Blogs

Bonds

Bonding experiences come in many forms. Maybe it's going on a father-son trip or the relationship accumulated with a friend over the years. For me, the result is something I can't quite put into words, but I know it's the there. A certain feeling of mutual closeness through shared experiences and feelings. This weekend, I spent several hours in a recording studio with many people; some friends, some practically strangers. Music's ability to bond one another proved to be very powerful. 

The Case of the Awesome Web Framework, or why jQuery is Fantastic

Hi, I'm Dustin Mays, a student developer in A&S Computing Services. For the past two or three months, I've been hacking away at a super-sekrit web app for a researcher here at A&S. Since I've previously only targeted traditional offline computer environments, and had no prior web development experience, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Unlike traditional software development, web development is, for lack of a better word, "rough". Before I get to the meat of my post, allow me to give you a little background (if you're familiar with software development, feel free to skip the next two or three paragraphs).

Oxford Rewrite

For those of you that have used UK's writing center before, you may be familiar with the Oxford scheduling system. All in all, its a rather advanced system that matches the best qualified consultants with the needs of the clients based on the answers to a few questions.

Due some technical and administrative issues with the system, as well as a change in requirements by the new administration at the Writing Center Oxford will be receiving a major rewrite. The new system will be much simpler. It will no longer do any advanced matching, leaving the selection of consultants up to the clients. This means we can do away with the list of questions asked everytime an appointment is made.

Our plan is for the new version of Oxford to be written as a drupal module. This does several things for us. First of all it will show off drupal, a technology we're excited to be using. Secondly, it will allow our entire team to become more experienced with drupal and module development. Those two aspects will help us to meet one of our new goals here at A&S computing, namely, becoming more agile so that we can rapidly push out useful applications.

Downtown Louisville Activities

If you find yourself in downtown Louisville at any point this summer, make a point to check out 21C Hotel. It's located at 700 West Main Street, defined by 5 foot tall red penguins on an awning above the entrance. It is completely free to go and explore. There are paintings, photographs, sculpture, multimedia, interactive,and video art. Here's a hint, be sure to explore the bathrooms as well. It is a fantastic place to go and spend some time to yourself and perhaps it may touch or inspire you in some way.

 

Playing with 3D in Blender

Short Intro of myself

For the past couple months while working with the College of Arts and Sciences I have been doing 3D animation and some 2D artwork.  This blog will be specifically discussing my 3D endeavors in Blender.

Onto the 3D

Media solutions for Drupal

One of my first projects at Arts & Sciences Computing Services was to work on the Video project. This project was, most basically, a YouTube clone that would allow the college to encode, store, and serve up public and private (copyrighted) video content thereby having complete control of its use, availability, etc. The current implementation was in C# in ASP.Net using FFMPEG to do encoding and some other libraries to handle authentication and file management.

Since I this was my first experience with C#, and more so ASP.Net, I didn't get to make a large impact (or even a tiny dent) on the Video project before a separate project took precedence and I started working with Drupal (Hint: you’re currently looking at said project). It wasn’t long I was wrapped up in writing modules and tweaking Drupal to do our bidding. The Video project was almost out of mind, in fact, until I started researching Drupal's Media module for use on yet another project.

Media module

The Importance of a Website

     As I was surfing the web to try and find a gift for Father’s Day, I realized how very important the design of a website can be.  There were several websites that I passed up because they either looked too childish, confusing, disorganized, or even spurious.  Being so involved in the internet and having grown up in the internet generation, I guess I took for granted that everyone, especially entrepreneurs, realized the impact that a website makes on a potential customer.  You only get a few seconds to make a good first impression and if you do not make me feel comfortable surfing your site and giving you my credit card information, I will move on to the next site. 

     Moreover, I was observing a colleague while he surfed several University websites and saw the same phenomenon.  Some sites are just poorly laid out and it greatly affects how potential students view the entire school.  When I was looking at Universities at which to apply, their website did make an impact on me.  Granted, their website was not as important to me as the credentials of the school but it did make a difference in how I viewed the school. 

Visual Chemistry

How does DNA work?  There's an A, and a C, and a G, and some other letter I can't readily recall, but did manage to learn to pass a test at some point.  I remember hearing about this double helix thing, the kind of far out, 'whoa how awesome is the universe!' kind of thing hippies dig, but eventually burn out on.  Apparently it was some transcendental cosmic beauty that made this so, but I would never be able to comprehend it fully due to my insufficient grounding in chemistry, most of which consisted of mnemonic devices to a random assortment of formulas, recounted in a voice to trick toy dogs and cheerleaders into thinking chemistry was fun.  Suffice it to say, the animated cartoon hillbilly DNA strand from Jurassic Park a few years prior made a much more lasting impression on my young mind.

Feynman's illustration of water molecules in steam

Harry Donut Rain

OH MY GOD

If you like crisp images. You, my friend are in for something really amazing. HDR images are what you are missing in your life. They're cool, they're hip, they're HDR!

But really though, they're pretty cool.

Here is how it happens,

Take a billion versions of your solid image (really like 40 versions.) Each version of your image must be taken at a new shutter speed each time. This way you have every possible light exposure for your image. After you have your images, you will use the HDR program in photoshop to blend each one of the 40 versions of your image together so that they create one ultimate image (which contains every possibility for light exposure). Then in the HDR program within photoshop, you can make your tweaks as you please. And, BAM you've got yourself one mighty fine HDR photograph.

Here is a more descriptive tutorial from a website i love called psdtuts. Look at it.

Here are some really cool HDR images.

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