Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Blogdom! May your Holidays be full of love and joy.
-Nether Kraken

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

RPG's Are Fun

Recently I convinced a good buddy of mine to start playing a PBem rpg with me.  He's a regular to table top gaming and his group typically sticks to dungeons and dragons 3.5 (as far as I know). I've been having a lot of fun sending emails back and forth co-creating a fun story with a close friend (which is the essence of rpg gaming). It's quite entertaining writing campy dialogue in a fantasy setting, crafting a unique and engaging (at least engaging to us) story.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Kind of Sharpie

Another weapon I modeled (but obviously haven't textured yet). For this sword I used a workflow demonstrated in a tutorial by blenderalphahelix. In particular, I really like the use of 'bevel' vs trying to use a subsurf modifier to control the hilt edges. Also I used 'bridge' to join the pommel to the grip (picked that trick up in this cool video on cutting holes).
Now I just need to learn to texture paint like this

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Knifey Spooney!

Behold! A simple creation: a knife model. I just finished chapt. 3 of Game Development with blender last night. I decided to take a quick break from learning the BGE and wanted to try modelling something simple. Walla! I made two slightly different variations. The textures and model could use some tweaking, but that's the point (nice pun!). This is all learning.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Heart Blender Books

I had some amazon cash stuffed away that was just begging to be used, so I decided to grab a digital copy of Game Development with blender.

At this point I'm only in the beginning chapters of the book, going through the standard blender basics section.

I figure if these guys are personal pals of Martins Upitis then hopefully it'll prove to be a good purchase.

I'll toss a review up here, and hopefully on Amazon too once I get through the book in its entirety (which may require a miracle since I'm easily deterred from my hobbies by... my other hobbies).

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mental Encumberance

Martins Upitis has convinced me I need to do two things. Learn the Blender Game Engine and learn shaders. His stuff is just mesmerizing to look at. I hope he updates his blog sooner rather than later. I need more!

Monday, July 1, 2013


Look at me ma.. two hands! That's the opposite of the, 'look ma, no hands' exclamation. That's correct. I'm typing this post with both paws (albeit the right appendage is still extremely stiff and swollen and typing is awkward).

It's taking a long time to recover from my malady but in the words of my surgeon, "It was a devastating injury." I didn't quite understand what he meant until, while looking at my rebuilt joint on his fluoroscope I asked, "now which bone was the dislocated one?" His reply, "Pretty much all of them". My Scaphoid was crushed, the lunate shoved into the carpal tunnel, and the rest of them pushed dorsally out of place. My response... "Oh." I didn't fully understand just how jacked my arm was until we had that little conversation.

However, It's time I stop using this injury as a mental crutch to avoid posting. Being able to use both hands to type actually helps immensely with motivation. I've also been deterred from blogging by my recent addiction to several fantastic OSR blogs (and all their back posts- see the list of blogs I follow for more info)

Which brings us to my next experiment in blogging: solo dungeoneering. I've been inspired to do me some solo gaming since I lack a suitable group. I plan to split my solitaire rpg escapades into a separate blog so as not to clutter up this space anymore that it already is. I'll be looking at this venture as an opportunity to learn various game systems as well as fuel some creative writing. It should be horrible fun.

Tally Ho!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How To Make a Tim

Tim - Tutorial Series
Have you ever wanted to create a Tim Burton style image or animation but don't know where to get started? Well look no further my friends, I have just the resource for you! Over nine hours of instructional goodness covering such topics as modelling, texturing, rigging, and animating, using the amazing open source majesty known as blender.

And how much would you be willing to pay to make your Tim Burtonesse dreams come true? Well you can hang on to your monies, since I'm here to tell you that thanks to the extremely copacetic David Ward you can watch and learn gratis. Such a good guy.

But seriously, Mr. Ward is a very generous soul distributing this series to the general public. For the novice to intermediate blender user this tutorial series is chock full of good information.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It Is The One Armed Man

I haven't posted anything for a nice spat of time, the (main) reason being I'm down to a single paw. I sustained an injury about four weeks ago and it's really put a damper on my creative pursuits. Especially since it was my dominate (right) arm.  I managed to break the scaphoid bone in my wrist, as well as dislocate my pisiform bone (at least i think that was the one). I had surgery to put things back where they belong and now I'm sporting some new hardware. The slim wire will be removed in a couple more weeks. The screw I get to keep. It's been a slow and fairly painful recovery and I just haven't felt like doing much of anything at all. Things are starting to get a little more manageable, but it's still a hassle doing everything one handed. At any rate I hope to build up some additional momentum and get back to blogging a little more consistently.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

This Lagoon is Buh-Loo

I'm most the way through chapter ten of Blender 3D Basics and this is the little island scene I've crafted as I've completed the tutorials. The textures could use a massive amount of work, the waterline is extremely unrealistic and the water texture isn't very believable either. Having said all that, I still enjoy looking at that shoddy little shot and thinking, "I made that."

I'm looking forward to the next chapter: Improving your Camera and Lighting Work

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Displaying an image stored in MSSQL via Quercus PHP

I know, not exactly thrilling stuff here, but I figured I'd throw a bone to anyone else out there in the interwebs who might struggle in like manner.

I'm not entirely (or even remotely) sure why, but the version of Quercus I'm using (4.0.25) is returning (using PDO for database interaction) my image column (type: Image, MSSQL 2008) as a hex encoded string (instead of binary which is what I'd expect). That means, all the example code out there in the interweb that instructs you to return an image thusly was not working for me:

No Worky

//  PDO stuff 
//  ...

$image = $results['Image'];
header ('Content-Type: image/jpg');
echo $image;


Once I realized that php was handing me back the image data as a hexadecimal string I just had to figure out how to convert that to a binary string. PHP versions 5.4 and later have a function named hex2bin but alas Quercus 4.0.25 implements PHP 5.3.2. Have no fear; pack to the rescue! My new and improved (as in working) code shown below.


//  PDO stuff 
//  ...

$image = $results['Image'];
header ('Content-Type: image/jpg');
echo pack('H*',$image);


Next up.... something else (hopefully a little less stuffy)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It's Slooping!

Sloop update. I've made it to chapter ten of Blender 3D Basics. As far as I know, modeling the sloop is now complete. The tasks that lay ahead include creating an environment for the sloop to do it's slooping, and improving camera/lighting aspects.

I haven't been highly diligent in working my way through this book lately as I've been heavily distracted by trying to learn the jMonkey Engine. It's been a lot of fun but I still have a huge knowledge gap to traverse.

At some point,  blender and jMonkey are going to converge for me - I'll be using blender to create assets for whatever madness I cobble together using jMonkey. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm hoping a few more months down the road will prove fruitful.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Adventures in Ubuntu Land

Maybe "Misfortunes in Ubuntu Land" is a more accurate title. I guess it all depends on attitude.

Recently, I attempted to update the graphics driver on my ubuntu machine. There were several good reasons to undertake such a task.
  • I recently installed the steam client and was hoping to get as much performance out of my GTX560Ti. 
  • Along those same lines, I've been doing some basic development with jMonkey on a different machine and wanted to see how it runs on my ubuntu box.
  • I tried using VLC to create desktop videos on ubuntu. VLC appears to be recording and saves a file, but when I try to watch it: wham! 'unknown file encoding' error. I was hoping that perhaps a video card driver update might miraculously solve that issue as well.
  • YouTube video quality seems sub par when watching on my ubuntu box and I thought a video driver update might also prove to be beneficial in that regard.
Despite all these fantastic reasons for running on the latest and greatest nvidia driver for my card, I was thwarted in my attempts. Here's what I tried. It wasn't terribly tricky, but notwithstanding, mah machine got borked!

System Settings -> Software Sourcess -> Additional Drivers (tab)

I picked the top most option (since 'tested' seemed like a safe bet). After selecting the new driver and clicking apply changes, nothing seemed to be visibly different, so I rebooted.

Upon login, I noticed both task bars (left and top) were no longer present (although my two desktop icons still showed). Ctrl-Alt-t brought up a terminal, from which I launched chrome, intent on searching the internet for some clues.  As soon as Chrome came up, the gui manager (unity?gnome?) took a turn for the worse, and my keyboard input no longer functioned in either the browser or the terminal. Help!

Luckily, Ctrl-Alt-F1 still dropped me into the gui-less console where I was able to run the following command:
 sudo apt-get remove nvidia-current
Once the prompt promptly returned, a command line reboot brought me back up happy as can be, back from the dead. I plan to attempt the driver reinstall again at some point in the future, but after I've done some more thorough research on the matter. Until then, we'll just keep things nice and vanilla.

revert an nvidia driver     revert from ctrl-alt-f1

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sync That File!

I've been using komodo edit as my primary code editor for a spat of time now and I'm finding it to be a respectable weapon.  I mostly made the switch because I read somewhere that komodo edit supports vi emulation and I missed my vi-fu.

Another handy feature I'm really, really loving lately is the ability to kick off OS commands from within the komodo editor. For example, I'm in the process of porting some cold fusion code to php. My source files are located on a network share. When I test my updates, I copy the files to a virtual machine and then view the results there. It was getting more and more painful to use windows explorer to copy the files over and click through the overwrite 'are you sure' dialog boxes. Even without dialogs, the mere task of leaving the editor and giving focus to one window followed by moving focus to another grows tedious after a few repetitions.

Here's how I improved my workflow using komodo edit. I created a new run task by clicking 'Tools -> Run Command' which opened a dialog box. Then it was a simple matter of filling out the Command text box and adding a key binding by clicking on the 'Key Binding' tab and choosing the desired key combo. Now I sync my files by simply hitting 'ctrl-.' (the binding I chose) within komodo edit. Slick!

Advanced options include scoping commands globally, by project, or individual files. It's also possible to pass selections as input to the command or dump output from the command into your file. Refer to Komodo's help for all the gory details.

I configured the run command to use robocopy to facilitate the actual file transfers since it's very powerful and ships standard with win 7.

In this particular example I used robocopy with the /mir option which keeps folders (and sub-folders) sync'd (mirrored). This includes deleting files in the destination folder if necessary. A word of warning, robocopy doesn't warn or second guess. It just does. I accidentally nuked a couple folders on my file system when I supplied an erroneous destination path the first time around.

Example Command:
robocopy C:\code\P\php\sample \\webserver\d$\phpincludes\apps\sample /mir

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's a Sloppy Sloop!

On occasion, whilst dabbling on zee ol' computer I enjoy sinking time into learning blender- an incredibly powerful 3D graphics modelling and animation application.

Did I mention that it's Free? One of the great things about blender, is the fact that it's open source.

The image above is my latest blender creation, a work-in-progress sloop. "You know... for slooping." The sloop design actually comes from a book I've been reading, "Blender 3D Basics" by Gordon C. Fisher (Packt Publishing).

Just like it says on the cover, it's geared to Blender Beginner's and so far I think it's an excellent resource for shiny new blender heads.

I'm most the way through chapter eight of twelve so I don't have a complete opinion, but based on the material I've digested up to this point, I'd definitely give the book a solid five stars. Examples are clear, and the information is accurate without overloading the reader.

When I started the book I primarily used blender on win 7, although around chapter seven or eight I switched to ubunto 12.10 exclusively. I quickly discovered I didn't know where blender saved render files after hitting f12. I thought I remembered doing the same on win 7 and finding the rendered image saved into my user home directory. This actually may be not true. Nevertheless, I attempted to find where the default save location is on ubuntu.

After poking around in my user directory and blender's install directory and finding nothing, I decided I needed a little more sleuthing power. Since my linux-ese is rusty I used google to locate a few good resources. Ubuntu community docs and Greg's wiki provided the know-how I was in search of.
sudo find / -name "*.png" -amin -1
sudo so I could snoop in every directory. '-amin -1'  so I'd only be looking for .png files accessed within the last minute. I then hit f12 on blender to create a new render and subsequently excuted the find command. Alas, nothing turned up. Apparently the rendered image isn't saved to disk by default after all.

A google search or two later and I arrived at the solution.  After hitting f12 and the image viewer pops open, click on the image menu and select 'Save as Image'. Rocket Science!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

River Dance Dance!

A thumbnail I crafted recently (was it yesterday? it really shouldn't be this hard to remember yesterday, should it?).
<digress>I need to make a few changes to Madstone (per the "customer's" request. Honestly, who is this guy?) I figured I'd use the tracing paper approach. Well, that is once I get some tracing paper. In the mean time, I was itching to draw something else and this thumbnail was as far as I got.</digress>

I drew that on roughly half a post-it note so needless to say, I spent all of three (or less) minutes satisfying my art-hunger. It's not a whole lot to look at, but I was just having a go at creating a composition. You know, thumb nailing.

What's that supposed to be? So glad you asked that question. It's an attempt to compose my favourite scene from Daruna (a table top rpg campaign played amongst friends, documented on the fantastic blog "Random Diversions").

This is my attempt to put together an interesting, high energy depiction of the river attack.  You're looking at a barge with a mud creature clinging to the bow. On the left is an archer attempting to save the bargemen. On the right is another would be rescuer, sprinting across the water's surface via an enchanted helm, a length of rope trailing out behind him. In the distance beyond the barge one can just make out a village.

I know i's a stretch, but hello... less than three minutes.

I can already see some problems.
  • The archer is rotated way too far. He's going to be shooting parallel to the barge, not at the mud creatures climbing on it.
  • The water walker (name: Orca) is too small. Based on the archers head and the horizon, Orca needs to eat a super mushroom. Just ask Andrew Loomis (see image below).
  • There needs to be more urgency in the picture.
As for the last issue, maybe rotating the barge a little and adding some super panicked sailors would help. I'm not entirely sure. But that's the great thing about thumb nails - crank out a bunch out and see what happens.

 On the bright side, I think the major elements are lining up near the thirds of the picture, which typically creates a stronger composition.

Andrew Loomis, Figure Drawing For All It's Worth, pg. 37