Getting back to blogging

9th March 2015 · by Clare

blogging

I love reading blogs. They are brimming with inspiration, motivation and information that can be useful or enlightening for every day. Last year, we blogged weekly and I felt good getting ideas and information down on paper, or in this case, the net. With so much work going on at the time, I just couldn’t find the time to write on the blog, let alone do some social work. I regretted every minute and itched to get back to it all again, but how do you start when you have been away from it for so long?

The last two weeks, something changed. I wanted to write things down again, I was itching to get back to blogging and what happened? My mind was blank. I couldn’t write a single thing at all, and asking Christer for help produced the same results. Then I found an inspiring blog post written by Lisa of Elembee, about her experience of taking a break from blogging and finding it hard to get back into it. The post rang out to me and I really wanted to break down the wall that blocked me from trying to come up with blog post ideas. So I just started writing about Moritz and our experience. I had never thought that trying to write about the things I love and what is close to me was the way to break free, but it worked.

It’s really true that just by starting something, you can do so much more. I know, personally, that I am not very good at writing but how can I get better when I don’t try? And that applies to so many. We just have to start, get the ball rolling and everything will work out. So why am I writing this post? Maybe it’s more of a pointer to myself, or maybe it’s just a reminder to prevent others getting caught in the web of procrastination?

Now I want to improve, I want to blog more and Christer too. I have no idea where to go next but I will take each step at a time and just write. Maybe one day I will find out just what I enjoy writing about most and what others want to read.

The biggest question is what do you guys want to read about? Game & Web design, development, general life, freelancing? Would love to hear some of your suggestions :)


→ 2 comments

Life with Moritz

2nd March 2015 · by Clare

m1

For many, adopting a dog, or even having a pup is a great time but no-one tells you the challenges that come with it. This is our story about dog adoption and training a dog to no longer fear.

The start

In 2013, we adopted a beautiful, 6 year old Cairn terrier, called Moritz. It was in December, on Christer’s birthday, that we picked Moritz up from Germany. During our stay in Germany, we found out that Moritz had a pretty extreme fear of dogs. Just seeing a dog far away was enough to put him into an aggressive state, where he would bite anywhere close to him, including us. It was at that very point, we decided that we would take on the challenge of training him to no longer fear dogs.

When Moritz came here, he fitted in quite well with Christer’s 12 year old Cairn Terrier, Dani, which he had met many times before. He did not fear her, but they did fight once or twice, mainly related to food. With Dani and Moritz living together, Moritz learnt to be around another dog, learn the rules of the pack, and have a role-model, and thanks to Dani, Moritz no longer feared female dogs.

m2

Conquering fear

What nobody told us right from the start was how much work it was. For a dog with no issues, it takes time to adjust to them, but Moritz was another dog. We didn’t want Moritz to fear other dogs for the rest of his life, so we tried to meet dogs as often as possible (Mainly walking together with other dogs on leash). With caution, we taught Moritz to calm himself when walking around other dogs and established ourselves as pack leaders. We enforced rules, we played daily to teach him to calm him down before walks and establish our pack status, and we loved him.

We tried various different techniques during the first few months, such as the positive reinforcement and watched Cesar Millan many times, to try to identify the best technique for Moritz. In the end, we found positive reinforcement worked best with motivation talk and a treat. Within 8 months, he had changed a lot. He could finally play with female dogs and walk normally alongside male and female dogs. He still has a long path ahead of him, as he still can’t play with other male dogs, but with each day, he is getting better.

m4

Exercise, Disciple, Affection!

With a dog, there is constant training. You can’t stop teaching them things and there is always more to learn. How do you train and turn a dog into the one you want? Whether it’s an adopted dog or a pup? With a lot of perseverance, patience, training, and loads and loads of love. As Cesar Millan says: “Exercise, Disciple, and then Affection” (in that order) are the three rules to making a balanced dog and I totally agree!

I love Moritz with all my heart, but in the beginning, it was tough. It was a rollercoster of a year, but to me, it was totally worth it. He’s my little bundle of fur and happiness, and every moment with him is a blessing. Waking up to his energetic smile and playful nature truly makes me smile to this day :D

You have probably all heard enough about Moritz now, but what about you? Do you have an adopted dog, or a pup you raised? It would be so cute to hear about them and yes, we are totally dog lovers here, so cute dog pictures are allowed :D


→ leave a comment

Work: Re Medieval Application

13th February 2015 · by Snuti

3

These last two months, we’ve been working on a Medieval iPad application for children. Unfortunately it is only available to see and use at Re Bibliotek in Norway, but here are some screenshots of the finished app.

The application is based around a small medieval village, which includes 3 houses: A blacksmith, a house and a viking longhouse. Each of the buildings has 5 items with in depth information about how they were used in the medieval era (and to think they just pulled our your teeth without aesthetic, ouch!!). To make a seamless and fun experience, we integrated quests to encourage children to explore the village in more depth. In the viking longhouse, we made it into a mini-game, where the blacksmith’s sheep has been taken to be eaten by his hungry cousins and it’s up to the player to help free the sheep. The player controls the sheep, and has to jump on the shields held up by the cousins and escape the viking longhouse. Of course, the focus of the application was not the mini game, but the content, so the game was short and made without leaderboards etc, to promote the children to enjoy the game in small quantities and explore the rest of the app.

1

It was made solely for two iPads stationed at the library, and we built the app using the Unity game engine. All of the artwork was done using a combination of Paint Tool SAI and photoshop, whilst modelling was doing in Maya LT. Initially, we were going to make the application in 2D, but changed to 3D during the project. Why did we do that? Simply because when putting in the 2D artwork into a semi 3D village, it just didn’t look right! Overall, we were happy we made this choice, as it made the application shine. Of course it took some time to make all the models in Maya LT but it was definitely worth it. We also worked with a character artist to draw the quest givers and it gave the application that little extra. All characters were drawn by Maja Elise Løymen.

2

All in all, we loved making the application. It was worth every minute and even though it was challenging trying to complete it in 2 months, it’s was really enjoyable making content for the younger audiences :D


→ leave a comment

REFLECTING ON 2014

1st January 2015 · by Clare

moritz

Happy new year everyone!! Another year has flown by and it’s been an exciting and fun year for us and we hope it’s been a brilliant year for you all. We’ve overcome hurdles and taken part in amazing projects and can’t wait for the year ahead of us.

Last year, we took in an adorable Cairn Terrier called Moritz. He had a large fear of dogs whereby we couldn’t pass another dog without him becoming aggressive, nor play with other dogs. It was a bumpy ride + an intense amount of training this year but what it taught us was patience. He’s not completely cured of his fear, but playing with female dogs and not becoming aggressive when seeing dogs is great progress.

We began 2014 freelancing after working hard the year before on Drift Bloom, which was still unfinished. It was a sad time when we realised it was time to put Drift Bloom aside to focus on other work. In February, we had the task of making an interactive website to motivate children to read during the summer holidays. We learnt a lot about web development and improved our workflow during the project. In Autumn time, we were approached to teach Children computer programming using Scratch. It was an amazing experience to see children making games themselves and being creative. We realised that creating stuff for others really made us smile. It’s at that point over summer that we decided, this is what we want Snuti to be. A business that creates fun, interactive and motivational applications, websites and games for others.

So in 2014, we learnt a lot, and are looking forward to creating more engaging experiences for others in the future. We have already started the year with a fun and exciting project and can’t wait for the rest of the year ahead of us.

We hope that 2015 will be an exciting year for everyone!! To celebrate, we thought you’d enjoy a photo of a happy dog (a.k.a. Moritz) who wishes you all the best for 2015 with the added promise of dog cuddles of course. :) You’ve heard about our dreams and wishes for this year, so what exciting plans do you have for 2015?


→ leave a comment

3D Macro Scanning

29th September 2014 · by Christer

We have been visiting a lot of museums lately, where they have small objects, which you have to squint your eyes to study. That’s when an idea struck us. What if you could inspect, rotate and study those objects on a large interactive screen?

combined_body
3D scanning has always fascinated us, and we’re familiar with the photogrammetry technique. However, those techniques would not yield enough detail for the purpose of studying smaller objects. This leaves us with two viable methods: Laser scanning and the structured lighting technique.

Considering we don’t own a laser, we made do with borrowing a projector from our neighbour (Thank you :D) and used the structured lighting technique. This was the only option, but probably the best option with amateur equipment for testing.

(Left: 3D model, Right: photo)

Structured Lighting 3D Macro Scanning

Our setup is based upon VirtuMake’s VirtuZoom.
Equipment we used:
  • David 3D Laser Scanner (software)
  • InFocus home cinema projector from 2004 (1024×768 resolution)
  • Canon 7D with a 125 mm zoom lens (not macro)
  • Lego Technic (instead of an Arduino)
  • A good, old magnifying glass.
  • Cardboard boxes and tape
A normal projector can not focus closer then 2-3 meters away, which would not yield the detail required. I experimented with lenses and optics in the projector beam to see if it was possible to get a close up focus. After a few test runs, it turns out the simple solutions are always the best: A regular magnifying glass, taped to the front of the projector.

Photo 17.09.14 16 26 53Photo 17.09.14 16 25 24

For the camera, we taped it to the top of the projector, scanning objects about 5cm tall. We used a 125 mm zoom lens, which has a very shallow depth of field (Not ideal for this purpose) when focused close up (about 20 cm distance).

Photo 17.09.14 16 23 46Photo 17.09.14 16 21 29

We used Lego Technic to make a slow turning turn table with a remote control, as every little movement to the setup required re-calibration. Our setup was not automated like the Arduino version (VirtuZoom), so every scan was done manually (20-25 scans for each object).

Photo 16.09.14 12 22 31Photo 17.09.14 16 22 23

Results

The equipment we used was not ideal for the setup, but it worked. The David 3D Laser Scanner software was very versatile, flexible and efficient to use! When merging the results, we noticed that certain areas of the model would not merge, which seemed to be cause by some distortion. It was likely due to the magnifying glass attached to the projector.
Other then that, we think that the results are quite impressive, and can be used in a setup which allows you to truly study a tiny object in great detail.

If we wanted to improve this set up, we would use a HD projector, with a proper lenses attached to it (See here: forum post and forum post ). Using a proper macro lens, with reduced depth of field, would also produce better results.

→ leave a comment