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.

Disabling the “Alt + Right Click” in Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon

This is a “How To” post on disabling the keyboard shortcut “ALT + Right Mouse Button” so that the keyboard shortcut can be use with software like 3D Blender, and some video games which need this keyboard shortcut. The issue, in Linux, is that this short cut is used system wide, as in my case, to resize the active window. I was quite amazed at how easy it is to disable the keyboard setting in Linux Mint 18, where there was no config file editing, or elaborate command scripting in Terminal, or installing more software, unlike what there was in Ubuntu. However, there is a word of caution, this method disables the “ALT” key for keyboard shortcuts. Here are three steps to disable the ALT + Right Click.

One: Go to “Menu” and choose your “System Setting Control Centre.”

Two: Choose “Windows” under the “Preferences” section.

SCREEN 01

Three: Click, the Window Behaviour tab, and choose the “<alt>” tab by the “Special Key to move and resize windows,” and switch it to “<super>.”

SCREEN 02

This screen now should look like this:

SCREEN 03

The change should take place right-a-way. Now run Blender, and you should be able select an edge, and select it with <alt> + <right click>.

Happy Canada Day 2016!

First, Happy Canada Day! If I remember correctly, Canada is now officially 149 years old now. I will have to double check that once my P.C. has finished upgrading. Other than getting the day off from work, it is a national holiday, I decided not to go anywhere. So Second, I am getting some stuff done around here at home that I have been putting off. You know, procrastination. Yup, that is me. I would say, I really needed today off from work.

CANADA DAY 2016 Weblog Image

So, for Canada Day, I decided to do a little art graphic for this post. Nothing to over the top, yet classy: rather than just copying some web graphic, or me creating a cheesy image like I have done in past years. The above image is an image that I found on line, then used Blender 3D to turn the image into a flag; then rendering it as an animation. Once done, I threw some text over top using InkScape Vector Software, then scaled it, and water marked it, using GIMP.

I am also doing the major upgrade on my main PC today. After nearly 20 hours of backing up my drives, I am finally ready to wipe Ubuntu and switch over to Linux Mint. I am doing this mostly becuase of the change, but also, Ubuntu was getting too buggy for me with my current hard ware set-up. So hopefully, in about four more hours, I will reporting back on a freshly installed PC.

Happy Canada Day – 2o16!

Added: Success! Everything went without a hitch–fully upgraded to Linux Mint version 18. I have to admit, so far the O.S. is very snappy and quick. OK, going out to enjoy the fireworks!

Website Issue Resolved

A couple of days ago my host migrated my server account over to another server, and in the process, there was a glitch. When they copied the website over, along the way, file permissions were set wrong and my Word Press directory was given the wrong file permission. As a result, anyone who checked my website got a “Error Establishing a Database Connection.” Because of work and time, this persisted for two days until I have time to email them. The issue was resolved in just a couple of hours.

I double checked everything here, and all seems well. In fact, my admin page seems to work a lot faster now. Yay!

So fear not, all is well, and my website is safe–no lost data, files or photos. Business as usual. 🙂

The Install-a-thon: Ubuntu 16 04

It is a soupy weekend, cool and damp, and a little windy too, but since I am staying inside for most of it, it does not matter. Earlier this week Ubuntu 16.04 made its début on the net, and I have been feverishly installing and upgrading all of my systems, and my clients. Since Wednesday, I managed to have ten PC machines switched over, and as of today, only one that is giving my trouble. I will hopefully have that one fixed by tonight.

This year I decided to use only my USB start up drive. Rather than going through the hassles of burning DVD on machines that have optical drives, I just went with the USB start-up option, and so far it has saved me a lot of time. Installing Linux, I find, using the USB start up drive just makes so much more sense–saving money buying DVD for one thing.

Ubuntu 16.04 is also the Long Term Support, so it is good for at least five year of free support before it turns into a ghost. So far, the new apps and kernel seem to be hassle free, and the performance overall pretty good.

I found a couple of glitches, but those were easy to fix and iron out. Of course, like a hair cut, you will not see the difference until you had it for at least a few weeks. Only time will tell, as the bugs start popping up.

Oh, I should also say, I have converted three Window$ machines over to the free world as well this week! One sever, and two PCs. Not bad eh? So far the new Linux users are happy with it. They are still in a state of disbelief that the whole operating system is completely free, and works just as well, of not better.