Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saucony Kinvara Running Socks Review

I recently was checking out a new running store in Edwardsville, IL called First to The Finish and picked up a pair of Saucony Kinvara running socks and I wanted to do a quick write up about them now that I've gotten in a few runs with them.

My first impression is that they have a nice hugging fit without being tight, They also have a nice amount of cushion without being hot. I think one of the features I like best is the heel tab. It is a little thicker than the rest of the sock and really protects the back of your achilles tendon from the back of your shoe. I really like low cut socks, but the worst is when they ride down enough for chaffing to happen. The heel tab really makes that an impossibility.

I got out for a 10 mile run in them yesterday and I really didn't even have to think about socks the whole time. That is a win for me.

Overall I'm very pleased with the socks and will probably get more pairs of them in the future.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Getting Web Services to Work Together with IFTTT

I use way too many web services. Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (for some reason), Blogger, Dropbox, Feedly, Instagram, the list goes on and on! Sometimes some of these work really nicely together. Like how everything shares to Facebook with ease. But sometimes you want to do something a little more obscure. I wanted to do better at blogging about my marathon training this fall as a way to help keep myself motivated. But I really didn't want to post every run I did to Facebook. I know that would get annoying FAST! But I do want to post them to my blog. Unfortunately, does not give me the option for sharing to Blogger, only Facebook, Twitter and Google+. That is where a handy meta service called "If This than That" comes in. is a service that consumes information from a pile of different services where you may have accounts and then does actions with that data on some other service. So this is what I did:

So the tweet from Twitter becomes available as a few template fields for me to place into a blogger post. So now at the end of my run, I can post my run to my twitter account and that will generate a basic post that I can either leave as is, or edit with additional info.

I use IFTTT to do various things like to send me an TXT message every tuesday to remind me to take out the trash or to automatically save a copy of any image someone tags me in on facebook to a folder in my dropbox account. It is a really cool service and is pretty easy to set up. Check it out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 Marathon #2 Training Begins Today

So training begins today, with an average of 4 runs a week (2 easy, 1 speed, and 1 long) for 14 weeks with some cross training in there for good measure! Since my IT band issue from the spring is still being slowly worked out, my speed has really taken a step backwards. My training plan right now has me aiming at about a 4:15:00 time, although I would love to break 4:00:00 this year, it might not happen in St. Louis. But even at 4 1/4 hours, that shaves an hour off my injured time from the spring. So let's get training!

I wanted to start with a shoutout to my nutrition sponsor Hammer Nutrition! I have been using their products for about a year and have been very happy with the results. Hammer Gel and Endurolyte Fizz tablets are my go to for fueling and electrolyte replacement. I'm hoping to do a little better with weekly updates this time around. So stay tuned!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Blender Add-On: Selection Sets Version 0.3 (updates)

It's been a while since I've created a blender add-on, but some discussion on the #blendercoders channel prompted me to dig back into Python and create this: Selection Sets.

It is a quick way to create ad-hoc groups of items that can be reselected easily. Simply select some items and choose the plus button to add a new set. The items in the set are then displayed below.

Click the Cursor select button to select the objects in the selected group. To add more items to a group, select the group, then select more objects, then click the + in the lower list. You can also remove objects from a group in the lower list. This is a very early release (hence version 0.1) but I feel like it is already useful when Blender groups are too heavy handed.

While I applaud what the new Blender Marketplace is doing, I'm more of a give it away and let people support what they love sort of guy. So if you love this or any of my tutorials and want to say thanks, consider sending me some Amazon cash in any amount  you feel is appropriate! Just send it to Make sure to tell me in the message what thing you are sending the appreciation for :)

(Script Home Page)

Updated to Version 0.3 (download link)

Changes in Version 0.3

  • Set names auto-fix duplicates (which caused problems)
  • Clicking on an operator changes selected set
  • Icon Spacing
  • Better Index Handling
Changes in Version 0.2
  • Icons in list box

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Gearing up for fall training

Fall marathon training is just around the corner and I'm gearing up. St Louis Rock and Roll Marathon is 14 weeks from this coming Sunday and I'm stoked to be getting back on a training plan. I'll be working out the final details this weekend and will let you know my plans soon!

Anyone else gearing up for a fall race? How long a training plan do you like to run?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Creating a Stylized Snowflake

I needed to create a bunch of snowflakes for a project recently and came up with a simple way to make a radially symmetrical snowflake without too much trouble that remains editable for duplicating and making adjustments to.

Starting from a clean scene in overhead view, Add a Circle (Shift-A) with 12 verts (F6 and change verts)

Extrude the circle with scaling in (E then S) a couple times then merge the inner most circle at the center (W->Merge->At Center).

Extrude the top 3 verts constrained along the Y axis (MMB during extrude)

In face select mode, select half of the extruded part and where it is connected to the circle, invert the selection (ctrl-I), and delete faces (X->Faces)

Reselect the mesh and Add a mirror modifier from the properties panel, enable clipping

Add an Empty at the origin of your mesh. 

Also add an array modifier, uncheck "relative offset", select object offset and set it to the empty. This will allow us to have an arbitrary rotation. Since snowflakes have 6 sides, set the Count to 6. Also Enable "Merge" and "First Last". 

Now select the empty, and rotate it on the Z axis 60 degrees. (R, Z, 60, Enter)

You should now have a base for an editable radially symmetrical snowflake. 

Duplicate the Mesh and Empty and edit the new mesh. The only place you need to be careful is in the center.

When you are satisfied with the snowflake, apply the modifiers in the modifier panel. 

For my project, I created several of these and put them in a group. Then used that group as a dupligroup for a particle system. From a distance I think it played pretty well. You can of course add a solidify modifier or continue to tweak them to your liking.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quick Cycles Tip: Fiber Optic Cable Material

This is a simple yet good looking material for you to check out. At first it wasn't super obvious to me that I could use both a surface and a volume socket at the same time. I found that a Glass Surface works really well with an Emission Volume. You can create fiber optic cables, illuminated plastic, LEDs etc. Tweak the emission color and strength, or the glass Roughness or IOR to get various looks.