GD USA: American Graphic Design Awards 2014 – Winner

courtesy of Graphic Design USA


I am among those selected for logo design for the 2014 American Graphic Design Awards (AGDA) – brought to you by GD USA. The logo for Global Impact Opportunities was selected and is going to be published in the November/December GD USA magazine, online, digital annual and iPad App. I will post more info once I receive the issue/online linkage.

Thanks to GD USA for providing me with the opportunity to continue thriving creatively!

Global Impact Opportunities Logo
Global Impact Opportunities Logo

  • Global Impact Opportunities - Connecting people to create impact.


More info on the contest…
The American Graphic Design Awards is our five decade old flagship competition, and is open to everyone in the graphic arts community – graphic design firms, advertising agencies, inhouse corporate and institutional designers, publishers and other media. Winners will receive an embossed Certificate of Excellence for each piece selected and become eligible for reproduction in the Graphic Design USA Awards Annual in print, on the web, and on our iPad App — seen by over 100,000 colleagues and clients each year.

2014 September BIRCHBOX – Unboxing

September already!? This is a good and useful box to kick off the fall with. 5 out of 6 with only one complete miss isn’t bad at all. Just as a reminder…

“Products I don’t use will be combined into a GIVEAWAY. Why not? I don’t like wasting things, but anyway.”

2014 April BIRCHBOX - Unboxing

2014 April BIRCHBOX – Unboxing


What’s in the BOX:
  • Avène Cleanance Soap-Free Gel Cleanser (full size 6.74 fl oz. $20) – I used this PH balanced cleanser with my Clarisonic. I will say it is gentle yet effective on oily skin. The gel leaves your skin feeling clean and refreshed. It lathers up very well for having no soap. The cleanser is a bit drying so I recommend using a good moisturizer afterward. I would consider purchasing this and checking out the rest of Avène’s product line.
  • Harvey Prince Hello  (full size 50 mL. $55) – Definitely a bright citrusy scent. I’m surprised it wasn’t overwhelming with the floral notes. A little goes a long way. I’d say this is a more of a Summer day perfume but the warm/crisp fragrance will be nice in the Fall.
  • Macadamia Professional™ Healing Oil Spray  (full size 2 oz. $14.50) – This basically a finishing spray to add sheen to your style. It gets the job done as noted. I use the Macadamia Professional  Healing Treatment serum with amazing results after blow outs. I probably wouldn’t buy this since I prefer the serum.
  • TEMPTU S/B Highlighter  (full size 1 oz./$27.50) - And here’s the miss. This is a silicone based highlighter for contouring (makeup). I received it in champagne shimmer and one lucky person will receive it in the giveaway box. 
  • TOCCA Crema da Mano – Hand Cream  (full size 2 OZ. $10) - Not much to say here. It is a green tea and lemon (Bianca) scented hand lotion. It is very soft and light. With Fall on the way hand creams/lotion are a plus.
  • BIRCHBOX FIND: ChapStick hydration lock Day/Night  (full size 0.154 $TBD) - An extra treat this month with ChapStick’s new dual day/night stick. Also, just in time for Fall! Can never have enough chapstick in general. The 2 in 1 combo is very convenient. I’d buy this if I saw it in store.

This was a great box to kick off Fall with. Nothing to fancy-schamncy or unusable (minus the make up of course).

First Play: The Sims 4 Review


No pools no problem? The Sims 4 is finally here just in time for fall. As you know, The Sims franchise always had that rainy-day replay value. Here’s a glimpse inside my first play and impressions of the Sims 4.

It has been 5 years since The Sims 3 so you can say it’s about time. Of course with the exclusion of expansion packs as I don’t buy them unless I can get them for a considerable discount and the user-created content is just more fun.

As with any game when announced, many fans are upset over content/features left out this time around. Honestly, at first glance they did remove staple aspects of the game. Apparently this is for the sake of the new engine/improved performance/increase compatibility with a wider range of computers….yeah. Could you imagine the Sims on the Source or Diesel engines? Either way I like experiencing games for myself than relying on speculation.

For a breakdown of how The Sims 4 differs from The Sims 3 and details on what’s included, check out this Gameranx article:  New Features Available At Launch

Sidebar: I’m still waiting for a truly open-world multiplayer online Sims – and I’m not referring to the flop of all flops…

The Sims Online Cover

The Sims Online

First Impression
Loading screens abound!
First load for any game is always the slowest. However, it does start up rather quickly. A major downside is loading screens in-between lots/worlds — gets old pretty quickly and will have you missing the true open-world feel.

Where are my saved Sims from CAS?!
To my surprise — and others I presume — I didn’t see any of my saved Sims from the Create A Sim demo! After fidgeting around, restarting, verifying game cache, etc, I finally got the wise idea to manually import them myself. The process is pretty easy.

Here’s how to manually import your saved sims from The Sims 4 Create A Sim demo:

  • Locate your game files — they should be within ‘ My Documents’ in the ‘Electronic Arts’ folder
  • Goto the ‘The Sims 4 Create A Sim Demo’ folder and open the ‘Tray’ folder
  • Select all the files and copy
  • Paste the files into the same ‘Tray’ folder in the ‘The Sims 4′ folder
  • Restart the game and your saved Sims should now be in your gallery

I will say the graphics are a lot sleeker than its predecessors. The UI is vastly improved and less cumbersome. The compact HUDs allow for more playable on-screen real estate, which is a major plus. The UI does remind me of The Sims Free Play (mobile game) touch friendly grid. The Sims themselves are far more animated and stick to their cartoonish charm. It would be nice if the next major installment took a step towards more realistic looking characters. I wish they would step their game up either way, I’ve run into more issues with this installment than it’s predecessors.

You’ve gotta get started somewhere, so of course after I imported my Sims I made in the Create-a-Sim demo. I figured that would knock out valuable first game time; which it did after troubleshooting. I found the gameplay  smooth and responsive. I didn’t have any problems with lag but I did experience many warnings about high memory usage – and I have 16gbs paired with an Nvidia GTX 660ti with my processor overclocked to about 4.2-ish — so draw from that what you will. Hopefully patches fix up the memory hungry errors. In the meantime, I’ll have to tweak the settings to see if that helps but then again who really wants to lose graphic quality and play the game low res? Disabling Origin in-game helped a bit. I wish I could just load the game itself and not use Origin; or better yet boot from Steam eliminating the clunky Origin software. Oh and I also crashed about three times within the first hour of play, which brings me to my next point.

This is Sims 101. I should know better by now to hit save periodically but no the newness came over me and I honestly forgot. First crash…lost the progress of my house I built. Can we make auto-save a thing here?

Build Mode
To get started I went straight in and decided to get into the new build mode. Usually, I would just buy a pre-fab house from the game or community and customize it myself. Hearing so much about how easy and less time-consuming the build mode is left me eager to try it. You can literally drag and drop rooms making the process of building more seamless than ever.

This is a gift and a curse. I feel like this aspect was definitely put in the forefront and where the devs spent a brunt of their time. Seeing your sim have feelings makes the game as dynamic as you can imagine. Their emotional state — like us — will take a toll on their everyday tasks/interactions. There’s a huge emphasis on emotions/persona and it gets a bit distracting after a while.

Favorite Bits

  • Build mode – No more spending hours to complete your house. The menus are organized a lot better and even feature a search bar so you don’t have to go clickity clacking looking for a smoke alarm.
  • Multitasking – Sims can juggle more than one task and not be glued/static to one option at a time.
  • Legacy settings – EA at least got this part right. You can toggle between the new camera and The Sims 3 camera (CTRL+SHIFT+TAB). I found myself bouncing back and forth but ended up sticking with The Sims 3 cam. You can also select to use the ‘Traditional Social Menu’ – ‘the pie menu that groups options by type rather than contextual relevance’ – do this! The new menus seem highly unorganized and just random!
  • Organic interactions – The Sims seem more engaged with one another and less robotic. You can tell they put a ton of work in on the details down to the mannerisms.

    The Sims 4 Neighbors

    True group interactions

  • Neighborhood autonomy – I know this isn’t really new but I’ll say there is improved autonomy within the neighborhood. Again, this makes the game seem less restricted and psuedo-open world. The Sims 4 Neighborhood Autonomy

I’ve read about glitches some players were having with mutant babies, characters skins loading on top of one another, routing, etc. I only ran in to a fork glitch. My sims’ fork was permanently attached to him until I restarted.

The Sims 4 glitch fork

Yes, he’s eating but sims don’t eat pizza with forks.

All in all it was enjoyable but nothing to write home about. If you are a Sims fan I think you will be surprised and have a good time. It did feel a bit empty as far as content and I did find myself missing old features but we know the king of expansion DLCs will deliver soon.  Now if I actually buy said DLCs is another thing. Not to mention the Sims community has always been active in creating everything from patches to skins. I’m very interested to see where they take the game next. There are a lot of new things to get used to/learn this time around but I feel once I have the hang of it will get old pretty quick. If you’re on the fence I say wait until a good sale to grab it and stay tuned to game play videos and walk-throughs to gain more insight and not preconceived opinion. At this point I’m cautiously hopeful.

I expected a lot more but was left feeling ok about the experience. As I mentioned, it feels a bit empty at times — like barebones The Sims pre-expansion packs. Of course then it wasn’t a problem because we were just having fun with this new simulation game but after playing the all/seeing how they developed over time — it falls short. I guess this gives us time to get used to the game, complain and they can release patches/updates as needed. Hopefully EA doesn’t hold out on us and release major fixes as pay for play DLCs.

Oh and I managed to do this already… :lol:

The Sims 4 Fire!


2014 August BIRCHBOX – Unboxing

I have classified August’s Birchbox as the monochromatic grapefruit – well 2 out of the 5 contain it. At first glance, it’s essentially filled with useful things this time around – I’m not too sure about the new-age Binaca though.

“Products I don’t use will be combined into a GIVEAWAY. Why not? I don’t like wasting things, but anyway.”


2014 August BIRCHBOX - Unboxing

2014 August BIRCHBOX – Unboxing


What’s in the BOX:
  • Noir Long-Wear Eyeliner ($15) – This is a super-black, waterproof eyeliner that contains vitamin e and jojoba oil. I don’t do makeup but I will say this pencil is very smooth.
  • Ojon rare blend™ oil Moisture Therapy  (full size 45 mL $35) – I’m the most excited about this oil blend. It’s an after wash oil leave in that also provides heat protection. I have enjoyed the Ojon hair samples before so I’m sure this will work just as well. However, that price for that amount is a no go.
  • Benefit Posiebalm (full size 0.10 oz. $18) – Can’t have enough lip balm. It’s slightly tinted but you can’t tell on darker skin tones. It has mango butter in it which is another plus. Again, the pricing…meh.
  • Harvey Prince Ageless Body Cream  (full size 12 oz./$26) - Smells great – imagine a grapefruit and mango fusion. The lotion is hypoallergenic and contains shea butter. Once again I can’t justify playing $26 for lotion.
  • hello. Breath Spray  (full size 7mL $11.50/pack of 3) - hello. Birchbox says your breath stinks!I haven’t tried this out as I don’t suffer from yuck mouth. It was an extra for the August box so I’ll give it a try.