Dragon day two

So, day 2 of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11.5: still nice speech recognition when dictating, still bad command recognition when using other software. I suspect this has something to do with the fact that my microphone is of poor quality and my audio interface is even worse. I might go out and invest in some form of USB microphone but I am reluctant to invest in something with only potential benefits.

Maya and the Corrective Blendshape

So, It turns out that either I am a lot more stupid than I had previously given myself credit for, or someone suddenly made it a lot more difficult to make corrective blend-shapes in Maya than it ought to be. That, or Autodesk introduced some fancy new tool in Maya 2009 that no one has told me about.

If you, like me, find yourself with a strong desire to make corrective blend-shapes but without the corresponding desire to do so fumbling blind and pulling random vetices, you would usually find some script or plug-in that would allow you to do it in the deformed pose you wanted to correct (Note to Google: This might also be called Pose Space Deformation). If you then, like me, find yourself unable to find said script or plug-in it would seem that  you have only the following Fahrenheit-rigging-DVD-non-approved technique to rely on.

  1. Model, rig and skin your character. If you are like me you have already done this.
  2. Pose you character in the pose you want to correct
  3. Duplicate your deformed mesh twice, calling one positive and one negative. Move them a little away from your model
  4. Model your corrected shape on the mesh called positive.
  5. Make a new blend-shape node on your character containing the two duplicate meshes. This blend shape must use the parallel blending mode.
  6. Move your character back to bind-pose and in the parallel blend-node, set the positive mesh to 1 and the negative to -1. This should blend your mesh so that you only have the deformations you made to the positive mesh, but now in a neutral pose.
  7. Duplicate this new mesh and call it something with the letters BS is the name because this is infinitely funny. This mesh can now be used as a corrective blend-shape
  8. Delete the parallel blend-node and repeat these steps for all your shapes. Yes, really.
  9. When done, add all your new shapes into a new blend shape node called corrective-something-or-another, making sure to use front of chain blending. I think.
  10. Set up your shapes with driven keys or whatever works for you.

Congratulations, you are done, possibly. Please note that this worked for me on my very simple character but as mentioned, the Fahrenheit rigging DVD says that the method is flawed and will probably cause problems. Buy the DVD if you want to know what kind of problem (Hint: it could involve explosions).

Please let me know if you know anything better.

PS. I was kidding about that explosion part. Most likely.

Maya and the Wireframe – A Fairytale

I don’t know if my 3ds Max upbringing has spoiled me but I have always harboured the belief that making a wireframe render should be as simple as ticking a box marked “Wireframe” and then pressing render.

Maya, however, disagrees with me. She believes that that would be to easy. “If you could just click a button, you wouldn’t really think about what kind of wireframe you really wanted,” she seems to say to me. “I mean,” she continues, “maybe you just wanted a simple wireframe render, but what if you wanted a wireframe with a thickness? Or one that was a bit wiggly? Or one that turns slightly red based on the distance to the nearest torus-shaped object?”

When I tell her “but honestly, I just wanted a simple wireframe render,” she pauses for a bit before turning away from me, quietly sobbing.

I then boot up Firefox.

So, Maya

So, I try to import at sound into Maya and I get the error “cannot find file” and I think, “that’s weird. I can and I just told you where it is…”

So I look around a bit on the Internets and find nothing that solves my immediate problem. The closest is someone who solved his problem by changing the format of the file. Possibly because I have used computers for so long my first reaction to this seemingly useless piece of information was “hey, maybe that’s why Maya is telling my that it cannot find the file”.

So I poked around a bit and just look and lo and behold and see what we have here, the file suddenly works.

So therefore: thank you Maya. Thank you for that very helpful error message you gave me. I don’t know what I would have done without it.

Debug?

I just had Maya crash on me for the Nth time today* and I noticed this little button with the label “Debug”. I wonder now, what exactly is it that I am supposed to debug? Are you expecting me to just have a quick look at the Maya source code; see if I can see anything wrong?

Or maybe Windows XP?

Even funnier: atop the absurdity of someone apparently expecting me to have any chance of making heads and tails of the source-code to a complex piece of software like Maya, is the implied assumption that I’m supposed to actually fix errors in a piece of software that I payed quite a lot of money for.

But enough venting for one day.

*where N is a number between “too bloody many times” and “oh my God, that I don’t believe in, I am going to kill someone soon”

Hello World!

Suddenly Gigahost fuxed up my webserver and then all my files were gone. Then I cried for a while, in my mind, and then I set to work restoring my site.

Luckily, my database was still intact so I could recover all my posts and comments but it did take a bit of fiddling. I couldn’t copy over my user info or my options because then WordPress broke, but that isn’t that big of a deal because I only have one user anyway.

This is what I did to use my old database in my new WordPress install and you could probably too if you use phpMyAdmin:

  1. Install a fresh wordpress to a new database, run the install script and log in to the new database
  2. I added myself as a new user and deleted the admin, but I don’t think this is necessary.
  3. Go to phpMyAdmin and select your old data base.

You need to copy the following tables: wp_comments, wp_links, wp_posts, wp_postmeta, wp_terms, wp_term_relationships and wp_term_taxonomy. That were the tables I bothered copying, at least. You do that by doing the following:

  1. Select one of the tables in the list to the left and then click the operations tap on the right of the list
  2. In the “Copy table to (database.table)” select your new database and type in the name of the table (or copy it from the “Move table to” field right above your current field.
  3. click the “add DROP TABLE” option.
  4. click “Go”
  5. Hopefully you didn’t get any errors or you are now, officially, in Trouble.

You should now have a working wordpress with all your old posts and none of your old design. Take it as an opportunity to spice up your website a bit. Also, take this opportunity to backup your website. I know I will.

Option?

So, I am reading the Boot Camp documentation from apple and it says that to choose which OS to load I have to press the “Option” key. The I look at my keyboard and lo and behold there is no “Option” Key. There is a Ctrl. There is an Alt. There is even the Apple/Sightseeing key that, silly me, I thought was the Option Key (It’s not. It’s the “Command” key). Why not just write Alt when you mean Alt. Why must you use an obscure icon that no-one understands?

Oh, yeah, the method I used to get 3 partitions didn’t work so now I am installing OS X again.

Reformat

When my computer starts misbehaving I get this terrible urge to reformat and reinstall. Terrible I tell you! So terrible that it would melt the very minds of mere mortals!!! Ah, but I digress. Some of this is because of a long relationship with Windows, I am sure, but I also think that in some way I am trying to punish it for playing silly buggers. And oh what a punishment it must be.

I got my Mac up and running yesterday, no problem. I took forever but apart from that it worked like a charm. I just had to install rEFIt again and I could boot Mac and Windows just like I used to. Only, I had to try and mess with my partitions in an attempt to get a little more space for Windows and then I fucked it up.

So, now I am writing again. Waiting for OS X to finish installing. Waiting for my old Lappy while it’s burning a copy of Windows. But most of all, I am waiting to see if my Windows will activate again. There is no reason for it not to, it is completely legit, but I am still worried though. I don’t really know what to do if it doesn’t.

Mommy, I Broke My Mac!

Which I don’t really understand because, supposedly, It Just Works, right?

One day, my Macbook Pro just wouldn’t start properly anymore. It would boot fine (but without triggering rEFIt) but when it got to OS X, it would just sit there doing nothing. At first I suspected rEFIt, but after a while I decided that it didn’t feel like a boot loader error. I could boot windows through my install disk. In the end I figured I could just as well just reinstall OS X and get it over with (possibly a gut reaction from my days in windows, but honestly, without any Terminal knowledge what am I supposed to do with a operating system that doesn’t load?)

Now I am looking forward to seeing if I can get my machine up and running by just installing the OSX partition and leaving the Windows one as is. If not, I might just use this as an excuse to shift my focus back towards windows again. There are just some thing in OSX that are annoying me to no end. One being the inconsistency in pop-up-dialog-window-keyboard navigation (say that 10 times fast). Sometimes you can do it, sometimes not and sometimes you need obscure key-combinations and there is no indications when you can do what.

Yes, a small thing like that can really drive me up a wall.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that I am installing OS X right now and I don’t remember if Apple ever bragged about install times on their operating system, but if they did: f**k them. Or at least give me good quality DVDs that doesn’t take half or whole hours to check for errors.

Snakes on a Mac

I have been playing around a bit with Python these last couple of days (because of Maya) and it looks to be quite simple to get into. A problem I ran into though was a key missing. More specifically, the backslash. You know, this one: “”

As you can see, I found it.

But if you haven’t yet, and you, like me, have a danish macbook pro, you do like this:

backslash “” = alt + shift + 7

other useful combinations are:

brackets “[" and "]” = alt + 8 and 9

curly brackets “{” and “}” = alt + shift + 7 and 8

pipe “|” = alt + i

dollar sign “$” = alt + shift + 3

tilde “~” = alt + ¨ (the one right next to the enter key)

Of course, you could always just use the Keyboard viewer and start pressing buttons, but it could be annoying in the long run. All in all, I blame my danish keyboard. When I was in the states I couldn’t help noticing that their keyboards were so much better suited for coding. If I ever get into serious MEL / Python scripting I might even get me one.