GOOD! EXCELLENT! AWESOME! INCREDIBLE!! SPECTACULAR!!!

ZOMFG, I just pulled off my first EVER Bejeweled Twist Spectacular!! Open-mouthed

Have a VIDEO, too! It looks REALLY pwetty!! Open-mouthed

OOOOH YEAH! Open-mouthed The way "The Voice" says the ranks, too, it makes it SOUND awesome and spectacular, it’s as if he’s saying it in a "OH MY EFFING GOD, WHAT DID YOU JUST DO?!" tone! Open-mouthed I was nearly peeing myself with excitement when it hit "INCREDIBLE!", because I was already at that even before my second Fruit Gem started to explode… and I knew that was gonna cause some damage. Open-mouthed Then when The Voice said "SPECTACULAR!", I yelled "OH YEAAAHHH, A Spectcaular!" quite loudly. Open-mouthed Been wanting to earn one of those for a long time. Tongue out UNFORTUNATELY, there were a few snags.

One, it happened in Zen Mode, so it didn’t help me to break the one million mark in Blitz mode, nor did it save my ass from a bomb at the last second in Classic mode, so it wasn’t quite as cool as it could have been. Sad
Two… there is actually a rank ABOVE Spectacular, "Unbelievable", which I only found out about after I uploaded that video to YouTube.
But… the worst snag was number three. In the bottom right of that vid/screenie, you’ll see a LEMON. That’s a Fruit Gem, and if it was blown up or matched, it would’ve continued the cascade after things had settled down by blowing up all yellow gems, and would have most probably scored me an Unbelievable. If I’d have had a purple flame gem there, it would have blown up the lemon… and I’d be much, much happier than I am now… and I’m pretty damned happy right now. Open-mouthed

Never mind, though… I still got to see prettiful colours and lights, and it made me feel massive satisfaction for some reason. Open-mouthed I’ll let you know when I get that Unbelievable that I now want. The blog entry will probably start with "OMFGZOMFGOMGLOLZOMGOFGMG TOO AWESOME!" Open-mouthed

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Windows 7 pre-orders, anyone?

It’s coming, dudez! On the 22nd of October 2009, we will have a version of Windows that people will not moan about! Well, okay, SOME will, like Mac and Linux fanboys, and those who constantly moan about Windows anyway. Tongue out It irritates me how everyone bitches about Microsoft nowadays. They were even moaned at by the EU when they were bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, and it looks they’ve been pressured into taking it out, because Windows 7 won’t come with a browser, or barely any of their own software, for that matter. I find that ridiculous. I don’t LIKE Internet Explorer, at all, but Mac OS X comes with Safari pre-installed on it, why can’t Windows do the same with IE? It’s damned annoying, they make an amazing OS that is used by 90% of people around the world, and to allow people to get up and running with their OS quickly, they pre-install certain programs like a web browser, picture editor and e-mail client… yet they’re moaned at because of that. It’s as if people want it to be more complicated than it should be…
And it’s not their fault that people actually BUY their operating system because it can do everything you want the computer to do… I’d like to see the people who moan build an OS like Windows. Tongue out

Seriously, though, you NEED Windows 7, ESPECIALLY if you have Vista. Windows XP is old now, and yes, Vista wasn’t much good – it was slow, sluggish, stupid, prone to crashes, didn’t use system resources efficiently, and didn’t work with a lot of things, especially when it was in 64-bit mode. Windows 7, though, is very stable, and much faster than any other Windows operating system – trust me on that. I was expecting to uninstall the Windows 7 RC after a few days because I thought it would explode or something, but nope! Not a single mistake! I HAVE had two blue screens, and a few freezes now and then, but that was because I overclocked my processor a little too high. It prefers to run at 3.0GHz, not 3.5. Tongue out

Microsoft are having a limited offer, basically to say "thanks for your support". You can pre-order Windows 7 and get about 40-50% off. It’s expected to be around £99 for the Home edition, and £199 for the Pro edition, but they’re offering it for £49 and £99, respectively. Smile I’ve got my pre-order in… I’d recommend you’d do the same, this offer WILL sell out. Tongue out

What are you waiting for? <Arnie Mode> Do it… NOW!!!! Open-mouthed

HOLY CRAP Bejeweled Twist ownage!

With the help of a powerup that I never knew existed until today, I just scored a ridiculous amount of points in Bejeweled Twist’s Blitz mode. 882,375! Surprised

The best move was NEARLY Spectacular rank, but it still managed well into Incredible. At x10 multiplier, I matched a Flame gem, which then blew up my Supernova gem, which then destroyed six coals, dropping about 20 geode bonuses, which then covered my screen in points, and then there were two more cascades after that, one of which made a Flame gem. Have a video! Open-mouthed

I tried to take a screenshot of my final score and the stupid amount of stars I earned, but when I tried to paste it into Paint, it just pasted a picture of my desktop for some reason. Confused Must be a Windows 7 bug, or maybe my computer’s being a bit thick. I’d better use Fraps’ screenshot-taking thing from now on. Smile

LMAO, I love made up statistics… they make me laugh.

I’ve got another render to show you peepz, but firstly, I want to milk some lulz out of this Windows Mobile newsletter I’ve just recieved. It contains all of the usual stuff – new apps for Windows Mobile devices (98% of them I would never use), new ringtones, backgrounds, tips and tricks, and announcements of new phones that have been released that come with Windows Mobile on them. Nothing really interesting, and I don’t know why I’m still subscribed to it… maybe just in case something interesting pops up. Smile But, since a mobile version of Bejeweled Twist (one of the most fun casual games I’ve ever played) never came up on their newsletters, I doubt anything interesting ever will. Tongue out

Anyhoo, the featured download this month is "Microsoft My Phone", which syncs the information on your phone with the web, so all the data is backed up. Nice. But… the first sentence of the description immediately caused me to not take it seriously:

"Did you know that an estimated 12 million mobile devices are lost or stolen every year in the United States?"

LMFAO, 12 MILLION?! JUST in the US?! So, what Microsoft are saying is basically that about 33,000 Americans lose or get their phones/PDAs stolen EVERY SINGLE DAY? Yeah, right… as if I believe that… Tongue out

Gotta love made-up statistics. Open-mouthed

Right, now, I’ve been working on a good render of Ifri for a while. Check it out:


(I’ve got it rendered in HD, too, if you want to check that out. I even decided to go berserk and experiment with HDX2! Open-mouthed Why? Because I can. Tongue out)

Haha, that looks pretty cool to me! I reckon that’s my best render yet, it really emphasises their friendship, and Ifri’s casual personality… and Ifri’s size, of course. Open-mouthed Unfortunately, I have actually run out of environments, there were only three included with Daz Studio. Confused I’d get more, but I’m not paying a ridiculous £10 for a couple of flat objects with pictures on them, and I can’t freaking search Demonoid, which is where all the Daz Studio torrents are, even though I could about a week ago. No, I don’t have an account, and I have NEVER seen the registrations open before. Sad If I had seen them open, I’d have lunged at the opportunity and made the fastest sign-up of anything EVER. Tongue out If anyone out there wants to give me an invite though, that’d be really nice, and I would love you forever. Open-mouthed Don’t worry about my share ratio, I share what I leech… uTorrent says I’ve got a ratio of 1.878 (7.86GB uploaded, 4.18GB downloaded), which you’ll find is very respectable. Wink

I’m amazed, though, that the textures still look seriously detailed, even at HDX2 resolution! I was expecting them to become a stretched mess of pixels after HD, especially Whirlwind’s, who is actually at 200% scale… but nope! These textures, and this rendering engine is da bomb. Open-mouthed Slow sometimes, but still da bomb. Wink

I still need to modify Ifri’s eyes, though – they’re supposed to be red… and speaking of eyes, Whirlwind’s are supposed to be light blue. I’ll do that later on, but it shouldn’t take too long to do. Smile

Also, I managed to find a shadow-catching plugin that I’m gonna experiment with later. It basically allows you to take pictures of the real world and add shadow maps and reflections from different non-real objects into them, therefore making the objects look more realistic, as if they’re actually in the scene, and not just floating in 3D space. Example from the manual:

<LOST, because of my idiot webhost. Sad>

GENIUS. Open-mouthed Yep, that’s a real photo, just set as a backdrop, with a 3D hippo rendered into it. Open-mouthed So, if I put my mind to it, I could put the Millenium Cat next to my own cat, I could have Michael 4 in a Superman costume flying overhead laz0ring something, or maybe a SubDragon/MilDragon could be perched on top of my roof! And it would look relatively realistic, because of the shadows the plugin projects!

I’ve SO gotta play with that plugin later on. Open-mouthed But right now, methinks it’s time for a lickle break from posing. I’ll see yous later! Open-mouthed

PS: Chazz, you’ve got spyware! Just got this IM from you:

Hey, how are you. Just wanted to let you know about these new supplements I tried. I lost 12 pounds in just a week and a half. Best thing, it only cost me $5. Check it out here: http://www.bagnice.com

Yeah, as I said, blatantly spyware, it came through MSN, and it can’t use targeted ads. Tongue out I’m not the kind of dude that would use supplements. I don’t care about my weight, and besides, if I lost 12 pounds, I think my skeleton would pop out. Tongue out

Recommend you do a Spybot Search & Destroy scan. Wink

Ifri wants to say hello!

(Wide image, you’ll need to click the blog title to be able to see it! Or, if you’re cool and have Firefox, right-click the image and select "View Image". Open-mouthed)

I’ve been poking Daz Studio for the past few days, wanting to do an animation, and then looking at the terrible timeline that has no keyframe indicators when I add a keyframe. I then become outfaced and decide to try something else. Tongue out So, I’ve been messing with textures, trying to improve my understanding of them.

And… I still don’t really get them. Surprised I can now find what texture segment is applied to what part of the model, cuz I accidentally found the UV Map screen when I misclicked trying to select a camera. Open-mouthed Even so, they are still ridiculously hard to modify well. For example, the Millenium SubDragon, like pretty much all other objects, has a freely editable texture, which is at a resolution of 4000×4000… pretty outfacing, if I have to be honest. And that’s JUST the body, you’ve still got another 4000×4000 texture for the face, two 4000×4000 bump maps for both the face and body… even the eyes are fairly massive 1000×1000 textures! I know massive resolutions give the objects awesome detail, and they look amazing when rendered… but the size of the textures is just crazy!

Anyway, I was planning to create Ifri, the Drake from my novel, Dragon Tail, for those of you who don’t know. Smile To make him accurate, I needed the correct texture – red scales with a white underside. Annoyingly… I had a texture with red scales, but an orange underside. It looked good, but it wasn’t really as accurate as I wanted it to be. Sad So… all I wanted to do is modify the base red body texture, and give it a white underside instead of orange. I knew what bit of the texture map was the underside, so I used Photoshop and the Black/White tool, converting it to white. Saved the texture, brought it into Daz Studio, applied it to a SubDragon… and it looked as if someone had run a white paintbrush straight down Ifri’s underbelly. Confused So, I had to modify the edges of the main part of the texture to convert them to white, painstakingly using careful selection and refining the selection edge constantly. It took me 17 attempts to get to a stage where I was happy with it. Confused Woot… the joys of texturing… Sarcastic I DON’T envy 3D graphic artists. I envy your WORK, but not you. Tongue out

After I’d done the texture map, I started some model tweaking. This is where Daz Studio and these models start to become REALLY cool, because you can change LOADS of aspects of the model! Want a seriously muscular dragon? The "Muscular" slider’s right over there. Need a longer neck? No problem, "NeckLength" will help you out. Want ridiculously long talons longer than the dragon’s fingers? Go ahead, there are sliders in Morphs | Shapes, and then in either the Arm/Hand or Legs/Feet category, depending on where you want to modify. It’s AWESOME! Open-mouthed

So, after giving Ifri longer legs, slightly smaller hands, shorter talons, and making him smaller, skinnier and less muscular, I then got onto the extra-fun bit – posing!

…Okay, so maybe I lie. Maybe posing can FREAKING IRRITATE me a lot of the time. Tongue out It’s especially hard to pose something from the "Zero" pose, because the Zero pose is about as useful as a cup made out of tracing paper. Confused All the irritation is worth it at the end though, most of the time, anyway. It all pays off when you do that final test render and say, "Oh yeah… I did it… I actually POSED that, and it looks WICKED!" Open-mouthed

After posing, I did the REALLY fun bit – playing with the face morphs. Open-mouthed This bit truly IS fun, because there are 15 special morphs for the SubDragon, they can all be set anywhere between -100% and 100%, and further tweaking can be done with the ~25 other more specific morphs in another tab. When you’re done with that, there are at least 30 more morphs to help the dragon express themselves. If you want something crazy like 5-foot horns, you can even modify the limits – although that WILL mess up the texture if you overdo it. Tongue out That’s the main reason why I love this program and these models so much – there are barely any limits, and there’s SO MUCH CHOICE!! Open-mouthed

After some final tweaks, and a horrible character saving process (I won’t go into it too much, but saving characters takes around 10 minutes just to choose the options, and it’s unbelievably boring, but you’ve gotta pay attention to what you choose to save, otherwise you’ll have to start all over again. Confused), and some slight Photoshopping… Ifri was ready!

And here he is, say hello, Ifri!

YEAAHH! Open-mouthed He looks good, no? Okay, so maybe he can’t speak yet, but no matter… he still looks super-cool, just like he’s supposed to be! Open-mouthed I’m quite pleased with that texture work I’ve done, and I think that pose really captures Ifri’s attitude. Took me forever to get him to fold his arms, though – after about five or ten minutes of trying, I was about to assume that the model couldn’t actually do it… until I went really berserk with all the position sliders. Open-mouthed

That’s three characters created, now! Open-mouthed Still… I’ve got Thunder, Emerald, Ice, Blaze, DracoSkaar and Dimari… and Nagira… to do. Confused I may skip Nagira, as the closest model I have to him is an Eastern Dragon… which looks nothing like Nagira looks like. Tongue out

Gonna try making a scene with Ifri later on, should be interesting to see what I can do with him, as he’s about half the size of the other dragons. Smile I’ll sees yas later on, then! Open-mouthed

One more thing…

Don’t mean to post three times in one day, but there’s something I just want to LOL at on my latest DAZ 3D newsletter that I recieve for some reason.

<LOST, because of my idiot webhost. It went something along the lines of "DAZ Studio 3 Advanced’s render engine is more accurate and renders faster!">

FALSE ADVERTISING MUCH?! SophiD is one of the big dumbasses of the world, congratulations.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this here post. Open-mouthed I compare DAZ Studio 2.3 and DAZ Studio 3 by rendering the same image at the same resolution under the same conditions. Much lulz ensue, and much life wastage is revealed. Open-mouthed

It’s official – Google is trying to take over the world.

Just noticed this in the news section, under yet another Michael Jackson story, which are boring me already. He was cool, and he could make music, and he could entertain, but he’s gone now, alright? Get over it… it’s not like his music’s dead… you can still listen to that by buying his Greatest Hits album which is inevitably going to be released by some music company that wants money…

Anyhoo, onto the article I actually wanted to talk about:

"Google is developing a new operating
system for laptop computers in its boldest challenge yet to Microsoft’s
control over people’s computing experience.
The new operating system will run through Google’s nine-month-old web
browser, Chrome, according to a post on the company’s website.
Google plans to introduce the operating system during the second half of 2010.
The new operating system is being designed for "netbooks", a low-cost,
less powerful breed of laptops increasingly popular among consumers
primarily interested in a having a computer to surf the web.

The Chrome browser could threaten Microsoft’s Windows system, which has
been running most personal computers for the past two decades."

Google, seriously, please stop trying to dominate the universe. You’ve got the best search engine, you’ve got the best home page solution, you’ve got the best maps service, you made Google Earth, you’re aiming to beat everyone else’s web browser, and now you want to beat everyone else’s operating system. Google’s a good company, and I like their search engine and refuse to use any other one because Google’s the best and doesn’t need to advertise desperately on TV (*cough* Ask.com *cough*), but I just think that Google Earth is pointless, Google Chrome is just another web browser that is just as fast as everything else only it looks different, and their OS idea is a bit ambitious. C’mon… threaten Windows? LOL, high hopes, much?

I’m not saying Windows is awesome, but, um… it’s on about 90% of home computers (desktops, laptops, netbooks, whatever, still 90% of all those), and this operating system of Google’s is only going to run on NETBOOKS, which are popular, but not quite as popular as everything else, THROUGH Google Chrome. And what runs Google Chrome? Oh yeah… Windows. Isn’t that a bit of a flawed scheme? "Oh, we’re going to beat Microsoft by making an OS that runs through a program on their OS, so if they want OUR OS, they’ll need to get Windows!" More $$ for Microsoft, more $$ for Google, no-one really loses. Sounds more like a co-operative scheme to me. Tongue out
It sounds really weird to run an OS through a web browser, though… Confused Why don’t they just provide it as a download that you can burn to CD, or actually sell it as a CD in stores, and then install like a normal OS?

One more thing… Compatibility. How’re you gonna get Windows programs to work on an entirely different OS with (potentially) a completely different kernel? Am I missing something? Is this not REALLY an OS, but just a case of ignorant Microsoft not writing the article up right?

Pff, we’ll see what it is in 2010. Open-mouthed