The State of RA:N 3.15.17 The Decision

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It's time again for another assessment of Run Around:Network and to let you all know what I've been up to and how things are looking. 
Just under a year ago I wrote a post called The State of RA:N: A Fix Is Needed which detailed the journey I have taken with this website, my inspirations, and how things were at that time in May 2016. 

You can still read the post if you'd like to catch up on my/RA:N's story and how it all began. 
It is now March of 2017 and many things are different, some are not. 
Like before we'll be going on a photo-walk as I talk discuss things below. 

In the post from last year that I mentioned above, I made a self discovery that I used a blanket-term for, which I called "the fix". What exactly the fix was, was for me to find out as I spent the year brainstorming, learning and improving skills, and deciding what it is I wanted to do in my everyday life to improve this site. 
A year ago I was unhappy and fed-up with the layout and general state of the site as well as wishing for more. I was getting exhausted of always sensing that I was on the cusp of doing it the way I had wanted all along but didn't achieve just yet.

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There's a list of web-design mumbo jumbo that I could spout out here, but to save some time let's just say it was a combination of these things: 

Mobile integration was horrid, unresponsive, and mostly didn't work. Facebook links to RA:N didn't get along with phones or tablets at all, and most images wouldn't size correctly and floated about off-screen. 
I am less experienced in mobile design and can still use a lot of learning there, however I was able to fix the dilemma of viewing RA:N on mobile devices. 
Status: Fixed 

The general layout. This had been a constant evolution ever since I began Run Around:Kazu. 
One of my faults is spending too much time worrying over a layout and being a perfectionist- I'm also mostly self-taught and tend to learn things as I go. This means the past 8 years or so I have been working on RA:N's layout and usually learning something new each time. 
I'm proud of most of my layout designs and edits, however there is always some script or some back-end issue that always tends to fight me. Something I usually have to settle for. I don't like settling with things I can study up on and figure out how to make better. 
 If you've read my about page on this site or followed me for some time you may know my life has had it's ups and downs, and while the saga of very recent times is not fully recorded yet, it is safe to say there have been some days/weeks I couldn't fully focus on this site and my dream here. 
It has been a constant evolving process that I have had to work on during times of low stress and moments where I'm not getting Design Block! (like writer's block but for graphic artists and web developers) 

Confucius said something I repeat to myself now and then which goes, "It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop." I think about this often when I feel too much time is passing or I'm nervous that stress has caused my dream to take longer than it should. 
Throughout anxiety and depression and hard times I refuse to quit and regardless of how much time has passed, I have decided that my passion for running this site, my passion for my hobbies, still burns just as brightly as it did on the day I founded RA:N and started my dream, and I will not stop. 
It is very important to keep moving forward regardless of your obstacles. Keeping that mentality is very good for you in the long-run, I have spoken a lot to others and in public talks about not giving up and moving forward- I plan on writing a motivational on RA:N sometime soon.

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So with all of that said, I am proud to say that through the year I did in fact come up with something regarding the layout! 
I began working with some scripts that allowed me to easily control portions of posts and sort them. I was able to arrange things in the Magazine-style that I have been working toward for a long time. Instead of an old-fashioned rotating slider, I decided to change the way posts are featured here. All posts now appear in the top, while featured is found to the right sidebar, and breaking news (game announcements, shocking news, etc) is found just to the left of the featured section. All major topics found on the navigation bar have very organized sections of their own, and all of their offspring tags sort into them automatically as well now. 
What's very nice is the inclusion of Jquery and the amount of it running on this site now. Jquery automates a lot of tag and post sorting and archival work on it's own and frees up time for me to put into other areas. 

Other than the home page's new arrangement, post pages are clean and DISQUS comments are integrated nicely. 
Other features will be coming in the future, expect some edits and additions with time, but no more hiatuses! 
The present layout allows me to drag and drop topic sections and simply write in tags for new ones whenever I wish at the click of a button. Gone are the days when I'd need to fully code in new sections with brand new CSS and HTML, since the scripts already support an infinite amount of new tables for sections. 
The navigation is still pretty classic, but floats conveniently and just right. 
I'm not sure why some searched posts and the archive while searching only shows a few posts at a time, but at least all are accessible. Most visitors view everything on the home page or articles directly linked to from social media- I'm not too worried as nearly 0% of you actually search for posts. But its there when you need it.

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I am very happy with the present layout, a lot of problems (still saving you a wall of text full of tech and developer mumbo jumbo) are fixed and for once I am fully satisfied with this new and fully responsive, operational version of Run Around:Network. 
Status: Fixed 

If runaroundnet.com is up and working, it's how I want it, and mobile and responsive (formats to any device) versions are working sweetly, then what else is there to keep everything from being peachy? A few more things actually. Like social media. 
Its undeniably necessary and is a large part of how articles are shared and how the site is visited. Most RA:N social media is also my own (Hikaru Kazushime content) and so I use my personal Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and more to promote it. On Facebook there is my profile (most popular) and the RA:N Like Page and Hikaru Kazushime-my personal public figure Like Page. 
All of those things needed a good tidying up and also a nice bit of time building up and using. I tend to 'lay low' and not utilize much of my social media when I feel RA:N isn't perfected and I'm not actively writing and posting content here. 
I don't want to draw lots of attention to what looked like an inactive website. 
Over the last year I've rebooted my social media and as of recent times have begun building it up yet again and linking new RA:N posts. 

Overall the social media choice I needed to make over the past year was how I would utilize social media again, how many types of social media I would use, and how I would prepare my social media for use. 
Status: Fixed and always improving~

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Lifestyle. This is a big one. We cannot always control what happens in our day-to-day life. 
One of the final parts of 'the fix' was to master several ways to improve my own discipline. 
While designing everything else I needed to work on several key things I thought would really enhance my ability to keep this site up and doing well. 
Posting discipline is one. Figuring out the best way to make writing articles more friendly- that just comes down to my own ways of coding and writing my articles. 
I did in fact discover ways to save time, host images fast, batch-watermark (although this isn't anything new), and more quickly find news I feel is important to share. 
I also found myself doing maintenance to my own computers, making things faster, easier to access, and making sure no matter what device was near me, each could contribute to the website.

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The other part of the lifestyle portion of 'the fix' is the most difficult of them all. Schedule Discipline. This one is particularly difficult for me because some days and what happens in them differ greatly from others. 
I also have health issues that do contribute to varying sleep-schedules and moments where migraines are so rough I can't bare to look at a screen or think to write a post. 
In the past year I have discovered tactics to assist with some of these issues. 

One thing I can be thankful for is that I am my own boss here, I have the ability to pre-write articles and time them for the near future (only for certain posts, not for breaking news or time-sensitive information), and even though I do try to treat it as a 'job' it technically isn't one so I am allowed to take some breaks for my health. 
If you're curious about my health you can read up on my spinal surgery on my about page. I also get terribad headaches. These things don't prevent me from working in the field and gathering coverage, doing panels, but they don't make it easy to sit and code this site all day long- thankfully I don't have to worry much about that since it's up and ready to go! My health problems contribute the greatest to my sleep-schedule issues, and varying sleep patterns means sometimes my work here may be posted at random times of the day. 
On a good day I plan to post 1-3 items, and if you've seen the Android 18 post you'll see that RA:N just got it's first new editor, OnyxGoggles! 
Onyx is a close friend of mine who will be contributing content from time to time.

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Working on my schedule and writing discipline may always be a constant, but I will strive to do my best to consistently create content here. I don't have a set schedule because its difficult for me to make and keep one, but you don't have to worry about it on your end as this site is just getting started! 

Aside from health issues, also present in my life is anxiety which has made things difficult for me. I am dealing with a divorce, and there's plenty of haters that do nothing but entertain me and inspire me to work harder and continue to always improve. (I also plan on writing about why we need haters soon as well) 
I've got my plate full of personal issues and slowly but surely working through these times and hardships I face.

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All in all I can't fully admit to 'the fix' as being fully realized yet. I refuse to let any of those things prevent me from moving forward. 

That is where 'The Decision' was born. 
The Decision is a lot stronger than a fix. 
Sometimes there just isn't a 'fix' handy for everything, and we have to decide on things. 
I took plenty of time to think about RA:N and it's future over 2016 and accomplished enough to actually begin posting articles again here and there since December. 
There was no official launch/re-launch because every time I've done that in the past, some force of nature would decide that things just weren't ready by the date I had advertised. 
So RA:N came back alive without any notice aside from links to new articles that have begun appearing on my social media. 
 Is this a test? Are we officially launched? Does it actually matter? Its ready to use, and it's being used as you can see. 
 I should say that post frequency will increase a lot more as time goes.

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I've faced a lot of problems since RA:N was founded, nearly all of those problems not having anything to do with the site, but with poor outcomes and pain that came to exist in my personal life. 
Since 2008, I have lost family, made and lost friends, was married, hurt and betrayed, and so much that was brand new in my life that came to be since 2008, has nearly all but ended like a slate being wiped clean, returning to simpler times in my life. 
Sure there's still some hurdles that are ramifications of what I've been through the past couple years, but general day-to-day life feels like everything I have went through is coming to a reset. 
Those bad experiences that I am moving forward from, I feel I am also beginning pretty fresh with RA:N. So much actually happened to me in 2015 I often think about Mass Effect's ending where it all came down once and for all, and how Mass Effect:Andromeda is the series' fresh new direction. 



If you haven't played through the Mass Effect Trilogy, you should.



The old chapters are closed and locked away, at least in my life. 
I believe in God, I have my mum, a couple close friends, my hobbies, and this website. I talk about these things because my life and this website are intertwined, it is important for me to be personal with you and let you in to how I'm doing and how it has effected this site's activity. 
Most of what needed a 'fix' has been solved. 

In 2017 I made The Decision to begin fresh with Run Around:Network, and see where it takes me this time. 
In life there's always room to improve, and I plan to, but I discovered that I can't wait for a perfect fix and decided that RA:N is primed for news and bringing you Visual Culture. 

Since it is ready, I am ready to see where it leads.

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The Mission 
The mission of this site is to provide a door to Visual Culture and fill some gaps that exist in how Visual Culture is represented. (just google around for active otaku blogs, jpop music communities, or big arbitrary game reviews, there's certainly a lack)
RA:N promotes Japanese Culture and Subcultures, as well as other media related to gaming, movies, and more. 
The last thing I ever want is for this site to host only click-bait news like "top 25 anime murder scenes" or "5 video game waifu's to marry" and consistent rubbish like that. One or two of those now and then is alright, but this site is for informing and entertaining, not making lists. You're not a writer if your site is full of that stuff, just a list maker. 

A lot of what is out now on the site is a combination of breaking news, figurine features, and convention news. Things will vary a lot more from here on and like I mentioned above, posts will become more frequent. The goal isn't for this site to just announce every anime and game coming out, but feature a combination of original content (event coverage, reviews, special series), feature content (figure features, breaking news, anime & game announcements) and cultural news (otaku subculture, Japanese culture, geek culture).

The vision and mission is a bit vast, and even what I described above is only the surface.

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A year ago I was unsure if a fix could really be found, but it took me that time to discover that I needed to find and apply certain 'fixes' as well as The Decision. 
There's a lot planned for this year on the website. I plan on working on community features in some form, as well as a dedicated place to shop for particular products from my affiliates, and further evolution of the homepage. A lot of convention coverage both organic RA:N content and shared content will begin to appear, I also plan on beginning motivational posts, posting a lot of figurine photography, and beginning a flashback series for coverage of past conventions as well. 

That's the tip of the iceberg on my to-do list! 

Thank you to all who continue to visit RA:N and enjoy it's content, and those who keep supporting me. 

The Decision has been made!

Keep running around with us, at RA:N.


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About Hikaru Kazushime

Hikaru Kazushime is an American entrepreneur from the USA who lives in California and is the creator of Run Around:Network, a brand that brings Visual Culture to life. Kazu (called for short) is an active personality in the anime and gaming industries and sub-culture scenes. Kazu resides in his hometown of Sacramento, California where he manages RA:N from his home office. Learn more about Kazu by clicking the "About Hikaru Kazushime" link at the top under the "About" tab.

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