Pat's Log
Tue, 31 May 2005

How Not To Rush A Model
My plans to finish the Galileo shuttle model before the end of May are still on track, despite two very serious setbacks over the last two days.

The first involves applying a dullcote over top of Future Floor Finish. It's my first time playing with Future, and it takes longer to completely dry than expected. In this case, applying the dullcote caused the whole finish to crack, creating "trees" all over the place. That took a few hours to fix.

The second setback was much more serious. In an attempt to fix the dullcote, I wetsanded the most heavily affected areas, which are those over the massive decals supplied with the kit. Bad idea: dullcote saturates with water, decals saturate with water, decals expand and unstick. Only one large decal was strongly affected by this, but it still took over three hours to fix. I had to carefully cut parts out of the decal and recreate them using paint applied with a very fine brush. Then, the dullcote had to be carefully matted back on top. There are still some scars from this and they will stay to remind me never to screw up like this again.

On the bright side, I constructed the rear support leg out of brass and it turned out extremely well. Photos coming soon.

[] | posted @ 03:57 | link
Mon, 23 May 2005

Movie, Movie, Model
20050523 The weekend started off on Friday with Star Ward Episode III (funded by Xandros). I liked it. Particularly, the opening sequence, a several-minute-long rendered shot following two fighters, was excellent. Also, the final moments of the Anakin-ObiWan battle were well done. The dark aspect of the movie really set this one apart from the last two, in a good way.

Movie number two was Hackers. I cannot believe I went 10 years without seeing this. Very funny. I now get all the references I've heard over the years about "hacking the gibson." The part that made me laugh the most was when they were showing off the "P6" laptop and were drooling over PCI. It was all so godawfully bad.

The highlight of the last week or so must be the progress I've made on the Galileo shuttle model. I have work-in-progress photos of it going back to 1999, and it's been collecting dust on my bench for a long time. The procrastination point was always the interior. However, because the sides have warped from sitting around so long, that problem was solved; no more interior. Instead, I put in a reinforcement structure. It's been primed, further refined. I'm waiting for a warmer day so that I can do another coat of primer. The goal is to finish the model before the month is out. Then I can start a more exciting ship.

[] | posted @ 05:41 | link
Mon, 16 May 2005

Friday demanded exercise. So, seeing as I needed a new stabilizer bolt (just like May 31st last year), I got on my bike and decided to bike to Carling Motors. Five kilometers in, my rear wheel got wobbly. At first, I thought the wheel had shifted, but when it got worse, I got off and noticed that my tire had actually split in several places and tube was sticking out. Not a good way to start a trip.

Not willing to give up, I stopped at a friend's house along the way and asked for duct tape. He brought out that, and fabric tape, which is even better. We released some pressure on the tube, wrapped the fabric tape tightly around the wheel (through the spokes), then covered that off with duct tape. After that, the trip had 29km left in it, and the tape patches held fantastically.

I recently tried something new. I poured some Baileys into my pocket flask and ordered a large ice-cap at Tim Hortons. I proceeded to drink about a centimeter of the slush, then poured in the contents of the flask and gave it a good mix. In terms of good alcoholic beverages, this could definitely be a winner.

While yesterday was a day of relaxation, today required attendance to church. My sister had her first communion at St. Isidore's. I don't go to church much, and when I do it's almost always the Polish church downtown. It always strikes me how much less formal the English churches tend to be. The whole atmosphere of the mass at English churches is more light hearted and less serious-feeling. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I'll take the pipe organ to the guitars. The quote of the day comes from the priest himself: "What this church needs is more people who are on fire." Context or no context, that sentence stuck.

The big event of the weekend has to be the finale of Enterprise. Did it live up to my expectations? Not quite. Did it disappoint? Not quite. I liked the Next Generation nostalgia, but I felt the Enterprise plot was a little weak. This seems to be the general reaction in all the reviews I read. At the same time, a lot of people seem disappointed by Riker looking at Archer's career to help decisions. They say there is no connection between the two. At first I would agree, as perhaps it was not made completely clear, but this comment really cleared it up:

A laughable review...
I just watched the episode. Riker's decision is supposed to parallel Trip's decision, not Archer's. That massive misunderstanding on your behalf completely voids your review. Get it?

Picard ~ Riker
Archer ~ Trip

Hence the final scene with Trip and Riker.

It was also nice seeing the CG Enterprise-D. Last time we saw a CG Galaxy class starship was in DS9 in the big space battles where they had to keep the vertex count and texture resolution low. The end result was a ship that looked worse than the physical model used during Next Generation. Now, they had a significantly better version of it. The last scene ("These are the voyages...") was perfect.

Wow, this one wins for length.

[] | posted @ 03:59 | link
Fri, 13 May 2005

Free But Keeping Busy
20050512 I meant to post this image Tuesday evening, but wasn't in a writing mood. Tuesday afternoon I decided to challenge myself and see how quickly I could put together a mechanism to take digital photos remotely with my old camera. In this case, I wanted it to be on my RC boat. Turns out it can be done in roughly an hour, using a servo, some 14-gauge wire, and a few blocks of wood.

I have been hacking on Evince lately, trying to get document properties to show up in Nautilus. I have Nautilus behaving properly, showing a tab for PDFs and anything I want in the tab. However, Evince's structure is not sufficient for this because everything is contained in the main binary. So, to make this work, things need to be more compartmentalized; importing the whole binary into the library for Nautilus extension is not right.

Finally, I did some follow-up research on the Enigma, and the sign in the museum was correct. Polish mathematicians had previously cracked the commercial, 3-rotor Enigma. The Brits took this work and extended it to the 5-rotor version, thus cracking it.

[] | posted @ 03:51 | link
Mon, 09 May 2005

Mother's Day
20050508 Today was Mother's Day. I did the usual bit with roses and more-thoughtful-than-average behaviour.

Part of this involved going to see the Tulips around Dow's Lake. As usual around this time they were in full blossom and drew large crowds from all over the world. Of particular note were these bright orange ones. I can't say I've ever seen orange tulips before.

Later, we went to the newly-opened Canadian War Museum. I had been there yesterday for the first time, but I thought the rest of the family might like to see it. The place has some really interesting architecture, and I like how it doesn't completely focus on national military history. Most national war museums would do this. This museum includes more bits from around the world than most. I was quite satisfied with this, my father was not. He's ready to go complain about how they got several facts wrong, including a label that implies the Enigma machine was cracked by the British. It was cracked in Poland by Polish people. Therefore, it was not cracked by the British. Still, the museum is quite unique and worth the visit.

I just made myself a good alcoholic lemonade.

  • One lemon, squeezed.
  • Four teaspoons of sugar.
  • Liberal amounts of rum.
  • Top off the 50cL glass with water.
  • Two icecubes.

[] | posted @ 03:55 | link
Tue, 03 May 2005

New Rims
20050502 Next item on the agenda: new tires for the previously acquired rims. I had my doubts when I got these rims because of their apparent condition: they were very dirty, had a few nicks and scratches, had all of the middle covers broken, and were of a different size than stock rims. Still, the price was right.

Today, I bit the bullet and had them done anyway. I am actually extremely impressed with the results. They were cleaned back in the fall, which helped their general appearance greatly. The tires now hide a lot of the scratches along the rims. The wheels look just fine without the center pieces. The higher width-to-height ratio feels excellent when driving. They also look far better with tires and on the car than I predicted.

Two marks that I have been holding my breath on are finally in. I got a B+ in DSP and an A+ on the final-year project. Certainly far off from the F's that were circulating in the back my cerebral cortex. Tonight, I celebrate.

[] | posted @ 00:02 | link
Mon, 02 May 2005

Enterprise Model
20050501 The next item on my to-do list was to finish my brother's Polar Lights Enterprise kit. So I did. It involved a glosscote, decals, and a dullcote on the engineering hull. I am not terribly pleased with how the decals applied, they left more silvering than I had hoped. Anyway, I was never a terribly huge fan of the original Enterprise, and now I don't have to build and light my larger version of it. I'm putting photos up in the Models section of my site. Then, I can get back to the Enterprise-D, as well as numerous other projects.

Tonight was the 350th Simpsons episode. I really feel they should have canned Simpsons rather than Futurama...

[] | posted @ 03:49 | link

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