Like “Brewster’s Millions”, But Less Plausible…

This is how I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that print journalism must be anachronistic, irrelevant and doomed:  I have been asked to write a piece on the Leafs for publication in an actual hold-it-in-your-hand, you-could-drop-that-thing-and-bruise-a-toe book.   And get this:  I am told that I will be getting paid to do this thing.  From this latter fact, I conclude that the publishers of this tome are almost certainly lunatic immigrant millionaires with a tenuous-to-non-existent grasp on the English language.  Believing that they are allergic to money,  I suspect they have resolved to rid themselves of the cursed lucre in the most pro-social way possible;  by contributing to the publication of a well-respected and important medical journal filled with scholarly research.  I just pray someone has a camera when these well-meaning but misguided philanthropists are presented with the finished product – I foresee an instant and compelling portrait of blinking uncomprehension and, quite possibly, some feces throwing.

I can’t give out a lot of details at the moment, mostly because I don’t want you to steal this gig from me, but rest assured I will be pimping the book like a madman once it has been brought into existence.   As much as you are now staring at the screen, cursing the rotten luck that leaves you bereft of detail, I can promise you that you will someday remember fondly the happy times before this godforsaken book was mentioned by me in every sentence.

I’ll bet you can’t wait to be that unhappy.  In the meantime, I am busy trying to figure out how the hell I am going to manage to get everything done that I will need to:  for example, not only do I now have to find the time to research and write the piece, if I am going to be a writer I also have to make sure that I spend the correct amount of time bellyaching about how making the deadline is going to be a bitch and so on.  I guess this post is a pretty good start on that.  I must be a quick learner.

All kidding aside, I do have some degree of concern about taking on yet another project:  at present, for those of you keeping track, I am (theoretically) in the middle of:

And those are just the projects I’ve blogged about!  I also have it in my mind to convert some old VHS video to digital (I spent a large part of last Saturday wondering why I haven’t yet converted my copy of Leafs/Kings Game 7 in ’93 to an iPod-friendly format so that I can watch it whenever I feel the urge.   This, as much as it may be a cry for help,  is not a lie.)   There are also three or four crates of old vinyl LPs that are practically begging for my attention, so much of my (formerly?) beloved music desperate to enter the 21st century at last.

Anyway, no doubt some of my time tippy-tapping away at my article will take away somewhat from the time I have available to examine my navel here for your benefit;  you must be devastated, I can tell.  I have to say, though, that over the last week or so, I’ve enjoyed spending a few minutes in front of the blank screen with the cursor blinking and a hundred poopy jokes wanting to be written.  I guess I’m having fun writing, and I’ve pushed back a little bit at the multi-armed time-eating monster that my job has recently become.  I have been forcing myself to make just a little bit of time to sit here and flap my virtual gums at you, and it has made me feel a bit better, so I am going to try (see the list of projects above) to keep it up.

Seriously, stop laughing at me.

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Note:  The Spitfires lost to Brampton last night 4-2.  I recorded the game via Freecorder, loaded it on to my iPod then carefully avoided hearing about the score;  I listened to the game after I went to bed at around 11:30.  About two hours later, I was bummed out – and sleepy.   Anyway, Dad and I won’t be seeing the Spits claim the Championship Trophy tomorrow night in Brampton;  I just hope I haven’t jinxed them too badly.  We want another W!

The Domino Effect: Blender Revisited

A quick post today;  I was back to work for the first time in three glorious weeks, and I have to admit that it only took about two hours of the chaos inherent in office life to get me pining nostalgically for my morning cup of tea in the living room with the cat purring contentedly on the back of the chair behind me.  I will be calling it an early night tonight and trying not to get too exhausted in my first week back.

You may recall that some time back, I mentioned that I was fooling around with a package of 3d modelling software called Blender.   Part of my last vacation hurrah on Saturday and Sunday was to spend some quality time in front of the monitor fiddling about with this little package of digital wonders.  I was greatly assisted in getting back up to speed by a terrific series of tutorials posted on YouTube by super3boy.

The video below is a brief animation I rendered after completing super3boy’s 19th blender tutorial, on the subject of domino physics.   The animation shows a series of “dominoes” set up on a plane;  the first domino falls over and knocks over the next one in sequence, causing a tower of dominoes to crash to the ground.  It was remarkable how simple this was to create.  All it took was some very basic modelling – creating and scaling a mesh cube, really – then copying the “domino” several times and placing it on the plane.   Blender takes care of the rest;  the physics of the virtual world are already coded in the software and all the (ahem) visual artist need do is designate the appropriate objects as “actors” in the scene to be animated.  A brief key sequence starts the “game engine”, which is the piece of software that calculates the physical outcome of the scene you’ve created (in this case, tumbling dominoes) and – last but not least, a command to render the scene into the desired video format.   It took only about five to ten minutes of my interaction with the computer to do this;  the rest was taken care of by the software.  I am flabbergasted.  Blender is also capable of adding textures, lighting and shading effects to all of the objects (none of which are evident in the scene below, as I didn’t take the time to apply these effects), which is to say it’s capable of making the animation look a hell of a lot more realistic than the sequence below.   Right now, I’m just astounded by the ease with which this sequence was created.

I am looking very much forward to using Blender more extensively in some video projects I have germinating in the recesses of my mind.  I am especially anxious to explore the video compositing capabilities of the package, and to combine 3d effects created and rendered in Blender with actual video footage captured from live action cameras.

Not Exactly Fiat Lux, But For Me…Not Bad

One of the things I’ve been struggling with recently (yes, that was me that you saw wrasslin’ on the floor with the toaster, an artichoke and some precast concrete yesterday) is Blender.  Blender is an the open source 3d modelling, animating and rendering package.  For the Luddites in the virtual room (yo, represent) that means it’s a program that helps a digital artist (or in the alternative, some dude who’s whacking away at the keys with precious little that one might call a plan) create and bring to life a virtual 3d world with virtual 3d objects that can move and change form.   It is an amazingly powerful piece of software, and it’s free – how can you not, as a self-respecting nerd and computer geek, open it up and start poking around to see what you can accomplish?