Addendum

Speaking of going to a different school in junior high… I’m not sure why this popped into my head, as it’s something I haven’t thought of for decades probably, but all the talk about vintage computers apparently sparked another hidden memory.

While the school in general did have several C64 computers, mostly in the library, I was also part of a small selection of students that were chosen for what they called “Computer Lab” … a small room full of Apple II computers. πŸ™„πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ I just remember how awful they seemed compared to the Commodore computers… with The Oregon Trail running on both for comparison. πŸ˜… No contest.

Their computer lab with all the Apple computers also served as a room for a typing class later in the afternoon, but I knew that after we left the room was empty – and only the teacher would be in there doing whatever it was that she did with her free time. 😏 Everyone else in the class had basically zero computer experience, although they were the smarter kids in my grade. πŸ€“ Me, at least I had poked around on my own VIC-20 at home, and then the C64s in the library… so… I had learned a little bit of BASIC. 😎

I actually helped some of the other kids in the class at times, so it wasn’t odd that I’d be away from my own computer and messing with someone else’s, and that made me realize that I could pull off a pretty good prank. For a nerd, anyway… πŸ™„πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ I mean, we were learning to code, so…

You could turn off the monitors while leaving the actual computers on, so… and unfortunately I don’t remember the exact details about this… but somehow I was able to go around to each Apple II in the room and quickly type in a program. There were probably only a dozen computers, and they were situated against three walls of this small square room, just so you can mentally picture it…

But I was able to bang out this little BASIC program on each of the computers right before class ended, as we were all finishing up and supposed to be getting ready to go to our next class. Apple computers only had an annoying beep generator in them, but that was perfect for my prank. 🀑 I think it wasn’t even more than four lines… telling the computer to wait a certain amount of time, ten minutes in this case, and then start rapidly beeping until someone stopped the program. 😁

(I mean, this is a demo created in 2015 and listen how bad even it is… heh)

It’s so weird though… because I’m sure that it worked… which meant that ten minutes after we left, one computer would start beeping – and then in about 10 seconds the next one, and the one after that in ten more seconds… until all of the computers were either beeping all at once or the teacher would be tracking around the room, killing the programs as they started. πŸ˜‹ But it’s strange because the next day – even though I anticipated getting in some kind of trouble – the teacher didn’t even mention it, didn’t change anything about what we did… it was just strange. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Well played, teacher… 😏 pretend like I didn’t just school you with my junior high BASIC programming knowledge and I’ll pretend like I didn’t do it. πŸ˜„ Hell, maybe she was impressed. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I’m pretty sure she knew who did it though… none of those other shlubs had any idea of what they were doing yet. 😁

More Nostalgia

I live in the past more than I probably should, but the past day or two have been nice… old memories being brought back to life as I texted back and forth with Dad last night. πŸ™‚ I can’t even remember how we got on the subject, but around my junior high years we moved to a house in the country – significantly different in almost every way from our former place, and of course with me going to a new school. 😳

Oh, I remember… we were talking about all of our various kitties over the years. And while living out on the hill, the strays apparently came with the house. 😏 But because they weren’t really pet pets, and I don’t say that to belittle their worth in any way, but between that and me being rather young – I had forgotten a lot about them. 😟 But once Dad mentioned their names, all these memories instantly popped back into my head. Weird how the brain can have stuff stored away that well, where you can’t even access it by just trying – but an outside influence can provide the key. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚

But yeah, memories of the outside kitties, memories of the bus driver forgetting that a new kid now lived in that house – and therefore blowing past me as I stood in the dark, in the snow… πŸ˜„ I remember more about the bus rides and the time spent with my couple of good friends at that new school than I do about the time actually in school. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Moving was a pretty big deal, so it was nice to go back to the town where I originally started school eventually. But another pretty kewl memory… getting a portable little B/W TV one Christmas, that I could take in my bedroom to watch broadcast TV at night as I went to sleep. (Man… I’m old… lol) I’m not sure if I was supposed to be watching TV, but yeah…

Then I wake up today, start clicking around through YouTube on the TV, and they suggested a video from 8-Bit Guy about the new “The C64” full sized Commodore 64 replica / emulator with functional keyboard. πŸ˜ƒ My first computer was a VIC-20 that Dad and I got at Hamvention. I can’t remember how much it was, but I feel like it was pretty reasonable… a big box full of VIC shit along with the computer. πŸ€“ No disk drive yet, but then later on I upgraded along the Commodore path to the C64 with a 1541-II drive – as did my cousin – which lead to lots of “freeware” copying with him and friends. πŸ€«πŸ˜„

But of course since that was such a big part of my childhood, seeing this thing instantly made me want it. 🀀

Believe it or not, I had actually already ordered one from these folks years ago. They had a crowdfunding thing going on, but then they decided to produce The C64 Mini first due to the then-fad of “mini” game consoles being released. It was probably the right move, at least to fill their bank accounts, but it delayed the full sized version – so I requested and got a refund. πŸ˜• Since then I’ve gotten the Mini though, and now, years after it was due to come out, it looks like I’ll eventually be getting a full-sized version as well. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I can use the excuse that the audio and video lag on the full sized version is less than the Mini, so not only will it be nice to have the keyboard – but technically there is a performance improvement since they’ve optimized the emulator code. (Not to mention double the USB ports, which is a bigger deal than you’d think.)

Not sure why they didn’t go the FPGA route, but it looks good enough for me.

Latest Animation Rendering

Well, here’s the finished product. I’m pleased with it… all of the added touches are there to be seen – it’s just a shame that animation is sort of an afterthought with this modeling program, so the camera movements are a bit jerky and unnatural looking. But for anyone who had visited this house prior to me moving in, I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty faithful to the original… particularly the living room. πŸ™‚

These are the things that I believe I’ve improved since I made the first animation:

  • Fixed paint colors, correcting walls and making the ceilings white
  • Adjusted color and texture of all the doors
  • Updated the textures of the floors for more natural hardwood look
  • Changed sizes (particularly in the bedroom) of furniture for more accurate scale
  • Added lamp, clock, and ceiling fan w/light in bedroom
  • Added lighting, shower curtain, curtain, and changed bathtub/fixtures in bathroom
  • Also added more accurate texture for vinyl flooring and shower tiles in the bathroom
  • Picture window changed to wood w/more accurate sheer curtains in living room
  • Changed lamp on round table and square coffee table changed to oval in living room
  • End table lamps changed / now functioning, cuckoo clock now present in living room
  • Console record player under big mirror changed, vase/flower and newspaper added

In each room I also tweaked all sorts of things when it comes to object shading, colors, levels of reflection (matte/glossy), and lighting levels (spot/ambient)Β in a way that I think makes the whole thing look slightly closer to realistic and accurate to the way things were here in the past. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things that I changed or adjusted, but yeah… there ya go. 😏

Oh, and I know – both times that I’ve created one of these animations, it’s been done where the house is assumed to be lit by dawn / pre-dawn light. I do that because I prefer to see how the internal man-made illumination sources and shadows are handled by the program, although I suppose one day I could render it out in broad daylight with fake ceiling lights (just a source light w/no visible fixtures) being activated in every room. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Stigma

It’s out of a feeling of obligation that I am writing this blog entry today. πŸ˜’ After bringing my site out of stasis a while ago, I’ve gotten pretty good at adding entries at a rate which allows people to at least know that I am still here, plodding along… but I’ve been experiencing a rough patch IRL lately – so I’ve reverted to my customary regeneration strategy of avoiding basically everyone and everything. 😐

See, sometimes it actually does work… but often times it doesn’t. πŸ€” I’m still trying to figure it out, I’ll admit. But when I don’t have my nose in my Facebook feed every 15 minutes, at least that prevents me from seeing all of the awful things that are happening to many of the people that I know. 😟 I don’t have to see the job losses, the evictions, the house fires, the custody battles, the lost pets, the family members dying… them dying. πŸ˜– I know that I can’t stay isolated forever – but sometimes it’s a necessary step towards getting my thoughts and emotions straightened out in a way where I can deal with all of it.

And it’s funny. We aren’t supposed to admit when things feel heavier than we can bear. We’re supposed to always just “suck it up” or “quit complaining” rather than admit to and (maybe) address the problem. Depression, sadness, anxiety, etc… they are weaknesses, right? And you sure can’t allow the world to see that you are weak. πŸ™„ Yeah, I talk about it rather openly in my blog… but the stigma still prevents me from feeling able to talk about it directly with my friends or family. At least most of them. (Even in my most self-imposed isolated moments, I try my hardest to allow a few good friends to get past the guards regardless, even if not in person.)

It’s amazing how much stigma can steer your thoughts, actions, and life. And while mental health “stuff” has been a significant topic throughout my years, another stigma I’ve encountered that defies logic is the stigma of being intelligent. Or at least wanting/trying to be intelligent. (NERD!!!!)Β Apparently the United States is one of only a few countries where this is a “thing” as we know it. Where one group of society actively berates and discourages another group of society that only wants to better themselves. Intelligence and aspiration… negative personality traits. Welcome to the Idiocracy. 😞

Heh… so, as you can see, there’s good reason why I’ve been keeping my eyes off of my phone and my fingers off of my keyboard. πŸ˜‘ I simply haven’t been able to shake this mood. I’m gonna keep watch over the weather for the next few days though, because I am gonna get out of the house and try to do something. Not sure what… or if I wanna seek friends to do whatever the “what” ends up being… but I’m gonna keep putting effort towards the climb out. 🀞🏻 As always, wish me luck.

Whatever Gets You Through It

I’m slowly succeeding at pulling myself out of my latest mood. It helps that I’ve got a scheduled appointment with the estate attorney, so that doesn’t have to be one of the bits of noise whirling about inside my head for now. 😟 But now I’ve gotta get my head right for some fun coming up this week… something that was scheduled literally months ago, something that I know will be fun once I’m in the middle of it – but I’m gonna have that same issue that I always have, of being able to gear myself up for it in the preceding days. 😳

Dez was a planned participant when we originally made the plans, but with the way I’ve gone off the grid for the past month or longer, I was worried that when I reminded her about it (on super short notice) that she wouldn’t be able to arrange her schedule, or that she might just not even want to go anymore – but thankfully she was able to make the needed changes, while also letting me know that she’s missed me since I’ve engaged my cloaking device. 😏 It’s nice to know that you are missed when you aren’t sure that you are missed.

So now I’m transitioning into “get ready” mode, which usually involves a certain amount of cleaning up around the house along with things actually related to whatever activity I’m going to be enjoying soon. πŸ€“ I’ll definitely have to clean out my car tonight or tomorrow, and I’m thinking about getting a haircut. πŸ€” Meh… if I can’t get motivated to go into town to do that, I’ve always got one of my dozens of ball caps to fall back on. We’ll see.

But the past couple of days have been spent quietly working with one of the nerd toys that I’ve previously mentioned. I’ve gone back to the 3D simulation of my grandparents’ house, and I’ve been doing tweaks to the model and to the program to give me much better results in the resulting rendered images. Many of the models allow manipulation of the individual components… like, for the cuckoo clock, I’m able to change the textures on nearly all of the faces, allowing me to use a dark wood texture for the clock body, gold metal for the pendulum, and you can also manipulate how shiny the finish is for all the parts, models, walls, floors, etc. πŸ€“ (And that’s not even discussing the ray tracing, the number of bounces allowed for each ray of light, etc… heh… such awesome nerd brain food.)

I’m totally just doing this for my own benefit, to see what I can learn and what I can do, although I’m sure I’ll end up throwing some resulting pictures and/or videos up here in case the world wants to see what I’ve done. Some people might say this is a waste of my time, or that it would be better spent elsewhere, but right now it’s doing wonders to calm my brain and keep me in a good place.

Decompressing

Heh… I was a bit stressed last night when I was making those last couple of posts, but I’m feeling better after getting a decent amount of sleep and then just chilling for the better part of the day today. Unpacked the food and my clothes from the trip, along with a couple folders of paperwork that I took and worked on during the evenings until I fell asleep… so I wasn’t completely worthless today. 😏

I’ve also made some small first steps towards feeding my inner creative nerd sometime… downloading a couple of particle physics sandbox type programs, a voxel ray tracing program, the Algadoo motion physics toy, a couple of basic flight simulators, and re-downloaded the 3D home design program that I used a couple of years ago to model the inside of the house when it still belonged to my grandparents. πŸ€“

So all of those goodies are installed and waiting for me, should I ever find the time to sit and just dick around on the laptop. πŸ€” I think I might also look for something that can help me create some sort of stereoscopic shit as well, while I wait for my replacement 360 cam to get here next month. Oh, and I’ve also been playing around with long exposure and higher frame rate time-lapse videos to get some light-streaking effects.

Wanimation

Playing around with Google Earth again, the desktop application, trying to make a visually interesting animation using Atlantic City, NJ as my source material. This file is rendered at 720p, 60fps, using OpenGL rather than DirectX… I also used the experimental atmosphere projection, although I can’t remember how much interpolation or anti-aliasing I used. I was continually experimenting with settings and resolutions, because I’ve still been unable to get a 1080p/60fps render to complete without glitches.

I didn’t really do much. I just selected the camera angles, altitudes, shot composure… the software generates the flight path between each one. However, depending on how the user lines up each static shot, it will definitely have an affect on the transition between the prior one and the one that follows.

It looks pretty good on the laptop, but for some reason when I use the YouTube app on my XBOX One it looks so much better on the TV. But yeah, I was just feeling a bit nostalgic for the place again, which eventually prompted me to start dicking around to come up with the resulting animation.