Miss Fairy (Update 2)

Here are some more progress pictures on this model. I had thought this was a fairly simple figure, but it was a recast and this takes a bit more work.

The wings required extra support for pinning to the body. They were sprayed with Alclad II prismatic red to gold and also trimmed around the edges in gold.

The white trim on the bottom of her dress had to be heated and formed before it would come even close to fitting. And, the laces on her boots are not particularly well done.

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Miss Fairy (Update 1)

So here we are near the end of April, and I am finally doing some more work on Miss Fairy. Back in January I had put the Miss Fairy parts into silicon as I intend to recast her in bronze. It is time now to paint and assemble her, as I haven’t done much modeling this year.

Some in-progress pictures follow. I am in the process of painting and shading the work.

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Mazda Miata MX-5 (2010)

Last fall I was looking for a new convertible or roadster to take me through the next 10 years. I will retire one day and I was looking for something that might be fun for the next little while. This could possibly be the last car I will buy.

In July 2012 I had test driven a 2009 Mazda Miata SV model that had been recently hail damaged. I didn’t know the vehicle was damaged when I went to the dealer and they hadn’t yet had time to assess the damage. So, there was no point to buy. But, the test drive did affirm that I would most likely acquire a Miata. A late model vehicle was within my price range and the car reminded me of the 1968 MGB that I had restored and driven from 1985 through to 1995.

In September 2012 there was a blue 2008 Miata SV model available in Vancouver that had aftermarket leather seats, but the dealer wasn’t sufficiently motivated to meet my price at the time.

In October I discovered a 2010 GT model being sold at Birchwood Honda in Winnipeg. The vehicle had just come in as a trade and was priced to sell. After a few phone calls I was driving to Winnipeg the next weekend to trade in my 2006 Sebring convertible and buy the 2010 Miata GT roadster. At the time of purchase it had about 16500 km on the dial.

The GT model comes with all the bells and whistles. The vehicle has leather, premium trim, Bluetooth, Bose audio, heated seats, Xenon headlights, climate control, sport suspension, traction control, and a power retractable hardtop. I had to call the local Mazda dealer to determine what color this car was. It is Metropolitan Grey Mica with Havana Brown leather interior. The color sometimes looks black or gray and shows hints of blue and green depending on the light. This color was not available in the USA.

Now at Easter 2013 the weather has warmed up enough such that I can take a few pictures of the car. Yes, the grass still looks dead and there is winter road dirt and a little snow, but spring has arrived in Calgary.

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Fireworks and Slot Machines

One of the themes of this website is to explore interactive communication using innovative technology. Marshall McLuhan in 1964 proposed that “The Medium is the Message”, and computing is certainly a new medium. Innovations with new HTML5 standards for web browsers, wireless communications, and Javascript programming of the document object model are all leading to new ways for making new messages.

So, in the interest of making my website more interactive, I thought to take the previously static images of my resin figure models that were on my front page and make them more dynamic by turning them into a slot machine.

 
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Amaha Miu

 
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Sturgeon King

 
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Sena Airi

Yes, I make these figures


Sorry, but Javascript does not seem to be enabled. You can’t play my slots!

The slot machine implementation has six different images on each wheel, so the probability of seeing the same image on each wheel is 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6, or one chance in 216. So, winning will not happen too frequently.

But, if you do win, then you should receive a special surprise. I thought fireworks would be appropriate. When researching a solution for this I discovered that that Paul Lewis, a new developer with Google has embraced the new HTML5 and CSS technologies. His work is moving the technology forward. What is interesting about his work is that he shows with his 3D experiments how the web browser can become the new development platform for dynamic new messaging.

Have a look. See the fireworks display.

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What is also interesting is that you can see that the fireworks perform differently in different browsers. Animation and rendering of screens is computationally intensive.

For a description of the enhancements I made to the fireworks display, see my Fireworks page under Projects.

Fractal Image Generation

Breaking news! I have just redeveloped some of my old work with fractals.

This website is intended to explore interactive communication, so pop on over to my Fractals page under Projects. Have a go with my Fractal Image Explorer program that I just created. You can have a lot of fun with colorful and dynamic fractal images.  You may even see how some of the math behind all this magic works.

What follows are images of the Mandelbrot set. This is a rendering of the math that make fractal images possible.  Fractals contain self-replicating parts of themselves the further you look into them.  It’s like swimming into a vortex to infinity!  The image on the left is what is usually shown for the Mandelbrot set.  The image on the right is the same set but generated with very crude and limited detail.  The center image is a colored variation of a magnified fractal copy of the set in the upper filament.

Mandelbrot1 Mandelbrot2  Mandelbrot5

The images that now follow are mainly Julia set images that are all derived from the Mandelbrot set.  This type of art can be very colorful and beautiful.  The last image is taken from the Mandelbrot set.  All of these images were created by my fractal program.

 
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Julia Sets

 
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Julia Sets

 
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Julia Sets

 
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Julia Sets

 
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Julia Sets

 
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Mandelbrot Sets

 

Miss Fairy (Beginning)

Well, it is January of 2013, a brand new year, and it is now time to start a new resin figure model. A few months ago while shopping in an arts and crafts store I discovered a proper sized bird cage on clearance for a dollar or two. I realized that this would be a perfect base for a fairy.

I think the idea came to me from seeing Tinker Bell in Disneyland.

 
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Downtown

Now, a fairy is an interesting figure. I wanted to take silicon molds of the resin parts as I am working towards bronze casting my resin figures. I suspect I will cast this at some time.

Once I have the silicon molds I take wax impressions of the parts. It takes only a few moments to glue them together. This gives me an impression of what this will look like when finished.

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W3TC Cache Preload for Version 0.9.2.5

Back in March 2012 I posted a set of feature enhancements and repairs to cache priming for the WordPress W3TC Total Cache plugin version 0.9.2.4. See my W3TC Cache Preload or Cache Prime posting.

A W3TC security fix was recently released. Unfortunately, the fix introduced a fault with basic mode disk caching. A cached page is now being prefixed with a nine byte ‘<?php /*’ text string. This text is inserted before the page expiry time and compressed page data is written. What this means is that the page expiry time is never picked up successfully when the cache page is referenced. The page is always thought to be expired and cached disk pages are never returned. There is also a problem with decoding of the returned data.

w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Cache/File.php

/**
  * Sets data
  *
  * @param string $key
  * @param mixed $var
  * @param integer $expire
  * @return boolean
  */
 function set($key, &$var, $expire = 0) {
.
.
.
    if ($fp) {
      if ($this->_locking) {
         @flock($fp, LOCK_EX);
      }
//    @fputs($fp, '<?php /* ');   // wrong place ...
      @fputs($fp, pack('L', $expire));
      @fputs($fp, '<?php /* ');   // it needs to go here ...
      @fputs($fp, @serialize($var));
      @fclose($fp);
.
.
.
 /**
  * Returns data
  *
  * @param string $key
  * @return mixed
  */
 function get($key) {
.
.
.
    if ($ftime > time() - $expire) {
      $data = '';
.
      while (!@feof($fp)) {
        $data .= @fread($fp, 4096);
      }
.                            
//    $var = substr($data, 9);   // and this is wrong ...
      $data = substr($data, 9);  // it needs to be this ...
      $var = @unserialize($data);
   }
.
.
.

 

A corrected version of W3TC 0.9.2.5 that also integrates my previous cache prime feature enhancements can be downloaded here.

Updated Elements

  • w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Config.php
  • w3-total-cache/lib/W3/PgCache.php
  • w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Plugin/PgCacheAdmin.php
  • w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Plugin/TotalCacheAdmin.php
  • w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Plugin/PgCache.php
  • w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Cache/Base.php
  • w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Cache/File.php
  • w3-total-cache/lib/W3/Cache/File/Generic.php
  • w3-total-cache/inc/functions/http.php
  • w3-total-cache/inc/options/pgcache.php

 

Update, January 6, 2013

Apparently, folks are actually using this feature?  This has prompted me to complete some outstanding items from my cache prime feature enhancement last March, 2012.

  1. The cache prime trace name is now configurable.  The trace resource is publicly accessible from your site URL.  You need a way to turn this on or off.
  2. Cache priming will now generate a new cached page before a previously cached page expires.  Previously, pages were not refreshed until after they had expired.  This change can reduce the probability that an uncached page reference occurs. Pages may now be generated within two update intervals before expected expiry.

The download file referenced above now contains these changes.  The recommended steps to install this feature enhancement on a working W3TC 0.9.2.4 or W3TC 0.9.2.5 implementation are as follows:

  1. Turn off cache priming.  In the Page Cache configuration page clear the checkbox to automatically prime the page cache.  Save all settings.
  2. Empty all cache.
  3. Deactivate the W3TC 0.9.2.4 plugin in WordPress.
  4. Update the plugin code.  Extract the zip file.  Replace the w3-total-cache plugin folder in WordPress with the w3-total-cache folder from the zip file.
  5. Activate the W3TC 0.9.2.5 plugin in WordPress.
  6. Empty all cache again.
  7. Review the Page Cache configuration.  Activate cache priming if desired.

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The default TTL (Time to Live) of page cache files is set via the “Expires header lifetime” field in the “HTML” section on Browser Cache Settings tab.  This is 3600 seconds, or one hour.

Specific page expiry times can be set in the Advanced section of the Page Cache configuration. W3TC limits maximum disk cache expiry time to 30 days, or 2592000 seconds.

The example below specifies that any page URL ending with “html” is to be cached for 30 days; any page URL that contain any two digit number between slashes is to be cached for 7 days; and any page URL that begins with “/v/” or “/tag/” or “/category/” is to be cached for 24 hours.  The first identified match in the listed order is used.  If no match is found then the default TTL is set.

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Kanu Unchou Sangoku Version (Final)

Well, it is now December.  I don’t know why it takes me so long to finish things?   But, I have finally completed Kanu’s horse.  It was not a particularly difficult task, but more so a question of focus.  There were many times that I did a little work on this, and then got distracted or stopped work.  Perhaps the problem was that it all began with a fairly uninteresting base coated brown horse.

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I began by darkening the horse’s mane and tail while thinking about a base.  The difficult part was to get started with the fair bit of masking required around the collar piece on the horse.  I chose to give it a metallic look with a bronze base and a chrome contrast.  I used a dark red enamel highlighted with a pink pearl for the tassels to keep with Kanu’s pink and red color scheme.

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Here are a few close-ups of the collar.

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The next challenge was to paint the blankets.  I had to be careful with the textures, as the middle one would be gold and this had to be painted last. If I put masking tape on it to paint other parts the metallic look would be compromised.So, the sequence would be to paint the lower blanket first, then the top, the the middle gold one.

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The following pictures show the final result.

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The final step was to attach the stirrups and reins, and the fittings on the horse’s legs.  It was also time to glue the horse’s tail on.  I can’t tell you how many times it fell off when just temporarily inserted, and had to be repainted!

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And, of course, a final picture of the completed model.  More pictures can be seen in the Gallery.

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Kanu Unchou Sangoku Version (Update 2)

Since my last update I have mostly finished the figure.  The horse is the next step as it only has a base coat at the moment.

I had thought to paint the front of Kanu’s waistband a gloss black color, but when done I didn’t like it.  So I turned it into a chrome metallic which I think is much better.

 

 

 

I had a horrid time painting the gold trim on the boots.  I used Testor’s enamel and it was applied over a high gloss Future coated boot.  The problem is that the enamel is an oil base paint and it tends to slide all over the top of the gloss acrylic.  It does go on, but I had a lot of trouble to try and maintain an even edge.

 

Kanu’s weapon is painted with a Tamiya bronze and Alclad II chrome.

 

Kanu’s top is somewhat transparent.  It almost looks like she doesn’t have anything on?  I don’t know if this is PG-13, but then she is also beyond normal for her endowments which is probably also not PG-13.

 

 

 

Here is a picture from the back.  Kanu is indeed wearing a pink top, just in case you thought not.

 

The next step is to clean up a few minor issues with the figure and then begin work on the horse.  Look for another update in a week or two.  Thanks for visiting.

 

Update:  Minor issues are now corrected, and here are some more pictures, this time with the horse’s tail!