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Happy 2005 everyone. This is going to be a great year!!

My first 16x16 icon attempts

If you look to the right there are now new little itty-bitty icons there. This is my first attempt at decent looking 16x16 icons. Yes I created them from scratch. I think they came out okay.

I found out quickly that the only way to get 16x16 to look good at all is to zoom in and go pixel by pixel - which is what I did. Granted, they look a little "computery" but that's the whole point. Icons in my opinion should not just be about looking good but also serve its function well. A "contact" or "e-mail" icon should be an image of an envelope. Design icons should have something to do with art, like pencils, pens and so on. Archival functions should have something to do with storing something.

Speaking of the Blog Archive icon.. it's supposed to look like a piece of paper coming out of a file drawer. That was really hard to do in 16x16. I think I've accomplished that.. but you be the judge. Originally my idea was to draw a treasure chest but that did not come out good at all (grin). The standard file cabinet icon had to do. I drew it out as an opened cabinet with a paper sticking out.

Just for grins I made the icons with transparent backgrounds. This was easy to do since none of the icons have anti-aliasing in them. "Magic Wand'ing" the boundaries for the transparent areas was a snap.

I may make some more lil' icons here and there to kill some time. Maybe. Depends how bored I get. (grin)

Home vs. Apartment prices

I've been doing some future-planning today because it's a slow day here at work. As I was pricing things out I came across a startling discovery... well.. startling to me at least. The overall monthly cost for a home is actually less than an apartment outfitted with similar amenities in many instances.

Originally I had my crosshairs on getting an apartment this summer. My opinion of that has changed after today. Now I'm trying to decide whether it would be better to have an apartment or an actual house - and it's leaning towards house.

Take two different living environments:

1. A 2-bedroom apartment with a washer/dryer hookup in the unit (not that crappy "community" laundry room).

2. A 3-bedroom house also with a washer/dryer hookup in the basement.

Which one do you think would be more expensive? Believe it or not, the apartment has the higher monthly payment, by as much as 10% to 15%.

Before I go any further - these are my personal calculations and shouldn't be taken as gospel. Everyone's price for a mortgage is different depending on your down payment and credit and so on.

Granted, you're stuck with a mortgage when you get a house. But let's say that down the road you lose your job and you have to collect unemployment (in this day and age you have to expect things like that to happen). It's a lot easier to pay the smaller mortgage payment compared to a higher lease payment. In my experience you should never take your job as a "given". You should always have some kind of plan just in case things go wrong for whatever reason. A lesser monthly payment for where you live is always better when bad fiscal times happen - no doubt about that.

While doing my calculations, I found that it would actually be easier for me to afford a mortgage payment (compared to a lease payment) even if I did lose my job. This above all else was the proverbial kick in the pants. I always thought apartments were cheaper 100% of the time. Not so. I mean, yeah, if you go with a cheap-o place with the walls falling apart an apartment is less than a house. But no one wants that, obviously.

I definitely have some more reading to do on the subject. I will be scanning many real estate web sites, newspapers and so on. Looks like a home, as in a real home, isn't as far out of reach as I once thought.