Wednesday, April 30, 2008

House View 1

Here's a 3D view of a house. I thought it was really cool-looking, and because it was Creative Commons licensed, I can blog it here with no worries.

House View 1
Originally uploaded by axeldeviaje.

Where does palm oil come from?

This video from Greenpeace examines the social costs, externalities, of the production of palm oil.

Update: Thanks to Unilever for agreeing to tell suppliers to buy ‘Certified Sustainable Palm Oil Only’. I'm going to go buy some Unilever soap on my next trip to the store!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Stuff of life

WARNING: This is a video with apparently a certificate rating of 15. It is a disturbing view of what the form of torture known as waterboarding entails. It was produced by Amnesty International.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Robotic dog slips on ice

Wild stuff.

Originally seen at: Science Hacks

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blender: what do all those soft body physics parms DO?

I did some experimentation with soft body physics in blender, and found some settings that worked well in simulation a cloth. But what contribution did each of those parameters make to the total? Here I've compared how changing each one from the default values affected the "clothiness" of the resulting mesh.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Right to photograph?

Here's a video of a photographer being detained for photography in public. link to Flickr photo page. Do we have a right to photograph?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quiet Place

Hard times in the global village, people just cannot get along.
In the cradle of civilization they don't act civilized for long.
And all the kinds and Pharisees, lords of fear and poverty,
Living lives of luxury while in a
Quiet place, a gift is given with unspoken grace, a child is born,
Who can take the sins of the world away.
We need him even more today.

Soldiers of the sovereign nation kick the door down in the night,
Tear the babies from their mothers, send the fathers off to fight.
And in the name of righteousness, they build a hate inside of us,
Inciting and dividing us while in a
Quiet place, a gift is given with unspoken grace, a child is born,
Who can take the sins of the world away.
We need him even more today.
And though good will seems out of reach,
That child's alive inside of each and everyone.
Will these dark ages ever pass?
Will we find a peace that's everlasting?

Now what does it mean if this stuff is bad for our souls-- hate, wars, sending fathers off to fight, living in luxury? What does it mean for the one who was the gift of grace to be the one "Who can take the sins of the world away"?

These words were co-written by Congressman John Hall with Johanna Hall and Jonell. They were written at the eve of the 1991 Gulf War with a sense of remorse that it was taking place. Somehow these words seemed unusual-- that a Democratic congressperson and songwriter would be calling for a Prince of Peace to take our sins away. But then I realize that I've fallen for the stereotype. Maybe the suffering of humanity, and our part in it, is why Christ came.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Zeta Flow: coolest flash game ever

I've filed this one under "linux" even though it isn't strictly speaking a linux game, but it does play well on my linux box with Firefox due to its flash plug-in.

You have a little spaceship, and you go up against some other bigger spaceship. All you have to do is hold down the left mouse button, and dodge what gets thrown at you-- bullets, lasers, and little attach ships. Your actions are pretty simple, but there's a lot of strategy in figuring out what you have to hit first in order to get to the main reactor. I find it very soothing as each level presents you with a problem that is very difficult and very slowly gets easier and easier.

The graphics are simple and stylized, but very pleasing to the eye.

There's even a level editor for you to make your own levels. Here I'm playing against one someone designed as a giant robot.

There's a gallery full of user-submitted games, and you can even sort them by success rate (percent of folks that have completed it before you).

Here's a secret: the program waits until you are ready to start a level. It gives you an invulnerable force field until the first time you shoot (left mouse button). This force field makes you immune to lasers and bullets, AND it destroys the little fighter craft that might sent after you. I've often found it useful to let the little fleet of fighter craft incinerate on my shield before proceeding with starting an actual level. This force field can also be of use if you are being crunched into the far corner of a screen by the enemy ship.


Monday, April 21, 2008

This just chokes me up every time I hear it.

A promo for the Discovery Channel.

Actually, the 30 second version that's been playing on TV is even more moving. I was just touched by the idea of everyone having their own arena for scientific discovery and adventure.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Settings for a soft body shirt simulation in blender

I finally got something to work nicely with a MakeHuman character.
First I made a mesh in a shape to fit over the head of my character.

Key points here are for your "clothing" mesh to have a lot of mesh vertices over any feature on your character that itself has a lot of mesh vertices. If your "clothing" has too few, body parts will stick through it.
Another key point is in careful choosing of the Deflection settings on the character. For a long time I noted that the clothing mesh was flying off the character. That "Outside" setting should be a very small number-- setting it too high does not yield a realistic setting.
Also, this shouldn't take too long. If you find that the Bake takes more than say 5 or 10 seconds per frame, my guess is you've got a problem. A Bake for a mesh that is going to look good can take less than five seconds per frame if you've chosen good settings.

See the two images below for settings that worked for me in this instance.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Michael Behe on the Colbert Report.

This guy is a scientist who believes in some evolution, and an old Earth, but claims it cannot explain all of the complexity of life we see today. It's hard to tell if the character of Colbert likes this guy for opposing neoDarwinism or not.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Putting clothes on a MakeHuman character in blender.

... using a subdivided plane with soft body physics simulation.

It's not that practical or pretty, yet.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blender: "Napkin on the Head test"

I was trying to see if it were possible to use a soft body physics simulation on a plane mesh in blender to make clothes. Here is an early test-- just to see if I can make a napkin fall on the head. Later I may try dropping a whole robe or toga on a whole mesh figure.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blender 2.45, soft body cloth simulation.

It's interesting that the ball on the right actually intersects the cloth.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Follow the bouncing blocks

A soft bodies physics simulation with Blender 2.45.

I gave the two different blocks different mechanical properties.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

East Coast Water Vapor Map


Brought to you by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Blender tutorial on how to make a swimming fish.

By the Center for Digital Media at the Great Northern Way Campus.

I of course heard about it at this Blender Nation article.

Improved self-portrait

This time I actually compared the Make Human character to a photograph of myself, laid on top of each other in an image editing program, one partially transparent. I was easily able to improve the "masculinity" of the face. This guy is however AWFULLY grumpy looking, however.

Plumiferos Trailer

Here's the trailer for a movie made entirely with the open source freeware, 3D application blender. I'm trying to learn blender. Maybe someday I could be as good as these folks. No official word on this project's release date.


A classic IRTC animation showing what happens when one gets hit with a He laser.
I uploaded it here to test out flickr's new video uploading service:

Monday, April 07, 2008

Blender Cloth Sim.

I finally got this to work.

Key learning points from this work:
1) Nothing works in edit mode! (You at least cannot see what's going on!) Switch to Object mode.
2) The Edge stiffness proved to be a key parm. Just a little bit helped a lot to make a realistic cloth, by preventing unnatural bends in the fabric.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Failed self portrait

Used make human. Tried to make it look like me. I didn't know make human was going to give those gigantic eyelashes. It looks more like my niece. Rendered in blender.

CPR Cat!

Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Most of the meshes in Yul Brenner's hand wave to ya!

I tried a quick (and as you can see, very sloppy) attempt at rigging one of the Make Human characters with two bones. I must not have caught all the meshes in the weight painting. I like the results so much that I think I may not even bother to model "my own" fleet of characters.

Made-Humans wade into new adventure!

I used Make Human to make these six characters in about an hour. Then I exported as OBJ format and then imported them into blender. I am amazed at how well it looks. Only problem is that someone needs to come up with a Make Clothes! In order to display them, I thought I could make it a little more SFW by having them wading in a pool.

I'll see how easy it is to rig these bodies.