CGI coffee


Revelations of a computer graphics apprentice

YouTube, Dislikes and How the World Is Losing a Valuable Source of Critically Assessed Information

You might have heard of the recent YouTube announcement where they decided to remove public "dislike" counters from their platform.

After reading this I stopped for a moment and carefully considered what was it that made YouTube special for me. As a platform, as a source of information, news and entertainment, YouTube holds a special place in my life since a lot of my skills and achievements were made possible in part thanks to YouTube. It allowed people from all over the world freely share their ideas with anyone and everyone in the form of videos — one of the most effective ways to give and receive information on the Internet.

I quickly realized that the single most important aspect of the platform was the fact that it had a simple yet elegant way of ranking videos. 10 years ago they used a 5-star system and later switched to a familiar "bar" with a ratio based on the number of likes and dislikes the video would've received after its publication.

vsauce-screenshot-youtube-rating

The reason such approach is so effective despite the simplicity lies in the way the human brain operates.

It's a Biological Computer. It Needs Data

According to Cognitive Psychology, the latest scientific approach which looks at the mind as an information processor, any system needs, well, information to process. Processing in a lot of cases comes to forecasting the future based on memory the brain has accumulated over the lifetime of an individual, combined with the information received from the real world. The brain then determines whether an event, an individual, an apparatus or anything else is safe or dangerous, useful or pointless, worthy of one's time or not.

Blender 3.0 Removes OpenCL as Cycles GPU Rendering API

Sad news for the open-source and open-standards community coming from the Blender team:

OpenCL rendering support was removed. The combination of the limited Cycles kernel implementation, driver bugs, and stalled OpenCL standard has made maintenance too difficult. We are working with hardware vendors to bring back GPU rendering support on AMD and Intel GPUs, using others APIs.

At the same time CUDA implementation saw noticeable improvements in large part thanks to the better utulization of NVIDIA's own OptiX library:

  • Rendering of hair as 3D curves (instead of ribbons) is significantly faster, by using the native OptiX curve support
  • OptiX kernel compilation time was significantly reduced.
  • Baking now supports hardware ray-tracing with OptiX.

So NVIDIA wins... TWICE:

GPU kernels and scheduling have been rewritten for better performance, with rendering often between 2-7x faster in real-world scenes.

Why Am I Not Celebrating This?

All of this once again displays the real world difficulties of developing, maintaining and promoting open-source alternatives to commercial Software designed by the manufacturer to utilize the hardware capabilities of their products to the max.

And the end result? We're falling deeper and deeper into the vendor lock trap and as the vendors keep turning their proprietary hardware-interfacing Software and APIs into state-of-art ready-to-use solutions, those which are developed in a "democratic" environment keep tripping over their shoelaces failing to get any traction on the market they set out to provide the alternative on.

This makes me grateful that there do exist open-source APIs that work, like OpenGL and Vulcan. But... Why are we still in a situation where Vulcan, "the next generation graphics and compute API" is still incapable of providing even the same level of functionality as the dreaded OpenCL so that it could finally offer a real alternative to commercial compute APIs? Why didn't Blender team even mention Vulcan as something they would look into as an alternative to OpenCL?

A million dollar question...

The Amazing Sprite Fright by Blender Studio. Also Blender 3.0

It finally happened!

A NON-mediocre (in fact — absolutely amazing) 3DCG short film from Blender Studio!

Watch it NOW!

Excellent work, guys! Everything: the presentation, the comedic timing, the plot twist, the acting — just perfect! It's especially noticeable when compared to the Studio's previous works which... Let's be honest: they weren't great. Not that they needed to be much more than a collection of assets mashed together in the form of a more or less coherent story, but this one is on another level.

The film was made with Blender 3.0. Blender development coordinator Dalai Felinto says that the new release schedule for the stable release of Blender 3.0 is set for December, 2021. Can't wait!

Recharge Your USB Flash Drive Today or Say Goodbye to the Files Tomorrow

I know, I know. The title will inevitably raise some eyebrows. Rest assured, though, by the end of this brief post it will make perfect sense.

flash-memory-post-low-battery

A couple months ago I sat down to sort out my USB thumb drive collection. I have 10 of those used either to move large files between distant machines, as OS installation and recovery media, and to actually store some non-critical data. While going through the inventory I eventually plugged in the USB stick I brought back from my Summer 2018 trip to Japan. The last time I used it was around September 2018, when I transfered some video clips from the PlayStation 4 to study while building my Dynamic Sloshing Liquid Rig.

Which means the drive was left unused for 3 years.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that two out of three short in-game video clips were corrupted. The first clip wouldn't even copy over to the PC, while the other one took its sweet time and eventually, after about 30 minutes (for a 100 MB file), succeeded in getting copied to the HDD.

Overwhelmed by avid curiosity I immediately fired up the video player...

What you see here is the result of physical data corruption. While such graphic and "movie-like" damage is, funny enough, quite fitting to the overall presentation of Horizon: Zero Dawn — a game about hunting mechanical dinosaurs in a post-apocalyptic world, — this incident begs the question...

What Happened?

To answer it, let's briefly recall how a Flash Drive actually works.

A Full Year of Fitness with Ring Fit Adventure. Results and Tips and Tricks on How to Get the Most out of Your Workouts

Just... A handful of reps to go... C'mon…

A-a-and, there! Phew, that was an intense workout indeed!

Wait a minute... Wasn't there something I was working on?..

Oh, right! The blog post!

One Moment, Please...

bruce-typing-and-drinking-coffee

It took a while to finish this post.

I was planning to publish it exactly a year past the previous one with the goal of showcasing what kind of progress one might expect over a similar timespan doing 2-3 Ring Fit workouts a week. As I still play the game and the numbers keep changing, let's pretend it's still March 2021 — the month I took all screenshots and videos for this post — and use those as reference.

Ahem... Where Was I?

A Full Cycle Later

Well, 2020 sure was a year of... Interesting events, news and developments. As for me, it was also a year of getting back in shape thanks to a very special and exciting video game titled Ring Fit Adventure.

Join me today, as I share my experience with the game, the console, go though some of the personal mile-stones, and provide several tips and tricks along the way. Hopefully, by the end you'll be able to tell how exactly this product had improved the quality of my life and maybe consider doing the same.

Backup and Restore a Live Linux System Using Snapshots. How to Install Linux Mint 20 on an LVM Partition

In my previous post on the topic of Backup and Restore I mostly focused on Windows use cases and only briefly touched upon backing up Linux and MacOS systems. This is because Windows users have access to the amazing file system snapshotting capabilities in the form of Volume Shadow Copy “by default”. As for MacOS – it comes bundled with its own backup management suite called Time Machine, so backups are possible out of the box in there as well.

As for Linux folk... It’s a bit more involved, but still perfectly possible to backup systems without any downtime. And to do this one would need to make sure their system is running off an LVM system partition.

Why LVM?

If you have no idea what LVM stands for (spoiler: it’s “Logical Volume Management”), I would suggest you first get up to speed with what LVM is and why one would want to use an LVM partition for system storage rather than a standard EXT4/XFS one.

Either way, if you want to have an ability to backup a live Linux system (like an "always on" server or a hypervisor), you need to make sure the OS is installed onto an LVM-enabled volume, which supports creation of Snapshots. In this example we’ll set up an installation for a system with an EFI System Partition for boot-loader management. If you’re planning to go with a legacy BIOS boot instead, just skip the EFI partition creation step. The process is very straightforward and only takes minutes to complete.

Install Linux Mint on LVM Partition How-to

Linux Mint is my long-standing favorite among all distros, so I will be using it to guide you through the process. But the steps described here should be more or less identical for the majority of Linux distributions, especially Ubuntu Linux derivatives, which Mint certainly is. I will also assume you have basic understanding of Linux, storage systems and disk partitioning, otherwise you should certainly not follow the guide and get some more experience first.

DRM or Die. How Anti-Consumer Practices Became the New Norm and the Consumers Are to Blame

How many of your devices have you activated via the internet today?

drm-everywhere

Most people don't like it when things change. But, by following the proverbial "slowly boiling frog" principle (which is factually incorrect, by the way), if you change your business practices slowly enough and promote them in Media as something positive, these changes will eventually get accepted as the new widespread standard. And the waterfall of complaints and negative press will gradually subside, leaving you with an amorphous mass of consumers willingly giving up their freedoms and personal data in return for electronic services and even physical goods.

Because… What is the "norm"? It's an ever-changing concept on its own. For all intents and purposes, I think it's enough to consider something "normal" when it's practiced by or believed in by a large enough portion of the population.

Some of us may not consider anti-consumer practices mentioned in this post a "norm", but give it enough time, and they will become. Some may even suggest that maybe, just maybe, you don't have to blindly obey and do what the companies and the corporations ask of you, and instead protect your privacy and ensure the security of your future by favoring consumer-friendly businesses over ones which keep getting away with pushing more and more egregious ways to take those freedoms away from you, and turn your personal life into a profitable business asset. Except such opinions are becoming more and more unpopular with each passing day.

Now what the hell am I rambling about?

Simple:

DRM Has Won

No, seriously. And I can prove it.