Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Art Of Nature



The older I get the more I am inclined to get in tune with nature.

It possibly has something to do with the fact that I'm heading for the ground and nature wants to make sure I'm not full of junk so that I decompose nicely. Hopefully that won't happen for some time but in getting in tune with the natural world my path into that state of mind is numbers. My greatest fascination is random numbers, they're everywhere in nature but there seems to be (most of the time) some kind of controlled logic behind them. There is proof that humans are poor at trying to be random while nature just does it, and well. Maybe getting old and 'losing your marbles' is nature's way of telling you that order isn't such a great ambition after all.

Either way, I'm back making fractals. They are for all intents pure math but they are also found in nature. Mother earth likes repeating herself, regularly. Humans seem to get into that routine also, wars, pandemics etc. It shouldn't be something to worry too much about but our race, the human race, seems not to mind that we're deleting too much of nature and ourselves to have anything left to repeat. It's high time our repetition was of doing nothing. Taking some time out, on a loop, and letting everything recover.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Going Forward In Reverse


I've just installed Windows 10 on to one of my laptops.

Unfortunately it's come to a stage where I needed a Windows computer of some kind to install updates to a few devices. While Linux has served me extremely well over the last decade it's unfortunate that manufacturers don't consider it an option. A lot of software works under Wine on Linux but not quite everything. This new installation will help me to configure a few pieces of equipment and that's about all it will do.

Having said that, it will allow me to explore a few things that have passed me by and to reconnect with a few pieces of software that I haven't used in years. Tech old and new will pushed to its full potential. I have been meaning to update the code plug for my digital transceiver for a couple of years now which also means I have to relearn how to write a code plug.

That project can stay on the back-burner for now.

Monday, August 03, 2020


It's been a long time since I've posted here.
There are as many reasons why I should have as to why I haven't. The main reason is that I'm busy and there are quite a few unfinished things that aren't worth blogging about really. I know it's quite fashionable to add every detail of a process but I'd rather just produce an end result and get the conversation tracking backwards and forwards from that point.
In short, I've been in the garden making it look nice, it sort of does. It's a nice place to be with a cold beer and no phone. I'm still learning the finer details of Blender and Inkscape but nothing much to show really. The hardware studio was finished then I changed my mind and I bought a couple of new things so it needs re-ordering and cables all need to be re-routed so no music from there yet. Once it's running properly I have a patten that's waiting to be turned into a track.
I've just decided to remix a friends track, that's just a project file at the moment.
So there you are, I'm doing lots but nothing is done.
I think I need another week off to get up to date.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Time Enough

If only my real truck was this handsome.
I have once again spent more time than I should on trying to get a picture to work. This one sort of does so I'm leaving it there. I'm only doing this because I promised myself I would and now it's done.
My next little distraction is the same kind of thing but rendered in a comic style. I have dumb puns to make. The scenes will be set up in LeoCAD and then Toon rendered in Blender. This is where I want to be. It's a lot of effort but what else am I going to do until the next Bitwig Studio release. I really want to get my hands on the new arpeggiator.
Anyway, I'm off to bed, there's work tomorrow. Being a key worker is good but there's no time off for fun.
Until next weekend when it's a bank holiday.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

It's Toon Time

This weekend I have mostly been playing with "Toon" shaders in Blender.
The Toon shaders give a model a more comic look which is very different from the photorealistic render of the last blog post.
I followed a YouTube tutorial to create the above shading and I'm pleased with the results. It looks quite sketchy which is the kind of effect I'm after. I've always wanted to make my own comics. Just short 3 panel things that reflect short instances in my life. I have enough experience with LeoCAD to build scenes and put Lego MiniFigure people in them to represent people I know. I'm even considering taking photos of friends and creating vector representations of their faces to add to the MiniFigure heads, just so that people recognise themselves.
It's all down to building the scenes now which will be a lot of fun.
You never know, you might spot yourself in one of my comics.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Going Nowhere And Getting There

This is my first attempt at 3D model compositing.
I'm quite pleased with the result, it's not perfect and I will get better but it at least looks how I imagined it would.
The model was made in LeoCAD and exported to Blender to be rendered with the shadow. The background image was adjusted in GIMP before going into fSpy to act as a Blender camera reference. The model was lined up in Blender and after being rendered the image was taken back into GIMP to be overlaid and composited with the background photo.
To think all this was learned in about 4 weeks and all achieved with free software is quite mind-blowing, even for me. I have lots of ideas now that the method is nailed down.
Staying in just became a lot more fun.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Onwards, Onwards

I'm still on the move.
During the week I had one day off work due to Coronavirus but then it was back to work the next day. I'm a key worker in a key supply chain so the truck stays on the road even if in a reduced capacity.
My car passed its MOT also which means it's on the road for another year. This was very good news amid all the bad.
My 3D learning is gathering a little pace too. The above image, although like others posted here is a step forward. Importing LeoCAD .obj files never included the details printed on the figures or bricks. This has now been solved by importing the native .ldr file into Blender and exporting the .obj from there. That in itself was a task because I needed to add an addon to Blender and also add the LDraw library to the importer. A little trial and error got me there in the end.
My next task is to add LeoCAD files that have been rendered in Blender to photographs. I've watched a tutorial so I'll go through it again with Blender open this time.
Expect results very soon.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Keep Smiling Through

While I was messing with my 3D software I thought I'd send my niece a picture to keep her smiling.
She is a qualified paramedic and working very hard through this Coronavirus pandemic.
It's easy to lose ones humour in times like these with shop shelves empty of everyday essentials and most people's social life all but shelved. I find it easy to amuse myself. I stay on nights at the weekend so my working week is filled with ideas for my free time. If I end up self isolating at any point I'll have plenty to do.
Hopefully you've have plenty to do also. I hope so. And while it's difficult at times, try to keep smiling.
It absolutely is the best medicine.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Where Next?

Where does your imagination take you?
Mine takes me to all kinds of places. At the moment it's learning 3D software so that I can create the things and places that only exist in my head. It's time to up my game now though. I'm going to spend the next month learning as much as I can about CAD software. It could be a useful skill in the future or it may just end up as something that benefits me.
I want to start work on another tune soon. I'm torn between doing what I do or trying something different. Maybe I could do both by collaborating, the thought has crossed my mind many times.
I'm definitely being imaginative with numbers and cryptography. I have lots of little bits to get working together although the right combination in the right order hasn't come to me yet.
It will. I'm still learning new tricks.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Somewhere In My Imagination

It's back to work later, when I get up.
I'll miss the imaginary worlds I'm creating while I drive up to the Lake District and back. Having said that I will have time to think of more scenes to be immersed in.
I could do with putting a bit more time into other 3D software like FreeCAD and Blender but for now I'm still finding my way around FlowScape and LeoCAD. The more complicated the software the more things I'll be able to build and there will come a time when the Lego pieces available aren't enough.
I'm not there yet though.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Still Playing

It doesn't matter how old you are, playing with Lego is immense fun.
I had real Lego until I was about 13 years old. I never grew tired of it. There was always something to create, stories to tell, if only to myself, and time slipped by at an alarming rate. There never seemed to be enough time to finish the adventure, but there was always tomorrow to start again.
LeoCAD is software that gives you unlimited bricks and pieces and so you can build whatever you like. The advantage, being software, is that there's always time to finish the adventure because you can save your work for tomorrow.
Then there's FlowScape with which you can create environments to put your LeoCAD Lego models into. Once you've finished creating your scene you can save a picture or two or even a movie. The adventure or story once created can be saved.
If I'm not making music then I'm making 3D worlds. I find it challenging and relaxing at the same time. It's never boring and time still flies by. Some might say that my inner child is seeping out but I'd disagree.
I'm an adult and this is my idea of fun.

Saturday, February 29, 2020


I've been busy in Bitwig Studio again.
Here is the latest release from AmpUT, it's called 'Sunset'.
As usual it's released under a Creative Commons licence and is free to download.
You can listen to or get the track from here.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Never Been There

I've spent another evening creating things that don't exist.
Messing around with 3D worlds can literally take up hours of ones life. Finding the right scene with the right elements and trying to create a mood that inspires a story in ones head is all part and parcel of the game.
Creating 3D models is another story altogether. You can have an idea and start building only to find that you've lost an hour and the model doesn't work. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to that process but I'm learning.
In the meantime I'll happily spend hours in Flowscape dreaming up places that don't exist.
It's fun and it's meant to be.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Far Sighted

Something different this weekend.
It's been a long time since I played with any 3D software. Years ago when I was still on Windows I used to mess around with Bryce 3D. That software doesn't work with Linux so I've been trying out FlowScape. It's available on all platforms and is quite cheap as far as software goes.
The little scene above is my first with FlowScape. It's fairly easy to to pick up but will require practice to fully get to grips with. What I like about the software is that it will import .obj files and I can make them with the Sweet Home package which is also available on Linux.
I imagine from time to time I'll show you what I've been up to with 3D software including some basic work with Blender.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

A Long Process

I've been missing from these posts for a few weeks.
That's not a bad thing. It just means that I have stuff to do and that I'm getting on with it. As well as working on a new encryption routine I've been hard at it in the studio getting a new tune to work. Sometimes it's worked, other times not and so I set about fixing or changing things.
It's now at the stage where it has been arranged, mixing the track comes next. This track will need a lot of mixing. Generally it's fine but subtle panning and volume changes need to be automated to get everything to sit right in the mix. That'll take time because I need to listen in both my headphones and on the studio monitors. I just don't have much time on the monitors because of the hours I work so finishing this part of the process might take longer than usual.

While I'm here I might as well mention Brexit. I like to stay away from politics on this platform. I didn't want to leave the EU. I'm happy for those that got what they wanted. I'm also happy that I'm entitled to an Irish passport so I can stay and be gone all at the same time.
Monster is waiting for me. I hope we won't be apart for long.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Wot No Secrecy

Hello 2020.
Still no flying cars. Still no colony on the moon to visit. But there is Marmite peanut butter, no-one saw that one coming.
My new year's resolution is the same as last year's. Write more. It's been working. I've kept this blog reasonably busy. There are 2 tracks on that weren't there a year ago and I have some code on GitHub.
The little shell script encrypts your text from the Nano editor and now turns it into a handy QR code. I want to do more with both QR and barcodes. I have a nagging suspicion that I'm missing something. I'll get there eventually but for now my script is keeping me busy. It needs some refinement.
I have no idea where my fascination with cryptography will take me next. It's always a joy to find new ways of sending secret messages. I think one thing is certain though. The older I get the more useful this knowledge becomes. It's a sad situation.
Like waking up on new years day and realising that hoverboards aren't a thing yet.