Photo Contest at Work…

Draeger is holding a photo contest so I’ve grabbed a few shots to run off 8×10 prints of to submit. There are six categories. I’ll probably submit a couple of shots in ‘places’, ‘things’ and ‘animals’ and skip ‘people’, ‘humor’ and ‘black and white’. I have some ‘leanings’ at the moment from the sets of shots I’ve printed, but until I see how they render I’m going to reserve final judgement.

I did leave things off till a bit late so I have to have my shots in by end of day on Friday and Sam’s Club is indicating they’ll be available a bit before noon on that day…

Here are the shots I’m looking at.




…and in the ‘not likely to be used’ but worth going through the process of selecting…



Black and White (not yet monochromatized here)

A Blendery Weekend

I’m finally getting around to learning some blender. Not really functional yet, but headed in the right direction.


I watched a bunch of tutorial videos and read through my ‘intro to blender’ book (my more detailed blender book is 2.7 based and thus doesn’t really talk to the current UI). I also pulled the git source onto jabberwock in the basement and successfully ran a build. I’m not sure I’ll ever get involved with blender development, but it seemed like something nice to have around and was very straightforward to do.

I took a cursory look at what is involved in building blender extensions. Looks as if they’re all written in python. This surprised me a bit as I wouldn’t have expected python to have the necessary performance but it certainly would seem to make the development process easier. I’ll probably look at this stuff in more detail once I have the basics of running the tool well in hand.

Sunday evening I sat down to try to build something with the things I’d learned and realized how many gaps I had left. I think I need to print out a blender hot-key cheat sheet for 2.8 and then dive back into some of the early tutorial pieces and get some basic shapes built.

I am particularly interested in walking through the steps from blender creation to import into unity and material manipulation on that side. For game pieces I very much want to be able to adjust the color/textures on parts of a given item programmatically while using the nicer models that can be generated in blender. I expect this can be done, I’ll just have to work through the details.


I’ve started looking at text in VR space options. Mostly watching some presentations on text and in-game UI alternatives so far. I’ll probably try out a few things over this coming week in the evenings as time permits.

I also took a quick look at in-game VR keyboards…doesn’t look as is there’s anything in unity itself. There are a few choices on the unity store that are available for purchase. I think I may just look at quickly rolling my own when I need one.

I’m thinking that once I get to looking at online, multi-player options there will be a need to text input. The VR keyboard in google earth seemed reasonably usable so I’m optimistic that I may be able to build one that works decently.

I once again saw references to the Godot game engine. As a fully open-source option it looks interesting, but at the moment I’ve got enough investment in unity that I’m not inclined to go looking at other choices too closely. I may take a quick look and pull the code just out of curiosity.

Happy New Year

Rolling over to a new year. New challenges and existing things to pick back up and get rolling.


I haven’t been doing all that much photography lately as other things have occupied my attention.

I’m hoping to get that rolling again with the new year. I need to get my 5D SLR in to Canon for cleaning and maintenance as it is clearly in need of some work. Currently I’m using my older 7D and since I haven’t been doing much shooting that has met my needs. I want the 5D back in service before vacation this spring though. I’m also planning on getting a 1.4x tele-extender to see what a bit more range on my good lens can do for me.

I generally find that when I pick up a new lens I also find interesting new perspectives to work with. Hoping this extender can help on that front.

I’m also going to look at taking six+ shot ‘sky box’ sets in various places this time. Given the VR work I’m playing with, being able to sky-box locations in Florida would be pretty nice. Something else interesting to play with. I’m wondering if there might be a camera that can take these sorts of shots in one go…the stitched shots I’ve used in the past are a bit ragged around the edges when glued together.

3D Objects

I plan of becoming far more proficient in blender than I currently am. I want the objects I play with in unity to be much more interesting than the current simple shapes I’m using and blender seems like the ideal tool for my needs.

I’ve been planning on learning this tool for some time. Now is the time and I’m going to see where I can take this. Add in some textures from the camera and I’m hoping I can create some pretty cool items.

Keep an eye on pandamallet for more detail on blender and unity work in progress. Cluster is my current focus but I expect there will be more to come after that work reaches an interesting milestone.

3D Printing

Still of some interest…still not immediate enough to spend the money needed to buy an off the shelf printer. Stay tuned 🙂

Wargames and Role Playing Games

Always interested in playing but don’t have any players within reasonable range.

Looking for VR inspiration in the various games I’ve got around. I could see anything from VR sand-tables to full game implementations or environments coming out of this. Cluster is the leading edge, but if all goes well I’ll do more as time goes on.

I think that many of these games were too complex to be comfortably played on a table in any case (possible to play but really too much work and too many hours of play time). Looking at building games inspired by some of them that play in VR seems ideal.

It is funny because I started out doing ‘inspired by’ to avoid intellectual property issues but as things play out it becomes very clear that the designs would want significant adjustment to translate into offline, turn based computer format in any case.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Day after my birthday. I appreciate all of the birthday wishes from people I know. I’ve tried to respond to everyone individually, hoping I didn’t miss anyone along the way.

We wound up going out to dinner at Longhorn’s for my birthday without planning to. We’ve been getting meal kits from one of the places that provides those for a while now (nice meals, something different and less expensive than eating out). Yesterday the meat part of the ingredients pack turned out to have a leak so we decided to head out to a steak place and celebrate.

I ordered a couple of task force games games for my birthday. I know I’m not all that likely to find people to actually play them with. I still enjoy reading through the rules and seeing how they make things hang together. In this case these are the star fleet marines ground combat games. I am particularly curious to see how they make star trek ground combat work in a way that makes for interesting game play.

I’ll write up my impressions once they arrive.

Still not getting back to any serious Unity VR programming. Still on my list of things to get to, but not making it to the top.

I did get the back porch rework most of the way to completion over the last couple of weekends. The bulk of the boards are in place…I just need to add in the outer edge of the floor and stain the kick-plate between the top surface and the first stair. Looks good and water does seem to be beading up rather than soaking in. I also left gaps between the boards to allow water to more readily escape through the surface. The original structure had the boards tightly butted up against each other and we had a healthy crop of moss developing between them.

Heading up to the Conway area this weekend for a short trip. We used to take trips up there more often and it will be nice to revisit the old places again. Expecting a pleasant and relaxing weekend away.

Friday, October 4, 2019

End of the week, going to Sam’s steampunk festival this weekend. Should be a fun time. Weather report says the weather should be good as well.

Continuing with C++ refresher reading. Need to get a better handle in detail on what the 2014 and 2017 updates added to the language. I know that there were a number of adjustments that made some of the large enhancements in 2011 more usable or less broken.

Re-reading ISO medical device documents as a refresher too (62304 and 14971 in particular). The stuff in these is mostly just good sense development practices, but it is very important to understand what is actually required in order to ensure that things remain on track.

Wed, Oct 2, 2019

New Job

I’m now a few weeks into my new role at Draeger. Still getting up to speed on things (though I did get my required training done quickly, so that’s behind me). Back to C++ on windows for work…knocking a bit of rust off, but it feels good…once I get rolling I’ll have to see how well some techniques I’ve gotten used to in Java and C# can be ported back to C++ 2011-2017.

Little tech work this summer

It has been a slow summer from a technical standpoint…not much progress on home projects in unity and such. I did upgrade the strap on my vive headset to the newer (and hopefully more comfortable) version with built in earphones. I’ve also moved the lighthouses up to my office for the time being as I’m more likely to get work done up there at the moment. Won’t be starting up off Friday coding sessions with Malcolm and Sam obviously, but hoping we can figure out some other options to get together…whether for software stuff or board games and other such.

Sticking with my current VR headset for now

I looked at the new inside-out headset from HTC and wasn’t impressed enough to consider buying one…thought about it for a little while as I had some money to play with. It wasn’t enough of an upgrade. The fact that they’re talking about offering an outside-in update for ‘more precise tracking’ also suggests to me that I’m better staying with the headset I’ve got for now. The pro was also tempting, but I’ve given that a pass previously and I’m not tempted enough now.

Daydream for google seems to be dying. My new phone (a note 10+) doesn’t support it at all…and indications are that it never will. I much prefer the 6 DOF systems but having a headset that can travel and be used for demos is extremely nice…even if you’re limited to 3 DOF. I had been really hoping that they’d at least find a way to do limited 6 DOF with the controller…but it sounds like that’s not going to happen now.

JetBrains tools…

I am still tempted to buy a Jetbrains individual ‘all products‘ pack to get the C# and C++ tools and the other useful items (PHPStorm seems nice). Got to consider budgeting this at some point as it would allow me to evaluate these tools for broader use and help out with home projects along the way. Probably not a bad investment in the mid-term.

Machen Bachen

Headed to Machen Bachen this weekend. My friend Sam is involved with a steampunk festival. Lorna and I have tickets and we’ll be heading over there this weekend…should be fun.

Good Day Driving Around Southern Cali

We’re in San Diego visiting with Alyssa. Had a great day today driving inland a bit and seeing the sights. Grabbed a great breakfast here in the city and then headed east to a town with a delicious pie place. I’ll post pictures at some later time.

At this point we’re relaxing back at the hotel and Lys is taking a nap. Nice seeing her again and roaming around her new stomping ground with her. Cool to see a new part of the country and new places to explore. Jet lag doesn’t seem to have been to bad getting out here…hoping is isn’t bad when we head home.

Just took my little camera with us today as we drove around. I’ve left the 5D at home as it really needs to be sent it for cleaning and maintenance. i’ve got the 7D with me…should do the job for this trip…expecting it to be used at the zoo (and we will wind up at the San Diego zoo as Lorna has waited a long time to see this zoo).

When Lys wakes up we’ll probably head down to the pool for a swim and then grab dinner.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Relatively slow weekend again. Had a few interesting conversations and dug into gene sequencing technology a bit (kind of like a big brother to the PCR technology I’ve worked with in the past). Interesting stuff and some pretty cool things appear to be looming on the horizon.

Didn’t get much coding on cluster related items accomplished. Still looking at PHP and Angular things. Have tentatively concluded that Angular makes sense for single page web UI work here. It is very popular and keeps showing up in systems I work on so while it may be more complex that the alternatives I’m inclined to go with it.

Noticed that PHP 5.6 is now officially past its end of life. I’m going to need to get on the phone with GoDaddy and see why my hosting still tops out at 5.6. If I’m going to be pushing up some PHP myself, I’d really prefer PHP 7 as many of the tools now require that.

Heading out to San Diego to visit with Alyssa towards the end of the month. The in-laws will be holding down the fort at home white we’re gone. It will be great to see Alyssa in person. It has been a long time since her last visit home. I’m also excited to see more of San Diego. It seems like a nice city and I’ve got very limited experience with California in general.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Done with a hot and rather unproductive weekend. Definitely a summer time feel to things at the moment. Hard to get any momentum going. Did a little somewhat random technical reading. Got the power miter saw set up on the saw horses in the garage to cut the pieces to replace the porch parts that are in bad shape (but did not cut anything).

Binge watching old episodes of Supernatural and playing games mostly. We ate icy fruit pops, had hot-dogs and some delicious ham and cheese treats that Lorna made.

I did swap out the in-law’s recliners and demo the old ones.

Still need to get going on PHP code for RESTful interfaces to the back-end for the cluster game. I really want to get this stuff going, but suspect it will take the approach of fall to get things rolling again.

Turned off the firewall rule that exposed port 80 on my externally facing server machine for the moment. Started the process of setting up a DMZ port on the router. Not quite sure I’ve got that right yet…may want to run that port somewhere in the house to make testing easier. I am realizing that I’d prefer not to have my externally facing machine on my main network. More to come as I figure out the routing setup needed to make the new interface useful.

Turned off the firewall rule that exposed port 80 on my externally facing server machine for the moment. Started the process of setting up a DMZ port on the router. Not quite sure I’ve got that right yet…may want to run that port somewhere in the house to make testing easier. I am realizing that I’d prefer not to have my externally facing machine on my main network. More to come as I figure out the routing setup needed to make the new interface useful.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Things have been rather busy at a fine-grained level and rather slow in terms of larger direction over the last couple of months. Moving quite a few things incrementally towards completion and getting things done at work, but nothing of great heft on any front.

Leak on the Ethernet Switch

Had a nasty little pinhole leak in the house piping last weekend…fried the main household network switch by hosing it down with water. Thankfully the router is a largely sealed, fanless computer and came through without a problem. Very impressed with Amazon’s electronics delivery, I had a new 24 port switch (16 ports had been getting tight, but not worth replacing a working piece of hardware to upgrade) in hand by the following day. Spent one day with only eight ports of ether connected…

Yum Boxes

Lorna got us started on ‘Yum Boxes’ last month. These are small, relatively inexpensive, boxes of treats from some country in the world each month with a description of each treat and enough for each of us to try some. Nice surprise each month and small enough to be no real issue.

We did mess up the address for the initial shipments..curiously the first box reached us regardless. When the second box failed to arrive we went looking and found that the house number had been entered wrong (almost certainly our fault) and pointed to a swampy empty lot across the street. I contacted the company after we fixed the error and they had a replacement box out to us in short order. Very happy with the product and the service.

Inlaw Walkway is almost finished.

Putting the soil back into the shallow trench along the edge of the walkway where the plastic retaining strips run. Sifting the soil before I drop it in so it is taking a bit longer than it otherwise might (but I expect the results will be better). Once that is completed, we’ll only need to rent a plate compactor to settle the stones and the walkway will be done.

Tiles in the Catio

We bought and laid down patio blocks in the bottom of the catio area. With dirt or mulch down there, the cats did what cats will do with loose material. Now that there is a hard surface they’re behaving better in their outdoors area.

Almost done finishing the swing bench

We’ve had a nice swing bench from before Alyssa was born that has followed us from house to house. It has been in the bare wood for all of that time and has come through everything wonderfully. Recently I’ve been staining and applying spar polyurethane to a number of items around the yard lately and thus decided to stain and poly the bench. So far it is looking great. As long as the spar poly doesn’t get damaged by sunlight (and it should not) this will be a nice upgrade to the bench.

Staining and finishing the well house

The little wishing well that sits over the well head in the front yard has been looking rather ragged lately. I’ve made a cap for the center area at Lorna’s request (she puts bird seed on top of it) but the rest has been aging poorly.

I’ve started in on staining and finishing the exposed wood on the well to better preserve it and make the structure look a bit better cared for.

I still need to replace the roof shingles as they’re also badly warn at this point. The rim wood has been stained and coated with spar poly. The sides have been stained (though I think they need another coat this weekend). The upper part if still in dire need of attention and should be some soon enough.

The Light Pole

Something hit the metal light pole in the front yard last fall. The impact was strong enough to shear through the metal pole where it met the concrete that held it in a vertical position.

I’ve built a pressure treated lumber box to run maybe a third of the way up the exposed pole and provide support for it (we had looked for a replacement but this season the color isn’t a popular one it seems). I’m filling the inside of this box part way with rocks to secure the pole in place. Once that is done, I’ll line the rest with plastic and fill that section with soil so that this can act as another sort of raised bed down in front.

I’ve stained the lower box with the same stain I’m using on the well and the swing bench. I still need to do the final fitting on the rim and then stain and apply spar poly there. I expect to poly seal the top rim, but leave the lower part just stained.

Left side of the back yard

Slowing down on this area with rainy days and trying to wrap up work on the in-law walkway. Got much of the near area cleared out and some of the larger wood cut and cleared but still lots left to do. The old electric chain saw seems to be chewing through the old pine back there pretty well so perhaps no need to replace it any time soon. Hoping to get this all cleared up by the end of the summer. Ideally would also get the grape arbor/pergola footings poured and side braceings removed by then.

Cluster game and the sandbox

A particularly slow front at the moment. Lots of low level (and less directly fun) bits to put together on this. Database definitions for storing game state, moves and other such. Server setup details as I’d really like for this to run over a secure connection for password management. Web server programming in PHP to get everything from user sign-up to game turn execution at least fundamentally together.

I’m still not even sure whether I’ll run this through my main web hosting here or use an external connection to my home network. The hosting option is likely more robust, but less flexible. Using my home connection puts all of the security concerns squarely on my shoulders but gives me the flexibility to use a broader range of technologies than my main site hosting makes available. Soon to be decided.

I did grb an evaluation license for PHPStorm (a development tool for creating PHP code) and then allow the license to expire without really getting a good feel for the tool’s value. Perhaps I’ll ask for an evaluation extension…perhaps I’ll just pay for a year of JetBrains tools as they’ve got a range of very useful tools that support a variety of activities.

Thoughts and Considerations…