Older blog entries for cTaylor (starting at number 146)

22 Jun 2005 (updated 22 Jun 2005 at 14:09 UTC) »
I get to become a Combat Veteran

So, I found out recently that I'll be in Iraq conducting a real-world military mission, and just when you thought my blogging was already infrequent.

If any of you reading this have or will go to any of the currently mounted military operations in the AOR, I'd like to get some suggestions on stuff to purchase.

I've a lot of mixed feelings about this situation. I'm excited on one hand, concerned on another, a bit peevish on a foot, etc. Fear hasn't entered into the equation and to be frank, I've not time for it.

I've been 'in training' for 6 years. Not for this mission but, when you drill or when you've been through my military experience, you get that feeling. Looks like I'll be using that training for something.

I also figured that if I wasn't meant to go, then I would never go. Looks like it was merely meant to be. Despite how campy that sounds, it is about the most honest light I can place upon my thoughts.

I have all my 'kit', as they say, put together. I picked up a nice pair of Wiley X ballistic sun glasses, nomex gloves, compass, military map protractor, cushions for my kevelar, spare watch, watch compass, weapons cleaning kit, etc.

I started up another blog to track each 'phase' of my deployment, so here's a link to my future combat zone blog.

Back to the focus of this blog, OSS and FS

So, I did some optimizations for normalmapbaker. Surphaze is helping me wrap up the project before I deploy so, hopefully, we can have something posted to sourceforge soon. I say this so often it seems meaningless but, we do honestly believe the project can be completed before I head out.

I have more projects in the works, one more directly related to somethings Surphaze is working on so, we're excited about some of this stuff b/c it's crossing lanes. Again, probably won't make sense until I start focusing on those efforts but, believe me, it should be pretty cool.

I've been amazed with the progress of this project. In some ways it's been really easy, in others, it's been tough. I think the hardest part was getting the data structures organized. By that I mean getting them organized in such a fashion that they complimented each other nicely.

Oh, and it all builds and works on Windows too. Thanks Mingw!

The build system for all platforms was SCons. I really wish more people would use this class set to build applications. It's a really amazing system!

Semi-social stuff

Movies that have rocked:
  • Primer. Most fascinating sci-fi movie I have seen all year. It's what I call classic science fiction. The time travel isn't cheesey in a trekkie tradition. It's clean and it's merely a mechanism for moving the story forward. The story is really about people and relationships. I highly recommend it.
  • Batman Begins. I was very cynical and skeptical about this movie but, I don't care what you may say or think - this was *the* best Batman movie thus far. It was totally in line with how I always felt Batman should be portrayed on the big screen. Nolan's treatment really buys into the 'Dark Knight' concept. A man that uses the tactics of criminals against them. Burton's vision of the dark night suffered from a hollywood budget that emphasized big balloony props, etc. That's how Burton does business. Big Fish had that going on with it and the new Charlie + Chocolate Factory flick seems to hold similar content. Nolan masked the fight sequences nicely b/c with the rubber suit costume that the actor wears, the correographed fights traditonally made batman look like a limp-wristed child slapping people. Nolan chose to hide a lot of the fist fighting in favor of developing the Dark Knight mystique. So Batman comes across as more of a supernatural entity, a legend, than he does a rich dude with a costume. 2 thumbs up.
  • The Machinist. A great Psychological thriller. Had an art film tone to it and managed not to over do it to a point where I was getting sleepy or bored with the presentation. The ending is a bit predictable but fantastic none-the-less.
Beyond that, I've been buying video games and books like they're going out of style!

Next week I'll probably post some of the gear I'm buying to take with me to Iraq and I'll include some stuff about entertainment oriented things in another blog entry.

Final shot

I've seen a lot of text about this law suit that says OSS and FS developers are terrorists.

There is a quote explaining how our source ends up in terrorist hands.

Let me ask this question - if the same idea were to be reapplied, what does that say about people/organizations/governments who fund and distribute weapons and technology to said organizations?

Keep in mind, I spend *a lot* of time in the middle east. They use commercial, Microsoft products almost exclusively (FYI: I'm not saying Microsoft is a terrorist supporter). I have met only 1 person in my travels over the past year, that has even heard of GNU/Linux or even the Open/Free Softare 'movements'.

What could be said about the citizens who purchase oil or petrol that goes to middle eastern companies - companies that then funnel said monies into terrorist organizations? Or citizens that insist upon using vehicles that require extreme amounts of this resource? Or what would it say about citizens who pay taxes to governments that freely distribute weapons and technologies to said terrorist organizations?

Wouldn't that mean the companies that develop said weapons/techologies (distributed for free) be considered 'terrorist supporters'? I'd say, read this book first, before throwing stones.

Before reading this last piece, keep in mind that I'm a pretty level-headed individual. I believe both parties have failed the citizens and I'm a firm believer of the development of a good, solid, 3rd party option. I try not to dabble in political blabbings but, I find myself more willing to share my beliefs regarding the political climate because I will soon be in a war zone.

The 'terrorist problem' can be blamed evenly across the entire `western world`. And as for Iraq, it's broken. No amount of finger pointing or blame will fix it. The time has come for people to save the allegations for later. We now own this problem, as a people, and we now have a responsibility to do right by the situation. If we fail, then we have truely become that which we say we are in direct opposition to.
God Bless Flip Code

I found a couple of really great ideas floating around on flip code for normal mapper. So, I got them implmented last night and now I get to run debugging tests in the data b/c I'm getting very *uncool* results.

The B.S. portion of todays post

In other news - I was party to the insane traffic in Atlanta yesterday. I was in Buckhead trying to get to a local super market, when I started seeing police all over the place.

People were looking up at a construction site near the ESPN restaurant - so I start fiddling with the radio dial trying to find some news coverage of this event.

My quest was a humbling experience as I was only able to find 1 station on the FM band that was doing a traffic report at 5-6 pm. That report was covered 285 and I20 - absolutely nothing was said about the man on the crane in Buckhead (wanted for murder in Florida) and still nothing more about the police barracade in Buckhead.

I say this was humbling because, I came to a realisation that radio isn't the 'public service' I thought it was - all I was able to pull was top 40 music and commercials.

Probably not a shocking revelation for most but, it was a bit obnoxious from my stand point. Then again, having been overseas for a month, you get used to things like AFN. I just think it's sad that I have to go overseas to get good radio (and TV for that matter).

On another note. I had a thought regarding politics of late. My father considers himself a republican. I keep telling him he isn't. Well, he actually is - it's just that his party has been usurped in the past couple of years by what I consider to be a unifying concept in contemporary politics.

This concept is what I call the 'singular party'. So instead of actually knowing a representative or politician by their voting record or their personality, the parties have decided to consolidate their image to make life 'easier' on voters.

I no longer have to think about voting for a politician - I just vote for party because the party is all the same. God forbid I educate myself on the politician and vote for that specific politician.

Gone are the days of Strom Thurmond style politics. For the sake of sound bytes and the media - and to re-enforce short attention spans - parties have convinced themselves that all representatives (or a majority of them) should present similar if not the same public image. To rally behind 1 banner in a very strong fashion. This idea seems very simple if you're into controlling people in mass numbers.

So now we have `winger politics`. My father believes he's a republican but more in a McCain fashion or tradition. He's a thinker and not a winger. I myself have been so accustomed to winger politics that when he first told me of his affiliation - I spouted off a list of ideals that I see most republicans maintaining (atleast in the south) and he managed to show me he didn't buy into a majority of them and that's when it hit me.

I had purchased into this entire concept of 'package politics' where no one is a free thinker and everyone 'firmly believes' in a package of policies without really thinking about it or considering what the heck those policies really mean. Because 'the party' believes in business or social reform or whatever malarkey people tell you these days to justify their own vote.

Take for instance embryonic stem cell research. There's a series of documents parents have to fill out inorder to get an embryo created and even more to place the embryo into the 'we didn't want it after all' pile.

It's not like a super store where you come in and order one on lay-away. This is a regulated process!

An unwanted embryo is documented and will be terminated. I don't understand why people are unable to realize this - and I fail to understand why a party that so firmly says it believes in a 'culture of life' is unable to see/consider these factoids and start backing the research effort with public money.

I guess it's easier to play the volite emotions game and control votes based on singing to the 'born again' vote - throw thought out of it - and just ride the bandwagon.

I mean if you *know* the life will go to waste and be destroyed - and nothing can be done about it - then why waste the life? Does it not serve a greater good to use that life to save others? I mean parents are going to have to sign waivers anyway - just make this an alternative or something.

I have one more rant to dump but, I need to get back into the scheme of things at work. I'll probably post tomorrow. This is more for me - to get these things down somewhere - than it is for any kind of readership that's out there.
Long time no post.

Well, I managed to survive my last couple of travel events. Saw my sister graduate from UPenn. Back into the swing of things CONUS style.

Recently picked up Guild Wars. It's been a terrific waste of time and it seems that plently of my old college buddies are playing it.

As you are about to discover. I recently have been re-introduced to gaming. I've been out of the loop since way back. Shortly after say...the original Quake game.

Doom 3 was pretty fun - scarey as hell but, I'd have to say it does a good job at what it was intended to do. Scare the pants off you. It's a bit repetitive but, the enviorns are really immersive and I enjoyed it. The teleport-ambush thing id does with the game is very predicatable for anyone that's played the original dooms or the first couple quake games. No suprises there.

1/2 life 2 has been fantastic. It feels like I'm *in* an action movie. I just cleared Ravendorf and that was a blast. It's been a really fun game thus far. It still packs the old-school 1/2 life 'flava'/'feel' and the physics engine they've implemented is unbelievable. I spent about 5 minutes the other day spliting wood underwater and watching it float to the surface. Really life-like and realistic. It also *feels* like you're in a 70's era John Carpenter movie.

As for coding. Normal Map Baker has required a lot of data structure considerations. I've had to scrap a lot of work and tweek some of it out b/c I was getting confused by my design. I want to say I'm 80% done but whenever it feels like I make progress, I move backwards a bit to make things 'better'. So, I'm getting there.

I have a new idea for another blender plugin. I've been using a lot of dan's shared memory code to get it together and while i've yet to even consider how far into it i am, i feel it has the potential of being another 'exceptionally cool' add on for blender. I'll drop more info out when i get the code going someplace interesting.

Beyond that I'm preparing for more drill weekends and another trip overseas.

Normal Map Baker

Got the build system completely tweeked out unfortunately my 3d geometry code was shifted around a little b/c of some debugging my partner-in-crime did with his own sources (from Flatter3d).

So, that's the temporary update. Next weekend I have to fulfill my guard commitment by assuming my officer role in the company - it'll be a long week for me doing army stuff. Guess I should get my haircut tomorrow.

The weekend after next I go back overseas for about 30 days. The day I get back, I'll have to fly out to Philadelphia for my sister's birth day.

So for now, it's taxes, bills and rent payments for 2 months and then I go away and come back only to bounce up to Philly and then I come back here for some R&R and a friend will visit from up north.

Such is my life. Travel.
Back in the U-S-A! I-safely-got-Back in the U-S-A!

It feels great to be in the states! I've had quite a busy week - getting a new place, paying off bills, getting back into the groove of post-active-duty-post-deployed life (back to back treking is getting old!). So now I must haggle/contend with tight financing for the time being. I think I'll handle it just fine.

but, I really mean it this time!

It's still going to be awhile what with all my traveling and whatnot. It doesn't help any that I'll be going overseas again mid-april. So, there's much preparation at work getting things lined up for our next trip. It'll be about a week longer than the last one.

While I'm over there, I'll keep pushing not only the normal baker but the pdf filter for beagle. From what I can tell they still need one and after reviewing some of the code I need to translate, it'll be a heck of a lot easier this time and I'll probably be able to finish it in a timely fashion.

The new rule is pdf filter at work, baker at home.

Beyond that, I'm seeking employment opportunities. I keep my eyes pointed on online hunting tools but, nothing I find really seems all that more involved than what I'm currently doing.

I don't mind the tempo of my current job but, I don't feel like it's the right kind of thing for me. I want a bigger challenge. Or just something 'bigger'. What I'm doing now really makes me feel like my tires are deflated or half empty - at times.

I have friends working on masters degrees or PhD's - I have friends writing embedded linux code and getting paid to do it! While I know I should limit the amount of gauging I do with what I consider my 'peer group' I just can't shake the feeling sometimes that I should be doing more.

And while I get to travel the world, yet...I feel extremely dissatisfied with my job. I guess that's my post colliegate self-discovery process at work. go fig.

The Soy + Salmon diet is still working! I've lost a grad total of 20 lbs since December thanks to a number of dietary changes and a light work out routine. I recall being very upset with all the exercise I was doing and the little physical return in weight loss I was receiving - now I cut back on calories and do a lot less working out and *bam* the weight begins to drop. I guess that just proves how much diet (in terms of caloric intake) is a part of the problem.

Managed to fly <yeah I travel a lot> to D.C. for the weekend to meet up with a friend up there, had a wonderful and interesting stay up there - hopefully, I'll manage another trip that way in the near future pending another business trip.

Well that's it for now. Back to my regularly scheduled baking session.
8 Mar 2005 (updated 8 Mar 2005 at 09:37 UTC) »
Semi-mandatory update

Still working on the blender/python-c/c++ stuff - it's coming along a lot smoother now that I've managed to marshal all the python structures (and their substructures) I need over to C++ land.

So hooah for that.

Still overseas, this is my last week here - I'm amazed at how much this particular area is trying to modernize. I often get the distinct impression that while they modernize, they are 'kicking to the curb' some of the most interesting and fascinating aspects of the indiginous culture. I mean it's still 'there' but, you have to look a little more throughly for it than in other nearby countries.

And so the spectre of globalization rears her bitch-godess head. I call her a bitch-godess b/c she gives with one hand and takes with another. Oh well, that's the nature of all things I guess. I'm often reminded, driving around, of the history associated with people that do missionary work. Sure they're there to help improve the quality of life, but they also can end up modifying the local culture/community in profound and sometimes tragic ways.
1 Mar 2005 (updated 5 Mar 2005 at 09:15 UTC) »
Long Time, No See

I'm still overseas - it's been a pretty nice trip so far, and the internet is *all* over the place here. Which is nice for a change.

Software Items of Interest

I'm still working on the Blender/Python C/C++ module. It's coming along really well so far and my QuadTree only took like 4 hours of worry and concern to write and get going - hooray for me!

Now I need to write up a OctTree to improve access times. To some of the Blender PyObject's that I'm using. The fact that I can access any Python module already installed on my system is unbelievably cool. This has also made the module work far simplier than I initally expected.

Long story short, C/C++ module development for Blender has been a lot of fun and it's been a worthwhile experience. Sooooo yeah. Ain't that great.

Back to books. Oh, and Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver seems like a practice in redundancy. I understand and appreciate the whole past referencing future/past thing he's doing but I have to admit, he's going out on a limb far more often than I can appreciate and I'm giving him as much credit as I can. Sometimes there's such a thing as too much detail and too much referencing!

I'm outta here for another week.
Spinning globes don't stop

Well, I completed my army school last friday and within 2 days I was on an airplane going overseas. Now I'm just trying to find ways to fill in gaps of time.

Outside of playing the occasional video game for escape, I've been messing with Quadtrees and PDFBox. As usual, I hope to knock out a couple of issues prior to my return home.

Speaking of which, while I was at my army school, the lease ran out on my place, so now I'm offically homeless and am looking at renting a BOQ on base when I get back to Atlanta.

Living out of a suitcase isn't too bad. It's like living in the woods you just have to keep tabs on all your stuff and make sure to pack *exactly* what you need - not too little and not too much.

Hopefully, a job opportunity in the works will pay off and I'll be able to live in one place for atleast a couple months before bouncing all over the globe. I'd like some staticness to my life.

that's it for now. laterz.

I've talked alot with people about being consistant with the project work I involve myself with and I just can't seem to find enough spark in what I work on from a day-to-day basis to stick with just one effort.

I bring this up b/c it seems like Surphaze as suckered me into working on 3d stuff recently. I made a vow a very long (very long) time ago to avoid this part of computing b/c it was really trendy (yeah, I'm just soooo punk) and I also secretly harbored some anxiety about the mathematics involved.

Well, turns out the math isn't so bad for me and I seem to really enjoy the work.

We're tweeking a normal mapping plugin for blender and I've been really impressed with the python integration that's going on in blender.

I cooked up the normal mapping function two nights ago in about 2 hours (most of that time was reading the blender API and hashing out some questions with Surphaze).

Now we're at the point where it's kinda slow for generating maps for complex objects. My math is a bit on the slow side and that's party b/c I ganked the procedure from a really outlandish reference site.

So, Surphaze has made some improvement notes for me (speedup processing time: so cutting out big numeric pieces and writing them in C and then add another vector transform for the structures we're using) - he has added a couple of features that'd make the script "super cool, thanks for asking" (he wrote about 95% of it, I just figured out that he needed to be using tangent space for his mapping technique).

So I have that in the works for now. When all this is complete we'll be able to tackle some more further adventures in 3d rendering - like more real-time rendering stuffs. Oh, I also got some more scripting under my belt with tnl -> I scons'd the build system b/c they were using "old skool" make files and the gnu auto-tooling system is nice but, it's really ugly. I'll stick with my Python + SCons classes thank-you-very-much!

I'm still tooling around with PDFBox and a couple of other projects - just so when I read this later I can remind myself that I do have other obligations to attend to. :-P
18 Jan 2005 (updated 18 Jan 2005 at 01:54 UTC) »

So, I've started to write a little more outside the scope of this blog. On paper. It's been pretty rewarding just getting some non-technical ideas out on paper has done wonders for my overall mood.

Back on the technical side of the house, I've got some scons scripts together that'll build csharp files into dlls, exes, and netmodules. They require more 'robustness' but for my purposes... they work great.

Back to the regularly scheduled network programming...

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