Figurine Display May 2014

Back in March, I bought a cheap bookshelf from Bunnings to store my manga collection, and to use the top shelf to display a selection of my figurine collection. These were the first few figurines I chose to display:

Figurines March 2014

I had planned to change which figurines I display each month, but I couldn’t be bothered dusting each figurine, carefully putting them back in their boxes, carefully taking them out of their boxes, piecing them together, positioning them nicely, etc. But earlier this week, my pre-order of the Kotobukiya Leafa figurine was finally delivered. So I have decided to put my Sword Art Online figurines on display.

From left to right: Griffon Enterprises Asuna (Titania), Alphamax Asuna (ALO), Kotobukiya Asuna (Aincrad), Kotobukiya Leafa (Fairy Dance), Toy's Works Akira E. Ferrari

From left to right:
Griffon Enterprises Asuna (Titania)
Alphamax Asuna (ALO)
Kotobukiya Asuna (Aincrad)
Kotobukiya Leafa (Fairy Dance)
Toy’s Works Akira E. Ferrari

Yes, Akira is the odd one out. She’s not from Sword Art Online, she’s actually from Aria. But I don’t have a box for her so she will be permanently on display. The pictures were taken with my mobile phone. At night. So these pictures don’t really show off how gorgeous they are. A closer look at each figurine…

Griffon Enterprises Asuna (Titania)

Griffon Enterprises Asuna (Titania)

I had heard that Griffon Enterprises had a reputation for producting stunningly beautiful prototypes, but the mass produced final figurine will not be as stunning. This is the very first figurine I have purchased from Griffon, and my verdict? The reputation has some merit. It’s still a lovely figurine, but it could have been better. I do like the way they have Asuna’s name printed on the base (this isn’t really visible in the photo >.<). Also, compared to the other Asuna figurines, this one is visibly smaller, despite all of them being “1/8 scale”.

Alphamax Asuna (ALO)

Alphamax Asuna (ALO)

Between the Griffon Enterprise’s Asuna (Titania/ALO version) and Alphamax’s one, I think the Alphamax one is prettier. But the face, I can’t help but be reminded of Aria from Seitokai Yakuindomo. I really like how light and airy the dress looks in this one. The pose makes me worry that over time, this figurine will start to warp downwards, but we’ll see…

Kotobukiya Asuna (Aincrad)

Kotobukiya Asuna (Aincrad)

This was amongst the first few Asuna figurines to be announced, so I pre-ordered it as soon as I could. Kotobukiya generally makes excellent figurines, so this was a no-brainer. I liked the interesting pose and the gold loops on the base. The way the hair flows on the right-hand side is a little odd though, and it looks even more odd when viewed from behind. But still, it is an overall lovely figurine.

Kotobukiya Leafa (Fairy Dance)

Kotobukiya Leafa

I had actually pre-ordered Griffon Enterprise’s Leafa figurine first, before Kotobukiya announced theirs. But when they did, I immediately cancelled my pre-order for Griffon’s Leafa, even though the Kotobukiya one was not available for pre-order yet. Asuna is my favourite character from Sword Art Online so I have no qualms about buying multiple figurines of her, but Leafa, I don’t like her enough to justify buying multiple figurines.

Anyway, what I love about Kotobukiya’s Leafa is the base with the tree trunk poking out of the water, it looks great on the blue table runner that I put on the shelf. Also, wings! Griffon’s Leafa didn’t have wings. The Kotobukiya one has wings which are semi-transparent with a gradient colour, unlike the wings on the Titania/ALO Asunas which are just a flat semi-transparent colour.

I also pre-ordered Good Smile Company’s Asuna (Knights of the Blood), but delivery was delayed again and again, now it’s expected to be delivered in June 2014. Maybe I will leave these figurines on display until the GSC Asuna is delivered to complete my Sword Art Online display.

My full figurine collection at

Quest For An Umbrella

I have had many umbrellas in the past. From full-sized umbrellas, to the small travel-sized umbrellas. For many years, I had a preference for the small compact umbrellas because they were more convenient to carry around. Until one year, I don’t remember when as it seems like long ago now, my mum bought a full-sized umbrella that had a plastic covering on it.

The plastic covering covers just about the entire length of the umbrella, and allows you to pull it back to allow you to open up the umbrella. It’s probably easier to see it in action than to describe it with words:

I thought it was the most clever umbrella I’ve ever seen. But eventually I lost it, no idea where it went. I found some for sale at the shops and bought one, but my forgetful self lost that one too. Then a few years ago, my mum bought two of these umbrellas. She gave one to my sister, and one to me.

My sister soon lost hers. I remember that I held on to mine a little longer. Roughly two years ago, the winter after I started my new job, I had carried my umbrella with me in the morning as it was raining. Perhaps it was because it stopped raining in the afternoon, or perhaps I was just tired after a long day at work. Whatever the reason, I forgot to take the umbrella home with me.

The last thing I remember was putting the umbrella under my desk when I went to work that morning. I didn’t realise I had lost it until a day or two after. I searched the office, but it was nowhere to be found.

I searched many shops to find a replacement, but no matter where I looked, no store I visited had the umbrella with the drip-catching plastic covering.

Fast forward to 2014, I had been without an umbrella for a while, I didn’t even buy a cheap compact umbrella to use because I wanted the plastic covered umbrella. But I have given up on finding one in local shops. So I moved my quest to the world wide web.

The first matching Google result was for Wonderbrella, but given the crude amateurish look of their website, I kept looking and found Cloud Nine Umbrellas. Both websites seem to be for US-based businesses.

I decided to choose Cloud Nine Umbrellas because their website looked more professional. I placed an order online for two umbrellas since they had a $15 for two offer (one umbrella was $8). I waited a week for a response to my order but received none so I sent them an e-mail to follow up on my order. They responded promptly but claimed to have sent me an e-mail shortly after I placed my order to ask if I would agree to pay additional postage for international order. I never received any such e-mail. Nevertheless, I replied back to tell them to proceed. But later, they sent an e-mail to say that they were not fulfilling any international orders at this time. I replied back to ask if they had deducted any money from my debit card. Apparently they did, but assured me that it was refunded back.

So I move on to my second option: Wonderbrella. I placed an order online with them, but they soon replied back saying that they were not doing international orders either. Both websites for Cloud Nine Umbrellas and Wonderbrella indicate that international orders are possible. Misleading websites are misleading…

I have come this far and invested much time into finding a plastic covered umbrella. Given that the umbrellas from those websites are most likely manufactured in China, I turned my search to AliExpress.

AliExpress is a Chinese website which allows Chinese manufacturers/businesses to sell direct to customers. I find that the website feels very similar to eBay, except no auctions, just set prices. I couldn’t help but feel a little hesitant, given China’s reputation for dodgy counterfeit goods. But I really wanted that umbrella, so I searched AliExpress for sellers, and picked out one that looked the most reliable to place my order.

Photo from the AliExpress listing

I paid for my order immediately and a week later received notification that my order had been shipped. I also decided to purchase a tablet case for my new Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 from AliExpress. But days passed and nothing was delivered, no tablet case, no umbrella. I was starting to worry a bit, and in the meantime the weather had been rainy, and I was without an umbrella.

Eventually the tablet case arrived, yay. But the umbrella was still nowhere to be found. According to AliExpress, delivery may take up to 45 days, so I continued to wait. I little over a month after I placed the order, it finally arrived! It hasn’t rained since I received it, so I am yet to test it against the elements, but so far so good.

My quest has come to an end, and I’ll try my best to make sure I don’t lose this one!

My Little Farmies

When I was still somewhat new to Facebook and Facebook games were all the rage with news feeds inundated with automatically generated messages of gaming invites and achievements. Back then, I only played one Facebook game: Farmville. It reminded me of Harvest Moon, which is a series of farming games. But eventually I got to a point where my farm grew too large and became too time consuming to maintain, so I stopped playing.

That was many years ago now. Around a month ago, I found myself with a lot of free time to kill, so I decided to seek out another farming game to play. I didn’t want to go back to Farmville as that game gets more tedious as you progress, plus I can’t access Facebook on certain computers. Googling “farm browser games” shows that there are many farm-based browser games out there.

In the end, I picked “My Little Farmies” partially because I liked the way the graphics and layout looked, but primarily because it was created by a German developer whom later created the English version. Translating a game from one language to another takes a great deal of effort, so a game needs to be good enough to be worth that effort. Sure, I could’ve gone and read random reviews of different farming browser games to decide which one would be good, but having a company invest time and money into translating a game is a pretty convincing endorsement.

Anyway, I’ve been playing for a little over a month now. Being a “free-to-play” game, the developers need to make money somehow, and like many “free-to-play” games, this one allows you to use real money to purchase in-game currency to buy items that make things in the game easier or more convenient. For example, when clearing rubble from your farm, you can either clear it using “thalers” that you earn by playing the game and wait a certain period of time, or you can use “gold bars” which you generally purchase with real money and have the rubble cleared instantly. Or watering/harvesting crops requires you to click. Alot. When you farm expands, this means lots and lots of clicking. But there is an option in the game to water/harvest everything at one but it costs… you guesssed it… gold bars!

There are also certain crops/animals/items that can only be purchased using gold bars. Also, some later farm/warehouse upgrades cost gold bars, which effectively stifles your progress in the game unless you buy gold bars. Like most browser games I have played, initial game play gives you enough to do to grab your attention. But you will soon find that as you progress, a lot of time is simply spent waiting. Waiting for crops to grow, waiting for buildings to complete, waiting for upgrades to finish. Initially, the wait time is a matter of minutes. Then it becomes hours, then days… I did give in to temptation and purchased some gold bars to speed things up, but then making everything easy became boring. So I took up a new challenge: play through the game without buying gold bars.

Now, I had already purchased gold bars, so to undertake this challenge, I started a new account, a new farm. According to game rules, having more than one account is ok as long as the accounts do not benefit from one another via in-game trade. So the rules I have set for my challenge is:

1. No trading between my roxybudgy (gold bar) account and my sixfoureight (no gold bars) account.
2. No using real money to purchase of gold bars on the sixfoureight account.
3. Gold bars earned in-game can be spent on items that require gold bars.

Although I will try to prevent my sixfoureight account from benefiting directly from the roxybudgy account, there will be an indirect benefit of knowledge. Although my roxybudgy account was created 2 weeks before the sixfoureight, both are now the same level as I have applied what I learned from the roxybudgy account to optimise the progress on the sixfoureight.

So I am now roughly one month into the challenge. My farm is now size 7 and unable to expand further as upgrading to size 8 would cost 160 gold bars. Similarly, my warehouse capacity is stuck at 300 because it would cost 100 gold bars to upgrade it to 350. Therefore I need to carefully decide what crops/animals/buildings to use given my limited space. I have created an Excel spreadsheet comparing data and figures for the various items/aspects of the game and analysed that data to determine which crops/animals/buildings would give me the most amount of thalers/XP. And the result is this:

Screenshot of my sixfoureight My Little Farmies farm.
Screenshot of my sixfoureight My Little Farmies farm.

To generate enough thalers to pay for the buildings and upgrades, I primarily grew grapes as they yielded the highest net profit for my farm level. After upgrading my farm and warehouse as far as I could without using gold bars, I reorganised everything to focus on increasing my XP rather than thalers. That meant fulfilling as many customer requests as possible. On my roxybudgy account, I build every single building, crop and animal available so I could fulfil just about any customer request that came along, but having a lack of warehouse space causes much inconvenience. So for the sixfoureight account, I chose buildings that allowed you to purchased the 1st and 2nd upgrade with thalers, and grew crops that were required by those buildings.

My farm is now level 33. My initial goal was to expand my farm and warehouse as far as I could, which I recently achieved. My next goal is to unlock the cherry trees which can be obtained at level 41. Based on the game forums, it seems that at these levels, it requires a huge amount of XP to level up, but I’ll get there, and I’ll get there without spending a cent!

In addition to my silly little challenge, I have also been learning PHP and MySQL by turning my Excel spreadsheet into a real database. My quest to build my first PHP website and MySQL database can be found here:

No More Free Parking

The other day I noticed a sign outside of Greenwood train station advising that all parking at all train stations will now be paid parking.

Well that sucks… I pay for parking anyway, so it’s not the price that bothers me. It’s losing my convenient parking space near the train station entrance and increased time waiting at the parking ticket machine.

The parking at Greenwood station currently has both paid and free parking. To the south of the station entrance is the paid parking area. On the east right near the entrance is free parking, and the northern parking extension on the other side of Hepburn Avenue is also free parking.

Obviously, the free parking right next to the station entrance is the first to fill up with cars, so if you arrive at the train station after 7am, you are left with either the free-but-distant car park on the other side of Hepburn Avenue which fills up second, or the more-closely-located-to-entrance paid parking which is usually the last to fill up.

I usually arrive at the train station between 7-7:30am. I used to park in the free-but-distant car park, but during the hotter months, the walk from the car park to the station and back again was a very unpleasant experience, and having to do that walk in the rain isn’t nice either. So now I park in the paid parking which usually has plenty of space as other commuters hunt for the last remaining scraps of free parking. But come 8am, all free parking is taken and even the paid parking fills up.

I start work at 8:30am, so I aim to leave the house around 7-7:15am to arrive at Greenwood station so I can get a nice parking spot near the train station entrance, pay for my parking without having to wait in a queue then it’s a short walk to the train platform. If I arrive later than usual, but am lucky enough to still get a parking space, I then have to contend with a long queue at the ticket machine.

When all parking becomes paid, instead of the southern car park being the last to be filled up, it will be amongst the first to be filled up, which means I may be forced to park in the northern car park on the other side of Hepburn Avenue and spend 10-15 minutes in a long queue for parking tickets before making the trek to the train station. The horror!

All parking will become paid parking on 1 July 2014, so I still have some time to savour my lovely parking spot near the train station entrance. Perhaps in future I may need to leave the house even earlier to secure a space near the train station entrance…

Transperth: Paid Parking is on its way
ABC News: Free train station parking abolished by WA Government in 2013 budget

Edit: Apparently queues at the ticket machine will not be a problem as Transperth will introduce “SmartParker” where you link your car details to your SmartRider and tag on at the car park, and parking attendants will use licence plate recognition software to check if parking has been paid for. See more information at Transperth’s website.