Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Web Dev for a Weekend

Had a really bad/kind of good thing happen at work a week ago: our website got hacked. We had to take it down entirely for a few days, but it gave me the chance to do something I didn't think I'd be trusted with for a few months yet: rebuilding the whole thing.
ATC Communications
To be fair, most of the main content has been copy/pasted back in. But what I did do is re-implement the pages using HTML and CSS, rather than the WordPress template we were using before. We needed a way to customize the page in some specific ways, and things just got simpler when we got WP out of the picture. If you want to see what it looks like now, feel free! But keep in mind it's still a work in progress...

I've had fun with web development since I was twelve, and it's always been one of those skills that is just plain handy. I've made basic websites in the past for other small organizations, but this one needed to be ready in as little time as possible. I spent some time over the weekend getting things in usable shape, then tweaking the interface to something that looked and felt pretty good. Granted, there is still a lot I'd like to change, but now that things are up and running again, I can implement things over time.

Otherwise, things are still going along like normal, my time split between work, education and coding projects (currently playing around with PyOpenGL and QT). After a couple months spent mostly on moving and settling into the new job, I finally earned another 3 college credits with "Introductory Psychology." What did I learn? The more we know about brains, the more we realize we have no idea what is going on up there.

As a side note, I played a game I think is very worthwhile. If you enjoy stories of hope and grace even through death and despair, you should try playing a game called "That Dragon, Cancer". I won't go into much more detail than that, it's really something you just need to play in order to understand it.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spidey's back!

The geek in me has to share some of my excitement at seeing my long-time favorite hero returning to the screen, this time with many more friends! I've always enjoyed just about anything Spider-Man. He's one of the few characters that really stands up for what is right, and outside of his super-human powers, he plays the part of a normal guy. The draw, for me, is the idea that he isn't special because he has super-powers. It's that he uses them to do what is right. And that's something anybody can do.

It's been kind of disappointing to see how long it took to bring Spidey to the Avengers--but that's not to say I didn't enjoy the films along the way. I grew up with the Sam Raimi films, so when I think of Spider-Man, that's the version that tends to come to mind. There will never be a true replacement for the characters of those films--Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, Norman Osborn--all were cast perfectly. I also enjoy the huge moral emphasis in every film. No matter who the bad-guy is or how many team up against him at once, at the end of the day, Spidey is left with the choice to do what is right and what is easy. Time and time again, though he doesn't always get it the first time, he chooses to do the right thing. That's inspiring, and that's what superheroes are supposed to do: inspire us to do the right thing.

Of course, I don't hate the reboot either. The Amazing Spider-Man films were great in their own way, and really showcased a playful, cool version of Peter that I enjoyed. No matter how many people down on the Amazing Spider-Man 2, I will always love that movie. You've got real dedication from a growing man who's trying to do the right thing mixed with one of the coolest looking (and sounding) bad-guys I've ever seen to boot! Add in to that some amazing swinging footage, and you've got a fun ride.

But now we get to see somebody take up the mantle again. I'm glad to see this finally take place, even though it means yet another reboot. It'll be great to see him with the others, even though he's coming in at a tense moment. But it sounds like the new actor will be a great fit for the role, and the design seems to draw from the older comics while pulling in some contemporary details. Expressive eyes are a huge part of how Spidey communicates in the comics, and I think they found a way to pull that off realistically. Here's to hoping it will turn out great!


P.S. It's cool to see how they integrated a hexagon onto his suit. Much like the icon I've been using...hmmm....

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Image manipulation fun

I've always had fun creating cool images in Photoshop and Gimp--things like logos and icons with lots of effects tends to be a favorite type of project for me. Seeing as how I am a fan of Spider-Man, I took the base pattern of the spider used in his most recent film, turned it my favorite color, and added some effects. End result:

Yesterday I was playing with an idea on my brother's favorite hero, Deathstroke. I created an outline of his mask, filled in some textures and played with effects until I got this:

Just some things I do for fun, when I feel like it.