Computer Users’ Group

March 18, 2009


 

There’s a long history of fractal images. Two names that always pop up are Gaston Julia and Benoit Mandelbroit. Julia wrote a paper in 1918 about iteration where you take the output of an equation and feed it back as an input, over and over. Using today’s technology, you would take the location of a pixel on the computer screen as a starting point and depending on the result, assign a color to that pixel. The system relied on complex numbers but don’t get scared. Walk 3 blocks east and 2 blocks north and you’ve created a complex number 3+i2. The i2 in the number is an imaginary number but you got where you wanted to go so it’s not that imaginary. Try 5 blocks west and 3 blocks south. That would be

 -5-i3.

On a screen 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high, the fractal programs starts a run from each of them and then paints the pixel a color based on the result. The following table shows a 4x5 matrix to see how they would be numbered if the lower left pixel was the starting point.


 
0+i4 1+i4 2+i4 3+ i4
0+i3 1+i3 2+i3 3+ i3
0+i2 1+i2 2+i2 3+ i2
0+i1 1+i1 2+i1 3+ i1
0+i0 1+i0 2+i0 3+ i0

 

Enough already. Let’s get on with creating some fractals.


 

This site has lots of links to other fractal sites. http://home.roadrunner.com/~rdill/links.htm The program of choice here will be that of the Russian couple who created Fractal Explorer several years ago. This page has links to download sites as well as other information about Fractal Explorer. http://www.eclectasy.com/Fractal-Explorer/index.html .


 

So lets forget all about the math and see if we can just create something. Unlike an artist who starts out with an idea of what he wants to paint, the beginning fractal artist is at the mercy of trial and error; his artistic ability is limited to judging his creations and finding something that pleases his artistic taste. With time he’ll learn how to tweak things in his favor.


 

When you go to eclectasy.com, click on one of the download sites to start the download. Be sure you know where the download is going to go. In Firefox, click on Tools/Options and select the folder that you want to download into. The file is a compressed Zip file that has to be extracted. When the download is complete, double click on the file name, and in the box at the left, click on Extract all Files and then click Next and in the next dialog box, choose C:/Program Files as the folder for the extracted files to go to.


 

If you use the Flash Drive, the files have already been extracted so you need to copy the folder to the C:/Program Files folder on your computer.

 


 

So lets open Fractal Explorer and start tweaking.


 

Once open, press F3 and you are presented with the classic Mandelbrot fractal. Then press F6. You’ll see a list of different types of fractals that you can choose to work on. Click on some of them to see how the image changes. Each one is based on a different formula which is shown at the bottom of the dialog box. Click on the box Show as Julia to see a different image. Under parameters, you can click on the down arrow on either box and get a list of many functions. Try a few to see what they do. When you find one you like, click on select. We’ll leave as it was on Cldent and we’ll select Optimized 4 in the left column. Then click Size on the menu bar and choose an appropriate size; the bigger, the longer it will to complete. Then find an interesting area of the image, hold the left mouse button down and starting above, left of the point of interest, draw a box around that area and then double click within the box. Most interesting areas are in the fringe area around the edge of the main image. Repeat until you get what you want, press F6 to select a different formula or parameters or press F3 and start over. Try a different fractal. Explore, explore, explore! It doesn’t hurt to try and if you don’t like it, start over. Learn by doing! When you find something that you’re proud of, you can save it and print it. Click on File and you can select Save Image and you’ll be given a choice of formats in which to save it. You can also click on Save project as and you can save what you’ve done as a Spot file which you can then re-load and continue where you left off.


 

You can print out the fractal or send it out to be printed. If you print it on an inkjet printer, you can choose either glossy or matte finish paper but glossy is better for these images. While it may depend on your printer exactly what to select, you should find Properties for the printer you are using and set the paper type to Glossy. Select High for quality if it’s offered. For larger sizes for ones you’re really proud of, you can them out to be printed. Shutterfly prices are 11x14 for $7.99, 16x20 for $17.99 and 20x30 for $22.99. Office supply stores can also print out large images. But do the math. If you want a 20x16 print that is a ratio of 5x4 so you need an image of that proportion. You use the Custom setting under Size to select 1000x800. Or you can use an other measurement and expect to have some of the image cropped. You can crop it yourself in Paint or other image editing program. Sizes shown in FE are either 1x1 or 4x3.


 

This is only one way to start. Everything is trial and error so try, try, try. Use edit/undo to back up or just close it without saving and start over. Look at all of the other items that you can change and try them.


 

MyHeritage.

MyHeritage is the fastest growing genealogy site. It’s a combination genealogy site and social site where you can post family photos, videos and messages as well as your genealogy. There is a 500 name limit unless you join for $4.50 a month. When you post, there are three levels you can assign to your web page; private, invitation only and public. MyHeritage has a program called Family Tree Builder that you use to import a genealogy from another program or create one from the beginning. MyHeritage now also owns Family Tree Legends and Gen Circles so it includes SmartMatching. When you post your genealogy, it compares everyone in your genealogy with everyone on their site and shows how they compare. They match not only the name but dates as well to be sure of a reasonable match. I have 123 matches on 20 different web sites. We can click on compare to see how the genealogies compare to each other.


 

First, a note about your start page. You control what page opens when you open your browser and sometimes a web site will substitute their page for yours. Google and Yahoo both try to do it and MyHeritage did it to me. To go back to your start page, open the web page that you want to use. In Internet Explorer and in Firefox, click on Tools at the top of the page. In both scroll down the list to Internet Options in IE and Options in Firefox. In both select Use Current (page). That sets the page you are viewing as your start page. Remember, we covered creating your own start page on November 15, 2006 and now you can do it with any word processor ie Open Office Writer, Word or WordPerfect. Start where you want to start; not where some program decides you should start! You are in charge of your computer!


 

When you first go to MyHeritage you are presented with several items at the top of the page that you can select. Celebrities will provide a bit of information about celebrities. MyHeritage uses Face Recognition Technology so that you can send a picture and they will tell you which celebrity you most nearly resemble. That can also be applied to a search through family trees to see if your face closely matches that of anyone else. Next is Community that shows pictures of the latest members and you can select to look through all 30 million members. Clicking on a photo takes you to that person’s genealogy page. Note how many are not written in English. Next you can select Genealogy at the top of the page and scroll down to see what’s available. There are messages describing MyHeritage and Family Tree Builder and links to download it and get more information about it. There’s a link for you to upload your genealogy when you are ready. Scroll down and click on Search for my ancestors now. You will be asked for at least a last name and you may enter a first name if you want. You will be asked to select up to 5 similar names to include in the search but you can click on Start Search without selecting any variations. You can use Megadex, Soundex or Exact spelling of the name. The program will then search 1184 web sites (now updated to 1494) for each name that you’ve entered (if it doesn’t get stuck on Google-analytics; look at the bottom left of your screen to see what it’s doing. Google-analytics collects statistical data from sites that connect to it.) Once you get the results you can see what other information other sites have on the person you chose. I have not been successful with any search although I’ve tried many times. I’ve written to ask “why?” While they haven’t yet responded, a note has been added to that page that states that it only works with IE and I was using Firefox. I did get rather quick results using IE. Expect to spend some time searching through all of the results that you get. Each result lists the site that the result was obtained from and you click on that to see the actual posting. If you don’t use MyHeritage for anything else, the search function is worthwhile. Further down the page are message boards of which there are over 14,000 but I didn’t find much there.


 

One of the things to do is to download Family Tree Builder from the link above if you want to post your data. Once you have it you can import a Gedcom file and have the result posted on your own web page on MyHeritage. When you create the Gedcom file in your other program, limit the number of names you want to export to under 500. That way you can test the site for free.


 

Once you have published your genealogy, when you go to MyHeritage.com it will take you directly to your web site (unless you’ve deleted the cookie). From there you can choose what to do next. We’ll click on View Family Tree in the left column and we get a view of the entire tree that we have to scroll through to see it all. Next we’ll click on Smart Matches at the top of the page and we are presented with a list of 20 web sites that have matches to people on my web site, each one showing how many matches the web site has. The first one, the Smith Web Site has 58 matches. Not too surprising since the Dills and Smiths were next door neighbors and 3 children of my immigrant ancestor married Smiths. If we click on the number of matches we get a listing of what my site shows and what the Smith site shows with a picture of the person if one exists or an image placeholder if one doesn’t. Clicking on Compare provides more detail including a portion of the tree that contains that person. You also have the option to visit the other web site, request to become a member of that site or contact the owner.


 

Message to Laptop Users. General Motors will release an electric car next year called the “Volt”. The significance of that event to laptop users is that while lithium-ion laptop batteries generally fail in a few years, the Volt will be powered with Li-Ion batteries that will last for one hundred thousand miles. Why? GM says they will charge the batteries to only 80% of full and discharge them to only to 20%. So to increase the life of your laptop battery, unplug it when it gets above 80% and plug it in at 20%. If you continually use yours plugged in, remove the battery until you need it.