Did I mention my new book?

Lampstack-SoftcoverOver the last few weeks I’ve written a book. It’s about how to run web applications in the comfort of your own home.

Yesterday it went live on Amazon! I have an author page and everything!

Turns out that writing was the easy part: formatting it so that it looks good on Kindle devices was a bit tougher. It’s a tech book after all, which means there are several screenshots and code snippets which need to be formatted to stand out from the rest of the text.

Before I call myself “best selling author”, let me describe how this book came to be.

 

Continue reading Did I mention my new book?





Where does DAZ Studio store temporary renders

When DAZ Studio is finished rendering an image into a new window, we have the option to save it. But if we don’t do that, and there happens to be a power cut (and your computer is accidentally not connected to a UPS), where does that render go? Is it lost forever? Or is it saved somewhere secret?

Lucky for us, the render is indeed saved in a temporary location. By default, on Windows systems, the full path to temporary renders is

  • C:/Users/yourname/AppData/Roaming/DAZ 3D/Studio4/temp/render

If you can’t see the AppData folder, make sure you’re displaying hidden files and folders in Windows Explorer (under View – Options – Change folder options – View).

On Macs, the full path is

  • Library/Application Support/DAZ 3D/Studio4/temp/render

The Library can be reached when holding down CMD and selecting Go from the Finder menu.

Each temporary render is saved as a random letter or number. Note that as soon as you restart DAZ Studio, this folder is cleared! So the procedure upon DAZ Studio crashes or power cuts is to rescue those renders first, then restart DAZ Studio.

You can change the location of this folder under Preferences – General.





How to play HALO on Windows 10

The other day I bought a brand new copy of the 2001 classic HALO – Combat Evolved for Windows. I really liked this game and played it on the original XBOX quite a bit – even thought I must admit that I neither liked nor got it the first few times I picked it up. A colleague told me to stick with it, and I began to love it over time (probably when I “got” the story and the controls).

Fast forward 16 years and I thought, perhaps I’ll pick it up again. My HP Z600 with Windows 10 next to the TV is extremely capable hardware for this type of entertainment.

Imagine my disappointment however when the game installed fine on Windows 10, but refused to start. Nothing doing! I ran it as Administrator, went through all the compatibility options, but nada – HALO did not want to start up. Monkeytrumpet, I thought.

Thankfully we have the internet, and I soon came across an article that explained that I needed to download Patch 1.10 of the game from the Bungie website. A 16 year old game is still supported with updates? Go figure! Here’s the link to that patch.

Enjoy!





How to avoid missing textures in Reality for DAZ Studio

I was playing around with Reality for DAZ Studio the other day, and the above phenomenon occurred. It’s a Michael 6 render that should have worked out of the box – especially because Reality is clever enough to convert his skin shaders to automatically. The render worked fine on one of my machines, but not on another.

Strangely enough though, I could see the textures fine in the viewport. And a quick test render in both 3Delight and Iray showed the textures fine too. But Reality and LuxRender wanted to render the skin tone as some scary metal.

So what’s going on?

The culprit is DAZ Connect. On this second machine, Michael 6 was installed not via the DAZ Install Manager, but from within DAZ Studio via DAZ Connect. This has happened because I loaded the scene (from Dropbox), and DAZ Studio recognised that Michael 6 was not installed, and hence offered to install him for me. I accepted the generous offer, but Reality and LuxRender can’t handle textures installed via DAZ Connect. Continue reading How to avoid missing textures in Reality for DAZ Studio





How to render “Manuel Bastioni LAB” characters without purple skin in Blender

I recently discovered the Manuel Bastioni LAB add-on for Blender. Judging it only by the title you’d never guess it’s an extravagant people generator of the highest caliber! Bastioni was working with the folks from MakeHuman for many years, but The LAB is his own project.

In a nutshell, it creates ready-to-use characters, complete with poses and morphs, as well as many other complex goodies. And as with many complex things, rendering can take a while. I tend to prepare a scene on one machine, transfer it to a faster system and let it render while I setup the next scene.

This workflow usually works a treat with .blend files, but not necessarily with those containing Manuel Bastioni characters. Turns out the skin has a good chance of looking alien purple. Quite a nice effect, but perhaps not all the time.

Lucky for us, knowing why this happens will help us understand how to fix the problem. It’s not a bug, just a question of which box to tick when saving those files. Let me show you which box that is and how to avoid the purple skin effect.

The Purple Skin Phenomenon

Continue reading How to render “Manuel Bastioni LAB” characters without purple skin in Blender





How to hide lights in DAZ Studio with NVIDIA Iray

As with real life objects, lights in the Iray Render Engine are by default not invisible. They’re like a lamp in a film studio: if it wasn’t there, it wouldn’t emit light. But now that it’s there,  it can sometimes get in the way, even though we want it to emit light.

Turns out there’s an easy way to make those physical objects invisible, so that we’re able to film/shoot/render/see right through them. Turning them invisible isn’t going to work, because once they’re gone, they won’t emit light anymore.

So head over to Light – Render Emitter and switch it off.

On means your light will be rendered as visible object, while off means it will still emit light, but the actual light object is no longer rendered.





How to use Spotlights with NVIDIA Iray in DAZ Studio

The NVIDIA Iray render engine can be a bit of a mysterious box sometimes. Especially when it comes to lighting. But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s see how we can add a standard spotlight to our scene and set it up so we can use it properly with Iray.

Let’s take this simple scene as as demo and a staring point. It’s a there and a plane, both of which have Iray shaders applied (it’s Walnut on the floor, and orange car paint on the sphere).

Iray Default Light (IBL)

1-iray-default-lights

The default lighting for a new DAZ Studio Iray scene comes with a small HDRI image applied by default, and when we render our scene, we can see the effects of that light source.

Notice that there’s a small specular highlight on the sphere, on the left hand side (a small shots spot). This is the sun’s hotspot from the HDRI image map. As you turn the camera around, the hotspot moves. Alternatively you can move the Iray Dome to move that hotspot (under Render Settings – Environment – Dome – Dome Rotation).

Not every HDRI image has a sun though, and depending on which map you use, you may not even see such a hotspot in your renders.

Adding a Spotlight

The left hand side of our sphere is a little darker, and if this was a character’s face, we may want to brighten it up a bit. In 3Delight we’d just add a standard spotlight, tweak the intensity and shadows until we’re happy, and then we’re done with it. With Iray we’ll do the same thing – but the settings are just a little different. Continue reading How to use Spotlights with NVIDIA Iray in DAZ Studio





After All Day Breakfast, may we ask for All Day Burgers please?

 

Here in the US, sometime in 2016, McDonald’s surprised everyone by adding “All Day Breakfast” items to the menu. Now we can order egg burgers around the clock, 24/7, every day of the week, at any time we please.

Previously we were always restricted to very awkward breakfast times that seemed to change arbitrarily: some stores started breakfast at 4am, others at 5:30am, and the offering ends either at 10:30am or 11am. Or something. And of course during breakfast hours, you can only order breakfast items – nothing else.

As I understand it, this was a technical limitation of the kitchen, in which equipment had to be re-purposed to either be an egg fryer or a burger fryer. Or something along those lines. It was not technically possible for McDonald’s to serve both breakfast and burgers at the same time, so it was one or the other.

Since 2016 and the big “All Day Breakfast” move however, things are different. I don’t know how they do it, but now you can order almost the entire breakfast menu during lunchtime, in the evening or in the darkest night. Add that Egg McMuffin to the Quarter Pounder, or have your Big Mac with a Sausage McGriddle. You can even wrap your Chicken McNuggets in Hotcakes and dip it all in syrup if you like. Excellent!

This is great news for all of us who have McDonald’s breakfast on their minds, but arrive at the store at 11:02am, where in the past our hopes and dreams would be shattered to get those soggy Hash Browns with an Egg Burger and orange juice. Not anymore: come in for breakfast anytime, to any McDonalds.

So the breakfast lovers are all taken care of. How about the burger lovers though? Continue reading After All Day Breakfast, may we ask for All Day Burgers please?





Hotel Dusk: Room 215

When I owned a DS console many years ago, I remember playing a game called Hotel Dusk: Room 215. It was more like an interactive book than a classic adventure game. At times a little tedious, it had a super gripping storyline and I couldn’t forget.

In the story, protagonist Kyle Hyde, former NYPD detective, has left the force and is now a door-to-door salesman. He’s still trying to find out what happened to his former partner. When his employer sends him to Hotel Dusk in LA, he finds a host of characters that all tie together into a larger plot, which appears to be connected to the disappearance of Kyle’s former partner.

When I discovered the DesMuME emulator for the DS recently, I thought I’d try running the game on my Surface Pro – and it’s almost exactly like having a super sized DS, complete with stylus.

Since the game has it’s tricky moments, I’ve made list of questions I had while re-playing the mysteries of Hotel Dusk: Room 2015.

Continue reading Hotel Dusk: Room 215





How to setup the Xbox 360 controller for Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb on Windows

I’ve bought another classic retro title from GOG.com the other day: Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb (from 2003 I believe). I greatly enjoyed this game on the original Xbox and I had no idea that it had even been released for other platforms.

Turns out the game does support a (more or less) mappable Gamepad profile, but it was written many years before the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows was even invented, and as such not all buttons can be mapped.

Which means the gaming experience sucks – especially for a game with so many commands.

Luckily I found a very helpful forum post discussing these very issues, and of course someone cleverer than you and me has figured our how to get the Xbox controller to (mostly) work in this game. I did have some success following that post, but to make this thing work 100%, there are a couple of things we need to do.

I thought I’d share them in this article, in case you too would like to help Indy fight against the evil Nazis.  Continue reading How to setup the Xbox 360 controller for Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb on Windows





How to run Might and Magic III (from GOG) on your Mac

I’ve recently discovered GOG.com, the service that provides “good old games” from yesteryear to retro connoisseurs like myself. Games that used to run well on DOS and other long forgotten platforms are getting a new lease on life by being packaged up to run on today’s technology.

Many games run on Windows, Mac and even Linux – but some are only available for single platforms, mostly Windows. The Might and Magic 6-pack is such an example, available for only $9.99 (a total bargain, considering it’s 7 games).

I remember getting “Isles of Terra” free with a computer magazine in the nineties. I’m not usually into role playing games, but having enjoyed Bard’s Tale III on my C64 many years before, I gave this one a shot and loved it – just like its sequels (Clouds of Xeen and Darkside of Xeen, together making up a whole new game called World of Xeen).

I wanted to find out if I’d still enjoyed this game today, so I tried installing it on my Mac using a Windows 7 VM with Parallels Desktop. However, it didn’t run well and the mouse is interpreted rather weirdly. That’s no surprise really, because it means I’m running an emulator inside another emulator. Of course things will go wrong!

Might and Magic is installed using the DOSbox emulator under Windows, and as soon as you click the launch icon, DOSbox is launched, and within it the actual game. Thing is, DOSbox is also available for Mac, several Linux flavours and some other exotic platforms – so I was wondering if I could somehow just run DOSbox on my Mac and launch the original files from within it.

To my surprise, it works great!

Let me show you how I did it in this article. Continue reading How to run Might and Magic III (from GOG) on your Mac