Clean up.

Spent the last few days cleaning up some old broken blog posts. Used MarsEdit 4, which made it a breeze to yank out old flickr-linked images and replace them with local copies. Sweet.

Fun Weekend.

Got to hang out backstage at Red Rocks with the cool kids from Devotchka. Wow, chapter 1.

Sold out show for Devotchka and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Followed that up with a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens to check out the Chihuly glass work there. Amazeballs.

Birthday!

As near as we can decipher, today Lola is three years old. Congratulations on surviving your sketchy childhood, your trying adolescence, and the rules of your monkeys.

Lo and Ren

I just realized that this photo contains my three favorite things – Ren, Lola, and Beer. Sweet.

Postbarf.

In an effort to make up for a dearth of posts, here’s a whole bunch of crap vomited into the tubes all at once.
2009 07 15 BookMobile  bottom 2
Book mobile design for a school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Here’s another angle:
2009 07 15 BookMobile  top

2009 10 03 Ristra  3
Have some good clients down in Santa Fe who are looking to find a way to bring some durability to the omnipresent ristra. (They are having problems with the wind, mice and ants destroying the traditional ones.) This was my first concept, which fails on the wind-resistance front. Presently working on iteration number two.

EDIT 2017-12-29 Edited out a picture that is missing from my archives and updated the two that aren’t.

Net Operating Loss – A simple How-to

Finished up my taxes after much trepidation and procrastination. The final tally: a Net Operating Loss – which means I lost money in 2008 and don’t owe the IRS a cent. Yippee? For the curious, here’s a simple diagram that explains how to achieve such a feat:

2008 04 15 Water and Power DimsAPPROXfigs

2008 04 15 Water and Power 25ft FrontDims

Translation: Just agree to enlarge your job by 50% without a commensurate increase in compensation – or, just be a frickin’ idiot.
That is all.

Going back to Windows with an aching in my heart.

I’m typing this entry in Microsoft OneNote on my new Vista-based workstation.

WHAT?! The Apple fanboy has joined the enemy? Turncoat!

Yep.

The single biggest reason I have for doing so is software-related. If you remember back to this post, I was having enormous difficulties getting my modeling software to properly create the geometry I needed for the Water & Power project. Much of that difficulty was a result of what the software developers call “training issues” – a kind euphemism for operator error. Those errors were a direct result of me trying to shoehorn general-purpose modeling into a very specific, sheet metal and structural steel framework. After several additional weeks of cussing and learning, I THOUGHT I had resolved my issues and developed usable 2d patterns from my 3d models. A few weeks later, I came to find out (the hard way) that I was mistaken – some cut lines had been omitted from the pattern, which entailed reworking the patterns all the way from their 3d state for those particular shapes. I was able to do so and then generate some cutting templates with the help of the big printers at Kinko’s, but the whole error resulted in a pretty expensive change order at the fabricator. Not to mention the stress and the added work for me.

I realized at that point that if I wanted to continue to push myself and my designs via CAD, I was going to have to find a toolset and workflow that would minimize these kinds of errors. My trust in the current set of software tools I was utilizing had been undermined and the need for something new was self-evident.

Solidworks to the rescue.

I got an evaluation license and set up a Bootcamped Windows XP partition on my Macbook Pro. I did all the included tutorials, watched a few hours of demo videos on Youtube and elsewhere. WOW. Solidworks can do everything I was contorting myself to do in my previous packages (yes, plural) all in one unified workspace – and it can do it with an elegance and sheer power that blows me away. The most significant aspect is the History, which allows you to make changes to existing designs while automatically updating said design to compensate for the change. For example, say I decide to change the material for a sculpture from 16 gauge A36 steel sheet to 14 gauge 304 stainless steel. All that is needed is to tell the sheet metal feature in the feature tree that fact, and all the bend allowances, offsets, etc. are updated on the fly. In addition, any drawings that have been produced (again, right inside Solidworks) are immediately updated to reflect the change. That last bit is HUGE, since the downstream manufacturers rely on these drawings to fab the design. With my previous system, I would have to manually make any necessary changes to the 3d model, re-develop the patterns, export the patterns to my drawing program, and annotate the revisions there. Each of these steps introduces the possibility of mistakes – both mine and import/export related ones. Eliminating them means eliminating a big percentage of the errors that result in expensive change orders. Sweet. Now, mind you, all this power comes at a steep price – but one that can pretty quickly be compensated for in error-free projects.

 

OK, so, if I’m able to run it on my mac laptop, why a new computer? Unfortunately, the makers of Solidworks, Dassault Systemes, do not offer support for running it on macs. It makes zero sense to invest several thousand dollars on a software package only to run it on a cobbled-together system that precludes you from technical support in the advent of problems. Plus, Solidworks is a very hardware-intensive package, and a serious desktop workstation allows one to use it to fullest advantage.

Moving from OS X to Windows Vista is a pretty jarring experience – mostly in terms of attitude toward the user. Maybe it is just general familiarity, but Apple seems to have crafted a user environment that leaves less to bewilderment and officiousness. Not a day goes by on Vista where I’m not wondering what the hell that dialog box means or why that error occurred – something that, in all seriousness, almost never happened on the mac. I understand the why behind this – Apple does not have the legacy overhead for both software and hardware that Microsoft has to deal with, and of course the sheer number and variety of users forces Bill and Ballmer and Co’s hand. But I personally would pay extra to MS to have a simplified, less paranoid version of Windows to run Solidworks on. Here’s hoping Windows 7 is a step in that direction.

I’ll miss you, little Macbook.

Ch-ch-ch-changes.

Thing are under construction around here. I’ll post a more detailed explanation of what’s going on soon – but for now, suffice it to say that I’m moving back to Blogger and using it as my main web portal. I was able to consolidate all my old Emptyful posts into this new Exocubic Studio blog using Google’s Blogger in Draft mode, which allows importing and exporting whole blogs. So if you haven’t had a chance to look at the old stuff, there are actually some pretty interesting posts from way back. Here are a couple:

Making a Monument
Moldmaking

Talk about coming around full circle:
Evolution

Environmental responsibility and the artist.

Gormley WasteMan

This picture, of Antony Gormley’s “Waste Man” burning – filling the air with the noxious smoke of tons of discarded wood – set me thinking. Uh oh.

I understand that part of the point of this piece was to call attention to the massive amounts of waste we in the developed world produce, and to highlight the ephemeral essence of all the “stuff” we strive so hard to acquire. Gormley is one of my favorite sculptors – but this kind of condescending spectacle has definitely lowered his esteem in my eyes. Why exacerbate the very problems you are hoping to solve?

This brings up a point that bugs me no end regarding my own choice of method and material: how to reconcile the obvious environmental crisis-in-progress and my part in it with my (and our culture’s) need to create and express. Is Gormley’s monstrous cloud of smoke any worse in the end than the unseen multiple such clouds emanating from the iron mine, the steel mill, the tractor-trailer delivering the raw material for MY sculptures? Finding a point of equilibrium that allows one to be in the world without accelerating it’s destruction is probably the most profound and important question we all must ask ourselves as we venture into a new millennium.

What do you think?

Gary Gygax : 1938-2008

I am in a state of stunned disbelief. A bit of news has crept up on me from the vast buzzing of the interwebs. This news is arcane and oddball, like so much of the info soup out there, but it has seeped inside me and found some long-forgotten place of joy and excitement – and killed it. Gary Gygax, the mastermind behind Dungeons and Dragons, has died. Geekboy enough for ya? Well, it gets worse. I not only spent countless hours playing D&D – I did it by myself. I was both Dungeon Master and Players. I designed vast worlds and complicated labyrinths, drawing up countless maps on graph paper and populating them with creatures both good and evil. I then rolled up character after character to explore these lands and live these stories – those games are still some of the strongest and most engaging memories I have from my youth. But it wasn’t all just play. Profound lessons can be learned when you play god and mortal both. Characters I had nurtured for months could be slain by one bad roll, and I was the one with the power to change that outcome. But there in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Gary Gygax had written more than just the instructions for how to play the game – there was a tone to the underlying scheme that encouraged the rational analysis of ethics. I feel that D&D, like all great fiction – especially fantasy and science fiction – is a metaphor, a sign pointing the way to truths that are beyond the storyline. So much important learning and interaction is scoffed at by the mainstream because it is couched in the “uncool”. So simple a thing for a man to do as to invent a game – but that game can hold the key to a deeper understanding of life itself. A belated, unheard, and ultimately useless:
Thank You, Gary.

Current Mood: Wack.

I am slowly, inexorably being driven insane. How can something as simple as a truncated, oblong pyramid be so damn hard to model? Oh, sure, it could be the .001 tolerance I’m dealing with or the fact that everything is -just- a few degrees off the cartesian planes – or even the fact that I’m just too goddamn picky – but how many days are acceptably wasted in the interest of just offsetting one virtual 12 gauge sheet the thickness of another?2008 04 15 Water and Power BW

Who’s the dummy now?

“It was a fun experience, as I haven’t done any smaller works like this, where client interaction is taking place just like on the bigger projects.”

Is this the most poorly constructed sentence EVAR, or what? Sheesh. Sure, I could go back and just edit the post, but then all my fans would think I’m this perfect, god-like being who never fucks up – and we all know how boring that would be, don’t we?

Messing with a new theme.

I’ve been goofing around with some new themes in RapidWeaver. I really dig this one – it’s by Elixir Graphics and called “Origami”. Seems kinda apropos, with all the metal folding and stuff. Oh, yeah – to the three people on the planet who actually visit my site, I’m sorry for the lack of new posts. Hopefully I’ll have the time to work up something interesting. At some point. Maybe.

Technical Difficulties

Please excuse the ugly, barely-legible nav bar up there – the software I use to do this website, Rapidweaver, has been updated to version 3.6, which isn’t quite ready for prime time. Hopefully they’ll get things sorted shortly.

Children Must Play


I can’t help it… sometimes I just gotta goof around. So I thought maybe it might be fun to share some of the silly stuff I make. Check out adoodadaday. (Edit: I took down that blog. Just wasn’t able to update it properly. Sorry about that.)