I’ve been noticing that a sizeable percent of visitors to Acne-Vitamins get a partial-page-load error, and so I have been looking into ways to cut down on the load time. I would like to replace the graphics-swap navigation with actual text links using rollover effects, but I know close to nothing about CSS so I have to do some reading and run a few experiments first. I’ve got a new product line in the works and so I will have to be doing some redesigning anyway. Just waiting for quotes from my vitamin manufacturer (I hate waiting…).
I recently purchased a few domain names, one of which I plan to use as a blogroll exchange service. The dot-com will most likely be Blog-Links.org. It will be a totally free forum where you can find themed bloggers looking to exchange blog links (with Acne-Vitamins, for instance ^_^).
For people like me who enjoy having our little blog on the net, but don’t spend much time socializing in the wider “blogosphere,” there is no easy way to find related or like-minded bloggers who are looking to exchange blogroll links. These links are important, as they drive up your visitors and make your site more relevant to the search engines. Unfortunately, when the only blogs you regular are extremely popular sites that are not related enough to yours to even warrant a possible link exchange request, it’s hard grow your inbound links.
The idea behind my new site will be to bring together lazy people like me who want to exchange blogroll links, and allow for users to easily find bloggers with a similar subject matter to their own. I don’t plan to make any money off this site, but if it helps grow traffic to Acne Vitamins that would be enough. Also, I should note that the demand for this service is still pretty small right now, but I expect it to rise as more bloggers become aware of the benefits that come with a steady influx of inbound links (one of the great things about blogroll links is that they accumulate at a natural pace as bloggers make new entries).
Nintendo finally let the cat out of the bag, showing the highly rumored controller for their upcoming Revolution console at the Tokyo Game Show, and well, I’m frankly a little scared that this will be the last controller Nintendo makes.
The initial impression of this “clicker” controller would naturally leave any gamer scratching his head. However, after you watch the teaser video it makes a little more sense what Nintendo is going for here. The control stick is motion sensitive in ways no other controller has attempted before - you can point it at the TV and fire like a light-gun, swing it and imitate sword slashes, the list goes on and on. Apparently it was very intuitive for first time users to get the hang of, and is extremely precise.
So why am I worried? Because with all the new innovations that this controller makes possible, it seems to have left conventional gaming control schemes out of the loop. There are only a scant few buttons on the control stick’s body, and you will need to plug in additional components to play even current GameCube games that take advantage of that system’s already limited range of inputs. It’s going to be a pain for 3rd party companies to go about porting over titles from competing systems due to the simplistic button layout. Nintendo systems are already lacking in 3rd party support, and this will undoubtedly worsen the situation. So while Nintendo’s upcoming lineup of games for the Revolution may be some of the most innovative experiences yet, expect the selection of games to be small - likely dominated by Nintendo’s own in-house titles. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before the other companies begin imitating Nintendo’s ideas (it’s a great idea, and it will be imitated), but perhaps adding a bit more versatility to the mix.
I’m addicted to tinkering with the front page graphics at Acne-Vitamins.com. Going off some feedback from the last changes, I’ve acquired a new image for the token guy’s face in the graphic. I’ve also been so obsessive as to straighten out the previously tilted before-and-after art (I drew that by the way), mainly because it bothered me having another tilted rectangle besides the one in the logo. I’m addicted. Every night I tell myself that the graphics at Acne-Vitamins look fine and I don’t have to think about it anymore, but the next day I’m back at it. Is there an obsessive-compulsive-graphics-editing-disorder?
Google launched their blog search beta earlier today. The new search engine basically uses RSS feeds to scrape info from blogs and generate search results. It’s still in beta, so apparently there are a few kinks to work out. Using RSS feeds means that the content in the search results will be timely, ensuring the latest news can be found with ease. However, the downside is that all those blogs not being pinged by RSS listing services will be missing from the results (time to sign up with Ping-o-matic!).
The dominance of the most current results over the most relevant results has gotten the search engine some flak from initial reviewers, but I’m sure things will improve with time, and there’s already a number of things Google Blog Search does better than standard Google. For instance, try searching for “Final Fantasy Advent Children reviews” on Google and you’ll find the standard imdb entry along with other sites that list movie news, none of which currently contain a review. The same query on Blog Search returned tons of reviews from bloggers across the net. So if the information you’re seeking is of a timely nature, Google Blog Search seems to be the way to go. Of course, pretty much whatever Google does is immediately copied by the competition, so I’m sure we can expect similar services from Yahoo and MSN very soon.
I just finished watching the most visually impressive film ever crafted (the height of CG for the moment), Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children. Let me start by saying that I’m not at all a FF7 fanboy. FF6 is still easily my favorite Final Fantasy title and simply has the best blend of gameplay and story in my opinion. However, I did certainly enjoy the cinematic experience that was FF7, even if I don’t place the CD in the corner and worship it like some other fans. In any case, this movie did a rare thing for a movie based on a video game - it, for the most part, lived up to the game.
If you haven’t played FF7, or worse know nothing about the game that basically popularized RPGs in America, go find a plot synopsis, because otherwise you may have a hard time making sense of what is going on (it’s hard enough to understand even with the backstory). FF7:AC doesn’t waste much time filling in the details, it gets right down to business with what happened following the end of FF7. For every minute of story there’s five minutes of action, and you’ll need to be paying attention when the story is actually unfolding. The action is incredibly stylish and fast paced, making even the most extreme live action films look like child’s play (Neo can’t hold a candle to Cloud). Every character and setting is brimming with detail, making other CG films seem dull by comparison. The movement is mostly very lifelike and believable, but there are a few times when you can see unrealistic animations coming from lesser members of the cast. Still, it happens so rarely that I wasn’t really bothered. This isn’t like animating one character in a real environment (such as Gollum in LotR), this is a whole CG world filled with CG people, and to have this level of animation with so many unique details is amazing.
FF7:AC is really a work for the fans, so I don’t know that it will be remembered as a great movie by the average viewer (although it will definitely be remembered for its unbelievable effects). I am a fan, and can’t help view it as such. I all need is to see a familiar face from the game and I get excited. To tell you the truth, I’m glad they did it this way. The others that will most appreciate it will be anime fans, as this is the closest thing I can imagine to a live-action anime, especially with the overblown fight scenes and larger-than-life characters. It’s not live-action, and it’s not anime, but Advent Children is like a perfect blend between the two, and is a visual ride well worth your time.
From all the latest feedback I’m seeing, not just from Acne-Vitamins but also around the net at other B5 sites, it seems ever more apparent that many users are able to see great results with a lot less B5 than the typical 10 grams per day. This obviously makes sense with regards to time-release vitamins, but even with the standard capsules many users report seeing acne diminish with as little as 1g per day, although often split up into multiple doses.
That last part is important. I’ve stated on the website that the frequency with which you take B5 can be more important than the overall amount you take, and all evidence seems to point this way. Certianly, different people can have very different internal biochemistries, and taking a high dose can be a smart way to start out in order to make sure you see effects. However, with the right timing you may be able to reduce your intake to a much more comfortable level faster than you might think. All-in-1 B5 tablets are pretty big (maybe too big), and I’ve even heard of users breaking them in half and spreading out their doses (with good results).
Because your body can get rid of water-soluble vitamins easily and quickly, taking a huge dose at once doesn’t really do you any good. Your body absorbs the small amount of B5 that it can process at the moment, and the rest is sent out of your body. Taking B5 in powder form can help your absorbsion, but even then most users still need to take it at least three times per day (and it tastes really horrible, believe me…). The answer would be an extremely slow time-release pill (ours currently last 4-6 hours), but the technology simply isn’t there right now, unless you want to pay $100 per bottle. B5 is the future of acne treatment, but there is so little real research being done on it that it may be a while before we see it become a well known solution. I’ve got some ideas in the works, so maybe Acne-Vitamins can speed it along.
I know I said that I was going to take a break, but I’m back working on some new changes again. You’ll probably see the clear skin graphic on the main page changing soon. I decided it would be better to include a guy and a girl - just have to do some image editing before putting it up. I like the current girl - her image blends well with the color scheme of the site. However, that raised arm is a little awkward, and this way I have both sexes represented, as our current customers are pretty much split 50/50 between guys and girls at the moment (this is unusual for any cosmetic product, women generally make up a significantly larger percentage of buyers). I’ll probably be posting some new testimony in the near future as well, and attempting to make the main page of Acne-Vitamins a little more compact.
Yahoo Inc. has recently become a subject of debate due to their compliance with Chinese authorities in disclosing information that led to the jailing of a chinese journalist for “revealing state secrets.” Journalist Shi Tao was convicted of the charges and now faces 10 years in prison. You might think “state secrets” would involve some breach of military intelligence or the like, but in fact Shi’s guilt lies in using his Yahoo email account to post about a government order banning Chinese media from marking the 15th anniversary of the 1989 slaughter of democratic activists in Tiananmen Square. According to sources at Yahoo, it was just a routine dislosure of information in compliance with local government - Yahoo was not aware of the reasons behind the disclosure or what the information would be used for. I don’t really feel it’s logical to heap all the blame on Yahoo here, as every user is subject to the laws of their land, but this certainly puts things in a new perspective.
Here in America, the internet is a paradise for debate and dissent. It’s like free-speech overload. Everyone has a blog and we’re all complaining about something ^_^. It’s hard to even imagine the limitations imposed upon citizens of a nation such as China, who in fact lack the free speech that we so easily take for granted. Still, the nature of the internet makes me wonder just how much China can censor. The West has been trying to subtly influence democracy and capitalism by way of free trade, but the internet is like a whole new beast, opening people up to another level of freedom altogether. With the countless new sources of news and views that are constantly evolving, it’s going to be that much harder to silence those who want to have a voice.
Sure, I could switch to UPS. Unfortunately UPS Ground usually takes as long, if not longer, to deliver than Priority Mail, and it would cost north of $3 extra per package! FedEx is even more expensive and has a worse track record. There’s simply no good shipping solution for small businesses. Granted, most of the time deliveries are reasonably close to the 2-3 days they guarantee, but if you really need a package to arrive on time, don’t count on it. Acne-Vitamins has been using USPS because it is simply the most cost effective solution, and the lower cost is a benefit I can pass along to customers (not to mention we usually eat the shipping cost on orders above 2 bottles). The problem with USPS is that they are behind the times in integrating package tracking, which should come standard when shipping packages (”delivery confirmation” is a poor substitute, and makes me wonder why I should have to pay extra just to know that my packages are actually being delivered…).
You drop off your packages and then they disappear into a void, leaving you with only a faint hope that they will arrive at their destination some point in the not-to-distant future. It’s been particularly bad this week, as many customers have complained about orders not getting there on time. Customers see the business, not USPS/UPS/FedEx, and we are expected to make up the loss caused by shipping companies that we have already paid to perform a services which they failed to deliver on. Moreover, businesses have basically no recourse (like all shipping companies, no one at USPS is really in charge of anything, and if they were they wouldn’t make up your losses anyway). It’s a frustrating situation, and I wish that there was more competition in the marketplace (I think a niche shipping company could do well), but right now there’s nothing anyone can do about it. For companies that make money at the margins, it’s lower your expectations or drive up your costs and go out of business.