Well, my love for Microsoft seems to be flowing lately, as I just bought a gaming desktop on Amazon. It’s a really nice looking system at a really nice price. There are a few side effects to this purchase, including coming with Windows 10, which means I’ll be able to go back to Lightwave for CGI. My main reason for the stall in my CGI is that I still don’t like working in Blender all that well. It has ways of doing things that I just don’t like, we’ll leave it at that. (no, it’s not the GUI, Lightwave’s is no less convoluted) Other software I use is all cross platform, so it will work in Windows as well as Linux. Anyway, I’m looking forward to this. It’s going to be fun, especially the getting back into Lightwave part. Fortunately, I still have my hardware lock for Lightwave 10, though I may eventually upgrade to the newest version. I can also download the software from Newtek, which is good because the computer doesn’t have an optical drive, as they’re not used much anymore. Though, I can easily get a cheap external one if I need one for anything.
So, I did something yesterday:
I’ve been thinking of getting an XBOX One for a little while now. Yes, I’m a Linux user, but I don’t hate Microsoft, I just don’t like Windows, their game consoles are great. My 360 is several years old now and it has a 60GB hard drive. That was OK, but digital games take up more space than they used to. So, I figured I’d upgrade. I looked at new 360 E consoles on the odd chance they would be cheaper. Nope. For about the price of a 1TB XBOX One S, I could get a 4GB 360. A 360 with decent storage was more than the One S. So, I figured I’d get a One S with my Federal tax return. Then I was on the official XBOX site yesterday and I saw that Microsoft was having a deal where, if you bought an XBOX One directly from them you got a free game. I love free, so I took a look. No need to wait for my Federal return, I crunched some numbers and decided I could afford one. The XBOX One X is $499, but I don’t need one of those. It has beefier hardware and is designed for 4K TVs. Well, I have a 1080p TV, so no need for the One X. Besides, the One S can output to 4K, but it’s not designed around 4K like the One X is. But, the One X was out of my price range anyway. The One S, on the other hand, was totally affordable. I looked at a couple 1TB bundles that were $299, but the one I wanted wasn’t in stock. So, I kept going back to that Halo bundle. I love me some Halo, so that was calling to me. Sure, it’s only a 500GB system, but I can always add an external hard drive later. So, I put that in my cart.
When it came time to select my free game, there were a lot of good games there. However, Star Wars: Battlefront II was calling to me, so I selected that. However, that wasn’t all, it let me pick a second free game! So, I selected Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection, as I’ve been wanting to dive into some Assassin’s Creed for some time now. So, everything in the picture was $279 plus tax, shipping was free. And, it’s super cool that the two free games are physical copies, I was expecting download codes, like I got with the bundled Halo games. They always tell you that free shipping is 3-7 day, hoping you’ll pay for more expensive options. Nope, I’ll way. It turns out the wait wasn’t long. Less than 24 hours, in fact. I saw that FedEx truck pull up front, hurriedly disarmed the security system and unlocked the door. (and maybe freaked out the driver a bit, but he’ll survive) Anyway, I took it out of the plain box, posed it, snapped a pic and then tore into it. (not literally, I opened it like a civilized person) So, it’s hooked up where my 360 was and it’s updating right now. I have to go to work in a bit, but I’m looking forward to doing some game play after work.
So, I’ve never ordered anything physical from Microsoft before, just digital stuff. I’ve got to say, I’m pretty darn impressed with their service.
So, I got my Federal tax return last week, which is always that great annual lump sum payout for paying too much in taxes the rest of the year that gives you some nice spending cash, cash for bills, whatever. Well, I don’t have a lot of bills, so I took advantage of the extra spending cash. So, I bought another expensive toy.
For those who are curious, that is a Steam Machine. Basically, it’s a tiny i7 powered PC that runs SteamOS natively and hooks up to your TV for couch gaming. SteamOS is based on Debian Linux, making this first computer I’ve ever bought with Linux preinstalled. So far, all I’ve had time to do is hook it up and update, which borked controller (it’s a common issue.) I’ll fix it when I get home from work tonight. At the price I got the thing, I’m not complaining. Since retailers are trying to get rid of them, I got this majorly reduced. The i7 is the top of the line, $800 MSRP. However, I got mine for a little over $450. That’s close to half off. You can’t buy or build an i7 powered tower with 8GB RAM, a 1TB HD and an Nvidia GTX960 for less, so I’m happy. I’m going switch my PC games over to this and use my desktop for other stuff.
Well, I hope everyone is having a happy Star Wars day. I certainly am, mainly because of what I got yesterday. No, this isn’t a 3D model.
That is my new lightsaber, ordered from Ultra Sabers. I’ve been wanting one of these for ages, so I finally got one. The hilt is all aluminum and has some nice weight to it. The blade is thick walled polycarbonate, because I got a heavy blade, one you can duel with.
Now, I didn’t pick the hilt design or the blade color, because I ordered what they call their Grab Bag. That’s where they send you a random hilt, something they have already made. The hilt is an Initiate V4 LE hilt, and it has a silver AV switch. Together with the blade, this setup would be $104.99, but I paid only $70 for it because I got it in the Grab Bag. Plus, the Grab Bag has another fun element to it in that you don’t know what you’re getting, so it’s like buying yourself a surprise. Oh, and the blade is blazing red, it just looks yellow-orange on my camera. My phone made it look pink, so I went with my Nikon Coolpix for taking the pictures. I could have picked the blade color, but I just let them decide. Red wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I don’t hate it. It’s too hard to hate something this badass. Besides, I knew red was a possibility when I ordered the saber. They have 8 different LED colors and you can get any of them in the Grab Bag. Or, you can choose another color for $5 or $10 more.
I would like a longer hilt, so I may have to get another one soon and choose the hilt this time. Plus, they’re having a sale right now. Though, I’m also planning to buy a longer pommel for this one. The pommel unscrews easily to access the batteries, and to change it if you want to.
Anyway, I’m really pleased with my first Ultra Sabers purchase. I’ll definitely be a repeat customer. I also like their forum, it’s full of other saber nuts, many of whom are friendly and helpful towards people looking for that first saber purchase. US is much cheaper than most custom lightsaber shops. Plus, their turnaround is quick. Since I decided to not wait until payday, which is tomorrow, I ordered my Grab Bag last Thursday. It was shipped Friday and I got it yesterday. I paid for 2 day shipping because it was only a few dollars more and because I wanted it faster. 😀
So, May the Force Be With You all. It’s certainly with me.
In the “Frack me, that was fast” department, the doorbell rang a little over an hour ago and it was the delivery man with my new hard drive for my desktop. This is the drive:
I don’t usually buy Western Digital, but I’m a customer review shopper. I brought up the list of 3.5″ internal drives and re-sorted them by average customer review. This was the drive that came up first. It’s the #1 seller among desktop drives and has a 4.5/5 average review with 982 reviews. So, that’s good enough to me. I know, WD’s Black series is supposed to be faster than the Blue series, but I could get a 1TB for $11 less than a 500GB by going Blue, so that works for me. (about the same product reviews) As long as it’s SATA III, I’m happy. I’m pretty sure my old Samsung 1TB drive is only SATA II, but I’ll have to wait until I pull it out of the PC to be certain. Right now, I still have the old drive in there so that I can install my upgrade copy of Windows 7 without installing XP or Vista first. Plus, I still have a few files on my Media partition to copy off of there before I yank it out.
Anywho, happy times. Windows just got done installing, so it’s time to switch computers. 😀
The hard drive in my CGI machine is dying. So, if there’s a break in the “action,” (which there will be) that’s why. It’s been “losing” files for a while, which means it’s going. Probably most of today will be spent saving what I need from it before it goes kaput completely. Then I will stop using my desktop entirely until I can afford to change the drive. I do have a laptop (I’m using it now) and I can do CGI on it, but it’s slow. However, I’ve used worse. So, that’s what’s happening.
I know I haven’t been posting much lately, but I hope to change that in the near future. I’m probably going to do some “dirty” textures on the Constellation-class I finished a while back and then start a new build. I may also take some time to learn more about modeling in Blender, I haven’t decided yet.
Meanwhile, I took advantage of a Cyber Monday sale (on Monday, obviously :P) and bought some PC upgrades from Tiger Direct. Previously, my computer was running an ASUS LGA775 motherboard with an Intel Celeron 2.50 GHz Dual Core and 4GB DDR2 800 MHz RAM. It ran well for over two years and was still running well for CGI and gaming, but I wanted more power. (insert Tim Allen’s Home Improvement “More Power” thing here) So, I decided it was time for an upgrade. As people who know PCs know, upgrading a processor on an LGA775 is stupid. Even if you can find a processor for that board, it will probably be a Celeron, Pentium or Core2 Dual Core or a Core 2 Quad Core (yesterday’s tech.) Plus, it will probably be expensive. So, I obviously had to upgrade the motherboard. I chose a GIGABYTE AM3+ board with lots of goodies on it, including a lot of PCI Express slots, 4 RAM slots for up to 32GB RAM and lots of USB ports. I paired that up with an AMD FX-8120 processor, which is a 3.10 GHz 8-core processor and 8GB DDR3 1600 MHz RAM. I saved a shitload of money on that stuff and I love it. I got and installed everything on Wednesday and my computer has never been happier. Linux booted right up, as expected. Of course, since I moved my 1TB HDD to a new motherboard, I had to reinstall Windows 7. But, everything went well and it’s working great:
Ignore the stupid 4.9/7.9 on the Windows Experience Index. I could really give a damn how well it thinks it works with the Windows Aero desktop. It works fine, no matter what that idiotic thing says. I didn’t upgrade my graphics card because I have a perfectly good one that works great for gaming, no matter what that stupid thing says. What I haven’t figured out is the higher score for 3D Business & Gaming Graphics, which requires more graphics juice than the stupid desktop. What I like is the 7.5/7.9 on the Calculations Per Second and Memory Operations Per Second. 😀
Anywho, that’s lots of fun. Naturally, I had to try some rendering on it. TrueSpace was virtually useless as a test. It’s never been optimized to work any better with multiple cores, so it renders achingly slowly no matter how many you have. Blender, meanwhile, is a whole other story. I rendered a lightsaber I made a couple years ago. On my old rig, this took a few minutes to render. On the new one, it takes between 41 and 42 seconds. 😀
So, I’m happy. 😀 😀
Also, I was mentioning the rendering thing and showing that image on 3DSciFi and a friend of mine asked where I got the brushed metal texture for the ‘saber. So, I told him I made it and told him I’d write a tutorial. So, I did. There’s a new tutorial at the top of the page called “Brushed Metal Texture.” It’s a short tutorial and will only take a few minutes to complete.
…you pay $14.99 + $3.00 S&H for this bad boy on eBay:
I bought a copy of it new back in 1998 with the other cover:
Unfortunately, that went MIA years ago, so I decided to get another copy. It said NM (Near Mint) on the sale listing and they weren’t kidding. I doubt the one I bought back in 1998 would have been in that good shape by now. 😉 I know $14.99 may seem like a lot to some people but it’s not to a Trekkie and X-Men fan who wants to get a piece of the good ol’ days back. 😀
Also, those pics are courtesy of my new camera:
And, since the camera obviously didn’t take a picture of itself, those pics are courtesy of my Samsung Galaxy Note:
The Note was a recent purchase. I went to Best Buy and exchanged my Kindle Fire for it because I didn’t like the Fire that well as a reader or as a tablet. So, I also got a regular Kindle:
Anywho, having fun. Alas, still no CGI lately.