Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Geekery (Page 1 of 84)

Server Migration Time

Considering that the Linode VPS known as “node2” started out several years ago as an Ubuntu 14.04 LTS system (the “14” part indicating it was built five or six years ago now) and I upgraded that in-place to 16.04 (which mostly taught me to never again do an in-place Ubuntu LTS upgrade) and seeing as how 20.04 is available now… I decided it’s time for “node3” to take over.

Yesterday I built node3 with the same “hardware” specs as node2, performed the necessary steps to make it a LAMP rig, and migrated over two of the non-database-driven websites (the PmWiki sites in the frell.co domain) successfully. Then I set up backups, because you always prioritize backups, y’all.

Today I migrated one of the WordPress sites (the mostly-defunct myduckonstuff.com) without notable drama, which is certainly encouraging.

My goal is to have this all done by month-end so I can turn off node2 and not pay full rate for both servers. Wish me luck…

I have the new computer. I installed Blender on it. I started playing around with a silly idea. I… made some progress, sort of.


But clearly I have some things to learn about the physics engine in Blender. Whoops.

(Ignore the lack of lighting; that’s a problem for much later in the project at this point. And yes, I gave my marble a marble texture. Because I’m a dork.)

I Buy Shiny

Given that the old home PC, which I’d kept functional far past its original expected lifespan by judicious hardware replacement over the years, was finally starting to balk at doing anything computationally intensive, I decided to splurge (based on generous tax refunds and leftover company bonus money from the holidays) on another iBuyPower gaming rig build.

The main stats? Intel i7 (9700K? Does that mean anything) CPU, 16 gigabytes of RAM, an RTX 2070 for generating pretty pixels, solid state drive, yadda de yadda. Oh, and because you can’t get a custom gaming rig built nowadays without shiny stuff, this one glows in whatever color you want.

New home PC tower

My very own “green computing” initiative, on display.

So far it’s definitely quite peppy. I haven’t had the chance to properly run it through its paces yet, however, mainly because this is also my “work” computer during these here Coronavirus stay-at-home shenanigans so I had to prioritize loading in all the office software over games and Blender. Maybe this weekend I’ll see how hard I can push things now.

Come On, See The Noise

I started learning Blender with two goals in mind. One centers on toy ducks, as one might naturally expect. The other centers on music visualization.

Since my earliest days “tuning out” (sitting and listening to music with big headphones on, letting my mind wander) I pictured patterns and colors and what-not. Perhaps now that I have tools to do so I can try creating some of that effect in video form. Perhaps.

This is an early test of my ability to play with lights and colors to music:

Keep in mind that this is literally my very first anything-at-all along the way toward my actual goal. The camera is static, I rendered at a super-low resolution to get the frames made in a reasonable timespan, and I clearly need to experiment with the attack/release values when baking sounds to F-curves (hence the jittery quality of the oval lighting changes). But hey, it’s a start.

Technically speaking: I intend to actually carve up and pre-process my source audio going forward. It’s one thing to tell Blender “hey, use 250Hz to 500Hz for this bit” but perhaps better to say “hey, use this copy of the audio file that’s been pre-tweaked to get the best results from this material node.” Also? Every tutorial I’ve watched so far about doing music visualization in Blender has ignored the fact that stereo exists. I think I can bring something to the table in this regard.

Downloads Zero

Perhaps you’ve heard of Inbox Zero. The idea being that one’s main email folder can become unwieldy rather quickly and the best way to stay on top of it is to aim for nothing remaining in the Inbox that hasn’t been processed in some fashion, be it by deletion or delegation or sorting into a “do this later” entry elsewhere.

I’m pretty good at keeping my work email under control. (Let’s not talk about my Gmail and my Google Apps accounts, because those interfaces are absolutely terrible if you want to manage your email in a non-Google-approved way, ugh.) The rule at work is, if I can see a scrollbar in my Inbox, I have too many messages in there and I pare it down one way or another.

On the other hand, I’m very very bad about maintaining another popular dumping ground: The Downloads folder on my computer. Judging by what I’ve seen in the course of my job I’m not the only one, mind you, but I can’t do anything about people who download the same Excel sheet twenty times and end up with ‘Critical Company Accounting Data (15).xlsx’ and so forth. All I can do is start looking after my own pile of mess.

There’s no mystery as to why this happens, really. A big part of what we do online is take stuff offline for our own use. Documents. Software installers. Media files. We download it, we run it or look at it or watch it or whatever, and then we’re done with it. “I’ll have to remember to put that in its proper place later,” we tell ourselves.

Ha! As if.

Let’s be honest: The bulk of it is Recycle Bin fodder. By the time you need to install that program again there’ll be a new version, or the program will be obsolete and you’ll have to download some other program’s installer anyway. You watched that video once, got a good laugh out of it, and… there it sits, undeleted and unsorted, until you get a new hard drive probably.

Don’t call it a “new year’s resolution” because ha ha no we don’t play that game in this household, but I started getting my main Downloads folder under control this weekend. Music is sorted where it belongs, installers are organized for safe keeping (or deleted), and so forth. My goal: Downloads Zero.

(Oh yeah and I have a stack of old hard drives with their own Downloads folders to work my way through as well. Whee!)

Let’s see how it goes.

Yay Food

I didn’t expect this to take nearly an entire week, but here we are. Please enjoy the short video, “Yay Food“.

It started with a pun, of course. Then I had to jot down enough lyrics to be worth the effort. Then I had to source a MIDI. Then I had to turn that into a WAV file. Then I had to go into Blender and add more ducks to a copy of the old donut tutorial workspace. Then I had to learn to do HDR lighting. Then I had to sort out the animation. Then I had to do the render… which took basically five days. Then I had to put it all together in Adobe Premiere Elements, which took several hours. Then I had to upload, etc, etc.

All that for a two minute joke video. Note to self: Stick to still images from now on, eh?

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