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Monday, 30 November 2009

Children of the Gods

I listen to a lot of podcasts on my mobile.  The podcatcher on my phone is excellent.  I started listening to  Children of the Gods, which  is a Sci Fi podcast/podiobook.  Originally only 10 episodes. But wow, 10 great episodes.  I never deleted the podcasts from my phone. I lived in hope of maybe a new episode.  When I go to check for new episodes of my podcasts, I always update Children of the Gods first.  I knew it had been almost a year since the last episode was released. I could not find any info on the net. Then last week I updated COTD and lo and behold a new episode which was a message form the author.

They are in the process of producing new episodes.  The production quality with music and sound fx is excellent. So check out cotd on twitter or http://childrenofthegods.net/main/.  It's well worth listening to this podcast, you will enjoy it.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Orange Country Choppers

I have been a fan of American chopper since the series started. As a former biker, I loved the whole environment of the shop, designing and building bikes. The star was Paul Jr. Paul Sr. never realized this, even today. American chopper would have never hit the big time that it did without Paul Jr's designs. It was the Fire Bike and the Black Widow Bike that Paul Jr. designed that brought them real notoriety. Without those bikes American chopper might not have had such a big audience. It was the design of the bikes by Paul Jr, that let to American Choppers meteoric rise and success.

Yes Paul Sr. ran the business side and yelled a lot. Paul Sr. did build the POW/ MIA bike which I love. So I'll give him credit for that. I love the POW/MIA bike and have a model of it on my desk at work. That is a lovely bike.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

I've gone back to blogger, for now.

I have been experimenting with different bloging platforms in the last week. I've come back to blogger where I started my blog. I can't find a blog site that does exactly what I want, yet.

I played around with wordpress.com. It's got a lot of great tools, lots of plugins, widgets etc. I liked wordpress.com but for flexibility of layout I was more comfortable with blogger.

Friday, 14 August 2009

A day in Yorkshire


12082009245, originally uploaded by wingdisk.

We spent a lovely day at the Lavender farm in Yorkshire.

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Battlefield Heroes Part III

How they can make Battlefield Heroes a great game. Leveling up has to be much more evenly scaled expecially after level 11. To get to level 12 I need 40,000 points. Previous levels were relatively easily attainable.

Balancing of the weapons is important. Commandoes are very powerful. They can blow up a spitfire. I wouldn't mind them sniping me in the cockpit, but able to blow up a spitfire is a bit too much.

The large maps need more vehicles. If you are playing a large map and you spawn in the in the middle, you could have a long long way to walk to the next flag. And tanks are always headed to your flag, It would be nice to put up a proper fight.

More maps is always good, we like choice. If I could change heroes between maps that would be amazing. Some levels are ideal for snipers, others soldiers, gunners etc.

For those interested there is a public test environment at pte.battlefieldheroes.com

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Battlefield Heroes Part II

Now, what I don't like about Battlefield Heroes. When I played Battlefield 2 you could choose a wide range or roles,  like a medic and make a lot of game points healing and reviving people during the game. You rose through the ranks and got new weapons along the way. There was a clear path of promotion and obvious advantages to sticking to it.

It takes a long time to level up in Battlefield Heroes and the rewards are there, but not as tangible as Battlefield 2. In Battlefield Heroes you can use points to have new guns for a limited time. You can use hero points to add to your abilities. But it takes a long time.

This lack or rewards and obvious progress forward deters from the game quite a bit. Money buys you extra hero slots and different clothes. Ok I bought a cigar for my character, wow. I don't see new skins for characters as a big draw.

Also the maps are limited. The only map I like is Buccaneer Bay, you can get a lot of points there. Other maps I drudge through to get back to Bucaneer Bay.

The developers said the game would have limited maps because players end up choosing 1 or 2 maps and playing them over and over. Let the players choose the maps. Give us a choice.

It is free and fun to play on and off. But I am not drawn back to play it day after day like I was with Battlefield 2. 

Monday, 6 July 2009

Battlefield Heroes Free to Play and Out Now

I've waited since the summer of 2008 to play Battlefield Heroes (http://tinyurl.com/lsfp67). But now (quietly it seems) it's launched.

Yes it's a cartoon style third person shooter. Yes it is a blast to play. However, there are 16 year olds ready to blow your face off in the game, and you'll be called a noob when you start.


Wednesday, 20 May 2009

What the New Star Trek Movie Means to me

I am a huge Sci Fi fan. I am especially a fan of Star Trek. I watched the original series and loved it. At the time it was one of the most intelligent interesting sci fi programs on tv. When it was cancelled it had an effect on me that makes me worry about the future of Sci Fi on TV today. Previous to The original star trek there were some cool shows like the Twilight Zone and Outer Limits.

The original Star Trek's demise from television led to a drought of Sci Fi on TV. It wasn't until Star Wars hit the big screen that sci fi on tv got going again. We had to live with Buck Rogers and the original BSG. Then of course Star Trek The Next Generation was great.

I think the milestone television Sci Fi show was Babylon 5, written by J. Michael Straczynski. It had a shaky start due to limited funds but once it got going it was amazing. Stracznski wrote it as a 5 year series. The stories, character and CGI were amazing. More over it was pure science fiction on tv. We had some great seasons of Babylon 5 but again due to lack of money it started wobbling a bit. I stayed true to the end. Crusade, a spin off form Babylon 5 looked to be awesome but again the sci fi and tv were not getting along well at all.

We've been spoiled over the last few years with 1 sereis of Firefly and Star Trek Enterprise. Cancellation of those shows after 1 season started me worrying but then we have had great seasons of Stargate, Stargate Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica. Those shows are over now. They were amazingly great pure science fiction shows on tv. I know we are going to have a feature length episode of one of the Stargate's each year and there are talks of a prequill to BSG. Please sir I would like some more.

The New Star Trek movie has had as great effect on me. I have hope for intelligent Sci Fi being made in the future. And I have the same hope for tv. The Star Trek movie gave me faith in the universe's abilty to produce fab sci fi. Before the film I was worried we would be left with only cop shows and westerns. I was especailly worried about a serious drought of sci fi on tv happening again. Now I am not, the movie cured me of a worry I've had for a long long time. I'm not saying I don't like a good cop show either. But please save me from Westerns.

I am going to see Star Trek a couple more times. I am going to support film makers and studios who make films I love. And hope that trancends to putting decent sci fi on tv. I know we have fringe. Great show. We have some good spooky shows like Supernatural. And of course we have Dr. Who and Torchwood.

So studios, get to work producing fab sci fi for tv. And for heavens sake if there is a new western series on tv God help us. Joss Whedon save us all.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

MagicSymbol is an amazing new 3D visual technology.

MagicSymbol is a 3D technology that uses a web cam and the MagicSymbol printed on paper or card. You simply show your Symbol to the webcam and you can see yourself and the 3D object or animation tracked to the symbol on screen. Amazing!

Inition's Magic Symbol

Toyota using MagicSymbol


read more | digg story

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

My Useful Mac Tools

I am really just writing this post for myself. I had my macbook pro stolen, not nice. I've got a replacement luckily I had most of my essential work backed up. But trying to find those nifty freeware applications or even remember what the actual names of some of them is frustrating. So I've got almost everything set back up and just about got all the cool little freeware apps I can't live without.

Twhirl (http://www.twhirl.org/) my favourite twitter desktop application. If you don't know what twitter is read my previous post about twitter and twhirl.

Camtwist (http://www.allocinit.com/) a quicktime video switcher for your podcasts. I want to sue Camtwist to help teach our motion capture system. There really only needs to be the talent, someone directing the talent (digital choreographer if you like) and the technical monkey, that would be me, running the mocap system, making sure things are calibrated etc. But I long to be the digital choreographer, someday. So I could stream the mocap lessons, so the next group of people would have some idea of what to expect.

Jing (http://www.jingproject.com)Finding decent screencasting software for the mac that records full size full frame is difficult. I like camtwist for general streaming, but when you are trying to create Final Cut Pro tutorials you need a great screencasting software. So after far too long a time searching and thanks to http://www.reviewsaurus.com/ I found the freeware screen recording software I had used before, JING. I know there are some great tools available to purchase like screenflow, but you have to be selective in what software you buy so you don't bust the budget at work.

Audiobookmaker (http://sourceforge.net/projects/audiobookmaker) I listen to a lot of podcasts. The weekly ones that I listen to are easy to down load and listen to with nokia podcatcher. There are some great authors out there publishing audio books via podcasts, or podiobooks. I've taken a number of chapters put them together as an audio book so it's easier to put them on my phone as 1 file.

Handbrake (http://handbrake.fr/) an excellent DVD ripping tool for your mac. I have a decent collection of DVD's. But I like to use certain clips when I am teaching. Say for my 3D class, history of CGI I talk about Jurassic Park, Last Starfighter, Tron etc. Even with bookmarking in the OSX DVD player, It's quicker to have the clips of special features I want to show on my harddrive.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Dyslexic Blogger

I am a relevant newcomer to blogging. So why bother? I am dyslexic. I am naturally left handed but was forced to switch to writing with my right hand after 3 years of learning to write with my left hand. That sent my mild dyslexia into over drive.

Computers set my mind free. I found talents and abilities I never thought possible. I bought an Amiga computer in the mid 80's and fell in love with computers. Since 1989 my whole life and livelihood has been based around computers. Working as a 3D artist and Video Editor in games to teaching 3D, video and photography today. Things I love.

It took me a long time to learn to enjoy reading. I used to only read technically based books. They got to a point quickly. I really did not enjoy reading at all, because I literally could not see the forest for the trees. Far too many words on a page with no point in view. It took some friends reading a series of books and raving about them before I forced myself to read on. Eventually I learned to enjoy reading fiction, and especially lots of science fiction.

If reading took awhile to catch on you can imagine how long it took to enjoy writing. I know I am not an elegant writer. But at least I can communicate my thoughts relatively clearly. I remember watching some tv show where I heard, "nothing more creative then putting pen to paper and start writing". As a dyslexic, I've never enjoyed putting pen to paper. But I did enjoy putting my fingers to the keyboard, and hand on mouse.

Getting back to my earlier question, why bother blogging at the late date I started. I've found blogging to be cathartic. I've let out a lot frustrations and shared some ideas. It's helped me process deeper issues even if I was not directly addressing them in a particular blog.

By the way have you ever noticed that dyslexics never misspell the word dyslexia?

Twitter and Twhirl


How can I describe twitter? It's an amazing place to share thoughts, ideas, everyday events, pose questions and receive answers. It's a place to link up with people you know or you might enjoy hearing from.

With twitter you follow people meaning you receive their updates, and if they follow back, they receive your updates. It's limited to 140 characters, like an sms. It's described as a micro blogging site. But calling twitter just a micro blogging does it an injustice. It's also defined as social networking, but that term will become overused soon enough.

How did I start on twitter? There are some podcasts like this week in tech, windows weekly and macbreak weekly. That's where I heard about twitter and those were the people I followed at first (Leo Laport, Paul Thurott, etc). As I learned more about twitter I sought people with interesting bio's and similar interests.

I love twitter. I am not out there to shamelessly self promote myself (maybe just a bit). But I enjoy communication. Email just does not hold an allure for me any more. At work I receive so much multi recipient email that has no relevance to me it's hard to sift through my inbox to find anything that might be important.

If you or someone is discussing something newsworthy or important you can add a (#) tag (called hash tag). During the Israeli Gaza war you could search for tweets from people on the ground. Rather than wait for the news to report what was going on, you could read it in real time. Obviously there will be some misinformation, but I am intelligent enough to sort it out.

You can access twitter at www.twitter.com. There are also various twitter client applications created. I have tried a number of them but the one I have found with the most useful features and intuitive to use is Twhirl. It runs and macs and pc's.

Why twhirl? Number one it's fast. It's easy to keep up with the real time stream of thoughts that is twitter. In twitter you can send messages that are part of your public time line. You can reply or you can send direct messages to people easily. You might thank someone for following you with a direct message so your public time line is not full of "Thanks for following" over and over. Twitterers tend to get annoyed at seeing that. Twhirl makes it very easy to retweet a post. Retweeting is reposting a very important, interesting relevant or cool post from someone you follow,  so your followers can read them and potentially follow whoever originally tweeted it.

I suppose I can best sum up twhirl as the one twitter application that felt the most natural for me to use. What does that mean? I am a long time computer user and if some program does not suit me, I just won't use it at all. I don't care if it's supposed to be the hottest thing out there, if something does not work in a way I like, then forget it.

I am a 3D artist. I have used Alias, Wavefront, Softimage, Maya, 3DS Max, Lightwave and old 3D programs that ran on my Amiga. Even though other programs are popular, the 2 I like the most are Softimage and 3DS Max. The features  are easily and intuitively accessible.

So twitter makes sense to me, and I love using twhirl, what can I say. I suppose I could delve further in to the technical issues that make it the one I like, but believe it or not this is not a tech blog.  Except lately I happen to be focusing on a lot of tech. The Grandkids have not been puking on the furniture lately (they are older now) so there is no reason to blog my frustrations in that area of my life.

I still have a lot to learn to get the most out of twitter. And sometimes I use the twitter web site for posting and reading replies. But I do enjoy using twhirl. Watching tweets go by till something catches my attention and then continuing the conversation. After all, that is what I like to do, communicate.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Mac vs Windows

I love computers. Thats it.  I have been a big fan of Macs since the 90's.  I was even lucky enough to do some sofware testing on a Next machine. I loved the Next system.  I have also used Silicon Graphics, and finally my beloved Amiga.

I am also a fan of Windows PC's  I used to be a DOS pro. I had image manipulation and video tools that worked fab in DOS. But of course with the advent of windows I became a fan.

I will wear a microsoft windows t-shirt and talk about the virtues of the osx.  My mac fanatic friends sigh when I do this.  I really do love working on  mac.  But, I am also a gamer. And I love playing games on a PC. Online first person shooters, real time strategy, etc etc. I am also a Microsoft flight simulator buff.

I played Microsoft flight simulator back on the Amiga.  Today Microsoft Flight Simulator X can only be played on a Windows PC.  Please correct me if I am wrong.  But I love everything from the realistic navigation to just virtually flying.  I just need direct x 10, and I will be in heaven.  Also I use 3ds Max which so far has not been ported to a Mac. I have used Lightwave on a Mac and a PC and it was better on a PC.  Maya I have heard works well on both.

Both platforms have their essential tools that I require. On the Mac it's Final Cut Pro.  I love FCP, it's elegant. I came from old school  linear editing. I fell in love with non linear editing with FCP.  Yes Adobe Premiere is a very good program, but if i have a choice I will use FCP on a mac.

Photoshop, After Effects and Illustrator work perfectly on a Mac or a PC, but for some reason I prefer using them on a Mac. Although I do use them on a PC regularly.

I love 3DS Max,  I have used Maya, Wavefront, Alias, etc etc but there is something about 3DS Max that keeps me coming back. It's rock solid as a 3D program.

If I had to choose only one system what would it be? That would have been a very tough decision to make a week ago. But now I know.  My PC's power supply blew up and the motherboard cooked on my Windows PC. I have my Macbook Pro to use which I do love using, I am writing my blog right now on it. But dang, I want to go and do some serious first person shooting RIGHT NOW! I want to play on Microsoft Flight Simulator and virtually from Santa Monica to some small airport RIGHT NOW!

If I was forced to have one system it would be a Window PC. Sorry to my Mac fanatic friends, but it's true.  It's a difficult realisation to come to because I thought I was always 50/50.

Well writing this has kept my mind off of some serious gaming, what do I do now until I have my PC back?

Saturday, 3 January 2009

2009

Welcome to 2009 everyone. So far it seems much like 08 to me. I am determined to quit smoking this year so any suggestions please let me know. I am hopelessly addicted. And quitting really puts me in a baaaad mood. So what to do. I definately want 2009 to be the last year of smoking for me. I am fed up with it except when I am desperate for a ciggy then it's fabulous. It is starting to effect my health, I am always clearing my throat, getting chest infections and as far as walking up steps forget it.