azurite: (back to the future - save the clock towe)
Do you remember when LiveJournal used to be cool? You had to get an invite to even get a journal there. It was not only exclusive, it was run well. It just seemed to work. You didn't have this big complicated install, where you had to understand CGI or PHP or any of that stuff. You just went to the website, logged in, and wrote. You could get comments if you wanted, attach different moods and icons to each post to express yourself. You could organize things into Memories, and later, add tags. You could customize the look of your own journal, get friends, join communities.

You can still do all of that, and more (Scrapbook! Games!) but it's bloated now. I think everything went downhill the minute the site got sold to SixApart. They didn't know what the hell they were doing, and when SixApart sold it to whatever Russian company owns it now, it got even worse.

The amount of spam I get on my various posts throughout my LiveJournal history has increased nearly exponentially over the past few years. Communities are the one and only thing that LiveJournal and similar sites (like Dreamwidth, bless its heart) have over better, spam-free, more customizable blogging software--like WordPress, which I am now using for pretty much all of my websites.

I remember trying to deal with some of the spam over the past few days while my computer was "recovering" from an Erase and Install of the OS. I was busy installing updates and such, so I couldn't do it on there. I tried accessing the LiveJournal mobile site on my iPad, and I couldn't even tap on the login boxes, because every time I did, it thought I was tapping on the LiveJournal logo, so it just took me back to the homepage. It's because the mobile site wasn't properly optimized, and the full site must have used some Java that caused the login box to move around on the main banner. The mobile site--if one can even log into it--sucks, and that's becoming an increasingly dangerous thing in this day and age. Something that's BUILT to be accessible and responsive should be a priority for websites of any kind in this day and age. It's definitely something I'm aspiring to for my sites.

It's no longer a case of LiveJournal working; it's a matter of "if" and "when" -- it's also getting hit more and more frequently with DDoS attacks or other various outages that are never fully explained. LiveJournal doesn't have any sort of reliable presence to notify us of such outages AS they happen, so people are left in the dark. Sure, LiveJournal isn't exactly a crucial service, but it's still a pain in the butt when you're trying to access something specific--or perhaps writing something important--and all of a sudden you can't access it. If you've paid for any portion of the service--which a lot of people had, including me, way back in the day when I thought a Permanent Account might be a good idea--then you're essentially losing money for every moment of downtime, which is why LiveJournal is probably bleeding out its coffers trying to pay back users for all their lost time.

I'll miss it, but honestly? Bring back the blogroll. I can import my LiveJournal into WordPress now, maybe even figure out a way to crosspost it here to Dreamwidth (because I like Dreamwidth and at least want to support its continued development via communities I run), then I can just do everything I want from one single place. That'd be nice.
azurite: (ffx-2 - yuna berserker)
Customer service is so important to me. It's why I love working for the company I do, because the company holds customer service to a higher standard than so many other organizations.

That said, we may be in the "customer service" era, and people have come to expect a lot out of customer service, but the customer is NOT always right, let alone "king."

I went to a Subway here in the San Fernando Valley tonight, about 10 minutes before closing. I always get the same thing whenever I go to a Subway, but there was a girl ahead of me--bedhead, super-tan skin, bleach blonde hair and a sliced-up sweatshirt dangling off her at a weird angle. She looked stoned. She was slowly drawling something about the different kinds of bread available, then decided on 9-Grain Wheat, and asked for "everything on it."

Now, every single Subway has a sign that shows with words AND pictures, just what "everything" means without charging you extra. So the guy starts loading up her footlong sandwich as requested, and then by the time she gets to the end of the counter, she starts complaining: more of this, NONE of that, she asked for THIS, not THAT, and on and on. The guy did his best to try and make the changes, but the girl was so out of it (or something) that she just got snotty and said "You know you're so rude!" She started going on this tirade, to which the guy responded, "I'm sorry miss," and repeated what he thought she'd asked for, but then after the whole sandwich was made, she just said "Ugh, forget it, I don't want it, you don't have what I want, anyway" and she walked out.

The guy was tired and no doubt more than a little irritated, but he never snapped at the girl. True, he didn't exactly offer to scrap the footlong and start over, either, but the girl cut him off (by insulting him repeatedly) before he could. And she didn't seem to really know what she wanted, anyway.

There are all kinds of customers--all kinds of people--in the world. Some people are ready to buy, and some people just want information. But while there's never any reason for a salesperson to ASSUME anything about a would-be customer, there's also never any reason for a customer to be rude to the person trying to assist them. If they're not helping the way you want, take a deep breath and ask for assistance from someone else. Explain what's not working for you. Don't immediately get angry, get rude, or get egotistical and start complaining.

And if service is THAT bad? Ask to speak to a manager, or simply leave and write a review on Yelp or something.
azurite: (sailormoon - pgsm senshi)
So I went to Anime Expo this past weekend, and I was all geared up to cosplay Sailor Saturn. I was also willing to go as Kayabuki, the Prime Minister from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, since my boyfriend David was going as the Laughing Man and his friend Liam as Gouda, but the costume is far from comfortable in the heat, and I couldn't get her short hairstyle quite right. What was supposed to be a one or two-day costume ended up being my ONLY costume (and probably not a very obvious one at that, which, to me, halfway ruins the point of cosplay), though I ended up wearing "street clothes" for the other days. It's one thing to wear a red skirtsuit that I already own, quite another to get a custom-made Sailor Saturn seifuku from an FIDM graduate on commission for $390.

Originally, the commissioner, Ashli of Loserific Commissions, told me we'd meet up sometime on Day 1. I went to the Opening Ceremonies and texted her, but got no reply. As the day wore on, I texted her a few more times, asking stuff like "Hello?" until I finally called her. I left a voicemail that basically said if I didn't hear from her, I'd have to contact Paypal (where I'd made the payments) and file a claim for goods not received. Later, I got a flood of texts from Ashli apologizing, saying that she'd just gotten her phone (why didn't she have it on her? I don't know.) and that she would do her best to get the costume done by Day 3, Sunday.

Not cool, but not horrible, either. She said we'd meet early on Sunday, leaving me with two full days of the con to cosplay.

Sunday rolls around and I still haven't heard from her about where or when to meet. When she finally does text me, she says that she hasn't been able to finish the costume, that she doesn't want to deliver something to me that isn't the quality I'm likely expecting, and that she will give me 10% off and ship it to me for free--by the end of this week (that's this Friday).

Reluctantly, I agreed to this, even though I only go to two cons a year as of late (Anime Expo and Anime LA--one in January, the other in July). I commissioned Ashli back in mid-March, and I've been excitedly waiting for the costume since then. Dad and I pretty much slaved over the Silence Glaive prop that was the one component of the costume that Ashli couldn't provide, and now it's sitting, useless, at Adam's apartment.

It's Thursday evening now, and I haven't heard from Ashli about whether the costume is done, what problems she was having (did she take on too many projects? Were others that she was already working on better-paying? Due sooner?), or if she's already sent it with tracking. If she said she'll "get it to me by Friday," then shouldn't I have heard SOMETHING by now?

I don't want to give up and just ask for a refund, but I know I have to draw the line somewhere or lose my investment. I would be really disappointed if the first "major" cosplay commission I got, or a fellow Moonie, shafted me in this way. But I think if she still can't come through by tomorrow, I'm going to ask for a steeper discount (refund), and if I haven't gotten it by the middle of the month, I'll file a claim with Paypal or ask for a complete refund. It would frankly suck, but maybe I could find another SM commissioner in time for Anime LA in January.

On what makes for a good cosplay )
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
Not that long ago, I finally got a DVR, which enabled me to play catch-up with some of my favorite TV shows that I have missed due to my crazy schedule. It's weird, because while I'm working only part-time and, up until this session, have been only taking one class (eight weeks) online, I feel like I don't have the time to do my usual activities--even staying up-to-date with my Feed on Facebook, let alone checking journals and other sites, working on fic/art, getting organized on my computer, etc. I'm not even playing video games or writing articles (like I should be). Where does my time go?

So when I finally do get some breather time and I can watch TV, imagine my shock to hear that the Monday evening episode of Stargate: Universe (the latest iteration in the Stargate franchise, which began with the Kurt Russell MGM movie and became Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis on the SyFy--formerly Sci-Fi--channel) was the final one! As in SERIES FINALE.

What the hell!?

The show's only been on for two seasons now, and intermittent seasons at that. Meanwhile, "SyFy" (which is a joke of a name, but it's "trademark-able!") is showing cooking shows, ridiculous ghost/urban legend/paranormal shows that everyone with a brain knows are staged, and oh yes! WRESTLING.

There are a handful of science-fiction television programs on these days. A few of them are good. Not all of them are on SyFy, and of the ones that are, not all of them even have a true sci-fi bent the way Stargate: Universe (henceforth "SGU") did. To name a few: Haven, Eureka, Sanctuary, Being Human, Doctor Who, Fringe...etc. There are also some that places will list that I honestly don't consider Sci-Fi. For example, Smallville, another favorite show of mine. It's not sci-fi. It's action, if anything, because it's based off the early years of SUPERMAN, for Pete's sake! Or call it drama, or romance, because it's like a slightly more angsty version of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, from the 90s! NOT SCI-FI.

Merlin? Also not sci-fi. In fact, anyone who likes Merlin really ought to know better: it's fantasy, pure and true. Call it myth, call it legend, call it fairy tales--it sure as hell IS NOT sci-fi.

What follows is a rant about the cancellation/ending of SGU; there will be spoilers.

Save Stargate Universe! )
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
So May is the month for humor, apparently, because Wired's Humor Issue features not just SNL's Andy Samberg, but also the uproarious kicker "How Android Beat the iPhone." Being the curious sort (and someone who has been using Android phones for over 2 years, currently works for Apple, and just switched to her first-ever iPhone), I flipped to the article, and I have to admit, I'm a bit mystified. Is it really humor, or are they being serious?

A few points that they make as to why Android is "better" than the iPhone's iOS platform:

There are approximately 170 devices on the market that run the Android OS.

Uh, is more supposed to be better? I think it makes it more confusing! Sure, there are more carriers with Android devices, but how do you know who has the better PHONES? If the software is so awesome and the carriers vary depending on where you live and how much you pay, doesn't it really come down to the hardware, and how capable it is?

My mistake was sticking with a carrier that I loved, and that had good coverage where I lived. I heard good things about Android, but T-Mobile simply didn't have phones with hardware capable of running the software properly. I got stuck with a myTouch 3G (the HTC Magic), which SUCKED. It's hardly worthy of the moniker "smartphone," and is only a hair's breadth better than its predecessor, the G1.

Android gives the carrier 30 percent of app sales, minus credit card processing fees, while Apple keeps that 30 percent for itself.

Someone please explain to me why the carrier deserves ANY of the cut of app sales. Here's how apps work:

(1) A developer makes an app to work on the software's platform. Either Android's OS or Apple's iOS.

(2) The developer submits it to Apple for review, or Android for placement in the Android Marketplace.

(3) If/When it's accepted/posted, people can then download it. Paid apps result in the developer getting paid for their idea and hard programming work, while free apps sometimes include ads, and other times just test out if a good idea can compete. People download apps while on a wireless network (usually "free," as-in, a home Internet service, an office network, or a local wi-fi hotspot like at an Apple Store, mall, or coffee shop; sometimes "paid" as at an airport and hotels) or using their carrier's 3G service. Since most apps are fairly small, this barely takes any time at all--maybe a few minutes, maximum--on either network.

(4) People rate and review the app, it gets more attention, and the developer makes more money, yay! And normally the other developer--the one that built the code base that the entire phone runs on--would get the other chunk of the profits. This is how it is for Apple, but Google gives their code away for free, and they don't "need" the money, apparently, so they give it to the carrier...because the carrier is SOMETIMES used to download things like apps (or apps which result in heavy load on their networks, like Netflix) to offset the cost of things like network maintenance. Bwah? What if someone downloads an app that never needs any additional network access, for anything? What if it's an app that requires the faster connection of Wi-Fi, not the carrier's 3G? Or what if it's an app that connects, but only at the user's discretion (when they connect to Facebook to download friend lists, for example), or only downloads a minimum amount of content--not streaming movies or whatnot?

This is what I don't get: if your network is too shitty to handle the load, upgrade your damn network! Don't try and pass that cost off (in any form) to the end users, who already pay you for their service in the form of ridiculously-priced data packages, overage limits, roaming, etc.! I guess it's Google's prerogative to give what should be THEIR profits away to whomever, but honestly? I think if they want to give something away, it should be to the developers who bother to use their crappy system (because yes, it's crappy. I would say it's "the Windows of smartphone operating systems," except Windows HAS their own smartphone OS, and it's probably even shittier than Android)!

I'm so sick of carriers whining about how they have all this work to do because people are flinging their money at them, making contracts and getting plans and then wanting to use the networks the way normal, connected people do nowadays. Get with the program! The hardware (network and phone) needs to be able to handle what the software (Android or iOS) throws at it. Apple's devices never seem to have a problem with this; why do the Android's partner manufacturers?

You could argue that Android runs on AT&T and Verizon, but also on Sprint, T-Mobile, and heck-knows-how-many other carriers out there, and this is true, but bad software--whether it's the apps themselves or the Android OS--will have more of a ping on an unstable, outdated network in small numbers than great software running on the best hardware currently available on the two largest, fastest 3G networks in the country. And if Android's marketshare is growing, that's even worse--all these carriers will have to upgrade to keep up, because people are going to demand BETTER networks, networks they deserved to have from the beginning. How is it the end user's fault if the carriers underestimated the phone's capabilities, even though the hardware manufacturers and software developers (well, the OS developers, anyway) should have known better?

I guess what makes it all the more humorous is that the article pretty much concludes by acquiescing that Android has all these failings--too many crappy apps in the open Marketplace, no guarantee that any given app will work on a phone, even if it has the latest Android OS available--all because carriers muck things up in their own way. It says that the Android OS doesn't have the largest marketshare of smartphones now, even though the growth is pretty amazing, and sales did, at one point, surpass sales of the iPhone. But then again, if you're only looking at iPhone sales vs. Android on ALL its devices (smartphones and tablets), that's not really a fair comparison, is it? Better to compare the sales of all iOS devices to the sales of all Android-powered devices in the same period, and then see who comes out on top. And yes, since Android is on more devices in general, on more carriers, it may very well win...but is that marketshare the same six months down the line? Has it increased or plateaued? How long do users put up with Android's bullshit? I know I did--for too long, and now I'm happy to have finally switched.

If Android has "beaten" the iPhone, it's by pulling one of those hitting-over-the-head-with-a-chair moves like in the WWE. And the iPhone may stagger a little bit, but it's far from out for the count.
azurite: (sailormoon - usagi sweater)
Sometimes my devotion to canon irritates me. It's a like a mole I can't remove without surgery. In the spirit of my new class in Instructional Design, here are a few facts:

Given a birthday of June 30 for the character of Usagi Tsukino/Serena from Sailor Moon
AND
Given a typical start month for new school in the month of April in Japan (with the exception of university, which starts in September)
AND
Given the need for high school entrance exams that typically take place in February or March (presumably right before the April when high school would start, but I'm not sure...would they be taken the February/March the year before? That would imply that Year 3 junior high students already know what high schools they've gotten into!)

How is it even remotely feasible for Usagi to be age 16 and still in junior high?

I don't think it is.

The Japanese school system generally follows this numbering: 6, 3, 3, 4. There are six years of primary school (elementary grades 1-6), three years of junior high (grades 7-9), three years of high school (grades 10-12), and four years of university.

If Usagi was 14 years old, as she stated in the first season's early episodes, and in the eighth grade, in 1992, that would give her a birth year of 1978. If eighth grade is her second year of junior high, she still has a year left.

Thus:

Age Range/Year Grade Sailor Moon Anime Season Equivalent Only 16 Universe Date Range for Usagi/Serena
12-13 7 (Year 1) N/A; only Code Name: Sailor V manga N/A; only Code Name: Sailor V manga June 1990-June 1991
13-14 8 (Year 2) Season 1/Classic, part 1 of Season 2/Returns Season 1/Classic July 1991-June 1992
14-15 9 (Year 3) part 2 of Season 2/Romance Season 1/Classic, part 1 of Season 2/Returns July 1992-June 1993 (high school entrance exams in Feb/March 1993 for
the O16 universe)
15-16 10 (Year 1/HS) Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon SuperS part 2 of Season 2/Romance July 1993-June 1994
16-17 11 (Year 2/HS) Sailor Moon Sailor Stars part 2 of Season 2/Romance, Sailor Moon S, Sailor Moon SuperS, Sailor
Moon Sailor Stars
July 1994-June 1995 (high school entrance exams in Feb/Mar 1995 or SuperS
season in the regular SM universe)
17-18 12 (Year 3/HS) N/A N/A July 1995-June 1996


...So, if I've got all this right, even if Usagi is a bit older than her classmates, being born the June before, and for whatever reason, she wasn't a younger student in an OLDER class (e.g. the year before Ami, Makoto, Minako, and Rei at their schools), there's still no way she'd be 16 and still in junior high.

If she's 16, it's past June 30, 1994. If it's past June 30, 1994, but the other girls are still in junior high, then it's not yet February/March of the year they take their high school entrance exams. So how...? Or do I just have to "screw it" and:

a) Make Usagi 15
b) Remind people that the Silver Crystal "reset" time-space, and the year or more that was filled with the Dark Kingdom's activities essentially got "done over"
c) Have Usagi be older because she flunked a grade or had something wrong with her as a child that kept her from going to school on time
d) use a different school system--one that starts in August/September or so, instead of April.
e) Change the title

How do I handle this? I really don't want to change the title, but I don't want it to be a "pointless" title, either. At some point in the story, Usagi's got to be 16, but if she's 16, then the exams would have happened and she (and the other girls) would be in high school! But the high school entrance exams are a huge thing in Japan (where the story DOES take place, even if I do use dub names...or have used them in the past, I'm still undecided on whether I want to use them for the "Only 16" revision), and I don't want to add that kind of stress onto Usagi, or handwave it and make it non-existent.

The only other option I can think of is for Usagi to NOT go to high school, or, if it's possible, to go to high school late. Somehow with all her friends and everyone, I can't see THAT happening either, but I don't see how else to make the timeline work.

I think I've painted myself into a corner. Help!
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

--attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller

Why is this quotation relevant today, decades after the Nazis? Because the problem highlighted by the Pastor here is still present: we keep our mouths shut about the unfair treatment of people who aren't "Us," but by the time that treatment becomes unfair to "Us," there's no one left to speak on our behalf.

So I'm speaking up. I think it's bullshit that people are saying a mosque shouldn't be built near Ground Zero (or anywhere else in the U.S., for that matter). This country was founded on the principle of freedom of religion (among other core values), and that includes the religion of Islam (any argument trying to cite that Islam is not a religion is null and void. Don't even waste your bytes).

Some people have generalized all Muslims as extremists that want to see the fall of capitalism, the destruction of America, etc. etc. and that's ridiculous. It's just as ridiculous as previous notions of Protestants or Catholics being more sinful than the other, or Jews causing entire nations to go bankrupt. It's STUPID. You really don't need to rub two brain cells together to realize this.

I get that we're at war with Muslim nations. I get that not all Muslims like the United States of America, want to be American, or share the same ideals that many Americans do. But that doesn't mean that we have to mistreat the Muslims that are here in America, those Americans who HAPPEN to be Muslim, etc. The more you oppress any party, the stronger they will get, especially if it's here in a country that prides itself on the whole "rags to riches, phoenix from the ashes" concept, where the strong survive even the toughest of scenarios.

Yes, some Muslims may be extremists, and they may be in America right now, or will be in the future. They may have some unsavory plans for us, the same way that the terrorists behind 9/11 did. But can we stop them by being racist, by being hypocritical, or by being narrow-minded? No. America's strength lies in its diversity, in its acceptance of others, and of the country's ability to make a "melting pot" of even wildly divergent cultures and ideals and somehow turn them into something stronger, more beautiful, and better than before.

We can't just take everything that we've learned from all the wars that have come before and toss it out the proverbial window just because it's convenient.

And yes, we're not always going to agree with what every culture does. Sometimes it won't be "fair" by our standards, how they treat others, but who are we to be judge, jury, and executioner? Why is it so hard to respect differences? What happened to the drive to LEARN about the unknown, to explore it, instead of just fearing it outright?

Burning Qurans is wrong (flat-out, always). Depicting the prophet Mohammed is wrong (to Muslims). You can disagree with me, and that's fine: I respect your opinion. I would hope you would do the same for me. We can agree to disagree, and I feel that no one has to "come to arms" because of that kind of a disagreement. It seems so petty to get worked up over things that seem like basic politeness to me: you don't burn a book to make a statement (any book, any statement). You don't intentionally do something offensive to prove a point, especially when you can do something less offensive that will have a more positive, lasting impact.
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
1. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch blog girl
While blogging about just about everything these days is popular, I don't know about a video blog (vlog) on a cereal. Parodying the idea would be one thing, except it's a stupid parody: the girl is a stereotypical geek and a klutz, too. (Maybe that's why it bothers me?!)

2. The Target "Hat" girl
A typical commercial that's way too blatant with its underlying message: "Buy our products and get the life you want!" Except it's ridiculous to fantasize about a HAT causing you to find a hot boyfriend, have a beautiful property with an orchard, and have perfect, well-behaved children. There's a fine line with the idea of a product enhancing your life in some way, and this commercial just crosses it and shoots off into outer space somewhere. This doesn't have even the tiniest idea that it could be a parody of commercials that do this more subtly (like car commercials), so I don't know wtf Target's ad agency was thinking.

3. Capital One with the actor who played George Costanza's father on Seinfeld
Capital One has funny commercials, especially their latest spate with the Vikings. Of course, my sense of humor is known to be very different from others, so who knows? But the idea of some old guy yelling at me about my credit card choice isn't very appetizing. He's not even very funny while employing the whole "loud old man with big opinions" schtick

Anyone have any commercials they just can't stand? I really wish I had DVR so I could just skip them, but I tend to watch a lot of shows randomly, too, and you can't really fast-forward through THOSE commercials, can you? It's too bad the quality that people strive for during the Super Bowl isn't something ad agencies attempt all year round.
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
I'm starting to think my "education" with DeVry is a bit of a joke. It's probably misplaced frustration from over a week without a laptop, and, now that I've got a new one, trying to play catch-up in two classes that overwhelm me.

For starters, in my Information Design class, I feel like it's a re-hash of my last class where the teacher is just doing things "according to guidelines/rules." We have a textbook that I feel reads as horribly outdated (especially the part about justifying why a restaurant finder application should be delivered on CD-ROM versus a Web application--this book was written in 2005, which is like centuries in Internet time), assignments that don't seem very clear, and quizzes with even more trick questions (dependent wholly on the textbook too, which is the polar opposite of what my CSUN professors did: they actually wanted you to read/listen to the LECTURE and DISCUSSION).

Then there's my Flash class. The professor's cool, but the fact that DeVry is still using CS3 when they don't even SELL CS3 anymore is pretty frustrating. I think the fact that CS3 is no longer supported by Adobe should be a big clue for them to, at the very least, provide the CS4 methods of doing things for assignments, labs, etc. IN CONJUNCTION with the CS3 methods, if not use it primarily.

Flash intimidates the heck out of me. Even though it's a Macromedia/Adobe product, it looks and acts different from all the other programs I'm used to, and things just don't work the way I expect them to. My stuff doesn't look nearly as awesome as some of my classmates', and certainly is not anything I'm wild crazy about putting in a portfolio. It's nowhere near on par with the basic Flash you see on websites everywhere these days. Of course, that would be expecting a miracle, right? Going from 0 to 60 in just four to five weeks: I can't expect my understanding of Flash to hit me like an epiphany and I just start GETTING IT. It'd be nice, but it doesn't work that way. I don't work that way.

So I'm going to do my best and muddle through it, and hopefully not end up as part of the disappointingly-large statistic of people that don't graduate from DeVry. It has a miserable graduation rate, from what I found: about 34%. And here I thought California state schools were pretty bad.

I really wish they offered these classes in-person at the Daly City campus. I just don't think I do well in an online environment, odd as that is for both me and the program I'm in (Multimedia Design and Development).

I wonder if it also has to do with my environment here: lacking a job and the money to really buy something like a Fast Pass (monthly transportation pass), I don't go out unless I can spare the change or I really need to (or someone's driving me). Otherwise, I think going to the library with my laptop might be a good idea. I wonder if getting a Fast Pass for April might be a good investment, considering I actually do have some cash now? I really don't want to spend it on things I don't NEED though, since I should be paying my bills and such more than anything else. Still, a Fast Pass is probably a better investment than a bag of bagels (much as I want those bagels).

Plus, I have to treat all of this--getting a job, taking these online classes--like I were at a full-time job and still taking classes in a real university environment. If I can do this, maybe they won't worry and frustrate me so much. That's the hope, anyway.

Any advice from folks that know this sort of stuff--interface design with wireframes, Visio, Flash, etc.--would be totally appreciated.

Trash

Mar. 24th, 2010 04:54 pm
azurite: (batman - criminal justice system)
I just came home from Downtown. After an allergy test (which I "passed" by being allergic to lots of things, especially dust mites), I met Mom at the St. Francis and hung there for an hour before Mom and I headed homeward. Or at least I did; Mom had an appointment, so we parted ways at Fillmore.

I was reading "Eat, Pray, Love" because I'm not the type to get "carsick" (or "bus-sick," as it were) and because I feel a strange resonation with Elizabeth Gilbert, the book's author. She could be me in a few years, though I don't know whether that's a good thing or not. I'm not done with the book quite yet, but the interesting thoughts that have crossed my mind while reading the book are not the subject of this entry.

As the bus neared the avenues, an older man in the single seat in front of mine saw the back door across from us open at a stop. He chucked a Coke bottle out and then turned back to face the front.

I was disgusted. To the point of wanting to throw up disgusted, which is a pretty severe reaction for someone who's just witnessed littering. It shouldn't such a big deal, but I was mad. I shot a disgusted look at the guy, who didn't see me, of course, but the girl across from me, an African-American girl with a pretty headscarf, a hoodie that didn't match, and an ever-present yellow lighter, did. Neither of us said anything, not to the man, not to anyone.

I couldn't concentrate on the book anymore because I felt this rage, this fire in me. But I kept trying to temper it down with questions like "Why do you care?" and "Why is it a big deal?" Some people litter on the bus, and frankly trash could be a lot worse than a Coke bottle. The guy could have hung onto it, could have tossed it out when he got off the bus, or he could have dropped it on the bus and let it roll around hitting people's feet and get caught behind the doors.

I contemplated throwing trash on him, but I didn't have any. I somehow managed to lose my transfer between the allergist's and the hotel, and the other transfer I intend to keep until it's expired--just in case. Besides, a transfer isn't really "trashy" enough to teach a litterbug a lesson. I needed some expired chop suey or something, but that would be pushing it, right?

I thought about just calling him a pig as I walked out of the bus, but what if the guy was really some violent Mafia felon (I blame the Mafia train of thought on the book, because I had just finished reading the final portion about Italy and Sicily and the cheap concrete filled with bones of people who displeased the Mafia)? I thought about saying it in another language, but my stop was coming up and the word for "pig" in Japanese escaped me.

So I got off the bus without saying or doing anything, and I felt wretched as a result. What kind of world is it that we live in where we can just throw things away like they're nothing, like the Earth is nothing and we don't even expend a little bit of effort to do the right thing, like "recycle," as if we're really making SOME impact? I try and tell myself even a little bit helps, that even an individual can start something, but I bit my lip and kept my mouth shut because sometimes you can't make an example out of others without making an example of yourself first--and not in a good way.

Did I miss out on a chance to teach someone a lesson, or is it even my place? I did make eye contact with that guy as I got off the bus. Turns out he wasn't some ferocious Mafia guy, just an old Asian guy with flip-flops and crusty white feet. I wonder if he saw the exhaustion in my own eyes, the "sick of the world/sick of you" attitude I felt at that moment, because I'd already swallowed the disgust and anger and decided it wasn't worth it. He looked tired too, or maybe just ambivalent, uncaring, apart from the world. Not his problem.

Thinking about it makes me angry again, but like a wave, it recedes away into exhaustion. I can't change people: they have to want to change, they have to be provoked into desiring to change. Can I be a provocateur? Maybe, but only if I stop fearing the consequences. And maybe opening my big mouth, even if it's to reprimand someone "politely" ("Excuse me, but you could have thrown that in a trash can." / "So? What am I going to do about it now?") or to dare to insult a stranger, even if it's in a foreign language, or to just GLARE at someone, hoping that my anger is clear will get me in big trouble one day, but you don't know if you don't try, right? And I'll keep being angry at the world, at others, and most of all, myself, if I don't even TRY to make a difference, small as it is.

Is it weird, wanting to be an example, standing up for what I believe is right? Shouldn't it come naturally, for the things I care about most? It's not like recycling is my big champion cause, but I've just grown up with the habit that you don't toss Coke bottles out of the back doors of buses onto the street.

All I'm left with is a sigh. I don't know what to do with myself, let alone others who piss me off.
azurite: (cat and mouse)
So. I went to the Apple Store and to PowerBook Guy (third-party Apple product repair) today. I picked up my MacBook Pro from the Apple Store, where they reiterated what the guy told me on the phone: it's Tier 4 damage, must be sent out, and will cost $1240 flat for all repairs, which would include the keyboard, logic board (most expensive part), connection cables, CD drive, hard drive, etc. Apple has to replace anything they see damaged: there's no part/parcel replacement, and heck, even if there were, it would probably cost more.

The guy even showed me the internal damage: chocolate milk and dried-up sugar (?) in small splotches throughout the entire thing (so much for my prompt and level-headed clean-up and reaction). I went to PBG and told the guy this, but for him to open it and give me a different diagnosis would have cost me $125. Based on what I told him, he estimated $1025 for repairs, and even had to ask me to plug in, because the power cable internally and the port for it on the outside had chocolate milk damage.

The next computer shall be named Chocomac (or something like it) )

It sure would be nice if Will (#repomen) would show his face here in San Francisco so I could collect the $7500 bounty on his head. *sigh*
azurite: (all muses are busy...)
I have a class assignment to create a website. This usually isn't an issue; for the last assignment I had like this, I made a resume website. But this time we've got to have the usuals (information, feedback, contact info) but ALSO a shopping cart capability.

I've worked with and seen plenty of sites that have shopping cart abilities, but what about one FOR ME? I don't want to be lazy/uncreative and just pick from the two samples (a non-profit equestrian society site, or a home business for baby-ware), but I'm not sure what I could do.

...Any tips?
azurite: (Default)
Bad News: Yesterday I bought The Sims 3 at $20 off MSRP from Target. I opened it up this afternoon with the intent of installing it only to discover...no DVD! I thought at first that maybe that's why they give you the "plumbob" USB drive, but nope: nothing but music, wallpapers, and other such extras on that. I also didn't get the green carabiner as shown on the box.

I wonder if I have to go back to the exact same Target to switch it out? I know I'll have to open the new copy in-store, since I don't want to go home and end up gypped again.... yeesh.

Also, Frustrating News: still no solution on getting my bookmarks OFF my Android myTouch 3G phone. All kinds of ways to get my bazillions of computer bookmarks ON THERE, but that's not the point. I don't care about that. I want my bookmarks OFF, and I can't even do it when I plug in my phone to my laptop, because of all the data recognized when I mount it, none of it seems to be "bookmarks." Maybe it's hidden, or under a weird name or strange file type...any suggestions? My Google-fu has failed me in this regard. It's no good if I have to get another phone browser, unless it can IMPORT the bookmarks from the default phone browser and then allow me to export them elsewhere. There are bookmark apps, but none I've seen with export. Does this mean I just have to wait for Android 2.0 or a Bookmark Sync feature from Google? *le sigh*

Good News: I did finally get a gel skin, a wrist strap, and a new protective screen. I still intend on switching out my ZAGG screen that got fuzz-covered for a new one, but maybe AFTER I've gotten more settled here. Hopefully this means the back of my phone won't keep coming off and letting the battery pop out.

More Frustrating News: Still no solution as of yet for how to edit my custom Layer Style on LiveJournal that I use for getting an RSS feed of my Friends' Page, even the authenticated entries. NetNewsWire is the only RSS reader I know that lets me log in and stay logged in, and while it's been working mysteriously good for the past few weeks, it's annoying trying to decipher entry subject lines among HTML. Other RSS readers convert it to actual links; I don't care either way. I posted to [profile] everything_lj, but no response yet. :( I'd try figuring it out myself, except I don't want to break the layer altogether, especially not when it's actually working!

Good News: I started reading a new Egyptian historical fiction, Michelle Moran's "The Heretic Queen." So far, so good. I'm actually getting somewhat inspired for CO7, which is better than nothing. I'm starting to develop the opinion that to write something--anything--is better than to write nothing at all and be stuck in this rut of "have to write in order!" At least if I have some scenes down, I can work with a beta or someone to fill in the blanks.

Eh News: I've got a few ideas for some GD articles, but they're comparable to the form of clouds: light and wispy. I'll need time to get them solidified, and in the meantime, there's homework!

Oh! News: Turns out my DeVry professor was right about the whole Photoshop slice badge thing in my last quiz. It was a trick question; the slice badges CAN display whether or not a slice is linked, but only in the optimization process, not with normal slices (although the question probably should have specified that, using "normal slices" instead of just "slices" in general), and rollover effect badges aren't seen since ImageReady went the way of the dodo. So...yeah, layer-based. Whoop-de-doo, it's only 2 points. I'm still getting an A. And it feels good to at least have clarified and asked, because otherwise I would still be confused and a little angry.
azurite: (cat and mouse)
CS4 finally arrived. I attempted to install it yesterday (which took a while) and was told that it was done BUT it needed me to reinstall anyway, because some components or whatnot were missing. Made sense, considering I'd had the CS4 trial on here and the CS3 Clean Script the "wonderful" folks at Adobe had me run removed some vital CS4 components, too. So I restarted, turned off all the extra bells and whistles running in the background, and reinstalled.

It said done! Successful! Hurrah!

And then I ran Photoshop.

I waited.

It crashed.

AGAIN.

Also, because it crashed, I thought I wouldn't be able to register the applications in-program, so I did so online, at Adobe.com. Apparently that means I don't get my free benefit!? But I tried opening Dreamweaver CS4 and registering through there, and that seemed to go smoothly, except I still didn't get my benefit email. I want that damn benefit, especially after all the BS I've been through with this.

Dreamweaver isn't crashing at all. It's sitting pretty, which is nice and a bit of a relief. But I still need Photoshop. I need it soon, for my class. And because Corel and the Citrix plug-in were both crashing with the same (looked the same, anyway; an error that long, I'm not exactly going to read it line-by-line, although I could always compare them using TextWrangler...hmmm...) SIGTRAP error too, I've determined this is a system error and I need to do something about it.

LIKE, YESTERDAY.

So, I'm going to do an Erase and Install. But not on my own, no. Because much as I love software and think I'm pretty spiffy with it, something as large as this requires the "delicate" hand of a so-called Genius (a.k.a. someone to walk me through this whole mess). I'm going to go there, at my appointed time, bring my Time Machine drive, tell them the last schmuck at the downtown store told me to do something that's not possible with my OS version and he should have known that, and I want them to FIX the issue however they can (and for free, because dammit, it wasn't doing this before, I haven't changed anything, and this isn't fair!).

I pray that this will:
a) fix the problem with the crashing, because it's caused by occasionally corrupt files that can't be repaired the usual way
b) allow me to restore all my applications, or at least the ones I really, really need and paid money for
c) not take more than one to two days, because frankly, I have homework to do and trying to do it on a PC is nearly as agonizing as thinking this is fixed and then finding out it's not

*pray pray pray*
azurite: (sailormoon - mars says let 'em burn)
I really, really hate thieves, of pretty much any kind. Except MAYBE the fictional ones, and those only rarely.

Several talented Sailor Moon fanartists have had their work stolen by this person on DeviantART. I've already begun reporting the Deviations, but I could use your help locating the original artists of many more of these works--I honestly don't believe very many of this user's deviations are theirs at all, and if you happen to recognize another artist's work in this person's gallery, I'd appreciate you either reporting the deviation or supplying me with a link to the original art so I can.

One such artist is Alan Guiterrez (stardriv on DA), and what I find especially laughable is that some of the "Artist's Comments" for the stolen paintings (which Alan did as a commission and charged $2400 for the whole series, so some diehard fan is considerably less wealthy after getting these paintings and deserves to have them indicated as FOR HER BY HIM on HIS terms) try to "credit" Alan by a) spelling his name wrong and b) not even bothering to link to a site where his work can be found, such as...uh, his DeviantART account?

Now, I'm not the biggest DA fan in the world, since they've got a pretty lousy policy on fanart as it is, and don't tend to consider Senshi edits as anything but "Scraps," but that's a post for a whole other day and time.

Your help is appreciated, Sailor Moon fans and artists!
azurite: (azureshipping - love to hate)
I've uninstalled Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium. Not just Photoshop, which was really the only application giving me issues, but all of it. I have the trial of CS4 and should be getting the CS4 backpack that is my graduation present soon-ish (it's on backorder from JourneyEd.com), but the problems...they aren't going away.

I uninstalled CS3 using the uninstaller in the Applications/Utilities folder. Everything was a success. Then I ran the CS3 Clean Script from Adobe's Support Center--twice. Everything seemed to go smoothly there, except it also apparently removed Shockwave Flash (Safari is now protesting I don't have the right plugin for some websites) and InDesign CS4. I re-installed CS4 and then Photoshop said it was missing components. So I reinstalled Photoshop. And everything seemed to be fine (again) for a few minutes. I opened some documents and prepared to get to work.

And then it crashed.

AGAIN.

Same error as before EXC_BREAKPOINT (SIGTRAP).

I have tried everything at this point short of fully uninstalling Intego (but you'd think if that was really behind it, the error messages would say something relating to Intego, right?) and wiping the OS and reinstalling. I have NEVER had to do this with a Mac OS, so I'm obviously a) very worried and b) very reluctant.

This has happened with Photoshop, while I got another Initializing Extension Data... hang with Dreamweaver CS3. It only happened sporadically, though, and hasn't happened with Dreamweaver CS4. Only Photoshop seems to hate me, and I don't know why. (Why, Photoshop, why!? Was it something I said?)

Oh, and then there's Firefox. So after I couldn't get into my Photoshop for class, I thought I could use DeVry's iLab environment, which is run by Citrix. Blah blah, got the latest extension, went into Firefox because supposedly it's more compatible with Firefox than Safari (lamesauce, Citrix, LAMESAUCE!). Firefox didn't even seem to recognize it. So I uninstalled and re-installed (after a bit of a scuffle with a crappy beta). I let it be shiny-new, as is, for a while. Citrix seemed to be there (though not in the Add-Ons list, the way 1Password is despite being an external install), but the second it tried to launch Photoshop via Citrix, CRASH! The Citrix online plug-in, that is--not Firefox. Actually, it happened with ANY of the Adobe suite programs I tried to launch via Citrix (didn't bother trying Microsoft gunk--should I?), so it doesn't seem to be just Photoshop-related.

However, since that fresh install of Firefox, the app itself has crashed--repeatedly. It looks like the same error message as the Photoshop one, which is to say: not helpful at all. This tells me that whatever Adobe tells me to do to "fix" Photoshop won't actually help, because this is starting to look more and more like a system issue. I disabled XMarks, since that would cause freezes that would force me to quit Firefox, but the problem isn't really solved: Firefox takes around three "clicks" to get it to start. I can launch it from the Dock or via Quicksilver, but either way, it'll be in the Dock for a split second, even have the "running app" indicator below it, but it'll still just vanish without a word. No error, no crash reporter, nothing. And I'll try again. And again. And again.

And then it works, acting like nothing's wrong. It doesn't APPEAR to be as slow as it used to (which is why I switched to Safari in the first place), but it may depend on the website. And I still do have a lot of extensions, because to be frank: if there's going to be a limit on Firefox's number of extensions, then TELL ME SO from the outset. Give me a suggested number, or tell me how much memory each extension will hog up, or whatever. Because most of them I got because they're actually USEFUL and I need them in some fashion.

I think I'm going to have to make another appointment at the Apple Store. Hopefully I'll get someone who actually knows that Snow Leopard doesn't have Archive & Install as an option anymore, and that dust can't creep into your computer and make your hard drive explode (Yes, it's been said).

Another thing to add to The List of Mer's Computer Woes? My Time Machine is definitely on its last legs. My lovely new-ish Western Digital MyBook Studio has begun ticking, a bit like a soft clock. It doesn't always mount, and even when I do the whole unplug-to-power-cycle thing and re-plug, it doesn't always work. And I'll hear a soft tick-tick-tick...like a clock, only not as regular. Maybe every few seconds. This one might still be under warranty, but what's the use if I'd just end up replacing it with another WD drive? WD doesn't seem to be nearly as reliable as I thought. :( What are the HDs the "Geniuses" use at the Bar, I wonder? They look pretty compact and sturdy...
azurite: (sailormoon - double trouble minako & usa)
So, my Photoshop has been crashing left and right whenever I try to use it lately. Now that I have to use it for my DeVry class, I'm in a pickle, so I thought I could use the Citrix client, which lets you load external applications. Turns out the one I had was outdated, and when I tried to get the new one, I got a 404 Page Not Found. Gee. So I call up the tech support at DeVry out in freezing Chicago and get a new client. At first, it seems to go okay: installs fine, but mysteriously doesn't show up in Firefox or Safari.

A few crashes, restarts, and re-installs of Firefox later (I'm using 3.5.7 now, as opposed to 3.6 beta 5), the Citrix client actually appears to BE there in Firefox (that is, when I go to the DeVry lab and click on Photoshop, it prompts me to allow the Citrix client to open), but then it immediately crashes with the same error (it looks like) as Photoshop.

This has also caused (perhaps by indirect association) crashes with iTunes, Finder, Dreamweaver (something about "initializing extension data," even though I have no extensions for Dreamweaver) and maybe others I'm not remembering.

I have:
* Repaired disk permissions
* Booted in safe mode
* Tried loading from a Guest account
* Cleared the RAM cache by doing a Shift-Restart
* Checked for major font incompatibilities with Photoshop
* Removed various Login Items (and yet somehow Intego is running in the background, and I don't know how, which REALLY bothers me--I might end up removing it after all.)
* Tried turning off File Sharing (it was never on in the first place, but I turned off Bluetooth Sharing just to be sure)
* Tried doing an Archive and Install (supposedly not even an option in SL; I didn't see the "Options" button to find it, though apparently another Genius told someone that it's "Automatic," which I wouldn't believe if my data's at stake)

Adobe wants me to uninstall and reinstall Photoshop CS3--maybe the whole Creative Suite. I don't have the DVDs on me, so it looks like I'm going to be getting that CS4 bundle pack a lot sooner than I planned, because CS3 just looks like one big disaster for Snow Leopard, anyway. Supposedly it's compatible with Snow Leopard and I have been using it for a while on SL with no problems, but once the problems start, there's no way out of them, it looks like.

I REALLY want to believe that CS4 will fix the issue, except Citrix crashing and this error (which is in the Apple main thread?) make it seem like it's a SYSTEM issue, and I'm one of MANY people having this error, and there doesn't appear to be any one fix that works for everyone. So I'm at a loss as to what to do, because the Geniuses AREN'T.

Where's Mizuno Ami when you need her!? If you have any thoughts/ideas/other solutions, please let me know.

Here's the crash log: Read more... )
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
My Photoshop CS3 (not any of the other Creative Suite 3 apps that I use) has been crashing upon open for the past week or more. I have been around the block and back trying to figure out what to do, and I've tried almost everything. I searched Adobe's KnowledgeBase for potential solutions and went through almost all 22-23 short of re-installing Photoshop, mainly because I don't have the discs on me here in San Francisco.

I tried doing Disk Utility checkups and got some weird errors that I couldn't fix, and at the time, I'd been without my Snow Leopard DVD either, so I took it to the Apple Store. They couldn't fix it and the "genius" recommended an Archive and Install...which is apparently not an option for Snow Leopard. Never mind that I spent a good 20+ minutes trying to find a button that just wasn't there, if only the guy had told me--oh yeah, it's no longer an option for your OS!

I tried fixing the same errors with TechTool Pro before just Googling them--hah! Turns out they're generic errors that can be "safely ignored" and have nothing to do with Photoshop's crashing. I tried using Time Machine to restore Photoshop to the earliest date I had--the 15th of December, but no dice.

So then I tried rebooting in Safe Boot mode, and THAT miraculously worked. So apparently the issue is with Photoshop and one of my login items...but which one? The ones I think I have (and I don't know if I know all of them) are: Synergy, Quicksilver, Hyperspaces, some Intego software, and XMarks for Safari. Of those, I updated Intego and Hyperspaces recently. I've used Synergy and Quicksilver for so long, I'm sure they're not the issue. To check, I closed each of them one by one...except Intego, WHICH I CAN'T CLOSE. AT ALL.

I think I have to uninstall the damn thing to test out this theory. And why do I have Intego ContentBarrier, NetBarrier, Personal Antispam, Personal Backup, and VirusBarrier, anyway? Simply put, it was part of a security bundle I'd gotten a while ago, and my boss back at CSUN said it was part of the policy to have antivirus software, even on a Mac (which doesn't need it--not because there are no viruses because of Apple's "small market share," but because it's Just That Damn Good). And I thought all was well--it caught a few infected emails that could have damaged my Windows VM or passed on the virus using my email address, but maybe it's interfering with Photoshop after all.

I'm waiting to hear back from Adobe and see what they say--maybe there will be login items I missed, that the lengthy crash report reveals, or they can tell me something specific about my installed, mentioned login items and incompatibilities with Photoshop. And then there's always trying to figure out how the hell to temporarily disable the Intego software just to test whether or not it crashes Photoshop after all.

I've searched for tips and tricks, but none apply to my situation here, so I'm sort of at a loss until Adobe gets back to me. My options at this point are:
* Uninstall Intego -- and I don't even know if it's really the issue
* Get Baba and Grandpa to send me the CS3 DVDs so I can reinstall Photoshop
* Have my mom buy me the CS4 backpack I've been saving up for myself, as a "graduation present," just to fix the damn issue and have new everything that's up-to-date and be done with it.

I'm not a big fan of any of those, because none are really simple and easy. Any tips would be appreciated.
azurite: (sailormoon - usagi sweater)
How is it that nearly 15 years after the CONCLUSION of Sailor Moon, people still fail to do the basic things that would make for a good fic? I'm sure this could be translated to almost any fandom, but as I was perusing through the Sailor Moon section on the new "Archive of Our Own", I noticed several things happen again and again.

Maybe it's just my bad luck, picking fics that sound interesting without paying attention to whether the author's different each time. Usually, if an author writes something that causes me to click the "Back" button, I won't give that author a second chance unless the summary sounds really good. Which means if an author "sux at summeries," then they're screwed trying to get me back as a reader. Boo, I'm sure they'll find some less-discerning n00b who doesn't have my standards.

But it's kind of sad, how the fandom doesn't improve with age, as a great fandom like Sailor Moon ought to.

How is that people are still writing fics where:
* The Japanese character names are used, but the dub attack names are, too?

* Regardless of original vs. dub, the wrong season's attacks are used? (I get that the other Senshi, like Mars, Mercury, and so on might reuse their old attacks, but SAILOR MOON NEVER DOES. Especially not her wand-based attacks. In other words, she can't do "Moon Healing Activation" (dub) with the "Cutie Moon Rod," a.k.a. that thing she's got in Sailor Moon R.

* There's the still use the tried-and-trite cliché of the Senshi lambasting Usagi, not noticing she's actually hurt or something? It was made canonically clear in the anime (the one version of the series where they really ganged up on her, and where the whole Rei vs. Usagi thing is a bit of a recurring joke) that the only time they've ever fought is to get the attention of the bad guys--not because they actually believe any of it. They all know without Usagi, they'd be screwed. The planet would be screwed. Telling her she's klutzy, useless in battle, etc. is sort of useless--even if any of them actually had the stupidity to believe it for a split second because Sailor Moon was "late" to a battle for whatever reason.

* No one can take an ill/amnesiac/stuck-in-her-transformed-state Usagi in except Mamoru (who recently broke up with her but MINOR DETAIL)? Ami lives with her mother, a doctor, who knows and likes Usagi, though she's hardly ever home because she's a workaholic at the hospital. Makoto doesn't live with anyone, though it's very possible she's got an anal-retentive landlord that disallows visitors. It happens. But what about Rei? The girls have had plenty of meetings or sleepovers at the temple! And Minako's parents might be bitchy (in the manga, she made it sound like she really disliked them), but I think in an emergency, they might be fine...assuming they're even home.

* Basic Japanese words are not translated. I admit I was guilty of it when I first started out, but with the Internet being so damn prevalent and so many hundreds of thousands of SM fics in existence (lots of "best of" and "top 10" lists to refer to for quality fiction), it seems silly that people still do this. Stop using "Nani" and "onegai" and "konnichiwa!" and stuff. The only Japanese people can honestly get away with are: a) words with ambiguous translations; b) words with no English equivalent; c) words that are culturally significant, like honorifics. I don't see a point in using "Onii~san" and stuff when "Big Brother" or "Older Brother" or "Mister" (assuming you, the author, know who is talking to whom and whether or not they have a real familial relationship, let alone a respectful one) work just as well.

* Mixing up of manga facts and anime canon. Mamoru breaks up with Usagi only in the anime. Evil!Endymion is in both the anime and the manga, but the way he acts and who he is seen with differentiates the two. Ice prison, senshi death, and black-eyed Endymion? All manga, all the time. Don't mix them up!

I'm sure there are others, but yeesh, to have so many in a few minutes of one fic should give me reason enough to click "Back" and really swear off this author once and for all, right? Forget "Transformative Works," a crappy fanfic is still a crappy fanfic. Plus, the more clichés that serve as plot devices, the more that sour taste in my mouth intensifies...really now, some excuse to revert Usagi into Serenity just so Mamoru can have a flowery guilt complex over his breakup and then Serenity can somehow "connect" or turn back into Usagi and everything is explained and all are happy? Baaaah!
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
As far as I'm concerned, anything is better than AT&T. They had such downright foul customer service and price gouging that I swore them off for life, which is why I'll never buy an iPhone so long as it's tethered to AT&T. I'm of the opinion that people should be able to pick the phone that suits their needs and then pick the service they want for the area they're in (or plan to be in), rather than be stuck picking a specific service to get a certain phone with certain features.

And then there's home cable/digital phone/Internet service. See, my grandparents wanted a convenient way to pay all their bills at once, and we switched to TWC's "All The Best" to supposedly save some money on our bills. We set up Auto-Pay, got some new cordless phones, and we were off!

Except I've noticed when we receive phone calls on the landline, I get booted off the Internet. The schmucks who installed the cable modem here put it in the same room as our TV, but not anywhere convenient for our computers, so wireless was a necessity. Of course, TWC has their own boxes and service, so if we wanted to use wireless through them (officially supported), we'd have to pay extra. Seriously, WTF? I pay a one-time fee to customize my own box with better security and a typically more stable connection--why WOULD I bother going through them?

So I've been using the AirPort Extreme Base Station, and other than these few minor glitches, it works well. But the glitches are getting annoying, and when I called TWC to find out what I could do, they had be go through this whole tech support rigamarole that involved restarting and rewiring every connection, all to no avail.

See, if I disconnect my Apple router from the cable modem, I then have to restart the modem (and sometimes the laptop) just to get it to recognize the ethernet connection. And this isn't a convenient location for the ethernet connection anyway, so it seems like a pointless exercise, even when it does connect me to the Internet "the old-fashioned way." I'm supposed to "observe" this connection for the next two hours to see if it gets interrupted by an incoming phone call, all for the sake of seeing if it really is a hardware issue like they initially told me it was (which, apparently, was a mistake, since I couldn't have been using the digital phone to talk to them if there was a hardware issue; it either ALL works or it doesn't work at all). And even if it is...uh, well, they want to charge me to replace the box, even though again, initially, they told me I could do it for free, and get it replaced at the TWC store nearby. Nope, apparently not.

So not only do they want to lock me into using their hardware, their way (I get that they'd prefer I use their hardware so they don't have to familiarize their support agents with the procedures for setting up or restarting countless third-party routers and other devices, but to CHARGE me for the privilege? WTF!?), but they want to charge me now for something that before they said I could get swapped out for free, because repeated customer service calls seemed to point in the direction of it being a genuine hardware issue. Hardware's where I fail, so I believed them, but apparently I was talking to a doesn't-know-it-all, and now I'm back to square one.

Just for fun, I looked up Verizon FiOS online, to see if they have it in the area. They advertise on the TV so incessantly (I hate the commercials, though) that I thought they would, but Verizon's own website says no (or rather, it's not sure, since it seems to think I live somewhere I don't, and even when I accept the wrong address, it asks me to enter it again). Yet, a bundle-searching service says yes-AND that they're cheaper than TWC. Of course, I don't know if those quoted prices are promotional and are really for the whole bundle of TV + Internet + Phone, but still...

The whole idea is, I should be able to get fast internet using a combination of my hardware and theirs without being price-gouged for it. I should be able to have a secure home Internet connection that doesn't disconnect when I make or receive a phone call, just because I have phone service tied into it. I should be able to put my boxes wherever I damn well please, because it's my (or rather, my grandparents') house! And if there's an issue, I should be able to either diagnose it in a relatively quick phone call (that I didn't wait 3 hours on hold to get in the first place) or get it replaced promptly and FREE.

Is this too much to ask? Am I living in "De Nile," having these expectations about home TV/Internet/Phone service? Is there such thing as a good home connectivity company!?

All this and I'm still sick. Gaah.
azurite: (smallville - lois: you got pwned!)
A few days ago I had a dream that I was relocating a bunch of gold chains (like the thin kinds used for necklaces) from one box to another. They were very shiny but had no pendants on them, and they were pretty tangled up. I looked up the meanings of "gold," "necklace," and "chains," but the meanings were all so mixed I don't know what to make of the dream as a whole.

Also, very much into Smallville now. Very bad, since I should be thinking of WDKY and writing the rest of that, but instead I'm reading lots of Smallville fic (well, what little "good stuff" I can find, and putting up with a lot of mediocre stuff to pass the time while finding "good" things) in-between homework assignments, NSLS stuff, and being sick.

Yeah, I'm sick. Grandpa says I have the flu, but I have yet to get a fever: just a horrible phlegmy cough, lots of body aches, and many, many headaches. It sucks, to put it mildly, especially since flu shots are impossible to find here, regular OR H1N1. Needless to say, I hope I just have the regular flu, if one at all. I've been sleeping it off, mostly, and I do feel better now than I did earlier, but the aches are still present and they make me want to just curl up in bed.

Being sick means that I feel like I'm not getting anything done, even if I should just acknowledge: I really am. I just have MORE to do. Like, I still have DeVry Web Design class homework to finish up (zip and upload, really), stories for my Senior Narrative Seminar to read/write, and 1919 and Johnny Got His Gun to read. Gaah.
azurite: Part of the "What Doesn't Kill You" series of fanfic icons (wdky (general))
If I've got a story -scenes, moments, whatever- in my head, should I just get it out of my head by writing it, instead of writing outlines of the scene in a file and storing it away until later?

It bothers me that I keep thinking of these other stories, other ideas, other universes other than WDKY, because I REALLY want to get WDKY done. But whenever I think of it and its characters, I get off-topic and go to this other story (you can probably tell by now that the characters are the same, but the story is different).

Maybe I should start becoming the sort who writes fics and posts them when they're done, instead of being this insane WIPer? I wonder if that'd help keep the hair in (on?) my head.
azurite: (twilight - spike & angel don't dazzle)
Josh Whedon weighs in on the Twilight saga

So Whedon gets why vampire romance is such a delicious topic, but when it boils down to the important stuff --Angel vs. Edward-- who'd win? Angel, of course. Mainly because he actually KNOWS how to fight, versus just sparkle in the sun. Bursting into flame when you go out into the sun is a great motivator, after all. Bursting into dazzle? Not so much.

But one commenter said "Why is there always talk about who would beat who? Why can't each belong to their own realm? Why the mystery in this type of romance - do we not each see ourselves as an "outsider" of some sort, one whom no one else could love? So when we see a romance, a wonderfully impossible romance, and see how it works, don't we put ourselves into it and dream the impossible dream for ourselves? And if one is lucky enough to already have a true life Edward or Bella, then we know it is possible."

Yeah, it'd be nice if "Twilight" could just go back to the hole it came from and die, but alas, we don't all get what we want. The whole "Twilight" mythos takes everything awesome and scary about vampires and flushes it down an industrial-strength toilet.

Also, while all vampire romances tend to be of the "impossible" vibe, there's usually nothing "wonderful" about it. There wasn't anything particularly wonderful about the hell Buffy went through with either Angel OR Spike, and there's nothing wonderful about Bella being controlled by a manipulative, selfish wannabe-gentleman with a sparkly virginal vampire guise. Keep in mind the person that created "Twilight:" a woman who had no experience whatsoever with vampire lore, who crafted the story around a DREAM she had, who claims there's no message or that vampires can't have babies, etc. and then changes her mind a split second later. Don't get me started on all the Mormonisms littered throughout the stories. Religion can be a great inspiration for stories, provided you're not preaching to the reader. With fiction, the reader is supposed to be able to figure out SOME things on their own.

*sigh* I'm a little baffled how anyone could be a "fan" of both the Buffyverse vampires and the "Twilight" series, but that, among everything else wrong with "Twilight" and its hardcore friends is a rant for an entirely different day.
azurite: (cat and mouse)
My Western Digital 500 GB hard drive started CLICKING today.

I was still able to get it to mount, but I get the feeling that data isn't moving from my laptop to the drive; normally when it does, the light on the front of the drive will be going up and down. Right now, it's just still, with one little segment near the top "burnt out" (it's not really burnt out, as it does light up every now and again, but lately that section doesn't light up).

I've tried stopping the Time Machine backup, ejecting the drive and remounting it, but that doesn't always help. Even power-cycling doesn't always do the trick, which has me a bit worried. Previous SNAFUs with this or other WD drives have caused me to switch from USB to Firewire for the port of choice, and make sure that it's powered directly into a wall socket, versus a surge protector (which seems stupid, but meh, it's what they told me).

Anyway, after it started to click this morning, I got worried, so I looked into whether it was still under warranty. It is, and in fact, I can upgrade to a 1 TB drive for $20 off the MSRP, provided I ditch the current warranty on my existing drive. Thus, a quandary: do I wait for the drive to asplode before getting a new one, or do I act preemptively, assuming that no click is a good click?

Idea that just got thrown out the window: use a new 1 TB for a data external and use the old data external (250 GB) for Time Machine. That won't work, because if my internal is 300 GB, then I need at least that much (double is better) for a Time Machine. I'm actually kind of cutting it close with the 500 GB Time Machine I'm currently using.

I also have conflicting "to do" stuff with the laptop itself. See, I was worried about losing my iTunes library, so I moved the larger one to my external hard drive. That means it doesn't get backed up with my Time Machine. So if I do something stupid, like delete files off my external, I'm S.O.L. I've been thinking about moving my complete iTunes library back onto my internal HD; I have the space for it. It'll start getting backed up with Time Machine (unless the clicks really do spell bad news), and that should all be gravy. I don't really need two libraries, one iPod-sized and the other not. I can just manually sync what I want through checking and unchecking tracks and playlists and such.

What confused me was that the Genius at the Genius Bar (honestly, at this point, I'm starting to think it's a rather lame title) suggested moving my iPhoto library onto an external! But then I can't access it when I'm out and about, which is why I'd always kept it on the internal. Plus, it's getting backed up by the Time Machine! Apparently using Backup for these purposes is bad, due to the format Backup uses or something.

And don't get me started on the whole battery thing. The laptop's BEEN plugged in, and yet it's mysteriously at only 97% charge, which probably is a little over 2 hours. I'm sure the battery life is supposed to be longer than that, considering I bought it just a few months ago. And yet it still passes Apple's tests.... I've stopped using Firefox 3.5 for now, since it was proving to be a major CPU hog and probably didn't help with my battery problem.

So, yeah, lots of things to do and I have no idea how or where to start. Grr.
azurite: (gundam senshi!)
Typed the first few paragraphs last week and then procrastinated to all hell for posting this. Oooops.

Ah, back from Anime Expo. Actually, I got back late on Sunday night, but yesterday I was so exhausted that I ended up taking Monday off work and sleeping a lot. When I didn't sleep, I played my newest acquisition: Final Fantasy Anthologies, featuring FF5 and FF6, neither of which I've ever beaten. It's making me nostalgic!

I probably should have posted entries each night after I came back, but I was usually so exhausted from volunteering that I didn't. I did do some Live Tweeting though, so I'll touch on a few of the things I mentioned then.

Day Zero )

Day One )

Day Two )

Day Three )

Day Four: THE FINALS )
azurite: (star trek: head bop)
I'm calm now, but I wasn't on Thursday and Friday, when I had to go to Van Nuys for Jury Duty. So much for my day off, right? So I plotted my schedule using metro.net the night before, figuring out which bus lines I had to take, when I had to be at the stops, and how much it would take.

The wheels on the bus go round and round )

Anyway, I opted to go to In-N-Out for lunch, since I passed it on my way home, but I was too freaked out to take a bus line different from the one I had used to get there. I ended up on a Rapid bus again, missing the In-N-Out by several blocks, and it was no fun walking through that neighborhood! The actual restaurant was in a nice-ish shopping complex called "The Plant," and it was so close to another bus line that I was pretty sure would take me to my last transfer point that I ended up doing taking that instead of walking back to the nearest Rapid stop. I got back to my transfer point with no trouble, and caught my last bus within a few minutes. My Star Trek book was pretty fascinating, but by the time the route wound through the VA Hospital, I was exhausted! I couldn't wait to get home and go to sleep...which I did, of course. For five hours. Could I be a narcoleptic?

Last night I finished reading that Star Trek book, "Federations," and I must admit, it was EXCELLENT. I might not know a lot about the original series (it's a sort of "crossover" between TOS and TNG), but it's books like those that get me itching to watch some of the episodes, even if they are dreadfully cheesy. Some of them set the stage for some great adventures! I especially loved how everything was tied up in the end, as opposed to there being messy tidbits as a result of later movies and whatnot. For the time when it came out, it fits smoothly into the timeline, as far as I can tell, versus other Star Trek novels that contradict episodes of the shows or other media. Of course, the comic that came out prior to the new Star Trek movie might not count, since it's a prequel for an alternate universe...except that prequel was SET in our Trek universe (at least I'm 99.9% sure that it was), so now I'm even more confused!
azurite: (star trek: head bop)
It's official: I need a new Trek icon. I didn't know how I'd feel about a new version of Kirk or Spock, but I ADORE them both (and just 'cause they both happen to be pretty hot...oh, and Uhura is too!). The movie kicked butt. People that don't know Trek will enjoy it; people that know Trek will love it; people that know Trek AND the pre-movie comic will rejoice in all the awesome references. Trek's version of time continuity is interesting, to say the least, but it means a whole new universe (multiverse? dimension?) of possibilities for rebooting the Trek franchise without trying to create some new story with characters that just don't "meet the bar" or surpass it.

Baba said it was too loud and Grandpa was complaining about how the movie broke several laws of physics. I love my grandparents, but sometimes I wonder if they forgot the meaning of "entertainment." Or maybe we just have different definitions.

Anyway.

I foolishly imported some new albums into iTunes a few days ago. This in itself wouldn't be a bad thing, except I'd opened iTunes before I connected my external hard drive, upon which my entire iTunes library is. Nothing would have seemed out of the usual except for some bizarre reason, even though I didn't start the imports until I was connected, the new imports did not go onto the external drive, but onto my laptop's hard drive, which I DO NOT want to use for music. I've got many, many gigs of music and I'd much rather they reside in an external and on my iPod where they can't (supposedly) be wiped willy-nilly.

So I deleted the folders from my hard disk thinking I could just re-import them and they'd go into their proper folder(s) on my external, but nooooo...somehow I managed to delete numerous other songs from my external drive! I contacted Apple and got a chunk of my purchased songs back, but not all of them, and in the case of a few, I don't know if they're the right "edition" (Explicit) or not! I suppose it's not that big of a deal, but I'm a big girl and I can handle swearing in my music.

It sucks that I'd pretty much have to re-buy those tracks that are missing from when I originally purchased them (yay for the iTunes Store magically losing songs so they can't let me redownload them?), but I was honestly thinking of shelling out the $60 to buy the DRM-free tracks, anyway. At least THEN I could have infinite copies lying around on CDs, DVDs, and on my external drive. Problem is: I don't have $60 to toss around on music, so I'm hoping to restore as many of the tracks on my own as possible.

I've been using Time Machine to see if I can restore some files, but the whole fiasco with my Time Machine drive not mounting due to heck-knows-what (Western Digital told me it could have been anything from a power surge to the fact that I hadn't plugged in my external TM drive to its own power source, vs. a surge protector!) means my TM data only goes back so far--say, to the beginning of the month. GRR!!! Backup could work, as it's been making incremental backups up to March (and I have no idea why it didn't during April or earlier this month, but I plan on resuming those backups as soon as I have most of my library restored), but it involves unpacking those compressed files, some of which have what I need, and some of which probably don't.

I tried "Stellar Phoenix," but the cost of actually restoring the files is crazy-- $129! A similar option (forgot the name of the application) is $89, but that's still a rip-off in my mind when I have two backup applications, two libraries, my iPod (which may have synced after the song disappearances, meaning it's NOT ON THERE), and a possible way of finding the files and re-associating them so they're not "dead" tracks in iTunes. It'll just take time and probably a lot of hope.

Wish me luck. And oh, if you have tips, they're totally appreciated.

 Where I Belong by Nobuo Uematsu from FINAL FANTASY VIII (Original Soundtrack) (Rating: 0)
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
My Kaiser coverage lapsed on 5/1. No one [from Kaiser] told me-- Mom didn't get the letter from her work notifying her until yesterday, a.k.a. two days before an appointment I made weeks ago. How was I permitted to make an appointment if my coverage lapsed? (Oh, wait, I think I know: northern California and southern California are considered separate "regions" and don't share information. LAME!)

I tried to call the student health center here on campus, but (somewhat unsurprisingly), they have no appointments available until THE SECOND WEEK OF JUNE. I'll be out of a good number of my pills by then, and, because it's during summer semester, when I'm not taking classes, I might not be able to get "coverage" there either! I'm going to try calling tomorrow morning, when my double dose of Kaiser appointments would have been, just to see if someone cancels (please, please, please)!

Kaiser gave me two options:
(1) Find out if I can somehow still get covered under my mom's COBRA (employer health insurance)

(2) Get "continuance" coverage-- no medical reviews, coverage is retroactive to 5/1. Problem is, while the copay and prescription costs are reasonable ($25-30), the out-of-pocket cost for each month is $214 - $405! Those same plans for an "individual" (meaning a medical review would be required, approval is necessary, etc.) would be around $126 - $237, which is still out of my budget. I'm a broke college student with credit card bills to pay! But health is important....

They do offer other, more reasonably priced plans, but they might not have the coverage I need. I can't stand looking at all these lame charts and brochures on the sites-- I want to talk to a person who understands HMO/PPO, HSA and DED and all these other terms! They drive me batty!

And then there's Anthem, another medical insurer I've been considering. Unfortunately, the guy chosen to be my rep is out of the office until Monday.

Any suggestions for other health insurance? I figure it's smarter to get something that'll do what I need and last beyond my graduation. Better still if it's not a pain to transfer records from Kaiser, go to the actual hospital for appointments, and have coverage elsewhere without too much hassle. Does such a thing exist?

Anyway you dice it: no appointments tomorrow. Of course, I'll still call the Klotz Student Health Center and try for a cancellation there and, barring that, at least make an appointment for the summer (if I'm eligible), but the new big project for the summer is "find health insurance!"

Aaah.
azurite: (bunninated!)
Quite frankly I'm sick of having dreams of totally realistic scenarios that will never happen.

I say "never happen" because I've gotten it in my head that being imaginative means accepting the consequences of my overly-optimistic, far-fetched (though still realistic! Just "crazy" realistic) mind. Back in high school, I started to think, "If I've thought of it, it'll never happen that way. Life will throw me a curve ball." And it always does, except curve balls can sometimes be awfully boring and leave me wishing for a bit drama. That's like asking for trouble, isn't it?

I guess to be perfectly honest, the particular scenario that featured in this morning's dream wasn't entirely realistic, because I was in a class that FELT like a high school class with someone that most decidedly would never have been in a class with me. Furthermore, it was like the "present me" was suddenly zapped into my high-school self's body, because it was a class I was failing and didn't give a shit about-- that's more reminiscent of my junior year in high school, when I was apathetic about everything.

I've got a few fears I've realized recently, and they're a lot more poignant than being afraid of driving:

* I'm afraid that my attitude of wanting to help people will bite me in the ass, and I'll end up realizing that people aren't always going to WANT help, even if they need it, and will make sure you break down and start to hate the world. Or maybe I'll just end up that way on my own-- that scares me too.

* I'm afraid of sticking with my "one day at a time" motto and still moving on with my life, but having these tiny threads holding me back. What I mean is, memories of things or people I feel are left unresolved. Would it really be right for me to (eventually) move on, or at least think/pretend that I am? I don't think I'll ever be able to stop thinking about those events or people unless I get some kind of closure, even if it's not necessarily the closure I want. But something's better than nothing, and time heals all wounds and all that, right?

I'm sorry if I'm being vague. Dreams of this category tend to shake me up a bit more than most. Whatever happened to my high school dreams of giant robots?
azurite: (csi: sara survivor)
Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE Southwest Airlines? I mean LUV LUV LUV.

A few things you should know (or could probably guess) about me:
(1) I am NOT a light packer; I've tried: I've failed.
(2) I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

Keeping those in mind, it's not hard to imagine that, despite having returned to L.A. prior to Thanksgiving, the stuff I brought back with me wasn't nearly enough. On the way from LAX to SFO the first time around, I got charged $25 for an overweight suitcase.

I've taken to checking in baggage because, with my back and the fact that people simply aren't courteous ANYWHERE anymore (not that I have low expectations of others, but it's easier not to assume and make an ass out of myself by whining when no one helps short little me get my bag out of the upper baggage compartment), it's just easier.

My suitcase, when full, just barely skims the 62 total inch limit-- it's 30 inches long, 20 inches wide, and around 9 inches thick. STUFFED, it can easily surpass the 62 inches, but I've never seen anyone whip out a tape measure and check my bag for that. Weighing it, on the other hand....

Anyway, I was nervous about how much my bag weighed for the trip back to L.A. today, because even though it was mostly vacuum-sucked clothes bags, I also had all my shoes, two hard drives, random books and papers, and a bag of cosmetics.

The total? 77.5 lbs! WTF!?

So I started by taking out my Jewish cookbook (it's sitting behind my CD album in my wheelie carry-on), and that knocked it down to 73.5. I didn't want to try and take out much more that wasn't flat, but was somehow still substantial enough to knock down three pounds, if only because I'd have no place to put it. I'm already hefting my PS2 and 2 stuffed animals (ssh!) as my "personal item." Thankfully, the guy at the baggage check outside was super-nice, and let me slide for the extra 3 pounds, so he said he'd have to take me inside to pay the $25 fee.

I gave the guy my WaMu debit card, because I checked the balance last night AND this morning, and there was enough in there to cover the fee (I KNEW I was going to get some fee) and my cab once I get to the Van Nuys Flyaway. But for some reason, it wasn't going through. They suggested I go to an ATM. I got to the ATM, expecting MORE fees, but it says "Card not authorized" or some shit. Freaking out (because my Macy's Visa wasn't working either, and that didn't surprise me; I owe the most on that card at the moment, and I think they've been calling me incessantly -but never leaving messages- but my payments haven't been the full amount. They've been whatever I could manage, but apparently THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH), I called my bank.

When I finally got hold of a live person, he told me that while my checking account was still open, my debit/MasterCard had been closed since NOVEMBER!? WTF!? They didn't even notify me, not even on the site, which I check fairly regularly! So I had to be transferred to another line, explain the whole situation again, and have them "reactivate" the card (with the stipulation that the "activation" might not actually take effect until midnight).

Then, by the time I got back to the SWA counter... the guy said "It's okay, go on."

NO FEE.

I LUV SOUTHWEST!

So yay to that, and yay also to the taxi ride from Van Nuys FlyAway that was cheaper than I expected. Yay to Grandpa shelling out $12 because the guy didn't want to try swiping my potentially-bad card.

NOT YAY to the fact that I may have lost my USB stick. I called Mom to see if she could spot it in the areas where I was hanging out, but she didn't see it. Then again, she was half-asleep. I'm hoping it turns up somewhere really obvious -here or there- and I can get it on my hot little hands again. I DON'T want to have somehow lost it at SFO or LAX or on the plane or in the taxi. I'll call the airports if I haven't found it within 3 days, because that particular USB drive is important, but hopefully it's extremely identifiable, WHAT WITH MY NAME PRINTED ON IT AND ALL.

Think positive, think positive.

YAY to the fact that Baba and Grandpa now have an iMac! Sure, it's a G5, but it's working pretty well! Plus Erin left all of her awesome software on it, so if for whatever reason I don't or can't use my laptop, there's this one. It's not on Leopard, but because it's a PowerPC, I can run old-school Mac programs! WHOO!

Anyway, mom's been nagging me to make sure I get enough sleep lately. My problem is that I stress too much about things (LITTLE things, both literal and figurative). I think I should just chill and be glad to be home safe and (mostly) whole. I somehow managed to scrape a piece of skin off my right hand earlier at SFO when calling WaMu. I don't know how, but it hurts. :P

Ah well. Emails to read and send, LJs to catch up on... I can only relax by feeling accomplished somehow.
azurite: (ff8 - rinoa blue)
So, I'm playing FF8 again. I'm on Disc 3, doing all the sidequests. As it stands, you really can't do the sidequests in any willy-nilly order; there's kind of an order you MUST do them in if you want to get things done properly.

So, I wanted to get the Adamantines from an Adamantoise. Turns out you can't mug them (they come in pairs), and they might not drop it even if you DO defeat them without mugging. Why? Because Adamantine's a RARE item. You can get a rare item if you get the Bahamut GF.

To get the Bahamut GF, you need to go to the Deep Sea Research Center. Been there, tried that, got my ass handed to me. I figure I need to be stronger to beat the Ruby Dragons that stand in my way. Not sure quite HOW, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Then there's the Tonberry King. He'll be useful in getting the items I need from monsters like the Blue Dragon or T-Rexaur that are too leveled-up to drop the ones I need. Problem? Last time I got to good ol' T.K. and he kicked my ass about seven minutes into the battle. So while I lasted, I didn't last LONG ENOUGH. I looked up strategies for beating the Tonberry King, and they recommend getting the Lion Heart, Squall's Ultimate Weapon.

So I gave in and Card Modded one of my Brothers cards (Minotaur) to get 10 Adamantines. I upgraded Zell's gauntlets to their ultimate form, but I still need extra items for Squall's Lion Heart, Selphie's Strange Vision, and Irvine's Exeter. Specifically, I need 4 Dragon Fangs, 2 more Pulse Ammo, and 3 Star Fragments. The Dragon Fangs and Star Fragments can come from the same place, but ONLY if I level down the opponent... which means getting the Tonberry King. No other GF allows you to Level Down your opponents. WTF!? Cyclical much?

I've hunted all the bestiaries online; none of them indicate any way of getting a Dragon Fang once your enemies are past Level 30. And considering Squall's at Level 100 and my other party members are in their mid-40s or 50s levels, I don't know how an enemy could NOT be higher than Level 30.

It'd be nice if I could somehow just get Bahamut, because I get the feeling that with him, I could easily beat the Tonberry King even without the Lion Heart and get this over with. In fact, my original "order" was to:
* Get Bahamut
* Fight the Adamantoise for the Adamantine (useless now, but maybe there's another enemy whose rare items might be necessary)
* Beat the Tonberry King after getting Squall's ultimate weapon
* Go back to the Deep Sea Research Center to beat the Omega and Ultima Weapons

...Being that I can't do the first one and there's no apparent way to skip to the third one and survive, I don't know what to do.

Damn video games, so frustrating sometimes! This is why if I ever write strategy guides, I want them to account for EVERY damn possibility, including someone NOT beating X enemy by Y disc in the game or something. Because OBVIOUSLY if I had, then none of this would be an issue now. I don't really like the ideas of linear gameplay anyway; it takes the fun out of exploring. So what if I want to do as much of the game as possible but not follow your order? That's no fair, to restrict my sidequests because it's the only way to beat them! ARGH!

Balance

Dec. 15th, 2008 08:11 pm
azurite: (ffx-2 - yuna will fly)
You know, I was pretty upset earlier, but I have to put things in perspective: always look at things in balance. For everything you think makes your day awful, there are probably 5 or 10 more that should make it okay, if not better or even great. A simple change in perspective can drastically alter your mood. You have to be willing to look.

So I found out earlier that, due to the CSU budget cuts, I won't be getting my job back at the IT Help Desk at CSUN this coming semester. They just don't have the money to rehire, even though people are going to be leaving. That... REALLY sucks. I was counting on the job. Of course, my former boss did say that I'd be the first to know if anything changed, or if anything else in the department opened up. So I hope something does change, because to be honest, I need the money. But I also LIKE the job a lot, like helping people, like most of my co-workers, and don't want to be twiddling my thumbs at home when I could be helping folks out.

There's always the possibility of freelance tutoring though, so if, come January 20, I don't have a job back for sure, then I'll look into that.

Also balancing out the suck of being ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY BROKE AND JOBLESS is the fact that I just accomplished something! Getting the mojo to work on something and actually completing that goal can do wonders for one's self-esteem and mood. A user from Dragonfayth emailed me, saying she's been having problems getting her initial password for the site. I asked her to give me more detail, but I decided to look into it myself by checking the settings of the SMTP host, trying to send an email from the Contact Us form, and checking the Action Log.

Turns out something on 12/10 changed where the existing SMTP settings stopped working, so passwords weren't being sent out, and I wasn't getting Contact Us emails indicating there was a problem. I investigated on the eFiction forums and found a number of possible errors; I tried to check them out, posted a new topic there, and put up a support ticket to get an SPF record for my domain so other email services don't mark the domain as spam/spoof. And then, after all that... I figured it out. Well, maybe. Turns out the port for the SMTP host name wasn't right. My host, Surpass Hosting (♥ ♥ ♥) uses port 26 for SMTP rather than 25 (the default), so I changed it... and it worked! I sent an email to one of my GMail accounts and received it just fine!

I also redid all the passwords for the users who signed up/lost their password between 12/10 and today, so hopefully those users got those and can now log-in, delete any extra accounts, and start reading/reviewing, etc.

I have to put all my other projects on hold until I'm 100% finished with school though-- I have a few more quizzes and a single final exam (also a quiz, just a longer one) today and tomorrow. So, until then... I shouldn't be distracting myself with posting on LJ. :P

But I did want to just vent a bit, and put my hope out there in the open, that the more good we do (big or small) and the more good we feel, the more good comes back to us. At least, I hope it will for me.
azurite: (azureshipping - side by side)


You Look Like an Aries



It's likely that you have a lean and strong body.

Your facial features are uniquely beautiful, and you may have a scar or beauty mark.



You have good posture, and you carry yourself with an air of confidence.

You have a strong, steady gaze. You eyes are often issuing a challenge.



Like most Aries people, you probably very energetic and enjoy it when someone challenges you.

You expect the best from people, and you believe in them. You are willing to take a risk on someone.



*sings* Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Okay, maybe it's a bit premature to be celebrating, but after turning in my 6-page paper on Gay Rights (which was supposed to have more of a focus on the California Supreme Court, but the group project upon which the paper was based had so many facets and sub-topics that I may have gone "off-tangent" by covering more ground), I feel liberated! Free! GLAD!

Maybe not completely stress-free, but close to it: I have no final exams, and all I have left are some quizzes for my science classes and some feedback discussion for my recreation class. Everything else is turned in. I have high hopes for most of my classes --As or Bs, I hope-- but maybe a C for the GWS 350 class (the one that I just turned the paper in for), because I didn't turn in two other papers-- an Autoethnography and a paper on race. I also missed some class chat and discussion times. -_- Needless to say, I want to make sure that if I ever have to sign up for classes at the last minute just to get units, I'd rather pick something dirt-simple and easy than something completely out of my range, potentially challenging (to the point of bringing stress where it shouldn't), and bizarre.

And then! And then! I really, desperately want to finish WDKY26. Madly.
And then there's the revamping of the BEA Media page, the idea for a few fanlistings I've mentioned, and various other personal projects, like the overhauling of the main Seventh-Star.Net page.

Since I do have a biology quiz tomorrow morning, I really ought to get studying for that, but at some point "tonight" (that is, this morning), I'm going to play me some SNES games and go to bed with a SMILE on my face (dagnabbit)!
azurite: (sam & max - max)
So I got my hands on the 2-Disc Premiere Edition Soundtrack of "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." (It's my guilty pleasure, okay?) The elevated price is supposedly for all these bonus features (a DVD with the "making of" and a music video, along with the trailer... why companies think a "trailer" constitutes "extra" material is beyond me; a "mobile superpack" for cell phones), but to be honest, it doesn't seem worth it.

(1) DVD's only redeeming feature was the "Making Of" video, and I'm sure that'll end up on the DVD of the movie when it comes out, too. The "digital downloadables" were just links to a website, and they were paltry offerings at best: some wallpapers of the cast, some AIM/MSN icons, and a screensaver. None of which caught my eye enough for me to download.

(2) The "mobile superpack" is what's got my ire, 'cause it's advertised as a "$13.95 value," which may be true, but only if you can download them! Apparently other T-Mobile customers and even people on other services (I've seen Verizon named so far) have been having trouble.

Here's how it works:
Text HSM3FRT1 for "Now Or Never" ringtone to "347-639" (DISNEY)
Text HSM3FRT2 for "Night to Remember" ringtone to the same number...
Text HSM3FRT3 for "Last Chance" ringtone (it's the excerpt of "Now or Never" featured in the song "Senior Year Spring Musical") to the same number...

The included slip mentions "Right Here, Right Now" and "Just Wanna Be With You," but the response from Disney when I first texted "SUPERPACK" to "DISNEY" was for to go to the website and get the codes I listed above (and below). The only way I can think of to supposedly get these songs from Disney is to pay for them; there are different codes for the other songs, listed here:

HSM3A3 - I Want It All
HSM3A4 - Can I Have This Dance
HSM3A5 - A Night To Remember (? - remember, this is one of the freebies from above... supposedly)
HSM3A7 - The Boys Are Back (why'd they skip 6? Maybe it's a typo?)
HSM3A8 - Walk Away
HSM3A9 - We're All in This Together (Graduation Mix)
HSM3A10 - High School Musical

Text HSM3FVT1 for a "Whoa-ho Wildcat!" voicetone

Text HSM3FVWP1 for a Chad wallpaper

Text HSM3 to "DISNEY" to check out the site and "play games, sign the Wildcats' yearbook, and vote for the 'Most Likely To...' categories!"

Even though I don't want all of these, I tried for all of them at various times. Disney responded by sending me a text saying "Rply K to get ur content, Rply X to cancel" (among other things), but when I replied "K", nothing came. And I waited and waited. And waited. I looked for a Browser Message vs. a regular text message, but still nothing. I tried to reply again, but it said there was nothing waiting for me.

And of course, none of these mobile superpack downloads are accessible on the digital downloads section of Disc 1. I tried going to the mobile site on my laptop, but there's no difference. It's "text to get your stuff," but I never have gotten the response to actually GET the damn content! And presumably your phone number only stays in their queue for a limited time, looking for some sort of response that isn't "K" or "Ok" (when I sent "ok," it said my response wasn't recognized), because that whole replying-later didn't work, either.

There's no way to contact Disney Records or whomever for help. When you text "HELP" it just tells you the prices for the different ringtones. That's it. Doesn't say anything about what to do or who to call if you can't download FREE ringtones/voicetones/wallpaper.

I guess it's not really worth it if the ringtones would basically be MP3s, 'cause I can easily rip the songs from the soundtrack and edit them myself in my cell phone program in Windows, or download FREE ready-made ringtones from Ventones.com.

If anyone does discover a solution for texting the "right" response, let me know. (Also: need HSM icons. Why didn't Disney think of "avatars" of more sizes/styles than just clips of the stupid poster? MORE CREATIVE, PLZ!)
azurite: (ffx-2 - yuna berserker)
Well, I restarted my computer THREE times and each time, the keyboard/trackpad was frozen or non-responsive. It's been getting more and more frustrating, and I don't know what to do. There's no single solution from other users that have experienced the same thing on the Apple Discussion Boards, and the fixes from the "Genius" at the Genius Bar and the "Expert" from Apple that I called didn't work permanently.

I'm obviously concerned, because, like the last time I went to the Apple Store with a serious problem (the memory card pin-holder in the old MacBook Pro), the Genius made it sound like it all boils down to the logic board, which is a $1300 repair. My laptop's out of warranty because I didn't have $300+ to spend at the start of September, and I didn't think to put it on one of my credit cards on time. So that $1300 might actually be MORE, because I don't know if that's the in-warranty quote or not. Last time, that price tag convinced me to buy a whole brand new laptop, this time... I can't afford that. I don't know what to do, especially since I'd never risk opening the top case myself to see what might be wrong with the keyboard/trackpad (assuming I could even tell by looking; I'm not a hardware person by any stretch of the imagination).

I'm hoping to take it to the Apple Store again and find out. Maybe they can open the top case and diagnose the problem, but not necessarily charge me for it unless I ask for a repair? That might be too optimistic, what with how busy the Genius Bar usually is.

This sucks, because it's another major incident that renders my laptop unusable by itself, but it's not enough to get me to switch back to the hell that is Windows. Right now, I'm using a USB keyboard Mom found (turns out the plug I'd examined in the back of one of her dinosaur PCs was actually an adapter-- good thing I didn't run out to Radio Shack to pay $16 for something I already owned!), along with my usual Wacom tablet.

Smell my feet! )
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
I don't like to think of myself as a "pessimist." Hell, I don't even want to be a "cynic." Maybe an "optimistic realist," if it's possible. But why is it that the one credo I hold to for optimistic purposes ("Anything that can happen, will happen") always revolts on me and ends up being a source of negativity?

It becomes "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." Gah!

This weekend I was at my dad's house, and I had NO issue with the Internet. No problems getting my mail, accessing my sites, none of it. Fabulous. I got my Biology studying done and thought the practice questions this week were even easier! And I got them all right!

Then last night/this morning, as I was putzing around on the Internet, doing my own thing, the keyboard... mysteriously stops working! Trackpad too, because I didn't have my tablet and mouse with me. Nothing I did helped, save restarting the computer... and it happened again an hour or so later.

Before I left, I managed to boot up the system again and (with a temporarily working keyboard) make an appointment at the Apple Store in downtown S.F. I got home fairly quick, rescheduled my appointment, and saw a guy at the Genius Bar. He didn't give me a straight answer as to why the problem could have happened, though he did mention that the keyboard and trackpad were connected to the... DOOM DOOM LOGIC BOARD.

Freakin' logic board. That's wha (homg, it actually cut off working; I had to restart. I don't even think the PRAM reset worked. Why is it that every time I go to the Apple Store, they show me something that I can't duplicate at home? ANYWAY--!)

...That's what was the major problem with my LAST MacBook Pro. One of the pins holding the memory cards in place popped out of the logic board, and to get that replaced would be $1300 (I'm assuming out-of-warranty, which I am with THIS laptop too, because when the expiration date rolled around, I didn't have $300+ to renew it with! And you can't buy a warranty once it's OUT of warranty!). So needless to say, I'm rather upset, because I'd rather deal with software issues than with hardware ones, which tend to be costlier and take longer to fix.

*sigh* Apparently externals still work though, so I could theoretically always use an external keyboard. It'd make the entire laptop useless for travel though, unless I got some sort of folding/travel keyboard. No matter how you dice it, I don't think a decent keyboard would be cheap. Plus, THE FREAKIN' HARDWARE IS JUST SUPPOSED TO WORK! It's not all supposed to crap out on you the month after your warranty expires... but oh, wait, if you're a cynic realist or whatnot, you EXPECT that. :(

It's not that bad though. It's really not. This minor stress is nothing compared to what I went through on a PC. It's not that bad. And I'll bet it'll be much simpler than I think, easy to fix. Sure, there were no software updates or keyboard firmware updates to be had, but there's got to be SOME way to fix all this. Which is why I have a call with an "Apple Expert" tomorrow morning at 11am before my doctor's appointment.

*pray pray pray*
azurite: (azureshipping - love to hate)
Earthlink actually decided to work today. My LJ layout's appearing just fine, and I've gotten a dump of email that apparently has been in the Phantom Zone for the past two weeks. -_-

you are aqua
#00FFFF

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very high - you are all about getting things done. The world may think you work too hard but you have a lot to show for it, and it keeps you going. You shouldn't be afraid to lead people, because if you're doing it, it'll be done right.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the spacefem.com html color quiz


I had a headache for much of the afternoon and slept it off. As a result, I'm awake now and feel like I haven't gotten anything done all day. I need to take more notes, watch my biology lecture for this week, and pack to visit my dad tomorrow (after the Macy's shindig, during which time maybe I can sneak a peek at HSM3? I mean there's no way in hell my dad'll see it with me unless I tranquilize him first, and my dad's not easy to carry around!) My arm that I got my flu shot in still hurts like hell. It's all puffy, but it's not as sore as it was earlier.

I wish inspiration+motivation could be injected into a Snickers bar that I could buy at the corner store. I'm sick of getting ideas for projects I don't want to work on right now. Urgh.




Azurite's Dewey Decimal Section:

003 Systems


Class:
000 Computer Science, Information & General Works


Contains:
Encyclopedias, magazines, journals and books with quotations.



What it says about you:
You are very informative and up to date. You're working on living in the here and now, not the past. You go through a lot of changes. When you make a decision you can be very sure of yourself, maybe even stubborn, but your friends appreciate your honesty and resolve.











Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com



It's either that or Serials in Spanish and Portuguese. Or Customs of War and Diplomacy. o_O;
azurite: (cat: what the shit is this!?)
For the second or third time in as many weeks as I've been here, Earthlink (because frankly, it can't be anything else) has decided to crap out on loading my domain (and just MY domain). What this means:
* I can't read the majority of my email
* I can't update any of my websites
* My LiveJournal layout looks mangled (to me)

The first time this happened, I talked to Earthlink, because it was their fault our router was somehow improperly configured so that my Mac only got intermittent 'Net access when every other computer in the house was fine. They said if I can access other sites, it's not their fault. I eyerolled, but I figured that was a plausible excuse, and moved on to contacting my hosting company.

They reported back that my server had no issues, and that they (and countless other computers around the world) had no issues tracing back to my domain or the server, so it HAD to be an ISP problem. Everyone else without Earthlink in San Francisco, and various other friends of mine whom I've asked online if they can load my website can, no problems asked.

This isn't an issue for this laptop anywhere else (e.g. back at Baba and Grandpa's house), so it must be a connection (ISP) issue. But given what they told me last time, and the fact that my research has turned up NOTHING as to what could be causing this, I'm at a dead-end as to what to do or what to say if I did call them.

See, the problem (about the problem) is that it's intermittent. For the past several days at least (maybe even a week), I haven't had a single problem. Everything of the above has been working JUST fine, and I haven't done/changed anything special (that I know of) yesterday that would cause it to crap out on me. I'll try changing settings AFTER the fact to see if it helps, but it never does. This is clearly a connection (not a software, not a hardware, not a laptop, not a Mac) problem.

Any ideas? What to say, whom to turn to? This is really frustrating. I'm certainly not going to change hosts, because I don't believe it is (or could be) a hosting problem. They've done an enormous amount on their end investigating it, including restarting the server when I'm just a shared user, not a full server owner. Considering a bunch of other people's pages went down in those few minutes because of me, I don't feel like I should ask them to fiddle with it more. I really don't think it's their fault.

But it took Mom long enough to get DSL, even if it is with shitty Earthlink. They hate AT&T, and so don't want to get them, and I don't know what other companies (if any) are available, if Mom's locked into a contract with Earthlink, or if any other companies (if there ARE any) have reasonable pricing plans, because frankly, that's what it boils down to.

And I don't know what more I can do on my end-- Tracerouting and Pinging only does so much, and it only tells me that I'm either having a problem or not, not why I would be (or not).

*sigh* and *argh!*
azurite: (ffx-2 - yuna will fly)
Even with the makers of Bentō, Filemaker 2, being jerkwads for introducing Bentō 2 out of the blue the other day (and not offering an upgrade path for Bentō 1 users who helped troubleshoot all of Bentō's weaknesses-- and believe you me, there were a lot), I'm having a good day.

Why? It's the little things that build to a sense of accomplishment. But my accomplishment satisfaction level might not come close to your accomplishment satisfaction level. Things that please me might frustrate others, because they're not enough. But I'm me, and what's good enough for me makes me happy, and that's a great thing to know about yourself.

So:
* I got all my biology practice questions on genetics all right! (WHOO HOO!)

* I understand how to make Punnett squares and how to figure out the genotypical probability of a given individual (and for the really complicated squares, I found a Punnett square calculator online)

* I managed to take some pretty comprehensive notes for the lecture (which I think makes more sense than the book, even though the slides seem long and the book seems "shiny") using Circus Ponies' software NoteBook 3-- which is just like a notebook, duh! It has some weaknesses (moving around shapes and arrows is a pain in the ass, and they stay in place rather than link to text; new pages don't always have a cell within which to start typing in right away), but generally it's really easy to use! I'm glad I got the hang of it so soon. I think I know more keyboard shortcuts for that program than others that I've used for years-- like, oh, the one I'm using now, XJournal! :P

* I took the quiz for this chapter a few minutes ago, even though the quiz only became available a few hours ago. Normally I take my quizzes at the last minute, but I wanted to take this quiz while all the information was fresh in my mind and my notes were literally right next to my quiz on the screen. I feel pretty confident about it- I think I'll get an A on this quiz and bring my class average up!

* I did MATH for this chapter's practice questions and quiz, and Biology is (duh) overall a SCIENCE subject! My two worst subjects and not only did I have FUN learning and practicing, but I feel confident about my skills! Honestly, if I were a lightbulb, I'd be GLOWING right now! :) :) :)

* I caught up on the discussion strands for Geology. To be honest, I'm a bit mad at myself for missing some of my assignments in classes-- I think I missed one biology quiz, one outdoor recreation quiz (the quiz was to think of 3 people influenced by the American outdoors and explain about them-- since we'd had to explain about one person for our third quiz, I thought I was done, but-- oops, no! And when I tried to think of other people besides the one I'd already used, I got brain block), and my one gender and women's studies paper. :( But I can see the silver lining: motivation to not slack off or fail in the rest of the semester-- once I get a running start, keep at it! So I will. I just hope this motivation carries through to everything else I do.

* I finally got the necessary 1000 points for the Bunny Races in Star Ocean: Till The End of Time. Well, technically I got 1002, and it technically wasn't me who did any of the work, it was my new turbo controller. :P But I figured out how to work it! The manual wasn't really any good for that. I also had to finagle a way to keep the X button pressed down. Tape wasn't working for extended periods of time, so I wrangled a penny using two rubber bands. So even though the game totally knows I cheated (heh!), I got the Bunny Races Trophy, a new pair of Bunny Shoes, and a shiny new Scumbag Slayer! Watch out Lenneth, here I come!

* I've managed to move more of my emails from my Mac to my online accounts, so I can access them wherever I am. The only exception to that was recently, when it seemed my domain was inexplicably inaccessible from my mom's home network, and no amount of talking to Earthlink resolved it. Because I could access other domains, they thought it was my host's fault, but my hosting service proved that my site was accessible all around the world to everyone else-- but me. But it's been working just fine ever since the last time I talked to the tech guy, and I hope it stays that way-- I don't want to lose access to my primary email account again. That's the biggie-- I can do without FTP access or access to my sites that I check regularly (but should update regularly and don't-- bad Mer!) for a few hours, but not my email!

So after all that, I feel like I can relax a little bit before starting on any more lessons or discussions. I still have some of the special features of Iron Man to watch (seriously, Disc 2 of the Ultimate Edition is PACKED! PACKED, I SAY! I don't care what my dad says, that movie freaking ROCKS MY SOCKS), the Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Edition, and my loverly new CSI: Crime Scene Investigation season 1 DVD boxed set (ooh, CSI special features...). And of course, in 49 minutes, CSI S9x2!

Thrills!
azurite: (sailormoon - mars says let 'em burn)
Remember how, I think no more than a few weeks ago, one of my deviations got deleted from DA? I suspected that it was because I put my name to a petition saying that several users were getting abused by DA "staff members" who claimed we were pedophiles for wanting or appreciating illustrated art of fictional characters in sexual or other graphic situations. This is DA, where photographic pr0n or near-pr0n is just fine and dandy, but an image of Harry Potter getting it on with Ginny Weasley isn't allowed, even though by the end of canon, he is perfectly adult and therefore there's no issue with any minors (fictional or otherwise) being "harmed" by putting them in that (illustrated) scenario?

I don't know if that's really the case, but DA finally responded to the note I sent them asking about why it was deleted. The one update claimed that it was due to Art Theft/No Permission, even though I reiterated that I HAD permission from Diana Hold/Sailor Xv2 and gave credit back to both her DA account and website, but I'm not sure if there's anything I can say or do in response to this:

The logs indicate that the artwork was an edit of a doll created on a doll generator. Generated dolls may be submitted to your scraps only, however, since this is an edit it is infringing upon the generator's owner's copyright.

I could possibly upload it into my scraps, but I worked damn hard on that-- it's NOT a scrap! Plus, hundreds of other users, thousands of other deviations are just like this! Besides, what qualifies a piece using a "generated doll" base over a "real" deviation? Does it have to involve intense Photoshopping? I refuse NOT to give credit on the virtue that it might seem like my own work, because it's not, and I'm NOT a thief. But Diana gave users permission to use her generator to create our own senshi-- some of them just flat out, direct from the program, others severely edited before seeing the "light" of DA. So I have to ask: why this one deviation (and not more in my gallery) and why just me (from what I've heard)?

WTF mates, wtf?
azurite: (trashcat is not amused)
Greetings from... Santa Cruz, CA. Incidentally, the day I came to S.F., I completely spaced about having a Biology quiz, so I missed it. I'd already gotten one extension from when I got mugged and I knew the professor wouldn't give me another, so... argh. It's not as if it'll be a big dink to my grade provided I keep up with everything else, but it's not as if keeping up is EASY. We're well into the "tough stuff" of this "basic" biology class.

Anyway, I'm in Santa Cruz because, like forgetting my biology quiz, I also forgot that my cousin Brooke's baby shower was THIS WEEKEND rather than "the 7th," which is Tuesday. Because Brooke and Shaina are driving down to Fresno (where the shower is located, at their mom's house) on Friday morning, I had to meet Brooke here in SC *today.* So I took a bus downtown, a Muni train to the Embarcadero, the BART train from the Embarcadero to Fremont, a bus from Fremont to San Jose, and then another bus from San Jose to Santa Cruz. I stuffed myself with 3 horribly unhealthy tacos from taco bell and stared at all the pretty shiny books at the Borders I met Brooke's hubby, Honis (aka Mike) at.

And so here I've been at their place pretty much ever since, studying my geology (which I've been slacking on; I've already taken 2 quizzes but have 5 more due within the next 24 hours; 4 of those are probably fairly easy, but only if I do the reading and make an effort to concentrate and take notes). We did go out for a quick bite at this homey diner called Jeffrey's and talked family, jobs, and the evil brainwashing that is Disney.

We have to wake up at an ungodly hour of the morning tomorrow to head to Shaina's, but she's the one who's going to be driving, so Brooke and I can conk out while we drive to Fresno and do who-knows-what while we're there a full day before the actual shower. I know in my case I have to stay awake and STUDY, sucky as that is. Actually, what's truly sucky is I'm more or less relegated to sitting at some table near an outlet, because my MacBook Pro has been suspiciously sucking with keeping its charge. A few days ago, I noticed that, even after it was supposedly fully charged, it only had a life of 40-55 minutes, rather than a good hour and a half or more like it used to have. I got the iStat Pro widget, and it says that even though my battery's "fully charged," it's at 97%, not 100% (or even 99%), and the "battery health" is at a dismal 45% (it was at 38% at my mom's house). I don't really know what's going on or why; I tried the SMC reset, but it didn't seem to help. I'm really worried...

Staying at my mom's house is a bit awkward this time around; rather than staying in the "Tovstin," aka what used to be my room and is now Gary's study/bedroom (he never sleeps in there though), I stayed in my mom's room. Bigger bed, but... er, not as comfortable. Maybe it's me and my picky back (destroyed by Disney), but I couldn't lay flat on that bed. The only way I could sleep (and not even comfortably, because I kept tossing and turning all night, and woke up with the comforter all haphazard) was on my side. Staying in the Tovstin would mean "inconveniencing" Gary, because his closet is in there, and unlike my mom, who's on her leave, he still has to work everyday and access his clothes. And I've seen the closet in my mom's room, there's just no way Gary's stuff'll fit in there. -_-

So, it looks like when I go back on Sunday I'll be sleeping in the living room on the couch. Awwwwkward.

Speaking of awkward, did anyone catch the vice presidential debate tonight? Things I found amusing, somewhat sad (read: pathetic), and kind of weird:
* Joe Biden referring to himself by name, rather than with a proper pronoun such as "I" or "me" or derivatives thereof
* Sarah Palin being kind of "cutesy" and saying stuff like "you betcha" and "darn right" (don't get me wrong, some people think that her speaking to the "average American" and coming across like a "soccer mom" is a good thing, but I think it made her sound very unprofessional and most definitely un-vice presidential-like)
* Sarah Palin saying "um" a lot (no, really, she did. If you re-watch the debates, you'll notice she said it OFTEN. Speech coach, much?)
* Joe Biden looked like he had an eye lift
* Sarah Palin looked like she had Botox (cheeks!)

I guess what it boils down to is, are vice presidential debates supposed to be about the candidates selling their running mate, or about THEIR personal opinions, policies and actions should THEY get elected into the office of VP? Maybe I'm mistaken for having thought it should be the latter, but the bulk of the debate came off as "Obama this" and "McCain that," and I was like "Yeah, but what do YOU think?" I know that Biden wouldn't be Obama's running mate if they didn't agree on a lot and share the same policies, nor would McCain have Palin if they didn't agree on at least some fundamentals (they at least have some more clear-cut differences though, which is interesting... sadly, for other things, she's more or less his parrot, and can't talk about her opinions because she doesn't have the knowledge to have formed any substantive ones).

The thing that pisses me off about both candidates: they agree that gays should have the same rights as committed heterosexual couples (read: a man "married" to a woman), but they refuse to redefine the word "marriage" outside of the traditional "man" and "woman" sense. This is bullshit. It's a WORD, you nimrods, it has nothing to do with politics, ethics, the Constitution, etc. You don't OWN a word. You don't get to say who uses it and how. The more you say a group can't/shouldn't use a word, or the more you use a word in a derogatory sense, the more people will rise up and do just the opposite: they'll use the word, and they'll use it to empower themselves! (See: Nigga, Queer, Colored). It just sounds ridiculous, the thought of a governmental body saying "this word is going to mean THIS in our country" even if it has a different or more general meaning elsewhere. Of course, definitions in general are subject to societal standards and values, as I'm sure is apparent from other words throughout the centuries, but to get everyone's knickers in a knot over the use of the WORD "marriage" just seems a waste of energy.

For me: marriage is the sealing of a lifetime commitment between two PEOPLE, regardless of gender. This allows them to be listed on each others' insurance, have visitation rights in hospitals, adopt a child (or children), have shared property rights, joint bank accounts, etc. Sure, politicians can say that a "civil union" between gays should have all these rights, but then why not just call it what it is: A MARRIAGE? Why is it "necessary" to create a different word, process, paperwork, etc. just because X couple is gay but Y couple isn't? That's hardly equal rights when there's a simple snit over WORD USAGE, of all things!

*sigh* I need to get to bed. My brain is fried.
azurite: (csi: gsr wall)
I wonder... does everyone know someone, within six "degrees" or less (e.g. friend of a friend of a... etc.) who is, in some way, involved in every fandom someone could possibly be interested in? That doesn't mean the person needs to be a participant in fandom-- maybe just a lurker who knows of a good site. That's good enough.

Because here I am, and I'm into all these anime and manga fandoms. Most of them are shoujo, some are shonen. Some I've watched and enjoyed, but never contributed anything to fandom for. Some of them I'm a former participant in, others I'm an active participant in.

"Participant" can vary from fandom to fandom, too. For some fandoms, I write fanfiction and/or submit art. For others, I just comment on forums, read fanfics, and so on. For example, I'm highly active and participatory in the anime and manga fandoms, but more of a passive participant within my favorite TV show fandoms like Star Trek, Alias, and more recently, CSI. Sure, I'll read forum postings and check out wikis and the like, but I have yet to write a fic for any of them.

A while ago, I made up my mind not to try and find good fanfic on Fanfiction.net (or its ilk) anymore, except by the following methods:

a) updates from friends or favorite authors that I'd already established on my account as "Favorite Authors"

b) recommendations from those friends toward other writers, whether directly (e.g. Mamono recommended to me via email/PM/LJ comment/whatever that I check out Atlantis2's fics!) or indirectly (Atlantis2 is listed as a Favorite Author on Mamono's profile, or one of Atlantis2's stories is listed as a Favorite Story on Mamono's profile)

So far, that's worked out pretty well for me, except when I'm getting into a new fandom. Unless I'm lucky and I already know of a friend who's in that fandom (e.g. if I ever get into Slayers, I know I can turn to [livejournal.com profile] dqbunny, and if I ever watch Stargate: Atlantis, I know I can pester [livejournal.com profile] mklutz with questions), I have to hunt down "good" sites, communities, C2s, and the like just to find people that might make good friends and therefore good connections to OTHER good people-- good writers, active participants in fandom, whatever.

So, as of right now, my favorite CSIs are in this order:
* CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
* CSI: New York
* CSI: Miami

I've been reading more CSI: NY stuff than any of the others lately, mainly because I think the characters have gripped me more than the Miami cast and because the season premiere for CSI: NY (and Miami) have aired already, while the original CSI has yet to have its Season 9 premiere. You'd think CSI's fandom would be buzzing with activity and fics, but... it doesn't seem like it. I read the winners of the CSI Fic Awards, and that was it.

I think I complained that the CSI: NY wiki sucks, and I wonder if it's because I haven't found a better Wiki for it on Wikia or somewhere else (like the CBS website). It's one of those nagging, disgusted feelings with the State of the Web that would otherwise compel me to do it myself, EVEN THOUGH I'm a n00b to the fandom and other people, more dedicated fans, have been around longer and could almost definitely do it better. It just bugs me that it apparently hasn't been done (to my satisfaction; I guess I am a picky fan) YET.

Fanfiction isn't much better. Does anyone on this FL read CSI: NY fic? I'm in desperate need for some good stuff (esp. Mac x Stella, which I refuse to call SMacKED! because that's... just kind of dumb. I've never liked portmanteau 'ship names or variations thereof), now that I've exhausted the supply of fics by the late great Christina D-- can't spell her last name-- and Banana Tooth.

I wish I could make myself unpicky, but if I read a fic where the dialogue isn't punctuated properly, where words like "your" and "a lot" are misspelled, and where Inspector Gerrard slaps Mac Taylor OPENLY in front of the whole lab, I just... I die a little inside. I have to click back before my stomach stages a revolt and takes me trachea along with it. I can't read fics where some random OC *koff* Mary-Sue! *koff* is paired off with a main character (especially in the CSI 'verses; aren't their lives complicated enough? It's like, if you introduce an OC, make her either a victim or a criminal, not a love interest and/or long-lost relative!). And little things can really bug me, too.... )

And though this makes me a bit of a hypocrite, there'd have to be something REALLY compelling about some part of a story for me to hate it enough to not read it all the way through, not review, but still check out the author's profile in the hopes that they wrote a better story. (I say "hypocrite" because I feel if someone read "Only 16" and thought that fic was the best I could do, I would cry bloody foul. I don't take it offline BECAUSE I've come so much farther than I was when I wrote that, and because SOMEDAY I'd like to revise it and see if I *can* make it better!)

With so many things that knock me out of a fic within the first few paragraphs, I'm really relying on the recs of other great authors (or simply well-read fans within the same fandoms as I) to find some truly good stuff.

So, if you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who writes good CSI fic that's:
* CSI: NY - Mac x Stella or Danny x Lindsay
* CSI: Nick x Sara (Snickers; the closest 'ship name to a portmanteau that I'll tolerate because it's just so durn cute) OR Grissom x Sara (aka GSR)
* CSI: Miami
or is just generally well-written and preferably complete (and it can be gen, crime/drama, but preferably not tragedy or angst) regardless of which CSI it hails from
please let me know!

LET'S SOCIAL NETWORK YAY!
azurite: (sailormoon - mars says let 'em burn)
WTF, DeviantART?

I don't want to smell conspiracy where there is none, but only a few days after I gave [livejournal.com profile] cyperian my name down for a list of Deviants who find it offensive and harassing that one of the Staff at DA called us all pedophiles (it's a long story, but I'm thinking [livejournal.com profile] cyperian's journal's got a better recap of the details than I could ever give), for the very first time, one of my deviations is flagged as being a copyright violation.

Um... whut?

It was one of "Sailor Nautilus." As far as I know, I gave all the proper credit to Sailor Xv2 (aka Diana Hold, the creator of the Sailor X v2.10 KiSS doll that I used for the base). Maybe they flagged me on forgetting to give credit to Naoko Takeuchi, et. al.? That seems a bit ridiculous, but Sailor Nautilus isn't HER work, it's my original work, based off her "Sailor" theme and idea. You know me, I'll drop a line to Naoko where credit's due, but to flag a deviation and then delete it within the span of a few hours, not even notifying me (Deviant Notes don't get CC'd to email addressees, which I find STUPID) to give me a chance? Unfair, yo!

I wrote to the Help Desk already and hope they'll get back to me and restore the art, but if not, I'll reupload it and make sure I give all the proper credits. I'd rather my whole DA account not get into trouble, so I might need to go through my whole (small) gallery, but this just seems... so sudden and unfair. Why me, why now, why THAT particular art?

*shrug* I'm confused more than angry. (Still don't remember the name of that song. I try listening to stuff to see if I can pinpoint it, but then I only get more confused with other melodies in my head. Should I try and record it the next time it pops into my head, so maybe someone can help me ID it that way?)
azurite: (bunninated!)
You know what sucks?

Having a song stuck in your head that has no words!

I remember this melody to a song-- I think it's the opening to it, and part of me was sure it was Enya, but I've gone through my entire digital Enya collection and none of the openings sounded like what I thought. Then I tried to think of other Enya-like things, like maybe Enigma or the one track of Era I have, but it wasn't them, either.

GAAAAAH!
azurite: (blue flower)
Another day and I'm here to tell the tale. Well, not a "tale," but at least I'd be here to tell it if there were one. At least I managed to get some sleep last night. The day before that, when I took that sleeping pill (at 7am), I ended up sleeping nearly 12 hours. That was only HALF a sleeping pill, mind you-- actually, there was more painkiller in the pill than there was sleeping aid! But when I took the other half last night, I slept and woke up within a decent amount of hours.

There were a few times when I heard noises and woke up, but generally everything's been the same as the way it was before all this mess happened. Life's moving on, I need to as well.

Last night was the first time I had a weird dream. Normally the sleeping pills mean no dreams for me, but I had a dream that CSUN was on a train (as in, the school itself was a train... or was on wheels, or something like that) and for some reason, there was a hallway from the library that had two laundry machines. They were right up against some long windows, but the windows were kind of dirty and hard to see out of. There was only one washer and one dryer-- nothing fancy, just the plain ol' white ones you see everywhere. I dreamed I put some laundry in and then went to get my basket, but got lost-- clearly it wasn't just the CSUN's main library on wheels, it was some kind of dream labyrinth. I started to feel sick and went to find the bathroom, and even though I thought I did, when I looked around, I was in a regular train seat, complete with people across the aisle in front of me! I was petrified! I had to get up and find my laundry machine! But then I woke up.

...Very strange. No doubt somehow related to last night's horrific news that two trains collided not too far from my house-- a Metrolink train and a freight train. Already 18 people are dead, over 100 are injured, some in critical condition, and the news reports are saying it's because the Metrolink engineer failed to see the red light on the track. Bzuh? Like my mom suggested when she called this morning, aren't there supposed to be back-up procedures for that sort of situation?

Anyway, since I slept almost all day yesterday, today I'm hoping to get some more card-replacement done. I'm trying to get my life back on track and normal.

If there's any good thing that's come out of this, it's that now I can channel the feeling of "uselessness," and "powerless" into WDKY26. It's bizarrely good timing, considering the chapter content. You know me, I always try inject a bit of emotional realism into my fics, and now WDKY26's going to get it.

Dad called the locksmith that charged us $1500, and they sent a digital invoice so we could clearly see what was so expensive-- each lock was $250. I certainly don't remember anyone (either the estimate agent or the actual locksmith) telling us it would cost that much, and I'm pretty sure if someone had told Grandpa that, I would have heard him yell "WHAT!?" instead of it just happening and us finding out after the fact (and Grandpa "blaming" it on me, as if I asked for the most expensive lock). Hopefully we can either get it covered by the homeowner's insurance or the company can negotiate a lower price, considering the circumstances. Even with all this extra brou-ha-ha, I don't necessarily feel safe in my own home.

I'm hungry.
azurite: (don't fuck with eagles)
I actually dared to go out today. Actually, Baba and Grandpa were supposed to go to their swimming class at CSUN, but Grandpa wasn't feeling too well, so we held off on that, and instead went out later in the day. I went to WaMu and got the money order (originally intended for Disney so I can sever my ties with them completely; after what I've been through lately, they can stand to wait a few more days!) refunded, closed my checking account, and opened up a new one. So there's no chance this guy's going to get ANY of my money beyond the measly $15 that was in my wallet. Haha, sucker. Haha.

I also put a 90-day fraud alert on my credit, notified the DMV, made an appointment for a new CA ID, and have been running around getting all my other cards replaced. I'm handling the last of them (at school and the mall) tomorrow. Already got a new Vons card (even though I never use it; I always enter the phone number to get the club discount; it's so much easier!), but Blockbuster's computers were on the fritz, so all I got was a new account number; the guy couldn't close my old account or print me a new card. -_-

I was afraid that when we came back from lunch and shopping at Vons, we'd return to the house and find it ransacked or on fire. Neither, obviously, as I'm sitting here typing at my laptop in my still-intact room. I'm glad.

On the one hand, I want to believe these guys were pathetic and petty, but the escape vehicle was (if I remember correctly), a new dark silver Lexus SUV (it may have been a Honda, which is on the opposite end of the spectrum, but something in me is saying it was a Lexus). EIther these guys are spoiled brats who think they need to commit a crime to have fun, or they jacked a car and are a lot smarter/more dangerous (not necessarily both) than we thought. I'd rather overestimate them than underestimate them, hence the complete changing of all the locks throughout the house. We're also going to get a new mailbox-- our old one is pretty crappy, anyway.

I have been a lot more wary of walking by myself; I'm more attuned to hearing what's around me. Mom thinks I should act like a crazy person so people won't come near me. (Don't I act wacky enough "normally?") Dad wants me to take a self-defense class. (Part of me wants to *legally* get a gun. Bad Mer, bad! But there's nothing illegal about pepper spray, right?)

I'm a bit paranoid of silver SUVs, of which there were a lot in the neighborhood. But none of them were the car I saw yesterday. I might use my Google-fu to see if I can find out just what model it was and then call the detectives with that info, assuming they haven't already tried that avenue; I left them a message this morning but haven't heard back from them yet. I hope that's a good sign, and it means they're doing their job.

We went driving up Donna St. where the guys made their getaway; Baba thought that maybe they went through my purse, found there was next to nothing in it and threw it out. Or maybe they didn't recognize it as a designer purse (I argued that the fact it was a D&B purse was probably what made me a target in the first place) and threw the purse out, keeping the wallet. No luck. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, it just means we didn't see the purse or wallet lying anywhere visible from the street as we drove down. Someone from the neighborhood could have found it, if that happened, but if it was just the purse, there's nothing in it to identify it as mine, and if it was the wallet... *shrug* Well, maybe they'll return it? I'm not going to get my hopes up.

My new policy is to always have pants with pockets and put whatever I need in there. If it doesn't fit, I don't need it. And I'm going to make copies of everything and write down all my memberships and numbers. And then I'll put it in my safe where NO ONE BUT ME can touch it (unless I burn to a crisp, in which case the firemen can get to it, but it won't matter anymore :P).

In the meantime, I plan on getting my endorphins up and keeping my back in shape by playing some DDR. Might as well be strengthening my legs if I want to kick anybody in the kneecap, should the occasion arise. ^_~

I want to thank everyone who responded to my past two posts/notes. I appreciate your thoughtfulness, everyone; not only has it helped me remember other lost cards, but it's made me feel a lot better and not so freaked out.

And [livejournal.com profile] obabscribbler, thank you for the fic. It definitely brought a smile to my face. I wish I had a Yuugi/Yami no Yuugi and a pair of former gang members (well, Jounouchi and Honda, rather than some random Crips or Bloods) as my best buds. But I'll settle for vicarious living through Anzu-- she always makes me feel better. (BTW, I don't see metal trash cans anymore. Otherwise I totally would have grabbed a lid and flung it at that guy's head... or the SUV's windshield. HAHA!)
azurite: (csi: sara survivor)
Pictures "for posterity" of the events of 9/10/08. Read the previous post for details.

It happened, it hurt. )
azurite: (csi: sara survivor)
Just got mugged. Can't think straight, can't eat my breakfast (got a late start).

I was about 20 yards from home. I could see my backyard. Corner of Ballinger St. and Donna Ave. I had my iPod on (stupid, stupid, stupid!) listening to some Utada Hikaru. I was thinking of scenes for WDKY. I was thinking, if I were a superhero, I'd want all the awesome powers, not just one. I was thinking how it was a nice day out-- sunny but not too hot, nice breeze. I was thinking it'd be nice to take my bagel and iced tea and curl up in the rec room and watch some Ceres: Celestial Legend.

Someone tugged on my Dooney and Burke (I saved up for that purse! It was my anniversary present to myself...) purse (which I never take out; I usually take my now-crappy sparkly change purse with just one card and an ID in it; why did I choose today to take my purse AND my wallet, with all my cards in it?). I thought for a second, it was a "friend" surprising me. Someone saying "Hi Mer, so glad to have you back in the neighborhood."

The moment I turned, the guy started running. I dropped my bagel and iced tea, tore out of my flip flops, started running after the guy motherfucker. He had a fucking accomplice parked in a dark silver SUV on the corner of Donna. I heard someone in the car say "Come on man, let's go" before the door slammed and they gunned it north down the street.

I only remember the first four number/letters or so of the license plate: 5LJP or something like that. It was a new-looking SUV with a silver icon-- Honda, Toyota, Lexus, something, I can't remember. (I know it wasn't a Scion. I know it wasn't a SAAB or a BMW, with a colored icon. But it still doesn't help.)

The guy was Hispanic, wore a gray baseball cap with no logo, cargo shorts (I think they were light khaki), and a blue or gray t-shirt. I called the cops immediately. I talked to a few other "witnesses" (guys from AT&T that heard me scream bloody murder-- can't fight back, can't run, but I'll be damned if I can't scream louder than anyone on the fucking planet. I probably woke the dead) and then trudged back to my soggy bagel and broken iced tea bottle.

Got home, cried my eyes out. Called the credit card company, my bank, my mom, Kaiser. Trying to remember any other cards. But there was only $15 in cash in there, and with the two credit cards blocked, I doubt these guys will find anything worthwhile. They might try and sell the purse, but who gives a fuck about D&B anymore? I don't know why I ever cared so much about that P.O.S. I'll just get an ugly Buxton bag.

Never going to listen to my iPod while out again. Never going to carry a purse worth more than $20. Always going to know just what's in my purse and wallet. No more mystery cards... "did I have this?" and "did I have that?" I still don't remember everything. Shock is a funny thing. All the stuff you think you can do, suddenly you can't. It happens too fast. (No one's told me my lips look white. But I feel... hollow inside, but also like if I have anything inside, I'm going to throw it up. It's a wonder I'm as coherent as I am.)

I still feel stupid. But I'm okay. Could have been worse. I'm okay.

I wish I knew kung-fu.

ETA: Haven't heard back from the police detectives, so I'll give them a buzz tomorrow. Question for anyone reading this (and no, Capital One has no taken over my brain): "What's in your wallet?" No, really. I'm trying to remember what I may have lost, if there's anything critical in there that I *should* be worried about that I may have forgotten or missed. My SSN wasn't in there, and everything else vital (credit cards, debit cards, IDs) I'm already on the way to replacing. I should be going to CSUN tomorrow anyway to get a new ID there. But can you guys think of anything else that I might have lost, critical or otherwise? What kinds of cards do you have in your wallet?

My list so far of cards lost and hopefully replaceable, some of which have already been processed:
* DSW Membership Card (getting a new one once their "system" is back online)
* Borders Rewards
* myISIC Student card
* CSUN Student ID
* Student Advantage card
* CA ID
* WaMu Debit Card
* Macy*s Visa (I JUST FUCKING ACTIVATED THAT TODAY YOU RAT BASTARDS)
* Apple ProCare card (would you believe Apple's customer support had no idea what this was?)
* Library card
* Kaiser card
* Southwest Airlines card (printed a new one; now to laminate it or something. Hey, I could always stick it in an old Yu-Gi-Oh! card sheath, yeah?)
* JCPenney Salon Loyalty card (I was so bloody close to getting my discount! But my stylist there likes me, and maybe they can "look up my account" or something and punch in 6 holes on a new card because I'm cute and sweet -literally on that last one!- and honest)
* ???
azurite: (submit to the webmistress!)
I watched MSNBC's "To Catch an ID Thief" a while ago, and while the year-long investigative report uncovered just how twisted and international identity theft can be, it wasn't conclusive-- no one got "caught" or "busted," and the real person(s) behind the mass of thefts (Wendy Kenyon) never got unmasked or brought to justice, either.

Fact is, with the ability to make up any name and grab any picture from the Internet, anyone can be anyone else. Knowing that any one of millions of people could pretend to be anyone else, and that they can be anywhere in the world, and the likelihood of being extradited and prosecuted is less than 1%, the fault can't lie entirely with them.

Fact is, people are stupid. It's a sad and unfortunate truth. But it's not a bad thing to want to help others, to help them NOT get caught in "international crime rings" and have to put up with all the stress and time lost associated with identity theft. I know because I've been there.

Sure, I didn't go through as much as some of the people featured on the show, but that could mean either I got lucky (my hacker wasn't as "smart" as some of the scam artists in Nigeria and Benin) or I was smarter. I don't mean to sound egotistical, but unlike them, I would never wire thousands of dollars to someone I'd never met, believe their story about being in a car accident and need money for a hand operation, or ship packages for thousands of dollars in fees to a place in Africa. Why doesn't ANY of that sound suspicious? How can someone hear all that and not have bells and whistles and alarms going off in their brain?

That's what baffles me the most, I guess.

See, I have people that I trust-- people I know in real life, that I've met, and that I think have earned my trust. There are also people online --people I've never met in real life-- that I trust, but it's a different kind of relationship there, and a different kind of trust earned. It's true that if any of them said they were in trouble and needed help, I would want to in a New York minute, but I'd want to do it in a way that I can trust-- not wiring money and not knowing where it's going, who's getting it, or what it's getting used for.

It's also surprising that people with relatively comfortable lives buy into this kind of scam, too. Whether it's single guys or guys with marriage issues, they believe that some beautiful porn-esque model has her own business that involves shipping pricey electronics to Africa? And luv luv luvs them sooooo much? Seriously, wake up and smell the manure, folks. There's nothing honest, pitiful, or reasonable about ANY of that. Women buy into it too, thinking some nice, handsome guy needs their help-- and they give their time, money, good name, credit, and who knows what else without ever bothering to MEET the damn guy. I see that as the height of gullibility. Don't buy into B.S. like this, guys AND girls.

More stuff you can do to protect yourself:
* Don't use the same password for every account you have. It should be obvious why. If you use the same account for your email that you do for your Amazon.com account, which has your credit card saved on it, and someone gets into your email account because your password was made up of words that can be found in a dictionary, with no symbols and numbers that are in a row (for example 'dogcat456'), you're more or less screwed. If you do use the same password anywhere, make it no more than 5 times, and NEVER for the same category of accounts, especially if those accounts are emails and/or sites that have bank or credit information on it (e.g. PayPal, bank accounts, shopping sites). So you can use the same password for fanfic sites, but not for email accounts, if you have more than one.

* You should change up your username, too, even if you keep some parts the same. For example, I'm the_sweet here, the-sweet on DeviantART, Azurite in a lot of places... and I have tons of other usernames elsewhere.

* It also helps to have multiple email addresses too-- not just to sort out email you want from spam, but also to vary up what information is where. Any important accounts (e.g. bank accounts, PayPal, etc.) should always have "Additional Email Addresses" on file, because should someone manage to hack into your account, you want to be notified of any changes.

* Check any accounts that have money attached to them (again, bank accounts, PayPal, shopping sites) regularly to make sure there are no suspicious charges. Even if you have complex passwords, only copy-paste them rather than type them, regularly change your usernames and/or passwords, STILL check the account. You never know when information can accidentally slip through the cracks, as a result of using a public computer, spyware, or even someone you think you can trust (e.g. a sales clerk, a server at a restaurant, etc.) CHECK REGULARLY. Cheesy as it sounds, balance your checkbook, too. Account for every transaction so that when something fishy DOES come up, you can recognize it immediately. Not all fraudulent charges are made for hundreds or thousands of dollars-- hackers and scammers may do a "test run" of a card to see if it's any good. And make sure to call your bank, PayPal, and/or your credit card company if you see something strange. "Better safe than sorry." I know some people think caution can be a pain in the ass, but if it ends up saving you thousands of dollars and days of time, isn't it worth it? Also make sure to get your annual free credit report to make sure nothing's slipped your notice.

Hope that helps!

January 2016

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