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Saturday, 30 September 2017

Blender notes

I use Blender so rarely I keep forgetting some of the commands, so I thought I'd create a small summary for myself. These are mostly relevant for low-poly stuff I sometimes work with.

The first thing I always forget: creating new panels is done with the weird triangle in the corner of an existing panel.

Play a sliding puzzle game while you model!

Removing panels
is done by pulling a panel from the triangle to the panel that shares the complete edge with that panel. I didn't find a way to remove the right-most panel in the image above, because this rule could not be fulfilled.


Some keys:

TAB = switch between object / edit mode

CTRL+hold left mouse = draw a freehand selection area

A graphic doohickey shows whether vertices, lines or faces are selected. The box with the highlighted corners adjusts whether back-face elements are selectable. The magnet thingy can be used for snapping the vertex movement to other vertices among other things.

Left: point, line, face selectors. Middle: transparent selection, Right: Snap to ...

a = select all / none

g = grab = move

e = extrude

shift+d = duplicate

r = rotate

s = scale

CTRL+r = loop cut X,Y,Z

alt+m = merge selected vertices

In "Cycles Render" mode, shift+z switches between cycles render view.


Direct texture painting

I bothered to learn the basics of painting directly on textures, so here are the notes:

-Drag two new windows into existence, the UV/image window and the Node Editor window (tick "use nodes").

-Use Cycles Render, otherwise the following material stuff won't work.

-Remove the existing material, create a new one, which will become visible in the Node Editor.

-Create new image in the UV/Image window.

-In edit mode, use 'u' to produce a smart UV map for the object. A tiny bit of island margin can help.

-Use shift+a in the Node editor to add texture image node, connect it to the material color and select the previously created texture map.

The mandatory first attempt weird-face
Texture mode should now allow painting directly into the chosen object.

Key 'f' works as a shortcut for resizing the brush, whereas 'shift+f' changes the effectiveness. The usual mix/color/blend/multiply options are available, as are some smearing tools.

The image has to be either stored separately, or using the Pack PNG option. I sometimes lost work because this was a bit ambiguous, so it might be better to store separately. In any case with Blender, save early, save often,

Once the setup is in place, painting directly to objects is strangely intuitive

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Opening the Mac Classic


Memory and half-removed motherboard
I got a bit worried about a possible battery leak inside my Mac Classic, so I opened it for the first time.

It turned out to be much easier than I thought. Remove four torx screws, pull out the back of the case. Remove the memory sub-board, then remove all the drive and power cables from the motherboard. Now the motherboard can be slid out quite easily. 

This is a pretty neat design for that era, or for any era for that matter.

The memory sub-board and the motherboard fully removed. Red spot marks the battery holder.
Two of the torxes were in deep holes, so I used an screwdriver with removable tip and an extension which gave the screwdriver some added flexibility. 

The board is very small, even when considering the memory sub-board.

Putting it together was just as simple. Push the board in gently, plug in the relevant cords as you go along.

The other half
After I put the case back together, I checked if the computer still functions. It only gave an empty desktop backdrop. As it's missing a keyboard, a mouse and a battery, this might be normal. Still, it's a bit uncharacteristically unfriendly response from a Mac, so I hope there is nothing wrong.

Alive or dead?
Supposing it works, what to do with it? The Classic Mac is one of the last iterations of the original design, so it's not that old really, 1989-1990 maybe. But this also means it still has the 8Mhz 68000.

Compared to 8-bits, it is a bit cumbersome to get anything running on it, as all the interfaces and connectors are a bit weird from today's perspective, and there's no "load from tape" option to fall back on. HxC floppy emulator apparently won't work with it, and the SCSI interface is not as common as the IDE.

Perhaps the best bet is to use the 1.44Mb floppies for file transfer, which at this stage ought to be PC compatible.

Uncomfortable perspective: the case from below, with the board removed.