New WordPress Theme

For the longest time – pretty much my entire duration on WebHost4Life – this blog has used the WordPress theme Rubix. I really like the rainbow aurora borealis-like colours. I was also severely limited in that many themes required updated version of WordPress.

According to WebHost4Life, I could not update WordPress since I was using their Windows Server platform instead of the Linux platform. Perplexing, I know. But Brent’s amazing work changed all that! WordPress is running at the current version.

Also, the Rubix theme has not been updated since 2009. I figured, it was time for a facelift.

So this theme is put out by the WordPress team and is called Twenty Seventeen. I guess it is a little early to expect a Twenty Eighteen theme…

It feels a little bit wider and easier to read. I’ll stick with this for a bit.

R.I.P. Dolores O’Riordan (1971–2018)

imageI was shocked to see that Dolores O’Riordan had died suddenly today. She was almost exactly one year older than I am.

My condolences go out to her family and the band. Dolores will be sorely missed.

I’ll be playing The Cranberries’ music in remembrance of her talent.

Weird Problems Solved

A little over a week ago, my Windows Live Writer stopped being able to post here. It was a weird XML error. I flopped around a bit like a fish out of water but finally opened a support ticket with WebHost4Life.

While waiting for that, I mentioned the issue to my chummer Brent. While I know SQL Server, he knows everything else. We used to work together at both Microsoft and Avanade. How he keeps all that arcane network / web knowledge in his skull astounds me.

But Brent flew into action like the Superman he is. Before long, WordPress was fully updated and all my posts were restored. Windows Live Writer was behaving once more.

I’ve lost track of the beers that I owe him. Thanks brah!

The Spam Battle – Part Three

My experiment with re-enabling comments was short and pointless.

I learned from my Facebook friends that they could not figure out how to leave a comment. Apparently the link below each recent post that says “Share Your Thoughts” was not obvious enough!

About two days ago, I received a WordPress email asking me to moderate a comment. The first comment since I deleted all the spam! But it was a piece of spam…

So I am back to square one. I don’t know how many – if any at all – read these posts and as much as I would like to interact with readers, it doesn’t seem likely.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Model

As I wrote the other day, I decided to finally finish off my Lego Architecture models. To my knowledge, I have every Lego Architecture model that has been released.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum ModelThe Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was first offered several years ago. It was only 204 pieces and it captured the artistic feel of the building – which is something that I love about the Architecture series. The Lego Group re-released a new version last year that more than tripled the brick count at 774 pieces.

The new model is a closer representation of the real structure.

Here are the two models side-by-side. New on the left and older version on the right.

If you click through to my Lego Models Flickr album, you can also see my photo of the new model in greater detail.

I want to move to a better apartment in the near future, so I probably won’t embark on any new construction for awhile.

So Long 2017!

Well, the world survived the first year of President Orange Dumbfuck. For the sake of my American friends and the rest of the world, I certainly hope that early 2018 sees special counsel Robert Mueller file charges of treason. Cheeto Hitler has done incalculable damage to the United States; it will be interesting to see if their system of checks and balances can self-correct.

The only good thing to come from this presidency is the exposure of the hypocrisy of evangelical Christianity. Much (but not all) of this crowd supports the Painted Shit-Stain in the White House. The USA is moving on culturally and leaving these fossils behind though. I am hoping that this is their death throes.

imageI’ll aim to spend today building my last – for now – Lego Architecture model. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. For the time being, I have all of the Architecture sets.

Intriguingly, I snipped this image from the Lego website navigation menu. This shows a skyline set – Shanghai I think – that is not available. This might be coming soon.

I will keep my eyes peeled for that.

I did acquire the Lego Creator set for Big Ben to compliment the Architecture set. This a huge set and I think it will make for a wonderful juxtaposition.

In just a few hours time, LightWave 2018 will be available! I cannot wait to start playing with it and learning the new physically-based rendering system. I’m really hoping that it makes for a seamless transition between Allegorithmic Substance and LightWave.

I had a new boss start during 2017 and I enjoy working with her. Hopefully 2018 sees some solid improvements with my employment. The DBA team works well together and Elena is a champion manager.

Lastly, Photoshop World 2018 is coming along with the 41st FFRF National Convention in San Francisco. There is much to look forward to.

Bell Tower Progress

Over the holiday weekend I have pushed forward with the bell tower work in spite of the issues with the size of the rooms. I found some really bad geometry in the rooms and on the main staircase. It was caused by some really sloppy modeling on my part; but it should be fixed now.

tower_bellYes! I am finally modeling some spiral stairs going up through the center of the rooms. There is another spiral stair case from the top room up to the belfry. I envision the main stairs to be stone and the other to be metal.

Each time that there is progress on this model, I think of other ways to work it or add to it. But I feel like I must keep going on this and see it through to completion. This is definitely the most work that I have ever put into one of my creations – most die aborning.

After a long procrastination, I have also begun modeling additional support structures for the bells and belfry. Other than a dearth of decent photo references, I cannot quite say why I have avoided this part of the work for so long.

I received some good feedback and encouragement from other LightWavers in the Facebook forums as well as my close friends.

The picture shows the current state of the bells. One thing that bugged me – other LightWavers saw it too – is that the bell should be firmly attached to the swing arm. Right now, I have created straps and that would make it difficult to get the bell ringing.

So that is something to work on fixing today. One day, I hope to have a model worthy of showing off or perhaps even selling online.

Lego Architecture: Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe Lego modelI finally built this model yesterday after much procrastination.

As usual, I used the 50mm prime lens to get a shallow depth of field. The fake sunset light was done by turning off the overhead ceiling light and using the LED floor lamp. I also included a diffused Lume Cube.

Apologies for the bottle of Southern Comfort in the background, but I am running out of suitable display space for these models.

Arc de Triomphe Lego modelThank-goodness for the tripod! I had to fully extend the legs to get this angle.

There was much that I did not know about the Arc de Triomphe. This is another aspect of the Lego Architecture that I really enjoy – the instruction booklets are filled with interesting facts about the history and construction of each real-world building.

The re-designed Solomon Guggenheim Museum is still in its box. But I’ll try to begin that build this week.

I have a really big Lego model on the way. More on that later…

3D News

I kept quiet last week after the news about Narelle. I wanted to be in Australia for the family. So I chose silence and spent time with my own thoughts.

Even though I still don’t feel like writing about good news yet; I can’t really delay posting this much longer.

NewTek is finally set to release LightWave 2018 on January 1st. After nearly two years of complete silence – it is official at last. I’ll certainly make the upgrade but I am in the camp of the deeply frustrated users who are angry with NewTek’s silence and lack of updates. Many modelers have moved on to other applications.

I won’t rule out jumping ship myself one day. But for now, I’m still a LightWaver.

The new physically-based rendering should be exciting. I hope it makes using Substance Painter outputs completely painless. As has long been the case, Modeler is only getting minimal love and attention. However; the Lattice deformer and interactive Array and Toroid tools are welcome.

LWCAD 5.5 was released a couple of weeks ago. I have not yet upgraded, but I will soon. LWCAD really breathes new life into LightWave Modeler.

Tomorrow, Smith-Micro is releasing Poser 11.1. Not much to say here – but it is good to know that they are continuing to work on their flagship product.

Other 3D things are afoot. I’ll write about those as they arrive.

R.I.P. Narelle

This day has been on the horizon for some time.

I received news from my dad this morning. My sister-in-law Narelle Helsemans is at peace after a long and brave struggle against cancer.

My thoughts are with her husband Mark and their children Allie and Paige. I wish I could be there for them instead of being half-a-world away.

The Women Of NASA Lego Set

Women Of NASAI got way ahead of myself this time. Although this set suffered a shipping delay, once it arrived here two days ago, I built it right away. I have yet to build the new Guggenheim Museum or the Arc de Triomphe model!

But I could hardly help myself. I’m a space geek as well as a Lego geek. The idea of this set is a really wonderful one too.

I am sincerely hoping that Lego produces more commemorative sets like this. I love the idea of honouring pioneers in various fields or the unsung heroes that few people know about.

December 3, 2017 Photowalk

On Sunday – through a thick fog and low, grey clouds – I made my way to Toronto’s Casa Loma district. This is at the intersection of Spadina Road and Davenport Road. There is small bluff here that marked the shores of the ancient Lake Iroquois. Yep, most of what became the city of Toronto was underwater after the last ice age.

Casa Loma 01The district is named for the castle of the same name. Casa Loma was built in 1914 by the financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. It is an impressive structure, to be sure, but it had to live up to the man himself.

Unfortunately, the overcast sky really took the wind from my sails. I also found the property to be very constrictive; roads and other houses close by made it a challenge to get decent photos.

I had to use my kit lens at 18-25mm and it was difficult finding good angles. Oddly, my first photo here is probably the one that turned out best. Most of the others will likely serve as reference material for 3D models.

Jean Sibelius ParkOn my way back home, I found Jean Sibelius Park.

It is a tiny park. There are a few climbing contraptions and swings for neighbourhood kids and some picnic tables scattered around the trees.

Of course, the monument to the composer demanded a picture!

Currently, I only have one other photograph from Sunday. Scroll to the bottom of my Toronto Flickr album for one of my first attempts at street photography. The subjects were pre-occupied and did not notice my quick snap of them enjoying the park and each other!

Hopefully my creative mojo is returning.

My Endoscopy

I have not had much hospital interaction in my life. In high school, I had minor out-patient surgery to fix ingrown toenails. Then I worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital as part of the Y2K team when I was in college.

Yesterday, I was at the William Osler Health Center in North Etobicoke for an endoscope exam. I’ve previously written about the acid reflux issues that I have had for years; this was to see what was going on.

It was a series of firsts for me. I’ve never had an intravenous needle before – alright, that one is a stretch since I used to donate blood and platelets frequently. But in my mind these are two different things for some reason. The IV was to administer the sedative Propofol. Being sedated – even mildly like this – was definitely a new experience.

Honestly, I wish there was more that I could write about it. I was laying on my side on the gurney. The nurse provided a mouthpiece for me to bite on that would allow the doctor to insert the endoscope. Then I was suddenly in the recovery room. Just like that; light switch off, light switch back on.

Propofol definitely lives up to its nickname, “milk of amnesia.”

I did not feel the least bit groggy or dazed. My mother had accompanied me to assist with the trip back home, but she didn’t need to. Ah well, it was nice to see her again.

There is a follow-up with the doctor in a few weeks. All I learned is that my esophagus has become inflamed.

Fortunately, I have switched to decaffeinated Tim Horton’s coffee. That has provided at least a 90% improvement with the reflux. I should still lose weight as well; but I cannot seem to get motivated in that department.

Still Struggling To Get My Creativity Back

I am on-call this week and tomorrow we start the annual business freeze. Hopefully that leads to some quiet time; because the last two weeks have been a non-stop rush of changes and updates before the freeze hits.

Except for a little bit of playing around with World Machine, I have not touched any 3D or digital art application. My camera is sitting patiently in the camera bag – unused since getting that new bag weeks back.

I’ve also been feeling a little bit bummed out creatively speaking.

I realized a terrible mistake in my bell tower model and that has taken the wind from my sails for working on it. I created three rooms inside the tower structure and the aim was to have them connected via staircases climbing to the top belfry area. A little over a month ago, I decided to start exploring the modeling of the stairs – this made the mistake painfully obvious to me.

tower_mistakeThe rooms are ridiculously large when considering human-scale.

The orange lines are the geometry for the rooms and the black lines are the geometry for the tower. The grid is 1 meter. So the tower is 8 meters on each side and the rooms are about 6.25 meters on a side. The height for each room is about 7.5 meters.

It is the height that is causing the problem. That is over 24 feet! That would be fine for a huge building; but it causes problems in this confined space.

Modeling stairs fit for human legs means coming up with a switch-back or spiral design. So far, I have not found a way to make these stairs fit nicely inside. I would have to fill the room with stairs to make this work!

Just make the rooms shorter! Add a fourth room if necessary! Yes, I thought of that too.

The problem there are the window openings. I’ve carefully lined up the tower and room geometry for that. Changing the room height would mean re-doing the window openings completely. I suppose it may yet come to that if I cannot think of a better idea.

Hopefully I can get my creative juices flowing again soon. Not just for this problem but for getting out and just making stuff – pictures, landscapes, art, anything!

Bravo Australia!

I was very pleased to learn last night that Australians overwhelmingly voted for marriage equality. Excellent!

Every state and territory with the exception of New South Wales voted more than 60% “Yes.” New South Wales was just below the 60% mark. So love wins!

As I understand it, this result still does not make any binding laws. However, hopefully it sends a clear message to politicians that their careers will be in jeopardy if they fail to pass laws in favour of equality.

Advance Australia Fair!

A Bit Of Radio Silence

I haven’t had much time to post this week.

Things are getting crazy at work as we prepare to enter the holiday shopping season – obviously an important time for payment processing. Before the annual freeze-period, we’re pushing to get updates in place.

I bought a huge 8 TB external USB drive. I’ve been very busy backing up all my assorted digital assets from the 3D machine and this laptop. That took several days to complete but I hope that future passes will complete much more quickly. I had to keep the 3D machine shutdown during this time since I ran out of power sockets to power everything!

New Lego Architecture sets are here! The new Solomon Guggenheim Museum and the Arc de Triomphe are still in their boxes. I’ll try to start working on one tomorrow.

Southern Ontario got it’s first real chill-snap of the winter this week. It will get colder of course but the first one is usually still a shock to the system.

Finally, I’ll be turning on the comments feature here after many years. The comment spam has not returned for weeks now. I’ll switch them off again if the spam returns though. Hopefully I can have some interaction with readers.