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Bookstore plunder

I had a bit of time over the weekend to browse a used bookstore. Not as much time as I would’ve liked (I can browse a used bookstore for many hours if allowed), but I did find some interesting stuff.

rhapsody

Didn’t have time to browse the film soundtracks, but I did snatch up some symphonic metal from the Italian band Rhapsody of Fire. Their album The Frozen Tears of Angels features narration from the late great Christopher Lee; his deep cinematic British voice compliments the fantastical metal very well. It’s a concept album that’s part of a larger saga of albums, none of which I have… yet.

lesmiserables

Also music related is the blu-ray of the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables. I think it came on PBS or something once, but I missed it. But now I can watch it over and over!

hugo

Picked up a movie companion to one of my favorite films. Looking through it, it looked awfully familiar, but I double-checked my bookshelves and I don’t have it. I could swear I’ve browsed a copy of it somewhere else before though. Maybe there’s another copy somewhere else in the house? I have no idea…

elantris

I haven’t read Brandon Sanderson in a while, but I picked up Elantris for someday.

straub

I’ve been reading Peter Straub’s Shadowland recently and have been enjoying it very much, so I picked up pretty much all the Peter Straub I could find, which amounted to nine books. They’ll take me forever to read, but they all look interesting… I’ll probably dive into one after I finish Shadowland

mozart

Picked up some books on Mozart and classical music because I’m such a classy guy.

pdqbach

Finally, I happened upon a biography of one of the great classical composers who most music scholars, in their snooty snobbery, ignore completely.

My Oculus Rift PC build

Still waiting for the consumer Oculus Rift, but I was excited to build the PC for it for the games I already have, and for learning Unity so that I can try working on some of my own projects. I based my build mostly on this guy’s recommendations, with some small changes.

The case

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I went with the Antec Nine Hundred. It’s got plenty of fans for great cooling, nice blue LED lights, plenty of room for expansions (at least the sort I imagine I might make), and a window with which to peer into the PC’s guts. (Plus I got a great deal on it.) The USB 3.0 ports on the front are also a plus, as the Oculus Rift will require them.

The motherboard

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I went with the recommended MSI ATX LGA 1150 PC Mate Z97. I had no experience buying a motherboard before, but this seemed to have all the essentials. It’s got a nice fancy BIOS too.

The CPU

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I went ahead and spent a bit more and got the Intel i7 4790K processor. Maybe diminishing returns compared with the i5, but I figure it may help with any future video and music editing. I’m just using the fan that came with it, so I’m probably not going to try overclocking it. Anyway, it seems fast enough as it is.

The GPU

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The EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Super Clocked ACX 2.0 4GB GDDR5 Graphics Card. As of this post, it’s pretty much the latest second-tier GPU out there. I haven’t tested a lot of the modern games with it yet, but there are plenty of YouTube videos showing off what it can do. It’s pretty nice. Plus it came with Batman: Arkham Knight.

RAM

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Kingston HyperX FURY 16GB Kit (2x8GB) 1866MHz DDR3, works for me.

Hard Drive

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I went with a Crucial MX200 250GB SATA 2.5 Inch Internal Solid State Drive. I wanted a solid state drive’s faster loading times for the OS and the programs I use the most. But I’ve already used up half the drive with just the OS, Unity 5, and a few games. I’ll definitely get a higher capacity traditional hard drive as soon as I can. My music composing will definitely eat up some space, though it’ll probably be a while before I try migrating my sample libraries to this computer.

Power unit

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The Rosewill 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Power Supply supplies the PC with more than enough power. (I certainly don’t plan on having multiple GPUs anytime soon.)

DVD burner

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I got a Lite-On Super AllWrite 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive for cheap.

Operating System

Staying away from the annoying ugly-looking Windows 8. I went with Windows 7 Professional SP1 64bit.

WiFi

The motherboard didn’t come with WiFi, but fortunately I had an unused Panda Ultra Wireless N USB Adapter (150Mbps). It’s small, cheap, and seems to work fine for my purposes. I just had to download the latest drivers from their site to get Steam to work with it. (Which I reckon is the sort of thing you should do anyway with all your hardware when building a new PC.)

Building the PC

I had never built a PC before, but they design these components so morons can figure out how to put them together. OK, maybe not complete morons, but it’s pretty obvious where and how things fit together, and the manuals are always there with pretty pictures, and everything’s somewhere on the Internet. It’s easier than building furniture from IKEA. I guess you just have to hope you don’t have any defective parts.

WARNING: Do not stick a 9 volt battery to random metallic parts for fun. It’s unethical.

First, take the motherboard:

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Carefully put the CPU in the CPU cage thingy and give it a fan base:

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Introduce the motherboard to its glorious new home, “just in case” haha:

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Find a place for your hard drive. In my “case”, it happily hides near the bottom, where I don’t have to put it in any holders or anything:

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The DVD drive slips in the top front slot:

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Add our massive GPU to the appropriate PCI-E 3.0 slot:

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And, finally, add our power unit to distribute power everywhere, and make sure everything that needs to be hooked to the motherboard is properly hooked to the motherboard:

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You could probably do some wire wrangling to make them nice and neat and out of the way, or not. Just as long as they aren’t in anything’s way, like the CPU fan or something, obviously.

Power it up, check out the BIOS, install the OS, drivers, and OS updates, test everything, and we’re done!

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Like I said, I still need to buy another hard drive, and I may also buy a VGA switcher and a USB switcher so that I can hook my mouse, keyboard, and monitor to both computers and switch between them with ease.

Used bookstore plunder

We don’t have really any good used bookstores very close to us. They tend to have very small selections or high prices. But on Tuesday I was able to make it to a larger used bookstore about an hour away. Their selection wasn’t amazing, but wasn’t horrible either, and their prices were pretty nice. I unfortunately didn’t have as much time to peruse as I would’ve liked, but I spent quite enough money anyway, so the time limit was probably a good thing. I could browse books for many countless hours; it’s a great source of intellectual stimulation and inspiration. As to how long it will actually take me to get around to reading the books, I’m sure I’ll have them all read by *cough* *cough* [inaudible] *cough*.

So because I don’t have much else to blog about (besides [insert the latest controversial issue here], but enough’s been said about that already), I will tell you what books I got, complete with beautiful photographs filtered through Instagram’s X-Pro II because I’m so cool.

Dreams

Became interested in the works of Jung through Joseph Campbell, though he’s usually so abstract that he’s tough to read. I can’t help but think that trying to interpret dreams very much risks searching for meaning where there actually is none, at least not as much as one may think. But I’m interested in the subject regardless, and certainly open to having my mind changed if I can manage to understand what Jung writes. And even if I don’t agree, I’ll be interested in his thoughts.

Campbell

Speaking of Joseph Campbell, found a couple of his books there as well. Goddesses in particular looked interesting, because I had never heard of it before (granted, I think it was published posthumously and is actually a collection of his essays on the subject rather than something he actually put together himself), and because one of the stories I’m currently plotting involves a “goddess” archetype, so I’ll be interested in what insights Mr. Myth himself can share on the subject.

sagas

I’ve eyed this at the bookstore a few times, so nice to get a big discount on it at a used bookstore, eh? And it’s in almost new condition too. Just curious about the subject, though I know very little about it.

Power

I really have little clue what exactly this book is about. Browsing through it, parts looked interesting enough, and it was cheap. Guess we’ll see!

Goodkind

On to fiction, picked up the fourth book in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, though I’ve yet to read the 2nd and 3rd. I read the first book, Wizard’s First Rule some years ago and enjoyed it. Goodkind’s writing is very bland, but that’s at least better than being clunky and cluttered, and the story itself definitely held my attention throughout. I’ve heard the series gets repetitive later on, though.

Jordan

I have yet to read any of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, though I hope to at some point, especially now that it’s actually complete, so I picked up the second, third, and fourth books in that series. (Already have the first.)

Vinge

Similarly, I have yet to read anything by Vernor Vinge, but I’ve good things about him from readers I trust and his books definitely look interesting.

Stephenson

I’ve read Neal Stephenson’s Anathem and Reamde, both of which I gave five stars, so I’m interested in anything by Stephenson. (Already have his Baroque Cycle and Cryptomicon, though I haven’t read them yet; they’re definitely doorstoppers.) I hope to start reading his latest book, Seveneves, as soon as I finish the last eighty pages of Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance, which I’ve been reading for the last two months.

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From the mind of Ray Bradbury, I’ve only read Something Wicked This Way Comes and Zen in the Art of Writing, both of which are fantastic. So I’ll definitely be interested to read some more of his work. I also like the look of these classy 70’s paperback editions. Can’t find ’em like this anymore. In a new bookstore, that is.

Peter Pan

Always interested in some classic children’s fantasy, as old-fashioned as the old stuff tends to be, and this isn’t one you see too often.

Sweeney Todd

And just because it was cheap. One of my favorite movies.

CDs

Finally, also got some CDs, mostly soundtracks. Good stuff.

And there you have it. Go out and peruse your closest used bookstore today, and support authors not getting any money… oh no, wait…

Animation Mentor, new camera, and LOTR on blu-ray

Last night at 12 AM I had my 2nd first Animation Mentor Q&A, and it was awesome. The mentor, David Weatherly, was great, as were the classmates. The mentor’s actually from Virginia and went to Virginia Tech, one of the universities I had been accepted to and was thinking about. He’s currently at Dreamworks, which is a bit envy-inducing (in a good inspiring way) when he mentions how great the working conditions are.

Anyway, it’s so far shaping up to be a fun semester! Then again, I haven’t started doing any of the work yet, so I hope I don’t stink too much…

I also bought a couple things yesterday. Bought a new camera, the Canon PowerShot SX130IS. It’s not nearly the super-fanciest camera in the world, but for my simple purposes, it will work wonderfully. It’s great at auto-adjusting to almost any lighting conditions, whereas my cheaper camera can’t deal with lack of light very well. It’s also great at focusing on very close things; you can put something up to almost the lens, and it can get it in focus. It also shoots video in 720 HD, which will be great for shooting animation reference. My only complaint is that it seems to suck up battery life, especially when shooting videos. None of that may seem all that impressive to those of you with very high end cameras, but I’ve only had much cheaper cameras up until now.

I also bought The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Extended Edition on blu-ray. They had a good deal for it at Best Buy, so I cancelled my Amazon.com order for it and picked it up. Testing it out, it looks fantastic. It looks a little too good, in fact; you can notice some special effects mistakes. For example, when Gollum gets the ring at the end of RotK and the camera zooms out above him as he’s happily looking up at the ring in his hand, his feet wobble unnaturally in front of the ground; you can really tell how he was inserted digitally into the scene. There are also plenty of scenes in which you can really get that blue-screen effect, in which the edges of the characters are strangely blurry and the lighting doesn’t quite match. Actually, that happens on the DVDs too, but I think it’s even more noticeable on blu-ray. But I don’t think anything is so bad that I won’t be able to enjoy it. Overall, it still looks fantastic. I can’t wait until I have time to watch them… I’d love to try watching all three right in a row, though I know that will take all day.

Some junk I bought today (to help the economy)

Today I bought me some Piccadilly notebooks, so life can finally begin! I was looking for some notes on a story I wanted to write in my few spiral notebooks, but I seem to lose them easily, and their metal spirals get all caught in each other, and tangled, and they don’t sit on a bookshelf very well. Their big advantage, though, is that they’re cheap cheap cheap. But I decided, hey, I’m a billionaire (in the making), so why don’t I buy some nicer notebooks? Hmmm?? Why??? HMMMMM???!??!? Then I punched myself in the face and had a nervous breakdown. After that mess (which has now come to be known as my morning routine) I picked up the dagger, ran down the hall, and stabbed the cook.

OK, sorry, I’m just tired. Of being bullied around.

OK, sorry, serious blogging time…

So I went to Borders and looked at their moleskines. I know some people who just love their moleskines. But, geez, they were expensive! Fortunately someone on Twitter told me about Piccadilly notebooks. They look just about the same, but cost less than half as much. So I bought some of those. Yeah!

I Googled around “Piccadilly vs moleskine” and there seem to be a lot people quite happy with their Piccadilly notebooks. But I think you can only find them at Borders, where as moleskines are available all over the place (I think). I wonder if moleskine lovers are kinda like Apple lovers… nice quality, but expensive… although after you buy something expensive, I think you’re more likely to at least try to convince yourself that it was worth it, since you just spent a lot on it… know wad I’m sayin’ yo?

Oh, they also ended up having a hardback Anathem by Neal Stephenson on sale for $6 (cheaper than the paperback) so, though I already read it, I done went bought it. Awesome book. And hardback for $6? Great deal. (Actually, it looks like the paperback Anathem is only $3.20 on Amazon, ha! Did they print too many?)

And then I also bought Mystery Classics 50 Movie Pack Collection. Not that I have any time to be watching movies. They’re old and not the greatest of quality, but for the price, I couldn’t resist. They also had some other genres, like science fiction and horror, and though those were also tempting, I think the mystery genre of old films is probably the least crappy. (Old sci-fi films I can hardly stand. They’re usually so corny. But it’s still tempting to give them a chance…)

Um… I guess that’s it. Just me blathering about junk I bought today. I just bought it all to, you know, help the economy.

I can only let myself buy one more thing, and that’s a new pair of glasses. I looked at a few places in the mall, but looking at myself in the mirror, I just didn’t like anything, not even the glasses I have now. Maybe it’s my face, but I can’t do anything about that. So I’ll look at Walmart selection tomorrow, or some time this week…

Well, maybe two more things, because I also need a haircut. But that’s it. Although… some computer games on Amazon are lookin’ cheap… Mass Effect 2 especially… mmmmmm… but I must resist… I won’t have any time to play it anyway…

Short Wicked review and other boring things

Seeing Wicked

My family and I went to see the musical Wicked yesterday.

wicked The bad: Going in, the lady person (at the Landmark Theater in Richmond, VA) handing out the programs wouldn’t give me one. She said “Oh, it’s only one per family! Snicker snicker snoody-doo!” I made that second sentence up, but $55 for way-in-the-back seats and you don’t even give me a program?! You pathetic loser booger-heads! We did end up getting more; who doesn’t like to collect programs of the performances you’ve seen? One per family. Tsk tsk. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Secondly, the seating at the Landmark Theater in Richmond, VA is just pathetic; at least up in the balcony seats. (I think the place was built in the 1920s or something.) It was like stadium seating, but extremely squished. Not designed for tall people at all.  The seats in front of you dig into your knees. It’s just really poorly designed. I would recommend nobody ever going there again for anything. Pathetic, you fail, Landmark Theater!

The good: The musical itself. After familiarizing myself with the Wicked soundtrack for the past few years, it was great to finally see the entire story behind it, which was a quite engaging story (should make a good movie someday – I doubt much story editing would be needed). I loved the whole fantasy feel to the whole thing, in the set designs and the costumes and the lighting. The big talking Oz head is just awesome. You don’t get that stuff on the soundtrack.

A bit of trivia (that I found online; probably old news to die hard fans): the first seven notes of the tune “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” are hidden in the musical. Stephen Schwartz used them for the “Unlimited” theme. The rhythm and harmonies are different, so you don’t recognize it at all, but it’s awesome that they’re there.

Album art

In other news, here is a preview of what my first album’s cover will probably look like. The manufacturers are estimating they will be done manufacturing the thing by March 31st. That’s, of course, just an estimate, and then it will still require some time to ship. But we’re getting closer and closer! Maybe this whole process becomes more mundane after you do it a few times, but for a first time it’s extremely exciting!

Alice in Wonderland soundtrack

alice Speaking of albums with awesome music (heh), I recently bought Danny Elfman’s score to the newest Tim Burton film, Alice in Wonderland. Even though the movie as a whole was kind of meh, the music is fantastic. It’s some of Danny Elfman’s best work in a while. The first track is kinda like the first track on the Coraline soundtrack, except in Elfman’s score the children’s choir is singing in English (in Coraline it sounds like they’re singing in gibberish). Both utilize children choirs singing hauntingly beautiful melodies with delicious epic orchestration. Ahhh… awesome stuff. So… you should buy it.  At least buy the first track “Alice’s Theme” on iTunes or something.  It’s Hannifin recommended.

Blah blah

It still feels like it should be an hour earlier…

The Motorola Droid is in my hands

I’m writing this quick blog post from my new Motorola Droid. I wanted to wake up early and get one from Wal-mart, but I slept in, and by the time I got there at 3 PM, it was too late, they were sold out. So I went to Best Buy instead; they still had some. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let me get a data-only plan, since I don’t talk much, either because it’s not yet offered on the Droid, or because they are stupid. But if I’m ever able to switch to data-only, I surely will. Until then, I’m really enjoying the phone and will soon try some programming for it. I just have one little music project I need to finish up, a Christmas orchestration…

A whole lot of Mozart

Mozart!

Yesterday I got my Mozart Edition: Complete Works (170 CD Box Set)
in the mail, a nice box set containing all of Mozart’s work (not including his lost or incomplete works, for contrary to a popular myth, he did not completely compose entire pieces in his head and later write them out).  I’m really excited to have such a collection at my fingertips.  And since most of Mozart’s scores are also available for free at this website, studying his music will now be extremely convenient.  I have to admit, a part of me was expecting this box set to include poor recordings, thus allowing it to be the bargain it is, but the recordings are actually very good quality.  Avid classical music collectors might argue that there are certainly better albums out there with better performances, but such albums can cost $10 to $18 for a single CD, whereas with this box set, each CD is less than $1.  Awesome value!

They also have Bach Edition: Complete Works (155 CD Box Set) and Beethoven Edition: Complete Works (85CD Box Set) and such, and hopefully someday I’ll buy them too, but I had to start out with Mozart.

My first album progress

I also recently finished composing a new piece for my album called Voyage of the Dream Maker.  I uploaded a YouTube video featuring the piece here. It’s my Opus 50!  (By my opus counting at least.)  That brings my album to about 35 minutes of finished music so far (White Castle Waltz, On the Edge of a Dream, The Dragon King, Voyage of the Dream Maker, and an unfinished 15-minute piece), so I’ve got about 25 minutes of music left to compose… and I’ve got some more great melodies I look forward to working with.

The new CD Baby is now up and running, which looks, eh… like it wasn’t worth the trouble of changing (in my opinion).  But their new features might be convenient in the future.  Last I checked, however, their accounting database still isn’t up yet, which is annoying… not that I really need it very soon anyway, as I’m only selling one download…

New laptop and a wiki

New laptop

When I went off to college in 2004, I knew I had to get a desktop because laptops were no good, especially for gaming.  They had slow processors, slow GPUs, and little hard drives.

For a while, I’ve been wanting an HD monitor for my computer and a blu-ray drive.  Then I decided I didn’t want to be stuck in my bedroom anymore, so I started looking into laptops.  I was quite happy to find something as nice and powerful as the Alienware M17x.  With an HD monitor, a blu-ray drive, 4 GB of RAM, 1 TB of space, and an nVidia GTX 260M graphics card, it is better than my desktop (and more expensive).  It also has a fancy LED light-up keyboard, which you can customize to shine any colors you want, which is actually quite useful when you’re playing a game in the dark; otherwise, it seems a bit superfluous but is an eye-catcher.  It’s also awesome to watch blu-rays and play games in full HD.  It also has an HDMI port for easy HDTV connection, which I’m hoping I can try sometime, maybe Friday.

And 1920×1200 resolution rules.

So I really love this laptop.

And a wiki

I started a wiki about myself here.  I call it: Hanniwiki.  Yay!  Maybe it’s vain, but it serves several purposes: 1) I wanted to try out MediaWiki.  2) I’d like to try world-building with it for my fantasy novel.  When I don’t feel like working on my actual story, I was thinking I might like to write articles about the fictional world I’m creating to at least help my mind get into the world a little better.  3) I don’t know, whatever.

So I’ll probably update it with random junk whenever I’m bored.  It might be useful for people who want to explore my work but don’t want to browse through a bunch of blog posts.  Then again, I’m not really famous enough yet for very many people to want to do that.  But still, it’s there, and it was fun creating what I have there so far.

I will never compose again

Just kidding. Sorry. It’s such a cruel joke, I know.

E3 stuff

E3, the video gaming expo, was last week, and a couple things interested me.  Firstly, “Project Trico” got a real name: The Last Guardian.  It also got a more polished trailer.  Ahh… that looks like such an awesome game.  (By the way, I saw the film Miller’s Crossing, the film the trailer music is from.  It was a pretty good movie, I enjoyed it.)

The bad news is I don’t think I’ll be able to afford a PS3 or that game anytime soon… this gaming laptop was also announced at E3.  It’s about as powerful as my desktop.  Actually, it’s a bit better, and it’s got a blu-ray player and an HD screen.  So I bought it.  Woohoo!!  The estimated delivery date isn’t until mid-July though, I suppose because it’s a brand-new model and maybe they don’t have the assembly line going quite yet.  Waiting for it just plain torture.

Lately I haven’t been spending as much time on my computer as I usually do, so I haven’t been composing, or… doing anything constructive at all really.  Well, I’ve been reading, I guess that’s constructive.  Hopefully I’ll get back to digital constructiveness when the laptop comes.  Might be more quiet than usual until then.  (I’d be more apathetic if I weren’t so lethargic.)

Lightning

For some reason, it seems to be storm season here.  We’ve been getting a bunch of storms.  (Sadly, a local middle school student was also recently killed by a lightning strike.  Makes it seem scarier to be outside during the storms.)  Lots of lightning… last week I took some pictures and put them on a public photo album on Facebook.