just another web log
28 Nov 2003 13:08 -- no distributed network project statistics for the mo
Just finished reading "Closing Time" by Joseph Heller which is the sequel to "Catch-22" which I found very funny and original. However this sequel is much harder to read and although some parts are funny and well written others are just a hard slog most of the book being rather depressing look at the later years of life. Still one good thing about this sort of original and unorthodox writing is it is total unpredictable unlike some of the "for American audiences" stories/books/films we seem to be deluged with.
If you are a hard core Heller fan it is worth reading otherwise I would have to warn casual readers to avoid this ...
This is one of the first backgrounds I created in blender, but is cam out rather simple and I decided not to use it (on my boring 1280x960 windows screen at work.
basic 3d back ground
This is a bit more interesting than it first appears. Blender had no focusing to speak of, so everything is in focus, on way round this is to play with the motion blur and camera positions.
Instead I rendered this in full focus and then duplicate the bitmap image in GIMP blurring one layer heavily on not so much and one hardly at all. Then ate away using the eraser tool to the layers underneath leaving the edges looking very blurred moving into the sharp focused centre, very pleasing but not my current desktop.
GIMP filtered blurring
This is my current desktop, I was just playing with the volumetric lighting in blender and then added a few more lights and the grid at the top, set the render to o "toon edges" and this is the result simple yet very aesthetic.
volumetric lighting with toon edges
I am still working on my next double width render, about half is done ... watch this space ....

26 Nov 2003 20:39 -- no distributed network project statistics for the mo
Here is my current background created with blender and lens flare by Gimp, I also have the same image with an alien color map as the KDM login screen background.
widescreen backdrop
I am working on replacing it as it is old and has a few bugs, the domes do not have a high enough resolution and 'kinks' are visible.
Here is an action shot showing me working on the heartbeat code, GKrellM is on the right, XMMS on the left with GIMP providing the screen shot.
widescreen screen shot

25 Nov 2003 21:30 -- no distributed network project statistics for the mo
My tests were on an old p200 with a extra parallel port so if I blew it up I could replace it easily (instead of the whole motherboard).
Connected it to the Linux machine and with a few lines of C code turned on all the LEDs, 20 mins later and I had the green LEDs working independently and the segments cycling round at a nice rate.
Now I just need to link it all up to the CPU.
here is a short anim
animated LED demo

23 Nov 2003 17:09 -- no distributed network project statistics for the mo
Just finished testing my "Heart Beat" mod, worked perfectly :)
But (and there is always a but) the cable (always blame the cable) is a bit ridged and flick the device on to the floor twice and now one of the nice LEDs has lost its nice bit :(
What is the "Heart Beat" mod, I hear you ask simpley put it is eight LEDs run off the eight data (output) lines on a standard parallel port.
But six of the LEDs are segments of an red eight segment display and the other two are linked to two green LEDs mounted on an old circuit board that I have had for years. One was a down arrow (it the arrow snapped off) and the other a nice up arrow.
Now I just need to write the software, the software will turn on/off the six segments (that combine to make a loop) in order and at a speed that matches the CPU load.
Faster means higher load, the up and down LEDs will be updated much less frequently to show an average UP or down trend in the CPU load.
Pics soon.

18 Nov 2003 21:05 -- no distributed network project statistics for the mo
Right, got a nice eight segment display from maplin (this time with a common cathode) and wired it up to my hacked parallel cable and it worked !!!
But I can not rejoice yet, the LED segments were very bright and the unit got HOT ! Time for some resistors !
Oh and I must impart some soldering knowledge that the monkey drummer gave me, solder each component fist and the just touch them together with the iron, works a treat !
I also must note that I thought my Nvidia problems were over but after 9 days it crashed/hung again :( so I have turned off AGP completely !
to must have program I have come across GKrellm (a very versatile system monitor with plug-ins) and colortail that is tail in color, very cool, expect screen shoots soon.

15 Nov 2003 16:33 -- no distributed network project statistics for the mo
Oh and I have not been updating my web pages yet with the new email address system :(
Nor have I had much success installing KDE3.2 which lots of things I have been trying to use need :(

15 Nov 2003 16:32 -- no distributed network project statistics for the mo
Its excuse time again, one of which has to be I hate have to start this log with an excuse, but I have a few so I might as well give them.
I was in Corfu for a (wet/cold) week, waiting for broadband and then the main issue has been the Nvidia GFX card and Linux.
Broadband is a bust ! BT have got the requisite number of customers per area but will not do the install until Feb4 2004 !!
I mentioned before that the Nvidia GFX card was giving me some instability problems well I have been following a number of threads at Nvidia's Linux forum and noticed something specific to my motherboard (KT-133A chip-set). I disabled the AGP4 in the BIOS and the card has been perfectly stable running for the last 200 hours and I can not see any speed drop, oh, and I had to use the Nvidia AGP linux drive NOT AGPGART. The only way I found to stop agpgart.o from loading was to rename it to agpgart.old.
Being on holiday etc has given me time to read a number of books but before I review them, I just want to note I have been avoiding using my keyboard as the 'O' and 'P' keys were not functioning very well since I put in the neon string. Popped them off and added some rubber and now the work better than ever and feel nicer than the rest of the keys ;)
I saw the interesting cover of "the collapse of chaos" by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart and just knew it was for me. I was supposed to find the book was a reprint from 1995 but it was still very interesting. The first half of the book is a look at science , complex and simple systems and what we interpret into the fact that often simplicities come form complexities and complexities come from simplicities. In the second half of the book they look and trying to think about how these thing could actually be much more (or less) than we commonly believe. The first half of the book is very well written and easy to read and enjoy the second half is very intriguing but quite a hard struggle to read as some arguments are recursive and confusing.
Next up was a classic Holiday book "The Rottweiler" by Ruth Rendell. A rather classic and semi predictable murder thriller, but well written and very easy to lose and afternoon in. One criticism would be the over use of ethnic minorities, it was almost as if someone had complained that author was being forced to change the story. Good read though.
Last but not least is one of the best books I have read all year, "Bodies" by Jed Mercurio. I can not tell you what made me choose to pick this up as it is about medical dramas but it is raw, powerful and funny, clever and sad at the same time. I rarely read a book that has the power to make me laugh and cry. It is about a medical student and how hospital changes him and everyone around him, the death the hopelessness. A must read for prospective health workers, doctors, nurses etc, but beware this is not a glowing story of heroism in a well light hospital this raw tooth and nail stuff.
In other news I was trying to build a parallel port project just to light up some LEDs but I got in a mix up and now need a common Cathode not a common Anode, oh well, I will keep you posted.
Finally, I still can not get my CD-ROM drive to work automatically in Linux I must insmod ide-scsi every reboot, and also hdparm -d1 /dev/hdc to turn on DMA of the CD-ROM drive so I can watch DVD movies a full screen/speed.



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