I confess…

personal
I have a confession to make. My conscience demands it.
Every weekend I try to do some extra cleaning. You know the kind, where you really, really clean something on a semi-regular basis in an effort to keep on top of it. Well, last week I did the kitchen, which was disgusting because I figured out I can’t even remember the last time I did it. (Valid excuse: I was sick as hell. When I finally felt strong enough to do something about it, the holidays attacked. I did it as soon as I could!)
Fine. So my kitchen’s clean now. The guilt from leaving it gross for so long doesn’t even begin to compare to what happened today, though.
I intended to do the bathroom. It’s gotten more attention than the kitchen, because it’s smaller and bathrooms get really nasty if you don’t clean ’em. But it wound up being the plants.
I started watering my plants this morning, only to discover that one of them had been knocked clean out of the window and turned upside down, coming to rest on top of the radiator, poor thing. (Wondering how that happened? I have a kitten.)
So I fished it out, set it up with some more dirt, and… I kept hearing these sad little plant-voices.
Stupid human, they were saying. She promised us a good home, they whispered, while I looked around for the source. She even said she’d give us a new pot last week!
And then I realized what happened.
A couple weeks ago, almost three actually, I ran across a bunch of herbs for sale pretty cheap. So I picked some up. Rosemary, thyme, and basil, to replace the rosemary and basil I accidentally murdered by leaving them outside on a night that was way too cold for them. I brought them home, promising them a nice new pot and regular water. You know, the good life for a plant.
But what really happened was I set the poor little buggers down with the other plants, forgot to repot them last weekend, forgot they even existed. I barely remembered to water anyone last week, because it was so busy at work.
And now here they were, all sad and dried out, but still hanging on to life. I immediately found them a new pot, got them into it, gave the poor things water and access to the grow-light. They’re now sitting beside me, all sorts of happy, standing up and singing a little growgrowgrow song. Whew! Plant crisis averted.
And now, conscience clean, I can go on about the weekend. In other words, back to editing The Apex Mage.
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Ramblings about 3D stuff

3D, personal

I upgraded my computer recently. Yes, I know, I’ve told everybody in this world and three others about my new computer. That’s because I love it, and I’m proud as hell that I assembled the big beast without messing anything up. But I stuck my old drives in the new case, because there wasn’t anything wrong with them. And… about three weeks later, one of the big old monsters started groaning and complaining, acting like it was way too old to get up in the morning, and saying it wasn’t going to last much longer.

So I got a new drive. Took a chance this time on something new, which I usually don’t. I tend to wait for a new technology to be out in the world for a while before trying it, because it seems like tech companies are in such a rush to get something out there that they don’t neccessarily work out all the bugs first. But what the hell, life’s short. The drive I got is a hybrid between a normal drive and an SSD, called the Seagate Firecuda. And let me tell you, that thing is fast! I don’t regret trying something new this time, that’s for sure.

Which brings my rambling ass back around to the 3D stuff. Imagine that.

When I moved into the new system, it screwed up all my carefully sorted and organized 3D content. My categories didn’t work anymore, what with the new OS and the new SSD holding the new OS and having to re-install all my programs to work with the new OS and… You get the picture. I’d just barely begun getting the mountains of stuff organized when I had to put the new drive in, and move all my content. Again. Breaking all my categories. Again.

“Bugger” was the least of what I said, but I got everything onto the new drive.

I bought a product ages ago when it was on sale for about three bucks called Content Cataloger Easy. I wasn’t initially too impressed with it, because all it does is round up every thumbnail in the content directories and display each and every one of them. It makes a huge batch of images, stretching across many pages, without an easy way to navigate through the things. But I gave it another try out of sheer desperation. Yes, the thing is still a pain, with the endless scrolling through mountains of crap. But it’s also really nice, because it lays out pictures of everything, complete with the path to the whatever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run across something I forgot I had, or I forgot just how cool it was.

Which brings me to my other problem. Please, people, don’t let me buy any more content! Holy crap, I’ve got enough stuff cluttering up my hard drive to last three lifetimes! If you catch me hinting that I’m looking for more, then please kick me right in the butt. Hard. Because I’ve got plenty.

I blame Daz for that. 😉 They’re the ones that have had some amazing sales right when I’ve had some bucks to spend. And it’s also my boss’s fault, too, because she gave me a nice shiny bonus check that coincided with one of those good sales.

And now, having sufficiently bored people with my randomness, I’m going to get back to sorting my big pile of stuff. Let the agony of sorting be a lesson to me for the future, one all about exercising self-control and using the bonus check for real world things like food, or clothes, or even vehicle repairs.

A Random Memory

personal, Random

In case you don’t know this already, I love to bellydance. I’m out of practice now, because of that whole sick thing, but I’ll get back to it soon. Work’s far too crazy right now to allow much of anything.

Anyway, I was thinking today about my last public performance. I was up on stage, dancing with my veil. People were okay with it, but not going crazy or anything. The music changed, I let the second veil come out, the crowd went bonkers. Everyone loves double veil, after all.

And then…

One of my veils cut loose and fluttered down to the ground.

Super embarrassing! There I was, spinning like a crazy thing, wearing my “I’m performing” smile, with only one veil. Crappy. But I traveled towards it over three spins, then spun low and grabbed the sneaky bastard and got it going again. Decent enough recovery, but man, it sucked.

And you know what? Despite the embarrassment, I still love to dance. Maybe I’ll get back to performing again, maybe not, but either way I’m going to break those veils out again and let them fly.

That New Computer Thing

3D, Random

Previous babbling about the new computer is located here.

My computer bits arrived a couple weeks ago. They were promptly blessed by cat butts. And of course, they came in two orders, case first, then the rest days later.

In the middle of the week.

Sigh.

So there I was, with a fine collection of boxes. My kitten, Goon, decided to help me unpack.

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Then I got to look at my lovely pile of parts until the weekend rolled around. Note the presence of my kitten assistant.

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The processor, and AMD Ryzen 2700X, got special treatment. It got to sit on my desk, where I could look at it and touch it and take a picture of it that I could take to work with me. Yes, I am a weirdo, and I fell immediately in love with my beautiful processor.

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Pretty, ain’t it?

Eventually, the weekend arrived. I slammed a bunch of caffeine after work on Saturday and got busy, slowly and carefully. I’m both a wimp when it comes to screwing/unscrewing things (painful hands), and a klutz, so I was more than a bit terrified to work on this ferociously expensive pile of parts. I found a minor casualty of shipping: one of the supplemental fans had an owie. Shouldn’t make much difference, though, and certainly not bad enough to go through the hassle of returning it.

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Check out the fancy packaging on the power supply! It’s dressed better than I am.

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Naturally, I couldn’t get everything put together before I absolutely had to go to bed. It’s not easy working an eleven hour day, running errands, making dinner, then building a computer. I got most of it assembled, though.

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The next morning, I got up, finished assembling stuff, made all the power connections, and took some final pictures before plugging it in. Just in case it blew up, you know, I’d have visual proof that it had been pretty once.

And then the moment of  truth:

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There you have it, folks. Lots of pretty lights, and the beginning of the nightmare. It lit up. The fans came on. But nothing else happened!

I tried everything my nerdy brain could come up with to make the thing work. Long story short, I couldn’t do a damn bit of anything, because the processor was bad. That beautiful, precious processor, that I loved so much, was defective.

That sucks.

So back it went to Newegg, leaving me with a sad, partially built computer. One good thing happened. I was able to drop one of the new graphics cards, a Gigabyte GeForce 1080, into my old system. (I was so stressed that I didn’t realize at the time I could’ve shifted the old parts into the new case and run both new cards. Duh! But again, stress.) It worked great.

A word about graphics cards, this kind in particular. I’ve never had a problem with Gigabyte products, so that’s what I looked for. I originally wanted the 1070Ti, but when the 1080s went on sale cheap enough to knock the total price of the system down into the “possible” price range, I bought them without a second thought. More power, more CUDA cores, it’s all good, right? But then I read all the reviews, and saw all the bitching about how crappy and loud these particular cards are. Well, I can say for certain these Gigabyte cards are neither crappy nor loud. Okay, so they don’t light up. Big fat freakin’ deal! There are plenty of other shiny lights in my case, I don’t need the cards lit too. They function beautifully, and even under a full load, the noise just plain isn’t loud.

So anyway, I waited nervously for a week, checking the status of my return every few seconds. Yeah, I know, not helpful. It finally arrived at about 2pm on Monday, almost the end of my weekend.

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With many prayers to the computer gods, I reassembled my system, and…

It did the same fucking thing.

Power came on. Fans fired up, then wavered on-off-on-off. Angry red light on motherboard screaming processor problem!

Then the damn thing laughed at me, reset itself, and began to boot from the Windows disk in the DVD drive.

Whew! Talk about relief! I swear, I almost puked when I saw that glaring red light on the motherboard. But I finally got the dream computer together, running, all parts working together sweetly, and even all my drives communicating properly on the first try.

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Now it is sitting behind my monitors (have to stick it under the shelf to keep the kitten from using it as a springboard), quietly humming away. I’ve had a couple issues getting stuff to work right, but nothing major. I’ll be reorganizing all my 3D content and such for the next million years, and have yet to get my ancient Wacom tablet connected to the extremely modern motherboard, but it’ll happen. Someday. And until then, I’m enjoying the hell out of my lovely new system, and especially enjoying watching it render things incredibly fast.

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Doing the happy dance!

3D, Random

Okay, I understand about 99% of anybody, anywhere, is not likely to give a crap about computers, or building them, or anything I’m about to say. That’s cool. But I’ve got to say something about this, or I’ll pop wide open. So if you don’t care about fancy computers, you might want to go away now, ’cause that’s what I’ve got to talk about.

Quick background: I love computers. The one I’m using now is the first one I built all by myself from start to finish. I made it seven years ago, when I only occasionally messed with 3D art and was more into games and video editing. So I built it mainly for games (okay, Skyrim in particular) and video editing, figuring that anything that can handle those uses could make it in the 3D world as well. But it was only in the middle of the pack as far as fancy computers go, and I still drooled like crazy over the big, expensive, custom machines some people could put together.

Even more background: I’ve had financial issues off and on for years. One of the things I did to improve the current financial situation is get a Newegg store credit card to rebuild my credit. Yeah, that Newegg. The one that sells computer bits. The one that likes me enough that they kept increasing my credit limit to the point where I could buy a really sweet pile of parts and build a computer to make other people drool over.

And one more major background factor: I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that if I exercise some willpower and stop blowing my money on energy drinks, junk food, and even more Daz stuff that will join the huge pile of stuff I haven’t used yet, I can afford a pretty hefty payment on that Newegg credit card. It won’t be easy, because I really like energy drinks and junk food while I’m working, and I really really like new Daz toys, but I can do it.

I don’t desperately need a new computer. This one is still working just fine… for everything except 3D, which is something I do a lot of these days. And the poor thing just doesn’t have the power to keep up with certain advances in Daz Studio. Namely, dForce. I can get around the lag in big scenes with sneaky tricks. I can use other sneaky tricks to try and avoid crashing my video card with Iray renders. But I can’t do diddly shit about not having enough memory, or even processor power, to handle dForce. And it really annoys the hell out of me when I’m trying to do what I normally do and work on several different things at once, and my poor, abused system slows down to the point where I do far more swearing than anything else.

So I did a lot of research, and assembled three wishlists. One was a practical, affordable, yet powerful system. One was a slightly too expensive, really powerful, holy-crap-I desperately-want-it system. And one was ridiculously overpowered, insanely expensive, and somewhat scary system, involving liquid cooling. It would’ve satisfied every crazy computer daydream I’ve ever had. But I’ve heard of horrific liquid cooling failures, involving thousands of dollars of destroyed computer bits, and want to avoid liquid cooling if I can.

And yesterday, the holy-crap-I desperately-want-it system had enough parts go on sale to bring it down to twenty-six bucks more than the affordable system, so I did it. I ordered the bits for an awesome dream computer! I’ve no doubt it’ll be a colossal pain in the ass to pay for, but I don’t care. It will be awesome with 3D, and will laugh at games on their highest settings. And if I get back into video editing, it will breeze through everything from effects to rendering without hesitation. I am doing an epic happy dance.

I am also driving damn near anyone I talk to bonkers by babbling about my computer bits. They’re on their way here, you know. The case shipped separately, for whatever reason, and is in Commerce, CA right now. Which is moderately scary, because the last time I ordered something online and it shipped through California, it got burned up in a wildfire. Not cool. The rest of the bits were just picked up in Indianapolis, IN. It made me laugh that the bits went there. My truck came from there. I spent quite a bit of time there when I was a little kid. And if my dad became a ghost, he’s most likely haunting the racetrack there.

In case anyone is still reading and actually does give a crap about building computers, here’s some of the good stuff.

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X 8-core 3.7 GHz processor

Gigabyte X470 AORUS Ultra Gaming motherboard

Corsair Vengeance LPX 64 GB DDR4 RAM (yeah, baby! 64 freakin’ gigs!!!)

2 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 (only the 8GB version, but there’s TWO of the little bastards! No more overnight Iray renders!!!)

And there’s an SSD, and a cool case, and lots of fans, and a 1000 watt power supply… and none of it will get here in time for my four day weekend. Which sucks, but that’s the price one pays when one must wait on the Labor Day sales. So I’ll only have two days to build it and play with it. Who cares, it’s going to be mine for a very, very long time. My current computer lasted since 1/1/11, let’s see if this new, crazily overpowered critter can make it a full decade.

 

On Feedback

Random, Writing

I’m heading into the final stages of editing my overgrown story Firestorm, which means I’ve had someone read it and give feedback. This is an important process, I know. And it helps improve the final outcome, especially when one is self-publishing. Being a solitary writer can sometimes feel like shouting out into a vacuum, wondering if anyone will ever hear. At least that’s how it feels to me.

But this time the feedback made me realize it might be easier to go it alone sometimes. Wow. Made me feel like the shittiest writer ever, some of it, because I got the distinct impression that the reader wasn’t even reading my manuscript, but rather something completely different. Some of the comments had me going “Huh? What do you mean, being surprised by X? There was a whole friggin’ chapter about X earlier, how could it blindside you so bad?”

And yet, at the same time I want to forget all about other people’s opinions and just write for myself, I’m still happy I sent the sucker off to be picked on and misunderstood. Check it out. Every single time the person asked a clueless question, it pointed big shiny arrows at a flaw. Because if the area in question wasn’t boring or poorly written, then the person wouldn’t have asked questions about it. Right? Right. Plus, it made me think of something a friend said ages ago, about movie critics. Paraphrase: You don’t have to agree with the critic. If you know what they like or dislike, it can still give you a good idea if you’ll like the movie or not. So, and this is my interpretation now, if the critic hates lighthearted, silly space operas, but you love them, a bad review might be a nice indicator that you’ll love the movie. Especially if the critic rips on the character for wearing a spacesuit that looks like pajamas, but you love the cheesy pajama look on a bridge crew.

So I applied that manner of thinking to the feedback, and it helped a bit. What? You didn’t like that I left four millennia of history out of the action scene? I must have gotten the action right, ’cause I know you love slow, in-depth, detailed explorations of history. And you can’t figure out why a character would do something Not Nice? Awesome, I gave the character a flaw.

And yet, there’s that whole “shittiest writer ever” feeling… Argh. I’ll just keep telling myself it’s okay, the shittiest writer ever wouldn’t bother trying to find and fix the flaws.