legomac gets an upgrade

Today I’m re-launching as a “real” website at legomac.net! It’s hosted on Squarespace 6, so that means I’ll also be leaving WordPress behind. Feel free to peruse the new site and offer any suggestions, and I hope you come with as I transition over to a new platform. Since Squarespace 6 is very new, there are still a few bugs to work out; only once everything is working perfectly will I start redirecting to the new site and retire this one. So fear not, all the archived posts are still available at the new site, and I’ll be keeping up with both sites over the next few weeks until everything’s settled.


Year One – Looking Forward

Today marks one year since I posted the first little snippet here. At the time, I was looking for a hobby and curious to see what writing a blog was like. Turns out it was pretty rewarding, and I had a great time writing in my spare time. I didn’t gain much of an audience right away, though I attribute that more to my inconsistent schedule than anything else. I’m sure the site’s horrible SEO didn’t help any, but that’s not why I chose the name or the topic. At any rate, it looks like I’ve met my expectations for year one. Here’s what I’m planning for the next one:

Read less, write more. This might seem a bit counterintuitive since I cover so much news, but the truth is I spend far too much time buried in Reeder. It’s easy to get pushed over the edge by the internet’s constant news stream, and I’m too close for my liking. I plan to pare down my RSS subscriptions substantially, only keeping the very best sources. The upshot is that I’ll have much more time to actually write my own stuff. My current pace is about one post per day, which I’d love to see at least triple. There’s no better way to grow the site than to add content.

Grow the readership. This is pretty much the point of having a website. I don’t ever expect to earn money from legomac, and I’m quite content to post what interests me in my spare time. But it’s hardly worth it if no one ever reads. A regular writing schedule should help, as will creating a real website.

Mature the site. It’s time to grow up and get my own domain. I don’t know squat about web hosting, but I’m sure I can figure it out with a little effort. Not only do I need to move on from legomac.wordpress.org, but the site needs a redesign. Clean Home is a great theme, but it’s not perfect. I’d like to get rid of the ugly tags and author info under the title, and I need to lose the borders around pictures. There are also a few things I’d like to add, like category-specific RSS feeds. I’m sure some tech readers out there couldn’t care less about LEGO, and vice-versa. Since I can’t do that myself, it probably means hiring a professional web designer. This is probably the most important step, but it’ll have to wait until I have some extra money to throw at it.

Make connections. Both the AFOL and Mac communities are incredibly close-knit and friendly, and I’d like to forge some relationships there. That means reaching out more on Twitter and Flickr, attending conferences like Brickworld, and reaching out to people I read via email.

In the meantime, I’ll plan in keeping up with the site and writing about what interests me. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to another fun year ahead.


Year One – Looking Back

Legomac is approaching its first anniversary, so I thought I’d post some reflections about the year. After a couple years of avidly following tech news and interesting LEGO creations, I resolved last January to start a website and stick with it. I think I’ve accomplished that goal, although I haven’t been terribly consistent with my posting schedule. Legomac continues to be a hobby back burner of my “real life.” I guess it’s sort of the Apple TV of my daily routine. All in all, I’m satisfied with how the site has evolved in its first year and how my writing has changed in that time.

I’ve even managed to compose a few pieces that I’m fairly proud of. If you’re looking for an introduction to the site, here’s a list of my favorites this year:

LEGO:
Most of my LEGO posts were photos of exceptional MOCs from around the web. These usually didn’t require too much commentary, so I’ve highlighted the posts in which I was able to write to my heart’s content:

  • Friends or Failures – I just got this one posted before the one year mark. I take on the critics of LEGO Friends with a tour through the murky history of LEGO’s more feminine toys.
  • Red and Yellow – Two MOCs I made on LDD based on the original generation Pokémon games. 3-D representations of the main character sprites.
  • Exocycle – My favorite MOC of the year, made to test out some new wheels.
  • Steve Jobs looking at things – A new set on Flickr I’ve started in imitation of Kim Jong-Il’s famous site.

Apple:
It was a pretty big year for Apple, and I had trouble narrowing this list down to only my favorite posts. Hopefully next year will be just as momentous, but less tragic.

Reviews:
I did two rather long reviews of iOS games, as well as a Shawn Blanc-style review of my Magic Mouse.

Miscellaneous:
Some things I wrote about didn’t fit into any particular categories but still deserve to be mentioned.


Yellow

 

I built this as a sequel to my Red sculpture for Pokémon Profile Picture Month on Facebook. I chose the in-game Pikachu sprite from Pokémon Yellow, rendered in 3-D while preserving its dimensions and pattern. For anyone who has not played the first-generation Pokémon Gameboy games, Yellow was the “special edition” game, in which Pikachu followed you around outside of battle. Though the primitive Gameboy graphics didn’t do his looks any favors, the little guy spent countless hours dutifully trailing your character through caves and forests. There were even a few tricks hidden in the game, so Pikachu would dance on a ledge or go surfing at the beach if you taught him how.

Yellow_game

I opted for a more accurate scale on this build, making each pixel into a perfect cube. To do this in studs-up LEGO, I used a hybrid plate and brick structure, with a cube 2 studs wide and 5 plates tall representing each pixel. With Red, I used pixels only 1 stud wide, alternating between a 3 plate layer and a 2 plate layer to balance out the non-cubic structure. The added height and width of Yellow allowed me to get a more exact final product, though the complex plate structure was harder to build in LDD.

Yellow_sprite_compare

As with Red, the fundamental puzzle was the disparity between the original sprite’s front and side views. The eyes, cheek patches, and stripes are placed differently in each perspective, so reconciling them meant building different patterns on each side. The separate faces make the model look a little strange, but it’s a necessary sacrifice to maintain accuracy. I think the emulator I used for the sprite screenshots incorrectly compressed Pikachu’s upper stripe, since I’ve noticed that they should both the same height. It’s too late to change now without substantial reworking, so I’m leaving my MOC the way it is. Overall I’m happy with the way it turned out, although I’ll probably go back and build a mini version someday to match up with Red.

Yellow_angle_back_small

Just in case I decide to physically construct the model someday, Yellow measures 22×62 studs and contains 1165 pieces. Take a look at more pictures on my Flickr account, and if you’re particularly interested in how I made it, download the .lxf file here. You’ll need the LEGO Digital Designer software to view it.