Calculating

I decided to check how long, and how much fuel I need for the trip up to Terrace, BC from Langley, or Glen Valley were I am living right now. I got a couple of different answers. And on top of that, I am not sure how much fuel I will need for the trip. So for the mean time, I have my previous trips from Terrace to Vancouver, BC, roughly twenty hours. So I just took a couple of hours off of that, somewhere around nineteen to seventeen hours, I figure.

According to Google Maps, I am looking at roughly 1318 km to Terrace BC. Map Quest estimate I might do the trip in seventeen hours, while Google says about fourteen. I think Google has got it wrong. Again, I am leaning towards nineteen hours for the whole trip.

The last time I drove this route, I was looking at roughly $250.00 in gas cost, in a 1979 Ford 150 pick-up truck, back in 1995. Now gasoline was somewhere around fifty cents per litre, and the truck was on it’s last legs as far as it fuel economy goes. The truck went to the bone right after that trip. So, I figure it might cost me $245.00 in today’s dollars for the trip. Perhaps even $300.00, based on towing a trailer with a ten foot U Haul truck. The U Haul website was no help either. To bad fuel was included in the rental cost too?

Now I did a trip to Alberta, near Rocky Mountain House, about seven years ago, and that took me about thirteen hours, and burnt about seventy litres of gasoline, roughly about eighty dollars, in a small pick-up. Again, Google says about one thousand and four kilometres, and about ten and a half hours to drive it. Maybe Google speeds?

Oh Mr Egg Head

While on the verge of moving, a major change in my life, I had some time to kill. I created some images of Mr. Egg Head in various poses, just to see how well my rigging was when I created Egg Head. All this, of course, was just for fun. I have no practical ideas for Mr. Egg Head, other than to practice my work on Blender, the 3D software I use. Here is some of the stuff I had Mr. Egg Head do.

So, anyway, I will have fun with him/her, and I am sure there are many more things I will have him/her do before I put Egg Head to rest and delete him/her. I am not sure if it a he or she, but I like the idea of a gender natural character. I sure there is an animation or two to come.

I look back at what I typed, and saw all the red squiggly lines underneath about twenty-five percent of the words. Woe, my spelling sucks today.

Some Hula Hoop Boogie Action With Mr. Egg Head (I Have Some Time to Kill)

I have some time to kill, now that the weekend draws to a close, and tomorrow is a work day. I thought I would spend some time with my newly animated character, Mr. Egg Head, which I created a couple of weeks ago. This time I wanted to spruce things up a bit, and have him dancing. After some thought, a dancing video might be too much for the amount of time I have, so I am sticking with these short animated GIF images that I can post right onto the posts. So, I went with Mr. Egg Head doing some hula hoop action, doing the dirty boogie dance over and over and over at twenty-two frames per second.

I get tired just looking at it. LOL

So, what brought this on, creating Mr. Egg Head hula hoop animation? I thought about making him do a short dance video, you know, with some heavy beat techno song playing away, and Mr. Egg Head dancing away to it, doing some cool funky moves. But then time is hard to come by for me this time of year with being busy both at work and me personal life. So I kept it simple. I also wanted to see how easy it is to animate other mech objects with an animated charter. It is pretty darn easy in Blender. I thought of the hula hoop dancer, and thought Mr. Egg Head can do that–this should be simple. In less than an hour, I was finished.

You go Mr. Egg Head! You go!

Questions, Questions, and Not One Peep Back.

Dealing with “telemarketers” is one thing, you can hang up on them, but dealing with customer service people, well, that is entirely a different matter altogether. My quest was to somehow lower my ballooning rate per month with my cable/internet/phone provider. For lack of a better word, I am pissed at how much this monthly bill has shot up in the last year. So, my goal today was to lower it, even it means cutting the cord. For now the cord is still intact, but my patients is very thin, and my time with this service provider is nearing its end. It was my exchange of Q & As with the person on other end of the phone call that made me rethink my strategy of dealing with this business going forward.

The circular argument was three-fold. I asked for add-ons to be cut, and more specific, my entire “bundle” to be lowered to the lowest “pack” they had listed on their website. The counter argument was that none of the bundles could be broken, or reactivated unless I was a new customer. My final argument was to cut the cord completely, then re-enlist with the preferred services that I wanted at a later date. The answer was…, yes, but…, no.

We went over this thought experiment for nearly thirty minutes before I had to give up.

Then I brought up the point that what I saw on their website through my VPN was slightly different from when I was seeing it through my local I.P. Address. There was a pause. Silence; not a peep from her. I said “hello” a few times, and waited until she said something. After a minute, she asked me what was different on website, and then spewed off that use of a VPN maybe a violation of my user agreement. I laughed. I said that viewing the website through my VPN, I get to see all the bundles in their entirety, WITH PRICES, where as viewing it locally, I only see the upgrade bundles being offered. The mic drops. I added that “this is a very sad way of marketing and dealing with your customers.” She insisted that this was not the case. My B.S. meter’s needle just broke off from being buried in the red so far.

The cord will be cut very soon!

Second Try: Got it!

As per my May 12, 2017 post, I have been trying character animation in Blender, where I can create a human looking mesh, and make it move in a video. I have been experimenting and learning how to do the rigging and animation, and so far, I am getting it. I mean, I have figured out the basics, such as creating the armature, or bones structure, as they are called, and creating a good mesh to parent to the armature, but now it is the actual creation process that has bogged me down. So many ideas, and so little time to do them with. I mean, rendering out a thirty second video on my machine in Blender Cycles mode, takes about two to three hours. Patients is what I lack now, as I move forward in this newly discovered art form.

But I have to admit, this walk cycle animation is really good in my opinion, although I see room for improvement if I want to master this. Not bad for my second try! And I think I got the motion just right too.

Of course I am only animating legs and body. I want to start off simple, then work my way up to more complex characters later on. I also switched render modes to, using the old Blender Render settings as they are a lot faster to render out, but not as nice to look at as Cycles Render is. On my machine, it takes about two minutes to render out the same thirty second video as it did from using Cycles.

The rigging and mesh only took me about half hour to make from scratch, and the above jif animation took about an hour to create on my P.C. at home. The walk cycle is 20 frames in this one. Yes, I am excited!

First Try: When You Learn From Your Mistakes

I laughed when I first rendered this. I was trying to create a simple 3D walk cycle animation, re-learning the ropes becuase it had been so long since I played with animating moving objects. When this spewed out, I thought I had created a good animation, but when ran it, it quickly became apparent that I needed to do a lot more work with it. But then I thought, maybe I did succeed with this result, and I was closer to a polished animation than I could have been if I was learning this for the first time. Nonetheless, I am posting this becuase it is funny to watch.

Oh, before you read this, unless you have some knowledge of using 3D software, like Blender, this maybe a pointless post to read. If you are remotely interested, then why not check out the Blender website. Blender is free, and is open source, and works on all major platforms.

The first problem that I saw, even though I was using the Inverse Kinematics Constraint, I made the legs straight. Having that natural bend in the legs would have prevented the way the knees seem to buckle backwards each time each leg moved upwards.

The second issue I see, I should have added more leg meshes (or blocks), so I would have had a dedicated knee mesh–something that would pivot while the leg and thigh moved independently.  If I had five blocks in each leg, then I think the armature (or skeleton) would have worked right the first time. This ties with having a natural bend in each leg. In this case, I kept the legs straight in Pose Mode, so Blender assumed that the knees would work forward or backwards.

Still, I made this in about an hour, from start to finish. After getting used to Blender’s interface and the work-flow, it took no time to create. But tweaking this “Egg man” guy, may take from time to prefect. Will I do it; hard to say.

Hey, it killed a Friday night before it was my bed time. 🙂

May the 4th Be With You!

Other than it being May 4th, today also can be a day Mother Nature (praise nature) turned up the heat on us. Aside from the usual complaining about the weather and work today, it was a good day becuase I upgraded my home PC’s CPU, Yay! I am super happy about that. I ordered the chip about three weeks ago, and the wait almost made me go mad with anticipation. Outside, the day was gorgeous, until the thunder storm crept over top, after that is was a “stay inside day” playing with my freshly upgraded machine, running my 3D graphic software.

The nasty side effects of climate change could not be more apparent than what I see outside, right now, all around me. My thermometer is telling me that it is 21C, with the relative humidity at 99 precent. Heck, why not just say, … 100 percent! It is so muggy out, I feel like I am living back in Toronto, in the middle of July. This is crazy. I have a fan turned on, blowing air outside, so I can get the cooler air into my bedroom. My clothes are sticking to my skin, and my scrotum is welded to my thigh–I am also ready to jump in the shower after I type this out. I ask myself, how could anyone say this is not unusual?

Cool, I just saw a flash of lightning right above me in the sky, by my bedroom window. So, the storm is coming up from the South. This should be interesting. Yup, here it is—hail! Lots and lots of hail.

Oh yes, my new fancy-shmancy CPU. Well, I bought a eight core AMD processor for one hundred clams from a wholesaler on Amazon. I was debating whether or not to keep this Motherboard, or just do a complete upgrade. Since I maxed out the RAM on this board, 64G, I figured I might as well save the money, and just do a minor upgrade instead. I have a Asus M5A97 mainboard, and I guess I can still get parts for it. It is doing a great job for me, so why not keep it for a little while longer. Sadly, it did take a while for the shipping and handling. I did not want to buy it from U.S. becuase of the taxes, so I bought from a place in Calgary. The dirty little secret is, no GST. Heh heh heh. And they seem to be hungry for business, so I went with them instead. It was a great deal. The place I normally do business with, I Surrey, BC, is, well, let me just day that the CPU would have cost me over two hundred clams–and leave it at that. Buying local can be a bad thing too.

So, May the 4th be with you! I hope you enjoyed the day as I have. Adiós amigo!

Yay, It’s May!

Well, it’s May 2017, already. I can sort of feel it outside, I mean the warmer weather, and the promise of summer fast approaching. But we all know how wacked out the weather is with climate change and all, and who really knows what’s going with Mother Nature…. (*praise nature). Yesterday my patio thermometer said it was almost 18C, albeit it was in direct sunlight, absorbing all that lovely solar radiation, mmmmmm. Far be it for me to say, but I’m hoping for summer like weather to start today. Yes, like right now!

 

Way back in April (about four hours ago) I took some more photos from over at the Glen Valley Aquifer site, and just did the finishing touches to them on my P.C. with the program called Dark Table. This bird was part of that shooting session. I was testing out my 28-300mm telephoto lens and seeing how good the auto focusing was with that lens. My Sony A77 had no trouble with it, as it kept the bird in focus at twelve frames per second. Out of twenty-four shots, only two were slightly out of focus. I love that camera. Anyway, I thought the bird shot was appropriate for this month, as I feel I want to fly away, far way, to somewhere else.

Later on today, I start Monday at my work. Not much to say there, other than I’m not looking forward to it. This is the busy season, and as the weather warms up, so does the building I work in. We have A/C, but it barely works when it get to 30C outside. So, here’s hoping that it does rain tomorrow, or at least it’s overcast. But not my luck, as the good weather always seem to start when I work, and stops during my weekends.

Throwing Old CDs and DVDs Out

It looks like all those writeable CDs and DVDs that I bought are starting to break. Some of these DVDs I have had since 2000 are slowly breaking to the point that they no longer hold any of the data I put on them. I remember reading a news article back in 2005, or there about, that said writeable disks were never built to hold archival information for long periods of time, somewhere around five years. I wish I could find it again, but it does not matter, I just threw out an entire pack of 100 that are all corrupted from age.

I bough this 100 pack way back in 2009. I only used about thirty disks from it, and left the spool in a cupboard in my bedroom. I was going to put a dual O.S. on my buddies old computer, and thought I would make use of these old DVD -Rs to load the software with. My home PC has a fairly new optical drive in it, so I thought using my old disks would not be a problem to write with. It turns out, after ten attempts, I finally had a disk that I could write to. After closer examination of the broken disks I tried to use, I noticed small black dots and cracks along the edges of each disk. Then I inspected all of the remaining disks in the spool, and found all but six were still good. I threw them all out. I could not waste any more time like this.

We now live in the new age of flash drives. With tablets and phones, and most new note books, you need a flash drive anyway if you want to load something onto it, other than wifi as the other option. Gone are the days of the old clunky disks. At least, as I heard from somewhere on the net, flash drives are very durable; more so than the old disks were. I also heard that data can last on a flash drive for up to ten years? We will see. Some time in future, say ten years from now, I might write another post on how much flash drives suck. We will see.

Laughing at Technology: Working Like a Snail

I am sitting at the department desk, waiting for the network to connect and upload my freshly imputed data to the database, so that I can complete my task before I move onto the next. I wait, tapping my pen on the desk. Time ticks on by, yet the workstation’s monitor show very little progress as the little circular icon spins round and round. We call this the “Wheel of Death,” in that you will eventually die of old age waiting for the software to complete each task. Then suddenly the circular icon disappears, and you stare at the monitor, gripping the keyboard in anticipation, but you are still waiting. Then the circular icon reappears, and you feel like you have just been sucker punched, as all hope fades away. You wait…, again.

I swear, at least an hour a day is spent waiting for the network to connect at my work, or data is complied and saved. The time spent on this, when I could be working, whether on some menial task, or actually on working paper work, is in my mind, huge. And when the whole network goes down, we then go into “stack and pile” mode of incoming merchandise, knowing that later on, the mad frenzy of processing the paperwork will make a bad day even worse.

I feel so helpless. I am qualified to work on I.T. systems, but my hired duty at this job is for labour, not my skills and talents. I see the problems, yet I cannot fix them. Locally, I can do minor fixes, like reconfiguring the workstation, or making sure the twelve year old software and operating system is configured correctly. I also do the mandatory reboot once a day to clean up the digital imperfections due to the operating system’s poor engineering. But this if far from enough.

I bite my lip, hold my breath. There is no use saying anything. To cheer myself up, I can only see the advantage: I get paid to stand and watch the “wheel of death” at my work. I laugh at technology.