Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Open-source penguins, food mixers, and anime - Long post ahead!

Yep, I'm still around, still geeky, still stuck on my Audi project.

I've been slowly chipping away at the interior models, but it's proving to be rather difficult - not to mention I seem to be going through a creativity drought, and my life's been a bit hectic over the last few weeks.
As a heads-up, I also have a post about a recently completed project coming up, so keep your eyes peeled.

Anyway, on to those open-source penguins.  In other words, Linux.  I've now spent the better part of today configuring my desktop's Linux Mint 13 installation, which I had been putting off for several weeks.  In case you're wondering (or if you're forgetful, since I've posted about this before), my desktop is a Gateway with a quad-core Intel i5-2320 at 3.0GHz, 6GB of RAM, and a EVGA nVidia GeForce GTX 560TI SC GPU.
The fun part when installing Linux is that most of the time it can't use the GPU in your system when still "out-of-the-box".  You have to install the drivers for it, since Linux doesn't generally seem to be as plug-and-play as Windows 7 (which I love), which is both a pro and a con in my opinion.  The problem then becomes actually getting to the desktop interface, which is made tricky by the afore-mentioned lack of display drivers.

That of course means that even the LiveDVD versions have trouble booting up properly, which is always fun.  So in order to get around that, you have to first get to the Grub loader screen and modify the parameters for the Linux booting process.  For nVidia GPUs, there's a specific change that needs to be made which, unless you edit the grub.cfg file itself, is temporary and resets itself when you reboot.  I have no idea if this works with most common Linux distros like Ubuntu and so on, so if you're having trouble booting a Linux LiveCD/DVD or getting a newly-installed GPU working I'd recommend finding the right set of instructions for your Linux distro :)

My process, however, is as follows: when you get to the grub loader, press E over the desired option, which then brings up details concerning that particular boot process' instructions.  You should see a long line of instructions about two-thirds of the way down, which should end in the words "quiet splash", or at least have those words near the end of the string.  For an nVidia GPU (whether that's a GeForce 6200, which I had to deal with a few days ago, or a GTX560Ti, which is in my desktop) you have to change that "quiet splash" to "noacpi noapic nomodeset", which basically tells Linux to boot up without all the fancy GPU processes that require drivers.

To avoid changing that "quiet splash" every time you try to boot up, install the necessary drivers (community-compiled or official proprietary versions, as long as it's recent) to run your GPU.  If you're running Linux Mint (like I am on both my laptop and desktop) then you'll probably find those drivers in Additional Drivers, which in MATE/Cinnamon is under the Preferences menu.  I don't know for XFCE and KDE, as I haven't used either of them long enough to really become familiar with the menus (especially KDE, which I find as annoying as Ubuntu's Unity environment).

If everything works as it should, you should be able to use that awesome graphics-dedicated hardware in Linux from now on :D  Depending on the situation it an get a bit more complicated than the basics I outlined above, but as long as you have an extra computer to use/borrow with an internet connection, you should be able to find the info you need.

A quick post about 2 hours ago on my Facebook (yes, I'm on Facebook now):

Now enough about Linux.  I have to post about it again soon anyway (that recently completed project I mentioned) so I have to save up some motivation to write about it ;)


As for Blender, this is going to be short.  I've been fighting with Part 2 of my Audi A5 project (which I talked about in the last blog post), mostly the interior modelling.  It's a whole different ball game compared to modelling the exterior and body panels, since most of the objects and structures on the inside of a car are designed to be ergonomic, therefore they're more like organic modelling, which truth-be-told I've only done once, and that was four years ago, back when I started using Blender.  I'm slowly chipping away at it however, and I'm making some progress.  I'm pretty happy with the level of detail I've achieved so far as well:

There's still quite a bit left to do, however.

On the subject of anime, I've watched two new series and finished half of another, two of which have both claimed the top spot in my favourites list.
...actually, now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever mentioned anime on my blog before.  I'll post a list of the ones I've seen so far a bit later.


Anyway, in the last two months I've watched both seasons of K-On! and the 13-episode series Angel Beats!, and the first half of sci-fi series Steins;Gate.  The last two are those top-favourite-position-snatching culprits.
But first, K-On! - quick summary, four high-school girls get together and form a band in their school's Light Music Club (I have no idea what the Canadian or American equivalent of that is).  After several episodes a fifth girl joins them as a second guitarist.  Now, I've read a couple of reviews of the series, and both differ in their overall opinions of the show.  One of the negative comments I've read about the series is that for a show that is supposedly about a band and their music, there's not a lot of music going on, and the live shows the characters play throughout the two seasons are few and too far between.  According to that review the show also tries too hard to be "cute" and that the characters are rather generic, which when looking back I guess is true in some instances.

As for my own opinion, the show has gone into my favourites list.  I agree that the music isn't really centre-stage, if you'll pardon the pun, but the way I see it the show is less about the music those five girls play (under the band-name After-School Tea Time - I actually listen too all "their" songs regularly), and more about the girls themselves and their relationship, and the (often-times silly) obstacles they face.  In fact, if I remember correctly some of the genres this anime falls under are "comedy" and "slice-of-life", which in my experience is always rather laid-back and silly.
Anyway, as for the main characters (Yui Hirasawa - guitarist, Mio Akiyama - bass, Ritsu Tainaka - drums, Tsumugi Kotobuki - synthesiser/keyboard, and Azusa Nakano - second guitar), you do actually see them evolve over the series, so the "generic" comment doesn't really hold much water in my opinion.
The "last" episode of season 2 did leave me a bit sad since it was the end of the series (I always get that when I finish a series, whatever it is) - that is, until I watched the 4 bonus episodes, which then reminded me that the K-On! movie is supposed to be in the dubbing process.  The film takes place in England, which should be quite interesting - Mio (the bassist) mentions it being sort-of the birthplace of Rock or Rock-and-Roll, I can't remember which, so I'm curious to see how many Beatles references they'll have slipped in ;)


Anyway, now for Angel Beats! (a top favourite) - reviews have either said that the pacing is uneven and falls a bit flat, or that it's one of the best they've seen.  I of course agree with the latter, but now that I've written a rather lengthy section on K-On! I'm having trouble finding the energy to write about this one ;)
Quick summary - the show opens when a guy wakes up on the ground, at a strange highschool.  No idea where he is, but he doesn't have much time to ask himself before coming face-to-face with a girl in a school uniform.  Thing is she's holding a sniper rifle and aiming at another girl further away (nicknamed Angel - also my favourite character, actually), and then she tells him that he is, in fact, dead.  They all are, and they're stuck in a "purgatory" of sorts and can't move on.  Or, in the girl's case, refuse to because of unresolved issues from their previous life.
Think of it as a cross between Defending Your Life (you know, with Albert Brooks), the last few episodes of JJ Abrams' LOST, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.  In fact, the sniper-girl (called Yuri) looks a lot like Haruhi Suzumiya herself, albeit a more focused and serious Haruhi, not to mention tortured by her past.  I should do a post about the Haruhi series someday, now that I mention it.

Anyway, before I give away too much about the show (quite easy to give away spoilers with this one, considering it's only 13 episodes long), there's one more thing I'd like to mention - much like K-On! and Haruhi, there's a all-girl band involved yet again, and their songs have also found their way into my VLC playlists :D  The style would be closer to Haruhi's ENOZ (apparently rock) with a bit of K-On!'s HTT (apparently pop) mixed in, but the sound is also quite different, especially with the "original" singer Iwasawa (the quotes are because let's not forget that these bands are fictional).  Either way I really like it, more so than ENOZ or HTT.  Here's a favourite of mine, Alchemy (with Iwasawa):

And no, with both After-School Tea Time and Girls Dead Monster, I have no idea what they're singing about, as I don't speak Japanese :P


As for Steins;Gate, I've only watched the first half, since the other half will be released this December.

So this sci-fi anime delves into time-travel by what is probably the strangest method I've seen yet - microwaved bananas.  Yes, I'm serious.  And the bananas go all green and gross, so they won't be using them for banana loaf if that's what you're worried about.
There's also a direct reference to the Doctor Who series in the second episode (the girl mentions bouncing through time in a blue police box), which of course adds to the awesomeness of the series, even if it's only the one mention.  In any case,  the build-up in the first 12 episodes is slow enough, yet intriguing enough, that the half-season "finale" catches you off-guard completely.  At least, it caught me off-guard.
Also, the trailers for Part 2 that dubbing/media company Funimation have been releasing on YouTube actually give me goosebumps - the show changes pace completely, taking a much darker and serious tone which I'm positive will be, for lack of a better set of words, seriously freakin'-awesomely epic.  In fact I'm looking forward to those twelve episodes more than I'm looking forward to watching the 24-episode-long Seasons 2 and 3 of Shakugan no Shana.


So, that's pretty much all I can think of at the moment.  Like I mentioned waaay up top, I also have another post planned concerning a recently-completed project, which I'll be posting about soon.

See you later, and Blend On!

EDIT - I just realized I forgot to include that list of anime I mentioned earlier.  They are as follows (chronologically):

-  Nyoron-Churuya
-  The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya
-  The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Season 1 (the actual series this time)
-  The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Season 2 (proud two-time Endless Eight survivor!)
-  Lucky Star
-  Shakugan no Shana Season 1
-  K-On!
-  K-On!! (season 2)
-  Angel Beats!
-  Steins;Gate (part 1)

I've got quite a few others on my to-watch list  /nod

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