iPhosphophyllite

Welcome iPhosphophyllite

October 23rd, 2018

I’ve been holding off on getting a new phone for quite some time now, but the wait is finally over. Let’s welcome the latest edition to my tech family: a brand new iPhone XS Max – iPhosphophyllite.

Why did I wait so long? And why did I finally decide to upgrade?

My previous phone was an iPhone 6S Plus, and it was an absolute powerhouse for its time. However over the past 3 years apple has greatly improved the iphones screens, their processors, their speakers, but most importantly – their cameras.

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portugal

Portugal 2018

May 10th, 2018

Its been a while since I’ve been in Europe, but here I am flying to Portugal (Country #54) in a Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class seat. Thats right, this time around we fly with the big boys.

Portugal is one of the few European countries that I haven’t visited during my teen years, but I am glad I got to go there now. Why? Because of the most delicious drink you can have – Sangria. Thats right, this drink is what my parents and I drank pretty much every day for lunch or dinner, alongside some garlic bread and a seafood dish. Coming back to Sydney, I’ve realised how much I miss Sangria.

The first few days in Lisbon touring the city centre and eating delicious foods. Then we flew to the island of Madeira, which is famous for its wine, levada irrigation systems, poncho alcohol and Cristiano Ronaldo.

We spent all our days there exploring the island via various tours. May I say its amazing how many different and exciting things a small island like that had.

The main reason why we gathered in Portugal in May is because it was my mom’s 60th Birthday. And what could be a better present than a family reunion, and having great food and delicious drinks together.

And as always you can see the photos from our trip on my Flickr.

flickr

owls

CSS Quirks and Oddities

March 15th, 2018

CSS is a weird language. Some people don’t even want to consider CSS as a programming language. However to me it will always be one, maybe even THE one.

Of course CSS can only be used to style your webpages, but it evolved into the one thing that defines a pleasant user experience. Without styles there would be no layout, without styles there would be no hierarchy, animations, responsiveness, interactions, etc. Of course the majority of these can be executed with javascript, but it never going to be as performant as pure CSS.

However it has its quirks… Some things in CSS just dont perform the way you’d expect them to in certain situations. I stumbled upon this article by Medium about Lesser known CSS quirks & advanced tips, and there they go into detail about some of the weirder things.

Some such weird things are:

  • Vertical padding is relative to element’s width not height
  • Margins overlap, but only sometimes
  • Opacity can change the z-index stacking order
  • Height: 100% may not do what you think it does (because parent element’s height is not set)

One really cool thing I found though is the concept called the lobotomised owl selector. Yes, thats right, the lobotomised owl selector.

*+*

It allows you to setup a default behaviour for all layout elements on your page, so if a new one is added it can already respect those values even before its properly styled. I quite like this idea of setting up defaults, however it is really hard to implement on large project that has been deployed.

design in 2018

Webdesign in 2018

March 15th, 2018

Design is an ever evolving industry, and web design is no exception. The practices that were revolutionary in the beginning of the 21st century, seem archaic by modern design standards. Some may say it is hard to keep up, but there are always those that want to drive progress even further.

I aspire to be one of those people, that is why I jump at every opportunity to learn something new, whether it be code or design. Since I never really studied design, I may not have the keen eye that some of my friends do when it comes to layout, or hierarchy, or just plain taste. However I can tell good design apart from the rest.

Recently I stumbled upon this article on Medium titled 7 Practical Tips for Cheating at Design. Of course I read it and pretty much agree with all the point they’ve raised:

  1. Use color and weight to create hierarchy instead of size
  2. Don’t use grey text on colored backgrounds, make the text closer to the background color is what actually helps create hierarchy
  3. Offset your shadows
  4. Use fewer borders
  5. Don’t blow up icons that are meant to be small
  6. Use accent borders to add color to a bland design
  7. Not every button needs a background color

If you notice, I highlighted #4. That is because I was shocked as to how much cleaner you can make an application by removing borders. I tried it at work and for my personal projects and the results were just great.

Here on my blog I never really had borders, so it was already decent, but I now I see why this is.

Its already 2018 and our standards keep evolving, so good design is no longer a feature, is a requirement.

Mt Fuji sunrise

Japan 2017 – 2018

January 9th, 2018

Its been over 2 years since I was last in Japan, and I find myself there yet again. This time I went Kyoto, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Mt Fuji and Tokyo. The majority of the trip was to meet up with friends and to take photos of Shirakawago and Mt Fuji. But of course being the otaku that I am, comiket was also on the list.

Day 1 – 24th – Kyoto + Osaka

The first few days I spent in Kyoto and Osaka. I met up with my old friend Kosuke, who took me around famous anime locations in Kyoto. These included and were not limited to: KyoAni shop, Shimogamo Shrine, Kamogawa river delta and Demachi shopping arcade. In the evening of the same day, I went to Osaka to have dinner with Tsujikawa-sensei, my teacher from Arc Academy, which I went to in 2010. We have a pleasant catch up and chat in a local izakaya (bar) on Christmas eve.

Day 2 – 25th – Kyoto: Arashiyama & Gion

Next morning Amy and I set out to the shopping areas around Gion and Nishiki markets. Then we went to Arashiyama, the famous bamboo forest and the surrounding temples. After lunch we headed back to Gion to visit the Gesha district. That was a very beautiful location and I managed to take a lot of great photos there.

Day 3 – 26th – Kanazawa + Shirakawago

On the next day, at 6:50am we set out to Kanazawa. There we visited the old chaya (tea houses) and walked around their fish markets. In comparison to Kyoto the weather in Kanazawa was worse. It started hailing at one point. But nevertheless, we broke through the winds and hail and got back to the station to catch our bus to Shirakawago. I was praying that there would be snow when we got there, but I wasn’t ready for what we saw. We drove right into a snow storm. There was a good half a meter of snow at Shirakawago, and it just kept falling. Thankfully there was no wind, so it was very pleasant. Unfortunately due to the snow, I wasn’t able to get any good shots of the area, as it was just too snowy. Another great thing about Shirakawago was the onsen. Onsen are my favourite thing about Japan, and I am so glad I got to bathe in them again. Since we were staying in a ryokan (japanese style inn), we got treated to delicious food and drinks for both dinner and breakfast.

Day 4 – 27th – Shirakawago → Tokyo

The next morning, after another hot bath in the onsen, we set out on a long trip to Mt Fuji. 1hr bus ride to Kanazawa, 2hr shinkansen to Tokyo, 2.5hr express train to Mt Fuji. When we finally reached the town, it was already sunset and very very cold. If in Shirakawago it was snowing and about -2°, in Mt Fuji it was really windy and -7°.

Day 5 – 28th -Mt Fuji + Tokyo

In the morning I set out for the first proper sunrise photo shoot during this whole trip. It was gorgeous. Mt Fuji lit up in red and then yellow. Even though there was no sun, it wasn’t too cold as I had 4 layers of clothes on; just like during my photography trip to New Zealand. Once the sun rose, and the transport started running again, we took a cable car up atop a nearby mountain to get some shots of Mt Fuji and the town from up top. Then we went to one of the most famous locations in all of japan the Chureito Pagoda. Because it was so beautiful up there, we staying a bit too long and almost missed our train to Tokyo. In the evening Amy and I went to a butler cafe in Ikebukuro called Swallowtail.

Day 6 – 29th – Comiket

Early morning, lots of lines… Thats what comiket is all about, right? Being back in the otaku scene was great, but unfortunately it has changed quite a bit since I last came. There is a lot more focus on gaming these days and less on anime. I did buy some goods, but not many. At the end of the day, I got sick and could barely move. But first I had to go to meet up with my friends from Kagoshima, who are all working in Tokyo right now. It was a great night, but would’ve been a lot better if I wasn’t sick.

Day 7 – 30th – Sick day

Tried to go to Tsukiji markets to buy knives in the morning. Bought some, but then realised how sick I felt and went back to the apartment. Then just spent the whole day sick in bed with a 38° fever 🙁

Day 8 – 31st – Shopping & NYE

Fever gone, time to go shopping. Literally spent the whole day running between Tsukiji, Ginza, Tokyo, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Akihabara and back to Kinshichou, where we were staying. Had steak in Akiba for dinner and celebrated the Sydney New Year there as well. Then went back home for the Japanese New Year and took a hot bath. So now I am hoping that I will spend all of 2018 in hot baths (in Russian we have a saying: how you meet the new year, thats how you will spend it).

Day 9 – 1st – Hatsumode and Akiba

By Japanese tradition, on the first day of the year you must visit a shrine and pray to the gods there for luck, fortune, happiness, whatever. So we did that just that. Went to a small shrine in Ueno, threw some yen and prayed. After Amy left for her flight, I went to Akihabara to play games, shop for some cheap anime goods and just enjoy my last few hours in Japan.

 

Thats all folks. I don’t know when the next time I visit Japan will be and where in Japan I will go, but I must definitely go back at some point, I cant stay away from the land of the rising sun.

Photos here:

flickr

sri lanka bird

Sri Lanka 2017

October 31st, 2017

Another year, another country ticked off the list. #53 – Sri Lanka. Its been over a year since I’ve seen my parents, so this reunion was well overdue.

We arrived in the capital – Colombo and were welcomed by rain and clouds. The forecast never stopped showing rain, but the weather had other plans for us. It got really hot and humid really quickly.

Our itinerary this time around was to travel around the country for a week, then rest on the beach for a week. So in this first block, we spend the majority of our time in the car – traveling from temple to ruins to museums to factories.

Every time we left the car, it felt like we are in a different climate zone. On the third day it was particularly weird: we started of at a temple – it was cloudy but hot; then we got to an elephant shelter, where it was supper sunny, hot and humid; then we went up into the mountains, where it was sunny yet cool; and the by the end of the day we are at the top of one of the highest peaks of Sri Lanka – a hotel that used to be a tea factory near the plantations, where it was 14°, windy and cold (we had to turn on the heater at night!).

On the second last day, we went on a safari, but once again all the elephants (but one) were nowhere to be found. I still managed to get some really nice shots of the nature of the area and the wildlife (like the bird you see on the top of this post).

Afterwards we just relaxed on the beach, ate a lot of fish, and celebrated my dad’s 60th Birthday!

Photos available on my

flickr

大江戸ジュリアナイト (Ohedo Julia-Night) Miku

Happy 10th Birthday Miku!

August 31st, 2017

31st of August 2007 brought you into our world, and since then you have continuously blessed us with your beautiful voice and gorgeous looks. I can’t believe that I have listened to 10 years of your songs, it feels like only yesterday I became aware of your existence and instantly fell in love. Since then I’ve bought numerous goods and CDs, and even came to see you live in Osaka in 2014.

Lets look back at all the amazing songs you’ve brought to us – the creators using Miku and other Vocaloids to entertain and empower fans all over the world!

And if you are curious to where the cover photo is from, its from a song I’m obsessed about right now, called 大江戸ジュリアナイト (Ohedo Julia-Night)

SMASH! 2017

August 25th, 2017

Every year I go to SMASH! and every year I cosplay. This year instead of the usual “dress up as the character you like”, I did something different. I actually brought the anime character into the real world! I brought Inferno Cop to life.

It is impossible to describe what Inferno Cop is about. Its just a lot of random stuff happening for no reason, but god is it amazing. Studio Trigger was responsible for this masterpiece, and they have announced Season 2 a few months ago at a US anime convention. So what better time to show off my love for Trigger and Inferno Cop than at SMASH.

In order to understand why I did what I did, I have to explain that in the whole anime Inferno Cops limbs do not move. Thats right, he is not animated, when he moves its just a bounce, to turn around, they reflect the artwork. That is a low budget anime, and I made a low budget cosplay out of it.

It took me quite some time to make him. First I had to get a large enough image of him to print. As the anime isn’t even released in BluRay, that proved rather challenging. I had to take a screenshot and vector every element on it to make him look just like in the anime, but also be scalable to 2 meters. Then I printed 20 A3 sized pieces of paper, cut them all up, stuck them to a piece of cardboard (which I took from work), cut out the cardboard, attached handles and a rope, and finally was able to wear him on my back.
If I had to do all this by myself, I probably wouldn’t have finished in time, but thankfully I had my good friend Cody and my girlfriend Leah help me out with a lot of the cutting and gluing. Thanks <3

This was a great cosplay idea, an I might reuse him when season 2 actually comes out, or just as a prop for something somewhere at an AnimeSydney event.

This is not the first time I’ve cosplayed and definitely not the last. You can see all my previous cosplays here.

 

u.x.

Introduction to User Experience Design

June 20th, 2017

User experience (UX) design is a relatively new field and only came around with the mass adoption of computers and digital technology. It has evolved over the years and is now an essential part of the digital product development cycle. The core mission of UX is to craft digital experiences that not only empower, but also delight users. In this digital era, innovation never stops and with it more and more opportunities for creating user experiences arise.

The question is how does one get into UX design. Is knowledge of coding essential? Or a degree in design? In reality it doesn’t matter, anyone with a keen eye for detail and a passion to make things better can be a UX designer.

But what is UX? UX is both the end result experience a product offers and a set of methods with which to craft experiences. These methods include various user research techniques, crafting user-flows, layout design, and user testing.

In this article I will give a brief overview of a few concepts that will help define the needs of the users, how to work with and adapt to constraints, what it means to create a story that shapes the experience, the innovation aspect of UX and that good UX comes from a lot of testing and being open to input.

Seeing Through the Users’ Eyes

The most important aspect of UX design is to learn that the ways users interact with a product and the experiences they have with it vary wildly depending on their backgrounds and life situations. In order to create a pleasing user experience considerations of the users age, background, physical location, interests, and of course comfort level with technology, need to be considered and designed around.

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Perfection

May 25th, 2017

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away