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1 min read
As some of you may have noticed, I've been uploading more photography than maille recently. That's because I've been lazy and haven't made maille recently, but carrying my camera around is easy. Don't worry, I'll be making more eventually. I'm not pretending I'm a good photographer or anything here, just trying to get better, I know the quality of my maille is above that of the pictures at this point. Hopefully any learned skill will carry over to making the maille pictures look better too.

This update is mainly to remove the giant wall of text though.
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5 min read
#1: dA Journal Skins
    dA is all about art, showcasing your unique interpretations of everything from daily life to extraordinary fanciful concepts. That being said, the website itself has its own look and tends to fit together in a way that makes it easy to see specific items and find what you want to look at. When someone goes and puts a giant box on the top right corner of their page that is a completely different color than everything around it, it naturally draws the eye. When that eye is drawn to something new and interesting, like a new picture you just posted, that's great. When it's drawn to some fugly box of text full of animated gifs and what can only be described as a 13 year old's myspace page from 2004, well, I close your page and don't even bother looking in your gallery even if that's how I got to your page in the first place.
    Tasteful designs that expand upon the existing color scheme and fit in are not what I'm talking about, they're nice, more power to you. Everyone else, well, I'm thinking of writing some greasemonkey scripts to force the default css on dA.
    This also applies to those people who have journals that are so long that I have to scroll to see the whole thing even though the amount of new content is a single line of text somewhere in the middle, with the rest is filled with some sort of todo list or something. I know that some people who watch me here do that, even those of you who I know in person (and thus won't be surprised by me complaining here), but isn't that slowly changing "status report" what the deviantID area is for?

#2: Shaggy Loops
    Do I really need to elaborate? It (and a good many other "weaves" that somehow made it into the M.A.I.L. library) looks like you picked a ring out of a bag/bucket, a bunch of other rings held onto it barrel-o-monkeys style, and you called that the final product. When the entirety of the weave "look" comes from how a bunch of superficially attached rings just sorta flop around, and you call that art, well, our definitions differ. Add some color, tighten it up a bit, maybe some beads, just something to make it look interesting and not like a pile of raw rings.
    This isn't anything new, I was honestly disappointed when a bunch of friends and I posted a collection of absolute crap "maille" pieces on the TRL forums for April Fools 2009 and did the whole "omg, thats so kewl, can u maek a tut 4 it?" thing for each others' threads, and there were other replies that were people thinking that the items were actually nice. Sure we got a bunch of people who got the joke and posted fake accolades, but you can tell the difference. It was meant to be an over the top example in protest of the ugly stuff that gets posted and gets nothing but praise, and the few people that post so much as an objective critique get their heads ripped off by the vocal [majority? minority? not really sure] who believe that anything other than praise is being mean and evil. Critiques are how people get better! If I post something and someone thinks it's ugly, by all means say so, in a way that indicates what the issue is and what could make it better.
    Unfortunately the group that this was aimed at didn't get it, and now we've got entire forums where there are some really cool things being posted, but "ne'er is heard a discouraging word" on all the other items when it really is deserved sometimes. People get banned for posting criticism or any other objective logic or argument against existing policy, or even just because the owner of the site believes that everyone is out to get them. And no, I'm not talking about TCB that Lord Charles ran, even though you can draw parallels.

#3: People With No Spine
    If you're in a job that involves evaluating things, for [deity]'s sake, have an opinion, back it up with reasoning, and do your damn job. If you are able to defend your position with any sort of logical argument, anyone who takes any of your decisions personally isn't worth caring about. If the job description includes moderating content of any form, it is expected if not required that you actually look at the content and remove things from time to time that don't meet requirements.
    If this seems directed at someone in particular, it is, but it also applies in general. Being a moderator is not about winning a popularity contest, it is about helping ensure that the site maintains its integrity and quality of content. Because of the very fact that you are in an authority position, some people will hate you. Know your job description, follow it, be able to back up what you do with a reason why, and please please please do your job instead of just sucking up to your "support group". Even if people don't agree with your stance on a subject, they'll respect it if you can provide a reasonable argument.

    Unless of course you're in politics, in which case a brown nose comes with the job, and nobody expects you to have a backbone in the first place when faced with money from lobbyists, because corruption is about all the US gov't can do nowadays. Maybe some trampling of the constitution too in the name of big businesses that only care about their short term bottom line, especially those that make "security" focused products.
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1 min read
Darn. My t-shirt that says "gay? fine by me." is red, not purple. Guess that means I'm not really showing my support and I'm a horrible person.
Blame the LGBT office at my Alma Mater, they gave them out in a rainbow of colors instead of just purple.

All real issues aside, it's good to see that damn "Try MURO!!!!!!111!!!11!one1one" button gone and replaced with something a bit less irritating. I have never and will never draw or ink anything on the computer, and all graphics programs I use are for editing externally generated images. So please dA, STFU about your fancy little paint program and/or put it in a container that I can hide.
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3 min read
So I finally bit the bullet and got myself a real camera. I've been using a Nikon Coolpix 3100 for around 7 years and steadily grew more and more annoyed at the limitations of point and shoot as I learned more about photography. It ate batteries like nobody's business, always required significant fixing on the computer for levels and color even after setting the white balance, and drove me nuts with only having a small LCD to see what the picture was going to look like. I found myself letting it focus on the backdrop and then moving back until the desired part was sharp, always a bit of guesswork especially for the smaller maille pieces. Even after years of practice with it I'd be lucky to get 1 out of 5 pictures to turn out well with my chain work. I guess it worked fine with outdoor stuff and normal day to day things, but I don't take pictures of that kind of thing.

So now, after a slightly impulsive buy that came from a gift certificate (that took care of less than a fifth of the cost...), I have a Canon Digital Rebel XS. It's not the newest model in the series (the XSi is), but it's near identical except for being 10MP vs 12MP. It's pretty much the absolute bottom of the line when it comes to DSLRs, but I'm happy. Finally I have manual focus, manually adjustable f-stop, and a viewfinder that actually shows what I'm going to take a picture of. It just won out for me over the Nikon D3000 because of the DOF preview and the live view LCD (but only for doing manual focus with zoom). As is it's almost all I'd need for normal pictures, but I primarily do macro pictures of chainmaille and that means a tripod and manual focus. I'm already loving shooting in RAW to do the white balance on the computer, because as much as I specify the lighting conditions the 'auto' in Photoshop makes it look more like my eyes see it.

A small disappointment with this camera compared to my father's old Minolta is the clear focus screen instead of the split prism. I'm still playing with this one so it may not turn out to be necessary, but for my uses I may end up getting a new focus screen. Update: nope, I'm happy without it, lenses are more important after I got used to it.

Unfortunately this leaves me with a substantial wish/to buy list:
* Decent camera bag/case - done!
* Full-size tripod - Bogen 3021 + 3047
* Lightbox - hooray homemade!
* KatzEye Split Prism Circle Focusing Screen, possibly - nope, no need.
* Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens
* Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM
* Maybe a polarizing filter and lens hood

Well, there goes my pocket money for the semester. At least it's all on stuff that will last.

Oh, and the semester started Monday. I TA a class that's 8AM Monday/Thursday. Oh joy. And it's probably not the best thing that the camera and my textbooks were ordered the same day, but Newegg delivered in 1 day and I'm still waiting for Amazon, this means a slow start to my real coursework and more hobby time.
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1 min read
BP's actions so far:

It's like the contingency plan for the international space station included "In case of a module depressurizing, you'll have to try to plug the leak with this handy piece of plywood. Then try this stick of chewing gum, and then try some silly putty if that doesn't work. We decided for cost reasons to not use airlocks between modules. Oh, and just to make it interesting, the entire station will automatically start losing orbit if a leak is detected (more so than the normal orbital decay)."
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