Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Wind, The Stars

Thought I'd lay it in my main blog. This is my first original composition, very pleased with how it turned out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Very sick of people generalizing stuff. Seriously. Things do not "SUCK" because you have zero use for it.

Also, it does not make sense to put down things because they are not good.... BASED ON A REVIEW OR BLOG POST of some frakkin' website!!!!

I always roll my eyes in cases like these, especially if it's with things I've used for years! e.g.

NIKON SUCKS (Yeah totally. Check out that shitty non stablized 300/4 AF-S. That I happen to own. Yeah, utterly sucky. So sucky, it is more sucky than chewing gum in hair).

MAC SUCKS (Yeah, totally. Utter trash.)

HOUDINI SUCKS (Oh yeah, utter suck. Raydream Studio is much better.)

LINUX SUCKS (Uh yeah. It sucks, totally. So much I use it at home. Yeah, linux sucks sooo bad.)


Am I being a hypocrite? At times, I am very much a bloody hypocrite. But you know what? That's because I suck. I make mistakes, I learn from them. And I try to be better, and try my best to find out more about stuff and try not to put things down. Heck, do you know why I bought my first macbook? Because I was convinced that macs.... suck!

And you know what, after years of using them, I discovered a world of applications that simply do not exist on linux, or that their open source equivalents are just not up to it. Do you seriously think there would be an open source package that can rival Houdini? Naiad? Nuke? Get real!

And you know what. By championing only open source software and refusing to look into commercial products, one limits oneself to the availability of good things. Or even simply, things that simply do not exist in the open source side of things.

Even in terms of DOING things. I don't believe there are fixed ways of doing things, like to do X you must do Y. No. Is there a single way to draw a portrait? Is there a best way to paint? Are acrylics better than oils? If there was, EVERY SINGLE ARTIST will be using it. There is not. There is a best way, for you. For me.

Like Glen Vilppu says, "There are no rules, only tools."

Me, I try stuff. I know how I approach drawing and music is far different from people I speak with. Because I don't limit myself to "oh, this guy's way is the best". THERE IS NO BEST. Only the best tool/technique for that particular job.

I like to explore multiple ideas, different ways to create a hybrid that works best for me.

In addition, I do not have a need to become "An Artist" or "A Musician" because I DON'T WANT TO! Why are you obsessing about me! Me! I'm don't even know you in person! Don't ask me to me something I do not want to be.

I learn these things and more, because I am curious. I like learning. I am also single and have too much free time, and there is massive lack of wolves in my studio apartment. Hence, with no wolves to hug, what can one do? I learn, create and iterate. Is that not enough?

I don't want to draw the next Van Gough or whatever amazing art piece it is. It is a personal journey, a journey of exploration, learning and more. My "art" sucks. I know it very well. But it is not about the art. It is about breaking limits. I don't want to become "amazing artist X".

Art is about conquering my fear of drawing. It is the sweet, sweet feeling when I improve, and I know in my heart that if I can conquer this drawing thing, which I have feared for years, then I know that there is nothing that can stop me from learning and conquering new things if I so wish.

Plus, learning is awesome. That, is what I feel is the best use for my free time. You like gaming? Go for it. Enjoy flame wars? Flame on. I do not want to spend my time in such ways. I want to learn, create, and do stuff. Not argue over which paper type is best for water colors. My god. If my results suck? I learn from experience, try again.

Ok I think this rant has gone long enough, I am going to head out to the gym and do some nice long lengths down the pool.

And for the people that do not understand sarcasm, here's a wiki page. A healthy bit of sarcasm is mixed in up there.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cheetah 3D.... maybe?

Previously, on Xmen. Uh, no. Well several post prior I went on about how about using Hexagon 3D as a low cost tool to work with Unity 3D. Sadly after deeper investigations, it seems like I need other tools, e.g. Rigging/Animation capability, as well as FBX export to unity. Hexagon 3D does not do this, sadly.

Searching around for alternatives (I must add... *low cost* alternatives) that feature both hits up an OSX native application, Cheetah 3D.

Initial tests seem to indicate this may be a really good low cost tool to combine with Unity; there are options for prebaking textures, a render engine, as well as the rigging and fbx export options I require. Note that I couldn't try export to Unity as I was using the trial version.

Controls wise, there are options for Maya or Mirai style controls, so no issues there. Interface is going to take a little while to get used to, but hey it's a new package.

Some may be curious why I'm not using Houdini, since Houdini supports all of what I need. The reason is cost. Houdini Escape is far beyond what I'd want to spend on for a fun side project. Requirements wise, what I need are modelling, hard surface rigging tools and fbx export. Using houdini for tasks like this is like purchasing a Ferrari for a trip down to the supermarket.

I think the procedural capabilities of SOPs will be really handy for generating procedural terrain, buildings, structures and stuff. Maybe one day, when I get serious.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saxophone Log: March 2012

Another month another log!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Step Up DC Converter

Got a small package arrive today, a step up voltage converter.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I need 10V DC to power my MPXM2010GS (power it? I've no idea how to solder the damn thing, it's a SMT design....), so stepping up the Arduino's 5V out to 10 should do the trick.

Missed the part in the link above where it could also be used with miniature wind turbines to recharge batteries. Nice!

Bloody tired today, gonna rest.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Gimbal Lock Song

Gimble lock, gimble lock
Euler's having his day
Quaternions will save us all
They're just not very sane. Hey!

(Sung to the tune of jingle bells)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ram Parallels

Just thinking, with 64bit computing, we get over the 4gb ram limit (or is it 3gb).

Back in the day was the same wasn't it? 640k conventional, 384k extended. Don't know what came earlier, as my first machine was an 8086 already.

Then came dos extenders, DOS4G/W, and away we went.

Don't think I'll see more barriers broken in my lifetime, but hey who knows, 10 years from now, we'll see implanted mobile communication devices with 1 terabyte of data storage on carbon nano cubes or something.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Need a modeling package for Unity?

As mentioned in an earlier post, Unity3D released their IOS/Android modules for free this month, so after picking them up and playing with Unity, thought I'd get a modeling package to go along with it. As googling would have it, Daz3D is having an unbelievable offer, Bryce 3D, Daz 4 Pro (supposedly a Poser type package) and Hexagon 2.5 (Woo!) for free.... unbelievable.

Only installed Hexagon 2.5 since I really want a modeling package, and out of the box, the interface was very intuitive. To be fair, all I required were tools to extrude faces, move points and do subdivisions. Not explored to UV toolset yet, but for free software I can't complain.

In other news, I spent to entire afternoon (and morning) going through the official unity tutorials. The main coding language seems to be a choice of Javascript, C# or Boo (uh.....)

Wee! Whilst I can understand what the code is doing, the syntax side of things leaves me pondering if I really want to pick up (or re-pick up) another programming language.

Oh well, time for more tea and some music.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Midi controller: Phase 1

This little project has been on the sidelines for awhile, and I'm slowly picking it up. Idea is to build a Wind MIDI controller to play/record sampled flutes, trumpets etc. First up, is to actually get the midi working between the physical buttons and the synth.

For a midi interface, I bought one of those uber cheap midi in/out usb cables off ebay, £5 I think. Sweet little class compliant device that provides midi input and output via DIN5 connectors.

On the arduino's hardware side, I got a female DIN5 connector, and wired it up per the website. The test code worked right off, and I continued work on getting input with buttons - which was uber straight forward. Active high switches were simply wired in to 3 digital inputs, easily accessed via digitalRead()

Software wise, there is a nifty MIDI Library for the arduino that sets up all the serial comms necessary, and abstracts much of the note sending functionality required.

Code wise, after the initial "sending several thousand note-on commands to the synth" and getting some nice machine gun piano sounds, I figured out that the input data had to be sent once while the key is pressed down, and then a note off sent when it is released.


int val=0; // used to store state of switches.  
int isNoteOn[3] = {0,0,0}; // Used to keep track of whether notes are currently being pressed down.

void setup() {
  // put your setup code here, to run once:


void loop() {
  // Step one, sample all the inputs
  // Step two, check to see switch is active and not playing, then switch them on.
  for (int i=0; i<3; i++)
    val = digitalRead(i+8);    

    if (val==1 && isNoteOn[i] ==0)
        isNoteOn[i] = 1;
    if (val == 0 && isNoteOn[i] == 1)
        MIDI.sendNoteOff(i+60,0,1) ;
        isNoteOn[i] = 0;

The next stage is to include the pressure sensor (MPXM2010GS) data to control the note on/off events, as well as to use the pressure detected as the velocity for the note - at the moment the buttons all send a value of 63, which is a fixed midway velocity.

Sadly, this will actually take a little bit more effort on my part - the sensor actually delivers data at 25mV at full scale - the arduino's ADC is 10bit over 5 volts, which gives 4.9mV resolution steps. I really need to read the data sheets more carefully. Hence, I need an amplifier with a gain of roughly 200 to bring Vfss from 25mv to 5v.

The sensor also requires Vcc 10-16v, so... a small step up voltage regulator will probably be required to power it.

Also, the output from the pressure sensor is a V+/V- output, so I'll need a differential amplifier. Probably something like a TLC272 op-amp, which supposedly works well with single rail supplies - I could take it directly off the Arduino's board. I do not want to mess about with dual rail power supplies!

There are also the physical aspects of getting silicone tubing, hose clips, Y connectors etc. Hopefully another week or two and I'll get a prototype wind controller working.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Unity3D - IOS/Android packages available free till 8th April

Totally awesome, and I've signed up for this. Last I checked, the IOS/Android packages were like USD$400. Apiece. Having this is just simply awesome. Further checking of the specs indicate that I actually don't need to have an Ipad or Android Tablet to do dev work on, just a mac. So... looks like my music laptop will be doing double duty :3

Now, it has long been my dream* to create an epic adventure of dragons and druids, warlocks and warriors fighting for the supreme rulership of the USS enterprise. Pick either the aircraft carrier or the NCC1701D/E.

*No, not really.

I've tried stuff like PyGame, works very well, just that I'm not a game developer, and my interests don't really lie there. What I'm keen to try is actually getting houdini stuff into Unity, like houdini's particles and RBDs.

Will be a rainy day project though, as a certain wolf has got his hands on air pressure sensors and embarking on yet another tangent ;-)


Sunday, March 04, 2012

Shmups - training you for the future?

I'm a big fan of shoot 'em ups. The feeling when you dodge a whole screen of bullets without using a bomb is just :3

Observing shmups that are aimed towards the bullet hell gamers (ok maybe I count as one of those) seem to indicate a pattern, a need to a certain place to avoid dying, or in another words, to actually figure out all the various paths all the various bullets will take, and be at the places where they do not converge.

You can't just see a bullet and dodge, but look into the future, and see the patterns evolving, and make sure the jaws of death do not close in on your pixels >.>

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Crucial UK, two thumbs up!

Upgraded the ram on both my boxes this week, and Crucial UK's service is simply impeccable. Ordered on wednesday morning, and I had it on my doorstep Thursday evening! Similarly for my linux box, I ordered a set on Thursday evening, and when I got back from work today, there it was, two delicious pieces of 4gb so-dimms :3

I still have two slots empty on my main machine, maybe next month I'll get another 16gbs to top it up. I do enjoy my dell m6400 :3