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Archive for November, 2016

Euclidean Chaos Abstract Algorithmic Art

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Euclidean Chaos Abstract Algorithmic Art
Euclidean Chaos Abstract Algorithmic Art

Euclidean Chaos artwork on Redbubble

Euclidean Chaos artwork on CRATED

One of the projects I undertook over the Thanksgiving holidays was to create a new series of abstract algorithmic artworks. The first of these artworks that I’ve made available on Redbubble and Crated is the piece Euclidean Chaos.

The Euclidean in the title is a reference to Euclidean geometry. Euclidean geometry is a mathematical system described by the Greek mathematician Euclid in his textbook on geometry titled simply Elements, written sometime around 300 B.C. The fundamental "space" in Euclidean geometry is the plane. The chaotic aspect of Euclidean Chaos is, what is visually, a countless number of intersecting planes which constitute the artwork.

My analogy for this artwork is the cosmological concept of the multiverse or parallel universes – a system wherein there exists an infinity of non-interacting universes, each unaware of the other’s existence.

I hope you like Euclidean Chaos and will visit its pages on Redbubble and Crated (by clicking the buttons above) to see the variety of art product offerings available for this artwork.

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Earth, Islands, Moon, and Music Calendars for 2017

Friday, November 18th, 2016

2017 Calendars - Earth, Islands, Moon and Music Calendars

Last month I added four calendars to my Redbubble portfolio. Three of the four calendars involve space in that the source photography for the calendars is from space-based cameras. With respect to the images from space, image processing was performed on all the images in order to:

  • improve contrast
  • enhance color and detail
  • remove imperfections and noise

Islands of the World Calendar

Islands of the World Calendar

The first of the calendars is the Islands of the World Calendar featuring images of islands taken from my Planet Earth Satellite Imagery Collection on Redbubble. The islands in the calendar are

  • January – Andros Island, Bahamas
  • February – Maui and Kahoolawe Islands, Hawaii
  • March – Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands
  • April – Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands
  • May – Boa Vista, Cape Verde Islands
  • June – The Island of Hawaii
  • July – Isabela, Galapagos Islands
  • August – Tortuga
  • September – Faroe Islands, Denmark
  • October – Socotra Island, Yemen
  • November – Catalina and San Clemente Islands, California
  • December – Bermuda

 

Planet Earth Views from Space Calendar

Planet Earth Views from Space Calendar

Next up is the Planet Earth Views from Space Calendar which consists of images of Earth taken by a variety of manned space missions, primarily from the Apollo program.

 

Moon Views – Photographs of Our Moon Calendar

Moon Views - Photographs of Our Moon Calendar

The Moon Views – Photographs of Our Moon Calendar consists of lunar orbit photography taken by several of the Apollo missions to the Moon.

 

Synthesizer and Electronic Music Art and Photography Calendar

Synthesizer and Electronic Music Art and Photography Calendar

Lastly there is the Synthesizer and Electronic Music Art and Photography Calendar which consists of photographs I took at a synthesizer convention with some of the images having been subject to a strong dose of image processing.

 

I hope you find these calendars attractive. If you’re in need of a present (Christmas or otherwise) for someone, I hope that you consider one of these calendars as being the perfect gift.

Strangely I haven’t assembled any calendars based on my digital art. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like I will have time to create any art-based calendars between now and Christmas. But then again … maybe I will find the time.

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Buying A New Computer

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Dell XPS Laptop Computer
My Dell XPS Laptop Computer

I write this post on my Dell XPS 17 laptop which I purchased in the summer of 2011. It has served as my main computer for everyday tasks and has served me reasonably well except for its failing hardware. My only real complaint after getting it was its lack of enough USB ports and that it came loaded with a bunch of crapware (aka bloatware) which I had to manually uninstall.

And just what is the current status of this five year old laptop? The internal keyboard is dead so I use a USB-attached keyboard. The touchpad is dead so I use a USB mouse. The DVD/CD reader/writer is dead so I use a USB-attached external device. The built-in Intel Centrino Wireless component is dead so my laptop is tied to a wired connection. And the battery has no life so it must continuously be connected to its charger. In short, my laptop is no longer portable. Fortunately none of these hardware failures have prevented me from continuing to use this laptop.

Two weeks ago a new problem appeared. My ability to load very large images into the laptop’s NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M graphics card stopped working. My Java graphics programs that previously worked fine failed. Even small Processing sketches were spitting out error messages when running in 3D mode. To troubleshoot the problem, I ran the OpenGL Extensions Viewer program I had previously installed as a part of updating the version of OpenGL installed on my laptop. Unfortunately it crashed before telling me anything. And it was the same story with a another testing program I tried to run. It’s worth pointing out that I bought this Dell laptop when the graphics card on my old laptop went kablooey. On the plus side, I experienced no loss of data at that time because I was able to boot up into a DOS session. And I was able shed an old laptop running Windows 95 for a new one running Windows 7.

Now it may well be that my graphics problem is nothing more than a corrupted driver and hence easily fixable. But I now have another more pressing reason to migrate to a new, more capable computer. I’m expecting to take on a consulting project that will require more disk space than I currently have available and for which I will need to install and run a web server stack – Apache, PHP, MySQL or MariaDB, WordPress, Perl, and Python as well. This project provides the perfect opportunity to finally upgrade to a new PC.

Laptop Replacement Strategy

So I have to find a new computer. The one solid criteria I have is that I want my new computer to run Windows 7 Professional. I’m sticking with Windows 7 because I have older Windows XP applications that I know will work with Windows 7. Also I have no interest in taking the time to learn how to use and manage a new version of Windows.

There is another decision that I must make as well: do I buy a laptop or a desktop? The only reason to buy a laptop is for portability. But I already have portability. Not only did I inherit my older son’s old Windows 7 laptop, but I also have my own Ubuntu Linux laptop that I’ve been using since 2014. So the older laptops I already own provide me with portability. Something else to consider is that to achieve a certain level of computing power is more expensive with a laptop than it is with a desktop. Also, desktops are much easier to work with when it comes to adding new hardware or replacing existing hardware.

Given my situation, it makes sense to replace my Dell laptop with a desktop. The next set of decisions that must be made are with respect to identifying what components (CPU, memory, graphics card, SDD/HDD storage, motherboard, power supply) I want in a new desktop. Three requirements that leap out are a) a minimum of 16 gigabytes of DDR4 memory, b) an Intel CPU operating faster than 3 GHz (gigahertz), c) a minimum of two hard drives (HDD) with total storage of at least 5 terabytes (TBs). Most challenging will be identifying a specific CPU and graphics card.

Once I’ve identified a hardware configuration, the next step will be to identify a vendor. Whose computer will I buy? Currently on my list of possible sources are (in alphabetical order): Asus, Boxx, Dell, Digital Storm, Falcon Northwest, Maingear, Origin, Samsung, and Velocity Micro. Note that I deliberately exclude HP (Hewlett-Packard) – a company I had been happy with until buying one of their computers – a mistake I will never make again. I also exclude Lenovo as they are a Chinese company that jump started their business by buying the IBM Thinkpad computer line. Disclosure – I’m a former IBM employee and bought IBM personal computers before and during my term of employment with IBM. Don’t get the wrong idea – I have nothing against buying imports. I’ve bought cars made in Japan and Germany and smartphones from South Korea, etc. Lenovo may make fine computers but I abstain from doing business with companies that are a part of a system as corrupt and unethical as the Chinese system is.

And My Desktop Choice Is…

I’ve already started my research on desktop systems both in terms of components and vendors. I will say that I have ruled out Boxx as being excessively high priced. I’ve also ruled out Falcon Northwest and Maingear as they only ship Windows 10 systems – not to mention that Maingear is also quite pricey. With respect to hardware, I’ve ruled out using a SDD for my system drive as the benefits for a desktop system just aren’t there. My particular needs are better served going with a HDD. One thing I do know and that has to do with monitors. Do not buy a monitor from the company you buy your computer from. In each of the cases I’ve checked I’ve found that I could buy the same monitor on Amazon for a substantially lower price. While I haven’t checked, I assume that this also applies to NewEgg, an online computer retailer I’ve previously done business with.

What can I say but that Christmas is coming early this year and that my Christmas present will be in the form of a desktop computer. I expect that my next post here will be about what system I finally decided to go with. Stay tuned.

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My Social Media Holiday

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Digital Art Prints website screenshot
Coming Soon
Digital Art Prints website screenshot

My use of social media has always been erratic because it has never been a high priority for me. That does not mean that I don’t have accounts on many platforms – I do. A number of the accounts I set up are simply for learning about that platform’s features and usability – an area of professional interest for me.

To improve my knowledge of social media, I’ve read articles, books, and taken online classes. I’ve even taught classes for artists and photographs on how to use social media. But knowing and doing are two separate things. Let me provide an example. I attended an online seminar on how to be successful at Twitter. The key take away from this class, other than the completely generic advice to post great tweets was that the teacher spent three hours a day every day engaging on Twitter. For me, that is far too high a price to pay just to be popular on Twitter. Personally, I don’t spend three hours a year using Twitter.

My periods of absence from social media are driven by two key factors. First is the availability of time. Second is the variety of platforms I have accounts on. The more accounts you have, the less time you can devote to any one of them and skipping out on one makes it easier to skip out on the others.

Social Media Platforms

The main social media platforms I have accounts on and on which I am actually at all active are:

I have left off this list the many niche social networks I am on as well as sharing platforms like Tumblr and FLickr. And of course there are the more-than-a-handful of social media platforms that have gone out of business.

It has now been several months since I have engaged on any of my social media accounts. What happened? The most striking of my absences is from Linkedin – which was in large part driven by Linkedin’s own actions – two in particular. First they made a number of platform changes that were particularly harmful to members who managed groups. In trying to make the platform more mobile-friendly, Linkedin eliminated a number of usability features. Fortunately there was a strong user backlash and Linkedin eventually restored many of those features. The second was driven by the fact that I stopped receiving group updates from Linkedin. I reported the problem to Linkedin and their response was to basically say "yeah, we made some changes to the platform and a small number of our users were adversely impacted. But because it’s a small number, it’s not a priority for us to fix it." What is small for them was critical for me. That sort of customer service led me from using Linkedin on a daily basis to being only an occasional visitor and that in light of the fact that Linkedin had a couple years ago wanted me to promote the fact that I was in the top one percent of profiles on Linkedin!

So what have I done with the time I gained by ignoring my social media accounts?

Reading is FUNdamental

Two principle areas occupied my reading time. One area was for pleasure and knowledge. The other area was for professional development. Yes, its true, following are books I read for pleasure and knowledge:

  • Business
    • Making It In America – A 12 Point Plan for Growing Your Business and Keeping Jobs At Home by John Bassett and Ellis Henican
    • Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies by Charles G. Koch
  • Space Development
    • The Business of Space: The Next Frontier of International Competition by L Brennan et al
    • Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight by Chris Dubbs
    • Crowded Orbits: Conflict and Cooperation in Space by James Clay Moltz
    • Law and Regulation of Commercial Mining of Minerals in Outer Space by Ricky Lee
    • The Twenty-First Century Commercial Space Imperative – SpringerBriefs in Space Development by Anthony Young

The books I read for professional development dealt with computing: specifically web design and programming.

Web Design

Earlier this year I decided to dig into learning the Bootstrap framework for responsive web design. I had already converted by own sites to mobile-friendly designs using the general principles of responsive web design – but I wanted to learn Bootstrap. My first tangible product was to convert the
Chicago Society for Space Studies website to a mobile friendly design using Bootstrap. Having learned Bootstrap to an acceptable level of proficiency, I was able to design and code and implement the new site in a single weekend.

I am still learning Bootstrap and am close to releasing a new web site – Digital Art Prints which will feature some of the artwork and photography that I offer for sale on a few of the POD (Print On Demand) services I have accounts with.

Python Programming

For some time I’ve been wanting to learn the Python programming language in order to create scripts for GIMP and possibly Blender. What finally pushed me over the edge was the decision to create a new web site (Digital Art Prints) and to use a Python program to construct the web pages from a database I maintain for all my art and photography. My first actual productive use of Python was to create an auto-mailer program for email distribution for Chicago Society for Space Studies. I also have a couple of other projects in mind for interactive website queries.

Presentations

I give a number of talks over the course of a year. These talks tend to fall into four distinct categories. As a NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador, I give talks about planetary science and planetary exploration – the most recent of which was about the New Horizons mission to Pluto. As President of the Chicago Society for Space Studies, I give talks that focus on space business, space development, and space policy. For more about this, see my Chicago Society for Space Studies Speakers Bureau page. As an artist, I give talks on a number of digital art subjects and on various aspects of web use for art marketing. You can see a full list on my lectures and presentations page.

My last presentation was last Saturday (for details see Space Art Program At Elmhurst Art Museum). My next presentation will be this coming Monday for the Nineteenth Century Club and Charitable Association on the topic Globalization of the Solar System – a presentation that asks the question can the economic and technological principles that make globalization possible here on Earth work for a human civilization that is spread across the solar system?

I also completed work on a new presentation titled The Impact of Space Policy on Space Settlement and am working on a presentation about the history of lunar art and another on Earth imaging and remote sensing.

Digital Art Prints website

As I mentioned, I’ve been working on a new web site – digital-art-prints.com where I will have a portfolio of art and photography that I have made available on certain POD (Print On Demand) sites, like Redbubble and Crated for example. The design of the site, which is built using the Bootstrap framework, is complete. I’m not using a CMS (WordPress for example) for the site but am instead working on a Python program that will take the information I have for each artwork and use that information to automatically build the site’s web pages and image gallery. This will allow me to swap out web page designs very easily. I have also written a program using the Processing programming language to automatically generate all the images that the web site will need. Stay tuned as I hope to have the site up before the end of November – assuming no more computer problems.

And What About Social Media?

I certainly expect to return soon to the world of social media but probably not until after I have rolled out my Digital Art Prints website, which is my number two priority at the moment. My number one priority is putting together the next issue of Spacewatch – the quarterly e-newsletter of the Chicago Society for Space Studies.

In the event that I don’t have any more blog posts before Thanksgiving, here is wishing everyone a happy and hearty Thanksgiving.

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