Thursday, June 28, 2012

Languages 14.01

I alluded to learning languages in an earlier post some time ago, but I found an online way to get me back into practice.

My boyfriend  fiance and I signed up a few months ago to participate in beta testing and I got an email a couple weeks ago inviting me to join the beta group.  My fiance didn't get an invite, but as a beta tester I got three invites, and brought a few friends in on it, including him.  I decided to start with Spanish, since I wanted to refresh my skills before starting rotations again - especially since one rotation has a doctor who I might become friends with, and he emphasizes Spanish-speaking patients in his practice.  I also wouldn't want to misrepresent myself as being "proficient in Spanish."  

It's a neat idea - I've leveled up to level 10 now, I believe.  You get to translate random things on the internet, in addition to doing lessons which teach you with a variety of media - audio, visual, writing and question answering...  They also make you repeat phrases into your microphone and confirm whether you are saying it right.  You can test out of certain basic things if you are more advanced.  The languages they offer currently are Spanish, French, and German (for English speakers), and English (for Spanish speakers).  When it becomes available to the general public, I highly recommend people try it out!

Self-Improvement 10.05

Been a while since I mentioned exercise, eh?  Well, the latest is that I haven't been doing that much - mostly because dieting has been taken a nice 10-13 pounds off my frame since January (I'm now at my ideal weight aesthetically, for what it's worth - I was never overweight).  Also, it's been sunnier longer, hotter during the day, and I've had a lot of studying and rotations that sucked all my energy - like driving to Stockton for 1.5 hours each way.  And staying there for 12 hours.  That was rough.

Anyhow, a friend of mine turned me onto, which, considering my gaming proclivities, aligned quite well with my goals.  I am now at level 3 and my general workout routines either involve body exercises (leg lifts, pilates variants, glut pushes, push-ups, squats) or light dumbbell routines for triceps and biceps.  I plan to add evening jogs in again, but it's not as fun since I'm not as into my music lately and I have no friends who will join me on runs.

Halloween 13.06

The portal gun is coming along - I haven't been as rigorous in taking pictures of every step because sometimes I just want to get through what I'm doing.  Especially when my hands are messy.  Here are the latest steps that have been completed:

So, the work is clearly moving forward.  In the final picture, the front white shell is not spray painted yet - I did that just a few moments ago, and it's sitting outside drying.  The next update will hopefully have both the shells prepared.  I also created a center portion for the nozzle, with a little design, but I need to figure out how to glue it in there.  Soon... soon...  

As a note, if I were to do this again I would probably get a flat black instead of a shiny black spray paint.  Also, unfortunately, the spackle is extremely hard to get completely smooth - I imagine Bondo is a better choice in that, since it probably doesn't form the little small air bubbles or chip off as much.  Either way though, I chose spackle for it's ease of use and lack of mixing requirements and slower drying time.  Plus this is a Halloween to closet or future bookshelf prop, not exactly a Comic Con or gamer-con prop.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Halloween 13.05

Continuing with the ASHPD - It is coming along about as expected.  Today I used the cut outs of some of my flashcards to mold the final part of the edge between the 3'' and 4'' pieces.  I was going to use superglue but discovered that the superglue that I had was all dried up so I ended up using a hot glue gun.  Glued those pieces on, each has a width of 1/2" and put the spackle in between.  Then filled in a bit and set it aside to dry.

The next step was using the hack saw to saw off the ends of the acrylic plunger handle.  It was a lot easier than I expected it to be, didn't take particularly long.  If you do it in a circumferential fashion you can just break the pieces apart when you've done enough.  Then I took some of the sandpaper (100 grit for purpose of records) and sanded it outside for a bit - again, didn't take too long.  There's still a line that I couldn't quite get sanded because of how it's manufactured, but that part can just be face down.  See the updated pictures below!

I think I will end up using the telescoping portion of the tube, on account of the thickness of the device I'm making isn't all that thick.  I could work on the front nozzle today, but...alas, studying and eating await.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Halloween 13.04

I have started construction on the Aperture Science Hand-held Portal Device.  The 4-inch wide telescoping mailing tube came, and it turns out this will be an even bigger boon than I originally anticipated.  The telescoping mailing tube, which I thought only telescoped at the front, completely separated after I cut the end off.  This means I can use the outer shell as the proximal holding piece and don't need to buy larger stuff. It is possible that I will change my mind after seeing how the different thicknesses compare - worst case, I buy two couplers of PVC pipe which are already the proper length and require no cutting.

On another note, at this point I'm glad I went with spackle paste instead of Bondo - a couple reasons.  First, it takes longer to dry.  This means I have longer to work with it and if I make mistakes I can easily fix it.  Second, since I'm not using PVC pipes for the more complicated parts, spackle should be plenty sufficient, where Bondo would have been overkill.  Third, it washes off my hands super easily.  Tomorrow I'll add on the wedges, after it's dry and I can superglue the base of the molding cards to part of the device.  I coated the inside of the device also with spackle, so I could sand it down and give it a better surface for spray painting.  We'll see if it sticks or just flakes off.

Ended up cutting most of it with a combination of the exacto knife and a handsaw.  Worked, but not super great - will need to clean up the edges a fair amount, but that shouldn't be too hard once the thing is mostly plaster.  When this part is complete, I'll get either use the telescoping part or buy some PVC pipes to get part two of the main frame figured out.  The third frame portion is the most challenging... it's the nozzle so-to-speak - but since the spackle is so easy to work with, this may work out okay.  The only concern I have at this moment is that there may be too much moisture in the spackle and it could deform the thick cardboard, but I have it in lid of the telescoping tube to hopefully keep its shape overnight.