Sunday, June 29, 2014

Moving House

I haven't said anything about it yet here on my blog, but I've been looking for a new house to call home since the beginning of the month. This is part of why I haven't had many posts recently, as I've been busy researching potential places. Last week I found one, this week I signed the new lease, and as of today (Saturday) I'm moving in. I'm not a very fast mover, so the move will be completed tomorrow, but so far I've got most of the important stuff (like furniture), and enough amenities to actually spend tonight there.

The chaos of moving. Pretty much all of that furniture has been moved elsewhere by now.
The place is a nice little upstairs duplex unit, higher up in elevation than where I've been living. I can see the ocean (through some houses and telephone wires), and it should have a nice unimpeded access to any trade wind breezes blowing from out across the deep blue Pacific. It's actually on somewhat of a slope, which marks my first time living up on an incline in my memory (I have the haziest of memories of living in a house on a slant in Israel, when I was merely four or five, but that doesn't really count).

One downside of moving is that the cable company apparently can't get the Internet hooked up until the 11th, so I may be somewhat quiet these next two weeks. I can always get online other ways, but blog-writing may not be high on my priority list at those times!

We'll see, I suppose. This is my first time moving on my own – it was with some shock that I realized I've lived in this place for longer than I've had this blog (I moved to Hilo from home in August 2009 to attend UHHilo, about 5 months before I started writing this blog). Anyway, it's been a long day of moving heavy furniture up and down stairs, and I have a lot of cleaning and little more moving to do tomorrow. A hui hou!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More Lei Crochet

Boy, once you get the hang of it these simple crochet projects are really easy! In less than a week I've finished a second lei (it helped that I had several long meetings and presentations to sit through this week). This one is supposed to resemble a lei made of flowers from the ginger that grows wild around here, or ʻawapuhi to give it its Hawaiian name.

I can confidently state that I've learned a lot in the process of making these two lei. After the first one, I realized I'd been making it wrong; rather than producing the coiled structure by rolling the lei lengthwise, I'd actually physically attached each petal further around the central stem chain. I fixed that mistake on this lei, only to realize after I'd finished that I'd been doing my double crochet loops all wrong, and that my connection of the two ends could be vastly improved. I've got another meeting tomorrow and I'm looking forward to starting another lei, correcting those shortcomings, and putting my new end-connection plan into action. A hui hou!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lei Crochet

I've never mentioned it on this blog because it happened a few years before I started writing it, but in my teens I asked my mother to teach me how to crochet, which she graciously did. My actual output never amounted to more than a doily and a couple of simple scarves, and I slowly petered out of doing it as I went through college, but I enjoyed doing it, and occasionally thought about taking it up again.

Around the time I stopped I put a book on my wishlist called “Hawaiian Lei in Crochet” by Roberta E. Wong (I think I had just moved or was about to move to Hawaii at the time and was interested in all kinds of island things). I'd pretty much forgotten all about it after a few years until it showed up at my door a few weeks ago, a birthday gift from my dear aunt Susan.

Having been thinking about taking up crochet again, a book full of neat but relatively simple pattterns was just the impetus I needed. I picked what looked like an easy recipe, went out and bought some hooks and yarn, and set to work. I found it to be a wonderful activity during long meetings at work – having something to occupy my hands with actually lets me pay more attention to the proceedings than otherwise.

Anyway, fast forward a few weeks, and I've just completed my first lei.

This particular lei is meant to imitate the ʻākulikuli flower, one I'm not personally familiar with (I chose it because it looked like a nice easy recipe to start out with, as indeed it proved). A little searching on my part reveals that there are multiple different plants in the Hawaiian isles with that name, with accordingly varied pictures available, but I found some pictures of lei that look pretty similar (if a bit more vividly pink).

Anyway, I'm pretty excited to have completed my first crochet project in several years, and one that looks so good to boot. I'm not entirely sure I followed all the instructions correctly, but I got something good-looking out of it so I'm happy. There are about twenty recipes in the book, many of which I'd like to try at some point, so I'll probably have some more pictures of crochet lei up eventually. A hui hou!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Building a Computer

I've finally done my research, picked out parts for my new computer, and started ordering them, and this past week I had a few parts come in, namely the case, keyboard, and speakers.

The case I settled on is the Rosewill "Thor" V2-W, seen below. It's a large case, as they come; it's just under 23 inches tall, a little over 9 inches wide, and a hair under 22 inches front to back. This spaciousness helps ensure there's lots of room for air to flow through and keep things cool – a necessity for me here in Hawai‘i with no air conditioning. The white fins along the top of it can be opened (as in the picture) to increase air-flow, and those black patches along the side are mesh-covered openings to let the cooling zephyrs in.

The Rosewill Thor V2-W.

On the front you can see the usual connectors you might expect to find – USP 2.0, USB 3.0 (a nice feature), headphone and microphone jacks, an eSATA jack for plugging in external hard drives, and to the sides, two fan-speed control knobs.

Below, in this side shot, you can see one of the huge 230 mm fans that moves air through this thing. Believe it or not, there are actually three of those gargantuan fans in this behemoth of a case; the one seen there, one in the front panel at the bottom, and a third in the top panel at the top (not to mention a comparatively dinky but still large 140 mm fan in the back panel near the top). I was pleased to discover that the mesh on the sides allows a decent view of the interior; I'm thinking of putting in a few LEDs which could be turned on to illuminate the inside while the computer is running.

I didn't get a picture of my new speakers as I went for the cheapest pair I could find that still got great reviews, and while they certainly sound good they aren't anything special to look at. My new keyboard, on the other hand, is well worth looking at:

This is the Corsair Vengeance K70 mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches. The picture doesn't do it justice, but this thing is gorgeous. It's got a nice adjustable red backlight which you can just see in the picture, an elegant black anodized aluminum body (no cheap plastic here!), and some really enjoyable mechanical switches.

Mechanical keyboards, if you don't know, utilize mechanical switches for the keys, instead of the membrane, dome-switch, or scissors-switch found in most laptops and cheaper keyboards today. Mechanical switches use little springs in each individual key, which makes them more expensive to produce, but after using one for a few days I can see why people rave about them so much.

Mechanical switches today predominately come from one company, Cherry MX, which makes color-coded switches with different feels and sound-levels. After some research into the various types available, I settled on the Browns, which are an excellent choice for typing. Each key activates after a mere 2 millimeters of travel after which it can depress another 4 millimeters before bottoming out, while the activation is accompanied by a distinct tactile ‘bump.’ After some practice this has allowed me to type extremely fast because I don't need to bottom out each key like on my laptop's scissors-switch keyboard; I can stop pressing as soon as I feel the ‘bump,’ which helps me type faster. I'm using the keyboard (plugged into my laptop) to write this post, in fact.

It's a little hard to see in the face-on picture I took, but one striking feature of this keyboard is that the keys aren't embedded in the faceplate, instead appearing to float a few millimeters above it. It's a neat design choice that may also be rather practical: I read a few reviews that mentioned that this feature made it easier to clean under the keys (always a good thing for a keyboard).

Anyway, I should stop gushing over my new toys and get to bed. I probably won't go in detail over the rest of my components, as I doubt people would be as interested in the RAM or hard drive I chose compared to the more visually interesting things. I'll almost certainly do a post on the completed project, though don't expect it for a few weeks – I've been ordering parts in batches, watching for any good sales or discounts I can get, so I don't know exactly when I'll have everything. A hui hou!