Action Pants

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That’s right. To test the new laptop, I strung together some clips and added a soundtrack by The Shamblers.

Action Pants Rough (The Shamblers) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Python and laptops

lenovo-thinkpad-twist-press2_1020_verge_super_wideFunny how ones views change over time. Once I liked having a big-ass desktop replacement, in order to do previs work on set (and play an hour or two of Eve Online). Then it became more about portability than power, a 8 inch ultra-light to do web page updates from SIGGRAPH. Now it is all about code. So, typing.

What a selection to choose from! Despite this, there was not one perfect match for my wants. Keyboard, it became all about finding the perfect one. Most did not have the tactile response. Most did not have full sized shift keys. Some had problems with linux installations (boo!). Windows 8 was kinda dumb without a touchscreen. Touchscreens are kinda dumb unless on a tablet or convertible

Something had to give. Could I live without discreet graphics in order to get a decent keyboard? Did I have a choice? Not really. Not and compromise elsewhere on my wishlist. Enter the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist (review on Notebookcheck).

The trackpad is crap. Battery life middling and the unit is overall a bit on the fugly side. The hard drive it came with was slow and quickly replaced with a fast SSD which transformed performance. But it has the best keyboard I laid my fingers on in weeks of testing lightweight laptops. By far. Some Haswell-based unit will come out next week that trumps it, but I think I will be happy for a couple of years.


Particle Fun

Particle sillyness…


They’re at it again. This time Scarlet’s making it sound serious!


Just as I was (thinking about) getting serious about learning Houdini, the company that makes it started a contest. A “Cookoff” where you could produce up to 30 seconds of animation on a food related theme. ¬†Here’s when I ended up:

Am I happy with the result? No. I spent far too much time getting over Houdini’s learning curve, tracking down technical issues and render glitches (some of which are still in there). Almost all artistic concerns went out the window with the effort it took to just finish what’s there.

Next time should be easier, now that I’m over the initial curve. And I have to say it was a good crash course on the overall application. But ouch!

A shout out to Sam (IHoudini) Hancock, P. Quint, CMIVFX, Digital Tutors, P. Bomar, Paul Debevec and the Houdini online community for sharing their brains with me.¬† Seeing as how I learned most of this from them, in a way, this is mostly theirs. Not that they’d, umm, want it or anything :-)


The Bikes

In response to a couple of queries; I have two Moto Guzzi’s. A 2009 Stelvio and a 1975 850-T:

A 2009 Moto Guzzi Stelvio traveling Vancouver Island

Moto Guzzi 850-T, after my first ride.


Road Trip

Took a couple of days and travelled to the top of Vancouver Island from Vancouver. A nice ride to Port Hardy. Here is a video of the road from Port Alice to the highway. Rain and some slippery leaves made for a sedate ride….


Not the most exciting of days, managed to get Banshee installed and my music library copied to the NAS. I’ll go crazy unless I have a bit of music playing while I work. Banshee is pretty nice, Ladytron is sounding good. Though after a bit of exploration, I’ve decided to move to OGG Vorbis format for my future encoding. MP3 playback isn’t really “free” and seeing as I’m playing in linux-land now, I might as well move to another well supported format (it seems the default for many applications). Quality is supposed to be better as well. We’ll see.

Snagged a copy of an app called Grsync, a graphical front-end to rsync, a (funnily enough), file synchronization application. Easy to use and once I allowed it to run as root, it could backup everything nicely. And quickly, wow.

The bulk of the day was replacing my disc imaging application. dd was proving a bit arcane, partimage doesn’t support the ext4 filesystem, so I created a bootable USB key to launch Clonezilla. Easy to navigate and I simply backed up my entire 120 gig SSD (Windows7/Fedora dual boot) in one go. While Macrium Reflect has been serving me well at home, I might consider moving to Clonezilla wholesale.

Now to pick up the lapdog and go off to a vendor demonstration (Nuke and Mari).


Hooking Up a NAS

So I’ve decided to make a short. A short-short to be precise. Under 30 seconds.

Mainly because it’s all great to be boning up on Linux and Houdini but it doesn’t mean much unless it’s put into action. Here, I intend to “discuss” the experience. May it serve as a warning to future generations.

Yesterday, I realized I needed a portable NAS. Now, I have a couple of Netgear “ReadyNAS” units (and a Drobo, but I’ve been trying to block that purchase out) that are stuffed full. Besides I wanted, keeping with the theme, a linux based box. Building my own out of an old machine was an option but, really, a super low power unit I can keep running 24/7 appealed to me. So I picked up a Synology ds2011j. It’s not the fastest but it reviews well. You can even connect via SSH if you want. And combined with a couple of 2TB drives, it’s got enough space for what I plan. Well under $400.00 all told. Setting it up was a breeze and I left the box to build it’s raid set overnight.

Today was more of a challenge. After setting up the basics of the unit (through it’s excellent GUI), I did a speed test using CIFS. OK, good enough anyway. But then I thought I should probably try it with NFS, just to see. Well, not so simple. First of all it’s not nicely auto-discovered as with the first method. No, you need to create a mount string and either enter it into a shell or run it at startup. Not a big deal, that’s what the internet is for. But I was still stumped after a time. Turns out the unit will not allow the connection by hostname, but only by IP address. Once that was out of the way I could finish benchmarking. CIFS ran about 30 MB/s in either direction. NFS, about 25 MB/s write, but 85 MB/s read. Much better.

Of couse the big downer is that Microsoft, from what I can tell, has seen fit to leave out NFS drivers from their Windows 7 64 Pro OS. No big deal at work, but at home I have my CG apps on such a box. I wonder whether there is a way around this without coughing up for Windows “Ultimate” (which apparently includes the driver). Some research for the weekend.

And so I don’t forget:

mount -t nfs /media/Projects
Bash Shell Command to Find or Get IP address
NFS Client Configuration
Optimizing NFS Performance

Static IP’s here I come!


Building a Fedora 14 box and thought I’d just keep all my reference links in one place this time. Might be helpful if you’re building a Linux workstation for the fist time (or are just forgetful like me :-) .

Tuning Solid State drives in Linux

Intel Sandy Bridge 82579 driver

Fedora 14 Nvidia Drivers Install Guide

Disable SeLinux on Fedora 14

Enable Fire Sharing with Windows via Samba

Hard Disk Clone with “dd” (dd if=/dev/sda5 of=/media/Data/disk1.img).

Maya 2012 Installation works as per Autodesk’s guide, except for having to add the following to Fedora 14 :

APCUPSD Manual (for control of UPS’s)

Intel 82579v (Asus P8P67) Fedora 14 Driver Install

nspluginwrapper and flash install

And finally, moving my tempdir to a much larger volume then starting up Houdini (which really eats up the space on big sims!). It will be slower over a NFS mount, but until I get a dedicated cache disk, it will have to do:


Overclock a Linux box? You’ll want to monitor temps (even if you don’t overclock, it’s a good idea to check every once in awhile).

How to get linux sensors information