CGI coffee


Revelations of a computer graphics apprentice

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.

Play Ghost of Tsushima

There are bad games...
There are... mediocre games.
There are good games.
There are great games.

And then there's Ghost of Tsushima. In a class of it's own, a pure masterpiece of visual and open-world game design.

Sucker Punch, you beautiful bastards you.

Backup and Restore. Don't Delay! Secure Your Files With Freeware Backup Software Today

I have a lot of files...

And I bet you do too.

You probably also use your computers on a daily basis. Those are cool. But sometimes they crash or glitch. Get stolen or hacked. Or install Windows 10 updates. Or die in a fire.

Together with all your files and memories.

Consequently, today I'd like to direct your attention to the topic of data backup.

"Wait. Isn't this a Computer Graphics blog?"

It sure is.

Still, part of getting any work done on a computer is making sure your files don't accidentally get lost. Whether you like it or not, unless you have someone else responsible for keeping your data safe, you should adhere to a certain form of a backup strategy on your own.

Unfortunately, lots of people overlook this topic, and end up losing sizable amounts of their labor.

data-backup-dog-meme

If any of this sounds familiar, this post will present a couple of suggestions and tools. And most of those won't cost you a dime.

Otherwise, if you are already using some form of a backup solution to manage redundant copies of the files you're working on, you probably won't discover anything particularly new here.

This article is not meant as an all-encompassing guide, but rather a brief introduction. One without product placements, affiliate links or hidden ads. Just honest opinions based on personal knowledge and experience.

Genshin Impact, GACHA and The Case of an Inferior Electronic Sticker Album

Last week saw the release of a new free-to-play Chinese electronic gambling game disguised as a 3rd person action RPG named Genshin Impact. And it turned out to be one of the largest launches for a Chinese game ever.

I wonder why...

Don't get me wrong: I love games with sexy girls and tons of fan-service! Not so much though, when I'm painfully aware that the actual entertainment product is a trap, designed to slowly condition players to regularly spend money for premium currency. Such currency can then be spent to take part in a game of chance-like ordeal where you pay to get a shot at unlocking a bunch of random heroes and items of different "rank", "tier" or "value" upon "rolling a banner", opening a loot-box, a chest, a magical item or whatever the hell they decide to call those in a particular game of this category.

Remember these?

tom-and-jerry-panini-sticker-album

Yes, the Panini Sticker Albums...