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Archive for December, 2007

Online Order Processing Article

Thursday, December 20th, 2007
Digital Excursions

Diverging from this blog’s standard bill of fare, I just completed an article on online order processing for my Digital Excursions web site. The article How To Lose Online Customers reviews my recent experience attempting to join the IEEE. Needless to say I wound up not joining IEEE. If you are a webmaster doing e-commerce, you might be interested in my observations of the shortcomings of the way in which IEEE implemented the process of purchasing a membership.

Happy Computing, Jim

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Send A Christmas Card to the ISS Crew

Sunday, December 16th, 2007
NASA Christmas Card
NASA Christmas Cards

Right now, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, the first woman to command the International Space Station, Russian cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko, and NASA astronaut and Flight Engineer Dan Tani are circling the Earth aboard the International Space Station. In fact they will be spending their Christmas holiday in space.

In light of this, NASA has created an online tool that will allow you to send a personalized greeting to the crew of the ISS. You can choose from one of four card types, shown above, and type your message to the crew on the reverse side.

To send your own message to the ISS crew, go to and look for the link titled “Send Holiday Greetings to the Station Crew.” Mouse over the link to open the window and then click on the “Send Your Greetings” Now link.

It’s really simple and you’ll feel good letting the astronauts and cosmonaut know that they are in our thoughts.

Merry Christmas, Jim

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CB Model Pro Beta Version

Thursday, December 13th, 2007
CB Model Pro
3D object created in CB Model Pro

This last week I learned of and downloaded a new 3D modeling program. The beta version of CB Model Pro is a free download that can be used indefinitely if you fill out the online registration.

CB Model Pro sports a very simple user interface. It operates by deforming the surface of either the supplied primitives or very simple imported objects. The supplied primitives are the sphere, cylinder, cone, cube, sheet, and torus. 3D object operations that are available are Point Pull, Flatten, Bend, Neck, Scale, and Poke. The degree of deformation applied by these tools is controlled by two simple sliders. There is also a Mirror option so that operations performed on one side of the object are mirrored on the other side.

In addtion to modeling, you can also paint your object. This is accomplished either by applying an image to the model or by using the paintbrush tool.

Once finished with your 3D model, you can export it as either an obj, stl, wrl, or 3dxml object. However, for the stl and 3dxml formats, only the 3D mesh is exported. The CB Model Pro web site has a gallery of sample textured objects to give you an idea of what can be done with the product.

If you have questions about the program, you can turn to the 12 page PDF for program documentation. There is a forum for the software advertised on the web site but stupidly they have chosen to restrict both read and write access to only those people who have previously purchased software from SolidWorks. Definitely not a bright marketing move.

The Pluses

Okay it’s free. It’s also a very simple program to learn and use. I created the object in the picture used to illustrate this article in minutes using only the Neck tool and application of a texture image.

The Minuses

It would be nice if you were able to name your saved models – rather than having the program arbitrarily assign names like file1.cb3d Precision of manipulation is really not there. It is a simple tool that performs simple tasks to create simple objects. You start with a primitive, select an operation, click somewhere on your primitive and drag. And a forum closed to everyone except owners of SolidWorks software is not at all helpful.


If want to play with creating simple 3D objects in an intuitive manner then give CB Model Pro a try.
Ad Astra, Jim

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NSS Space Settlement Art Contest

Thursday, December 6th, 2007
Moon Base Illustration
Moon Base Art – David Robinson

Time for traditional artists to grab their brushes and digital artists to grab their digital brushes. The National Space Society is sponsoring its second space art contest. Like the first space art contest last year, the submitted art is to depict space settlements in our solar system and unlike so many other art contests, this one is free. Yep, there is no submission fee. Art is to be submitted in one of four categories: lunar settlements, Mars settlements, asteroid settlements, or orbital settlements. Twelve winning images will be chosen and used to illustrate the NSS 2009 Space Settlement Calendar. FYI, the NSS 2008 Space Settlement Art Calendar has been sold out since early last month.

In the interest of full disclosure, I chaired the NSS Space Settlement Calendar Committee and served as chief judge for the previous contest. This time around, I have limited my participation to serving as a contest judge. My fellow judges are Don Davis, Bart Leahy (this year’s chair and padawan apprentice), Loretta Hidalgo-Whitesides, and my pal David Robinson whose lunar base artwork adorns this post.

This year’s space art contest has a great line up of prizes. There will be twelve winning entries selected: one Grand Prize, four First Prizes, and seven winning entries. Full contest details are available at the NSS Space Settlement Art Contest site.

Here is a great chance for all space artists to create their visions of a spacefaring future – a future where humanity’s home is no longer just the Earth but wherever we choose to live in the expanse of the solar system. But hurry, the deadline for submissions is December 31, 2007.

Think Space!

Ad Astra, Jim

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