E-Mail Privacy Should Concern YOU! Read why.

But I’ve got nothing to hide!

If you send something like the location of your extra house key to a family member or telling your colleague or friend what bank account to transfer money to using an unencrypted email, it is the equivalent of writing it on a postcard (no envelope), letting it take its routes through hundreds of prying eyes and unfaithful servants. The information is out in the open and it can be read and even changed before it reaches you without you even knowing.

Even if you have nothing to hide, using email encryption helps protect the privacy of people you communicate with, and makes life difficult for bulk surveillance systems in use today. Remember the Snowden case?

It is a known fact that government authorities and other more scrupulous groups like the NSA, is watching all internet activities closely. The reason for this has been covered as an attempt to “fight terror” and is in a double-crossing way partially true. The thing is that it doesn’t just focus on “suspected” persons activities online, but yours and mine as well.

They use advanced computational linguistic algorithms to snap up words, combinations of words and other “susceptible” ways of expressing something, trying to find hidden contexts using the intrinsic meanings of words and phrases in different combinations crossed with under-developed theoretical linguistic syntax algorithms, leading to a “profile” that who knows what they get out of.
One thing is sure: They get the contents.

I don’t mind if the NSA reads my mail…

With something as easy to interpret as e-mail, you no longer have to be a security specialist or advanced cracker to read and change other peoples e-mail. Anyone can download pre-made “hacker” tool-kit from the internet and watch everything you do on the internet, unless you correctly configure WiFi routers and use secured pairing between your wireless keyboard and PC or other wireless devices.
Tools are readily available for a so called “script-kiddie” to park his car nearby and intercept EVERY LETTER you write on your keyboard. The signals from your wireless keyboard is easily eavesdropped.

Do you trust your ISP to read your personal information?

Even if we take away the factors mentioned up until now, anyone that works for your ISP (Internet Service Provider) with access to the servers can scroll through a long listing of un-encrypted text in email communication whenever they please. So the reasons NOT to encrypt your email communication is starting to disappear.

But I don’t know anything about this!?

Luckily for everybody, the Open Source community has been developing and using such tools for years.

Not only have they developed technologies for doing this, but they’ve also taken time to create graphical user interfaces for setting up the tools you need, no matter what operating system you are using.

These products won’t cost you anything other than a little time and dedication to make a change to your rights for privacy. Descriptions and documentation is also available and easy to understand, often delivered in a multitude of languages as well.

Here is something to get you going in no time:

Mac OS X Users: https://gpgtools.org/gpgsuite.html

Windows Users: http://www.gpg4win.org/index.html

Linux / BSD Users: You know what to do… 😉

If you choose to use products mentioned in this post or in any of its links, please consider donating a little money to the Free  Software Foundation, or even better, become a donating member!

Best of luck with claiming your right to privacy!

fsfButton

Some GNU Emacs hotkeys for ya!

I’ve collected some of the Emacs shortcuts / keyboard hotkeys I find myself using from time to time! 😉

Please visit:
GNU Emacs for Unix/Linux and precompiled Windows binaries
Aquamacs for OS X (I prefer this over http://emacsformacosx.com/ as it is better integrated)

To get a hold of this incredible “editor”. The reasons I write “editor” is because calling Emacs an editor is something of an understatement! It’s more like a little operating system or at least an intelligent Lisp world!

For you guys never bothered to learn Emacs: You don’t know what you’re missing out on!

Ok, here are the hotkeys (feel free to add some as a comment, and I’ll add them to the list!):

General commands:

c-x c-f = new buffer (file)
c-x c-c = quit
c-g = cancel input command
c-v next page
m-v previous page
c-l toggle cursor point up/down/center (pgUp/pgDown)

Navigation in text:

c-p = previous line
c-n = next line
c-b = backward
c-f = forward
m-f = move forward Word-by-word
c-a = beginning of the line
c-e = end of the line
m-a = beginning of the sentence
m-e = end of the sentence

m-< = beginning of the text
m-> = end of the text

Editing Text

Killing text:
(text goes to a safety buffer like in Cut)

m-backspace = kill word before cursor
m-d = kill word after cursor
m-k = kill words until end of sentence (.)
c-k = kill words until end of line
c-space = mark start of delete (move to end of text to delete)
c-w = delete text from mark until here
c-y = yank (paste) text from last kill buffer
m-y = cycle through the kill buffer entries

c-x u = undo
c-_ = undo too!

Search for text:
c-s = search forward in buffer from cursor
c-r = search backwards in buffer from cursor

for a non-interactive search press enter before search word.

Search and replace:
m-x replace-string + enter
<word to replace>
<word to replace with>

Managing buffers and windows

c-x c-b = display buffer list
c-x o = switch to buffer list, select with arrows and enter
c-x b = start typing the name of the buffer to choose (tab-complete)

c-x 1 = one buffer in window
c-x 2 = two buffers in window horizontal
c-x 3 = two buffers in window vertical

c-x 0 = close active buffer (file)

m-x recover-file = recover file after crash (open original file, not auto-backup)

c-u 90 c-x f = set margin width to 90 chars

c-u 0 c-l = move current line to top of buffer window
c-x o = move cursor to “other” buffer window
c-m-v = scroll through other window (keeping cursor in main window)

m-x make-frame = create an independent Emacs frame

esc esc esc = get out of recursive editing level mode

c-h f <function> = help on <function>
c-h k <command> = help on <command>
c-h a <keyword> = search for <keyword> in help
c-h i m Emacs = read Emacs manual using info

That is something to get you started!

Until next time, happy editing!

Chris

More Lightwave praise… I’m not kidding, this is going to be Good!

I’ve ben praising Newtek and their 3D Suite “Lightwave” on a couple of occasions. This time I want to point the ones in doubt onto a track of future optimism and, hopefully, a shitload of fun.

The upcoming Lightwave Core, scheduled for Q4 2010, will incorporate seamless connectivity against the most promising standards out there, and will eventually include support for components mentioned in this text.

I’ve received questions by artists, or say, budding artists, that is in “serious” doubt about the big changes between the current (open beta) 9.6.1 64-bits Mac/Win release that uses the separation between the Modeler application (modeling) and Layout (everything else). Core will by default merge the different tasks into one application by dividing the UI into “workspaces”, without the need of “The Hub” for synchronizing data layers and plenty of other stuff. No more F12 for switching apps.

BUT, you can if you insist use the same workflow as in LW 9.x, this is a matter of preference settings. So no worries, your training won’t be “outdated” in a year.

The following workspaces will be available:

• Model

• Surface

• Setup

• Animate

• Render

• Composite

In addition to the above, the following items are also presented as aspects of the Animate workspace:

• Creation Tools

• Deformation (Subset)

• Transforms

• Dynamics (Collision Detection, Etc.)

• Constraints

• Scripting

Rendering:

LightWave 3D with CORE technology offers two different flavors of rendering: Viewport Preview Rendering (VPR) and CORE rendering.

VPR

The CORE viewport rendering engine allows for direct interaction with elements in the rendering, from the rendered view. Any viewport can switch to VPR, and even portions of viewports can be specified for viewport rendering.

VPR is essentially the CORE rendering engine operating in an iterative, interactive fashion. Whatever CORE can render, VPR can also render. The results will be virtually identical, with some exceptions, as VPR does prioritize to deliver on speed and interactivity.

As VPR is a complete version of the CORE rendering engine, not a subset, it can render global illumination interactively, however, with less interactivity due to the amount of performance required to produce GI renderings. Fortunately, the CORE rendering engine is fully multithreaded, another benefit leveraged by VPR.

The more processors you have available to you, the faster VPR will render.

Now, to the juicy stuff:

The Composite workspace in CORE is capable of image manipulation and compositing via a selection of internal tools, as well as available third-party plug-ins that support the OpenFX standard (OFX). OFX is an open source plug-in standard for developing 2D digital visual effects.

The Foundry (http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/), Re:Vision Effects (http://revisionfx.com/) and GenArts (http://www.genarts.com/product/sapphire/ofx/fxlist) and several other prolific plug-in vendors offer a variety of image processing and manipulation plug-ins in OFX format.

Core uses the industry standard file format Collada for scenes, as it handles cross pipelines, and the Collada format offers all the structures a combined application needs.

The optional Modifier Stack (Lightwave finally has memory!)

The CORE modifier stack is an attribute of each mesh item. Every CORE mesh item has a modifier stack behind it. The modifier stack is a living record of all of the geometric operations applied to a specific object. Operators in the stack can be rearranged (doing so can produce notably different results), enabled, frozen (so as to be un-editable or “flattened”), muted and deleted on command.

Scripting:
Every expression in Core are Python based.

Industry-standard Python forms the basis of the scripting in CORE (currently version 2.6). The Python implementation is layered into CORE via SWIG. SWIG is a language-interfacing layer that allows the CORE SDK to be accessed through languages other than the factory Python language that ships with CORE.

Now to the really Juicy stuff:

CORE integrates the popular Bullet Physics Library (http://bulletphysics.org/wordpress/)

into the CORE unified dynamics solver. Bullet supports both rigid body and soft body collisions. Bullet plans to offer OpenCL support in the future, which fits with the development of CORE.

The Bullet Physics Library offers the following benefits:

Open source C++ code under Zlib license and free for any commercial use on all platforms including PLAYSTATION 3, XBox 360, Wii, PC, Linux, Mac OSX and iPhone.

• Discrete and continuous collision detection, including ray and convex sweep test. Collision shapes include concave and convex meshes and all basic primitives.

• Fast and stable rigid body dynamics constraint solver, vehicle dynamics, character controller and slider, hinge, generic six degrees of freedom and cone-twist constraint for rag dolls.

• Soft Body dynamics for cloth, rope and deformable volumes with two-way interaction with rigid bodies, including constraint support.

In CORE, you can use dynamics for simulation, modeling, or interaction with scene items. Animation created in CORE can be exported into LightWave Layout (and other applications) via the MDD file format.

Modeling with dynamics example: Consider an alley scene with crates. You can choose to place the crates (and other debris) by hand, or you can choose to use the dynamics tools to help streamline the process.

TRUE MULTI PLATFORM SUPPORT

CORE is written in C++, and designed as an object-oriented application. CORE uses several different technologies and libraries to deliver state-of-the-art performance. For the user interface, CORE uses the Qt libraries from Nokia. The Qt environment is fast becoming a standard throughout the software development industry. It is available on all platforms, allowing for a single codebase development process, which is very important when you have more than one host operating system to support. By using Qt, Newtek can offer LightWave CORE for Linux as well as Windows X and Mac OS.

Lightwave is capable of every stage of production, from modeling to physics and animation. It’s priced at a fragment of other products that can deliver the same feature set. This makes it a perfect mach for wallets, individuals and small to medium studios.

Did I mention the 999 free network render nodes?

Need I need to say more?

Go get it!


Howto: Convert .nrg to .iso from the Terminal (OS X)

I’ve seen so many strange solutions for a pretty simple problem.

People are going through all sorts of frustration, just to turn a .nrg (like a CD/DVD burned with “Nero”) made in Windows into a mountable .iso to feed to the image-mounters mouth.

Well here is the drill:

1. Open Terminal.app (Thats just Terminal for those that don’t like complete filenames)

2. Type nrg2iso <source_image.nrg> <destination.iso> and hit enter.

You wish things where that easy eh? Well, it is, but for tasks like this one, at times you need some good’old Unix command-line utilities, not limited to those already included in the Mac OS.

For that we need 2 things. To get, and install these for the first time, there are some minor pain involved, possibly hitting those that hate computers slightly, but I can promise you, if, or when, you discover the possibilities with Mac OS + MacPorts, it will be worth it:

1: Install the Xcode package included on the secondary Mac OS install DVD an “additional installment”.
If you don’t have the DVD with Xcode, or if you want the latest version of Xcode (A superb programming IDE for anything from developing dashboard widgets, iPhone apps to full blown native 64-bit Mac OS apps that uses the latest OpenCL technology, and it’s free as in beer) you will have to register for an Apple Developer Account through the AppleDeveloperConnection, ADC, located about here: (this is where the pain comes in) http://developer.apple.com/mac/

2. After completing the registration and / or the installation of Xcode, install MacPorts from the downloaded installer .dmg.

MacPorts! Head over and install:

http://www.macports.org/install.php

Chose the installer for your version of Mac OS and run the installer.

Then open a Terminal and type in:

sudo port selfupdate -v

Enjoy the incredible ammount of fast flowing gibberish, as MacPorts sets up some RSYNC connections and comparing merchandise.

Then install nrg2iso, that was introduced in this post with the command:

sudo port install nrg2iso

This is a nifty tool written by a guy called G. Kokanosky. It does exactly as it is named:

First enter the source .nrg image you want to convert to a mountable .iso on your Mac, then some name of choice, with the extention .iso, as in:

nrg2iso mydownloaded.nrg myconverted.iso

That’s it.

This may seem like bloaty overkill for this one task, considering that applications exist, that does this without the hassle of installing Xcode and MacPorts.

And, it is absolutely correct. But, it does not give you one tool. It gives YOU the opportunity to MAKE the tools, if you so wish, but more important to begin with, it gives access to a wealth of incredible useful, solid, tested tools that executes a lot faster than a possibly badly written hobby cocoa application downloaded from the net.

Read more at http://www.macports.org/ for information regarding existing tools.

Read about developing for the Mac (ADC is possibly the best programmer community out there) at:

http://developer.apple.com/

Madman (late, weed, sleep… ahem! not that second one!)

I’m Waving again…

As readers might conclude from the previous post, I hereby declare myself as an official “Waver” again.

I’ve recently purchased a new Mac Book Pro, with the Nvidia GT GPU option and some ekstra RAM and a faster hard drive. I installed the 32-bit (will it ever be 64) Maya 2010, and Lightwave 9.6.1 (64-bit beta).

I took both applications for a spin.

You have to feel it to believe the performance differences between these applications. Well, ok, I know that Maya is a “giant” package, with LOTS of (maybe too many) features, but, nevertheless, I think a brand new MBP should be adequate for any application that is supposed to run on a workstation.

My rendering is sent to my two stationary Quad Core machines anyway, so I need good response when working IN the application. I don’t see why I should need a $3000 workstation, and a $4500 piece of software that runs like crap on my Mac, when I get by with my current setup.

Plus, now I get 999 FREE NETWORKED RENDER NODES with Lightwave, just in case!

Did I mention that Cinema 4D requires an additional “Advanced Render” module ($400), to set up 3 render nodes???

So, now I use Modo 401 (Runs fairly well in 32-bit) for the more organic modeling, Lightwave for rigging, animation, special FX, Rendering, pretty much everything.

For detailing I use Mudbox 2009. This runs well on my MBP. And off course I use Photoshop CS3, because I’m addicted.

Just for clearing up my mind, I needed to write this down… 😉

 

Maya 2010 on Linux, and Mac, plus answer to 64 bit Mac question

Yep. New version. 2010. In the house, running happily on my Mac and Linux machines.

The procedures are nearly identical for installing the 2009 version, with the exception of the built in extra packages. I’ll Post a step-by-step instruction for installing 2010 soon, and answer the question about “Why is there no 64 bit version of Maya for OS X”, that pops up at about every g.d forum I visit.

Short answer: Maya is Carbon. Carbon is not 64 bit, because Apple decided that’s a waste of time and resources. So. If there will be a 64 bit version for Mac, the WHOLE application must be re-written in Objective-C in native 64bit Cocoa Framework (this is the only way to program native 64-bit applications on the Mac), vs. the 32 bit Carbon C++ API, that’s as mentioned is abandoned by Apple Inc.
Don’t think we’ll see that happen. Maya has some years on its back… But who knows?

Only the future will know.

Think that actually sums up part two of this post.

Happy living!