the time, money, or will to fight this bullshit demand, but I highly doubt that everything in this scare letter is actionable, especially the bit about voluntarily sending them all sorts of code and data that they would undoubtedly use to try and patch whatever holes their walled garden may have. I very very much hope they did not get that information, because they have no right to it, not from one person who built an app for viewing their site.

But let’s be real about what they’re really concerned about here--the main thing they’re taking issue with is the ability to use the service while being anonymized, which a ton of folks want because a) they don’t want targeted ads, and b) some of them have friends and family on the service, but don’t want to get an account to view their content, mostly because of said ads. Facebook is really only upset because this app lets them do that, which screws up their metrics and keeps them from being able to sell their users the way Facebook is known to do. I do hope these things keep popping up too fast for FB to shut them down, because this cancerous business model needs to go.

To be honest, IG is the only social media I really have left. I do have friends and family on it that I don’t connect with elsewhere, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve told them that I can’t communicate with them this way. I could make that jump, but the part that keeps me from doing it is that IG allows me to connect with several art communities that are very niche and not present elsewhere, at least in such large numbers. In particular, the dolling community, which is vibrant, but small, and it’s difficult to find most of its members in one place anywhere else (except for one very toxic not-to-be-named forum which deleted my account. If you know, you know). Since most of the doll community is art-focused and does customizing, painting, sewing, etc., there are quite a lot of them there, and tagging features makes it really easy for us to find each other. I really hate giving that up, though I may start to look for connections in other places moving forward. Pinterest has a similar presence, but since they do almost as much ad-targeting and tracking, so I’m not sure if that’s much of an improvement, or if I’m just replacing one evil with another. I will say I’ve been posting less these days, though, since I’m just too disgusted to engage with IG’s BS most of the time.

Not that I’m against being the change or anything, but it’s usually a lonely enterprise until others show up.

An Incomplete Review of the Giga Pets Farm


Currently Feeling: frustrated

I picked this up on Ebay recently because it looked really different from the other Giga Pets I've seen, and also I love games with farms. The review is going to have to remain incomplete for now, however, because I've set it aside after struggling with it for a while. Earlier Giga Pets are known for being more difficult to care for, and that coupled with the unique gameplay that comes with having multiple pets and crops to care for was a bit overwhelming for me. I kept a running log each day and I was playing with it, so click below the cut to see my thoughts and how my first run with this one went.

Giga Pets Farm crops screen


Continue reading "An Incomplete Review of the Giga Pets Farm"

Unicorn Amigurumi


Currently Feeling: creative

I've been crocheting for years, but I never really made any amigurumi until recently. On one of my trips to the craft store, I happened to look through their book section, which I usually visit for coloring books, and came across this adorable book here. I ended up choosing the creature on the cover first, since I liked it so much, and after several months of starting and then putting off the project, I ended up with this adorable little thing:

Banana for scale

Click the cut for details and more pics Continue reading "Unicorn Amigurumi"

My latest nostalgia kick - Tamagotchi & others


Currently Feeling: impressed

So every few months or so I get obsessed with some fun thing or another, and I fall into the collecting hole. It's something I have to work to not get too spendy with, otherwise I can really get carried away, but it's fun as long as I keep an eye on it. My last interest was cassette tapes, which I'll probably end up putting on the site in some form or another eventually. This time around it's virtual pets. Bandai has been rebooting their original Digimon and Tamagotchi lines for folks like me who want to revisit their childhood toys, and they're pretty cheap right now, so I picked up a purple and pink P1 (first gen, that is) Tamagotchi, and a re-released Gigapets Pixel Puppy (they're revamping theirs too). Below are my thoughts about both of them.

Continue reading "My latest nostalgia kick - Tamagotchi & others"

Blog is back up! Also some site updates


Currently Feeling: refreshed

Oh how I've missed this thing. Dreamhost has been having connection issues, and it ended up affecting pretty much anything that's dependent on MySQL. Fortunately, I've got backups and was able to re-upload some files, and we're back in business.

In the meantime, I've released some Pixel doll bases for those of you who also like making pixel art. Leave a comment if you use them, since I'd like to see what other come up with!

I also have a fun little toy I've been making. Over at the Melon Land Forums, one of the members, Iceologist, has been hosting a Web Jam event, similar to a game jam, but, obviously, for web pages. I wasn't able to join the first one due to some real life things I had scheduled, but they had some cool entries, which you should wander over and check out. The second one, though, has the "ASCII" theme, so I decided to make an art tool to make ASCII pictures with. I call it:

ASCII Painter

Check it out and have some fun with it! It came together more easily than I thought it would, though I did hit a few snags here and there. It uses jQuery and javascript, along with HTML and CSS. And of course, the GUI is all text only. If you want to keep up with the other entries in the webjam, here's the thread below:

https://forum.melonland.net/index.php?topic=479.0

It's too damn hot here


Currently Feeling: sympathetic

We're making history here, with temperatures that are reaching far higher than they ever have before. Thanks to climate change, I don't have much hope that it will get better in the future, but we're managing as best we can. August is usually our hottest month here, so I plan on staying inside as much as possible.

Occasionally I do get out, though, and a lot of the time I come across wildlife that surprises me, even in the metropolitan area where I live. I have a small collection of pictures of cuties I've found around and like to look back over from time to time. I'm sharing them here, though I'll try to put most under a cut since some of them are of bugs (ladybug larvae and katydids in particular).

Mallard ducks
Mallard ducks Continue reading "It's too damn hot here"

Do I even have a web manifesto?


Currently Feeling: contemplative

These are popular on "web revival" websites these days, and I do love reading them where ever I find them. I guess it makes sense to post my own, but I don't really want to rehash the same talking points everyone else has brought up.

In terms of social networks I'm down to Reddit and Instagram these days, and Instagram may be on its way out. I left Facebook most recently, and never looked back. In terms of friends I had mainly amassed a collection of extended family members, who were getting progressively more and more alt-right, and I couldn't deal with the toxicity (this was about three elections ago, in fact, so I can't imagine how bad it is now). Before that I had tried Twitter, but couldn't really find a niche I felt comfortable with, and then I grew tired of all the toxicity there as well. I've seen the alternative networks like Mastodon, Ello, and the like, but I'm just not really interested right now.

I, too, have missed the old web. And having been a webmaster before, more than anything I missed having my own website. I make so many things that I like to share, and I felt like I didn't have one place to put them all, instead scattering them across different social networks that didn't really belong to me. Fragmenting my projects like that was disconcerting, and as time goes on it seems to become harder and harder to be a follower, as the feeds from social network sites get retooled to become better at selling things to me. They usually start out as a way to connect with others and discover new ideas and art, but eventually that falls away as more people join and the landscape becomes homogenized.

That's what the modern web does. It boils everything down to sameness, in an effort to make the web palatable to advertisers. Back when I was first online, we were excited about things like The long tail, which basically boils down to the idea that the web can be profitable by selling a wide breadth of products, rather than a huge volume. While I object to the idea that the web's primary purpose should be to make money, the idea of the long tail led us to believe that at least the web would exist to serve users, in an effort to reach as many markets as possible. But it seems that the problem with many of the web's biggest participants (Google, Facebook, etc) isn't that they want to make money, but that they want to make all the money. This seems to happen to most market players once they reach a certain size, and it's what drives a lot of anti-consumer business practices.

So what we see now is the web universe slowly getting conglomerated and centralized by the largest players, as the barriers to entry get higher and less accessible to most people. There's an excellent book about this phenomenon and how it's played out in nearly every information-based market in history, that I suggest you check out if you're interested in this sort of thing. The Master Switch, by Tim Wu lays out the history of radio and television, and how both movements started out as indie-type things in which regulations slowly choked out small players with the help of legislation ostensibly meant to "help" the little guy. Did you know setting up a radio network or telephone line used to be a simple affair, often done by hobbyists who wanted to share things with their local communities? You'd need licenses to do both of those things now, or you would run afoul of some very serious federal laws. Wu warns that if history is any indication, the web may end up going the same way.

So, even though it may be an uphill battle, I'm doing my part to keep the hobbyist part of the web alive, by hosting my own site and choosing not to engage with websites that want to monetize me. I hope you'll do the same. There are some really lovely places on the indie web, and I'd really hate to lose them.

Problem fixed


Currently Feeling: grateful

So it seems enabling the security certificate on my site broke the blog styling for a little while. It's been fixed now, but it looks like when adding "https://" to your site's URL, you'll need to modify the base path in the Serendipity admin by going to Configuration>Paths and editing the "URL to Blog" setting to add "https" to the site's address. Just in case anyone else is looking for the same info.

I've been adding little things to the site here and there. There are several new whole pages, as well as more artwork and resources. I've also been tweaking the theme here and there; I've made the main site's font a little bit bigger for those of you who either can't use zoom, or just struggle with the font size in general. I'll still need to deal with the width of the site in mobile devices, so that's on my to-do list next.

I have to reach out and extend some thanks to The Cheapskate's Guide for a lot of help on this thing lately. I've included the site in my links page, and added attribution in a comment where I used some PHP code they provided, but if you're new to webmastering, this article has a wealth of helpful info:

https://cheapskatesguide.org/articles/raspberry-pi-website-original.html

I was looking around for a site counter, but I really wanted to limit the number of third-party widgets I link to, for privacy and speed reasons. Depending on someone else's code, especially for tracking, really limits the amount of control I have over who is grabbing my visitors' data when they drop in, so I didn't want to go sign up for another service that would want to paste ads onto my website (I aim to keep this site completely ad free, forever).

If you'll scroll down through that article, Cheapskate offers a simple PHP hit counter script that you can add to your website for free! I did edit mine a bit so that the formatting is more to my style, but I'm super pleased with it and grateful that I can use a home-grown solution that's completely transparent and pretty simple as well. It's not going to work on static sites that don't have access to PHP (like Neocities and others), but if you've got a little more flexibility with your site, definitely check it out.

My no-buy "philosophy"


Currently Feeling: contemplative

Maybe it's not accurate to say "no-buy" really, because I am still buying things, but I've tried to minimize it as much as possible.

We live in a society and times are hard. I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, dear reader. So while I'm sure it would suffice to just tell you all that I buy as little as possible, I feel like it's worth going into the reasons I have, because they are varied and maybe (hopefully?) not entirely typical.

Top reasons for low-buy:

I am...well, frugal


I should admit that I am not in a bad financial position. I've been pretty fortunate and I'm in a good place at this point in my life, but a big part of why I'm in that position is because I've always been true to my internet name. I buy used whenever possible, avoid debt, and try to live within my means. There's a huge push in the U.S., mostly driven by advertising, which is everywhere these days, to upgrade whenever possible, and buy as much as your budget can afford (which is always just a liiiiiitle bit more than you're going to be comfortable spending). American homes are larger by average than homes anywhere else in the world, and I've watched a lot of people buy themselves into ruin because their eyes were bigger than their budgets. I really, really try to avoid this in my own life not only so that I can be more comfortable, but because I resent being inconvenienced by conventions and trends that are only meant to line someone else's pockets.

So I try to use what I have before rushing out to buy things in every situation - after all, "Reduce, reuse, recycle" starts with reduce, and I think people often forget that. If I can't use what I have, I usually just put off buying replacements for as long as possible. I've found most of the things I end up doing this with are less necessary than I used to think they were. Once you put some time in between the feelings of want that crop up day to day, you'll find that your definition of "things I really need" shrinks dramatically. Wishlists are great for this, by the way, and besides the ones I have in online shops that everyone uses I also have one in my bullet journal. Periodically I'll go back and review them, and I usually always find at least one thing that I don't really even want anymore that can be removed. On the upside, this also means that the things I actually do end up buying are more appreciated and enjoyed, both because I really did need/want them, and because I had to wait before they arrived.

Trying to lessen my dependence on Amazon and others


Amazon has ballooned into a huge problem lately, not that this was unexpected or anything. Most recently I've been really unhappy with their response towards their unionizing members across the country. They've been notorious for having ridiculous working conditions for a while, and now that employees are doing something about it, they are not responding well (that by the way is the first result pulled up on Google for "amazon unionizing workers." This is not difficult info to find). I do think they provide a valuable service, but I don't believe any company should ever grow as large as they have, nor should its founder ever be allowed to amass as much wealth as Bezos has (here's a visualization of just how removed he is from the rest of the world, in case you've ever had trouble picturing it in your mind, as I did: https://mkorostoff.github.io/1-pixel-wealth/).

A good amount of my impulse/extraneous purchasing has been done through Amazon, so I'm putting the breaks on that for now. I'm currently building up a list of good Amazon alternatives for various products that I will probably share here at some point. I'm at the point now where I can sometimes afford to spend a bit more in order to support businesses that aren't as ubiquitous as the Big A--and I do acknowledge that this is a privileged position that not many share. In fact, that is precisely why I try to exercise it as much as possible, because I can (hopefully) help in ways that others can't.

Minimize my impact on the Earth


Everything I buy or order has to be shipped across the country to get to me, and therefore contributes to CO2 output. Once it gets there, whether at my front door or after it's been brought home from a local store, I'm always struck by how much packaging I have to throw away after it's opened. In the past I did my best to recycle what I could, but that's not really an option anymore. So I do my best to lessen my dependence on plastics and one-time-use items, and I do without extra packaging wherever possible. That said, I'm not a big fan of most bulk stores that require you to bring your own packaging for things. I'd venture to guess that 95% of the U.S. doesn't even have access to these places, and wouldn't be able to afford the markup if they did. It also requires a substantial change in habits and day-to-day life to make bulk purchases work, and most people just don't have that option. I guess this is an exception to the "helping in ways that others can't" point I made above, but I think the difference is that I just think most of these stores won't ever work long term for most people.

I loathe consumer culture


I still struggle to express in words how much I hate everything about consumerism. I hate the drive to fill our lives with things as a replacement for self expression, I hate the wastefulness, and the "infinite growth" mindset it's all based on is ridiculous. Fast fashion, shopping as a hobby (or worse, as therapy), buying your way out of problems, and "fear of missing out" are all ideas that serve to make the rich richer at my expense. And perhaps because I spend so much time in front of computers and online, I've grown tired of being the product. Sometimes the only way I can best protest things like these is to do my best to not participate at all.

Spiritual reasons


I put this one last because I'm not a hugely spiritual person, and also this is a highly personal thing that will resonate differently with everyone depending on their own faith. However, one thing most faiths have in common, I think, is that they do try to separate us from our fixation on "things," and turn us inward. Consumerism is the exact opposite of this pursuit; it encourages us to find satisfaction with the things we buy. There's been an entire body of research showing that advertising's primary focus is on making us feel like we're lacking in some way, since evidently this is the best way to make us part with our money. I won't rehash what smarter people than me have already figured out, but the info is out there if you're interesting in finding it.

I have a number of little thoughts here and there about how I'm accomplishing this low-buy goal of mine, and ways in which I haven't been able to accomplish it, so I'll probably be posting those in the future at some point. I hope this, however, can serve as an explanation and jumping point for anyone who has questions about why I spend so much time thinking about this sort of thing.

Found my old site!


Currently Feeling: excited | grateful

Sooo, I'm a bit of a ditz at times, and it turns out that when I had gone to the Wayback Machine (which I've been spending a lot of time on lately) to look at my old site that got pulled off of Atspace, I was putting in the wrong URL. You'd think I'd remember my own URL, but no, I had forgotten it. Once I managed to dig it up from my records, I was able to use the Wayback Machine Downloader to scrape the whole thing! Oh, I'm so elated! I though most of the crap I put up there was gone, but it looks like almost all of it is still up. This is good, because I was in the process of building my Resources page today, and I wanted to link to all of the old Photoshop brushes I made ages ago, but I was missing a few files here and there. Luckly, I've recovered them all and they are now up for download, plus a few extra packs that I never ended up releasing! Next I'll be uploading the old layouts I designed. I only have screenshots, but the data on there was old at any rate. Some of them, though, I'm rather fond of, and I'm actually considering recreating them for various things. If I ever decide to give the results away, they'll be up here.

If you're interested in looking at the old site, check it out here:
https://web.archive.org/web/20070517190057/http://spiffyhink.atspace.com