Desk Diary 9-10-12

Well, it’s been a little over two months since my last desk diary post. I’ve been pretty busy (gaming) and thus haven’t posted much (leveling), but it’s time for some updates and, of course, new loot!

First things first, an update on the webcomic project. My friend recently called this my “white whale,” but hopefully this won’t have such a tragic ending. For the last several months I’ve been bouncing between two main ideas. Lately I have been thinking of combining many of my favorite aspects of both. I think I’m close. I still want to get this started before the end of the year. That doesn’t give me much time. I tend to work well under pressure, so hopefully a deadline will force me to get this project started.

In doll news -many- things have happened, some of which I’ll share below. For now I’ll say that my desk has suddenly become a little more crowded. I’m -still- waiting for some things I pre-ordered almost a year ago. Volks has been very much slammed this year due to that pre-order event. They are just now starting to ship out the last batch of orders, my stuff included (hopefully). There are already rumors of another pre-order event coming. With the shortage of regular items this year, one has to wonder if things will ever settle with all these events. It also goes to show how much this hobby has grown in popularity over the last couple years.

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In gaming news… we’ll let’s be honest, I’ve been sucked into a handful of new games that were launched this year, which hasn’t helped my productivity. I had mentioned in my 2012 post that the games coming out this year could potentially suck away a lot of my free time, and that prediction has become mostly true. In that post I had mentioned I was playing Star Wars: The Old Republic at the time, I had quit that game not long after that post, as have many others. It’s going “Free to Play” later this year, nuff said. For a time after that there wasn’t really a game distracting me. That is until Tera launched earlier this year. That game has been the main time-sink for me this year. I’m still playing Tera, which I talked about at length in its own post.

Since then the other games that I mentioned in my 2012 post have also been released. I played The Secret World from launch, and while I do like its unique modern-day-mixed-with-horror-films style, it was fairly buggy and a bit unforgiving in its gameplay. While a challenge is nice, sometimes I prefer the more casual stuff. It also had some stiff character animations and a lack of character customization. The combat was decent. Working on finding a “build” that worked for you was interesting as were the unique quests and stories. However, All MMOs need a time to grow and expand, so it’s definitely one I may check out again down the road, but for now I have stopped playing it.

Next up, and most recent, is Guild Wars 2. The most hyped MMO of the year. Did it live up to that hype for me? Yes and no. It’s a wonderful game and very pretty (not Tera pretty, but still really nice), and it really does break many of the not-so-great and over-used MMO mechanics, but some of what they claimed didn’t really pan out. The dynamic quest system, while great overall, doesn’t really give that sense of making lasting changes to the world. They restart rather quickly. While this makes sense from a gameplay perspective, it does kinda make the game feel a bit like a theme park, not like a WoW (World of Warcraft) theme park, but a different kind of, and certainly more fun and active, theme park. That doesn’t actually bother me at all, though. Heck, Tera is a prime example of the old-style WoW theme park setup. The combat is, at its core, a target based system, but you can attack while moving. Some of the personal missions can be a bit brutal as well. My favorite part of the game is that they encourage you to explore. This aspect is the gem of this game to me. They have added a lot of little hidden areas to the game and even some rather fun and challenging jumping puzzles. Overall, it’s a well-polished and well-made game. Since you only have to buy the game once and there is no subscription fee, there is really no reason to not play this game. It’s one I’ll certainly be playing for some time to come (sucking away more of my free time).

Finally (yes, it does end), a game that was released two years ago this month may be making a comeback and has me eager to try it again. Two years ago Final Fantasy XIV launched with a less than stellar reception. It was so bad that the game suspended its subscription fee for many months. While I didn’t completely agree that the game was a total failure as some others, it did have some holes and lack of content. Most of the original team was taken off the project and a new, untested, game director was handed the reigns. Square Enix has been determined to push forward. You have to give them credit. Other MMOs would have buckled and failed under similar circumstances. However, not only has this new team and director attempted to fix a lot of the problems, late last year they stated their plans to take things a step further with a project that would almost completely remake the whole game. This is something that has never been done before and just recently the first signs of this “2.0” version have begun to surface. I’m very interested to see how this pans out. I had a lot of faith in SE when the game was released and I still think they can pull this off. So this is the next MMO that I’m looking forward to trying… again, especially when I learned there will be a new summoner job. I really respect them for working this hard to please their customers. They have taken a lot of polls and kept the players in the loop. I think they deserve a second chance. I know I’ll be there opening day. I already have “Legacy” status for supporting the game during this rough period. It should be interesting.

Okay! Now on to the loot. There have been several items that have come my way over the last couple months that I meant to post about but didn’t have the time (gaming), so I’m going to post them all here in one go.

First off I bought some new items for my computer. My hard drives have been nearly full for a long time, so I bought a new 3TB hard drive to ease the pain. I also picked up a new keyboard and mouse.

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This is the new Logitech G600 gaming mouse. I wasn’t sure if I would like this mouse at first. I picked it up on impulse. The mass of button on the side were intimidating at first, but I have to say that it really has grown on me. I’ve been a “clicker” for most of my computer gaming years until I was “forced” to use the keyboard for combat in Tera. Now this mouse has taken me to the next step with executing commands all from the buttons on the side of the mouse. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back.

Since I take a lot of photos for this site I’m always struggling with my lighting. Usually I just deal with whatever light I have, but normal room lights tend to be yellow and I don’t always have sunlight. So I finally saved up and got a proper lighting kit. I couldn’t afford anything super crazy. I also didn’t want to deal with lights that gave off a lot of heat. After much searching I found the Flora light set by Linco. They use florescent light bulbs and have pretty ingenious softboxes.


The softboxes are a sort of umbrella deal. You just pull a string and they open up and snap into place. The diffusing cloth attaches with some Velcro and it’s all set. The softbox sits in the grooves in the light base which kinda looks like a flower, hence the set’s name. Setup is not too bad, another thing that was important to me. They do take up some room, though, but I can tell they are improving my photos a lot. They seem to be made pretty well. Some parts are plastic, but as long as I’m careful with them I’m sure they will last for some time. They also came with carrying cases. It’s a really nice set and I’m glad I got them.

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I picked up a new Blu-Ray anime called “Samurai Girls.” I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s a silly haram story with some unique animation styles. I’m not really sure what I think of it yet. It has some cute and funny moments, but some of the over-the-top stuff isn’t really my thing. The “fan-service” is nice, though.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2. Since I had a feeling it was going to be a good game I pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition, which sold out soon after. I’m glad I took the plunge. The box for it is -massive- and contains a lot of nice goodies.

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Inside is the massive Rytlock statue and a sizable tin case. Everything about this CE is big.

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Inside the tin case is a collection of items. A portfolio with prints, a picture frame, an “Behind the Scenes” artbook, a soundtrack sampler and the game discs.

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And last but not least is the Rytlock statue. He is one of the main characters in the story from the Destiny’s Edge guild. He is also a Charr, the race that was the main enemy from the previous game. He’s quite massive and hefty, fairly well painted and detailed and his Rurik “flaming” sword is pretty cool.

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It’s a really nice and well-made collector’s edition. I’m glad I got it. Now where to put it…

I also got some doll loot. Some I didn’t plan on while others were nice surprises. First I got a couple little things from Volks. Some cute hands and another wig cap.

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I’ve been on the lookout for a body for my limited 06 head for many months, but due to the Volks pre-order event from last year, bodies have been in a major short supply and nearly impossible to get. However, I managed to snag a slightly used one from a member on the Dollfie Dreams forum.

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This one is a Dollfie Dream Dynamite body, which is different from the standard body due to its larger hips, thighs and other “assets.” This means that my third Dollfie Dream is nearly complete.

Of course, no Dollfie Dream is complete without some clothes and accessories. And, of course, if you are going to get clothes for one, why not get some for your other girls as well? Here are some items that I got from Cool Cats. I like Cool Cats because their prices are reasonable and they have nice clothes and stands made for Dollfie Dreams.

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Here I got some swimwear, shirts, skirts, stands, shoes a wig and way too many socks. I seem to have a thing for socks. At least my girls will never have cold feet. As always, Cool Cats threw in some free extras too, which is always a nice surprise.

With all these items I realized I was running out of room to store them. I had most of my Dollfie Dream stuff in cardboard boxes. So I thought it was about time to get a new container for their stuff.

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Only two years into this doll hobby and I already have a cart for their stuff. I never thought I would get to this point. The funny thing is, as you can see with the extra box and container on the top… I already filled it up.

But wait… there is still one box left.

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A friend helped me greatly with these items in a way I could never fully repay.

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As you can see there are some interesting items in the box. But there is this odd item…

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What ever could it be? You will just have to wait for a future post to find out.

WHEW! Well, that concludes this desk diary. It was quite a long one, but it wasn’t six months apart from the last one at least. Still a lot happened in a short couple of months and I’m not done yet. There are still a couple item I’ll have to show soon. I also hope to start working on illustrations again for my webcomic.

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Sony NEX 5n

I got a new camera last week. It’s the very popular, and shinny, Sony NEX 5n. This is a mirrorless camera, which allows it to be super small, but still pack the same APS-C sensor found in most DSLRs.

I wanted to get a smaller camera for a while. My Canon T1i/500D is a medium-sized DSLR, but it feels rather hefty after a while when taking pictures with it. On top of that, since I take pictures of smallish things (figures / dolls), I often have to position myself in less than comfortable ways, which can add to the pain of using a larger camera. Also, I sometimes need to hold the camera with one hand and a reflector with the other, this is hard to do with a DSLR.

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Enter the mirrorless cameras. A new breed of camera that has been gaining popularity for a while now. They don’t have a mirror like DSLR cameras and use an LCD and/or electronic viewfinder instead. This removes a lot of bulk from the camera so they can be a lot smaller. And the NEX 5n IS small. I was almost surprised by how small it is. It contains a 16mp CMOS sensor, just as my Canon, but it also has some features my Canon does not. However, due to the its small size, it lacks a lot of buttons to quickly access functions and its LCD screen is small and made smaller by a permanent menu on the right side. Don’t let that fool you, though. It is a fully functional camera. It has all the same options found in my Canon and most DSLRs, and a couple more. There are customizable buttons that ease some of the lack of buttons and the LCD is a touchscreen and tiltable, something my Canon lacked.

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I haven’t had time to do many tests, but so far I can tell that the Sony performs pretty well. It’s great in low light, something the Canon always struggled with. It has much better white balance than the Canon, but the Sony suffers from a kit lens that is sharp in the center but soft and almost blurry on the edges. The Canon kit lens is a bit more consistent from center to edge, though a little soft overall. However, resized for the internet, you’d be hard-pressed to see a difference in sharpness.

Here is a quick comparison shot with the same settings (Aperture Priority, ISO 100, f5.0, AWB)

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I also got a Sony 50mm f1.8 prime lens for this camera. This will give me more options for bokeh effects and appears to be more balanced in sharpness than the kit lens, which is to be expected. These Sony lenses are unique in that they have fulltime active focus and optical image stabilization. Another lens on my wishlist is a Sigma 30mm f2.8, which I hear great things about. Another great thing about this Sony is that there are a lot of adapters for it to accept a wide range of lenses. For example, I’ve also been looking at a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm Leica lens. Maybe a little exotic, but it has a great “film look” that would be fun to use. To round it out I’d like to get a nice wide angle lens to create some neat “fish eye” effects. Of course, lenses are expensive, but I never looked at other lenses for my Canon and even though the Sony lacks a lot of DSLR buttons, its size makes me more interested in playing with these kind of options. Maybe that’s because I spent a lot of time fighting with my Canon to get good shots.

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You can find a ton of reviews for the Sony NEX 5n online. Check them out! What kind of camera do you use? Do you have a mirrorless, DSLR or P&S? In the meantime, I’m going to see what this little beast can do.

 

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Desk Diary 6-23-2012

It’s been six months since my last desk diary. Several things happened since then, mostly in the last couple months.

First, a couple general updates. The webcomic project I’ve been trying to get started hasn’t moved all that much in the last several months. While I had a fairly workable idea a while ago, as things go, I’ve changed my mind on a few things. I haven’t given up, though. I’m currently trying to come up with fresh ideas.

As you may have seen from recent posts, I had a couple anniversaries with my BJD girls. My first girl has been with me for two years now. My two Dollfie Dreams and floating head haven’t seen much attention lately, but in the last few weeks I got a couple of new items for them.

I haven’t been paying much attention to Volks events since money has been tight. However, there have been a couple recent events held by Volks called Kyoto 9 and Doll Party 27 that had a lot of great items. They both had great Dollfie Dreams up for lottery. I really like “Shining Blade” Sakuya. She’s from the same series as my first two. I would have loved to enter for her, but it’s beyond my means right now.

However, they had a plethora of great clothes on offer from the Kyoto 9 collection. Unfortunately, these items are very limited, and while I tried to grab some via the lottery with Kerbey Lane, I was only able to get one item through them. This left me with the only option to take part in the “click war” on the Volks site. This is a first come first serve—he who clicks faster wins—setup. I took a little extra time beforehand to plan a process to get me through the clicks and cart as fast as I could. When the day came I managed to get four out of the five items I wanted in the cart and purchased in less than fifteen seconds. I was pretty pleased. Unfortunately, many were not so lucky. Nearly everything was sold out in less than a minute. It’s an unfair system when you consider that lag and browser/computer speeds can really affect the outcome.

Here is Yuri in one of the outfits I was able to get.

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I also received a couple random goodies over the last couple months.

First up is a Roku XS. I don’t really watch much TV, but I do like to watch Netflix and Crunchyroll. While my PS3 sufficed for Netflix for a while, I didn’t have access to Crunchyroll except on my computer and iPad. Enter the Roku XS! I love this little thing, and I do mean little. It fits in the palm of my hand. This little wonder has caused my PS3 to collect dust lately. I certainly recommend these little Roku boxes.

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About a month ago I finally caught up with the rest of the world and got a smartphone. It’s an HTC Vivid running Android 4.0. I mainly picked this one because it was cheap, but I find myself using it more than my iPad. I still love my iPad and it’s great for certain things, but this phone has really helped me become more connected to the social networks.

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While I generally like Apple products, I must say that Android is nice for its customization. I changed my launcher to something custom that I like, my lock screen has all the latest tweets, facebook and flickr feeds that I follow right there. I can flip through these posts without even going into the phone. It has a nice camera as well and being connected to all these social networks really makes it convenient to post a quick picture.

Next up is a little treat from a childhood favorite of mine. I was a big Transformer fan growing up. Recently I watched the new series, Transformers Prime, and really enjoyed it. When I found out there was a Wheeljack, I just had to get it! He was one of my favorite characters from the original series. I still have his G1 version from way back when.

It took a couple stores to find him, but eventually I saw one hanging on a shelf.

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These new Transformers have really cool designs and are a lot more complex than the old toys. Though, they have a lot more plastic. The instructions are pretty crazy too.

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The posability is rather impressive. The old toys almost never even had movable legs, let alone elbow joints. These new ones have ball-joints and hinges all over the place. Luckily, or not, we didn’t know better with the older toys.

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I love seeing all these old cartoon and toys that I grew up with coming out again with updated stories and designs. While some more hardcore fans may scoff at them, if you actually watch the original shows today you may be surprised at how silly and nonsensical they were. These newer “updated” shows and toys have really grown up.

Hopefully it won’t be another six months before I post the next desk diary.

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BRS Beast Figma & Artbook

It’s black, blue, white, and a beast. It’s the Black★Rock Shooter Beast Figma. I pre-ordered this limited figma and artbook set in September of last year and finally received it a couple weeks ago. It took me a bit of time to finally take photos, but here it is.

I really love the whole look and feel of the Black★Rock Shooter line. So far they make up the bulk of my figma collection. They’re a great creative inspiration for me, but they also just look plain cool. When I saw this Black★Rock Shooter Beast figma, which is based off an image by the BRS creator, huke, I really wanted to get it. Unfortunately, it only comes in a limited set with the artbook. However, I’m glad I took the plunge and picked it up. She’s definitely one of my favorite figmas thus far.

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It comes in this fairly unassuming brown box with only the logo and name on it to let you know what’s inside.

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Inside is the artbook and another box that holds the figma.

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Here she is with all her bits and bobs along with a little card that has a cute illustration of the “beast” character. She comes with a fairly typical assortment of items. Only one optional face, but they included a couple sets of hands, a gun, sword, crown, optional hair piece with the iconic blue flame and a standard figma stand. Another face would have been nice, but still, it’s a decent set.

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She has a lot of nice detail. The zippers are painted silver, the black and white stripes are clean and there is even some grunge detail on some of the armor bits on her legs. The arms, hands and some of the legs are glossy black while other parts, like the shirt and skirt, are matte. It makes for a nice contrast.

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Her back has a unique coat of arms emblem. The detail is really impressive at this scale. I also love the blue star on the zipper by her waist — nice detailing.

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The sword is semi-transparent and I love the text on the back. It’s actually in English and it isn’t gibberish. This really impressed me. It reads like instructions on how to use the “device”. Very cool!

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She features typical figma posability. The hands can’t move due to the long sleeves. The feet also don’t move much. She has transparent blue spikes on the back of her legs that fold out. The skirt/belt is a hard rubber, but it doesn’t have much bending range due to the connected part in the middle. Everything else uses the typical figma joint, including the twin tails on her head.

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The artbook is very heavy and well made. It’s full color and, as the title says, contains selected works by huke, the creator of Black★Rock Shooter. As a fan of his characters, I really like this book. It contains a lot of painted-style images of his characters as well as some design sheets.

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Black★Gold Saw, probably my favorite BRS character.

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All in all I’m really happy I got this set. I’m glad I was able to add this limited figma to my collection. She really stands out. If you can get your hands on one, I’d recommend it. Especially if you like artbooks and are a fan of the BRS characters.

What about you? What are your favorite figmas or characters? Do you have a large amount of just one character or series? Do you have any limited figmas? Leave a comment.

 

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HOTD: Full Color Edition

I’m always on the lookout for works that can inspire me and give me a kick in the behind to get moving on my own projects and ideas. In my ongoing attempt to get a new webcomic started, I’ve been looking for inspiration to help me get motivated.

While Highschool of the Dead itself might not be a groundbreaking story, it is fun in its own way. I actually rather enjoyed the anime, over-the-top situations included. It’s just fun to watch. The manga, on the other hand, didn’t have that same oomph.

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However, now they have a full colored edition of the manga, and I must say, I’m pretty impressed. Not only is the book hardcover and weigh a ton, they didn’t just do a simple color-over of the pages. They actually used the black and white line art to work from instead of just coloring over the toned images you seen in the original manga.

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It’s printed on heavy semi-gloss stock with a smattering of extra pages with bonus images and information. They even include a nice full color image inside the dust cover. The dust cover has high-gloss markings on the outside for the blood print and others that look like fingerprints. It’s also fairly large at about the same size of normal American comics, and two quarters (25 cents) thick! I’d say it’s a very high quality product. In fact, it was actually cheaper to buy this edition than the four included volumes as separate b&w manga, shipping included.

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But see for yourself with these images. As for myself, this is a nice source of inspiration. Not only from a coloring perspective, but from page layouts as well.

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Even the hardcover itself is in full color.

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If you’re a HOTD fan, or just like high-quality manga, I’d recommend this. It’s not often you find a manga product of this caliber. It’s certainly worth looking into.

 

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DDH-06 Finished Version

Earlier this week I received a nice little package filled with goodies. One of which is my new “Finished Version” Dollfie Dream 06 head that I had mentioned earlier this year. I have to thank a close friend of mine for getting this for me and spoiling me with extra, unexpected, treats.

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The finished 06 head, nicely protected in bubble-wrap.

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The “finished version” 06 head. The photo doesn’t do her much justice (especially in that bag). Unfortunately, I don’t have a body for her, or a wig, or eyes, or clothes… On top of that, the body I want to get her is out of stock at the moment. So it may be a while. Either way, this is the first piece for my third Dollfie Dream.

 

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Computer Upgrade

My computer received a much needed upgrade this week. Besides the graphics card, LCD monitor and speakers, most of the computer was about four years old. As someone that is as dependent on a decent working computer as I am, an upgrade was overdue.

Overall my computer was starting to feel sluggish and temperamental in recent months even after defragging the hard drives and cleaning the system. Time is very precious, even more-so than money (at least in my opinion). A slow computer can really cut into your time to get work done. Even something as simple as how long it takes your computer to boot or launch an application can really add up. So while getting an upgrade is exciting and fun, it also serves a practical purpose. If I can work faster I’ll have more time to do other things (like play games!).

From a more technical perspective, between the old motherboard (Nvidia 790i Ultra) and CPU (Core 2 Duo 3GHz) my computer couldn’t keep up with the demands I and newer programs placed on it. Up to this point I’ve been running with a 32-bit operating system. This, unfortunately, limits you to about 3.5GB of ram. I’ve been really feeling this limitation with recent games as well as some 3D and graphics programs I use. The low amount of free ram and only two core CPU really hurt its performance. In many of these newer games, which are a good test of your computer’s power, I was getting a lot of load-lag and low frame rates. My Radeon 5870 graphics card, while powerful, was bottle-necked by the CPU, ram and motherboard. On top of that, my hard drives were also too small to hold everything I need (games are HUGE these days! XD).

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For the upgrade I got an Intel i7 3.4GHz CPU (2600), a semi “future-proof” motherboard (Asus P8Z68-V Pro/Gen3), 8GB of 1600MHz Cas Latency 7 DDR3 Ram (Corsair Vengeance), a Western Digital 1.5TB 6GB/s Hard Drive (Caviar Black), a Zalman CPU fan, and a retail copy of Windows 7 Home Premium. Unfortunately, with the recent tsunami in Thailand, hard drive prices are nearly double what they were months ago. so I was only able to get one new drive for now.

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I’ve been building my own computers for well over a decade now. This is probably my 6th or so computer build. Above was my old setup. It really held up well over the years. I certainly pushed it to its limits.

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The new components running (above) while I installed Windows 7. With the blue motherboard, red ram and golden fan, I named the computer “Supergirl“. I think it’s fitting.

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As with any new computer build, I was really worried there might be problems, but everything installed and booted up without issue. Here (above) is the first time I booted to Windows 7.

It took me several days to install my programs and move over files, but I quickly noticed how much faster the computer runs. It boots faster and programs launch quicker. 3D rendering is blazingly fast due to the 8 threads (4 cores) on the CPU. 3D animation might not be such an unrealistic idea for me now. And of course, (best of all) my games now run much better.

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My latest gaming addiction, Tera (currently in beta), ran poorly before the upgrade. Now I am able to hit high framerates with maximum settings, as you can see in the top left of the above picture. Simply lovely! This is a great example showing that the graphics card is not always the primary factor in a game’s performance.

 

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BRS 2035 Figma

This is the BRS (Black Rock Shooter) 2035 Figma based on the PSP BRS game. She is my first pre-order item to come in this year that I previously mentioned in my New Years post. She is also the first “variant” figma of a figma character that I already have.

While I haven’t actually played the PSP game this BRS version is based on, when I saw photos of it I really liked how it is a more aggressive version of the original BRS. I love her spiky hair, the blade added to her cannon, the tech wings on her back, and the more edgy style of her outfit.

From my understanding in the BRS PSP game she is an android and the last hope of mankind. It’s a little different than how you see her in the OVA. Either way, I think she looks pretty awesome.

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In the box she comes with the standard figma assortment, stands, hands, different faces etc. She also comes with her cannon, a sword, a hair piece with her signature blue eye-flame. They were also nice enough to add a couple extra “grip” hands. I noticed that the grip hands seemed to be flexible and thin by the fingers. I had a hard time getting it to hold the gun. I assume these extras are in case you break one. Fortunately, I didn’t need to use them, yet.

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Like most figma, this one is fairly flexible. Her coat is made of rubber, so it gives you some room. The wings on the back can be removed and they also have little wings that can fold up and down. They did tend to get in the way a lot when posing, though. The arms seem to be slightly restricted in movement up and down. The hood around her neck blocks them a bit and they can’t seem to go all the way down to the sides either. Those minor remarks aside, I think she’s a great addition to my growing figma collection. I have her in an action pose with her cannon and it looks great.

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Desk Diary 1-21-2012

There are a couple small updates this time. Last week my dear set of computer speakers finally died on me. I’ve had them for well over a decade, but it was time to finally replace them.

I tried to hold on to my old Altec Lansing computer speakers for as long as I could. After several years of producing great sound and lasting through many computer upgrades, one of the bottom speakers in a satellite popped out. Eventually the bottom speaker of the second satellite also popped out. While they still worked they had some problems. Still, I continued to use them even after trying to replace them with another set of speakers that just sounded hollow and cheap.

However, last week the second speaker in the right satellite popped out. It was dead. This left me one half-working satellite speaker. It was finally time to replace them.

So I did what I always do… I searched online for a new set.

I decided on the highly regarded Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 set. As you can see in the first photo, the satellites are rather large. I had to move some things around on my desk just to fit them. But the important thing is the sound. While I’m no audiophile, I have to say the positive reviews are correct, for only $150 you really do get a high quality set of computer speakers that sound pretty amazing for their size.

They are 200 watts, which is insane for computer speakers. I haven’t moved the volume dial above the 1/3 mark. So it gets plenty loud for me. The bass is also very solid with no distortion and it’s nice that the subwoofer has its own volume control on the main satellite. They seem well built. The satellites are made of a thick plastic with metal feet and the subwoofer feels pretty solid with a large back-plate with real wire-based speaker connections. After making a couple adjustments on my soundcard, I’m fairly happy with them. I think they were a worthy upgrade.

Have you ever had something break on you that you didn’t want to replace with something newer? Were you happy with the replacement?

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The other item I want to mention is that this week the launch date for Tera was announced. After a series of closed beta tests and an open beta, the game will launch in NA on May 1st. As I stated in my last post, I’m really looking forward to this one.

I also recently found out that not only am I getting the new limited DDH-06 head that I also mentioned in my last post (pictured below), but also the limited Natsuki wig (also pictured below). Again, thanks to my close friend. So my third Dollfie Dream may look very much like this picture.

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It looks like the next handful of months are shaping up to be pretty interesting. I also have another list of things I plan to post over the next month or so. So keep checking back.

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Miku Append Figma

I finally received my Miku Hatsune -Append Version- Figma. I’ve been waiting to get this one for a couple months now. She is one of the most well known Vocaloids out there and I’m even listening to some of her music as I write this!

Vocaloid is the singing synthesizer program by Yamaha made popular by the set of anime inspired characters from Crypton Future Media. Combined they are used to make electronic/dance music with anime-sounding voices (in Japanese). Miku’s music can be found all over the net and on iTunes. Her digital concert actually made its way here, to the US, at the 2011 Anime Expo. She has become very popular among anime / jpop fans. I missed out on her original figma version, and even her second release as well.  However, I managed to pick up this new design of her.

The Append Version actually represents a software expansion for the original Miku software. The updated design is a more futuristic and really clean style with softer color tones. It matches the electronic/syth style of music that I tend to listen to with her voice. I almost like the Append Version more than her original design.

There are a couple examples of Miku Hatsune music using the Append Version found here.

This figma also represents Max Factory / Good Smile Company’s 100th figma, which is a really great testament to how popular she has become — a true virtual idol. The figma comes with all sorts of options, such as: three faces, optional arm parts, options waist parts, an optional torso section, several hand poses, and, of course,a figma stand. Her hair is also clear at the tips, which is a nice touch. Other details include her signature “01” number on her arm and in the reds dots on her waist attachments.

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Like all figma, she is really posable and with the optional faces can show off various expressions. However, my favorite pose is the one inspired by the original illustration of the Miku Append Version, which shows her floating in a sort of peaceful, almost timeless, state.

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So far I think this is my favorite figma. Not only because I like Miku Hatsune’s music (voice?), but it’s also a really “stand out” design. The floating pose I have her in is really unique. I think she makes a great addition to my slowly growing figma collection.

 

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