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Thursday, December 28th, 2006 - 7:24 PM

"New Art Supplies"

New Art Supplies

I went out on a limb yesterday and asked one of our buyers at work if she had any brush samples she'd be willing to part with. I mentioned that I might dabble with painting a bit and would buy some if she didn't have any samples. She was very generous and took the time to put together a little kit of stuff for me - way more than I expected (I didn't really expect anything). I now have a white metal mixing palette, a canvas, some canvas boards and a very nice set of brushes. The brushes are very welcome because I essentially had one or two small brushes to work with as I was recently painting Manga Deny. The mixing palette is cool too, as before I was using one of those small plastic 6 circle well things - no room to mix/experiment!

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Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 - 5:14 PM

"C2F Web Site Winter 2006 Theme"

C2F Web Site Winter 2006 Theme

A few weeks ago I created yet another CSS theme for the C2F web site. This layout was mostly a rearrangement of graphics contained in the Winter 2006 Promotional Catalog. It's fun to have a project where I am encouraged to create seasonal themes. I have artistic freedom to style it as I please - though I usually model it after promotional catalogs produce by our in-house art department for marketing sensibility. My hope for Esotropiart has always been the same - to be able to switch layouts and/or color schemes on the fly. Maybe one of these days I'll get it done. Other design projects have taken priority over my own site lately.

Since working on these C2F themes, I have come up with a very nice way of structuring the files. Instead of having css and images folders under the root, I create a themes folder. Inside this folder are subfolders for each theme. For example, summer2006, holiday206, and winter2006. All the controlling CSS files and images to make up the layout are stored there. So when it comes time to change themes, all I have to do is point the external CSS link in the header to a different folder. Pretty slick - and very easy implementation. This time I made a minor change to the XHTML source, moving the product search box to a prominent place on the top.

Here is a sample of what the Winter theme looks like. For a better sampling, visit the C2F web site - but soon, before the next theme hits!

Previous Posts About C2F Themes:

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Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 - 12:26 AM

"Perpetual Exercise Machine"

Thanks to Micah, I got slightly hooked on a little Flash app he supplied a link to. The program allows you to draw various lines. When your drawing or course is complete, you press "Play", and a small character on a sled glides down the lined path you drew, with pathetically entertaining results.

Rather by accident I discovered that the physics, while they look mostly convincing, are rather flawed, even buggy. It is quite easy to create situations that cause the character to randomly jump or reverse direction in a nonsensical fashion. I found this far more entertaining than wasting my life away trying to perfect a course that would keep the rider on his sled.

My new game or challenge then became to see how long I could keep both the sled and the figure hopping and flipping about - in the smallest possible space. At first I drew a few lines, saw where the objects flew; drew more lines to catch the objects again and send them elsewhere; etc. This became a rather complex collection of various patches of messy globs of lines and slides. So in the end I decided to draw a little apparatus that would keep both bouncing objects in a captive area while keeping them in perpetual motion. I watched my model for several minutes and made slight adjustments to keep the figures captive and moving. I came up with a structure that appeared would keep both objects bouncing forever and left it going, recording the first 23 minutes or so. When I came back later, both figures had managed - against all odds - to find a resting place. So my model is not perfect, but I'd estimate it kept both objects in motion for a minimum of 30 to 40 minutes.

If anyone else wishes to try this challenge, draw a structure with the fewest possible lines that keeps both the rider and the sled bouncing around for as long as possible. If one or both stops moving or flies off the track, make an adjustment to keep it going. Note: small crevices and the "ends" of lines are what make the figure jump around randomly. I also found it more entertaining to leave small openings in my slides to create suspense. Several times the figures almost fly through the gaps, but they never seem to quite make it!

See my Line Rider video here

imperfect structure
Here's where my hopeful perpetual motion machine ended up after 30 or 40 minutes and many hundreds of bounces, slides and flips. It is still possible that either or both figures jump up again. I have seen movement after extended periods of time before. But alas this model is imperfect.
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Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 - 12:14 AM

"New Path to RSS Feed"

For the one or two that use an RSS feed to check my posts: I have changed its path, so you will need to update. This would include the use of services such as live bookmarks, feed readers, etc. The new path to my RSS feed is

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Monday, December 18th, 2006 - 11:16 PM

"Winter Storm and Power Outages 2006"

electrical outlet

Last Friday there was an unusually powerful wind storm in the Pacific Northwest. About one million people were without power in Washington alone. Three lives were claimed by the storm as well. Here in Oregon there were 274,000 customers who experienced power outages.

Jack FrostJumping Cloud

I was surprised by the ferocity of the wind. I don't remember ever having heard such wind here in Portland. I do live on the west side now, furthermore, and the weather is slightly more extreme here. Some bags and bottles were strewn about our backyard, and our lights flickered several times, but we never lost power. I hear that some people have been powerless for five days and more. Wow! That's uncommon. A large transformer exploded into a towering inferno here in Beaverton, but our area was unaffected, fortunately. Normally, like Dave mentioned, I would somewhat enjoy the slight adventurous tone of a power outage. As a kid I always enjoyed lighting candles, using flashlights and listening to a battery operated radio. It has been quite chilly lately, however, and I wouldn't be enjoying a duplex without heat, especially over several days. I'm thankful we didn't lose power and hope others are coping and recovering well.

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Saturday, December 16th, 2006 - 6:28 PM

"I'm Alive and EsoBlog Returns"

Let me tell you the short story of why I haven't been posting blog entries in seemingly centuries (in blog world one week = about one century).

FIRST: Due to several "distractions" I have put my own interests and web site far down my list of priorities. For a couple weeks I was helping a company (where Dave works) transfer their web site and associated domains to a new provider. In addition, I have been spending a large amount of time continuing my work on the Camp Jonah web site. I have also been attempting to help them get a handle on their spam intake (not the semi-edible type, but the death annoying type). Last but not least, my mother-in-law is visiting us from Brazil. So you could say I've been rather busy.

SECOND: This is actually the biggest reason I haven't posted. A couple weeks ago I was working on what I felt was the most meaningful and important blog entry I've ever written. While using my hand-coded admin screens, a session variable timed out, and I lost basically the entire entry. I almost went into a state of shock and awe - I was SO ANNOYED. The web can be so irritating at times. The technologies that drive it are so limited. I've heard many a person losing emails or other web documents for this same reason - using the biggest name sites you can think of. Several people I know use notepad or Word to write, then they cut and paste the final text into a web form, just to guarantee no loss. I also do this from time to time, but I forgot to do so with my "important" blog entry which is now lost in oblivion. It really, really sucks! From that moment on I decided I would not attempt to write a single word until I came up with a solution for this ridiculous problem, no matter how many good ideas for posts I passed by [boo hoo]... (cutting to clipboard so I don't lose this).

I haven't fully solved the session timeout issue, but I have restored my admin screens to the point of functionality. I literally scrutinized every line of code in my admin screens, making sure there was no renegade "kill y'all sessions" activity going on. I started the cleansing process of creating far more logical and simple code, commenting as I went (something I don't always take time to do when working with my own stuff)... (cutting to clipboard).

So now my write blog and modify blog screens are complete - as far as being as functional as before the self-declared catastrophe (surely I can fit one more "as" somewhere in this sentence). All I have to do now is complete the virtually-impossible-to-lose-a-single-character-of-typed-content-at-any-given-moment functionality. The way I recoded everything is already conducive to less chance of loss, but I have one more step planned which will seal the deal. Then I'll take a triumph walk around the block... quickly returning due to extreme chill and memories of the impossibility of blocking 100% of incoming spam.

In short, I'm back! As I get closer to full implementation, I'll show y'all how my new screens work. It'll be pretty cool when I'm finished.

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