Sunday, May 13, 2018

DOOMCOCK RULES !

I am a lifelong Sci-fi fan but it seems that evil forces work to prevent me enjoying any good showsthat might appear. The last one I actually watched and enjoyed was The Expanse which appeared on Netflix here in Oz for the first two seasons then . . . for no apparent reason they didn't bother to give me Season Three. I voted with my wallet and cancelled my $12  month because that was the ONLY show I was paying for. . . . and, well, now it seems SCIFI Channel in the US has canned the whole show at the end of season three even though the ratings were fine. But don't take my word for it, check out my new Overlord of Sci Fi Reviews, Dictor Von Doomcock (and Harvey Cthulu !)


Having seen a few of his other vids now, I can only agree with him on alomst everything (except destroying the Earth).
Sure, the outfit is a bit rough round the edges but who cares, His analysis and critique are right on the dot. 
To me, it seems that Disney has ruined every movie it has made lately. Consider Pixar, for example: they made some great movies when they started, but now they seem  to have no good ideas and the stuff they made recently I didn't even like the idea of, it just didn't grab me. Then there was Frozen which I only watched because the person I was with wanted to see it. It was just, well, the characters were ugly and although it had a couple of moments that worked, mostly it was . . . . blaaaaaaaaah. Something has gone seriously wrong in the writing and plot department over there.  Well, that's my opinion anyway.  Check out what Doomcock says about the Star Wars franchise, I'm glad I didn't waste my money on seeing it now - and he doesn't think much of the new Trek either which confirms what I read and saw from other sources, The original Trek was cheap and cheesy at times but at least they had good stories and didn't wreck things with stupid gaping plot holes.  The writers must all be aflicted with some sort of malaise. Either that or there aren't any writers.Yeah, that must be it.

I can only hope that Netflix or someone else with the power will bring The Expanse back from the dead. All I can do is hope that my own efforts result in something better than the dreck we are being afflicted with lately - but then that is a rather low standard to exceed, unfortunately.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Last thoughts about Apple and Mac Pro


Well there it is. Confirmed – Apple is working to replace all Intel chips with their own by 2020. They tried this approach before but they could not afford it – now they can, but I still think it is going to be a bad thing for high end users for these reasons:
Apple will try to shave down the processing power you use to do things with since it is cheaper for them to do so. Remember the time they made all the nice colour icons in your sidebars grey? That was a power shaving trick. Expect more of this. They will also try to make the Mac apps more the same as the iPhone and iPad since it saves them cash and puts less demand on the chips.
Apple noted recently that users don't want Mac and iPads to use the same software (I wonder why?) but I think they will try any way.

This also means that Mac software will diverge from Windows wares again as it was way back, and this will mean that many common apps will disappear.
Personally I think this is nasty:  the more Apple gets into this “walled garden” idea the less I like it. Maybe it will be more “secure” from hackers (or so some will tell us) but the price is the computing world will split.

You might not have noticed it but there were always some divisions between Mac and Windows – recently this was really shown up to me by my own webpages having dark and yellowy images on it because of the different way Apple and Microsoft define their colour spaces in the monitor controls.
I didn't see it until I got a Windows computer and tried both systems on the same screen with the same image.( see previous post here )

This sort of thing is partly handled by using software made by people independent of either OS maker – for example, Firefox as a web browser runs on all platforms so it doesn't favour either – but the more specialised Apple makes their hardware, the less other makers are even going to bother making a version just for Mac OS. If Apple moves away from Intel and (by inference) x86 architecture, they will need some serious attractions to get people to buy into it.

Apple is not, and has never been the biggest supplier of computers or OSes – although they dominate the phone market, that is something quite different. The more Apple goes toward fancier iPads rather than seriously powerful hardware, the less I want a Mac. Yes, OSX as it is now is still better in some ways that Windows 10 (see previous posts for details) and it has always been nicer to look at and easier to configure thanks to some neato apps and features (many of which came from BSD so I am told, and not Apple) – but Windows 10 is working just fine for me so far. It really is the same situation as OSX – to get it to do what I want it to do, I have to find and sometimes buy other software that gives me the features I need. Maybe I am just seeing OSX as better because I am so accustomed to it.

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If you are wondering about the iMac Pro and how it compares to the “normal” Intel computers, check out this video: 

It turns out that the differences between Core i9 and Xeon W chips are not so great– and at the top end, in tests done by Linus Tech Tips, the Core i9 7980 XE is faster than the matching 18 core Xeon W 2195. but not by a lot. It looks to me like the differences are very small and not worth worrying about – well, apart from the prices. Makes me wonder how different they are on the Chip Fabrication line.

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I sold my Mac Pro on eBay for $2000 – but only because I threw in a monitor and didn't leave out any of the bits. It arrived at the buyer two days later but thanks to eBay I don't get the money until two weeks later. The main source of trouble was due to Auspost not dealing with objects over 22 Kg: eBay has an automatic integration with Auspost which then could not send the item and there was no other option or button to get me to a service which didn't care about said weight limit – so I went outside to another site which subcontracted StarTrack which is (as it happens) a branch of Auspost. Why didn't they just send me there from the eBay page when it was over the weight limit? I have no idea.

I really thought that the last great cheesegrater Mac would be worth more - but what would I know? Just because people list their computers at price “X” does not mean anyone will buy them at price “X”. If I wanted to sit on it for months until I got sick of waiting I could maybe have got 3 or 4 grand – but I'm just not that tight – I'm just glad it went to a good home – a printing company. 

For me, there will never be another Mac Pro. It was noisy and heavy but it was reliable and more flexible than any Mac before or since. I still find Apple's approach to cooling a bit disturbing and if you really want to know about hardware issues with Apple gear check out Louis Rossmann's Youtube channel. He fixes a lot of Macbook Pro boards and can't help pointing out the things he regularly has to deal with. No, Apple isn't perfect but I'm not saying they are any worse than other hardware makers either: all have their faulty designs and product recalls. All of them. Read the reviews before you buy folks, regardless of the brand.

One last thing: there was one Apple item that I just couldn't let go: The Apple extended keyboard. I kept mine with it's silicon rubber cover because I just could not find anything better.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mac To Windows Part 8: Transfer Complete

Okay, here is the Short Version if you just joined us, and are looking for a smooth transition from Mac to Windows:
You will need these wares - 
* MaComfort (allows various Mac key combinations in Windows PLUS Spaces clone PLUS you can change the key assignments)
* Seer (simulate Apple's Quicklook or Preview feature)
Pretty much everything else is already there in Windows 10, you just need to find it.

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As of now I have finally completed the move. The new machine is already much quieter than the Mac Pro, which is nice. If I went the whole way I could fit a 7980XE and beat anything Apple sells, and still have a very quiet black box, with plenty of upgrade potential. Downsides? Well, when I do huge copy operations it can get crappy and needs to be restarted . . . . but that is hardly a normal situation. Having finished the transfers, all is good.

There are still major differences or issues with Windows 10 as compared to OSX:
The main one is what I call loosely usability: For example, in OSX when you go to open a DAZ file you will get a preview of all files to help choice. There really isn’t anything like it in Windows: To open files in DAZ I must find an image of the file I want in my rendered images and then find the file based on the name of that image - and that is because I have named all images based on their origin file although they are in a different folder system. Yes, I’m sure some folks will store all renders with the originating file, but I didn’t because I wanted to be able to move them to another drive if things get cramped, and I don’t want to spend time sorting files.

The Icons
I have used folder icons for many years to quickly identify specific folders or mark certain folders as special in a folder full of them. On a Mac this is quick because you can (a) quickly open the info window for a file or folder and (b) freely copy and paste icons between folders - not so for Windows however. In Windows land there is a way to change a single folder icon but it takes a lot more steps and there is no copy and paste. I hoped that I could find a small app that would do this but so far no joy.

File Transfers and folder merges
This week I found RichCopy 4, which can swiftly merge folders and has lots of options, and is free. I thought that there was some way to merge folders with just a key held down while copying, but it seemed this was not true. . . . . and then I discovered how to merge properly in Explorer ( Explorer is the windows equivalent to Finder - well, sort of ) : If you are new to Windows 10 and want to merge folders there is a setting you need to find which turns on the merge dialog – for some unknown reason it is turned off by default in Win 10. Search for “File Explorer Options” and when it appears, go to the “View” tab. Uncheck the “Hide folder merge conflicts” item. This then gives you the option to merge by overwrite or just skip, and a checkbox for “do this for all the others”.

Having now migrated my DAZ/Poser content to a 2TB SSD, there only remains the odds and ends to clean up: another 1TB SSD needs to be fitted and all the odds and ends moved onto it – the usual stuff: photos, text, artworks, music.

I had underestimated the time it would take to transfer everything from one computer to the other.
Now I am doing it by ethernet cable as opposed to copying files to an external ExFat drive then re-copying to an internal drive as I did first, but even so it is sloooooooow. Currently it is telling me the next operation will take 14 hours . . . This is direct transfer from Mac to PC, please note.
I can’t get RichCopy to see drives on the connected Mac so it’s Explorer all the way. I am not sure it would make any difference anyway. Just be warned that transferring data between Operating Systems is slow. Veeery slow. I don't think it was any faster using a USB drive either.

Multi-tasking
Well shit. It just didn't want to behave for me. . . . . but after some head scratching and mucking about, I realised what was wrong. MaComfort has the whole “Spaces” thing covered: all I had to do was give it all the rght keyboard commands to make it work and bingo, Windows now has a proper multi - desktop system like Mac OSX.
Windows has one feature I still use: when your Apps (programs) are pinned to the taskbar, you can open or hop over to them by using CMD- (number) - of course, the numbers start from the left and can't go past 9 and 0 – still, ten major apps is plenty enough for me.
I have searched and could not find any key commands or information about how to use multiple desktops in Windows – you need (a) keys to move between desktops (b) keys to move apps between desktops (because it seems sometimes windows apps move without asking) and (c) the overview - but MaComfort has all of this covered.

There are other features that make MaComfort essential for me too: First, you can quit programs with CMD- Q (or another key if you want) – somehow while I have been away from Windows world, ALT-F, X has disappeared from the lexicon of being able to quit things. To be honest, this is an extra keypress compared to what I know but worse still, I find there are some apps that don't seem to have ANY key command to quit them – and shutting down the PC also has NO key command - but MaComfort has all of this fixed, and with your choice of key commands too.

The one thing Windows 10 just doesn't seem to be able to do that OSX has is to remember the desktops and program windows between startups. I can now get close since I can assign a major app to a numbered desktop and open it with a keypress, but it does not remember what it was doing before shutdown.

I went one step further: I got a new Power Supply. This is a “platinum” quality unit that has ALL of the cables plugging into the box. This is partly so that I can get custom cables made later (if I go that far). This is also part of my attempts to make the machine as quiet as possible as it has the feature that until it hits over about 40% load the fan will not even spin up.
As a side effect, it is longer than the original unit so I had to remove the drive cage for HDDs in the case to make it easier to plug in the cables – but this is a good thing: I have 3 SSDs and don't need HDDS any more, and this will improve airflow too. The only hiccup in progress here is the the case only had mountings for two SSDs – so I had to invent a mount somewhere – it's not critical since this is a desktop and SSDs can't be damaged by rattling around in the case but then I am a neatnik and loose things can cause trouble later on.

Okay, that worked fine: made an SSD mount from some plastic scrap and superglued it to the case, fitted new PSU and all is good . . . . . . . . except the DVD drive doesn't work. No idea why, only just got the power adapter for it hooked up, but I (foolishly) assumed that it would just work.
So what do I find? The drive doesn't even pull the DVDs in (It's a slotloader, only one that fits the case). Time to check the cables and plugs.
I bought Windows DVD player for $22.45 from MS to get it working. Well, it DOES work, it's just a little fickle – I'll probably learn how it works with practice. Actually I hardly need or use DVDs these days anyway- but sometimes the only way to get old data or device drivers is to have one.

Well there it is. It works well enough, it is very quiet, and it also doesn't generate the amount of heat the old computer does. I can swap out bits and mess with it any way I like, but I would not claim it was cheaper than the Mac since there really isn't any direct comparison: the parts were personally chosen and there is no single model that would come with this combination of parts on sale.
I still find myself looking to the top right corner of the screen for the time and using Mac key combinations but I'll get over that. The Mac Pro is now up on eBay for sale and I have solved all problems with running everything on Windows. There are definitely nice Mac OSX apps that I miss but nothing essential. I still have a lot of tidying up to do but that was due anyway: every yer or two you should consolidate or wipe all those files of stuff that collect.

The Mac Pro is now on eBay and all I need do now is box it up once someone buys it. 

Bye, Mac.


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"What about the New Mac Pro . . . . . . . . aren't you going to buy one of those?"

I can't resist adding a few words about what Apple is doing with their hardware. First, Apple will probably never use Nvidia GPUs again – nothing they make at the moment supports them yet the Windows world is completely dominated by them.
Yes, this was one of the reasons I switched to Windows but not the only one.

Will Apple bring out a new Mac Pro in the recently pushed back timeframe of 2019? I suspect not – they just released OSX 10.13 with support for Thunderbolt 3 cabled external GPU boxes. Of course, in typical Apple fashion this only supports AMD cards, not Nvidia.

What is the iMac Pro with an external GPU box but an otherwise named “New Mac Pro”? Using Thunderbolt enclosures for more storage, I suspect that Apple expects all those “Pro” users to be happy without the added trouble of making a new “Mac Pro” to replace the Cheesegrater Mac Pro that was at least basically flexible like a regular Pee Cee.
It seems clear to me that Apple does not want to make computers that you open (and add or change parts of) ever again: they want you to buy a new one and never, ever open the box. Buy more external boxes, cable them together, no need to do any hardware changes inside the box, riiiight?

My theory is that Apple will probably not be making a new Mac Pro at all until either they can make their own CPU chips for it or the iMac Pro gets so old that they need to replace it, as in five years plus into the future . . . . Why increase their product range unnecessarily in an area that is not a major profit centre? More phones in different colours, Yeah! More Macs? Naah, not enough monero.

All this hints to me that Apple may be moving away from compatibility with the rest of the world's systems again and I have already run into that in the past: I'll be happy not to deal with that again. Apple already has made some questionable tech decisions and I expect more in future (Touchbar anyone? or how about laptops with no touch screens? $200 stylus? All those missing ports on the new Macbooks? Dumping the magsafe power connector?) - but then it's not just about what we, the customers want - it's also about business, patents and secretive future plans. 

Bye for now, lots to do.



Saturday, March 17, 2018

Mac To Windows Part 7



First, a fix: Yes, you CAN get all of your mailboxes in one in Windows Mail: it’s in the settings.
(How did I not see that before?)

This weekend, I fitted the Wifi card and tried to install the DVD drive. The Wifi was easy: I thought that I would put the DVD drive in then use it to install the Wifi driver (which came on a DVD) - but there were problems with this.
The Wifi worked perfectly - tested to 11 Mb/sec,  same as the Mac Pro.

Motherboard matters

Well that was interesting. I did a couple of long renders (using both CPU and GPU) then the keyboard got stuck and produced a string of 2’s – and there is a temp sensor (No.8) that was reading 63 C – except that I cannot find any reference to which thermal sensors are which in the mobo manual. How can I figure out where the sensor is if it isn’t mentioned there?

What I have from the paperwork is a list of temperature sensors – they total 8 but I only have names for five:
CPU
VRM MOS
PCIEX16_1 and 2
X299 PCH (platform controller Hub)

There are 3 along the lefthand side unnamed – I don’t know what they are sensing so how can I decide what got hot and to cool them or not? At a guess, one of them is the one that got hot – and maybe it deals with USB inputs (hence the key failure?) . . . but there is nothing that tells me that.
There are also sockets to connect two external temp probes (EC Temp 1 &2).

 This shows the temp sensors as yellow dots. I have named the ones I recognise.

SpeedFan: I tried SpeedFan but it does not recognise the board and gets no temp sensors from it – so it is probably too old for X299 boards.
There is still the BIOS control that comes with the board for the fan controls.

I am putting off fitting the cooler on the GPU card. I think maybe I will either get a second card or a newer one . . . not yet though. First I need to finish up this stage, including transferring all of the content data onto a nice big 2TB SSD that should arrive next week.

The DVD Drive
The slot loading DVD drive did not turn out to be a smooth installation. First there was some difficulty lining up the drive and the slot in the case provided for it, and then there is the problem of the power cable: it is old style (molex) while the mobo has newer SATA style power plugs. I need an adapter – and I also need some custom plastic plate to fix the drive in the correct place.
Although the DVD drive and the case are sold by the same company they didn’t quite fit together: the two tiny screws that attach the drive into the bracket have slots and even when tight they didn’t actually fix it because there was a large gap under it. I measured it at 2.5 mm and then made two packers to fit from plastic. I also drilled a hole in the bracket to fit a cable tie for the cables as they must curl around 180 degrees due to the plug design.
The DVD drive fitted with the cables bent and tied.


This brings me to the whole cable issue.
The worst lump is the SATA power cables- they string four or more plugs on the same cable and those things are a pest, they don’t fold flat nicely and I have yet to find any alternative. Why can’t I get, for example, a SATA power cable with only two plugs on it? I want to make the cables tidy and keep the airflow as clear as possible – maybe I will need to make a whole set of custom cables.

This brings me to the next stage: The PSU has sockets for the GPU and SATA power but the main cables are fixed. If I got a newer PSU it would have ALL the cables in sockets thus allowing complete custom cabling. 
So off I went to Cablemod . . . well, it is expensive. Yup. They look great, you can specify the exact length of cables, connectors, covering, colour etc. but for a price.

The Cablemod cables                          $US

ATX – 2x4 pin 12v power or EPS       9.90
24pin Main power plug                     24.90
6 pin PCIe                                         19.90
Dual 6 pin PCIe                                19.90
8 pin PCIe                                        19.90
Dual 8 pin PCIe                               24.90
Sata Power 1 plug                           15.90
Sata Power 2 plug                           19.90
Sata Power 3 plug                           22.90
Sata Power 4 plug                           24.90

Planned cable requirements:
ATX                                                                 9.90
Main                                                               24.90
single and dual 6 and 8 pin PCIE                   84.60
Sata Power:
Total of 4 devices -
2 SSDs – Main drive & Main Content drive 19.90
1 DVD drive                                                  15.90
1 HDD – music and all other oddments        15.90
TOTAL                                                        171.10

Converted to $AU                                       222.20
er, maybe I’ll just put that off . . . . . 
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One final thing: I just watched a vid (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeMVvty5b0g) that tells of all the changes between the book Altered Carbon and the Netflix show.  Well, okay it has been a while since I read it - there were big changes, but then there were reasons too. It also hinted that maybe the other books in the series might be coming to the small screen soon . . I hope! 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Mac To Windows Part 6


Yes, I know I said there wouldn’t be more, but there is . . . . and I can’t resist putting this out there for anyone else who is looking at the idea of going from Mac to Windows. 

I realised something today, something so bleeding obvious that I feel a bit stupid for not getting it before. I was previously going on about how in Mac OSX you can shove files around in a folder window to arrange them for things like planning projects - or in my case, creating a story path from the pictures. I said “but there is nothing like that in Windows” but I was wrong.

This is how you do it in Windows: First, get all of those aliases/shortcuts to programs that you use, and pin them to the taskbar. You do this by starting each program, then when the icon appears in the Taskbar (at the bottom of the screen), you right-click it and choose the item from the menu that appears to "pin" it there. Then you can trash all of those shortcuts and you have a desktop clear of everything except for the trash bin. Note that with all of your apps in the taskbar you can open them with one click, not two. This is pretty close to the Apple “dock”  - and you can make it disappear too like the dock - close enough for me, and now here;s the good part . . . .

Maybe you can’t arrange files in folders, but you CAN on the desktop – and it will keep that arrangement. Not exactly the same as OSX, but still workable for organising a project. Oh- and the desktop icon layout is singular. No matter how many desktops you have, it’s still the same layout.

Actually, I have never used the desktop for anything much on my computers before - except for locating drives on a Mac.

An update to the preview issue – the Windows app to replicate "Quicklook" is called Seer. It is a mini-app that can be set to load at startup and you can even get it to preview by tapping the spacebar, same as OSX. This trick also works with files on the desktop - so finally the answer is “Yes, I can organise my pics in something like the way I do on the Mac” - even though there is still no colour coding possible as in the OSX "tags".
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Last weekend I played Dr. Fankenstein – I transplanted the workings of my PC into a new case. It actually wasn’t very hard, I took pictures of the plugs before I started and the folks at Kenjun where I bought it had kindly sent me the box the Mobo came in along with all of the documentation for Mobo, CPU etc. so it was easy to identify what went where.

Having seen some Youtube vids by “DIY Perks” I thought that I would try making a quiet vertical airflow computer. For this I found the Silverstone FT05B case which is designed for this purpose. It was not cheap ($400) but I didn’t care: it is very good and already fairly quiet. The real test is what it sounds like under load – The Mac Pro under load is quite loud and I don’t want to repeat that.

Next stage is to get rid of the liquid cooler and replace it with what looks like the best air cooler available, The Noctua NH-D15 (I am getting the D15S as it is slightly shorter and thus will fit my case). After that I will try the most difficult part- fitting another Cooler to a GPU card. Then I will see if I can run it with only the two huge 180mm fans in the bottom of the case without it getting too hot . . . . based on the theory that these fans will be quieter than three or four smaller ones . . . . . but we’ll see. Since the GPU is a GTX1080 Ti I am not sure that it will be happy with no fans blasting on it when running full speed, but that is to be seen too.
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Network Connections
I thought that there was something funny about my home Wifi – the PC just doesn’t seem to be getting very good net performance. It has a tiny USB plug sized thingy for wifi. 
The Mac Pro, on the other hand, has built in Wifi.
I tested it with an online tester:

Mac
Down 11.2 Mbps
Up 6.73 Mbps

Win
Down 1.2 Mbps
Up 1.27 Mbps

No wonder the Youtube vids are so grainy!
Now the question is what to do about it.
I am confident that the teeny weeny wifi thingy is to blame as I have connected the PC to the network via the Mac Pro and it then gets everything just fine. It looks like I need to spend about 75 bucks for a decent PCIe Wifi card. I’m not really pleased about that but there is little choice in the matter. 

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Today I put the NH-D15S in and it was easy. There was one tight spot which was plugging the fan into the motherboard but I took the radiator off first, then plugged it in with the fan sitting on the case then refitted the cooler and all was peachy. This thing is huge – here is a pic of it installed:

Thos two grey things are the tops of the radiator's two ends with the fan between. it's HUGE.

Putting the cooler on the GPU card: I have measured the space and opted for a smaller radiator unit, the NH-D9L which should leave about 17mm of space between it and the Power supply. I hope that it is narrow enough to fit above the PCIe slots – but maybe I can fiddle this when I work out the mounting if necessary.
I expect that I will need to do some metalwork to make a mounting bracket for the radiator on the card.

The one disadvantage of this is that it means I can only ever fit one GPU card in.
This is a bit of a shame as the point of the build was to make something that would render crazy fast - and two would definitely be faster than one. Still, maybe I can figure out a clever way to achieve both . . . .

It looks like the Wifi PCIe Card is short so it won’t touch the cooler anyway as the GPU cooler will be below it. 
Once the box is closed all of the wires go out a hole in the back top while the air goes out through a sort of square grid piece:
 I am just a little concerned that dust will fall into it when it is not running (which is the majority of the time) so maybe I will make a flat plate on stilts to sit above it  . . . . but it would also spoil the design a bit - and will it even matter?
More parts coming next week, followed by the fun of getting them all jammed in the box.  I am also considering getting better cables - it's a bit of a nightmare in there -  there are lots of plugs that just make it hard to fit cables in. I also need to find the fan control software and get control of the fans too.

Results (Tested using a phone app for measuring sound levels):
 
Original performance:
CPU max temp – 70deg
Sound when CPU rendering in Blender: 49 Db
Note that this registers as 100% CPU usage.

New performance with NH-D15S cooler
CPU temp - same as above.
Sound when CPU rendering in Blender: 39 Db
This does not tell the whole story though: the sound is also lower and less of a “noise” - but a whole ten Decibels is pretty good I think.
The Noctua fan cooler is everything people on Youtube said it was: it wasn’t cheap but it was worth it for the quality. I liked it enough to put the Noctua badge on the case - and I normally don't like badges or logos on anything.  

More bits arriving next week . . . . .

 


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Mac To Windows Part 5: Colour

I have posted some of my artworks elsewhere on the net but I didn't get a whole lot of attention.
Now I think I might know one reason why: Color (or "Colour" as I was taught to spell it)

I have now both Mac and Windows PC running on exactly the same diaplay and can switch betwen them at will.  This brought me to compare the images on them.

Here are two versions of exactly the same image as dsiplayed on Mac:
 . . . . and now on Windows:
( Photos taken with my phone )

Somehow in Windows, the image has become darker by about 20 percent with a yellowish tint.
How the heck does this happen? What can I do about it? I just calibrated my display according to Microsoft, so it should be all perfect, right? Please note that this is a brand new 4K screen with 10 bit colour.

This is where I realised that other people viewing my work on PCs see it like that and then go "Aaaah, it looks dark and crummy" and they are right.

I am a bit puzzled as to what to do now. If all of my work so far has appeared like this it is time to rethink my methods. . . .but which way to go? Should I adjust the Mac so it looks darker or lighten the PC? Are either of them colour correct, whatever that means?

Any suggestions gratefully appreciated.

Yes, there are web pages about this but usually they ignore this and go on about photography which is not this. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Mac to Windows Part 4


Blender Tests:

Mac
Classroom 18:20 1100 s
BMW 27 (CPU) 6:17 377 s
Pavillion 20:00 1200 s


Windows
Classroom 11:54 714 s
BMW 27 (CPU) 3:52 232 s
Pavillion 13:08 788 s

Comparison ratios:
1100/714 = 1.54
377/232 = 1.625
1200/788 = 1.522

Thus the new machine is comfortably faster by about 1.56 X in Blender renders. I take this as being a better measure than the previous comparison.
You can get the test files from the Blender website (along with Blender itself) all free.

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Folder items and organising things

On a Mac a folder typically contains files and these can be organised according to various sort orders but also, you can move them around with the mouse into any order you want.
This alone has been so useful to me for organising my projects that I really do not want to go without it.
Typically for my projects I have dozens of images that need to be sorted and remade until they form a series that then gets converted into a comic. I repeatedly go through these images checking for accuracy, consistency and various other details – and I shuffle them around in the folder window as I do this. The nearest I can think of in Windows is to have more folders and shuffle items between them – but there is no quick way to change their order so I would need to rename them if I wanted to do that. I also tag them with Apple’s simple coloured dots to identify the ones I will use or the ones I will need to remake, for example. This is NOT like tagging as used on the net or Linux - no words are used – but simple as it is, I find it very useful.

I remember looking at image editing software wondering why they included some sort of image handling thingo with it – well, now I realise why: Windows just doesn’t let you play with your files the same way Mac OS does.

Multiple desktops

On the Mac I have five desktops, each with its own background (to prevent confusion) and applications that stay in those desktops when assigned there.
This apparently cannot be done in Windows 10 – although you can have multiple desktops, it is hard to tell them apart. I tried a small addon that might have provided something similar to the Mac desktops but it only worked with Win 8.

Restart/restore

When I start my Mac up it re-opens the same programs and files I had open when I shut it down. I have yet to find the feature in Windows (or a system addon) that will do that.
Yes, you can have Windows start up programs at boot time with a script, but that is not quite the same as returning to the same state as of shutdown.

Mail

Apple’s Mail program presents all mail to all email addresses in one list. The other mail programs I have tried do not do this. Okay, I admit this is probably a matter of personal taste rather than a truly essential feature but there it is.

Image Previews

Apple’s Preview operates when you have selected an item in a folder and if it is a text or image file, Preview shows it in a new window pretty much full size or scaled to fit the screen.
In Windows there is a “preview” function but it stays within the folder window you are looking at – not as grovy as the Apple method but still perfectly usable.

I would miss the interface if I sold off my Mac. Just the way it looks and operates – so I have been working on a compromise of sorts, I think maybe I will try and have both: I managed to link the two with an ethernet cable and the setup was not too hard to figure out – except that it was almost exactly the opposite of what someone on the net told me . . . but never mind, it works now.

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Tags and Tagging

In Mac OSX, there are what Apple calls “tags” - ten coloured dots you can add to anything (documents and folders) to provide basic sorting inside a folder. I have become so accustomed to them that I went looking for something similar in Windows land.
First, on careful consideration, the Mac tag system is awful in that it only provides limited choices – only seven colours - but then you can now create your own tags - except that you can’t see them in folder views anyway, you still get the same seven colour dots so why bother? - but at least you can sort files in a folder by their tags. This seems so eleentary to me, yet there is nothing in Windows that will let me do this. WTF is going on here?

Tags as defined in the web world or Linux are something else: text definers that can be added to almost anything and searched.
I looked around for an addon for windows that would do the following:
- Should be usable in Explorer ideally, as in not needing a separate app to read or edit tags
- Should have simple tags easy to identify in a group of icons
- Should have coloured tags.

My main use for tags is sorting images when I am in production mode: simple coloured tags are useful to identify the “ins” from the “outs” from the “remakes”. Also, since I am expecting eventually not to have a Mac, I want to use them to sort multiple subgroups from the item in one folder – sub-groups , but without having to make lots of folders.

Here are my attempts to get something like the Mac tags in Windows using wares:

TagSpaces – This has a lot of options for tagging things but so far it has not “Found” the items I tagged when I search by tag, a bit of a deal breaker I think.
This is a discrete program that has its own file explorer and has a lot of options . . . . . and that brings me to two matters: First, on a Mac any new window is by default a Finder window.
From there, any file double clicked on will open it’s designated editor by filetype. 
What is infuriating about this ware is that it does not have a “List” view of files so you can’t organise them according to the tags you allocate (looks like it WAS there but got pulled), nor can you sort the images in the “Grid” view based on the tags you set . . . . . . which makes the whole thing useless to me.

Tagged Frog- this did not work at all. Supposedly it worked with Explorer in Win7, which would be the ideal, adding tags to the existing Windows Tag space but it just doesn’t seem to work in Win10.

Tabbles - This is the worst thing ever: I cannot download the software from the Tabbles site and they don’t seem to want to help me either. I am amazed.

So in short, I have had no joy finding a tag system in Windows 10 that actually works: well, at least well enough for me. You can’t tag folders, and the items that can be tagged have their tags hidden away so that editing them is a nightmare. You can actually see them in a folder view called “ Details“ but only after you make them visible for each folder. AFAIK there is no way to make them appear for all items automatically in that view. . . . . . and as for searching for files based on tags, forget it. 

This raises another matter that Windows is surprisingly bad at: Where can I set the default folder views in Win 10? 
Why are there no key commands to change the folder views?
Is this something where software companies have had their asses sued if they make anything that infringes on a fundamental patent? It looks like that to me, why else would it be so useless?

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Backups

I tried out Filefort which although it cost, it was not expensive: but then I realised that I needed incremental backups – the main drive I want to back up is 2 TB and if the software is going to blindly copy even 1 TB every time it backs up I am not going to be happy: it takes a long time . . . . . so I found FreeFileSync which (if it lives up to its name) will do what I need.
Buuuut things keep crashing on me. All I have tried to do so far is create a backup for my Content files, something you would think is as simple as plugging in an external HD and pressing a button but somehow it just hasn’t turned out that way yet. Said content has probably cost me about ten grand by now cumulatively speaking so it makes perfect sense to me to be keeping a backup copy of it . . . . if possible. This is a perfect example of what annoys me about the Windows world.

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Last Words

If there is an overall theme to this it is that in the Mac world I have experienced for the last 20+ years, software pretty much just works – but over in the Windows world you never know what you are getting. It would be nice if there was some neat repository of wisdom that told you wether that ware you are getting is good or at least reviews, but that doesn’t exist. Okay, it sounds like I’m being soft on Mac developers so here’s a rejoinder.
Once upon a time the Apple Store had reliable reviews and was organised so that you could find what you needed by category, but those days are long gone: now it’s a nightmare of undefined “stuff” where some wares don’t even tell you what their wares do (or are supposed to do). Sure, the bigger well known wares work just fine, and OSX is still damn good, but Apple still insists on keeping a firm grip on the hardware side and probably won't be making any Nvidia supporting Mac Pro units in future.   As you can tell I am still not happy about the whole thing. Neither option  - Mac or Windows - is all that good overall for me, but I will keep on chippingaway at the mountain and maybe somewhere I will find Win wares that can make it usable. Maybe.
Will there be a Part 5? Not for a while , if ever.
Thanks for reading!