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This has been a bad month for clumsiness! First I broke off a piece of tooth on a popcorn. When I fired up the sprinkler system one of the heads was blowing a fountain. Inspecting the rest of the system I found I punctured an irrigation line when planting a fence pole in the garden. Then a picture popped off it's hanger and busted it's frame. And lastly a drawer on one of my cabinets decided it always wanted to pop out every day.

At least the drawer was easy to fix. Same with the sprinkler head. The picture frame is in clamps, drying glue. And in a real miracle, the irrigation line was patched in 10 minutes after spending 14 bucks on PVC glue and a few parts (and digging up 4 or 5 cubic feet of clay soil). Last up is my tooth! They ground it up to a nubbin last week and put a temp on it. I get my new crown day after tomorrow. It's gonna be a big one!

I promise to be more careful from here on out! ^_^;;
without catching a cold. Almost is the operative word. Total head cold going on. Art will resume when my head doesn't feel like a wet sponge.
We're see'n tornadoes in our neck of the woods. Hope the weather is mild for you. ^_^
...for you US folks. I hope you were able to enjoy your favorite things! Don't drink too much! And don't drink and drive!

.ps Guess who ate some bad salad!! Blurg! Me. But fortunately that was yesterday. Today I was fit as a fiddle. ^_^
So I rescind my hold on the new Wacom Intuos Pro. With driver 6.3.31-4 it's finally stable between suspends. Happily, the driver advertises itself as more stable, and for me at least, it finally is. I don't like having yet another Lithium battery around the house. But the tablet is a sweet ride otherwise.

My server gave me a scare. The primary drive showed up empty today. The backup looked fine, fortunately, but the primary drive was empty... however, this is Linux... A funny thing about Unix's, is that you mount extra drives onto existing directories. The mounted file system then sort of extends the main file system. It turned out that my drive failed to mount (because of a loose cable) and so the original -empty- directory is sitting there. The "blkid" command, among others, show's you who's out there and I noticed one of my drives was missing. Might be time to replace those old cables. Or stop monkeying around in the case. ^_^;;

Finally dumped Sprint. They upped the price of my bill and given the miserable phone experience I decided to bail:

1) Their voice mail serves up ads. No way around this (short of modding the phone)
2) Their network is horrible. Never had more than 3 of 5 bars anywhere.
3) WIFI calling was a whiny child wanting my address for 911 whenever my access point config changed.
4) Their network is slow.

Turned out that T-mobile had a good deal for me and when I switched, it blew my sox off! All of the above magically disappeared! Even nicer, I get HD voice quality now. Too bad my first phone experience was with Sprint. I always thought cell phones where so clunky!

So lot's of changes this Summer. But the seem all for the best. Sometimes you gotta take a little pain to get a little gain.

....on my way to a new server! I've got more Linux boxes in my house than Windows boxes! And that's NOT including phones!

I've always had a Linux box lying around the house, but they were always toy machines on my underpowered ATOM MOBO's. It seems like Linux is the future so I persist. Then I got a Raspberry PI machine. Now this is king of underpowered, but, all the programming stuff for it works! It's a really fun environment to play. With the PI I could get enough done that I would come back and do more work. And so for the first time I started feeling comfortable using a Linux box.

So encouraged by that, I stuck Mint on my old Core I5 machine. And I gotta say Mint 19 is a really sweet ride! Looks great on the screen. For some reason Mint 18 looked blurry and the color combo was ugly. But the new Mint is really nice. And thanks to my PI, I finally know my way round a Linux box somewhat. Feeling frisky, I finally bit the bullet and started making a new NAS so I can finally retire my old Windows Home Server. Remember, Unix started life as a server. It should be a great server...

Windows Home server was OOOOKKKKAAAY. But not THAT great. It was pretty brittle and never enforced user level access correctly. Basically anyone who had access to my server would have access to anyone else's files! Groups and all that just didn't work well. All the commands were fiddly and the user interface was some sort of clunky web client ugly thing. My experience is that outside of a domain, Windows Server is clunky.

WHS did however run my old music server system with my RIO audio boxes. That system was a total Nerdy kind of thing but I liked it. But some of the boxes were showing their age with the dials not working well. And tho' I've seen Linux ports, switching to a Linux server was going to mean saying goodbye to that system for the near term at least.

At this point making the leap was rather gutsy. I wasn't EXACTLY sure how to set up a SAMBA server, and I was going to reuse my case and power supply from my old machine so that meant going back would be a pain!! (Tho still possible even at this point)

It was a bit rough getting myself setup on a Linux server. I caused my new server to come up in maintenance mode a number of times. But it's really cool that I know the Linux command line better than Windows! So I could always get around and fix what I broke. And you can mount NTFS on Linux these days easy peasy. So when I realized I left my setup instructions on the server disk, it was easy to mount and read the contents off the old drive on my new server! The final barrier was figuring out the Linux file system permissions that would make Samba behave when I was accessing it from a windows workstation. It took half a day's worth of trial and error. 

But it's done and I've retired my Windows Home server. My new machine is a Core I3 8th gen! 4 cores on sale at Fry's for 89 bux. They're not hyperthreaded, but I'm OK with that. I always thought Hyperthreading was hokum. MOBO has got HDMI out, my old server was VGA! And it's got the 4pin fan power connectors so all the fans in the box run at variable speed! It's so much quieter. I've stepped down to 5400 RPM drives from the old 7200's I used to use. You hardly notice any performance issue in real life and the drives cost half as much. So the whole system is way easier on the pocket book going forward too! I'm really happy to be off proprietary software for this system too. Plus, Windows server is still pretty expensive last I saw.

With all that done. I should be drawing up some art soon. That was a pretty deep "dive" into the unknown there and it consumed me for a good week. I'm glad this is done. It's been on my mind for YEARS!
Seafair starting up soon.
Make America Grovel day.
So it's time to warn you about the new Intuos Pro tablet I got. I bought it on a whim. Saw it at Best Buy. It's the one with the built in Bluetooth. I've never had any good luck with Bluetooth devices. I shoulda heeded the warning.

The Pro's:

1) The hardware is first class. The medium sized slate is smaller than the previous Intuos 4 I had with only a slightly smaller drawing surface. The feel of the surface with the pen is marvelous! Almost like paper. I really like that.

2) They tossed the useless OLED displays on the buttons on the Intuos 4 which I had no need for. 

3) It's got a nice USB 3 reversible connector on the side. Which I use. I don't like Bluetooth in general. But it's a nice option for the lappie.

4) You really can feel the increase in sensitivity! I was quite impressed with this.

5) Easy to switch "touch" mode on and off with slider switch. I don't use touch mode. But that's a plus.

The Con's:

1) BUGGY! After a few days of powering up from suspend mode, the tablet gets clicky. I it literally starts left clicking like crazy as you move the pen. Even with no contact with the tablet surface. Or sometimes the tablet is just dead. The lights are on, but nobody is home. I had been working with their support team on this. But they've given up. I can't find the exact repro steps. Seems to be random when it happens. But always after powering up from sleep. The only way out is to restart the Wacom Tablet service using the MS service manager. Probably they're using unallocated memory and getting random results because of this.

2) Nibs wear out fast. I've seen a lot of folks crib about this. I don't mind so much but you will want to be aware of this.

3) Cheesy pen. I've heard this about the latest gen of Wacom's. The nibs rattle around in the pen. I also don't like that the right click button is to recessed in the pen. Makes it hard to find without looking at the pen.


I suggest waiting until the next generation. Or buy the tablet without the Bluetooth. I expect that's the root of all evil. But most of you would be pretty annoyed to reset your tablet service everytime this happens.
Goodbye and good riddance to the following features...

Groove Music Pass (hello advertisements)
HomeGroup : a (useless) feature that helped sharing files and printers between PCs on the same home network.
XPS Viewer : document viewing app. (Did ANYONE ever use that thing?)
MS Paint

Also rest in peace... (This one was laid to rest a while ago now)

All theses features are reasons I've been working on my text/image/music application, and features I've hated in windows. Who knows, if MS gets it right, I might actually want to stop working on my app! But I wouldn't count on it.

MS Paint deserves an honorable mention, since you hear of a lot of folks did art with that app when they started out. But ugh, it's so horrible.

You know given the proliferation of apps via the i-net. There's really no reason to be tossing so many apps into the OS. We know windows can play sound and do graphics and stuff. You don't need crappay demo apps anymore. What we really need is a way to have our favorite setups move from machine to machine with us.

Firefox and Chrome get this right. At least at the browser level. I'm not sure about Edge. I won't use that one.

TL;DR Sometimes less is more! ^_^
So I liked Google's Chrome browser. It was fast and mostly secure. But of course, Ads are chrome's weakness. They love Ads. The most annoying feature of Chrome was that they enable autoplay with NO override. You could be minding your own business when a video WITH sound just up and start playing! So when Chrome 66 showed up I was hopeful that, at last, I would be able to disable autoplay.

Alas, this was not to be true. Goggle has some algorithm that sez oh, we'll autoplay here, but not there, based on your viewing habits. Such BS. that's a play right out of Microsoft's play book! We'll decide what's good for you! Sometimes we'll show things, sometimes we won't.

But it turns out you can just up and switch off autoplay in the newest Firefox. And so after about 5 years I'd guess, I'm back with Firefox.

Right out of the box I'm pleased. Wuz quick to upload my bookmarks from Chrome. It's not 1-1 tho'. They don't just set up my address bar just like chrome was so that's annoying, but they have a browser sync function and so once I set it up it should propagate, we'll see.

Else wise, its pretty peppy. Zips along much better than the Firefox I left behind. And feels ever so slightly faster than Chrome too. Probably because Ad blocking is built in versus a plug in for Chrome. Like Chrome, it's got a built in spell checker, that's a must. I can always tell who's using Internet Exploder by all the spelling errors present.

So let's see how it goes. Still early days, might find a show stopper. But for now it's all systems go!
So I went into Tosche Station and picked up some power converters. Along with that a new computer case and a USB 3 expander. I wasn't ready for the speed boost on my peripherals! My scanner flies! And it's still a USB 2 product. I guess all the gadgets competing for bus was a little too much I guess. But then again it could be that the old expander was 10 years old. Sometimes you just gotta upgrade things. ^_^;;
I've been seeing an uptick of those damn llama deals showing up on my dash. As you know, it was a marketing ploy to introduce the point system and what not at DA. It should be dead by now. But it isn't. I have a sneaking suspicion that now it's being used as an advertising medium for commission artists fishing for customers. So here's the deal...



Crisis averted. :icontonibabelony: points out you can disable that in your settings (General section). Check his reply and be free!
I must say I've really been enjoying using Blender. When first booting it up you're up against this wall of controls. It's about 10 times worse than when I was trying to figure out Photoshop for the first time. And it's got a non-standard user interface as far as Windoz apps go. But it seems to hang together. And it all starts making sense.

So far I've only crashed it once. And all the other problems have turned out to be either some sort of restriction I turned on by accident or I've put objects on layers I forgot about!!! 

The only part of Blender that I consider UNUSABLE is the paint portion. It's really bad. But I've read it's pretty new. So perhaps it'll get better over time. I really need to figure out how export images so I can work on 'em in Photoshop. I don't think it's that hard. I just gotta do it.

Probably time to make some worlds for my characters. Probably start with Tammy. I haven't forgotten about her and her adventure. ^_^
Once again popular media puts forward the notion that you can lift stones with no practice or training because you are the chosen one. Uuuhgh!
Home for the holiday's is done. Time to fire up the drawing pipeline. 
Half way through making bread. Turkey is up soon. Hope you all get what you like for dinner!

.ps I had twice cooked turkey. Happens once in awhile! ^_^;
So it's true. You can have a vertex group, that has all the elements of the model in it, but then most of those vertex's zero weighted. If the weight is truly, zero (and not simply very close to zero) then those points shouldn't cause warping when the corresponding bone is moved. But that's the trick. If you've been monkeying around with the image, some of those points might NOT be weighted to zero and you see annoying effects. 

In addition, it turns out, game engines like Unity, can only handle up to 3 vertex group overlaps. Blender does nothing apriori to prevent this problem. 

But there is a solution, after weight painting you can use the "clean" option to remove points with zero weighting from the currently selected vertex group. I think this is the trick that'll make it easier to work the rigging. So here we go again... ^_^;
So if you've been watching, I've been learning Blender. So far it's been mostly moderately easy with a few hiccups along the way. I'm getting used to object and edit modes. However, Pose mode is EXCEEDINGLY difficult. Setting up the armature, with a few constraints and inverse kinematics is pretty straightforward, but assigning vertices to bones is very tough. Every time I attempt to add points to a vertex group, either manually or automatically, the model deforms WILDLY. It's a total disaster!

Usually, this kind of thing is because I have a invalid expectation of the settings. But whatever the case, I think this is going to take awhile to figure out.

It's a little disappointing, things where moving along nicely up to now. :-(

Anyway, I though I'd mention it, because I'm likely to go dark for while while I try to figure this out. I'm going to have to go watch a few more rigging videos. If I can't figure it out after a few days, I might switch to making clothes for awhile. That looks easier. Then I can switch back to rigging when I'm not tearing my hair out!

.ps So I found out that Blender has basic human armatures prebuilt if you enable one of the add ins. So I dumped my hand made armature and used the blender one and voila! I have no clue what was wrong with the previous. But the new one works much better. It's still a tedious matter of setting all the weighting of the vertices...
So we continue our fascination with multiples. Captured moment gets a sketch. As long as it's nuth'n too weird. 

.ps Got our rain. I'm happy. 
.pps Made a new Halloween inks of Drago's witchsona. I want to release it but it's too early! I'll try to wait until October. ^_^;;
.ppps Let's see what I gotta draw now! ^_^;;