Projects

This website

If you've visited my hideway in the past, you might notice that I've recently redecorated. I like to do so occasionally, as much for a change of scenery as to exercise my web design skills. This new design is much simpler than previous designs, yet uses more advanced coding. It is XHTML 1.1 valid and the formatting is completely done with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). This means that I can change the scenery more often by easily creating new "skins" in CSS. Just changing the included stylesheet can change the colors, layout, and graphics in one fell swoop! It also uses Server Side Includes (SSI).

We have also purchased our own domain name! crystalnebula.com is hosted by ICDsoft.com. The main site index for crystalnebula.com is running WordPress, an open source blog-style publishing program. Here you will find links to the various sites hosted at crystalnebula.com, as well as information regarding updates to these sites. Our photo gallery is powered by Coppermine, a powerful, open source gallery script. Like WordPress, it uses PHP and MySQL and is a self-contained program running on our server. Friends and family are encouraged to register for photo gallery accounts in order to view private albums.

Thesis

I am working on a joint project for my Master's thesis with two Computer Science students. We are developing an experiment around a life-like animatronic model. The goal of the experiment is to evaluate differences between next-generation computer interfaces of varying degrees of reality. Subjects will attempt an assembly task using Zoobs, with instructions provided by one of four methods: the life-like animatronic, an augmented reality model of the animatronic using a head-mounted display unit, a 3-D model of the animatronic displayed on a traditional 2-D monitor, or a series of 2-D representational models of the assembly parts.

We are still in development and building stages. The animatronic should arrive by the beginning of April, at which point we will be able to develop the other 3-D models and finalize our task, and then hopefully begin running subjects.

Wedding planning

We did it! After a three and a half year engagement, we're finally married! We tied the knot in a small ceremony with family and friends at the Beaches Resort and Spa in Negril, Jamaica on March 3, 2007. Photos are available in our photo gallery.

Costuming

Yes, I am that geeky.

It all began in 2000, when I attended my first Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. I started with the cream of the crop though - Dragon*Con, held in Atlanta, GA every Labor Day weekend. It is one of the largest annual conventions in the world, with dozens of different programming tracks and geeks from all walks of life. When I went, I never imagined I'd stoop so low as to become one of the crazy freaks who dressed up in silly costumes - and I didn't. I was enticed and seduced by the Dark Side of the force, and got the professional costuming and prop replica building bug that permeates the larger conventions. Basically, I spent too much time hanging out with Imperial 501st Legion members, and was assimilated.

My husband is developing another area of this site devoted to our costuming endeavors. Once it's up, I will simply post a link to it here.

Currently, we both have Imperial Officer uniforms and belong to the 501st New England Garrison. The 501st is an elite Star Wars costuming group that is not run by but is officially recognized by Lucasfilm. Members throughout the world participate in many official Star Wars functions and promotions, as well as doing many charity events and parades. I also have a Mara Jade costume that is almost ready for Legion approval, and my husband is completing a Luke costume from Return of the Jedi.

We have converted a Force FX lightsaber to a Luxeon LED with a removable blade and built a Mara Jade replica LED lightsaber that is functional, but not quite finished.

Star Wars Chicks

Star Wars Chicks (http://starwarschicks.com) is a website and non-profit organization dedicated to supporting female fans of Star Wars, which is traditionally seen as a male's domain. It was started in 1999 by two women who were huge fans of Star Wars and thought it would be wonderful if there was a website where women could feel comfortable in expressing their fandom, their passion, and their opinion.

In January of 2000, I volunteered as an assistant webmaster. In early 2001, JediGirl (co-founder and graphic designer at the Museum of Science in Boston) proposed a new graphical design for the website, which I volunteered to implement. When MissJedi, the other co-founder, decided in 2003 that she no longer wished to be a part of the site, I stepped in and took over. MissJedi had served as head webmaster, handled website administration, and was a major influence in the Fight for the Cure campaign. My first responsibility as new administrator of the site was to solve a major financial problem - server costs were far too expensive. I had never run my own website before, but after much research I was able to find a much better hosting server for the website and cut our server costs by a factor of 4. In 2005, I completely renovated the site design, making extensive use of Cascading Style Sheets and updating the code to be XHTML 1.1 compliant.

In addition to general site updates, design, and administration, I have organized and managed the Fight for the Cure campaign since 2004. We have sold almost 2000 lapel pins and raised over $13,000 for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation since September 2004. More information regarding the Fight for the Cure campain is available at the Star Wars Chicks website.

Recent updates I have done include adding the PHP and MySQL based photo gallery and Star Wars crossword puzzles. Currently, I am working on applying for 501(c)3 non-profit status for Star Wars Chicks (incorporated as SWChicks, Incorporated). I also need to finish the recent website renovation. Ongoing projects include a PHP and MySQL searchable database implementation for the fanfiction archive and a new postcard service. In addition, JediGirl (Lori) and I are working with a contact at the American Cancer Society to produce another run of Star Wars Chicks t-shirts. We hope to have these available early in 2006. I also need to hire on more webmasters to help out with the site. There are currently eight wonderful women from around the globe who assist with the site, but every last one of them (myself included) have been very busy and unable to do much with the site in recent years.

Previous web design projects

Over the years I have designed several other websites for various organizations. The following are a few of these:

This page last modified 03/20/07