Isqua Istari

The Wise Wizards

Composite VTOL

Posted in Articles by Ziggy Saturday January 28, 2017 at 09:05

Our aerospace industry could be more efficient if we built airplanes in two pieces, a take-off tug that did launch assist for a long-range mission core. Details in this report:

Or just read the text below (more…)

Planet by Oskar, Now with Saves and Keyboard Shortcuts

Posted in Articles,Other by Ziggy Sunday September 18, 2016 at 08:46

Oskar Stålberg wrote this lovely little piece of software which he titled his “Polygonal Planet Project”.

Unfortunately, it had no keyboard shortcuts or save/load functionality… so Dru hacked it in! It’s currently a single-file “quicksave” sort of functionality, but it seems to work in the cases we’ve tested. It makes the game much more enjoyable, we think! Currently saves are hard-coded to /path/to/Planet/planetsave.cfg.

F5: Save to File
F9: Load from File


Principles of Animation

Posted in Articles by Ziggy Tuesday July 19, 2016 at 10:11

There are a classic set of “Twelve Principles of Animation” which some Disney guys came up with based on their experiences, and by all accounts they have held up fairly well. What I’d like to do here is explore the principles, draw out some patterns I’ve noticed, and then offer some guidelines of my own.

So, for reference, here’s the video that kicked off my drive to write this article. And here is the list of the 12 principles that he lists, and which I’ll be exploring: (more…)

The Bible and IP

Posted in Articles,Other by Ziggy Thursday June 9, 2016 at 09:26

I have already endeavored to examine (and dismantle) the logical foundations of the idea of Intellectual Property, but before this writing the religious justification or refutation has gone largely untouched.

For this study I will be sourcing exclusively from the KJV translation of the Bible, which you can download for free here. I will be referencing by book and chapter only, and will quote sparing context, as the full text is available and searchable.

But first, I feel it is healthy to address a few of the…

Common Scriptures Referenced in Relation to Intellectual Property

Exodus 20 is often quoted as evidence for the validity of IP. However, this argument presumes both that ideas are property and can be stolen. I would say that neither are true, but either way this passage does not enlighten us on the definition of theft. It does, however, bring up a much more interesting point which I will go into further on, as regards both dishonesty and covetousness. (more…)

SpoOratory Ep3

Posted in SpoOratory by Ziggy Thursday February 11, 2016 at 16:56

Taking death seriously, but joy more seriously.

Spiritual Tapestry

An interwoven trialogue across a broad range of related subjects, starting at

1:10 Russion song “Not for me (Не для меня)” (more…)

Septacrypt Decoding

Posted in Articles by Ziggy Friday February 5, 2016 at 19:40

Two of four major sides of the Septacrypt visible here.

This is the Septacrypt. I designed it as a riddle and a message. What follows is a step-by-step guide to unraveling its intended meaning. But first, the…


This project started several years ago, as I pondered the philosophical quandary in which the creators of Penny Arcade found themselves. I have been a fairly regular reader of both the comic and the news-post, and both their honesty and epistomological despair have often struck me. They both clearly have knowledge of the Scripture, but do not know the Power of God. I was not infrequently moved to attempt a communication, but never with such force as would spur me to action. Further dampening my desire was the knowledge that a great many other persons daily vie for their attention, and if I was not willing to make myself either obnoxious or exceptional, my attempts would surely be wasted to no lasting effect. (more…)

Real Theoretical Conundrum

Posted in Other by Ziggy Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 12:31

I am struggling with a system I don’t completely understand.

Running a sequence of tests.

Suddenly! Struck by an expression which is exactly what I wanted. An image of my deepest hopes, long longed for but never fully expressed. A glorious flash of perfection.

But I realize that the problem still exists. The perfection is fatally flawed. In fact, the flaw is now dreadfully obvious, and what I love in the system will be destroyed when the flaw is addressed.

I fix the flaw, and the system is mundane again.

I am struggling with a problem I don’t completely understand.

Speculative Delusions

Posted in Delusions of Grandeur by Ziggy Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 12:28

I think about how to use the things at hand. It’s kind of like this but for tools and equipment. It happens with skills as well, but much more rarely. My psyche is more focused on possessions than personal powers. Of course, being a young man, a lot of these hypothetical scenarios involve using whatever is at hand as an improvised weapon in some sort of violence-driven cinematic sequence.

In any case, I’m often rather startled by the incongruity of the speculations that come to mind. I’m going to start posting these under the Delusions of Grandeur category. Hopefully these missives from my imagination will prove interesting and worth reading, in keeping with our high content standards here at Isqua Istari.

To add some content to this article, here’s an example. (more…)

TUNR: Charge More for Violence

Posted in Other by Ziggy Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 12:22

My response to: TUN Slow Down the Violence
People play to learn. We want to learn things that are expensive to learn. Killing people is the most expensive thing that we know about, so it makes total sense to learn about it in games instead of through real life.

Also, “shooting” is much easier to implement than other forms of personal violence (wrestling, swordplay, etc). It’s basically just a mouse click on a target, and doesn’t usually involve much reaction other than target tracking.

I agree that adding needless violence is a bad habit, but violence in itself isn’t bad. Employing violence is a good idea in the right context. Given the insane cost of killing actual people, killing people in games seems like a pretty good context to me.

Stratasys Catalyst CMB file parser

Posted in Other by Ziggy Wednesday January 13, 2016 at 12:11

A company I used to work for owned a Stratasys 3d printer. The program that sends print files to the printer is called CatalystEX, and while it imports industry standard STL files, it exports and saves in the (almost certainly proprietary) CMB file format. These files encode the tool path that the printer uses to build the parts, so modifying it makes it possible to modify the print.
Why might one wish to modify the print? Perhaps because Catalyst is very “user friendly” and not a “powerful editing tool” like “some other programs” namely Blender. So, I started writing a bit of Python code capable of importing a CMB into Blender for editing, and then exporting the modified CMB for printing.

I didn’t get very far, but was making decent progress. I left the company, and no longer have access to the printer, and therefore further work would be highly difficult to carry out.

This effort was made feasible (and very likely possible at all) due to the extensive previous work of Andreas Reichinger which went into picking apart the CMB file format, which (at the time of this writing) can be found here:

As I mentioned, I didn’t get very far, but I did manage to discover that the ”27 bytes ?” field was actually 35 bytes long. Not sure what it contains, or if it’s per-printer or what. I also never got around to writing out modified part programs, so I don’t know if there’s a sum-check built in or anything.

Below is the full text of the reverse-engineering reference, just in case the link goes off-line: (more…)

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