Saturday, November 24, 2012

Playing with Blender Cycles render engine

So, I've played with Blender in the past, but having installed Ubuntu 12.10 and with Blender Cycles render around, I solved to give it a try again and see what could be done.

First the 12.10 repository doesn't have a Blender version with Cycles render, so you will have to manually install it from Blender website, fairly easy if you as me.

Installing CUDA to have GPU acceleration is quite a different matter, I leave that for other time, as Nvidia only supports/provides a version for 11.x Ubuntu...

After installing CUDA I found out that I wasn't entitled to GPU acceleration, my card is too old for that, following this thread you might get the idea:

But that doesn't prevent me from using Cycles, it is just a pain to render, but, the normal Blender Render engine is quite the same.

I started with a simple scene and quickly went to nodes to see what could be done...

... Looks nice doesn't it?

Aside from modeling some stuff, I tried more render features, textures and more stuff with nodes in a simple scene, It all went well till I added some extra stuff to the scene ... and then:

Those white dithering specks are due to the emission planes that are lighting the scene.... I have no idea how to prevent them, removing caustics had no effect :/

Maybe all that white in the background has something to do with it... but the artifact is there when it shouldn't, I noticed that the more sample rays I add the more likely it is to happen in the given scene (though they start to fill up as circles/blobs).

I could set more sample rays to reduce the dithering effect, but with 20 mins of rendering time that would be quite a longer wait.

Well, not that bad, but quite annoying... quite a pleasant surprise that I still knew my way around Blender.

I leave with a model of an Yordle (from League of Legends lore), no textures I'm afraid, I didn't have the time for that:

It is rigged with a simple skeleton, enough to make small animations :]

Friday, September 28, 2012

Laptop issues

So, even though my blog readers are close to none, I'm wondering if someone has an idea why my laptop (a rebadged MSI GX620) is having thermal issues:

Fan is working well
Heatsink is unclogged
Thermal plates/pipes are in place and driving the heat to the heat-sink
CPU is idling
GPU is idling
Currently I've underclocked the entire system to the maximum possible, CPU is running as a at 800Mhz (from 2.4GHz), GPU is running at 125Mhz/200Mhz/312Mhz (for Core, Memory and Shader clocks and from 500Mhz/800Mhz/1250Mhz)
Hardrive has power saving policies applied
Temperature is currently 43ºC for CPU, 41ºC for Hardrive and 54ºC for GPU...

GPU heat pipe passes through the CPU heat plate, then the 2 heat-pipes go into the heat-sink.

In the past I would have an hard time to make it go past 30ºC (basically it would require me to push everything to the max in a hot day of summer) and the top I've reached before was around 40ºC (with the heat-sink clogged and pushing it a bit) ... Recently it started doing this, where the temperature never goes under 40ºC and it reaches 70ºC if I set it to normal clock speeds (and just idle).

The heatsink is really hot and the fan is working properly, the air flow seems right as well, so I'm puzzled why it is doing this as it all seems to work as it should but it not near of what it was in the past, it is running way too hot to be safe, if I push it, graphics card will probably reach the shutdown temperature (105ºC) before CPU reaching the thermal shutdown, I really don't want to try it...

I've tried to use a cooling station base, it has no effect whatsoever, ironically having it on the bed seems to be as effective as having it on the cooling station...

Oh well... soon I'll have no need for a laptop, so it really doesn't matter, though it is puzzling why this is happening...

 To further test my system I ran stress tests on my system, it is holding under 75ºC for CPU and 85ºC for GPU, my guess is that the thermal grease as lost some of its conductivity, if I overclock my GPU to (700Mhz/800Mhz/1600Mhz - crazy improvement, but very stable) it never goes past 85ºC under heavy load.

I'm not that worried as it seems the cooling system is still working fine, just the efficiency got reduced with the age. I won't need a new laptop, nor I'll be selling this one.

If you're looking for a new laptop the old Asus N53 with a quad core i7 CPU, full HD matte (high brightness, contrast and color reproduction) and another remarkable points is being sold for 700€ (but it is very hard to find on stores), above that, with a faster CPU/RAM/GPU configuration, the latest model, the Asus N56VM is available for 800~850€ (a bit more if you want retro-illuminated keyboard, bluetooth, hybrid hardrive or some extra RAM), add a bit more (+50~100€) and N56VZ has some extra GPU power on it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

FZ200 - The F2.8 bridge camera

Just a quick note, Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is an impressive camera on paper. I wonder how well it will fare in practice.

The f/2.8 lens allow the use of a huge aperture at the end of the telephoto, this is great to blur the background/foreground and to avoid the use of high ISO, thus increasing the delivered quality in the photos.

Usually Lumix cameras are quick in operation, but their sensors could fare somewhat better. FZ150 did an excellent job for what it was.

So, with all this in mind I searched for some samples online, and found a few, sadly most are low resolution or/and pre-production samples, thus making it hard to assert a conclusion over this unique camera.

The best samples I found were in,1_8941

They are the best samples simply because they are RAW files, they don't display the performance over the entire ISO range nor zoom range, but they already gave me an idea of what the camera is capable.

The good thing on the camera (aside from the f/2.8 available through the entire zoom range) is that lens sharpness seems to be very good in center, with some variations in the edges and corners. At its worse the sharpness in the corners is tolerable and quite acceptable for such specs. Same thing goes for chromatic aberrations, even though they are a bit on the high side in some situations.

The bad thing is.... Noise and dynamic range, not that much of a surprise, but at ISO 100 it is just plain bad to have that much noise. Dynamic range is bad, but tolerable, shooting in high dynamic range setups would result in blown skies far too easily though.

You can see the converted RAW files here:

So ... what that leaves me with? A camera that is not that good, but packing some very nice specs. In the end is not the camera that will mark the difference, even though the f/2.8 lens are unique to it. Price will be scary at the release, but will get down to tolerable values in 3~6 months after the release.

Given the compact design of such lens, one can hope that a f/2.8 12x can be made with roughly the same size, while sporting a bigger and better sensor on the back.

And as an end note, LX7 samples that I found were quite impressive (specially when compared with the FZ200 ones)

Oh well, micro four thirds still has a huge distance over the compact realm ... specially with the new G5 and E-M5 cameras... as for me, the old GH1 will fit the bill till it is rotten.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chrome Extensions: v2

So .... Google Chrome Extensions will soon require version 2 of manifest files and respective implementation.

I have my fairly complex Chrome Extension that makes use of several experimental/brand new HTML 5 technologies/tools: Drag&Drop, File API, Indexed DB, Canvas, etc...

Usually I keep an eye on the upcoming updates by having Chromium channel installed together with the stable Chrome release. I have this because certain implementations (ex: File API) are based on a draft spec, thus having the time to fix anything that might be modified before hit the stable release.

The last Chromium update caught me by surprise, I was expecting something to be broken as usual, I was not expecting that the manifest and some required implementations would be changed...

I find this gif to accurately express my face when I start reading the change log. I understand why they changed most of the stuff the way they did, but it has that feelling of "You must be joking" when I look at it...

Luckily for me, most of the stuff I did is compatible with the update, requiring just some touches in manifest file to make it work, though, those popup and options pages will suffer quite a few changes that make me shiver at the though of what I have to change and what else can get broken by it...

Even if I have no readers on my blog, if you made a Google Chrome Extension (or use one that might not have the best update support), take note:
Look closely at that schedule support...

Good luck and happy coding :]

Friday, April 20, 2012

HTML5 stuff

I've been playing with HTML5 APIs for quite some time (not exactly playing, but the blog is neglected as usual). In my Javascript code junkyard folder on the 0nyx server you can play with it and check the source if needed:

Take in mind that Drag and Drop API is divided into 2 different APIs ... the 'old' one and the 'new' one, my sample tries to support both to a certain extent... oh ... and you can drag and drop files ... the content of them is shown in base64 data url.... quite useful to convert icons and small images to base64, not that good to check that 64MB video file you have there...

Have fun and hope it is useful