pasithea: glowing girl (working)
What am I doing right now? I'm not doing my project at work. No. I'm fighting with Windows and after several hours, screw it. I'm bitching about Windows too. Feel free to skip this post. I just need to vent a little frustration.

So.. Where to begin? Our software runs on Mac, Linux, and Windows. For a variety of reasons I do nearly all of my development on Linux followed by Mac. (I'm more familiar with the tools and we have more distributed build hosts for Linux and Mac. Not to mention SSH keys are easier to configure and more friendly, svn checkouts are about 1000x faster than Windows, and so on. Windows is just crap slow to work on)

So... Anyhow... I generally work out my code, then send it to parabuild which does builds of it for all three platforms. If one of the platforms doesn't like something (they all have their own pet peeves) then I go and fix it. Generally I can do this without even needing to copy my branch to another machine, but now this time. I was forced to boot into Windows for the first time in six months.

So... After an hour of service pack updates and virus scanner updates and renewing licenses for virus checkers and other crap that you don't need on decent platforms, I finally get to where I can work... Except we've upgraded C compilers in the past six months and this requires I update a bunch of stuff.

Now on Mac or Linux, the C++ compiler is free and it ends up under the automatic system update stuff, so you have to do nothing to get it updated. On Windows, it's an entirely different product, meaning it must be installed and configured more or less from scratch. Better yet, if you're using any odd SDKs, odds are they'll be broken and you'll be spending a few hours updating those too.

Now... I'm at a Satellite office and that means for our site license, some of the disks aren't here, they're on a central server which takes about a half hour to pull 2G of data from. The files are just written there are .iso disk images.

My first bit of fun came from Windows crappiness in the form of not being able to detect writable DVDs in the DVD-R drive. This drive works fine in linux on the same machine. It could read already-created disks. It could not write to them (and no, it isn't a +r drive)

Apparently you can purchase an app called 'PhantomDisk' for windows which mounts ISO files as a virtual drive, but guess what Microsoft installers won't let you do? Go on. Guess. So... After an hour of pulling my hair out with the drive. Screw it. I send the .iso file over to my mac (which, since Windows seems to be unable to see the Samba served spot I created for it, I eventually end up using FTP with the raw IP address)

On the mac, double-clicking a .iso file mounts it as a virtual drive or I can throw in a blank CD, mount it with disk utility, point it at the iso file, and burn it, which is what I do.

Next, there are the service packs for Visual Studio. Since I'm not eager to spend more time burning CDs, I foolishly try loading them from MicroSoft's website. Microsoft Visual Studio SDKs require that you turn off your firewall and various other things and put your computer in "PLEASE RAPE ME" mode on the outside internet. Their website also ONLY lets you do installs from it if you're using Internet Explore $CURRENT_VERSION. Awesome.

So... 5 hours in and I'm still not working on the code I planned to be working on at 8 this morning. Why are people still using this piece of shit OS again?
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
Been playing with new tools and I thought I'd give them a mini-review.

So... I decided it was time for some spring cleaning at work and in cleaning off my desk, I found a device that I was given about a year ago and had never got around to plugging in.

The 3DConnexion (3D mouse)

Stylewise, It's an 11. Brushed aluminum, glossy black acrylic and blue LEDs. smaller than a mouse, very heavy. Feels nice, looks nice. Thumbs up.

Usefulness: With a basic install, it works with SecondLife and... Wow. It's really FUN! It'd probably kick butt with FPSs too. I'll probably use this as my primary control for moving around in SL. For Maya, the installation was slightly more involved and required adding some mel scripts to my startup (which I am generally loathe to do). The learning curve on it is a bit steeper too. A little practice, and I think it's slightly easier to use than the key chord camera controls. It might be really useful in combination with my wacom pen when doing sculpting though this will require I learn to use it left handed. When I've got a bit more time, I'll give this another try. Does zoom, pan and change brush size in Photoshop.

Now the bad news. That's pretty-much all it's good for. Despite having the same shape and styling as a jog control, I can't use it as a jog control. It has very limited programability. So while it could be GREAT in a number of applications, I can't use it with them. I can't fathom why they wouldn't have a programmable mode to at least treat the various controls as modifiers to mouse movement. Most apps have chorded keyboard options to do various pans, rotations, etc. So twisting the puck could take over mouse control and press whatever chord. That'd make the thing useful for dozens of apps.

All in all: Glad I didn't buy this. $100 for another chunk of metal on my desk. Usable for 2-3 apps. If it were programmable or I could at least use it as a jog control, I'd call it a keeper, but as it is... Nah. Not worth the price and only the attractiveness of the design makes it worth the desk space.

Corel Painter

Artrage is fun, but it's pretty limited in what it can do. Don't get me wrong, for the price, it's great and the UI is really fun and friendly, but to really be useful, it needs a few more brush tip shapes and slightly smoother brush control. It's a great toy and good for slacking and was enough to get me interested in trying a 'real media' painting application. Open Canvas sounds great but it doesn't run on the Mac and they have no plans to ever make it run on the Mac. That leaves Corel Painter.

I wish I could find something positive to say about Corel Painter. I'm sure it's a great application if you can get past the learning curve but... Man. Blow me back to 1988, Batman. That UI is SO dated, cluttered, and unfriendly. I feel like I'm using OS-8.6. Many of the brushes are painfully slow. You draw a line of watercolor and you wait 10 seconds for it to 'soak in'. I gave it 3 different tries and gave up in frustration each time. Perhaps if you've been using this application since the Mac only has 256 colors, it's great, but for anyone coming in today, I'd tell them to get a Windows box and a pair of noseplugs and use OpenCanvas, or just enjoy the simplicity and beauty of ArtRage. For myself, I realized just how much I like ArtRage and... If I really want to do something that uses a variety of brushes... I have real paint and real brushes which have an incredibly simple and beautiful UI.

Spotlight (Part of the Mac OS)

I haven't really explored all of what spotlight is. Until yesterday, it was just this annoying search box that would pop up when I hit the wrong button. However. I've been doing a lot of cataloging of video for this editing project I'm working on. I started off by building myself a spreadsheet recording the names of files, the time points, notes, etc that I wanted. Problem with this is that if you rename the clips, you need to update your DB. Also, it requires you to look at two separate things. So... I thought there was another way to do this. I could have swore that Quicktime let you do that kind of marking of files (The Mac DVD player lets you do this. It's very handy for marking references for drawing and when putting together clips) but no such luck with Quicktime. Or at least, I couldn't find it. So... Looking at 'More info' on the file, I see there is a 'Spotlight Comments' entry box. Keen! I can type my comments there... And it basically works... EXCEPT if you hit return, not only does it NOT go to the next line, it highlights the line you're one and if you start typing... Goodbye previous text and there's no undo! FANTASTIC! GREAT JOB APPLE! *sigh* I can't believe that a company which prides itself on UI would make such a total boner on a piece of the UI.

On the other hand... This is the solution I've decided to go with for now. I wonder if that's partly out of nostalgia. Years ago, frustrated with the 8.3 filenames of DOS, I wrote a program that would attach additional blocks onto a file, be it text, executable, or whatever. Then wrote my own DIR command so that I could list files and see the extended info block on the files. If I renamed, moved, or copied the files, the tags stayed with them. It was pretty spiff... Except.. That was before the advent of virus scanners. What I'd wrote attached to files the same way a virus did. It was a controlled and benevolent virus but.. The first time I ran a virus scanner, it freaked out. Ohwell. It had been fun while it lasted.

Getting back on course... Spotlight comments... I give it a 1 out of 5. Comments are great. No linebreaks, not so great. Violent punishment for trying to use linebreaks.. Very uncool.

I guess that's about it for now. Back to work.
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
In the kitchen the other day, I had the most dangerous realization... A pressure cooker has a hose attachment on top of it. They just use a weight there and the pressure releases itself by being high enough to lift the weight but I could replace that weight with a hose and an in-line regulator and a release valve and then... I have a boiler for any steam engine I might desire!


Dec. 16th, 2008 08:39 pm
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
Well... That figures. Just about the time I finally get to where I can draw stuff well...

Though it looks like it's only reading what's happening optically, but still. How long before we can truly see what is behind on another's eyes.

Or if you want a creepier thought... If we can get signal out, we can probably get signal in.

Mind you. Cool possibilities for having an in-head head's-up display and for always having a camera with you and playing Solitaire while driving and other foolish things.

Oh brave new world...
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
Well... Luck was with me, I guess. I had been thinking about replacing my old bike for a while. It was the first bike I ever bought 'new' and I really loved it. I put probably 10,000 miles on that bike and... all-in-all, I definitely got my money's worth out of it. Anyhow... Yesterday, a woman posted a bike to Craigslist that was nearly perfect. Excellent price, exactly right frame-size, all the features I desired but didn't think I'd afford and... Screaming bright fire-engine red!

On mine, the front shocks are red too. The owner had rode the bike maybe 2 or 3 times. It looks and feels brand-freakin' new. No wear on the brakes or anything. It's very light and handles nicely and is really fun to jump.

It's not a bike you'd chose for hardcore downhill riding, though apparently it's a great first -bike for that, but 99%, I'm doing commuting and it's perfect for that. It weighs considerably less than my trek 850 did.

Heh. Now I'm considering going down to the dirt-track off the lower part of Steven's Creek trail this weekend and doing some riding. Assuming that my wrist stops aching from taking a dive off my skateboard last week. Heh.
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
*sigh* So... Right after 10.5 came out, we'd got a family edition of it to install on our machines. Naturally, it turned out it wasn't really compatible with our 400Mhz G4 cubes and it breaks 90% of the applications I own... Unlike a lot of people, I actually buy my software. I'm crazy that way.

Anyhow... It was well past time to upgrade most of my apps anyhow, so I bought a new suite of adobe products, and an update for Maya. Frustratingly, I'd just bought an update to ToonBoom shortly before 10.5 broke it and no free update was being offered. However, since I wasn't animating at the time, I didn't worry about it too much, but I also didn't bother updating my computer to use 10.5

So. Yesterday I went to do some development stuff for work on my home computer and discovered that I could no longer get it to link properly. After a good bit of frustration, I decided it was time to get an update to ToonBoom and switch to 10.5.

So... The ToonBoom update was pretty awesome. I only played with it a bit but it has some new features and things that I was really enjoying. Then I tried to update to 10.5

I'll spare you the swearing and anger. Needless to say, flash forward to 16 hours later and... My harddrive is currently being reformatted. :(

Fucking Hell. I stopped using Windows to get away from bullshit like this. *sigh*

Oh. And before someone goes and says something irksome that will re-direct my ire at them, let me point out that the reason I use Mac is because it's more reliable than Windows, runs all the apps I need/want, and lets me do Unix command line stuff when I need more power. Windows is crap and Linux still doesn't have a lot of the apps I want so Macs are the best solution for me. YMMV but I don't care to hear about it because you and I probably run drastically different sets of applications.


Aug. 19th, 2008 08:59 am
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
5 days until we leave for Burning Man and almost no projects are completely finished.

The solar still/gray water reclaimer is more or less done, just needs a cheap funnel. It's probably the only thing that will work. :(

My wind turbine failed its initial start-up tests due to 1) A lack of wind and 2) a very non-round swivel hook. In retrospect, my design here was kind of stupid as the swivel and the motor = 2 friction points. I think I can salvage the design by turning it upside down and having only 1 friction point. The only good thing here is that this will work because of another thing I didn't design fully that took a little engineering to compensate for. I hadn't really worked out attaching the generator to the struts. I assumed I could get the gear off the shaft and just connect the shaft. When it turned out I couldn't, I had to take a somewhat different approach. I eventually went with a soft linkage. It's a bit of re-enforced rubber hose held on with pipe clamps. I hadn't put the generator at the top originally due to the torque of side to side motion, but this soft linkage solves that problem, so I think just inverting the structure will work out. Hopefully there will be enough wind tonight I might test that.

Solar shades aren't binding properly. Nothing sticks to mylar... Well. One thing does. Hot glue. So now we're in the time-consuming process of using dots of hot glue to laminate the insulator layers. plus all these pieces still need to be sewn together.

Solar evaporator camp toilet has all the design disagreements worked out and all the parts, just needs the rest of it assembled.

Solar oven not officially designed, not built. Probably abandoned at this point.

Signpost Squid is designed and parts are collected, just needs to be built, wired, and skinned.

Solar-powered automatic hotdog cooker probably abandoned for this year.

Solar-powered personal cooling system... Got screwed on ebay, lacks part now. :(

Fish-bike has all parts but I'm skeptical I'll have time to build it.

Various costume bits are totally unstarted due to 'important' projects taking precedence.

Meh. By the time I get to Burning Man, I'm probably just going to want to sleep all week.
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
Swiped this link from Triggur. It's a demo of some new video editing software. I can see where it's going to have trouble in a few spots but it's really awesome none the less.


Apr. 17th, 2008 11:16 am
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
I was looking for some stuff about Will (my former Maya instructor) and stumbled across a short interview with him about 4 minutes into this Amiga3000 promotional video from 1988.

I left the video running while I was doing other stuff just because the noise was entertaining.

Anyhow. I make fun of Amiga fanboys a lot. The ones who still believe the Amiga is going to make a comeback at this point sound very similar to the 'The South Will Rise Again' sorts...

But there's a big difference between the South and the Amiga. The Amiga really was pretty awesome. I know what my computer was capable of in 1988 and the Amiga quite frankly blew it away.

Perhaps the most interesting thing I saw that I was unaware of is at about 14 minutes into the video.

It was freakin' Flash before Flash existed. Graphical OO programming where you could just double-click an object and edit code in it. YOu could create buttons and hot areas and mix in audio, video, and animation. Pretty darn cool. If only they'd been able to do something with it instead of MacroMedia.

Really neat stuff. You might watch this just for the fun history lesson.
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
So I got a new development station at work to replace the very slow and flakey windows box I have. Hurray!

Rambling comparison of Ubuntu and Windows )
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
Fortunetely we upgraded Stacey's machine first:

Photoshop 7 DEAD Bastards. I don't want to updowngrade to CS.
Maya 7 DEAD I just bought Maya 2008 anyhow (It's Universal Binary)
ToonBoom 3.5 DEAD

Hey, that's only half of my favourite/most-used programs. Apparently Leopard doesn't like the number 7, even when divided by 2.

Seriously though. C'mon Apple! Don't turn into MicroSoft! :( I will NOT be installing Leopard on my machine for a while (obviously) *sigh*

More Tech

Nov. 6th, 2007 01:24 pm
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
You know... Per the projected cost of ITER is only about 20B USD. Sure, it's an experimental project, not meant for production use but seriously... For the cost of Bush's war for Oil so far, we could have taken 10 or 15 stabs at harnessing fusion reactions for power and had money left over.

If we hadn't wasted our money in Iraq, we could have been well on our way to quite possibly finding a permanent solution to power needs. Thanks again Bush. You're a GREAT leader. You know... If you REALLY wanted to 'beat' Iraq, the only resource they really have is oil. If the entire world had cheap power from another source, they'd be defeated utterly.

Instead you dicked around and threw away our money fighting a war you can't win. The EU is carrying on the ITER research and there's a good chance they'll get it to work and that means France will 'defeat' Iraq. Not you. And cheap/clean power will first be under the control of the EU, not the US. We'll be left behind. All thanks to you. Congrats on that.
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
... It happened yesterday and we talked about it at work because three of us know a lot of people in rocketry. Two of my co-workers are partial owners in a X-Prize vehicle but LJ has been utterly silent...

There was an explosion at Mojave Spaceport yesterday. Scaled lost 3 people and 3 more are in the hospital...
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
After on crash too many, I finally gave in and have quit using Fire. Now using Colloquy and Adium instead. So far, so good. I liked having everything in a single app but Colloquy and Adium both have more complete feature sets and (in theory) don't crash and burn as often.

Downloaded and installed FoxMarks ( yesterday. Very very nice. I routinely use 4 machines and I'm forever stuck without a link that's on one of them.

Streamlined all of my e-mail boxes. Moved a bunch of stuff to bookmarks, make my accounts all synch up in Thunderbird.

Google calendars now has better integration into iCal too. Woot!

BTW, while not really very friendly, the freeware rsync stuff for the mac seems to work reasonably well too.
pasithea: glowing girl (Default) Yay! unintrusive brain-to-computer interface. That'd be better than voice command! ^_^

Hmm. Maybe I just need to build my own cyborg rig... And learn to use a chorded keyboard.
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
I've been listing to this Retro Arcade Radio station again and it has a bunch of Commidore and Amiga commercials on it, as well as Atari, TRS80, etc, but I was thinking about how the computers I've owned influenced where I work now.

(If you're bored, this link will get you to a bunch of the Commidore commercials: )

So just for fun, (and because I'm doing a bunch of merging and have a little free time this morning) I typed 'Amiga' in on YouTube. Predictably, most of the videos are teen girls making some drivel about their friends.

Surprisingly, a lot of videos are idiots with camera phones showing their Amiga emulations running on various other machines. (Yes, you're a dork AND you don't know how to take decent video)

Then we got to the stuff I was actually looking for. Animations done by amiga fans.

Sorta vaguely in order of watchability with the more watchable ones nearer the top. (Truly the finest Amiga animation ever done) soooo stooooned

Bonus: Woo! I really like this 'drag the whole desktop off the screen' thing.

I was always envious of Commidore/Amiga owners. We had a TRS-80 which could do... spreadsheets and text editing and dull stuff like that. It made me what I am but how I would have loved to have played with some of those graphics and sound tools. I wonder how my career might have gone different if I'd actually gotten one.

Anyhow... In later years I came to hate amiga fans because they touch that same nerve as the 'The South Will Rise Again!' sorts. It's dead.

For example: Here's are a bunch of the current Apple Ads with Amiga inserted into them. This is about the best of them as a commercial for OS-4, but it's still bad jump cuts and audio patches that really fail and look sad and pathetic.
You can view the related ones if you want to see sadder fare.
I need some spare time and a few friends that look vaguely like these characters and a smelly old beardo with a Fedora with pins stuck in it to play the part of Amiga, chugging beer and shouting at them.

And for a hefty dose of the 80s, I bet Amiga fans still wank to this:

Here's a video of someone touring the Commidore/Amiga plant on the last day before it was shut down. Kinda sad I suppose. They weren't bad machines, even if their commercials were aimed at paranoid yuppies and the people who evangelize them make me want to slap them upside the head.

True Power

Sep. 8th, 2006 03:50 pm
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
Midst all the reading, I've also been working on some projects for better personal organization.

I mentioned google calendar the other day and the limitations of it. I'm still not thrilled with the weird limitations it has but there are some points to it that give it great power. Mostly, what google does best. Search.

Below the public calendars, there's a search box. Type in something you want, say 'San Francisco raves' and it will show you all public calendars matching your request. Cool.

By this way, I discovered that the Love Parade is happening in just a couple of weeks. I missed this last year but this year I think I might like to make it. Anyone interested?

While on the subject of organization, a quick thanks to Peggy for help figuring out how to make a smart playlist in iTunes that would corral all of my radio channels into a group instead of having to hunt through them in the main library. A bit annoying I can't delete dead ones from there too but this is still a big improvement and has let me organize the audio on my computer considerably better.

Lastly, I'm going to start using XJournal more for doing LJ posts. The way it handles looking at friends list history and such is helpful. :)
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
It's been a sucky week for hardware.

The Wacom tablet was indeed deliberately crippled by the company, so I took it back.

My new Macbook Pro had two dead pixels right in the middle of the screen and I was told that this was fewer than the amount to count as a 'defect' and I would have to live with it. (Did I mention one of them flashed on and off?)

Fuck that. I went to return it too, along with the memory, carrying case, etc. they told me I couldn't return it that night because it was an online order and I had to have some ref number from the call center (which had closed ten minutes prior to when they told me this).

I went home sick and cried the cry of an angry child. I waited a month for this computer, I haven't bought anything really 'new' like this ever before, and, except for my current car, I spent more on this computer than I've spent on every car I've owned and more than most of them combined. It's like if I'd got a new car and it had a chip in the windshield or a torn seat. Or maybe it's more like being a little kid and waiting for Santa. He doesn't show up until New Years, he's fucking hung over and takes a dump in the middle of your living room floor.

So I cried and sniffled and carried on like a little child last night. Eventually went to sleep. Got up at 6AM to call their call-in center. Was told they'd charge me 300 dollars to return it (restocking fee) and that I was SOL. Live with a FLICKERING CYAN spot on my screen or be out 300 AND the new computer I'd waited a month for. :/

I threw the phone, cried some more. I don't think I've had such a bad temper tantrum since I was twelve. I guess it just started getting to me how so many things in my life are this shitty compromise. Nothing ever goes right for me. I have to do everything by force and I always have to live with rotten compromises. I know everyone goes through this now and then so I can't really go 'woe, pity me!'. Just this once, I was buying a luxury item. I went all out on it. Even paid too much for Apple memory. I didn't go through a friend and use his employee discount or my student discount or anything. I wanted to have the experience of being able to afford a real luxury that I strongly desired and not having to haggle for it. They've shipped thousands of others of these computers. There are at least 4 others at work. none of them have a problem like this. Why me? More specifically, why ALWAYS me? Every once in a while, understandable but virtually everything I do has this sort of baggage associated with it.

I can fight it. If you put enough muscle behind something, you can fix it, even when it goes crappy like this. Brute force and intimidation has gotten me a lot further than 'luck' ever has. I just get sick of having to always fight. The Wacom guys told me I was SOL too. I returned the tablet, threw a big enough fit that the store negated the restock fee. The computer. Apple is smart enough to say 'you have to go call this phone number'. Phone support can be faceless and detached and they don't suffer so much if you get screwed. In person, you can attach a face to the 'you've just been screwed out of 3 grand and a fantasy' and it's much harder to cope with and they'll try to fix it. Upsetting one customer in a store can cost you more in sales than just fixing it.

After my tantrum and cry and some angry product reviews, I switched to brute force since intimidation wasn't solving it.

One of the guys at work had mentioned that he had heard you could sometimes massage a dead pixel back to life. I'd tried it briefly yesterday and it would make the pixel work right for a minute or two and then come back. But I'd been cautious. I'd rather show the bug to the store and get it fixed properly than using a crude solution. I saved this for a last ditch.

I took a camera lens cloth and massaged it gently for about two minutes in circles and pulse-tapping. When I lifted the cloth, the dead pixel was gone.
I waited 20 minutes. Still gone.
I tried running video-memory heavy apps and flashing the colour of this pixel a lot for several minutes. Still gone.
I put the computer near the space heater and got it warm (since the dead pixel manifested after the machine was operating for a few minutes and go warm. I let it get quite warm. Still gone.
I repeated the heavy video apps test until the fans came on and it was hot to the touch. Still gone.
I shut the machine down and put it in a cool spot for an hour. Turned it on. Still gone.
I re-ran the heavy video access of the area and heat tests. Still gone.
It's 4 hours after that. I'm cautiously optimistic that Brute Force has worked.
After returning all the accessories, I searched around and found I could save 200 on the RAM (out of 300 dollars) and I could get some of the other things in other places for the same price or less.

So I'm better off now, but the experience of buying something 'shiny and new' is pretty sour and instead of a joyful shiny relationship with my new computer, I feel angry, hurt, and distrustful of it. If I wanted that, I would have bought a Dell.
pasithea: glowing girl (Default)
You know, the new macs (and PCs for that matter, since I hear many PC notebooks are the same way) are a little Orwellian. What's that little camera doing when you're not using it as a webcam? Is big brother watching you?

On a related note: Have you ever thought about the fact that auto-flushing toilets are just little robots watching you pee?

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