Opinion Archives

What’s a good configuration for a 3D/Rendering/DAZ Studio computer

I’ve had various requests and discussions with supporters recently about what might be a good configuration for a DAZ Studio and/or rendering computer. It’s a good question, and with so many systems and components on the market, I thought I’d compile this article as a starting point. Feel free to ask specific questions in the …

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Here’s what Amazon sell as “new” these days

Remember how I was so thrilled about that new Blue Yeti microphone in my previous post, and how this thing sold out so quickly? Well it arrived… and I’m less than pleased with the service I’ve received from online giant Amazon.

What they’ve sent me as the correct item, but it was not a new item. It showed heavy signs of usage. Let me show you some pictures below, anon about that hilarious chat I had with their customer services agent.

Grab a coffee and read a funny story of how Amazon may have lost their edge in Customer Satisfaction.

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DAZ Studio Render Speeds – The Results are in!

A while ago I’ve asked you all to download a test scene and see how fast it renders. Everyone’s got a different graphics card/RAM/CPU setup, and I was interested to see how DAZ Studio would perform with those varying configurations. After all, most “review” websites only put hardware under scrutiny using video games, and for many of us, that’s just not how we use our systems.

I must admit that I’ve been trying to write out a nice looking and well formatted table many a time, but it just never got done. It had always been my intention to share the results with everyone, so rather than keep you waiting and go through all the graphical pain of making a lovely looking spreadsheet, I’ll just share the raw data with you. I’ll also let you know how I interpret it in simple words, with the intention of finding the most cost effective configuration for working with DAZ Studio. Here it is – the Google Sheet we’ve all been waiting for:

This is a view-only link (I think), and additional submissions will be added from the form on my other article at the bottom.

What does this data mean?

From the looks of it, using DAZ Studio 4.11 in 2019, the fastest render results for the lowest amount of money can be achieved using any variation of the NVIDIA RTX 2080 card.

The only one faster is the RTX 2080 Ti, which aside from more RAM (11GB vs 8GB for the 2080) is also clocked slightly faster, resulting in faster render speeds. However, the price jump is remarkable for the Ti (almost double when compared to the non-Ti version), and in my opinion for DAZ Studio it’s just not worth it.

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My first 24 hours with Unity3D

I’ve heard so much about the Unity Game Engine, I’ve seen what people can build with it. Some of my favourite games use it, and it has long been on my list of things to “check out” if ever I have a few spare hours.

Turns out that time has come this Friday afternoon, and I thought I’d best take some notes on how it all went. In case you’re in the same boat, i.e. a total N00B at Unity, perhaps I can save you some time. I’ve previously installed and very briefly tested the Unreal Engine, and I’m usually good at figuring out how to make something work on a computer, so let’s see how it’s going with Unity.

For posterity, I’m using Unity 2019.2 in September 2019 here.

Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t smooth. I’m not sure how much time I’d like to invest, no matter how awesome it might be after that long dark tunnel of awkwardness. In the end I did make a small project (linked below) and got the hang of the basics, but getting there wasn’t pleasant. Here’s how it all went for me.

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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?

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Why I joined The Blender Cloud

Blender LogoYesterday, while I was receiving my 13th chemotherapy shot at the hospital infusion suite, I’ve spontaneously joined The Blender Cloud.

Full of pride I mentioned this on Twitter, and Ton Roosendaal asked me to sum up what got me on board in one tweet. That’s not an easy feat, considering what the Blender Cloud has to offer, and the more I thought about it, the more reasons sprang to mind.

Here’s why I did it (in slightly more than 160 characters).

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Hey there, Television! How’s it going?

What’s wrong with this picture: Some organisation decides to broadcast a movie or TV show, at a time that they deem “the best” to maximise their profits. The organisation¬†has commissioned the programme at great expense,¬†and they decide to chop it up into little pieces and place a plethora of annoying adverts in it to make …

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What I’d like to see in a potential Apple iPad Pro

Rumours that Apple are working on a larger version of the iPad go back at least a couple of years. In fact I had secretly dreamt up something I felt they should call the iPad Air around 2013, before Apple had actually come out with the “real” iPad Air.

See, my idea was to make an Apple version of what Microsoft did successfully with the Surface Pro:

  • take a MacBook Air
  • take off the keyboard
  • and add¬†a touch screen
  • give us a real Wacom stylus
  • keep the size of 12-13 inches
  • and voila!

That’s precisely what a Surface Pro is – and I love using mine. But there’s room for improvement, and although I’ve not used the latest Surface Pro 3, or a Wacom Intuos Companion, I’d still like to see something along those lines running Apple software.

Specifically for graphic intense tasks, a stylus is a must – Wacom or otherwise. Ultimately I want a portable Apple-powered Intuos Companion, for drawing as well as “real” handwriting. And with rumours of what the media now dub The iPad Pro, we may see such a gadget at some point¬†in 2015.

But here’s the problem: Microsoft have one version of Windows on the Surface Pro. Therefore desktop apps run great out of the box. And Apple don’t have that. iOS and OS X are worlds apart, even if you can use similar code and turn it into two applications. Xcode supports that.

The iPad Pro as I envision it would seriously benefit from running OS X and make use of the full array of desktop applications such as Photoshop, SketchBook Pro and many others. By which I mean existing apps that we know which are ready to go. Not specced-down versions that don’t deliver.

If however Apple were to bring out an iPad Pro type device and instead have it run iOS, then all we’d really have is a large iPad. There would be no benefits to it whatsoever, other than yet another screen size. Granted, over the next few years apps will emerge that will¬†find uses for it, but that’s in the future and not usable from the get go. And sure, we’ll be able to enjoy Procreate on a very large display, but squishy rubber-tip styluses are not the same as using an Intuos pen on a real tablet.

So if the iPad Pro is to come out, what will Apple¬†put on it? Here are four options I’ve dreamt up.

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Mac Mini 2014: If that’s the future, you can keep it!

Over the last few months I was considering buying a Mac Mini. I’m currently using my high-spec MacBook Pro 2.8GHz Dual Core i7 on a 27′ Thunderbolt Display, but it’s awkward to unplug every time I want to use it as a laptop. The Mac Mini would streamline my desk and add some more power to those 3D apps I’m using.

Or so I thought.

When the refreshed 2014 Mac Mini line was introduced this week¬†I couldn’t quite believe my eyes: Appe have¬†made the little guy much slower than his predecessors!

Granted, the graphics card is better, the IO ports are faster¬†– but the Firewire 800 port has been removed¬†– which is not such good news for video editors. And in terms of processing power, all we¬†can get now are Dual Core i5 models which are slower than my current 3yr old laptop. The 2012 models featured Quad Core i7’s at 2.3GHz, something I had really looked forward to.

The Mac Mini 2012 lineup
The Mac Mini 2012 lineup wasn’t bad at all

For many buyers the Mac Mini was a cheaper alternative to the overpriced Mac Pro: get the medium model, increase the RAM, replace the 1TB drive with an SSD, and for about $1000 you’ve got a super small desktop with more processing power than most people know what to do with.

It was a blessing for professionals: You could buy 4 such machines for the same money as a single Mac Pro which is less than twice as fast.

Apple aren’t stupid. They know this too. Notice that the current line-up of Mac Mini’s no longer includes a Server model, probably because nobody ever bought it. Buyers like me would opt instead¬†for the $200 cheaper model with an empty hard drive slot, ready for aftermarket goodies.

Perhaps such a powerful¬†2012 Mac Mini was hurting Mac Pro and iMac sales, and¬†I guess the decision was made to relegate the Mini to be a cheap “web and email machine”. No professional should ever look at it again.

And to bring this point home with a baseball bat, Apple have removed the ability for users to upgrade the RAM or the hard disk after purchase. Even though there is room for a second hard drive in there – just like before – the Mac Mini is now unopenable for mere mortals.

So NO¬†Tim, not “everything is great”.

This leaves me with the decision to quickly get one of the 2012 models, or rethink the way I do things with my MacBook / Thunderbolt setup.

The new Mac Mini 2014 lineup leaves you wanting more. Or rather less.

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Dear Microsoft, is everything OK in Redmond?

20140621-124416.jpg

Hello Microsoft, I hear you have announced that on the 20th of June 2014 you’ll release a new version of your tablet device, the Surface Pro 3.

At first I thought those auto-completed search results were generated by fanboys looking ahead into 2015. It couldn’t be true, and it didn’t make sense I thought. Because the last Surface just came out a few months ago. But then I searched myself and found it was true. Press Release and everything. Microsoft are serious about it.

Confused I read a “preview review”: Surface Pro 3 is thinner and lighter (both in weight and colour), it’s faster and it’s even cheaper than the previous model. It also no longer features Wacom digitizer technology. Instead it has some other non-brand thing built in that makes touch input less accurate, but makes for more natural handwriting from what I understand. You probably know this better than I do.

What I couldn’t quite understand is why? Why replace a solid device so soon after it’s been released?

By my count that gives the Surface Pro an 8 month release cycle!

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