October 16, 2012

Reaching Picasa's Photo Storage Limit

I've finally reached Picasa's photo storage limit. I knew the day would come because the amount of content I have on Multiply far and away exceeds Picasa's basic limit of 1 gig, but I thought I'd bump up against the limit and see what they say so I could tell everyone moving their stuff to Google products about it. Here's the message I just received as I was transferring an album of photos from Multiply to PIcasa (Google's photo product):

Whoops! You're out of space. You are currently using 100% of your 1 GB quota for photos. Upgrade storage

Photos are stored in your Picasa Web Albums account and are included in your 1 GB free quota for photos. Additional storage you purchase is shared between several Google products and is in addition to your free quota. Learn more

I had already decided that I would upgrade once I hit the limit. I checked out prices previously and they're comparable to what I've already been paying here in Multiplyland. Do I clicked on the "Upgrade storage" link. The first thing that greeted me was a review of the upgrade options. I had forgotten that Picasa's storage limit is lower than the other products'. Here's the Free plan:


5 GB of Drive (0% used)
10 GB of Gmail (21% used)
1 GB of Picasa (99% used)

So, essentially, because I'd reached 100% (or nearly) in one of those areas, I have to upgrade to add more data to that area. I assume I could keep adding in the other areas without upgrading. But I want to transfer my photos, so I look through the rest of the options.

25 GB

$2.49 / Month

25 GB for Drive and Picasa

Bonus: Your Gmail storage will be upgraded to  25 GB.

There's also a 100 gig option for $5/month. But I don't think I'll need that much space. So I opt for the 25 gig option. It looks like you can't pay on a yearly basis. So I'll be paying $2.49 a month until I cancel. Here's the note on the site: "You will be automatically charged $2.49 USD every month starting October 16, 2012 until you cancel your subscription."

Checkout is done through Google Wallet, which is yet another Google product. I'd signed up for it earlier (in order to buy some Lego's for the Old Firehouse that I was making) so it defaulted directly to that. I don't know if you'd be given other options if you haven't already added this service. Feel free to add that info to the comments if you find out the answer on that one. 

Now that I've purchased my storage, it shows me what my current plan is, it shows the next plan up, which I'd seen before, which is 100 gig. And then it shows a plan I hadn't seen before (for 200 gig) and it shows one more option which apparently goes up into several Terabytes. Yowza! 

I was able to start uploading photos to my Picasa storage again right away. There was no lag time. I haven't received an email update on my purchase yet, though. Hmmm, I even refreshed a couple of times and checked my spam folder. So all in all I'd say that the process was pretty painless, pretty cheap, but I'm a little dismayed that an alert email wasn't sent right away to confirm my purchase (even though I know it went through since I have photos uploading right now.) I also don't know what happens if I don't pay up some month. Do I lose all my content? Some? How do they decide what would stay and what I'd lose? I'll be on the alert for answers to these questions. 

October 14, 2012

Saint Joseph's Church in Fort Collins

This is the building I'm hoping to do in Lego next.

This album is also a test to see if it's possible to still upload photos to Multiply.

October 13, 2012

Toxic Itch - Walking It Out

I've had seasonal allergies since college. My nose gets runny, my eyes and nose itch, and I tend to sneeze a lot in the mornings. It's miserable, but at least my allergies knew their place and didn't cross those symptom boundaries... until last year. Last year was the beginning of the all over, take me out of the game, body itch.

It often started with my scalp. Late last summer I worried several times that I'd gotten head lice. You wouldn't believe how much mayonnaise I smeared all over my head. (Mayonnaise is a non-toxic way to soffocate lice as well as many of their eggs. You coat your head with it, wrap your hair with a towel/rag/something, and sleep in it. When you wash it out in the morning, you'll wash the lice and their eggs out as well.) But after having a couple different people look through my scalp and not find anything, and given that the itching seemed to be fairly occasional and not limited to my neck and behind my ears (which is where lice like to hang out) I finally decided something else was going on. Besides, lice didn't explain the occasional hand itching or even the all over body itching that sometimes happened.

My hands were the other frequent victims of intense itching. I never saw welts or bumps, but they'd itch like they were very, very dry. They didn't look particularly dry, though. And putting lotion on them didn't seem to make any difference in terms of whether or not they itched.

And then there was the all over body itch. Sometimes when I was gardening or doing housework, I'd start to itch all over so badly that I'd have to run cold water over my hands to get them to feel better and then I'd lie down until the itching all over the rest of my body stopped. I tried benadryl, zyrtec and some generic allergy medicines but nothing seemed to help.

That's when I finally decided to see a doctor about it. She just shrugged and said, "Well, you'll need to stay out of the wind." So I tried, but noticed that wind or no, the itching continued. Eventually I started to see a pattern to when the itching occurred. If I did anything that caused me to sweat a bit, I'd itch. If I was embarrassed or surprised and I flushed, I itched. I started to wonder if there were toxins in my system and they were coming out when I sweated. Some time in February I came across an article online that said that muscles can store toxins unless they're flushed out through exercise. I started to wonder if that was my problem. When the itching began, I stopped doing anything that would bring it on, meaning that I stopped doing yard work, I stopped gardening, I cleaned the house even less frequently than I already was. I did whatever it took to not itch and that mostly meant not moving around too much. Even running errands would sometimes set it off - just from carrying bags from the store to the car and loading it up. I decided that had to change.

I decided that I'd just have to deal with the itch. I started walking the dog once in awhile, and by March I was walking her daily, in the hope that I could get rid of the itchiness. In the beginning I'd force myself to go at least 5 minutes past the point of utter itchination. Since I was walking in pretty cold weather, it helped a lot that I could take off my hat, mittens or jacket since the cool air seemed to help stop the itching while still allowing my body to remove the toxins. The more often I walked, the longer I was able to walk each time before being hit with the itchies. By mid-April or early May, the toxins must have been out of my system because I stopped itching for several months. But I knew that I couldn't stop walking or the toxins would just build up again.

I've been walking (nearly) every day now since last March. I've had two incidents (one at the end of September and one in early October) where I started to itch again. It was only my hands one time and my head another time, so it still wasn't nearly as bad as last year. It's an easy and cheap solution to a problem that was threatening to change my life. Now that it's the fall again and I'm mostly itch free during the time of year when it was the absolute worst last time, I decided that I need to write about my experience and hope that my story will help others that are experiencing unexplained, hiveless itching.

October 7, 2012

Photos of Brickcon 2012 - Saturday

Here's a slideshow of the photos I took yesterday.

October 6, 2012

Brickcon 2012 photos from Friday

These are the photos that I took yesterday of the exhibit hall and one of the competitions.

Scale: Actual, Lego Sized, and Wee Itty Bitty

One of the hardest parts of working on my MOC (My Own Creation) was shifting my brain to think at a Lego scale. I kept thinking of a (2 x 4 Lego) brick as comparable to a(n actual) brick. But if I had built at that scale, there's no way I could have fit my model into my carry-on luggage yesterday. I can't even count the number of times I did a Homer (hit myself on the head and cried, "Doh!") when I realized I was misthinking scale Yet Again. A 1x1 Lego brick (that means there's only one stud on top), is approximately one foot across in scale and just over one foot tall.

I finally managed to wrap my brain about the difference in size and then I had a new shift in thinking that I had to cram into my brain. If I were recreating the Old Firehouse in popsicle sticks or paper maché or some other medium, I might be able to replicate some of the intricate details. But with Lego bricks, which aren't maleable or customizable beyond a certain point, my mantra really has to be to *approximate* the original building, giving a nod to the reality of the architecture. 

Then a guy named Steve posted a note in the Brickon Facebook group that they were putting together a micro-Brickcon in honor of Brickcon's 10th anniversary. That's when I decided that I should do a micro version of my Old Firehouse. Although standards seem to vary on micro builds, I suppose you could say the scale is something along the lines of every 20 ft x 20 ft area in real life is equivalent to a postage stamp's size in Lego bricks. It's a major shrinkage. It was much easier making a micro version of the Old Firehouse than the larger version, but that's in large part because there's simply no way to include much detail. That's when I decided that a regular Lego model of an actual building is essentially a nod to the original. You can't get all the detail, but you find a way to represent as much as possible. When you shrink something down to a micro size, that's when you're not just giving a nod to the original building, but you're giving a nod to the idea of a nod. The micro building is a vague, but recognizable representation of the original. 

Here's a photo of me in front of the Old Firehouse in Fort Collins. In my left hand is my Lego model of the building. In my right hand is the micro version of the same building. (Thank you, Penny, for taking the photo.) 

Here's a closeup of the micro version sitting behind the regular Lego scale version. I was able to keep basics such as color in the general areas where the color would go, and windows in the general area where windows would go. But details such as number of windows, arches over windows or doors, some bricks sticking out further than others, etc. is all lost to scaling. 

I did manage to fit my MOCs into a carry on suitcase. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do it. I took the base plates off and bagged the parts that had been attached (bookshelves, minifigs, tables and counters). I took the roof pieces off as well as the tower. And then I turned the MOC on it's side (so the front of the building was facing down into the suitcase - which it's not doing here in this photo just yet). I stuffed clothes and food inside and around the edges. 

When I arrived in Seattle for Brickcon, I was pleased to see that most of the building was still holding its shape. I spent and hour this morning, however, picking up chunks of pieces that had fallen off and thinking, "Now where in the world does THIS go?" You would think that pieces would fall off in ___ shape and you'd think there'd be a _____ shaped gap left in the model. You'd then put the pieces in place a viola! your MOC is good as new. But I swear some pieces rearranged themselves or perhaps even reproduced themselves because there were some pieces that I never did figure out how to put back in and other pieces that I know I didn't have in certain places before. But the finished product looks basically the same so I'm rolling with it. 

I printed photos of the Old Firehouse so that people could compare the MOC to the original. 

This is my MOC on display in the architecture section of the Exhibition. It's looks rather barren right now. The table is ginormous but there's not currently enough models to fill it up. Hopefully someone has a few more tucked away in their back pocket to help round out the table a bit. The Exhibition starts tomorrow morning and will continue through till Sunday afternoon - October 6-7.