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Hot Loading Code in Nim

I haven't had too much time to play around with Nim and other technology since I've had to move to accept a new job, but I decided to take some time this weekend to write a tutorial on how to do code "hot loading," in Nim. I'm pretty bad at making the first link in my blog posts link to what I'm actually talking about, so for a change it's right here.


Tags: Nim, Tutorials

I Wrote an Article on How Random Art Works

As of the past year Glitchet has been one of my favorite parts of the week. It's a mini newsletter that covers all sort of futurism and computer arts thing that I'm interested in. A While back (seven months actually), I contacted the curator of webzine and told him he should do an article on Random Art. I didn't hear back from him until a few days ago.

He asked me if I was willing to write a piece on how it works. Everything was fresh in my mind from my Nim port of Random Art, so I agreed. Over the weekend I came up with this. It gives you a simple overview of how the process works and where these pretty pictures come from. If you don't understand anything, I'm sure you'll be able to grasp something at least.


Tags: Computer Graphics, Nim, Art, Procedural Generation, Tutorials

Drawing the C# Networking Tutoral Series to a Close

So I haven't updated it in about 4-5 months. I think that It's time that I get rid of the "hiatus," marker on the side and say that it's officially over. I was planning on covering things like SSL and async Sockets, and maybe exploring some 3rd party libraries. But I think it might be better to say that it's officially over rather than to have this monkey on my back. I have a new job to deal with and my interest in C# has waned a little.

If you would like to, you can read some more details about the conclusion here. For those of you who never knew about it, you can start the course here.

The ride was fun and educational to me as well. Thanks.


Tags: C#, Tutorials

Making Fractal Trees in Blender

Fractals have been something that I've found really intriguing since high school, though, I've never taken too much of a stab at trying to generate them.  For a few assignments back in my CS1 class we had to use Python and the Turtle package to draw some.  These were done mainly to teach the concepts of recursion, state, and using geometry in computer programs; pretty basic stuff.  I imagine that almost everyone has had to use Turtle at some point in their CS coursework, and incidentally, has drawn a fractal.

Last year I was taking a course in Global Illumination.  We had to do two projects over the semester.  Write a ray tracer (throughout the weeks) and explore a graphics related topic of your choosing.  For that second one, some students chose to look into ray marching or real time raytracing.  I wanted to look at fractals some more.

After talking with one of my friends, he told me to look up something called "L-Systems."  The full name is "Lindenmayer System," and it's the magic behind fractal generation.  In a nutshell, the idea behind it is to create a grammar (yeah, one of the CS theory ones) and give each letter (or variable) an action (e.g. "draw line forward 10 units," or "rotate 45 degrees clockwise,").  The simplest example I can think of is the Cantor Set on the L-System wiki page.

Even though I was already making a 3D graphics program for the class, I decided writing a Blender script would be the best.  Here are some of my reasons why:

  1. All the tools, libraries, and rendering infrastructure is already there.  I only need to focus on the tree logic
  2. My Ray Tracer has a .obj file loader, so all I need to do is export it from Blender as a Wavefront object
    • On top of it too, I was also able to export it as a .stl, load it into slic3r, and materialise it on my 3D printer.  Pretty cool!
  3. Blender is widely used and some others might find my script useful

So working in Blender there isn't a 3D Turtle object you can rely on to do the drawing.  But instead, you have to work with Matrices.  The basic idea of what you need to do is this:

  1. Chain a bunch of matrices (appending and popping to/from the end of a list works well).  Most of what you'll need will come from Matrix.Translation() and Matrix.Rotation().  These are equivalent of the Turtle movement commands forward() and left()/right()
    • Make sure you chose one axis as your "forward," direction.  For my script, I always made translations in the Z+ direction.
  2. Compute the result of the matrix chain, by taking the leftmost (first) matrix, then multiply it by it's neighbor to the right.  Rinse and repeat until you have one matrix left
  3. Create a new 3D mesh (e.g. via bpy.ops.mesh.primitive_cylinder_add())
  4. Blender will consider the newly created mesh as the "currently active object."  So multiply that new mesh's world matrix by the computed matrix chain:
    • bpy.context.active_object.matrix_world *= computed_matrix_chain
  5. And voila!  It should be in the location and orientation you want it.  From here you can go to a deeper level of the fractal or move back up.  Don't forgot to pop those matrices off the end of your chain!

If you're still a little bit confused, take a look at the git repo over here.  All of the necessary code is in l-system_tree.py.  It's pretty simple and you should be able to follow along.  My L-System grammar is quite uncomplicated:

  • A → BCDE
  • B → A
  • C → A
  • D → A
  • E → A

"A," also means "draw a branch," whereas "B," "C," "D," and "E," mean rotate about an axis (each one is different).  Each variable also checks the current depth to make sure that it isn't going on forever, though only "A," really needs to check for that.

There are a few other configuration options that I threw in (e.g. TWIST) so I could make some different looking trees.  Below is an example of one of the trees that I made with VARIATION_MODE turned on; it gives the tree a much more natural looking feel.

 

Natural-ish Fractal Tree in Blender


Tags: Computer Graphics, Art, Procedural Generation, Tutorials, Python, Blender

Starting "Dart Recipes"

While I've been underway working on the C# Networking tutorial series I've been doing quite a few site updates.  It's given me a chance to add some Dart code to the site and I've decided to share some of the little playthings that I make with it.  You can find them over here.  It's not supposed to be a rational tutorial/walkthrough; nothing builds upon itself.  They are one-shot samples.  I don't plan on regularly updating it, just when I want to.


Tags: Dart, Tutorials

C# Networking Tutorials

I've been hard at work to make sure that the new "Tutorials," section works well and functions the way I intended it to. Nearly every day I've been finding and fixing a new bug. Anyways, to kick it off, I will be running a series of tutorials around C#'s Networking API (the System.Net namespace). You can find it over here.

There isn't much there now, but expect more soon!


Tags: C#, Tutorials, Projects

Another Site Update
I decided to take some time this Friday to add a new section to my site; Tutorials.

I got rid of the old "pages," sections (it was kind of sad), but I still have some things that I do want to share. There isn't any content there yet, but expect some stuff soon. I'm thinking of some C# networking tutorials. The url is here: https://16bpp.net/tutorials/

I'm still working on those "look & feel," updates as well.

Tags: C#, Site Updates, Tutorials

First Tutorial Added (and Markdown support)

So for the past couple of days I've had a little break, so I decided to write a tutorial/walkthrough on how to deploy Django with Apache & mod_wsgi. When deploying the Python/Django port of my blog, I found it wasn't easy to do. My issue was that there weren't any tutorials online that walked you through all of the steps; all of the information seemed to be scatered. So I decided to write my own. If you're interested, you can find it under the "Pages," section (or here is a direct link).

On top of that too, I decided to add in Markdown support for content here. I was going to install CKEditor but I figured Markdown was simple and quick enough. Normally I would go over to the CKEditor Demo and write my content in there, then paste it into a text box here, but this is much more convient to do. On top of that, I added an extra thing that will let me chose whether I want to work with straight up HTML or Markdown syntax.

Content Type Selector


Tags: Site Updates, Tutorials

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