Sources of Free Stock Images, Free I Say!

One of the things about working in marketing in an SME / small local company is that there never is enough budget to do most of the things I’d like to get done.  One of those things is stock photos and vectors.

Being neither a designer or photographer, I’ve come to rely on stock photos and vectors for everyday work, be it updating the company website, creating cliched motivational posts for Facebook, or simply having appropriate images for the blog or email blasts.  But stock photos and illustrations are EXPENSIVE.

Luckily, posts like this and this are a god-send for poor marketers like me, and I finally have a way to update the images on my website so that they look a little bit more up-to-date, and hipster-ish even, after I’ve filtered them to death (ha).

Loads of choices for free stock images

Loads of choices for free stock images

Here are some amazing sources:

1. Pixabay
You can search Pixabay for photos, vectors and illustrations by keyword. Attribution is not required for most photos.

2. Unsplash
Unsplash adds 10 royalty-free photos every 10 days.  The photos are amazingly gorgeous and high-quality.  They are mostly of natural subjects (picture the Grand Canyon, rivers, forests etc), but great cityscapes or office-centric photos come up once in a while, making them suitable for technology companies like the one I work at. You can search by keyword.  Attribution is required.

3. Picjumbo
Picjumbo has amazingly high-quality images in (especially) travel, architecture and food. They have some very decent technology / office – centric images too. You can search by category or by keyword. Attribution isn’t required, but appreciated. There is a paid subscription mode where you can download images in packs (rather than individually). The site is a tad naggy in that sense, but it’s a small price to pay for such amazing and free stock images.

4. Flaticon
I have been trying to find icons suitable for use in my website, emails, and many other collateral, but it was pretty difficult to find updated (read modern-looking) icons until I came across Flaticon. The vector icons are free, searchable, and downloadable in SVG, PSD, EPS and PNG formats. You can even download them in whole packs. There’s also a free Adobe extension plugin, but I haven’t tried that yet. Yes the icon design is flat. That’s what the URL says already. But that’s what makes them easy to use for a dummy Illustrator user like me.  Attribution not reqiured.

5. Flickr
Flickr has always been touted as the place to go to for free high-quality images. But I’ve not downloaded or used any images from Flickr as yet. Definitely searchable, and attribution required.

6. Freepik
Another one that I have not used yet, but a quick search through Freepik‘s stock photo archives turns up very good quality and nicely-filtered (hipster!) images, that are great for websites, blogs and Instagram. I spotted a number of images that are already on Picjumbo, but have not checked what’s the story there.  The site is searchable by keyword, and attribution is required if you are on the free plan.

New gadget! Finally! Prolink PKB-3811U Keyboard

I’ve been too poor to get any new gadgets recently.  Apart from the HTC One X last year, which I love love love, but was just not inspired enough to blog about.  Finally decided to get a nice spanking new keyboard, the Prolink PKB-3811U.  My old cheapie one from Genius has been with me for years, and has turned nice and grungy with food, fingerprints and more.  But that’s not why I changed it, it’s still working fine.  In line with my thoughts of blogging more often from now on (again!), I wanted to make the blogging / typing experience easier on my wrists.  I’ve have been suffering from some wrist fatigue for some time.  They’re not yet swollen or immovable yet, but getting there fast.  I thought my old keyboard was flat enough, but apparently it wasn’t.  It was also quite noisy when I typed, and I’ve gotten quite fed-up of the clicking and clacking interrupting my thoughts.

My brother passed me an Apple keyboard sometime back, but it was really way too flat.   The height of the keys was too low so I never knew if I’d pressed the keys or not.  That,  the Apple layout also seriously interfered with the way I game, slowing down my WoW-ing a lot.   I’m fussy, I know. After 20 years or more of using the PC layout, what do you expect.

The Prolink PKB-3811U is really a no-frills, standard 104-key keyboard.  Tthe keys are more of a Windows laptop height (think Lenovo Thinikpad T400), rather than the flatter than flat Apple chiclet style.  The short travel is enough to suit someone like me, light enough that it doesn’t wreak havoc on my wrists, deep enough that I know I’m typing correctly.

And it’s quuuieet.  I can still hear myself typing, but it’s more of a small peaceful muffled thud rather than a clack. I’m testing the typing out for the first time right now, and I love the experience!  Need a little bit of time to get used to it being so close to the table, but that’s nothing compared to my oh-so-comfortable wrists!

Oh, and it’s illuminated~~~~~~~ ooooooo

The ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard

The ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard

The ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. It's illuminated.

The ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. It’s illuminated.

ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. slightly glossy body, keys have a nice matte rubbery feel.

ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. slightly glossy body, keys have a nice matte rubbery feel.

IMAG0079

ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. Backlight 1 Green

ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. Backlight 1 Green

ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. Backlight 2 Blue

ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. Backlight 2 Blue

ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. Backlight 1 Cyan

ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard. Backlight 1 Cyan 

ProLink PKB-3811U

ProLink PKB-3811U keyboard from the front. Nice and flat.

Forgive the bad quality pictures.  Just snapped them off on the world’s sexiest phone, the HTC One X, and unfortunately not doing the camera justice.

World of Warcraft offers Free Diablo III with Annual Pass

What????

I haven’t touched WoW for about 3 months and was considering cancelling my account, or at least putting it on hold for a while. I think Blizz got a hold of my plans, because Pandaren from Mists of Pandaria, then this is annouced one after another.

WOW_annualpass

WOW_annualpass

I CANNOT miss this!! Free Diablo III! Free! And applicable to Singapore too! I haven’t forgotten about the beta test, that wasn’t open to Singapore.

I’ve been looking forward to DIII for the longest time, so the question is do I or do I not take the US$155 plunge?

Blizzard Announcement Causes Panda-monium!

Everybody hold on to your bamboo shoots, because Blizzard has announced the fourth expansion for World of Warcraft, the Mists of Pandaria!

Mists of Pandaria (can I please call it MoP??) offers players an all-new continent with an increased level cap of 90. What’s even better now is that the Pandaren (roll eyes btw), the latest race addition is a neutral race, meaning players can choose to go either Horde or Alliance and they can also master the ways of Pandaria’s ancient martial arts as the all-new monk class.

Mists of Panda - wot?

Mists of Panda - wot?

The Blizz press release states that the MOP expansion:

lifts the fog of mystery surrounding a long-lost continent that has been newly rediscovered following the events of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm™. The new expansion reintroduces the elusive pandaren, originally seen in Blizzard’s real-time strategy game Warcraft® III, as a playable race and adds a brand-new player class: the martial-arts-focused Monk. While exploring the mysteries of an exotic new land and advancing to the new level cap of 90, players will experience a range of new content and game features, including new quests and dungeons, group scenarios and “challenge” modes, pet battles, and more.

What’s more:

“Players have been asking to see the pandaren in World of Warcraft since the game’s launch, and we’re excited to finally be able to give them a proper re-introduction to Azeroth,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “In addition to the new playable race and class, Mists of Pandaria contains a huge amount of new content, and we’re looking forward to sharing more information about all of it at BlizzCon and beyond.”

Really? People were asking for Pandaren??? I never even knew such a race existed, but then again, I was never a Warcraft player.

Someone in Blizz is probably Chinese or has some really warped sense of humour about Chinese, because seriously, PANDAREN??? Sorry, I just have an issue with this.  Pandaren, or in chinese, 熊貓人, I can’t even talk about it. If you have a Chinese friend, ask him about 熊貓人 or at least Jay Chou. If your friend is Chinese, he knows who Jay Chou is.

Check out some more information I got off There Will Be Blood (my comments are only for those who understand Chinese or can at least pronounce it):

Creatures of Pandaria

Goldfish…

-Jinyu: fishlike creatures, walk upright, considered the wise men on Pandaria, can hear what the land in saying with the staff, see them across multiple zones

Monkey…

-Hozu: monkeylike race, stand on their hind legs, mischievous, plays pranks, see them everywhere

-Verming: the new kobold, straggly-looking cross between rat and rabbit, carries a makeshift weapon that combines a few kitchen utensils
-Mantid: Insectlike race that are polished, intelligent. Can be found in dungeons, and there will be whole raids revolving on these guys

Please tell me this is NOT mushroom…

-Mogu: the original ancient race on Pandaria who want the place back for themselves. Large, beefy, magical creatures
-Sha: The Sha are the manifestation of negative energy on Pandaria. When the Horde and Alliance arrive, Sha energy released into the land creates a shadowlike creature

Other than that, the rest of the expansion seems pretty in line with what most (normal, like me) players would expect.

check out the trailer first

Content of Pandaria

-5 new zones across a single unified continent
-Influenced by Asian landscape
-Auction house, bank and central questing hub will be available in Pandaria
-No flying until max level

Lore of Pandaria

-The continent has been around for a long time, shrouded since the Sundering
-Alliance and Horde wash up on the shores after a naval battle
-Lush land full of resources, outsiders want to take advantage and destroy the land

The Wander Isle

-A start zone that is on the back of a giant sea turtle
-Turtle left Pandaria 10,000 years ago and has been growing since
-Pandarens with wanderlust have left on the back of the turtle
-First neutral characters, don’t pick faction until level 10

The list goes on. Read the rest at There Will Be Blood.

Checking out the screenshots on the MoP website, I’m sorry that my first reaction was bwahahahaha. But are these screenshots for real? Because if they are, I think I better upgrade my graphics card, and my system, and my monitor, or something. I never knew WoW to look that … wow.

 

 

I’m still not sorry about my tweet. I still feel like the Pandaren should be voiced by Jack Black.

Don’t get me wrong, I love historical Chinese/China-themed games, as long as they’re done tastefully. The last China-themed game I really enjoyed was Emperor: ROTMK. So I’m looking forward to more good things from MoP!

Jack Black! Historical China themes! Now I’m motivated to get off my butt and start upgrading. Apologies to you who’s read through the whole thing, the author of this post is still only on the BC expansion 😛 But I think I should be a level-90 Pandaren by this time 2015.

Oh You Oneiric Ocelot – Ubuntu for Dummies like me

After whinging about switching to Ubuntu for years (since the days of Feisty Fawn I believe), I finally did it without much fanfare. Ta-da!

Ubuntu Wubi Installer

Ubuntu Wubi Installer

I was  thinking about putting up some posts about installing via Ubuntu Wubi, but installation and (god forbid) uninstallation is SO easy, I decided not to insult anybody’s intelligence.

I currently have it running on dual-boot with Win XP, and am trying to figure out several things about running a Linux OS.

For one, Ubuntu 11.10 keeps freezing on me if I move too fast and I can’t find a Task Manager anywhere.  I’d already hard-rebooted my PC three times since installing it three hours ago, and then I realise that it’s possible to do a terminal command to kill whatever app has frozen (That’s so Android!).

I also spent another thirty minutes figuring out why I couldn’t access my screenshots taken in Ubuntu in Win XP. You can certainly see them in Explorer, but try to open or otherwise touch them, nothing happens.  Delete them, and the system message tells you that the source file can’t be read.

Don’t get me wrong, after so many years and versions, Ubuntu has become really sexy and, I believe, user-friendly, in a manner of speaking. But when it comes to people who need their systems set up a certain way, and when only certain software will do, there’s probably going to be another three hundred hours spent in googling. And this time worse, trying to make sense of so much geekspeak it makes my head hurt.

For now, here’s a quick look at how sexy and Mac-ish the Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot is.  Suddenly I miss my iBook.

Ubuntu 10.11 Oneiric Ocelot

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

How much more Mac OS can you get?

Ubuntu 11.10 GUI - Launcher, System Settings, Screenshots and more

Ubuntu 11.10 GUI - Launcher, System Settings, Screenshots and more

This much more – The Dash. And Workspaces too.

Ubuntu 11.10 - The Dash

Ubuntu 11.10 - The Dash

Back to the three hundred hours of  research. It’s time to up my XP again.

GeekXP minus1000

GeekXP minus1000

 

Joining the iWhine ranks

I thought I was lucky enough when my upgrade to iOS 5 took less than 3 hours, as compared to the other iWhiners who couldn’t get it installed even after 10 hours.  Hah! I thought. I love it! I love the sexy pull-down notification and the even sexier pop-up notifications. Sure, it’s a copy from Android, but Apple designers just know how to make things…sexier. And this is coming from an Android supporter using an iPhone.

Apple iOS 5 Apple iOS 5 Apple iOS 5 (images courtesy of GSMarena)

Then it happened. dun-dun. Music junkies, beware, do NOT upgrade to iOS 5, or at least get ready to sync your entire library of songs. ALL. OVER. AGAIN.

I can’t access a lot of my music on my iPhone iTunes after the upgrade and a sync. So I’m joining the iWhine ranks…in my head at least. And while I’m here, I’d like to whine about the crazy battery drain (90% to 25% in 3 hours with about 20 whatsapp Line messages back and forth) and the way the back of iPhone now heats up, really hot.

Never be an early adopter, they told me, would I listen? *skulks back for another 3 hours of re-syncing music*

EDIT: Don’t be dumb! Just re-boot your iPhone! Your music will play again.

Smarter cities, happier nicthegeek?

This is really weird and out-of-the-blue, but I’d love to attend one of these smart cities/urban renewal/city infrastructure conferences just once.

Smarter Cities KL 2012

 

I’m not an architect or urban planner or traffic controller, which is too bad, because I’ve always had a fascination with city infrastructure and urban planning. Just look at the amount of time I spend playing city-building games ranging from Simcity to Emperor.

Hmm, maybe I wouldn’t make a good urban or city planner after all, and perhaps I wouldn’t understand all the technicalities and jargon, but it would still be fascinating to listen in at sessions that provide ideas to encourage citizens to make smarter choices about how they live, work and travel; or to manage urban sprawl and reduce a city’s carbon footprint.

The website design and navigation is pretty sexy as well.

 

 

 

 

A new city

sooo, I’ve been a bit slow here.

Taipei County 台北縣 (that bit featured in red) has been renamed 新北市 New Taipei City since end-2010.  And I had no idea, till a friend said so.  Well, I thought I had heard something about it, but that’s what comes of not watching or reading the news at all.

Some people might make a link (name-wise) to Newport City RI, or Newport City PH.

All I can think of is New Port City 新浜市, Niihama-shi, the fictional metropolis and the new capital of Japan, featured in the Ghost in the Shell franchise.

The city houses most of Japan’s politicians, business leaders and industrial workers.

And Sector 9, I might add.

And that’s my geek-on for today.  🙂