USS Pioneer: These are the voyages of a LightWave starship model I released…

In 2007 I made my own Star Trek starship in LightWave 3D. I’d made a few others before, but this one became a labour of love. The USS Pioneer had a lot of little details, some subtle textures and a fairly elaborate lighting rig designed to make renders look good. The ship was intended to be an earlier-era version of the Constellation class starship.

When it was finished I released it1 for others to use. Then I forgot about it! This is my own rendering of the ship from that time:

USS Pioneer

I also made a video rendering2 showing off the animated textures and shuttlebay doors (the model includes a shuttlebay interior).

Seven years later…

Last night I was Googling my username, as you do, and I saw an image I hadn’t seen before:

A Light in the Darkness by Rob Caswell (April 2012)

A Light in the Darkness by RobCaswell

Someone liked my ship enough to make a nice rendering of it! The comments are amusing too. Not all are complementary as the 4-nacelle configuration divides opinion amongst Treknologists, and as someone put it: “My, what big nacelles she has!”. Later still Rob quips “When you turn the speed dial all the way, it goes to ‘Warp 11’.”

The big engines were quite deliberate. I imagined this ship as a fast response vessel of some kind, but looking at it again I would probably make them a bit smaller. But for every person who didn’t like the concept for its imagined technical rule breaking, there is someone who likes the design. In fact, there seems to be a few big fans of it.

Then I carried on looking to see if there were any more images of my ship out there. Turns out that Rob Caswell had made quite a few…

See more cool USS Pioneer renderings →


Sir, You Are Being Hunted: New gameplay footage

Sir, You Are Being Hunted was the first Kickstarter campaign I backed, and I’m excited to get my hands on the game (and other goodies) in a month or so. The makers have just released a video showing off the current state of the game. I think it looks great.

If you didn’t back the Kickstarter campaign, you can preorder the game on the Big Robot website.

Other Kickstarter campaigns I’ve backed

Babylon 1999

Warning: I’ve cranked the geek up to 11 for this uber-nostalgic post.

Buried Shadow (1999)

Buried Shadow (1999)

Recently I was reunited with a computer-generated image I created back in 1999 of a crashed Shadow ship from Babylon 5. I had submitted it as a cover image for the second issue of on online fan publication called Beyond Babylon. It wasn’t used on the cover, but it did get featured in the gallery. At some point I lost my original, so it was nice to be contacted out of the blue by someone who had a copy.

I have fond memories from those days of hanging out at the (now defunct) Babylon 5 Modellers Guild [] and the LightWave Group [] (which evolved into the still-active Foundation 3D forums). was another great community — I remember really liking their site design.

All this nostalgia got me digging around my old hard drives for more retro LightWave renders of mine.

Babylon 5 images

You can click on the small images below for a closer look. Not that I didn’t create any of these models myself, but the compositions, lighting and backgrounds were all my own work. Also, if you zoom in on that shot of Starfuries engaged in combat, you’ll see some of my own wing art designs. (Yes, that is Daffy Duck!)

The name of the place is ‘Babylon 5’ →

Ideas for Minecraft

Skeleton skull For me one of the big appeals of Minecraft is imagining what features I’d like to see added to the game.

The Minecraft developers are actually surprisingly receptive to ideas from the community, often incorporating suggestions and making alterations to the game based on player feedback. And if an idea isn’t really suitable for the game but is very cool anyway, there’s always the thriving modding community to make it a reality.

Personally though, I just like the thought exercise. My outlet for these ideas has been the Minecraft Suggestions subreddit. I recently realised that I had contributed many more suggestions than I realised over there, so I thought I would compile (most of) them here.

Be warned: This post is geeky, even by the standards of this blog!

‘Brain Bats’ this way →

The infographics of xkcd

Log scale Most infographics on the web consist of generic graphics backed up with (lots of) poorly researched text.

When done well these informational graphics use charts, diagrams and illustrations to make complex ideas easier to comprehend. At their best the results can be quite illuminating.

Randall Munroe has produced more than a few great infographics for xkcd. His infographics can be broken down into three rough categories:

  1. Pure gag charts,
  2. Jokey graphics with a serious point, and…
  3. Well-researched highly informative graphics with some jokes sprinkled throughout.

For this post I’ve compiled the more informative types. There’s a list of some (but not all) of xkcd’s novelty graphs and charts at the end of this post.

For science! →

Upcoming geek events in Cardiff

Just a quick roundup of events planed for the next couple of months in Cardiff. If you want me to add something, leave a comment.

MathsJam Cardiff – Tuesday 24th January 2012 (tomorrow!)

We meet on the second to last Tuesday of every month, from 7pm in the evening, in the Grape and Olive wine bar which is located at the corner of Wedal Road and Allensbank Road, just off the A48.

Follow @RealityMinus3 for details, or email

And don’t be put off by the ‘wine bar’ thing – it’s really not that fancy.

Dorkbot Cardiff #6 – Thursday 26th January 2012

Dorkbot Cardiff (Ignore the date on their page, the next meeting is in fact this year.)

Typically a small gathering, but it’s always eclectic, and this week’s seems no different: Nic Finch will be talking about his VJ work, Rhys Philips on protecting aircraft against lightning strikes and Matt Cook with some sounds from Hong Kong.

Also, anyone else is welcome to show and tell in an ‘open dork’ session.

The dorkbot global network is made of groups of people “doing strange things with electricity”. There are more than 100 groups worldwide, who meet at various intervals and present work in progress, experiments, hacks and other unexpected uses of technology. Members of dorkbot groups include artists, engineers, designers, musicians, hackers, curious types, no robots yet.

Talks will be in Milgi’s garage, 213 City Road, CF24 3JD from 7:30, with presentations starting at 8:00. If you haven’t been before, don’t be put off by the alleyway; the garage is a pretty good venue.

Cardiff UX Bookclub – Thursday 26th January 2012

If Dorkbot isn’t your thing, there’s also the Cardiff UX Bookclub, discussing Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith. They meet at Sequence, Fitzalan House, CF24 0EL at 6.30pm.

Follow @uxbookclubcdf.

Cardiff Node.js User Group – Saturday 28th January, 2012

CNUG held at Y Mochyn Du near Sofia gardens at 1pm. See Eventbrite for details.

Follow @cnug_js.


unified.diff – Wednesday 1st February 2012

For too long, Cardiff’s software development community has been fragmented by language, discipline, and platform.

unified.diff is a monthly meet-up for anybody involved or interested in the field of software development.

We hold tech talks, and trade war stories.

The first gathering is at O’Neill’s on Trinity St., starting at 7pm:

19:00 Interfacing
19:20 Walkthrough
19:30 The Loneliness of a Long Distance Coder – Carey Hiles – @handybitesize
20:00 How to handle your terminal like a boss – Warren Seymour – @woogoose
20:30 Clean Code – Gavin Davies – @gavd_uk
21:00 Memory fragmentation
23:00 Shutdown

Follow @unifieddiff.

South Wales Linux User Group – Wednesday 1st February 2012

SWLUG meet in the City Arms on the first Wednesday Tuesday of every month, from about 7pm. They also have regular meetings in Carmarthen.

Note: For this Cardiff meet-up, they will be joining in with unified.diff at O’Neill’s (see above).

Follow @SWLUG.

Update 2012.03.23: From April, SWLUG are moving to the first Tuesday of every month, to avoid clashing with unified.diff.

Cardiff Windows Phone User Group – 8th February 2012

At The Promised Land – doors open from 6.30pm. Book tickets through Eventbrite, follow @cdf_wpug and do the Facebook thing.

Cardiff Blogs Meetup – Wednesday 22nd February 2012

Starting at 6:30pm at the Maldron Hotel on Saint Mary St. (an excellent venue). It’s free, and they’re so inclusive that you don’t actually have to be from Cardiff or a blogger to attend!

Cardiff International Comic & Animation Expo – 25-26th February 2012

Cardiff International Comic & Animation Expo If you don’t know what this is all about, read my blog post from last year.

Apparently 75% of the tickets have been sold, though I gather a limited amount will be sold on the day at the doors.

Truthfully, there is no one must-see draw to this in terms of guest speakers (for me), but the stalls, displays, artists, costumes and over-exited fans make this a must. I’ve only bought a single day ticket though.

Follow @CardiffExpo.

WordPress Users Wales – Wednesday 29th February 2012

No firm date for this one yet, but pencil it in for late Feb. I’d expect this second WordPress gathering to focus on useful, practical advice for new WordPress users.

Follow @WordPressWales.

TEDxCardiff – Saturday 31st March 2012

TEDxCardiff logo Tickets went on sale this morning, and I expect them to sell out quickly (if they haven’t gone already Update: Tickets sold out within 20 minutes!). I believe there will be more made available later though. Speakers are still being announced (they’ve just announced Lionel Fanthorpe!) but whoever ends up speaking in the unannounced slots, they’re pretty much guaranteed to be interesting and entertaining if past talks are anything to judge by.

TEDxCardiff 2012 will be held in the Weston Studio at the Wales Millennium Centre. There are two sessions (2-4pm and 6-8pm). Tickets are £6 for one session or £10 for both. You need to call the box office to purchase: 029 2063 6464.

Follow @TEDxCardiff.

Also, keep an ear out for new Cardiff Blogs (@cdfblogs) meet-ups. (All set for the 22nd Feb – see above.)

There’s also likely to be a Geek Cluster gathering mid-February. Follow @dorkomatic for info.

Stiffs: The Apocalypse Party

Stiffs is a five issue mini-series comic currently seeking funding on IndieGoGo. It’s produced in Cardiff, so if you think it sounds cool, give them some support.

Stiffs: The Apocalypse Party

Set in a dead end town in the South Wales Valleys, it follows the adventures of working stiffs Don Daniels, and his monkey life partner (they’re just friends, really) Kenny McMonkey, as they discover that the undead stalk the valley at night. Raised on a steady diet of rubbish horror films and heavy metal, they do what any sane person would: become a pair of bad-ass, hard-living zombie hunters.

The perks are really great too: $20 gets you the whole series, another $5 gets them signed for you, but for $50 you get to commission the series artist to draw whatever you like, and $100 gets you a zombie-cameo in one of the comics!

They’ve already managed to raise $2,048 of the required $3,000, with 16 days still to go, so they’re right on target. I grabbed a preview issue at last year’s Cardiff International Comic Expo, and it looks like a great series. Continue reading

Galaxy class

I’ve just finished watching season 1 of The Next Generation, and I’ve been inspired to get back into LightWave 3D to produce a quick homage (or two).

Enterprise D

View full size (1200 × 675) or in glorious HD (1920 × 1080) on Flickr.

This is a faithful reproduction of one of the most widely-used promo shots of the Enterprise D (see below for the originals).

Continue reading