My personal logo

From: , By Bevans on Sunday, July 27, 2008

logoI've been working on a logo for myself in one of my classes, and I just wanted to post it here for people to see and comment on. What do you think? It's definitely not finished, and I certainly need to simplify it. The blue strips going through it aren't intended to be something that is always there.

New site design

From: , By Bevans on Sunday, July 27, 2008

I've been working on redesigning the look of this site for about a week now. So, what do you think? It's not meant to be flashy, but it is meant to be easy to read, easy to navigate, and easy for me to maintain (ok, you can't really judge that last part). I also gave it a 3-column layout, so I could add more stuff on the sidebars.


There's still some work that needs doing, and if you happen to notice something that seems broken/wrong, please let me know.


I'm also going to be using a modified (ie: recolored) version of this template for an upcoming project of mine. I'll announce more on that when I feel like it.

Prove Me Wrong

From: , , , By Bevans on Monday, June 23, 2008

This is something that's been sloshing around in my head for a while now.

I'm one of those people who has some pretty strong opinions on a lot of things, but I've always felt that it's best to keep your mind open to new ideas, even if they contradict what you think you know. So, this design is intended to show the world that you're willing to listen to new data and maybe even change your mind, but only if presented with proof.

I first got the idea for this design when I heard someone tell a story on one of the podcasts I listen to. I've heard it several times now, but I think the first was on Penn Jilette's radio show. The story is about a scientist who believed he had solved a certain problem. For decades, he believed his solution, until one day at a convention (or something) he was giving a lecture, and a person in the audience stood up and told the scientist that his theory was wrong. He went in front of the audience and showed the scientist where he had gotten the theory wrong. Rather than become angry and yell at this person, the scientist smiled and shook the person's hand. The audience applauded. After a whole lifetime, the scientist had been proven wrong, and he couldn't have been more happy.

That's what's great about science and critical thinking. So to celebrate that idea, I made this design and put it on a bunch of t-shirts, to sell on the internet.

I'm going to get sued by Anheuser-Busch (and, Fun with Politics)

From: , , , By Bevans on Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I spent some time today putting together a design that's been rolling around in my head for a few weeks now. I think it turned out pretty well, and I think I nailed the logo.

As usual, I've put it on various shirts, stickers, pins, and other assorted merchandise, which you can buy here.

This design pretty much sums up my opinion of John McCain. His policies and opinions remind me of Bush, but not quite as bad. He seems to want to continue waging war (and more of them), favoring the rich, and generally carrying on the Bush legacy. I kinda feel bad saying that, because he seems like a nice guy, but then again, so did Bush.

At the moment, I'd say there's about a 75% chance that I'll be voting for Obama. Generally, he seems like a good choice. Not GREAT necessarily, but he has potential. I'm still keeping my eyes open though. I would vote for a third-party candidate if, by some miraculous turn of events, one actually had a chance to win.

I've tried voting for the person I thought would make the best president (Nader in `00), and I've voted for the lesser of two evils (Kerry in `04). These days, I'm basically going by this strategy: Vote out the Republicans, and then vote out the Democrats. In that order. I don't care for the Democrats, but I REALLY don't like the Republicans. And of course, I'm only talking about the most prominent of them all. There are some great leaders in both parties, who aren't afraid to step out from under their party's shadow. Good luck to them in the future.

Angry Cactus, v2

From: , , , By Bevans on Sunday, May 11, 2008

For a while now, I've been trying to think of a way to update one of my favorite designs, the Angry Cactus logo. Since I lost the original file, I decided to remake it and see what I came up with.

In the end, almost nothing changed. I made the "aggravation lines" a little more interesting, and I gave it a much better color scheme. I've learned a lot more about color in the years since I first designed the logo. Originally, it had a gradient of bright yellow in the background, and a very bright green coloring the cactus and words. Ick. This time, I stuck with a complementary color scheme. I actually went through dozens of color variations before deciding that I liked the compelementary ones best. In fact, I'm even thinking of making it available in red, orange, and blue.

So, I've updated the Angry Cactus Shop on CafePress with the new design, so hopefully I'll be able to sell a few more shirts and buttons and stuff. So far, I've sold 8 Angry Cactus items, which is a record for me.

Playing with the Liquid Resizer image program

From: , , , By Bevans on Saturday, April 19, 2008

Some of you may have seen a few YouTube videos where a guy showed off a really cool new image-resizing program that actually shrunk/enlarged elements of the picture, rather than just the whole picture, thus creating a more or less realistic image without unsightly stretching.

Well, a few days ago, they released this program as a beta to the public (eventually they'll be selling it as a Photoshop plugin), and you can find it here. I've been playing with it a bit, and here are some of the cool things I've been able to do with it.

This is the shot I started out with. Dan in the snow taking pictures. I decided to try resizing it so the picture was square. The original dimensions were 800x600, and I changed them to 600x600.

In Liquid Resize, I selected the area of the picture that I DIDN'T want resized (Dan and his tripod), and let the program do the rest. As you can see, it created an almost perfect "scrunch job" of the image. Most of the image loss came from the path on the left, and from the trees. The large tree in the upper-right corner was scrunched a bit too much for my taste the first time, so I protected it too. The rest of the trees are mostly narrower, but you can't tell unless you're looking at the original.

In this image, I thought it'd be fun to try to take Dan out of the picture completely and see what happened. In LR, you can either choose to "protect" or "delete" an element of the picture. Protecting an area will cause the program to completely ignore the protected area when it's looking for elements to scrunch/stretch. Setting an area to "delete" will cause the area to be favored for deletion, so it'll scrunch into the deletion area as much as possible.

The result is pretty good, though you can definitely see some seams, and the big tree in the foreground has seen better days. Oh well; this isn't really what it's supposed to be used for.

Here's another fun shot. This is Kev, Dan, and Tim (and myself behind the camera) out golfing before Dan's wedding.

...and here's the square version. This one turned out really well. LR closed the gap between Kev and the other two, and brought in the left side. Remember that it's not cropping out ANYTHING; it's resizing the different elements so they all fit within the specified dimensions. The houses in the back do seem a little narrower, and of course the pond is a bit smaller, but you'd never notice that if you hadn't seen the original.

There is one minor issue though: Kev seems like he's a lot taller now, due to the change in perspective.

Hmm...why is Dan in every one of these pictures so far?

Anyway, this is Dan & Jenni after the wedding, when we were driving around on the bus through Stillwater. We stopped by an outdoor biker hangout and somebody let them pose for pictures on their bike.

Again, I had LR change it to be square. This one was tricky. I protected Dan, Jenni, and their motorcycle of course, and also Shelly on the right. I also protected the two motorcycles in the back, because they were too distorted the first time I tried this. I also had it delete the lady on the left. I may have protected the car in the back too; I don't remember.

As you can see, it brought the two bikes in the back (and Shelly) closer together. Some problems, which I could probably fix if I wasn't so lazy, are that the house in the back is kinda scrunched, as is the bike on the far left.

Now, let's play with a vertical picture, at 600x800. Here's a shot of some ducks on a frozen pond.

This time, rather than having the program scrunch the image down to a 600x600, I had it stretch it to 800x800. I didn't bother to have it protect any elements, and just decided to see what it would do.

Mostly, it just stretched the less-detailed area on the left. It also separated the ducks a little bit. Good solution.

This one is pretty funny, actually. I went back to the original image, and resized it down to 600x600. LR chose to shrink most of the background lake element, and as a result the ducks look gigantic. I definitely wouldn't have been chasing them with a stick that day if they were all 5 feet tall.

The horizon on the far right looks a little goofy too. It scrunched the skyline and treeline to make room for the branch.

Overall, I think this program/plugin is going to be a valuable tool in any photo manipulator's arsenal. Obviously it's not perfect for every situation, but it's very easy to use, and usually pulls off some impressive feats.

Here are a few more images I created. The first one is the original in each pair.

Giving a site the "Bevans Bump"

From: , , , , , By Bevans on Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm using my considerable draw and influence to call attention to a good cause today.

By now you've probably seen commercials for Ben Stein's new movie "Expelled", which is apparently being marketed as a wacky teen comedy or something. But really, it's a "documentary" full of anti-science, anti-evolution propaganda.

That's not what I'm trying to call attention to. I'm calling attention to Expelled Exposed, a web site designed to show just how full of shit Ben Stein and his stupid movie (as well as creationists in general) are.

But, some may argue that this is just calling more attention to the movie. Well, it's already being advertised for on TV. The best we can do is help to draw attention to the truth. The Expelled Exposed site is currently #8 when you search for "expelled" on Google, and the more you link to a site, the higher it goes on Google. So the goal is to get this site to appear BEFORE the movie's web site on Google.

John Belushi's Samurai Deli Sketch (UPDATED)

From: By Bevans on Sunday, April 06, 2008

I don't even need to say anything here, do I?

EDIT: I didn't know it, but they also made 2 more of these things. The second one, Samural Hotel, is also pretty funny. The third one, Samurai Night Fever, is awful. Oh well. Here they both are:

2 hilariously cute animated cat shorts

From: , By Bevans on Friday, April 04, 2008

Now to put on my "pansy" hat. Yes, I'm a cat person. If you don't already know, I have a cat named Hunter. He's a crazy, curious, adorable little fuzzball. You can see some pictures here.

Anyway, here are a couple very clever little cartoon shorts that will probably be hilarious to cat-lovers, and probably won't appeal to others. Like you dog people. Weirdos.

Saving money, the Bevans way

From: , , By Bevans on Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I am, by most accounts, the brokest person most people know. But being as broke as I am, I've learned a few key ways to save money that many people may just overlook.

1. Use the library.

This is moronically simple, but many people I know just don't use the library. And why not? It's free. They have nearly every book you'll ever want, although you may have to wait a bit if the book you're looking for is checked out or at another library. But the nice part is, they'll hold it for you once it's in, and if it's at another library, they'll bring it to the library of your choice for you. And it's still free.

And it's not just books. They have magazines, DVDs (new releases must be rented, but they're far cheaper than Blockbuster), CDs, audiobooks, and shockingly enough: comics. I was very surprised to find out just how wide a selection of comic trade paperbacks the Ramsey County library system has. I quickly grabbed up the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books (far better than the movie) and picked up Watchmen on a whim (which is fucking phenomenal).

I'm one of those people who likes to have my own personal library, so I can lend books and movies and stuff to anyone, whenever I feel like it. And I do still buy books and movies sometimes, if they're something really special. But there's just no reason to buy most books if you can just get them at the library. They'll probably always be there if you want to read them again or have a friend read them.

And the best part about the library is, if you see something you think you might like, it doesn't cost you anything to just grab it and try it.

The downside? The more popular books can get kinda worn out, and if you're not careful you can start to wrack up late fees (which are quite reasonable). Fortunately, you can renew your books online (at least in the Ramsey County libraries you can).

2. Get a Netflix subscription

There's really no reason to buy most movies. You watch them once, maybe twice, and then you don't think about them for years. And thanks to Netflix, you don't even have to go to a rental store anymore. What is Blockbuster up to now, $4.00 for a 3-day rental or something? 9 bucks will get you a month of Netflix, where they'll send you one movie at a time, and send them back to you as fast as you can watch them. If you rent or buy one or more movies each month, it's worth the cost.

Also, they let you download some movies onto your computer whenever you want, so you don't even have to wait 2 days for the next movie to come.

I must admit, I miss having a constantly-expanding, ever-current DVD collection. But keeping a collection costs a hell of a lot of money. 9 bucks a month is much more manageable.

3. Play World of Warcraft (or some lesser MMOG)

Sounds crazy, I know. How do you save money by playing a game that costs 15 bucks a month? Well, for starters, you spend less because you're not buying as many OTHER games. A new game will cost you 50-60 bucks these days, and let's say you get an average of 25 hours of gameplay out of them before you beat them. Well, WoW never ends. Even if you get a character to 70, you can still hit the battlegrounds and fight other players, duel it out in the arenas, hit the dungeons, join a raiding guild, start a new character, or just sit around and talk with your guildmates.

Also, Blizzard is constantly creating new content for the game. Major patches feature new quests, activities, dungeons, areas, and so on. They also release an expansion pack ever 1.5 years or so, but those only cost $40.

The downside, of course, is that you wind up missing a lot of good games. But if you're having fun with WoW, who cares? You can't play everything, and the games that REALLY stand out will be $20 in a year.

4. Buy second-hand

Half-Price Books is my store of choice for buying used media. They've got tons of great, cheap books, CDs, DVDs, games, and even some collectibles. If you really want to buy something rather than just use the library as mentioned earlier, just about everything you'll want can be found second-hand. There's no reason to buy anything for retail price, unless it's brand new and you absolutely MUST own it.

5. Buy online

You know what traditional stores are good for? Physically checking something out before you go and buy the item online. You can find EVERYTHING cheaper online. Let me repeat this. You can find EVERYTHING cheaper online.

For example, I and some friends (you know who you are) were looking for a boxed set of 3 large, hardcover books. The store we went to was selling them for about 90 bucks. But I found it online for $41. Brand new. Last week, I decided I needed an HDMI cable. A 15-footer at Best Buy or Target costs about $80-90. I bought one online for nine dollars. NINE. Brand new. Very nice.

Of course, the trick is knowing where to look. Personally, I always check PriceGrabber first. You've gotta be a little bit careful though; always choose a seller with at least 4 stars, and over 500 votes. Read the reviews too.

6. Quit your bad habit

I used to go down to the local gas station at least once a day for a big-ass Mountain Dew. It was only $1 each time, but that's $30/month, or $365/year.

I don't even want to think about what smokers pay.

It can be hard to quit, of course. I love my delicious Mt. Dew, and I like being caffeinated. But you've gotta make sacrifices. And not only are drinks, coffees, and cigarettes expensive, but they're not exactly good for you either (and cigarettes are, of course, basically poison). So you've gotta drop the habit. You'll probably backslide, but don't feel bad; just stop again. Maybe try cutting your intake by half at first, then half again and again. Special occasions are ok.

7. Buy from the fountain, not the bottle.

Ok, I know I just told you to stop drinking soft drinks. But if you must, buy from the fountain. A 20oz bottle of Dew will cost about $1.40 these days. You can usually get a 32oz fountain drink for $1.

8. Only buy fast food at Taco Bell or Wendy's

It's usually cheaper to cook your own food of course, but if you need to eat out, Taco Bell and Wendy's are cheapest. Wendy's has a pretty good dollar menu, and most Taco Bell combo meals will cost less than $5. Mind you, this shit's not very healthy.

9. Carpool

This sounds like a cliché, doesn't it? Well, it works. You can't save money on gas, so you need to find ways to use less of it. It's nice to be able to come and go as you please, and listen to your own music and all that, but if you can work something out, do.

I'll update this when I think of more.

Your orders from Bevans

From: , By Bevans on Sunday, February 17, 2008

World, lemme make this quick.

It's ok for you to pronounce "2008" as "two-thousand and eight" or just "two-thousand eight". You picked up the habit in 2000, when the previous pronunciation convention was temporarily inapplicable.

HOWEVER, by my decree, you must stop in 2010. You may only pronounce it "twenty ten", not "two-thousand ten". And you may only pronounce 2011 as "twenty eleven", and so on.

Yes, it sounds kinda science-fictiony, like we're all living in the future or something. Well, we are. Get used to it.

Bevans, out.

The new Terminator TV show is actually pretty good.

From: , , By Bevans on Sunday, January 27, 2008

I wasn't initially thrilled with the idea of a TV series based on the Terminator movies. I've never seen the first one, the second only on TV, and I rented the third. But it seems to have a pretty interesting (if not exactly original) overarching storyline. Machines taking over, with humanity fighting for survival? It's been done too many times to count.

But the key to success with any popular meme is of course the execution. I can watch The Magnificent Seven and enjoy it just as much as The Seven Samurai because, even though the storyline is the same, they're two very different movies.

So what was I talking about? Oh yea.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles (terrible name, by the way) is actually a pretty entertaining and interesting show. It's not perfect, but very few shows are. (Dexter is.) It would be good even if it weren't the only show on TV with new episodes.