Amazon Fire vs Apple TV 2016 Edition

An Honest Comparison of Amazon Fire TV Box vs Apple TV 4th Gen

Backstory:

I recently purchased both the Amazon Fire TV Box and the 4th Gen Apple TV in my effort to “cut the cord”.  My cable bill with Xfinity is out of control and I am quite fed up with paying $230 bucks a month for their triple play bundle.  Considering the atrocious amount that they are charging me, I am not even using the damn phone anymore because all I am getting are telemarketers.  The only reason I am keeping it is because it’s a cool number, and it does give me free international calling to China. Oh, the vanity. But before I go into details of this comparison, I just want to declare that I am not a super technical person, nor is this comparison scientifically accurate or well-researched in any way. I am your everyday, lazy but semi-informed user. I know what an HDMI cord look like and where to plug it into devices, but if you ask me to explain to you what’s the difference hyperthreading and logical cores, well, then you’re SOL.

But if you’re asking if getting both the Amazon and Apple boxes helped my transition – the answer is, no. Not yet anyway, because I still have my cable.  I haven’t cut the cord entirely because I realize I can’t rely just on Netflix.  For $8, Netflix is king.  It beats Hulu’s $12 premium ad- free cost per month of TV-centric programming, and it is double of Amazon’s streaming vault (which comes in at about $99 a year).  Sling TV is the only thing I am also considering next because it has some of the basic channels I actually watch TV for, and that’s $20 bucks a month. Amazon Prime Video costs but one of the reasons why I am still keeping cable is because I still can’t quite figure out the perfect formula for coping with serial endurance cable television viewing dependencies.  Maybe I just need to pick a few content provider and stick with it.

My View Habits:

My TV viewing habits are all over the place. Sometimes I go on for weeks without turning the TV on, and there are days where I just lay in front of the TV like a vegetable for 5 hours straight watching the Secret History of ____.

Where to Buy

Amazon Fire Box – buy it directly from Amazon, it’s $100 shipped not including taxes.

Apple TV – Apple.com. If it’s back in stock, RadioShack (they’re still around!?)
Believe it or not – they are, and for the longest time, their Black Friday deal on the 32GB model was only $120 shipped. Now I think it jumped back up to about $150 which is same as everywhere else.

First Impressions

Both are impressive with their packaging. It’s how oddly well done the Amazon charger was – it was very sleek. The Amazon Fire TV box, however, is nice and black, but also very sharp corners so just be careful with that. In terms of Apple TV, it’s a lot thicker than the Amazon TV box. Simple elegant sleek black Apple packaging.

IMG_3836

The Remote

Amazon failed so hard with their remote that I can’t even. Think 1993 Panasonic TV Remote but smaller.  Apple nailed their 4th generation remote. The control is easy, seamless, no batteries required, well made, and it’s motion/distance sensing thing is fantastic.  Just the feel of your hand alone is a huge difference. Amazon’s comes with batteries, but the Apple remote charges on a lighting cable.   I feel like I was going to get a carpal tunnel putting in my login info with the Amazon remote. It’s bad folks. Fire your hardware people, Amazon. Might not look much different in my crappy photos below, but when you’re using it, it is a world of difference.

IMG_3838

The Biggest Problem

A lot of these streaming boxes boasts that you can watch all these channels and yadiyadi look at all the cool streams you can have access to! But they all require one thing: subscription to existing service providers. Meaning – I can’t watch NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship on TBS because it’s something I would have to log in through Time Warner Cable or Xfinity. So the whole point of cutting the cord with these as replacement TV boxes is moot. The user interface for both systems was good, but Apple wins by a close margin. It was a much more intuitive, easier to learn experience. The fact that my iCloud photo stream shows up when I turn it on gives me an odd sense of familiarity and elicits an”oh would you look at that” reaction. Not that Amazon’s was terribad, but Apple just knows what they’re doing into making things simple and easy-to-use, and as someone who makes a living making UIs and thinking about UX for software design, that’s no easy feat to accomplish in such a polished degree.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Even with the KODI plugin, jailbreaking the Amazon Fire Box to watch streams is still something that’s incomparable to paid tv subscription in terms of quality and speed. Duh. I know you can’t compare free to paid subscriptions.  These plugin streams are so crappy, that you might as well torrent it.  Especially when 5/6 of the movies I tried to stream on KODI didn’t work, and when it did, it died halfway through the stream almost every single time and the Amazon Fire TV Box restarted on it’s own.  Oh did I mention it crashes quite a bit? The picture on the stream was also pretty crappy. I know the box says 4K capability but I am not seeing it with my cable connection via wifi. Maybe I’ll have to run a cat5 cable  in order for it to work, but who’s got time to run that ugly wire through the house? Ain’t nobody got time fo dat.  I didn’t even try KODI with the Apple TV because I was so disappointed with it on the Amazon Fire TV. But at least the 1080p looks good, and the picture looks significantly better than Amazon Fire TV Box on the exact same wifi connection on the same app.  Weird.

The Final Verdict

Without spending more money on any additional subscription services other than Netflix, out of the box, Apple wins hands down on design, user experience, and solid software/hardware performance. It loads faster, more smoothly, and it’s just an easier thing to use at the end of the day. Amazon wins at the price point, but Apple’s remote is so much better, that alone deserves it’s own award. Get the Apple TV if you want a good user experience. If you want to save money, get a Chrome stick. Or better yet, buy an older generation Apple TV. I heard great things about Roku 2. But I think I am done with streaming boxes for now.

So will I ever cut the cord? I am not sure, but I sure as hell am trying.

2 Months into living in San Francisco, my love hate relationship with SF.. UPDATED*

It’s officially 2 months since I moved to San Francisco.  I always knew I would have a love hate relationship with this place, but I am discovering more about the things I do like about here, and also appreciate the things I took for granted living in suburbia Sacramento.

Coming from a smaller city like Sacramento (if I straight up call Sacramento small, the 916 folks would lose their fucking shit because apparently it’s the new Austin), I always thought it had a lot to offer — the night life you wanted (at a few spots throughout town), the affordable cost of living, the occasional tries-really-hard-to-be fun events that happens around town, and last but not least, the space to do the things you want to do and the resources to do it.  I know the last one sounds a bit vague, but you’ll understand where I am coming from after reading this.  I always defended against moving to a bigger city, because I genuinely liked my higher quality of life when it comes to living in Sacramento, or any smaller city that is not a huge metropolitan. Growing up in China, I know what it’s like to live among the populous.  For a big chunk of my childhood, I lived in a city call Guangzhou, one of the largest and most populated city in China with about 8 million people living in it. To give you some perspectives, it’s population is neck-in-neck with NYC.  I liked my space in Sacramento — parking is everywhere, the only caveat is finding a spot that is both SHADED and within pole vaulting distance to the automatic sliding doors where you’ll be instantly bathed in the comforts of automatic climate control.  I didn’t realize how LAZY and fat I was until I discovered how out of breath I get when I decide to walk around in the city.  But that’s the country life for ya, we like to drive our cars everywhere, and sometimes even park on the grass.

However, living in the city like San Francisco presents an entire set of challenges that are commonly acknowledged but rarely understood.  These things might or might not include: astronomical rent, having a yard that you can just let your dog out to, curb-side parking readily available for anyone, a hobby room, clean streets that doesn’t smell like urine or have crazy hobos loitering, free parking, and last but not least, iced water.  I know the last one is crazy, but SF is one of the few cities in America that does NOT serve ice water on autopilot.  A lot of times, I have to ask for it in restaurants, sometimes emphasize on the word “ICE” like I am a lunatic.  I am not roughing it as hard others I know that are living in the city.  I have it pretty good here since I have a decent paying job that allows me to afford certain luxuries.  I also occasionally enjoy telling people who doesn’t live in the city how much I pay for my 2 bedroom apartment that I share with my roommate. It’s a guarantee jaw dropper — followed by words of disbelief.  In fact, I use it as ice breakers and conversational leaders when I am stuck in a room with nothing else to talk about.  Nothing gets people going like crazy rent prices.  My expenses are also out of this world since I have a house that I have to pay for in Sacramento, so I am extra fucked if I don’t hustle, and even though I bitch and whine about working so much, I wouldn’t know what to do with all my extra free time. Actually I lied — I do know what to do with my extra free time, I just said that to make myself feel better.

Despite the lack of amenities that I just complained about,  I do love a lot of things about living in the city.  Public transportation is pretty good here in San Francisco.  Not as awesome as NYC’s subway system, but it’s half way decent.   I am lucky that where I live, I am so close to everything. I can go shopping to all of the top retailers in the world, visit world renown museums — all within 10 minute walking distance.  I can also go to Michelin starred restaurants, and yeah, that’s in PLURAL, and that’s because there are 17 of them within 3 mile radius from my house. If I had taken a job in say, Redwood City in the dreadful Silicon Valley, at best I’ll get is the Cheesecake Factory (whilst I dine among 20 other Indian families and 4 other dudes of various ethnicity but never got the memo to stop wearing Aeropostale past the age of 20).  Granted, it is slightly cheaper to live there, a 1 bedroom apartment in San Jose goes for about 2/3 of the price in San Francisco, and there’s PLENTY of parking… but in terms of world-class events and being a central hub of culture, art, and emerging trends, no other city quite has it down in the spades like San Francisco, and especially all within close proximity of each other.

The weather here is awesome.  I know a lot of people don’t like the “gloom” that certain parts of San Francisco experience on a daily basis, but I just LOVE the micro climates here. If I want sun, I’ll go east. If I want cooler weather, I’ll go west.   I am slowly exploring what San Francisco has to offer, all while trying to decipher what’s bullshit/stupid hype and what’s actually worth experiencing.  I’ve also joined the civic symphony, and it’s definitely an interesting experience.  I love the cuisine and the plethora of choices this tiny 7×7 city has to offer. It has all of the hustle and bustle, craziness and changing landscape that any big city has, but a huge chunk of that distinct SF charm is still intact, and can be seen in almost every corner you turn to.  I can always tell that whenever I am randomly picking up a conversation with people on the streets here, who is from out of town, and who is born and raised in SF.

If I have to give someone advice about living in SF, someone new, and never lived in the city before – about what it’s like to live here and what to expect, I just have one: It’s what you make it.

You don’t have to buy into the culture and participate in all of the artsy/eclectic/albeit sometimes bizarre things that makes SF, well, SF.  You can go from point A to point B in uber alone and rely solely on Eat24 and Caviar to provide your meals.  You don’t have to go to Dolores park with your sandwich and beer and talk to the 20 other hippies that might run by to pet your dog. You don’t have to do yoga or pilates and eat only organic vegetables whilst go on a juice cleanse because all of your friends have tried it.  SF is what you make it out to be

New beginning, new complaining…

It’s been one week since I officially moved in.

During this first week,  I have learned a few things about living in the city.  Every girl I know here are obsessed with Yoga, and every other guy I meet is working for a startup in the basement of somewhere.  SF has no shortage of opinionated people, oddball fusion restaurants that just sounds wrong, and an abundance of those who vocalizes about their particular quasi-socially-responsible-and-organic-everything-i-know-alot-about-random-health-foods-and-do-all-kinds-of-weird-shit lifestyles — all saturated in this overinflated of everythingness culture.  Everything is a little bit more extreme here.

It is true, this city is a beautiful city.  I sometimes forget that people travel from faraway lands to come to this place to experience all the lovely California-ness that San Francisco has to offer and represents, but to me, maybe because I am here day-to-day, I no longer stop to smell the roses.  I had no idea how nice it was to have parking spots in Sacramento, and I had absolutely no idea what a stress it is on every day life here trying to find them.  Speaking of which parking, I got my FIRST ticket the first week here.  And it’s $106 dollars.  FML

My least favorite thing other than parking I found about SF is that all the restaurant reviews on Yelp are bullshit.  I really don’t know who the hell is writing all those 5 star reviews, but 2/4 restaurants I visited that were suppose to be amazeballs were absolute shit.  Everything is more expensive here, and if you want “fair” prices, you better be willing to venture into the ghetto or Chinatown for it, because you’re going to pay a 20-40% premium on everything you buy.

To summarize my first week, I thought I’d share an illustration ↓

Finding parking in San Francisco is like trying to swat a fly with your  bare hands.  You might snag one here and there, but most of the time you arrive a places that you thought was for sure it, but it wasn't a spot.

Finding parking in San Francisco is like trying to swat a fly with your bare hands. You might snag one here and there, but most of the time you arrive a places that you thought was for sure it, but it wasn’t a spot.

Temporarily semi-unemployed, and moving!

If you call in between jobs and working part-time but not getting paid yet temporarily semi-unemployed, I am your gal. I recently accepted a Creative Director position at a San Francisco start-up, and I am optimistically nervous about moving to the city for it.  Being away from home and the comforts of suburbia life, and grinding it out like the rest of the young and ambitious millennials; it’s one of those things in life that if I don’t do it now, I might not have the opportunity to do it later kind of opportunity.  And since I am a firm believer of grab your opportunity by the balls and see where life takes you kind of person, I am going to do this and see where life takes me.

To me, San Francisco has always been the city that’s a stone throw away, has lots to offer, great food, take your visiting overseas relatives there for a day trip, but the parking really sucks-kind of place. I never really craved the big city experience since I spent the first decade of my life living in China and half of that was spent in Guangzhou, which now has over 14 million people dwelling in the heart the city… and San Francisco has almost a million.  I don’t care for the streets smelling like pee and people everywhere kind of environment, but I do like the conveniences of big cities.  I always liked walking down the street to the corner store to grab something, or always having something to do because as with all big cities, you are never short of entertainment.  Not that Sacramento has shortage of that, but it’s no San Francisco.  On a side note, I just got back from visiting Portland, that is now my official favorite city ever and I want to move there in the near future.

Back to  moving to the big city — OMG, the rent there is SO expensive, it was an eye-opening, life changing experience just going through apartment hunting.  I never really quite understood how anyone can live there and let alone afford it without rent control, or at least make bijillion dollars a year.  I recently found my place of residence but it was not without some serious sacrificing of $$$. I knew I had some standards but they weren’t ridiculous.  But at minimum, I was hoping I could afford something around the $2000/month range that would include me not having to share a bathroom with 4 other people, a window bigger than the size of a pizza box, somewhat centrally located and easily accessible via some sort of transportation, and maybe, just maybe, some kind of parking within a 3 block radius.  Boy, was I wrong.

The place I ended up finding costs me an arm and a leg, but my justification was that if I am going to live there most days out of the week,  I want something that resembles a home, not a dark utility closet in a street corner of a run down building, and I got most of that, except there will always be a few stray crack-heads wandering on the streets next to my building.

I am kind of nervous about adjusting to this new life style — I know I have gotten used to the comforts of suburbia, and it will be an adjustment, I am just not quite sure how I will adjust to it yet.  But I have a feeling, I am going to have a love hate relationship with it already.  And is it just me or does every single big box office movie that would feature a big super-natural disaster/battle scene always features SF being involved one way or another? (Ex: trampled, destroyed, or attacked).   Golden Gate has to be the most-destroyed landmark in film history.

Godzilla

Godzilla the movie

Pacific Rim

pacificrim

Planet of the Apes

planet of the apes

San Andreas

sanandreas

The Core

thecore

Thor, Dark World (future)thor darkworld

X-men

xmen

What life is like being a parent to a 15yr old in your late twenties — pt.1

It’s that time of the year again where I throw my annual Game of Thrones viewing party.  I am quite bummed this year because I normally have a REALLY well thought out menu like weeks in advance. However, with the 15 year old living with me this year for the past 8 months, life has NOT been easy and it’s been a pain in the ass quite frankly.  To explain this phenomenon also known as the Chinese Relative Guilt, I have a 15 year old living with me who is from China, he is my cousin from my mom’s side, and I am his legal guardian/parent while he attends high school and college here.  Was this my choice? Absolutely not.  Who sold my uncle and aunt the idea of shipping their kid here for me to take care while they stay in China? My mother of course, who is ever so enthusiastically campaigning for our entire extended family to move to the United States, particularly California, especially Sacramento, and if the real estate market is favorable and has the supply, definitely buy a house within our gated community. Preferably not on the other side of this circular gate, but within 50 paces. Is my mother here to help me since she was the one who brazenly volunteered me (and my poor boyfriend) the parental duties of a teenager? Nope.  My mom is actually in China at the moment.  And even when she was here, she rarely picked him up from school and never came home until it was the wee hours of the morning. My mother parties with her friends like a twenty something year old would five nights out of the week, and instead of beer pong, they play mahjong instead.  Were my feelings or willingness to take up the task ever questioned or even considered? In true old school Communist fashion, individual opinions doesn’t matter.  The Collective (as in the extended family network of uncles, aunts and what not) has already decided it for me.

Quite frankly, it was the Chinese Relative Guilt that’s what got me into this mess really.  I am too patriotic — as the 15yr old calls it.  I have neither the courage nor the heart to say no to anyone who is in my family because one simply does not question the decision made for you by your elders.  Why not? Some call it filial piety, I call it being a pushover nice person.  Especially if that person was your mom, and she is the matriarch of the entire extended family. For example, when they collectively decided that my old commuter car was too crappy and I didn’t needed a new car, I should buy a new one that gets the best mpg in the market because who knows, I might also have to drive their kid around.  At the end of the day, I do have an option — I can tell them I can’t do this anymore and I want to send their child to Homestay instead, and say fuck it all, but that would just mean I am weak and lazy, and I HATE being associated with the word or thought of being lazy.

However, as you can see in an earlier Instagram post, my faith was sealed the moment the carpool sticker arrived and I was happier than a fat kid at a buffet.

Sleep, what’s that? Staying out late? What’s that?

Moreover, my poor boyfriend is also caught in the web of constant chauffeuring with no end in sight. Have our lives changed? Absolutely.  We attend swim meets instead of going on date nights now. I stay home to cook for a horde famished hyenas (really it’s just 3 people in the house but the 15yr old somehow manages to put away more food than I can keep up cooking) and we don’t go out for fancy dinners anymore.  In fact, I haven’t been to one of those in about 7 months.  I have neither the financial ability nor the patience to take a 15yr old to anywhere that doesn’t serve it all-you-can-eat style.  It is true that all he really needs to survive are some Hot Pockets and steady WiFi, but he isn’t the most difficult nor the easiest teenager to live with.  In fact, he makes it his mission to badger us everyday every other day whether if we have some form of entertainment planned in the upcoming weekend for him. Most of the time, I just laugh at his face and ignore his entitled ass and tell him to go clean the toilets if he wants his ridiculous $80 monthly allowance.  He does clean all of the toilets in the house and he does an okay job on the bowl and the sink, but don’t count on him to get on the floor and wipe the piss off the ground.  I still have to do the mopping.  When I was his age, I’d be lucky if I get $20 bucks from my mom in a year.  But hey, with the inflation and the manual labor that he is somewhat contributing, it’s not that bad I suppose.

Especially when I get to “deduct” random amounts from him whenever he pisses me off or commits an act of stupidity.

This is Andy, the 15yr old at his first American dance, the Homecoming

Here's Andy, my cousin who is here as international student, and I am also his legal guardian. I went with him to buy his dress shirt and sports coat, told him that when it's time to take a girl out for a formal dance, he has to take her wherever she wants to go, pay for the dinner, photos, provide transportation, and get her a corsage. He did most of it correct except for the last part. He told me that she didn't need a corsage so I didn't have to worry about it (so I didn't). 30mins before the dance, he frantically texts me while I was at the grocery store that he didn't know he was suppose to get her a corsage. Good thing I have made it before for my own dances in the past, so I grabbed some bouquets and made his date a bracelet corsage. Turns out she liked it a lot, and my entourage (3 friends visiting from out of town + Tyler) and I tagged along for an impromptu dinner at the same restaurant he and his date were dinning at. I tried my best to embarrass him, by sneaking behind their table multiple times to take paparazzi style photos. Turns out he and his friends didn't find me embarrassing at all… Because as soon as I pull the phone to take photos of them, all the kids in the group date were like owwwww is that an iPhone 6+? Moral of the story is, you can't be embarrassing when they think you're cool.

A photo posted by @3panpans on

During the winter holidays, my extended family members enjoy tormenting me by shipping all of their Chinese offsprings to my home refugee camp for a week or so of pure torture American holiday experience. 

I told them all to hold on to Tyler in Chinese. Tyler didn't know what was going on haha

A photo posted by @3panpans on

More will come to me later, but this is my rant for now.

Update on pityriasis rosea – ITS FINALLY OVER!!

*************UPDATE************ 6/24/2015

Went to the Dr again after my second break out. Apparently, this second time around is NOT PR. But instead  chronic hives because of PR, and it is reoccurring because of some allergic reaction.  She prescribed me some really strong Prednisone, I took it and it cleared up all of the itching and hives within 3 days.   My body was completely cleared a week later.

None of that Head and Shoulders showering day in day out, cortisone cream, special oils, tanning bed even came close to this level of effectiveness.

Just letting the internet world know.

 Back to my original blog entry below ↓

*Cue angelic harmony*

Praise baby Jesus, Allah, and Buddah! After 6 weeks of this ridiculous skin condition, it is finally over. First thing I thought was how close I am to the statistics for the average sufferer of such condition. The past two weeks has definitely been a lot more tolerable than the initial weeks. I switched back to using Head & Shoulders shampoo as body wash for the past week and half and it has not made a difference.  But I am glad that I can finally use a regular body wash/soap that’s not an anti-dandruff shampoo, and I no longer have to lather myself in ridiculous creams every evening before bed.

However, the scars… 

I am terribly scarred.  Upon examining my body in a well lit room, I saw the full effect of which PR has wrecked havoc upon my once semi-pristine skin.  I never really appreciated how “scar-less” and normal my skin looked, and now I certainly do wish I have that back again.  I have light brown spots EVERYWHERE from my chest down, and my mid torso looks like someone who just rolled out of bed full of fleas.  It’s horrific. I am grateful that I am no longer itching like a mad woman going through crack withdrawals, but the marks are there to remind me that PR has to be the most stupidest, pointless, random skin condition known to man.

Here’s a recap of what pityriasis rosea is: 

It isn’t contagious

There is no “cause”

The origin of such condition is unknown

There is no cure

It goes away on it’s own.

But not after you’ve suffered a month and half of pure torture from itchiness.

Although I am temporarily marred with brown spots all over me, I am so glad this treacherous disease has finally subsided and will NEVER (knock on wood) come back again.

*************UPDATE************

A month into pityriasis rosea *UPDATE*

Before I begin again about my encounter and subsequent suffering of pityriasis roasea, I must apologize for my last entry and the gnarly photos I posted.  I understand it’s not the most kosher thing to post on the internet right next to a series of blog posts about product/diet reviews, and babies and puppies.  However, since I started my treatment for pityriasis rosea with the variety of unorthodox treatment options found on the internet (e.g. Head & Shoulder as bodywash, tanning beds 3 times a week, etc.), I figure I owe whoever is reading but is also suffering from this dreadful annoyance of a fleeting condition an update about how my progress is coming along.  The few days after I begin using H&S as a body wash, I noticed that my spots weren’t as evident and my yearning to constantly scratch the problem areas were slightly diminishing, but at the same time I was also getting new spots.  It never got to a point to where I was not itching anymore, but I did notice that I was scratching myself less.  

After walking out of the shower one night, I thought to myself, maybe someone at H&S’s marketing department decided to post on one of the forums I happened upon, claiming that by using their product as a body wash, it will help expedite the healing process.  Since there is no way to proof its validity as a form of remedy, it’s actually a pretty genius marketing ploy. 

go6jf

However, what if it was really just some random person who thought it was a novel idea to try something ridiculous — just to see if it actually worked and it just happens to coincide with their progress of PR retreating? And how silly would it be for me to actually believe it (when you’re that desperate, you’re willing to try anything)?! I am pretty sure I am not the only one who went out the next day to purchase a bottle of H&S to try and see if it worked.

I stopped using H&S as a body wash after a week.

So my progress is not getting better, in fact I have new patches growing on the sides of my thighs. And now I am thinking it’s because I stopped using H&S.  For a while, it had seemed like PR had stopped spreading, and I thought hey maybe I should stop using H&S as a body wash.  But a week without using it, and me discovering more patches expanding in my pelvic area, I am thinking maybe I should go back to using it.  I have however, kept up with the tanning, and I am not sure if it’s doing my new patches any good, but it is certainly helping the old ones heal faster.  Needless to say, I am about five weeks in with PR now, and the end of this annoying condition’s is nowhere in sight.  I am still getting new spots, and it’s getting particularly worse in my chest areas.

That’s it for now, I will post another update post when condition changes.

How I am dealing with pityriasis rosea – symptoms, experience, and remedy/solution

I am on a roll here, I haven’t post this much since I first started this blog more than 5 years ago. I first discovered that I had pityriasis rosea about 2 weeks ago.  I started getting these random red itchy bumps all over my pelvic area. I was itching like a mofo and my boyfriend thought it must have been mosquito or flea bites from my dogs. But I had just gotten my fur kids groomed and they were regular on their flea medication, and also they were indoor dogs as they rarely spent more than a couple of hours outdoors so it couldn’t have been them.  I even changed my sheets a couple of times because I thought it was bed bugs, but it didn’t make any sense because my boyfriend had no symptoms of bug bites.  After a week and half of suffering, I finally made a doctor’s appointment and within 24 hours, I was able to see my general doctor for some answers.

The Diagnosis

As soon as I lifted my shirt up, my doctor cracked a smiled and immediately diagnosed me.  Apparently, this is very common, especially amongst women between 10-36yrs of age.  My appointment was so quick, I was dismissed by my doctor within 5 mins of her walking into the exam room, and she practically told me to suck it up for the next 2-8 weeks because it will go away on it’s own.

Needless to say, I was a little pissed about the diagnosis and the lack of treatment.

What is Pityriasis Rosea

Here are a few common things I found out about this disease:

  1. Pityriasis rosea is not contagious – those around you won’t get it, so yes you can go to work and pretend everything is normal.
  2. It is a type of skin condition that no one knows the cause, and you might or might not itch – but if you do, in the words of another anonymous sufferer that shared on another forum, you’ll itch so bad that you’re not sure whether if you “want to slice your skin off or drive into a bus”.  As I am typing this, I am itching.
  3. PR is stress related.  The more stressed you are, the worse the flare up.
  4. Not a lot of research has been conducted on the origin of this skin condition – meaning no one really cared enough to find out what causes it, and how to get rid of it.
  5. An experience that will last on average 6-8 weeks, sometimes longer (rarely shorter), and you might or might not get it again, but most people have immunity towards it after they get it.
  6. Most of the suffers I read online were females – even though statistics say it was split pretty much down the middle between the genders with a little bit more female sufferers.
  7. It’s related to a type of herpes (not the genital kind, don’t worry).
  8. It isn’t caused by the flu shot.

The Experience

Right after my diagnosis, I immediately followed my doctor’s advice and got some hydrocortisone cream, Cetaphil body wash + lotion, and allergy medication like Zyrtec and Benedryl.  A week into using these things, none of them worked.  So I went back to the internet and did some more research.  After a couple hours of reading, I have come to the conclusion that every person’s experience with PR is different, and their remedy/solutions are just as different as their experience.  Nevertheless, I found that most of the people that put forth the effort to share their experiences with PR are those who are suffering the most (i.e. the people that are suffering from some serious itchiness but can’t stop it), and I am one of those.  Here is a photo of the right side of my body around the torso area.  As you can see, these are pretty fresh still (as I am writing this, I am about 3 weeks into PR).

The Remedy/Solution

As with most people who are suffering PR, they want to find out what really helps with the itching, and how to expedite this experience and minimize the suffering.  I for one, have started doing a couple of things base on my research online.  I’ve started TANNING, and it’s funny because I never thought I would go into a tanning bed, EVER.  I am so pale, I have an intense fear of tanning due to the fact that it can 1) cause cancer, 2) expedite the aging process, and most importantly 3) give you wrinkles.  I had to set my fear of tanning aside because apparently, tanning helps a lot with expediting the process of recovery.  I am not sure if its the UVA or UVB rays that would help it, but I am not the first to use tanning as a solution.   To make it easier, I found a place really close to my work, and got their one-month unlimited tanning package. Today was my second session – the first day I did 5 mins on the bed, and today I did 7 mins.  I plan on going back in about 2 days and keep the dosage low at about 5-8mins depending how I am feeling.  So far, I haven’t felt the difference in how I am itching, but I do notice my patches are healing faster – so I think it is doing something for the speed of this experience.

Another thing I read on the internet that had helped a lot of people with PR is the usage of Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Shampoo as a body wash.  I had originally followed my doctor’s orders with the usage of Dove soap bar and Cetaphil body wash after my diagnosis, but they didn’t work.  So tonight, I decided to try Head & Shoulders.  I pretty much lathered myself from head to toe with this stuff.  Since most people recommended NOT to take hot showers (and I love a hot shower), I couldn’t do cold showers, so I pretty much used the temperature I am use to, but the only difference is crank down the temp as I am about to get out to cool down my body. Right after the shower – I felt very good.  No itching, and I felt very refreshed (it also helped that the shampoo smelled fantastic in comparison to the Cetaphil body wash I was using).  But a couple of hours later, I had a little bit of itch returning.  I also applied the Cortizone lotion all over my body immediately after the shower.  Luckily, my boyfriend had some acetonide cream around (prescription only) and they seem to have some effect on reducing the level of the itchiness.

IMG_5505-0.JPG

The Remedy: Acetonide Cream, Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength, and Cortizone-10 Intense Healing Lotion

IMG_5491.JPG

One of the solutionsI had read on the internet for pityriasis rosea was tanning beds. I went about 5-8mins 4 times a week.

Conclusion

Right now, I am only about three weeks into pityriasis rosea, I have a feeling I still have another week or two to go before my body will start to kick it for good – but I will try to post my progress in a couple of days after using the Head and Shoulders and Cortizone-10 stuff + tanning.

I hope my insight and experience with PR will help others who are also suffering from this same condition.  I would also love for others who are currently experiencing (or experienced) PR to share their experiences here with me and fellow sufferers, especially providing insight and solutions that helped with alleviating their symptoms.

Turn your handwriting into a computer font — the easy way

handwritingfont-01-01

It’s the Tuesday afternoon before my 5 day weekend — I just finished wrapping up this week’s work and I got a couple hours to burn before it’s time for me to leave. To make those remaining hours productive, I’ve decided that I want to 1) turn my own handwriting into a font, 2) do so with these cool calligraphy pens I just recently purchased from Japan Town in San Francisco, and lastly 3) write a blog about it because I haven’t written a blog in forever.

I have always thought that I have pretty decent handwriting – something that I took pride in when sending out handwritten notes and thank you cards.  After using this font generating software, and seeing how all the texts are coming together, my handwriting looks almost foreign to me.  Maybe it’s the way it’s putting all the letters together, but seeing it on the screen made me cringed a little — is that what my handwriting really look like? Versus when I write, my texts would be more fluid.

Truth be told, this is the easy, no-brainer way to turn your own handwriting in to font.  All you have to do is print, write, scan, and upload.  The legit way to do it actually involves using a software dedicated to font creation such as FontLab Studio, and spending hours meticulously combing through every serif, descender, lobe and bowl to make the font flow.

I used the website myscriptfont to create my fonts.  I experimented with a several different pens and writing styles.  My favorite two includes one that uses a calligraphy pen with a slanted tip, and a regular ball-point ink pen.   All you have to do is print out the PDF template, follow the instruction on the template, and scan your handwriting at 300dpi or higher resolution, save it as a JPEG, upload, and you’re done! Here are a couple of my handwriting samples.

Calligraphy pen

Calligraphy pen

ballpoint pen

ballpoint pen

I’ve decided to incorporate one of my handwriting fonts into a sample design project.  As with most handwriting style fonts, I find it the easiest to use it on chalk-style designs, or anything that mimics that style of design.  Nonetheless, my web-generated version looks more like a kid’s handwriting on a good day, and although it’s not remotely close to being a well rounded font for commercial use, this was a really fun experience, and I highly recommend it.  You can use your own handwriting font for custom signatures, labels, invitations, or whatever creative project that requires that extra bespoke touch.

 

JPG JPEG with transparent background – making the impossible, possible

While I was working on a logo today at work for an event, I accidentally discovered something that goes against all logic, and because I am a computer graphic artist, this felt like defying gravity, going against the laws of physic, walking on water… etc.

I had discovered that I could make a JPG image with transparent background.

Check it out below:

summit2015evite

http://www2.benefitsconnect.net/content/images/summit2015evite.jpg

I did this entire process on Photoshop CC and Visual Studios, and couldn’t figure out how I did it.  Since I work at a software company, and half of my coworkers are computer software developers and tech savvy folks — I seeked out their expertise to help me figure out how I did it.   They were able to recreate a transparent jpg and quickly replicated the process by changing the extension of a png to jpg, and to verify the process, you can upload the image to Exif Data Viewer to verify.  So while I was uploading the image, I had changed the extension on accident without consciously knowing what I was doing.

So the moral of the story is, you can make a JPG/JPEG image with a transparent background.  You just have to start it off as a PNG first.

Now I owe my coworker a beer because he figured out how it was done.