Isqua Istari

The Wise Wizards

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


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…)

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.

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…)

PS Cast: Audio Experiment

Posted in Other,PSCast:S2 by Ziggy Wednesday January 14, 2015 at 00:15

You might well point out that this whole podcast thing is really just one big experiment, but this episode is even more-so. I’m not going to transcribe it. I was trying to record audio by using my headphones as a microphone. It didn’t work super great, but it creates pretty good binaural stereo, so there’s that. Listen if you want to, I think I had some interesting things to say somewhere in there.


Christmas Times

Posted in Other by Ziggy Thursday December 25, 2014 at 18:34

As I am aware that a few of my non-facebook friends read this blog, be it known that there are a bunch of Christmas photos up on my website. Specifically, in this gallery:

Grendel Lives On

Posted in Other by Ziggy Thursday November 20, 2014 at 21:27

My six year old computer failed to POST when I pulled it out of mothballs after several years of disuse. I figured the graphics card might have been the problem (based on previous issues), so I bought a new one and installed it.
Still failed to POST.
Disconnected the harddrives, the graphics card, still nothing. Finally, in desperation, I pulled the memory out, which made the computer quite unhappy. On replacing the sticks one at a time, it appeared that one was bad, but reversing the sticks (swapping the slots they were installed in) seemed to fix the problem… and now everything is fine?

I’m posting this from the computer itself, so it seems like it worked. Except now HTTPS won’t verify… maybe it has to do with me still running XP.

Toad(icus)’ List of Awesome KSP Mods

Posted in Other by Toad Thursday October 16, 2014 at 18:02

I play KSP.  I also write mods for KSP.  I further think that my opinions are generally super good ones.  So, I present to you my list of awesome KSP mods, along with justification for why I think they’re worth downloading.  Why am I putting it on this blog?  So that I can keep track of it, and revise it when my thoughts change, and so that you, if you wish it, may benefit.


Maya .ma geometry convertor

Posted in Other by Ziggy Monday August 4, 2014 at 21:13

So, Maya is a piece of 3D design software. Like most major software packages, it have its own file format. The file is plain text, which is nice, but even so there are no converters for it ANYWHERE (that I could find). If you want to get geometry out, you have to do it through the (proprietary) Maya software interface. I don’t own Maya, and Autodesk doesn’t provide any stand-alone viewers, let alone a file convertor. So, basically, if you’re trying to use .ma files, and you don’t have access to Maya, you’re out of luck.

Except for me, because I’m a wizard or something (see the blog title). Here’s a python script I wrote to rip vertex positions out of .ma files and dump them into a .obj file (which just about any other software package should be able to import). It’s kludgy and terrible, but it worked for the file I needed it for. If it will work for you as well, great. I’d love to see someone knock this into a real Blender file importer for .ma files, but it hasn’t been done so far, so I’m not holding my breath.

The code is all original to me, and is released to the public domain, no rights reserved.

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