Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Great Upgrade of 2014

So a few days back my Dell notebook's Hard Disc Drive started to fail. It started with windows freezing up.. leading me to force a restart.. but i just couldnt get windows to run. so i did what anyone with a dual boot setup will do.. logged into Ubuntu and did a disc check. sure enough the disc was failing.  

Now Windows can't run on bad HDDs this has been my exerience in the past as well.. but Ubuntu will be able to boot up fine.. so i was able to check that all my data on the windows partitions were fine.. and then i called a computer guy. He heard the symptoms and agreed with my assessment. So off i went to replace the HDD. while doing that I realised i might as well do other upgrades. Since this is a notebook.. there arnt really that many upgrade options. So basically i got a new HDD and upped my RAM from 6 to 16gigs! yay!

After getting back home i proceeded to install windows(since most of my work programmes run on it) but instead of going back to the wndows 8(8.1) that i'd been using for the last year.. i decided to just go with the windows 7 that the machine shipped with. The primary reason being that in the last year the graphics drivers for windows 8 have been terrible.. it had affected both my gaming and 3d work performance. 

Now with a spanking new windows+Ubuntu dual boot installation, I've been able to run Arkham Origins properly..

Of course the performance could be a result of the 16gigs of ram..The Nvidia and Intel graphics chips can now use 2-3gigs of it and i still have plenty left over for the rest..  

but the stability is definitely a result of good drivers on windows 7. On windows 8 and 8.1 i frequently had graphics card crashes while modelling or gaming. Those arn't happenning anymore.

Moral of the story, if your Dell XPS 15 L502X shipped with Windows 7 .. stick with it.

Note: I liked Windows 8, I'm one of the few people who didnt miss the start button, or had any issues with the metro ui start screen.. which is why i stuck with it for a year. But after a year of terrible gaming and graphics problems.. i'done with it. atleast on this machine anyway... well my next one might be one of those Ubuntu or SteamOS Alienware offerings.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Gaming on Ubuntu

So after almost a year of using windows 8.. and then 8.1 with really bad gaming performance(my 3d modelling and animation work was also getting affected).. i was left with 2 options.

1) go back to windows 7 where all the graphics drivers worked reasonably fine. And all my games rocked.

2) Try gaming on Ubuntu..where the graphics drivers are working fine.. and especially since most of my games are on Steam.. and Steam is now available on ubuntu.

I decided to keep windows 8.1 for a bit longer and hope they(Nvidia or Dell) give me some problem-free graphics drivers soon.. but it doesnt look like i will be playing my copy of Arkham Origins anytime soon.

..and in the meantime will try gaming on ubuntu and see how it goes.. if it goes well.. then maybe the next machine i'm planning to buy can be a Ubuntu Alienware.

Note: This will not be a Ubuntu fan's flowery description of the awesomness of linux gaming.. this will be a gamer's take on the whole Steam on Linux thing.

So heres my experience so far(updates will follow). 
To see the full specs of my machine scroll to the bottom of the post.

and so.. Steam on Ubuntu..

THE BAD : Most of my games are not ported yet(to be fair, porting does take time).
over the years i've collected 53 games on Steam..

However of these only 12 are installable on my Ubuntu system.

The Good: The ones that are available look just as good as they did on Windows. So far I've only tried out Zen Bound2..(and Halflife 2 .. see the update below)
seen below running in windowed mode on my dual monitor setup..

and here in its fullscreen glory

 anti alias looks good.. lighting and textures are perfect..
but then this is a very basic game.. I will be trying out some of the First Person Shooters in my library..

Am actually waiting to play the Halflife2 and Portal series all over again.

Halflife2 will be installed in a few minutes..

I have heard that the source engine performs well.. so will post an update on that soon.

While browsing the store for more linux ports .. I was tempted to purchase Metro: Last light , which is a much newer game..

But I've decided not to buy any new titles yet until i'm sure that they'll run well on my current hardware. 

Apparently Bioshock is also going to get ported.. so when that happens.. i should be able to install it from my existing library.

Gaming on Linux has come a long way.. i used to dread having to use vine and other tools to get windows programs to work.. but with Steam .. this is all set to change.

In the meantime have a look at Nixie's review below

As expected, Halflife 2 runs well at highest graphics settings
and excellent framerates. Am thoroughly enjoying replaying it again.
here are some screen grabs

My machines specs: 
cpu= i7cpu 2.20 GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.10 GHz, 
ram= 6gigs DDR3 ram
storage= 1tb hdd, 
graphics= 2gb NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 540M graphics with Optimus(yes that painful thing), 
screen= 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) 

Hardware note: this particular graphics/motherboard model is known to be troublesome and on windows i would typically have to underclock it using MSI Afterburner, so it wouldn't crash during games. However on Ubuntu i've had to do absolutely no such tweaks.. which leads me to conclude that the fault is with the windows drivers supplied by Dell and Nvidia. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

H.R.Giger 1940-2014

H.R.Giger (1940-2014) passed away today. He created all the crazy biomechanoid art you see in the Alien franchise..

A few months back I had created a lego scene depicting the aliens.. it was one of the winners in the Sketchfast contest of that month.

Here are the same aliens, now paying homage to their original creator.

    lego  Alien giger memorial
    by Chaitanya Krishnan
    on Sketchfab


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tshirt Designs

Have submitted a few designs to Threadless this week.. have a look and vote for them please :)
if they get enough votes.. Threadless will put them into production!

Ascension, a cool t-shirt design

Crocodile Waltz, a cool t-shirt design

Love Skulls, a cool t-shirt design

Brown Motorcycle, a cool t-shirt design

Monday, May 5, 2014

Print on Wood

Saw this last week.. and had to try it myself.

My first attempt was smudgy.. but i think i just need to practice it a few times.
This was a gift for a friend who just had a baby 4 months back
It was a 4 sided hourglass.. i thought it would look good with prints of his baby on each side.
The mistake i made is that this was a varnished object.. if i had sanded it a bit, it might have smudged less.

Here are the basic steps:
1) Prepare your artwork for print. This is simple, since whatever you print will get mirrored, you need to flip your artwork before printing. Especially if your artwork has typeography.

2)Print on the waxy paper that is at the back of a label/sticker sheet. The Ink won't dry.. so relax you can take as long as you like.

3)In the video he uses a bit of sticking tape to make sure the paper doesn't shift during the transfer.. this works quite well with large artworks.. but if your doing something small.. like i did, it doesn't .. you just have to steady your hands.

4)Press the paper onto the wood. doing it the other way, ie: pressing the wood onto the paper might cause smudges.. or empty patches.. where the paper didnt make contact..

5) dries in a minute.. and then you can "fix"it with spray on clear coat.. i got this can at an art supplies store.

Have fun :)

Oh and subscribe to Steve Ramsey on youtube, for more fun wood work projects.