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Miso Soup Haiku

Made some miso soup today, along with a haiku and a photo on the side:

Tofu pieces, chopped,
Drop into boiling water,
Receive splash damage.

Miso Soup

Rurouni Kenshin Revoltech Figma

My cousin gave me this Rurouni Kenshin figma by Revoltech as a gift a while ago. I was so excited I snapped this photo and had to share it.

Rurouni Kenshin Revoltech Figma

Kenshin was one of the first anime I watched and is still one of my favorites of all time. This is also my first figma, and I must admit they are quite fun. The various degrees of articulation definitely add a new dimension over traditional PVC figures, even if it sacrifices aesthetics with the visible joints. And ya, I know the angle of the hand is a bit off.

Amazing Grace on Piano

Here’s a video of me playing Amazing Grace on piano, dedicated to Hailey Grace Huang, born May 3, 2012.

The arrangement was taken from Sora no Woto, played on a Roland RD-700NX, and recorded on a Nikkon D90 with a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 lens. The keyboard sound is the classic grand with background choir.

“Choc-a-bye Baby” from Final Fantasy XI on Piano

Although I’ve never actually played Final Fantasy XI, I am big fan of the other Final Fantasy games, and I love this song. The chocobo theme is one that appears frequently throughout all the Final Fantasy titles, and this here is a nice little arrangement for piano written by Mizuta Naoshi / 水田直志.

I played this on a Roland RD-700NX, with audio recorded directly to the on-board USB drive. Video was recorded on a Nikkon D90 with a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 lens. Audio and video were muxed in Adobe Premiere. I used my moogle plushie here because I don’t have a chocobo one, but it’s still probably more interesting to look at than my fingers, so yeah.

Hannah’s Photos – Behind the Scenes

While I was preparing Hannah’s photos for sharing, I recorded my screen for nostalgia’s sake. Here are two short compilations. The video is sped up 4x, as it would probably be too long and boring at normal speed.

These videos are HD 720p encoded in h264 high, so the file sizes are huge, and you’ll need a decent computer to play them. The finer details of the photo adjustments would have been indiscernible otherwise.

Part 1[Download]
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Part 2[Download]
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In case you are curious, here’s a quick rundown of the basic steps I used for most of the photos:

  1. Duplicate Background Layer 1: Smart blur to smooth away noise. Adjust radius so edges are still well defined, which is usually between 0.5 and 2 (depends on resolution of photo, focus, and lighting). Set transparency to 20% – 50% and blending to normal. You want to see slightly smoother surfaces without any loss in edge detail.
  2. Duplicate Background Layer 2: Sharpening layer. There are several ways to do this; I use a high pass filter. The key is to make all the smooth parts of the photo a consistent gray color, with only the edges visible. Usually set to 40% – 80% transparency. Blending set to overlay.
  3. Duplicate Background Layer 3: Gaussian blur for saturation enhancement and halo effect. This can be nice, but you don’t want to overdo it. Increase the radius of the gaussian blur such that details are all blurred out but you can still see rough shapes. Transparency set to 10% – 30%, and blending set to soft light (overlay).
  4. Curves Adjustment Layer: This allows you to adjust tones and contrast; I use it mainly to enhance contrast, with transparency set to 10% – 40%. Sometimes I add another layer to lighten the photo if it is especially dark.
  5. Levels Adjustment Layer: This lets you adjust the brightness histogram of a photo. Usually the gaussian blur overlay and contrast enhancement makes the photo darker overall, so I use this to readjust the photo to match the original brightness. This is usually done by adjusting the midtone level to 1.1 (sometimes 1.15 or 1.2 if the original was too dark) and transparency anywhere between 20% and 90%, depending on the photo.
  6. Photo Filter Adjustment Layer: This allows you to adjust color balance. This can usually be avoided with a good camera, but sometimes the environment is too “warm” or “cold,” in which case you can use this to fix the color balance. You can also use this to apply “mood” lighting or effects to a photo, e.g. sepia tones. If I use this, I usually set transparency to 10% – 30%.

Windows Update Woes

Like many users, I’ve set my Windows Update option to “Manual” rather than “Automatic” so I don’t have to suddenly be required to restart my computer when I’m in the middle of something, or have my computer restart in the middle of the night while I’m sleeping. A while ago, I installed SP1 for Windows 7 which, unbeknownst to me, had reset my Windows Update option to “Automatic.” Meanwhile, I’d been running a simulation that required my computer to be on 24/7. You can imagine where this is going.

Luckily for me, the dreaded Windows Update Restart-Your-Computer window popped up while I happened to be at the computer, so at least it didn’t restart without my knowing. Unfortunately, the popup window only allows me to “Restart Now” or “Postpone,” and if I choose the second option, the window will automatically popup again within 4 hours (the longest postpone option), at which time I will have to be at my computer to click “Postpone” again.

At this point my options are either to restart my simulation from scratch and lose a week’s worth of work, or divide my sleep schedule into 4 hours blocks so I can oblige the Windows Update popup. Thankfully, there is actually a way to kill this window and not have it popup again.

So, now all is well. But seriously, Microsoft, why do you do this to us? This is not the first time.

Facebook: The New School Cafeteria

I was reading this article in the nytimes when I came across the following excerpt. I’ve never thought about Facebook this way, but maybe this is why, or at least one of several reasons why, I don’t really use Facebook anymore.

“Facebook is now the online cafeteria,” Ms. Robbins says. “It’s this public space, largely unsupervised, and it mirrors the cafeteria dynamic where you walk in and have to find a place to belong. At school, you have to pick a table. Well, on Facebook you not only have to pick a table, you have to pick who’s at your table and who’s not. And then kids feel they have to be publicists for themselves, maintaining their photos and status. It’s exhausting.

How to Write Good Code

It’s always comforting to know there are people out there who understand you.

Good Code