I picked up several Kashi products this weekend at the store. One of them was a snack bar I've never tried before. When I opened it my first thought was that it was a seed cake for birds.

It's not.

it does taste better than that.

But it kind of still looks like a seed cake with chocolate added to it.

Headed over to Rosa Parks Circle for lunch and stumbled across a giant cow and a bunch of people getting free ice cream.

The cow was very popular with small children.

Spent a few hours trying to relax after work by bouncing around different zones in Guild Wars 2.

Chris picked up the Leap Motion today and immediately handed it over to me to play with. I've been less excited about the device than he has. We already have a Kinect and I suspected the Leap may be over-hyped.
It's certainly a cute device. Small and fills up very little desk space. You're supposed to position the thing in front of your keyboard which is exactly where I would not want such a device, but with it's size it's relatively non-intrusive.
Start up takes you through some visualization and calibration of the device....

...and then it's away you go! Into the app store for the Leap Motion and on to do different things. There is a painting program, various little games, and some other random things. 
The Leap Motion has just hit retail, so in terms of applications there isn't a whole lot out there yet. The Touchless for Windows is kind of interesting. It lets you scroll through web pages, flicking your hand up and down. It doesn't work as smoothly as you'd hope, but it's neat none the less.

The first thing I did was launch Guild Wars 2 and see how easily I could control the camera. Much less friendly than the Kinect was playing LOTRO, but then far less setup as well. There is certainly potential to do some basic camera pans and movement. There's even a developer working on mapping various gestures to common keybindings. His program is called Game Wave. It's not out yet, but it's great to see that there's interest in developing such a thing. 

I don't see a whole lot of new scrolling by hand in my future, but I could certainly see playing with some other gesture based commands. I'm not entirely sure what yet, but there may be something in the future that is more friendly on tendinitis that I discover. 

in the mean time I'll have to investigate how to get the Leap Motion to switch seamlessly between multiple monitors...

Maker Faire Detroit is in town this weekend for the annual event at the Henry Ford Museum. We headed out early so we could enjoy the morning at the event.
There were all kinds of interesting creations, from a giant and functional Operation game...
...and a dragon that drives around and breathes smoke.
As is the staple at geeky events, there were Storm Troopers. What you don't usually see is Lego Boba Fett, which was pretty awesome.
In the afternoon we drove up to Flint to spend the rest of the day with Adam and Comfort. We ate delicious crepes at Flint Crepe Company, took a walk in the rain, and enjoyed hanging out together. Huzzah for being on the east side of the state for the day!

With the recent Cuthroat Politics patch, the Guild Wars 2 team introduced a Hunger Games-style death-match mini-game called Southsun Survival. Essentially you all start in front of a roaring bonfire, which is surrounded by supplies while a timer counts down. When the timer hits zero, you rush forth to claim supplies and kill your opponents. Last man standing wins.

I die. A lot.

As an added bonus if you go and hide from everyone you eventually starve to death.

Spent the evening with some Guild Wars 2, questing across the ice.

So with the new sewing machine come free lessons. So I headed over to Gall Sewing for today's appointment.

The whole first lesson was about an hour. They went through all the different type of presser feet that came with the machine, maintenance, and some cool stitch examples. I'm definitely going to have to write down any other questions I have once I start in on a project and ask them. I'm also going to have to sign up for a class.
Since Chris also has an interest in sewing I showed him some of the cooler things you can do with different presser feet. The whole experience has me rethinking how to approach the Kobo case I keep failing at.

The weather has cooled off a bit, making it fantastic grilling weather.

Weakness. Thy name is mint chocolate chip ice cream.

We've had the TV room torn up for several days so that I can mess around with the Kinect. While most of the furniture has been out of the room and in the hallway (making it impossible to use part of it) Chris has been brainstorming easy ways to move the furniture in and out of the room.

Today he constructed a small simple cart to load the ottoman's we have that convert into chairs. They're kind of heavy so he was looking for a way to get them in and out of the room easier.
I also did another round attempting a better Kobo case. Each one I've put together (I've made four so far) I've assembled slightly different in an effort to make it like what I want. Each time I make a mistake and end up cutting off part of the fabric and then the case is too tight or too small. But at least this time I got to play with one of the stitches. And with each one that doesn't work for me Chris actually finds a use for it for one of his gadgets. So they're not a waste.

I'm basically trying to emulate a case that Chris bought off of Etsy awhile ago and I can't seem to figure out how they constructed. I get all of the layers, but actually sewing in the flap and the lining, batting, and outside dont seem to line up right when I do it. I'm sure I'm just not practiced enough and that's why I keep making mistakes. Luckily Chris has this bolt of black fabric that picks up all manner of fuzzies that I have been able to experiment with.

So after the disaster trying to sew kobo cases and having the old machine I own jam constantly and spark, it was decided a new machine was needed.

Today we went out to look at some sewing machine dealers and to see what was out there.

I was kind of hesitant to get a computerized one since I was familiar with mechanical but after seeing a demonstration of the computerized I decided the ease of stitch changing, width adjustment and the automatic buttonhole, computerized was the way to go.

So we ended up with a Janome 3160QDC. I managed to sew little pouch and eventually got the automatic buttonhole working. It's fairly quiet and pretty straight forward to thread. A lot less cumbersome than the old Kenmore I had. Plus, it weighs a lot less. I dont feel like it is going to fall out of it's case and break my foot while carrying it around.

So now I just have to get a lot better at sewing. A lot. But luckily for me the place where I bought the machine offers lessons on the machine for free and there is a new JoAnne Fabric's going up right nearby that will have classes as well.

Soon we will have more carrying cases than we will know what to do with!

I genuinely do like the Kinect. The problem with the Kinect is that is has relatively high space requirements. Essentially the device wants to be used in a room where you can comfortably stand 8ish feet away from it. In the apartment and in the house we don't actually have the room with the TV set up for that kind of extra space to bounce around in front of a couch. So I don't actually use it very often.

This week we moved all of the furniture out of the TV room and into the hallway (making it impassible) to mess around with the Kinect. It was fun to play with it again and the cat just enjoyed hanging out in a room with things that got moved around. He loves new things.

I'm a little surprised at the space requirement with the Kinect because you'd think that Kinect would be really popular with 20-somethings in college. And typically 20-somethings don't have over-sized TV rooms in their apartments or dorms. At least, I wouldn't think so. Maybe I'm wrong.

Anyway, fun to play with it again.

It's been warm enough outside lately that we've been waiting till later and later in the evening to get out and walk around.

It's kind of hot out today on lunch. 90 degrees is a little uncomfortable to sit out in work clothes, even in the shade.

Sometimes I wear toe socks to work, and now I'm going to start throwing these superhero socks into the rotation. Yay for new weird socks to wear!

Today we did what any good heathen does on a Sunday morning in Grand Rapids - we caught a cheap showing of a new movie!

The theater looks pretty empty here, but it filled up a decent amount for Pacific Rim by the time trailers started rolling. If you enjoy big monster movies (were a fan of Neon Genisis Evangelion or it's predecessors), this is a movie for you. While I prefer my movies to have more character development this movie isn't really bad. As long as you go into it with the expectation of what the trailers tell you it will be - giant monsters and robots duking it out.

So earlier this week Guild Wars 2 launched some new content for July - Bazaar of the Four Winds. It feels like there's one part Cantha injected into the whole thing, which is nice since I would love to see more Elona and Cantha content in Guild Wars 2. Elona especially. I loved that section of the Guild Wars world.

Anyway, there is a zephyr flying high in the sky...
 ...crazy heights to scale to collect crystals...
...and new items to score at the end of jumping puzzles. I'm not good at or a fan of jumping puzzles, but I've been having some success and fun with this new content.
In fact, I'm having enough success that I'm willing to scale other things not related to the new content. If this latest patch has done anything for me, it's taught me that I can and will scale ridiculous heights with my norn for no reason other than I feel confident that I can.

So I've been enjoying Guild Wars 2 off an on today and throughout the week. It's an amazing online game and the fact that it has zero monthly subscription makes it gold to me. Not everything added is just a holiday or temporary content, and that's what is really awesome to me. There is regularly added content that continues to shape and change the environment and that's honestly not something you see with online games outside of an expansion you have to pay for (which there will also be for this game, no doubt).

I love my Pebble Watch. It's been an awesome gadget to wear on my wrist. But as can sometimes happen, especially with the first run of a new product, there are issues.
In early May I started experiencing some light artifacting on the screen. At first I ignored it since it seemed to go away when I scrolled through text on the screen. Eventually it started to get so bad I couldn't actually read anything.

There would be days where the device would work perfectly fine, and then others where it would not, and the issue was getting gradually worse.

So I submitted a ticket late May through the Pebble Watch website, went through the steps to reboot the device in the hopes that it would clear it, and after a few emails back and forth it was determined that it was an issue with the hardware so Pebble RMA'd it.
They sent me a shipping label and I sent my Pebble back in late June. I received a shipping notice this week that a new Pebble Watch was on it's way and today it arrived.

The whole RMA process from start to finish with Pebble took about seven weeks. For a small company still shipping out Kickstarter Pebbles and just recently launching with Best Buy as a retail partner, I didn't feel that the turn around time was unreasonably long.

I'm excited to have a Pebble Watch back on my wrist! Now to just replace the watch band Chris stole for his watch...

The grass is getting tall along the path at Palmer Park.

Hooray for small outside seating in wonderful weather.

Today is the last day of our long weekend. I made some mango bread (which is tasty!) in the morning and in the afternoon we headed out to Holland to walk through one of the larger parks in the area.

On a map, it looks large and nature-like. But when we got there it was a pretty well manicured park with minimal trees and no dirt paths. But we walked it anyway.
Helder Park has a large field with lots of wildflowers...
 ..and insects buzzing around.

It was quiet and empty, which is odd for a summer day but maybe the heat is keeping most people indoors.
We decided to head in to Holland and check out some things and stumbled across a mall that had about 80% vacancy, and this cute Dutch Village. We didn't go in but we did snag some overpriced ice cream and fudge. It was like being on vacation without going to far!

I'm sad that our long weekend is nearly over, but I am looking forward to just a short 3-day work week and then another weekend!

Last night I was really annoyed about the Kobo case. I even dreamt about the stupid thing.

So the first thing I did when I got up this morning was go downstairs and cut more fabric.

Then I wrestled with the machine for a bit, screaming at it for constantly jamming. At one point I had to manually wind a bobbin because the bobbin winder on the machine I have is broken, apparently.
 Eventually the case was complete. And noticably larger than the last one. Since the first go I measured only 1/2" around the Kobo, this time I gave myself a full inch. I'd accidentally stitched in too far on the last one and the case was too snug.
 This time around the Kobo fit into the case easily.
Actually...a little too easily. It's pretty loose inside, as you can see.

Since I still wasn't confident about this case, I didn't bother to sew in a flap or anything else, so as it stands now the case doesn't close. It will work for my purposes but eventually I'll have to try another again. That's if I can get the machine I have to stop jamming. And find a way to wind bobbins. Maybe if I use a drill to spin it....

What I probably need is a newer machine. One that doesnt have a rotting belt and doesn't spark every time you push the peddle.

With the long weekend I thought I'd try an tackle a new sewing project. The last one was somewhat disastrous, but you never get better if you don't try, practice, right?

Making a Kobo case seemed like a relatively small project to tackle. Something I could do without wanting to scream.

Leki was very helpful when measuring everything out.
I cut the fabric wrong a few times but finally, everything was right. In the future I will have to remember that it is very important to scratch out the wrong measurements - not just flip over the paper, which is of course easily flipped back over.
I spent several hours trying to decide how to sew everything right. There was a lot of stitch ripping and screaming. On top of that, the ancient sewing machine I'm using jammed more than I feel is normal. I'm not sure if I threaded it wrong (I even watched internet videos after it kept jamming and everything looked right) or if this sewing machine from the 70s is on it's last leg.

I did have to hand sew the top since the machine eventually just wouldn't do more than a stitch without jamming. Again, I'm not entirely sure if it's me and my frustration or the machine. I'm unfamiliar enough with sewing machines that I really can't tell. All I know is that the motor spun and the belt didn't.
Eventually the pouch was done. And man, is it snug.

Without batting, the Kobo fits perfectly. Of course, once you add batting it's kind of difficult to get the thing in there. For now, if I have to take the Kobo anywhere, I will be able to and feel ok about it. But I probably wont want to actually take it out of the case since that means wrestling to get it back in.

So...I guess I'm going to have to try to sew another one.

Spent a chunk of the afternoon hanging out on the deck, enjoying the weather and a good book.

It's been awhile since I've been out to Siedman Park. Living so close to other parks, I find myself visiting them more often those on the east side of US-131. But with the day off and clear skies ahead, we decided to take one of the nature paths there and enjoy the afternoon outdoors.
There were a lot of mosquitoes out and about, ready to suck our blood, but we were still able to enjoy the greenery and quiet.
Plus it was an excuse to bust out my digital SLR, which it's been awhile since I've used. It does take better photos but man, do smart phones take pretty decent pictures these days.

The top and bottom are from the digital SLR and middle is from my smart phone. It's easier to play with color balancing on the SLR, and choose what to focus on, but the ability to snap a photo and instantly share makes it easy to fall back on the phone.

But I'm glad we went and with the next several days off of work, I look forward to carrying it around to different parks around Grand Rapids.