lighbulb

Maya 2016: Glowing LED Lightbulb

Let’s have a quick updated look on how you can utilize the new Mental Ray “object_light” Material to create a realistic looking light-bulb. Essentially this material lets you create Area Lights in any shape or form you can imagine.

Modelling the Lightbulb

  1. Create > Bezier Curve2015-05-11 21_38_02-Autodesk Maya 2016_ untitled_
  2. (Surfaces) Surfaces > Revolve (Output: Polygons, General, Quads) U Type Per Span #of Isoparms, V Type: Per Span # of Isoparms, V Number: 3. Adjust the U Number to a Value of 3-6 (or Higher depending on your lamp Curve.
  3. In the “Faces Mode” select the “Glass” and use “Extract Faces” to seperate the glass from the metallic screw2015-05-11 21_45_50-

Light Material

  1. Assign a new Material, select Mental Ray material and use the material “object-light”
  2. Now we either can plug in a different Mental Ray Light (like a blackbody) or we can simply adjust the Intensity to 1000

(for the metal Material I am simply using a default blinn)

 

 

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The Noun Project - Discount Rohan Gupta https://thenounproject.com/icon/12281/

How to get the best deal on Steam

In the next couple of days the big holiday sale is going to start. It is going to have daily deals, flash deals, catalog sales, last day sales etc. All sales have hefty rebates of up to -50% to -90% on some titles. But having so many different types of deals it is really difficult to figure out if you are really getting the game at the cheapest price.

The Cynical Brit (Total Biscuit) System

Total Biscuit usually makes interesting First Impression videos of games. (Check out his Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy1Ms_5qBTawC-k7PVjHXKQ)

During the Steamsale he has a Steambox series presenting the best deals and he developed a system to get the best deals

Source: http://www.cavestory.org/forums/index.php?/topic/5064-steam-summer-sale-2013/page-2
Source: http://www.cavestory.org/forums/index.php?/topic/5064-steam-summer-sale-2013/page-2

Well that looks and sounds good. However how can you verify that this system works? And it looks rather complicated – is there a better way to determine if it is really the best deal?

Steam Prices

This site tracks the prices of games in all regions and highlights that living in Europe you usually pay a lot more than in other regions. Besides that you can see historical prices for the products.

And yes in many cases the total buiscuit system checks out. There are exceptions like “Starwars” on “May the 4th” is cheaper then at any other time of the year.

https://www.steamprices.com/

The Alternative: Bundles

You can not only buy games directly in the Steam Store, there are other sites like Humblebundle.com that allow you to buy bundles of games for “pay what you want” (supports charities etc.)

2014-12-14 15_32_56-IsThereAnyDeal.com

While the humblebundle is the most famous very many alternatives have popped up over time. To figure out what bundles are currently available simply go to: http://isthereanydeal.com/

Enhanced Steam (Browser Plugin)

However using Steam Prices is a hassle, you need to look at the game at steam, go to Steam Prices enter the game again, look if it’s a good deal etc.

The Enhanced Steam Plugin, simply adds various information to the steam website, like “Historical” Low Prices and where you can get at this moment the best deal. It retrieves its data not only from steamprices, but also from various alternative Websites like the humble store, gog, etc.

"Enhanced" Wishlist
“Enhanced” Wishlist

 

The only downside of the plugin is that it cannot be integrated directly into the steam client.

http://www.enhancedsteam.com/

 

Conclusion

Simply use the enhanced Steam plugin for the most efficient way of figuring out if you are in fact getting the best deal at the moment. If you can wait, apply additionally the “Total Biscuit”-method.

Image-Source: The Noun Project – Discount Rohan Gupta https://thenounproject.com/icon/12281/

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BlackViperServiceConfig

Tweak Windows Services Configuration (BlackViper Settings)

Configuring Windows services is tricky. If you do the wrong things your system will behave really strange, programs will stop working etc. However if you are desperate (you cannot upgrade your ram but you want to squeeze the last MB out of your existing) or a gamer that wants the speediest lighting fast machine (well most games will not benefit from your over optimization of your rig) or in my case want the maximum amount of ram available for rendering – go right ahead.
Fortunately other smart people have already played around and tweaked the Windows Services Configuration. Especially BlackViper provides on his website a complete guide on what you can turn off or keep without destroying your system.

http://www.blackviper.com/service-configurations/

While this table is very interesting, it is not very useful, because who has the time to manually configure every single service via services.msc?

Here is a quick python script to convert the table (using the copy to clipboard feature) into a working PowerShell script:

copy and paste the tap separated table in a text-file and execute following code:

filename = "Win7SP1.txt"
with open(filename) as f:
  lis = [x.split("\t") for x in f]

info = [line for line in zip(*lis)]

for line in info[2:]:
    fileOutName = "%s - %s.ps1" % (filename.split(".")[0], line[0].replace("\n", ""))
    scriptOut = open(fileOutName, "w")
    for regEntry, mode in zip(info[1][1:], line[1:]):
        if mode.startswith("Manual"):
            mode = "Manual"
        if mode.startswith("Not Installed"):
            continue
        if mode.startswith("Automatic"):
            mode = "Automatic"
        if mode.startswith("Disabled"):
            mode = "Disabled"
        if mode.startswith("Uninstalled"):
            continue

        out = 'Set-Service "%s" -StartupType %s \n' % (regEntry, mode)
        scriptOut.write(out)
    scriptOut.close()

You can download the resulting Powershell Scripts here:  Win7SP1 – BlackViperPowerShell

Note: When executing the script Errors might appear for services that are not installed on your system, these can be ignored

But does it actually work?

To answer that question I installed Win 7SP1 on a VirtualBox.

The initial base Installation was running 39Processes for all Users and was using 600MB Ram. After applying the “Safe Configuration” the system only was running 29 Processes and using 500MB.

You probably are better off upgrading your ram in the long term, however it is a small drop in the bucket for getting the absolute maximum performance out of your PC, without sacrificing functionality.

Image:

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A pile of random stuff

Create a pile up stuff using nParticles

PileOfStuff

This technique is a very quick and dirty approach to creating a pile of stuff. The downside using this technique is due to the fact that particles are generally round and usually stuff is not round, causing segments of your geometry to intersect with other objects.

First you need to set  up an nParticle emitter: In the nDynamics Menu select nParticles > Create nParticles > Create Emitter

2014-11-13 22_15_49-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled

Configure the “Emmiter1″ – TranslateY = 9, Rate(Particles/Sec) 20

2014-11-13 22_17_21-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled_   ---   emitter1

Configure the nParticle (“nParticleShape1″) Shape – Self Collide = true, Stickiness = 1.0, Ignore Solver Gravity = false

2014-11-13 22_18_23-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled_   ---   emitter1You could set up some sort of ground plane as collider, or simpler just activate the ground plane in “nucleus1″. This will create an invisible plane to collide with the particles. – UsePlane = true

2014-11-13 22_18_43-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled_   ---   emitter1Set the Playback Range to 1-500 and view how the Particles are piling up. Adjust the particle & emitter settings to fit your needs.

2014-11-13 22_29_00-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled_Select the particles and all the objects you want to use as geometry replacement for the particles. nParticles > Instancer (Replacement)

2014-11-13 22_30_15-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled_   ---   nParticle1...Now all the Particles should look like the first object in you selected. (in my case spheres)

2014-11-13 22_39_01-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled_   ---   nParticle1...That is not really what we want – so let’s fix that. Select the Particles again go to Add Dynamic Attributes and click the General Button.

In the Add Attribute dialog enter for the Long name = objIndex PP, enable Per particle(array) and click Ok

2014-11-13 22_39_45-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled_   ---   nParticle1...Back in the ParticlesShape Node open “Per Particle (Array) Attributes” rightclick on “Obj Index PP” create Expression (Number 3 = Amount of objects in the instancer -1):

objIndexPP = rand(0,3)

2014-11-13 22_41_55-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled_   ---   nParticle1...Back in the Attribute Editor go to Instancer(Geometry Replacement) > General Options > Object Index select ObjIndex PP

2014-11-13 22_42_19-Autodesk Maya 2015_ untitled_   ---   nParticle1...Restart the playback to refresh all particles.

(Optional) In the “nParticleShape” you could enable Rotation by enabling in the Attribute editor Rotation : Compute Rotation.

2014-11-13 22_57_53-Autodesk Maya 2015_ C__Users_Darkborg_Documents_maya_projects_default_scenes_Tem

Go to Instancer(Geometry Replacement) > Rotation Options > Rotation and select rotationPP2014-11-13 23_43_13-Autodesk Maya 2015_ C__Users_Darkborg_Documents_maya_projects_default_scenes_Tem

 

You can modify and place your initial geometry on its own layer and hide that. (Especially if your objects appear to big, you could scale them down etc.)

 

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Idea for Visualizing the Design Process

Visualizing the Design Process

I checked out the DelftX Course Delft Design Approach. The first assignment was to think about the design process and create a visualization.

For my (ideal) design process you need four steps

1. Raw Materials (Research, Skills, Past Projects)

2. Create variations of the Product (Sketches)

3. Create the Product

4. Refine the Product and thus becoming again a potential raw material for another product

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edxTux

EdX: Introduction to Linux

edxTuxI recently completed the course “Introduction to Linux” by the Linux Foundation on the edX Platform. Instead of paying 2500USD for the course you now can pay 250USD for a verified certificate, or simply get an honor certificate.

https://www.edx.org/course/linuxfoundationx/linuxfoundationx-lfs101x-introduction-1621#.U-YKjfmSyyY

Course Structure

The course is self-paced, you can take the exam anytime and at the end of the month the certificate is going to be issued.

Course Materials

Unlike other edX courses most of the materials are short articles covering the core topics. There are short videos, however they are mostly useless.

Learning Objectives

Sadly the first couple of Lessons are more like Advertisements that Linux is great and that Linux is used everywhere and being able to use Linux is an important skill.

The rest of the course covers the basic operations when interacting with a Linux system.

The course briefly takes a look at the graphical interfaces of three major Linux distributions Ubuntu, CentOS and openSUSE.

As expected most of the course covers how to interact with the Console covers the basic interaction with the console, file operations, security principles, text manipulation and concluding with bash scripting.

Final Exam

The final exam is a 30 question multiple choice test. Sadly some questions are easier to be answered using Google than the actual course material.

People with an basic understanding of Linux could just skip the entire course and just take the exam. It’s rather straightforward.

Conclusion

The course is a great introduction to the Linux System. The course is designed for IT-Specialists (Programmers, Web-Developers, and Administrators etc.) that have not worked with Linux and need a quick introduction how to work with the system.

Sadly with the emphasis on using the console most users interested in using Linux as alternative to Windows/OSX will simply say “Oh god, what a hassle, I’ll stick to my current system.”

Note: Most users interacting with a computer are not aware that it is possible to interact with a computer without GUI, telling those users that sometimes you simply do not have a GUI confuses them. Most of the success of Linux as core of Android is the GUI and that users have a simple way installing programs and are not able to access any console / text only mode.

 

 

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