New Year's Resolution: Finishing Harry Potter

11 months ago

Technology has really overtaken society. Reading isn't as popular as it used to be. With phones and computers having so many apps and games for endless entertainment, it seems like people forget about books. I know I was one of those people. I made a decision to make reading one of my resolutions. I'm so glad I did.

I've been trying to read Harry Potter for 30 minutes a day everyday since the new year. I've only slipped up 1 or 2 days, but I've made up for it the next day by reading what I was supposed to read the night before. I've been meaning to read it because I haven't read all of the books. I read through the 4th one when I was around 12 years old. I'm finally going to finish the book series. I'm excited to see what's different between the books and movies.

Reading is going to be good for me. It'll be a chance to separate myself from everything digital in my life. It's important not to become dependent on all things electronic. Read something once in a while.

Bob the Bug

1 year ago

Sarah and I have a new puppy! We've had him since Black Friday. He's super cute! He's almost 3 months old now. We're still training him, so he's still doing bad things like biting and having accidents. He's a good puppy though. He listens pretty well when we tell him to come, and he's not too, too bad at "sit." The thing he's most consistent with is fetching. He's fairly good at it! Overall he makes us happy, even though he can be extremely annoying at times. We love him, and we're so happy we got him!

I finally made a logo!

11 months ago

I really like my site’s minimalist design. However, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. It occurred to me that I didn’t have a logo! I was thinking of ways to create it, and this is the story of how it all came together.


I’m Filipino, and my last name, Villanueva, translates to “a new house.” Bloganueva simply came from blog + (vill)anueva. I liked how it sounded the moment I thought of it. If you were to translate that, it would mean “a new blog.” I wanted my logo to be something involving a house because of my last name. I was able to work in a large part of my site’s design (the squares) to be the building blocks of the house. I think it just ties it all together. Plus, I replaced the A in Blog-A-Nueva; so I’m glad it kind of resembles an A.


I’m not a graphic designer, so Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. are not the most familiar programs. I did come up with my own way of doing it though. Disclaimer: I know this isn’t the most efficient way to do this.

The app I used to make the actual squares of the logo is Assembly. This is an art and design app I used a few other times. I decided to dust it off and utilize it again. Assembly’s learning curve is relatively low, so you get used to it pretty quickly. It has a lot of popups to let you know what you can do. I was able to make what I was seeing in my brain come to life pretty quickly with this app. I exported a transparent PNG and sent it to my MacBook to put it through GIMP.

I’m pretty familiar with GIMP. It’s basically an open-source Photoshop. I got into using it while I was using Linux, and I just decided take advantage of the knowledge I already had to not slow down the process just in case there was something I didn’t know how to do in Photoshop or Illustrator. I used GIMP’s to fill tool to fill in the colors of the squares with 2 of the colors from my site.

After this I used Photoshop to crop the png as close to the edges of the squares as I could.

Input and Iterations

I wanted my logo to be good, so I knew I’d want some feedback from people since my eye for design is still improving. I got just that from my girlfriend Sarah and my boss Allen. Allen suggested I do a “sprint.” That’s a technique where you just draw out every possible idea you have, and you eventually narrow it down and meld parts from other designs until you come up with the right one. I did that, and it worked!

My thought for my logo was always centered around some kind of house. At first I wanted the house made of words.

I tried different fonts to make this idea work better, but it just wasn’t working out.

Then I tried the sprinting technique Allen suggested to me and came up with 9 squares. At this point, I didn’t think the house design was going to happen. I was going to leave it at that, but Allen suggested I just put a roof over it. At this moment something clicked, and I knew I had found my overall design! It was so exciting! He had suggested just something as simple as a triangle, but I wanted it to fit the overall motif. I put more squares to shape the roof, and this design brought me one step closer!

Originally I had one more row of squares at the bottom. Sarah said something didn’t look right. She said it looked like an arrow and that I should remove the bottom row. I knew she was right, but I didn’t want to take them out because I wanted letters inside the squares spelling out “A NEW BLOG.” I decided against the letters in the end to keep the logo clean.

I also had a different color scheme, but Sarah helped me eventually pick out the current scheme.

Allen said the same thing. He said it looked like an up vote. He suggested removing the bottom row as well and just move the colored square up one. I was a little reluctant, but I ultimately ended up doing this.

I’m so glad I did! Heeding their advice helped my original, lackluster designs blossom into my site’s beautiful logo. I’d like to thank Sarah and Allen for helping me through this process!

I’m beyond satisfied with how the logo came out. It feels like this is what the it’s supposed to be. I couldn’t be happier!

The National WWII Museum’s Instagram Posted My Picture!

1 year ago

This isn’t actually that big of a deal since I work there, but I still think it’s really cool. I took the picture and sent it to our Social Media Specialist thinking he could use it on the Gram. He did! It perpetuates my feelings of being a part of the great things being done here.

New Vlog Setup

3 months ago

I wrote a post about my new vlog setup with my Glif from Studio Neat and a post about my Rode VideoMicro. I included pictures of the Glif with either the included wooden handle or my Manfrotto PIXI. I’ve since decided to change it up a bit.

I like both of these attachments. The wooden handle looks so nice. I like how it feels and functions. The PIXI looks pretty good and does what it’s supposed to do. On one hand, I wish I could stand up my phone while using the wooden handle like I can with my PIXI or my Gorillapod. On the other, I wish the PIXI looked as good as the wooden handle. To top it off, my least favorite part about them is that I had to switch between them. With this new setup, I no longer have to sacrifice; I get all the looks and almost all the functionality I want.

The Inspiration

I was at work when I had this idea. One of my coworkers has a similar setup for his work phone, and I noticed his handle had a mount on the bottom of it. I thought to myself, “I wish my handle had a bottom mount.” Then I realized, it did. I forgot that it had one because I attached the wrist strap to it, so in my head it was like it was completely part of the handle and wasn’t detachable. I wondered if all of the mounts on the Glif and its handle were the same size. This idea would work only if that were the case. I detached the strap from the bottom and warily started to attach the PIXI to bottom mount of the handle. It worked! I then attached the wrist strap to the other mount on the Glif itself. I discovered my new favorite setup!

Gauging Actual Use

I was so exited about this! Now I wouldn’t have to switch between accessories. This is all I’ve ever dreamed of! I started messing around with holding just the wooden handle. This is pretty much the same, there’s just something more substantial than just a strap hanging off it now. It looked a little weird at first, but I quickly changed my mind. I think it looks awesome now. Then I started changing the angle on the PIXI and holding the setup using that. I figured out that I don’t have to hold it up as high because of the added height from the wooden handle. I like that a lot (less strain on the muscles). Since I record with my phone in landscape, the lens isn’t in the middle of the handle like a regular camera’s would be. Adding the angling capability of the PIXI really helps in these situations. I can now angle the setup so that the lens in centered no matter which hand I’m holding it in.

I can just hold my arm straight out instead of needing to make sure the frame is centered by compensating with extra arm bends. The PIXI also doubles as an informal counter weight whenever I hold the setup by the wooden handle to help make my footage a tiny bit smoother.

I really like this setup. There’s several advantages to it over previous ones and minimal disadvantages, really those only being how it looks and not being able to wrap around objects like the Gorillapod. I think I’ll stick with this for a while. I hope I’ll stick with this for a while.

Net Neutrality Repealed.

1 year ago

Why would they do this? They say this is better for the country. How does that even make sense? I know I’m not backing up anything I’m saying, but I shouldn’t have to. The fact that these people and companies did this exposes their greediness. This will not only effect our country, but the world. We cannot let this last. We must act. There are steps that we as citizens of this country can take to stop this.


Gary Sinise was at The National WWII Museum again!

1 year ago

It's true! He was here again with Soaring Valor, a program that brings WWII Veterans to see the Museum. It was really cool to see him again.

Kalea Nani Villanueva

3 months ago

Austin and I got you in 2004. Mom and Dad drove us to Mississippi to get you. I remember we got you a week earlier than we were supposed to. You were so small. I remember going to the Gulfport Outlet Mall to let you walk around a little bit on the way home. You were our first dog. We were so excited to finally get a puppy. As all kids do we accepted all the responsibilities, not even close to knowing how hard it would be to have a dog. It’s all worth it. All the accident clean-ups. All the bites. All the scratching on doors. All the whining and barking. It’s worth it. We’re going to miss all the cuddling. We’re going to miss how you whined and shook right before we gave you your food. We’re going to miss the weirdest bark in the world. But it was your bark. I’ve never heard another one like it. Not even close. Kalea Nani, we love you; and we’re going to miss you so incredibly much. Have fun in Doggy Heaven.

Instagram Series

3 months ago

UPDATE (12/7/17): IT'S LIVE!

I’m going to start an Instagram Series where I use the same filter on each picture I post. I’ll hashtag each one with “#kekoaseriesD2.” I think this will be a cool creative idea that’ll be a fun new challenge for me. It’ll force a different perspective onto each photo.

The inspiration for this idea budded from just wanting a unique wallpaper for my phone. I’ve had some quality photos for a while for my wallpapers, but I wanted something different. I thought a simple solution could be to apply a filter that’s more extreme. I liked the result, and I wanted to keep doing it to more and more photos. That’s when I decided to make it into a series on Instagram.

I take a lot of my photos using an app called Obscura that can take RAW format pictures. Using this format helps retain a lot of the detail that’s lost during compression. It enables finer tuning and greater control in the editing process.

After I take the picture I run it through Lightroom on iOS. In the Photos app RAW pictures are a little blurry. Running it through Lightroom reveals the clarity and highlights the details that the RAW format allows. I make a few light and color adjustments, then I export it to my Camera Roll.

My next step is importing this photo into VSCO Cam. I apply the filter, and BAM! I’m done. Then I’ll export it and upload it to Instagram.

This process sounds easy—and it is—but that’s not the point of this series. I’m proving to myself that a filter can’t automatically make every photo look good and have the same effect. Each has it’s own color science that will react differently to the filter. I’ve already had a few failed attempts at this.

This will force me to take a picture in a way that I think will play nicely with this filter. I like this aspect of this series. This will be a fun experiment for me.

Rode VideoMicro

3 months ago

The Rode VideoMicro is my new microphone. I was using a lavalier mic for recording videos on my phone. It works pretty well. The sound quality is good for up-close things; however, the sound does get blown out for even slightly louder noises. That’s not ideal. I’ve had to redo several videos because of this issue. The VideoMicro can handle a wider variety of situations compared to my lavalier mic.

As a general nugget of information, make sure you get a TRRS auxiliary cable if you’re using this mic with a phone. It only comes with a TRS auxiliary cable.

I made the mistake of not getting that cable for myself, and I couldn't use my Micro for a couple of days after I received it in the mail.

The build is solid. It's all-metal, and I really like that. I was concerned with damaging it from taking the furry windshield on and off, but that will never happen. It's good to know I won't damage my mic unless something extreme occurs.

The shock mount works well. It’s more flexible than I thought it would be, but I understand why it’s like that. It's built with the foresight that the user will be moving it around a lot. I appreciate that consideration. It’s good support for the mic.

I’ve tested it multiple times in very noisy conditions. I made sure that they were similar situations where my lavalier mic failed to record usable audio. Even though the background noise is present, it’s not overblown; and I can still hear myself clearly. That’s such a welcome improvement.

The furry windshield actually works. It’s secure on the actual mic, but it’s also pretty easy to remove and attach if I want to. I like having that ability. I’ve used some smaller wind shields on my lavalier mic, and they only work a little. The shield that comes with the VideoMicro really means business. I vlogged at the Air, Sea & Land Festival. It was extremely noisy because of strong winds and planes flying everywhere and engines running, yet the Micro performed admirably. I’m more than satisfied with the results.

The sound quality is great. It’s much better than my phone’s microphones. It does at least as well with the up-close things as my lavalier mic, if not better. It does really well in wind and noise. I’m so happy with my purchase. I’d highly recommend this mic to anyone looking to have better audio quality in their videos without breaking the bank. You also do not have to turn it on for it to work; just plug it in. This is a great product.

The Glif

3 months ago

The Glif is my phone holder of choice. I first heard of it listening to the podcast “Thoroughly Considered” from Relay FM. Myke Hurley’s co-hosts Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt are the owners of Studio Neat. They talk about their design process on that show, and I thought it was quite interesting. When I started listening to that show, they were talking about how the making of the second generation of The Glif was going. Hearing about why they make particular decisions inspires me to think about workflows and ways I do things in my life. With that out of the way, here’s my take on the Glif.

This product is simply amazing. I don’t think there’s anything out there that’s better. I have another phone clamp that works fine, but it’s failed more times than it should have. It just has a spring mechanism to hold it in place. The contact area it has is good; however, the spring simply isn’t strong enough. My phone’s changed positions multiple times while in it, and that’s caused some videos I’ve tried recording to be messed up. That’s not good. Your equipment needs to be reliable, and my first clamp just isn't. I started looking for a replacement, and I became really interested in the Glif while listening to the podcast. I was so excited for it to come out, but I eventually had to wait to purchase it until I could afford it. It’s not the least expensive option, but I think the price is worth it.

The Glif comes with the option to purchase a wooden handle with an attachable wrist strap. This is another solid peace of hardware that I’ve also been looking to buy, so I thought it fortunate that it was offered with the Glif. It looks great; it feels great; and it works great. The wrist strap also feels solid; however, I’ve noticed with recording video that I can hear the jingling of the metal hook attachment. This isn’t a big deal because I can just hold it down. I’m so confident with this that I just let my whole setup dangle from my wrist. I know nothing’s going to happen.

You can attach a cold shoe mount to two spots on the Glif, allowing for a light, microphone or whatever else you want. I’ve taken advantage of this and put my Rode VideoMicro on it. This is yet another solid part of this product’s build.

The Glif is a remarkable product. The mechanism for tightening and releasing is genius. I haven’t seen anything like it. It’s so easy to use. It’s extremely strong. Most importantly, it’s reliable. I'm confident that nothing will go wrong while I’m using it. In the promo video a user is shown shaking it vigorously. I’ve confirmed that. It also shows a user trying to literally pull a phone out. I’ve confirmed that as well.

This product is exactly as good as I wanted it to be. I had high expectations of the Glif. It has not disappointed one bit. I see this as an investment. I’m going to use it for a very long time. Studio Neat has a really neat product in the Glif.

I still can't first-take it.

1 year ago

I'm still having trouble with recording covers. I love singing, and I love playing my ukulele. I'm happy when I do those things, and it doesn't feel like I'm trying when I'm just doing it by myself. The problems come when I start to record. I forget the words. I forget the chords. I get so nervous. I want it to be perfect. I try to calm myself down, but that doesn't work. I have to do multiple takes every time. I hate that. I tried recording one today and didn't end up finishing it. I messed up one of the last lines of the song. I need to find a way to calm myself and just have fun like when I'm not recording. I'll post about it whenever that happens.