Garstor's World, My realm of 3D art, LEGO and atheism

Way To Go SCOTUS!

Posted on Friday, June 26th, 2015 at 7:50 PM in News, Politics, Religion by Garstor

The Supreme Court Of the United States has made some spectacularly bad decisions over the years – Citizens United has flooded the political system with legalized bribes.

But this week, this country took some big steps forward. The Court upheld key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and this morning they ruled that love conquers all – the states cannot ban marriage equality! My LGBTQ friends can marry whom they choose. This is a great day for the United States.

Cracked’s article A 30-Second Guide To How The Gay Marriage Ruling Affects You nails this perfectly:

If You Are a Homosexual and Want to Get Married:

Where before this came down to whether or not your state had legalized it, now you are free to do so regardless of which state you live in.

If You Are a Heterosexual and Do NOT Want to Enter into a Homosexual Marriage:

You will not be required to marry a gay person. This is a common misunderstanding. This decision actually does not affect you in any way.

If You Are Currently in a Heterosexual Marriage:

This decision does not affect you in any way.

If You Are a Heterosexual Who Is Not Currently Married:

This decision does not affect you in any way.

It goes on like that. “This decision does not affect you in any way.” EXACTLY!

Equal rights for everyone.

Flatiron Building LEGO Architecture

Posted on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 at 7:16 PM in Lego, Personal by Garstor

Flatiron BuildingHere is the latest model from the LEGO Architecture series. The Flatiron Building in New York City.

I was hoping to see this building with my own eyes this week. Unfortunately United Airlines cancelled my flight at the last minute due to “crew availability.”

One day I will get back to New York City (my family visited once over 25 years ago). Probably not this year now though.

Still Crazy Busy

Posted on Sunday, June 14th, 2015 at 8:22 PM in Personal by Garstor

The pressure is still on with work. Not only with my actual job functions but with some HR-related issues that I don’t want to go into at this time.

There are a lot of unknown factors that add to the stress – I am a guy that likes to have at least a vague idea of a plan for the future. That is very opaque right now.

In family matters, I have learned that my sister-in-law is battling cancer for the second time. Her family remains in my thoughts; what they are going through makes my issues a cakewalk.

What A Difference Two Months Can Make

Posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2015 at 10:39 AM in News, Personal by Garstor

For the last few weeks, there has been a lot of rain across Texas and into Oklahoma. It has washed away homes and bridges. At around 3:30am this morning, I awoke to the wailing of the tornado sirens. That’s usually pretty scary – I grabbed Debug and spent several minutes in the closet beneath my staircase.

Yet, only two months ago, there was inches of snow in my backyard. Wow, what a difference!

I took some photos of the (fortunately minor) flooding around my neighbourhood. They are uploaded to the My Life In Texas album on Flickr.

Coppell_River_01The Coppell Creek separates the cities of Irving and Coppell. Normally it is only about 12 to 18 inches deep and in the middle of summer can dry up completely. But in this picture it is at least 5 feet deep!

I included a short video clip on Flickr showing how fast it is flowing too.

World Machine Training

Posted on Sunday, May 3rd, 2015 at 8:08 PM in Ray-Tracing by Garstor

I love heightmaps!

Using heightmaps to build terrains was probably what I enjoyed most about Carrara. There are several great programs out there that can be used to create heightmaps. Of course, Photoshop leaps to mind. But for really awesome terrain, you want a specialized program.

I started with Leveller. It’s pretty good but I found it a bit clunky at time. The license key is tied to the computer name so that really put a cramp in my use. Terragen is quite cool but also quite expensive. And the Vue family of products is stupefyingly expensive.

I have found World Machine Standard Edition to be the sweet spot that I was looking for!

There is no secret – I am an unabashed whore when it comes to tutorials. Especially video-based tutorials. I have bought a wide-array of tutorials for my 3D hobby. I’ll probably review them all here one day. For World Machine, I started out with Liberty 3D’s World Machine Foundations.

I have bought quite a lot from Liberty 3D. They do produce some really great training. I loved this tutorial but it was too short and it just barely scratched the surface of World Machine’s power. This is a really good start for a reasonable price.

I have just added the Geek At Play Discovering World Machine series to my collection. This is very thorough. My only complaint is that Vladimir Chopine has a very thick eastern European accent. It is sometimes difficult to follow him. But I have definitely learned a great deal from this series.

Soon I will show-off some landscapes rendered in LightWave.

Resetting Blog Theme

Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2015 at 5:00 PM in Personal by Garstor

WebHost4Life has found that the error is related to customization on the WordPress theme. I have switched themes (now using my original theme – called Rubix) and the error is now gone.

There is a lot that I like in the look to this theme but it does not seem to be easily customizable. I really do not like the grey About link at the top of the page. Hopefully I can find a way to remove that in the future. I’d also like to increase the width of the right-hand sidebar.

We’ll see what happens in the future.

The Wave Of Busy Continues…

Posted on Sunday, April 26th, 2015 at 7:29 AM in Personal by Garstor

I can directly point at my job as the primary reason why I have not been able to blog quite so often lately. I know I haven’t been the most studious of writers to begin with; however, work has really heated up.

  • I am working at training a group of colleagues to deal with SQL Server issues. We meet every Wednesday and I’m currently taking them through some deep internals discussions; this takes quite a bit of time to prepare for
  • I have been volun-told to be on a “Technology Leads” group to represent SQL Server. This primarily concerns working with our developers (extremely aggravating) on the next version of our tools
  • I just came back from nearly a week of training and it looks like there is more training coming in my future

On the non-work front, the static website (www.garstor.com) and this blog were – mildly – hacked. WebHost4Life temporarily locked my site as a precautionary measure. The attackers must have cracked my FTP password.

The static site was meant to be a place where I can practice and learn ASP.NET. My coding skills are atrophying badly and I have lost much of my passion for it. So that single webpage just sits there; nearly completely ignored. Then I spotted it one day about a month ago…

Hundreds of links to websites had been added to the page. There was no visual indicator of this because the <a> tags did not surround any text or images. They had been added between the <body> and <html> tags that mark the end of the document. The page looked as it did before but if a status bar was displayed in the browser you could see all the link addresses as the mouse moved across the page.

Cleaning that up was easy and it was a good excuse to setup Dreamweaver again.

Then WebHost4Life contacted me directly. They had detected malware on the blog. I quickly deleted the two offending files but I am still working with WH4L support to get the blog back into its full working order. Hopefully that will be soon.

Busy Again…

Posted on Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 at 10:10 AM in Personal by Garstor

A lot of stuff going on at work. I’ll spare the details for a variety of reasons but it has been stressful.

My one reprieve has been experimenting with bringing the DAZ Victoria model and textures into LightWave. Two big goals that I would like to achieve are rigging the Victoria model using LightWave’s Genoma system and using FiberFX to generate hair.

I’d show off the renders but the skin texture is naked and would probably get flagged in Flickr. I’ll have to put some lingerie on the model or something.

Spring seems to have finally come to North Texas! We’ve had quite a bit of rain lately but the temperatures have stayed well above freezing.