It's Easter Sunday, so Chris and I headed over to the east side of the state to enjoy the holiday with family. The first stop was at my parent's house.
We brought the Tardis and Dalek cookies, but neither Jeff nor Emily have seen any Doctor Who, so Chris pulled up a video on youtube to try and explain it.
We then headed over to Chris's mom's house for dessert. We got to hang out and spend some time with his brother Scot as well, which is always fun.

We came home from both houses with way too much candy and treats. We are going to be set for awhile. I'm going to set it right next to some of the Christmas candy we have.

By the way, anyone need any candy canes?

The Grand Rapids Toy & Comic Show is happening again today. It looks like it happens several times a year. The last time we went to it was at the beginning of December 2012.

Anyway, this time around there were fewer handcrafted tables and more straight toys and comics. But I still managed to find something. Namely, these two adorable felt Doctor Who felt pins. They're made by Etsy Seller Allonsy Alonso. She had quite a nice set up of various Who-themed items, all of them pretty freaking adorable.
We hit the show first thing in the morning and weren't there for very long, so that meant we could decorating the Doctor Who cookies I made earlier in the week. I made about four dozen sugar cookies, give or take, so we decided to try a few different things. Chris suggested dipping some in chocolate, which was a pretty good idea. And tasty.
Next I made a massive batch of frosting for the non-chocolate cookies. We just used white and Tardis blue.
Let me just say that I'm terrible at this type of stuff. If something needs to be pretty, neat, tidy, or otherwise bakery-shop-like in its appearance, I just don't do well. I tried to make a Green Lantern Fondant cake once and it was a disaster. I've tried a few different approaches with frosting a cake and I just end up tearing into the thing. I lose patience very quickly, and that's part of the problem. It's also probably why some of these cookies came out oddly shaped. Chris, on the other hand, has a lot of patience. So I let him start in attempting to decorate the Dalek cookies.
After trying to decorate a few Daleks and Tardis cookies with the piping bag, we decided to give up and just frosting the back of them like we did with the chocolate cookies. That way you could still see the detail from the cookie cutter on the front and also enjoy tasty frosting.

Of course, we also have about another third of non-chocolate, non-frosting cookies for anyone who likes just plain sugar cookies.

I certainly didn't set out to make today so Whovian, but since there's a new Doctor Who tonight, I suppose that's as good a way as any to spend today.

Out of work early on a Friday means hanging out downtown, enjoying the sunshine!

 Tonight is a night of colorful cookie baking!
I'm using special, fun cookie cutters this time around.
And making them as festive as I can for Sunday's get together!

It's been several months since I've really logged in and played a lot of Guild Wars 2. Mostly it's been due to pain in my wrist and arms, and it's also just been time spent on other things.

Anyway, Guild Wars 2 recently revamped some of their World vs World combat so I logged in to check things out. I forgot how much I enjoy this game.

More gray skies. Bleh.

Chris has a lot of action figures. He also still actively collects them so when something obscure or new shows up, he usually snags it then documents it's arrival with the appropriate comic character companions.
This time around I lucked out and ended up with an adorable Lockheed (an alien dragon). Chris already had a more reasonably sized Lockheed to go with his Kitty Pryde, so he gave me the lager Lockheed figure.

Since I love virtually all things dragons (I mean, I even have dragon tattoos!) I happily took it. The figure does remind me a bit of Ridley from Metroid, but that's ok. I love all things dragon (or dragon-like).

The weather is slowly warming up. Slowly.

Awhile back I purchased the NFC/RFID shield from adafruit. I was pretty excited when it arrived (and I still am) but I just haven't been able to come up with a project.

Today I decided to sit down and just play with it. I watched a few of their video tutorials and started playing with it.
In my confusion, I programmed the card as an NDEF card. This means that my new phone can read it since it supports NFC. That's exciting! But it also means that whatever I wrote to it is on the card for good. Arduino support is limited and that means no loading different information on the card. Since I had not changed any of the default settings in the program, I now had a card that loaded anytime something read it. Oops.
Luckily I found a forum post that suggested downloading an Android application called NXP TagWriter, which allows reading and writing of NDEF items. Since I was no longer able to write to the card using the arduino NFC/RFID shield, I decided to give it a go.
The application gives you a list of different formats that are supported. The card I have is MiFare card, so I was good to go.
I decided to change the card from the default I'd set with the arduino to Chris's blog. As you can see above, success!

I'll have to play around and find out what exactly I want the card to do. It can be programmed to send a contact card, phone numbers, bluetooth information, URLs, launch an application and more.

I also ordered a few more MiFare cards from adafruit so I can continue to play with the arduino shield and this time I wont accidentally program the card as an NDEF.

I've wanted Russo's pizza for awhile, so we decided to get one for dinner tonight. So delicious, so unhealthy. I ate three pieces and then passed out from a pizza coma.

Another restaurant is going up downtown.

On the one hand, I really do like Bagger Dave's restaurant. On the other hand, downtown is already a giant food court. It's mostly restaurants, a few hotels, almost no shopping. I guess the only reason someone would come downtown is for an event at a venue and then go out to eat?

If they want to make downtown more attractive and have people stay longer, I'd think they'd want to include more than two or three stores, mostly contained to a single street.

I really prefer a phone with a physical keyboard. I do a lot of tweeting, texting, and email from my phone and I'm no fan of the software keyboard. Unfortunately phones with physical keyboards are getting more and more difficult to find. Sure, there are keyboard cases like this one available for various phones, but they never work as well as a physical keyboard attached to the phone.

I've been watching the horizon for several months, hoping for a new HTC keyboard phone or something appealing. There hasn't been too much. And, by the looks of things, there wont be. So I decided to settle on the Photon Q LTE that came out last August. It's a Motorola phone, which makes me less than thrilled, but it has a keyboard and a development community behind it.

Anyway, the device arrived today. It's much larger than my Evo Shift - which is another thing I'm not thrilled about. You can't buy a smaller phone these days - at least not a smartphone.

The first thing I did (aside from ensuring the device actually worked - since I'd purchased it off of eBay) was unlock the bootloader and root the phone. It was a pretty painless process and that meant I could delete some bloatware that all carrier phones seem to ship with.

I was running Android Jellybean on my Evo Shift and the Photon Q runs Ice Cream Sandwich, so it's a step back, but not by much. And since I was running a customized version of Jellybean, my Evo Shift was a little sluggish anyway.

The rest of the setup was pretty painless. Having contacts backed up through Google makes it easy to switch from device to device. For now I'm happy to have a device that is more responsive and shouldn't have any issues making phone calls (my Evo Shift was having intermittent speaker issues).

Hopefully today is the last day to shovel for the season. Hopefully.

No more sunshine and it's started snowing again. Oh well.

Chris is excited about the sunshine.

Today we headed over to the east side of the state to spend an awesome day with our good friends Adam and Comfort. I'm sure I've mentioned before that they're super talented artists who make their own comic. Plus they are all kinds of fun to hang out with.

When we first arrived, we watched the finale of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice shows. Of the group, I'm the least familiar with comics, and even I was sad to see these shows end. Young Justice was as awesome as The Justice League that I watched some of back in the day. And for while I'm no fan of Hal Jordan, I did like all of the supporting characters in the Green Lantern show.

They took us out to eat at a very tasty Indian food restaurant. We ordered a gazillion vegetarian dishes and I was able to sample all kinds of tastiness. I really do like Indian food and I should invest more time trying to make dishes at home. Of course, Chris is not a fan so that means lots of leftovers for me (which I'm ok with)!
After dinner we took a post-meal stroll around their neighborhood. Chris and I often forget to take walks or just get out of the house sometime, so it's always great to see them and get out and about. We really should get in the habit of going out after every meal. I often walk around downtown at lunch but sometimes it's easy to forget to do it on the weekends.

Anyway, after our walk we settled in with a horrible, horrible movie and RiffTrax. I didn't watch a ton of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) as a kid but when I did watch it, it was always great. So it's awesome to know the guys who did commentary on bad movies are still making a go of it - this time with modern bad movies.
We also came back with a bunch of honey. Adam's parents took up beekeeping a few years back so anytime we go and visit I try to make sure we get some more Withers Mountain honey. I use a fair amount of it when making granola and sometimes as a sugar substitute in recipes. Plus it just tastes good.

They're now selling creamed honey, so we picked up two different flavored jars. They're basically flavored, spreadable jars of honey for things like toast, or what not.And they make different flavors of lip balm! So Adam's mom gave me a few different flavors to try.

We had a fantastic day and I'm looking forward to spending more time with them around the C2E2 and Jafax conventions this year.

In honor of St. Patrick's day this Sunday, a co-worker's wife made these adorable (and tasty) cupcakes. There is even have a rainbow underneath all that frosting and paper. She's super talented.

Chris and I went out to pick up a new watch band for the Pebble watch. The one it came with is just fine, but I wanted something a little more comfortable. We ended up with a basic leather strap. 

Chris was kind enough to swap the bands for me.

We have sunshine!

I feel better today, but not so well that I could stand up to phone calls and people coming by my desk all day, so I opted to work from home. Working from home has a lot of benefits - namely few interruptions means it's easy to get caught up. Which is precisely what I was able to do. It's actually been a fabulous experience. I don't know that I'd want to work from home every day, but if I had the option to do it a few times a week I'd love it.

My only real gripe is that I couldn't use synergy to use my existing keyboard and mouse setup with my work laptop. I don't have a docking station and I was trying to avoid unplugging things from my desktop and plugging them into my laptop. Unfortunately I have to use VPN to access things at work and it isn't tunneled, which means synergy doesn't work. Since I can't handle not typing on a split keyboard for an extended period of time, I did have to dismantle my work area at home a little.

The great part is that the cat pretty much stayed out of my hair all day. I don't know if it's because I was in a different room, or more alert today, or what. But he spent the entire day curled up sleeping a the far end of the room and out of my way.

I'm still feeling sick. In fact, I feel worse today than I did yesterday. So I took the day off of work and laid on the couch all afternoon with the cat. He spent a big chunk of the day stealing my blanket, laying on me, and demanding to be fed every few hours.

In all, he was a terror, despite what he looks like here.

Ugh...still feeling sick. I'm made camp on the couch. Book, DS, blanket, tissues, and a companion kitty.

It's been kind of a crappy day. I don't feel the greatest and I'm certainly on the downside of getting sick, not upside.

But on a positive note being sick and not going anywhere means time to play video games. I finished up one DS game and moved onto a new 3DS game. Hooray! This one requires more button mashing than the last one so I'm definitely going to to be able to play this one as much. But so far it's a lot of fun.

Today is my first full day with the Pebble Watch.The watch has an e-paper display, which is similar to the e-ink used in Kindle devices (not the Kindle Fire). That means it's easy to read in the sunlight.
The Pebble is a smartwatch that communicates via bluetooth to various devices, like a cell phone. So that means emails, phone calls, music tracks, texts, and all sorts of other information can be sent from the phone to the watch for display. And as you can see, it does still function as a watch.

Each time a notification comes through from the phone to the watch, the watch will vibrate to let you know. Then after a few minutes the notification will auto-dismiss (if it isn't dismissed before) and go back to the watch face. The watch even has a backlight so it can be used in the dark.

The watch is sort of big on my small arm, which I knew was going to happen. But it isn't heavy and aside from getting used to wearing a watch again it's quite comfortable.
You can choose any number of pre-loaded watch faces to display the time. Or you can download new ones from the Pebble app on your smart phone.

I've been playing around with a few different applications to pass information from my android phone to the watch. So far the Pebble app and Pebble Notifier seem to do the trick for everything. It's pretty awesome to get email and twitter notifications on your wrist.
The only odd thing I've noticed is that if I use the Audible app to control music, the Pebble doesn't know the name of the track. I think this is more of an issue with the Audible app than the Pebble, since the watch seems to read from other applications just fine. Also, since this is an audiobook we're talking about, it's not like I'm going to be skipping around to different tracks. It doesn't really bother me, but I did think it was amusing.

All in all I've been pretty impressed with the device. I'm really glad I backed the kickstarter campaign last year.

Finally! The Pebble Watch has arrived!

Over the weekend I managed to snag the latest Fire Emblem game. It's been hard to find at a lot of the stores around here so I figured I better pick it up while it's in stock.

Of course, I promised myself that I wouldn't play it until after I finish the Shadow Dragon game I've been playing. I'm close to the end, but not quite there.

It's been awhile since I've been able to sit and play a game, so I'm enjoying that these turn based strategy games work so well (mostly because of the touch screen and stylus, which means less button mashing and strain on my wrists). I do eventually want to circle back to some Wii and Xbox games, but it might be awhile before I can do that. But for now I'm enjoying these little gems.

We put up a curtain over the weekend across the spare bedroom upstairs. This allows the cat to come and go (and use his cat tower) but also gives the room some privacy if needed.

The cat has spent the last several days hiding behind the curtain striking against anyone foolish enough to walk buy. The great part is that he's convinced you can't see his giant orange butt sticking out from behind the curtain simply because his face is behind it.

I've been spending a lot more time up in the living room poking at my DS with a stylus (the only comfortable way for me to play a video game for awhile because of my wrists) or reading a book. But Chris has been spending more time in the office playing with his new tablet-monitor (it's a cheaper version of a Wacom Cintiq). So that means not quite as much hanging out together and talking about our day.

So this evening Chris pulled an old chair down from the spare bedroom and popped it into the corner of an office so I can sit and chat with him while he sketches on the computer.

And the cat really enjoys it too. He loves it when anything is moved.

Before buying any replacement parts online, I wanted to see if I could repair the shoulder button issue myself by just cleaning the area. So this afternoon I popped open the case and cleaned everything up.

The buttons work slightly better, but not perfect. So I'll snag some cheap replacements online and see how that works.

My parents drove in from out of town to visit for the day. This time they brought their dog Dayzee along for a trip. We ate some lunch, walked around the park, and hung out talking politics and news.
We had a good time, and as you can see the dog and the cat got along about as well as can be expected. Leki only once cornered the dog, so I consider that a mild success. And Dayzee took a little less attitude from the cat.

Good practice for when we do eventually get a dog.

I had doctors appointment with the hand/wrist specialist I went to last year for some physical therapy. Since my forearms and elbows have been bothering me I wanted to get everything checked out. I walked away with various papers on treatments and muscle diagrams. Interesting stuff.