Call Bulletins: 2014/10/20

MB3d17864764As I said in this post, I’ve got good things planned for the blogs, and part of that includes improving the content and being more welcoming to a wider diversity of new readers in the tone of what I post. Now, I could be thought of as an atheist, or an agnostic, but that matters not as I don’t invest much importance in labels.

I’ve grown somewhat over the evolution of this blog and my views have also evolved.

I do not see myself as an anti-theist, and I can no longer stomach an antagonistic approach to religion for my own part. I find it doesn’t work, and whatever I may think of the truth of a given religion’s claims, I no longer think of religion alone as the great evil it’s made out to be.

I’m not like Carl Sagan by any stretch, but there’s something to be said for his approach. It worked, for one thing.  It even worked on a certain ex-paranormal/ex-Fundamentalist believer now blogging, fractalin’ hard, and sporting a Lovecraftian moniker.

The people I’ve met on this blog and family, believers and those not-so-believing, all of them brilliant, and others over the years have influenced my views since beginning blogging in 2008.

There are also prominent members, and still-prominent ex-members, of the skeptical and secular communities whom I shall no longer support on this or any other sites I own. So I’m removing material from this site, especially entries on overly and too-enthusiastically critical of religion and the God question, which I’ve written in this blog’s earlier days and work to clean up this mess of a site.

By its absence ye shall know it…

I know: “Once you post on the internet, it’s there forever,” the saying goes. But it’s to send the message that I no longer support those views, that kind of clumsy, heavy-handed approach, or that kind of content by eliminating it from this site wherever on the Web it may yet remain. I expect that some of it will always be somewhere online.

Just not here.

I’ll still keep much of this blog’s content, taking down only the inflammatory and hamfistedly critical material, and I’ll continue posting on this site. I’m also considering in time moving my main blogging over to another site, though not for at least another year. I’ll make that announcement more specific once I’ve decided, but I don’t plan on deleting this blog, not anytime soon.

This is still a skeptical blog, but I want to shift toward positive science advocacy and careful, measured criticism when criticism is needed at all, on secular or skeptical issues. Of course, the fractals shall continue to be a big part of this blog’s content.

This blog will never be perfect. But it can be better than it is, and that’s what I’ll strive for.

Talotaa frang.

Mandelbulb 3D Tutorial: Generating Tiled Images Using Big Render

I’ve recently been experimenting with a freeware app called Mandelbulb 3d, the version I’m using for the Mac is 1.8.9. Over the last week, I’ve discovered the use of the app’s Big Render option, which is just what it sounds — it allows the generation of really huge images, by rendering them piece by piece in m3i files, as tiles, and they may then be assembled into one large whole by one’s software of choice. I’ll describe how I rendered them below, after some video tutorials for the program’s basic operation. These videos are by Don Whitaker, and the software may be found here:

First, the base image was rendered at 800×600 pixels:Biggie_2X04Y04

Following are some screenshots of the settings I used to create it. Figure 1 is the main rendering window, the Lighting window is shown twice in Figures 2 & 3 for each the color settings used, the Formulas window is shown twice, Figures 4 & 5, for each of the two fractal types used and the means of combining them (They make up a hybrid fractal type, and those are always fun!). Figure 6 shows the Julia set coordinates used for this image (I used the “Julia on” option for this parameter set, because Julia sets are cool.).

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 6

But where to find the button that opens the Big Render window? Note Figure 1, at the top of the window. Under the “Utilities” tab, Big Render is the second button from the left. Click on that after rendering the base image once all its parameters are assigned and calculated. You are then ready to begin. Figure 1 was snapped during the rendering of the tile from column and row X=3 Y=1.

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 18.44.46

Figure 7

Note figure 7. Once you open it, note the button at the top right, “Import actual paras” clicking this will load the parameters of the base image. Here you see the Original parameter size given at 800 x 600 pixels. I did this to keep rendering time relatively reasonable, rather than using some giant monster base image that takes more than 30 minutes to render each individual tile.

Size factor as entered as x3, which would enlarge the fully assembled image to 2400 x 1800 pixels. Just above that, you see a “Big size” shown at 1200 x 900, assuming anti-aliasing at a factor of 2, which I did not use for this experiment, so that counts not. This winds up as the full scale indicated by the Size factor.

“Tiling” shows 4 horizontal x 4 vertical tiles, or 16 total. Note that each may be raised or lowered by clicking the upper or lower buttons to their immediate right, increasing the number of tiles and so rows and columns in the matrix of tiles to the right of Figure 7.

The Tilesize (including anti-aliasing, again if I were using that, which I’m not) is given as 300 x 225. All this means that the actual tile size during rendering is 600 x 450 pixels each.

Just below that, at “Saving:” the “Tile downscale, anti-aliasing” setting, shows here a value of 2. This too may be raised or lowered, as may the “sharp” setting, which I’m leaving at zero. No anti-aliasing needed here, though I recommend it for clearer images with cleanly defined edges and surfaces.

“Output image type” has three buttons, one for PNG files, one for JPEG, and one for BMP files. Here, I chose JPEG, though I’ve left JPEG quality at 95%. Meh!

Under “Output image type” I’ve clicked on Save m3i files. Do that, as it saves the parameters for each tile when it’s completely rendered and shaded in a file.

I’ve also clicked on “Render all tiles included in the lines:” and left the numbers here alone, from 1 to 999. Don’t worry about how high that last set of digits is as the app will stop rendering automatically upon completing the last tile on the last row and column.

Once you save the project in an appropriate folder, using the “Save project” button, second from the left at the top of the window, you are ready to begin.

Now click “Render next tile,” and the process will begin, generating m3i parameter files for each tile in the project folder you’ve saved. These files are just like the normal parameter files for MB3D, and like them may be opened and exported as image files using the main app.

One last thing: Look again to the right in Figure 7, the set of 16 tile boxes. When rendering and shading is complete, each tile box  turns from grey to white to indicate when it’s done, until all are complete. You can see that here, 11 tiles are fully rendered. Make sure you re-save the project once all files are rendered so you don’t lose them.

You may halt the rendering process at any point and save the project again, given at least one or more fully complete tiles, and then reopen the project later to pick up where you left off on unfinished ones.

This allows you to space rendering extremely large images with many tiles over a long period. Try to keep the base image size and number of tiles to be rendered reasonable, or the project well may take several days or longer to finish!

Friga’s Day Flash Fiction: Zen, trod he!

Gr’ozz had just suffered an embarrassing trouncing at the hands of the super-terrorist Metatronicus, grabbed like a child’s toy and smashed through the lower deck flooring and hull of an old Soviet submarine remade into a base of operations.

Gr’ozz was even in his own estimation smart as a rock, but his occasional moments of zen were unmatched in the supernormal community. He cared not. The Dunning-Kruger effect was not part of his mental makeup. Still smart enough to know his intellectual limits, modest enough not to resent them.

This time, as with the other fights he’d been in, a tiny glimmering of brilliance impinged on his awareness, and he ran with it. Another moment of zen. He smiled, as he suddenly noted that he was in the icy deeps — his smile was not a friendly one.

He suddenly hit upon the fact that while Metatronicus was stronger than he, he was still only human…he must breathe air, unlike Gr’ozz’s species, the Dragons. Gr’ozz swam leisurely back to the submarine, his flattened tail swaying from side to side while the ideas took root in his normally almost vegetative mind, taking shape and driving his next actions like a reflex.

Gr’ozz swam so as to minimize his sonar signature, not that they were likely to be listening in anyway, going to the area of the hull just below where Metatronicus last stood. He stopped suddenly, took a listen. Yes, footsteps, the pattern matching his foe’s stride.

Gr’ozz waited, and suddenly thrust his hand through the hull, ripping it open again at full strength, and hoping his estimation was correct. He grabbed what felt like his foe’s ankle. Pulling downward through the hole he’d made in the deck, he heard the sound of tearing metal as the hole he’d made was opened wider still by Metatronicus’s body being pulled through it and into the ocean.

Not one to gloat — he didn’t know what that was yet — he saw his enemy’s face as the otherwise empowered human began to inhale water, and suffer from the crushing pressure at this depth. Supernormal powers would be of no use here.

Metatronicus tried to gasp for air, and Gr’ozz began pounding his fist, a mace of sculpted bone, into his foe’s face at his leisure, and satisfied with rendering him unconscious, swam to shore with his now helpless captive. His teammates would certainly appreciate having someone to question, and another human who would harm his own species to lock up for good. Life is suffering, but so for bad guys as well.

Cat Thursday: “Doctor Who: Parting of the Ways” Edition!

cat thursday 2

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It’s all for the love of cats! Enjoy!


Fractals of the Week: Frax-ional Values

G’Day, and happy Wednesday. I’ve more images for you by way of Frax today. Over the last few days, I’ve also been experimenting with Mandelbulb 3D’s Big Render option, and I’ve learned enough to write a tutorial on how that works. I’ve also bookmarked a few video tutorials to help with basic operations of the software for those new to it. The draft for the tutorial is already started and should be scheduled for posting this weekend. Well, here are the images. It’s been a great week, and I hope that’s true for you as well!






Fading tones




Storm of Brass



All JPEG, PNG & GIF images in this post are original works by the author, created via  Mandelbulber, Fractal Domains, Ultra Fractal , Frax, and Mandelbulb 3D and are copyright 2014 by Troy Loy.


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