Saturday, September 27, 2014


I could probably model the Jubal Early in Carrara. I've figured out how to work in scale in Carrara, how to use reference images, and how to export in a format useable by a 3d printer. It should be possible to follow the same pipeline towards g code the CNC milling machine can use.

But Carrara is useless for figuring out mechanics. The Jubal has a few interactive parts. Other projects down the pipeline will require even more. And perhaps more importantly, Carrara is not a parametric modeler. The control I get from it is due to working with mesh directly. I'm quite good at building compound curves and subtle rounded edges with it, but a proper parametric modeler makes this much more painless.

So I'm struggling to learn a little Autodesk now. Aside from their flagship, Inventor, they have a nice-looking student-level package called Fusion 360. Which licenses for a mere $40 a year. With a free trial period of up to a year!

The software I wanted to mention today, though, is Scrivener. This is another piece of extremely affordable shareware. It was built to manage a novel, but it is good software for organizing all sorts of documents. And, I've found, decent for organizing projects as well. It isn't project management software; there's no calendar and milestones, inventory control, Gantt Charts and dependencies, etc.

But it is a very good way of organizing a large number of document scraps and stubs, allowing you to sort them, view them in a hierarchal order or in the ad-hoc associations of a cork board or as selections strung together in a single free-reading text. These scraps and fragments, outlines and research findings and full chapters can include images, links, and various sorts of internal links and commentaries and side notes within the Scrivener project itself.

I've been using it to plan shows lately. I throw individual documents for each meeting into a folder, establish other folders for show-specific issues like pull lists or inventories, and I can look over the project as a whole in the outliner at any time, and open notes in split view while working up cue lists.

For the writer, Scrivener has the ability to generate word counts, set page goals, and track revisions. When a project is complete, it can strip out the inline notes and compile the selected final drafts into a formatted document ready for use in various online publishing systems.

Pity I can't make better use of the ability to arbitrarily re-arrange scenes and chapters. I tend to write too densely, with too many threads within each scene. It would be extremely difficult to re-arrange scenes when so many of their internal parts only work in one order.

Scrivener has a slew of other tools which I am quite behind in making use of, though. In-line annotations, global referencing (helps a lot to keep your character names consistent!) and so forth. Sigh. One more piece of software I need to find more time to learn properly.

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