Monthly Archives: October 2008

Wings 3D

Wings 3D is a Free 3D Software with SL(TM) Support.

There are a few 3D modelers for free, but a small fast and easy to pick up Wings3D is a good choice for many to learn with and has a good plug-in available for Second Life(r) creators to take advantage of to make sculpt maps for uploading models to SL(TM) grid. The software is fast, works on many platforms and is free. It has less features than Blender but is a little faster to pick up and can cause less error for a beginning 3D modeler with it’s menu to start and mouse move plus click to stop the change. It is a simple tool set with cool features, such as magnets, and selection tools like loop select etc. as you would expect. It does render using Pov ray, so it is not just a basic modeler. Not the best at any task, but with it’s reduced set of tools and easier to understand and avoid errors make it good for Second Life builders. The free plug-in for SL(TM) can be found on the SecondLife.com’s forums. This will allow you to export a sculpt map that can be uploaded for amost unlimited and interesting shapes that reduce prim limits and look more real. Video’s on the net are available to help out as well as tutorials. Be sure to read the manual (as with most 3D programs) and remember there is a menu when you right click! Look down at the bottom left of the window for extra options to the present operation. The UI is different than blender (another popular software with sculpt map rendering support) but for me is a good choice for roughing out shapes and then I use the sculpt tool in Blender for get a more smoother or organic shape.

Tilda Terminal

I often want to use a command prompt for a simple command, entering a relatively short text command rather than perform several clicks with the mouse around the screen (and then have to enter some text in a text box often).

On both Windows systems and Linux systems one can easily open a anew window to run the command. On Linux however, there are other solutions, and one that I use is a program called Tilda. Basically the program runs invisibly in the background until you press Tilda’s hotkey. A small command prompt window then slides down from the top of your screen and you can enter your command. Press the hotkey again and the window slides out of the way again. Tilda is a very simple program to use, but, the more “helpful” operating systems get, the more useful I find it.

VSO Image Resizer

Windows XP users familiar with the picture resizer powertool which adds a basic batch picture re-scaling tool to explorer were upset to realize that the XP power tools don’t work with Vista.

The basic function offered by this tool was pretty handy. Enter the VSO Image Resizer, a completely free software tool that can re-scale a folder of pictures, save it as a JPEG, GIF, TIFF or BMP at the quality that you specity. The tool launches from the right-click drop down menu in explorer and offers simple and basic functions in an intuitive interface. For non-commercial use there is no cost for the software. It even works on Windows XP.

Mail.app

Apple’s Mail.app is the IMAP/POP email application included with every Mac.

This application is a simple to use and easy to set up alternative to less functional web interfaces and more complicated email applications such as Thunderbird or Entourage. On the whole I would give Mail.app a very positive review. The newest version, included in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, adds some great new features. Automatic setup means that if you use a popular service like Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo, all you need to set it up is a username and password. Another excellent feature is basic RSS feed aggregation. It is a very simple implementation, less powerful than apps like NetNewsWire, but it is dead simple to use. The only negatives to Mail.app are these two things: it only runs on Mac and it’s shutdown behavior is not standard. What this means is that if Mail.app is busy (for example, trying to talk to a server that isn’t responding) it may block you from logging off or shutting down, requiring you to wait or force-quit the app. Despite this shortcoming, I fully recommend Mail.app to any Mac user looking to make the transition from web-based email clients.

Fixing Bad Sectors

I work as an IT desktop support and one of the constant problems I come across is a hard disk drive with bad sectors and data loss.

I tried a lot of programs and the most efficient for me is Dmitry Postrigans MHDD. It’s a DOS application which has a lot of functions. Basically it scans the hard drive for bad sectors and writing delays. You can remap the bad sectors or erase them permanently. The good thing is that if you want to clone the disk to save the data, and save time, there are no bad sectors to report an error and end the clone operation. Still everything depends on the state of the disk. If it has up to 100 bad sectors you can delete them and still use the disk. If it’s above 100 all you can do is save your data and buy a new disk. You can also delete the whole disk down to the sectors low level format so all the sectors that have a response time over 3ms get restored to 3ms so the disk works faster. The program has a lot other options. You can cut the disk form one sector to another, work with the MBR, etc.

Hydrogen Advanced Drum Machine

If you have used Linux before you may notice a few things missing when migrating from major systems. Audio, Video and Games. There are some programs for those tasks but many times they are not as feature rich, user friendly, or some other issue for the novice.

But Hydrogen Advanced Drum Machine will give you good results, is easy to learn how to use, looks good, and most importantly, sounds good! The problem with a drum machine usually is with the natural sound. There is usually a ‘swing’ function, which is not to bad, but not anything more advanced. With Hydrogen you get some pro features here. It has a knob to make it more random in it’s hit strength (that is right, it has layered sounds for more realism to!) so you get variation that is as sloppy or tight as you want. Add to the realism functions, volume and pan on each track, layer adjustments for each velocity layer in the kit and some decent free drum kits and all you need is the motivation to use the very simple interface to make a good track. You need to only have listened to music intently to make a beat. Very easy interface with no notation or notes and is very visual. The drum kits are all made by different people and on the forums you can find out more about making some with sounds not allowed to be redistributed, though they are free. So keep in mind some do not have a lot of layers, if any at all, so the realism will vary kit by kit. They have techno, dance, rock, jazz, latin, and a few old school things (like Disco) in the free kit downloads. On Linux it works great and makes good enough tracks for decent recordings and it’s free.