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22.9 computers again

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I need to remember not to use computers for my work, it has been my new year’s resolution two years in a row, and I always break it, with predictably bad results. Or at least, if I do have to do something computer based, I need to make sure it is early enough in the project that there is plenty of time to fix all the problems or, if necessary, to redo it all properly (by which I mean by hand, with a decent ruler and set of pens).
All I had to do was draw three pictures on three different programs and print them all on a single page. The drawings themselves did not cause too much trouble, though som parts took rather a long time, little complex details, especially trying to get the curves just right, but eventually I had them all done, then I had less than 24 hours until the work was due in, plenty of time to print it out, right?
The plan was, where I had done two pictures here and one at the university, I emailed my two to myself, so I could open them at the university and copy all three into another program to arrange them all and print. I got to the comouter room, the first computer I tried just refused to let me log in for no reason, so I moved to another, and this did not work. It seems the university thinks it a good idea to put different programs on each computer, with no indication of what is on each, so often I find myself trying to do something only to discover I need to move to another computer to find the right program. This time, though, the program was there, it just did not work. This particular one, there is some problem, on occasion it pops up with a message that a serial number has been found and needs to be entered, or some such, but whatever you do is wrong and it closes. Sometimes this happens after half an hour or so working, on this occasion it happened half way through loading over and over, until I gave up and moved to computer three.
There, I managed to extract the three images and put them into photoshop, which was surprisingly difficult, the program seemingly designed to be just a little annoying and overly complicated at every point, and there was no way of measuring the separate images to ensure that they were all to the same scale, but I did my best, it looked quite reasonably OK, if not quite perfect, as is usual with computer work, then I saved it and went to print.
And that is where the real fun begins. It seems photoshop doesn’t print any more, I go to print, nothing happens, and when I go back to try again, the option has been greyed out. So, I turn everything off and go to another computer, back in the main computer room. The same thing happens there, I visit the technicians, they have no idea what is wrong, but the file has not appeared in any print queue. Then they send someone over that has no idea what they are doing, I watch them trying a few things, move over to computer five, which is really old and slow, and everything takes so long to load, with the exact same result. Saving as a different format did not work, all the export options were suddenly unavailable, and copying the image into another photoshop file just broke the whole computer.
So, back to looking for another computer, the technicians having given up I decide the best thing would be to redo the whole thing again, but someone has been going around all the computers stealing the mice, even the ones padlocked to the computers. I find two that still have mice, one doesn’t work, the other doesn’t have the right program. By the time I had finally given up here, of course it was getting late, the shop I had needed to visit was closed, so I cannot get on with that part of my work either. That means, work due in early tomorrow, and nothing to show for the three weeks effort.
At least the other page worked, I did all that by hand, I had wanted to draw it, scan it into the computer and edit it there, but the scanned images were useless, they tell us to work on A1 paper all the time, but then only ever provide A4 scanners, so I had to scan lots of separate images, folding my paper up to fit it in, then piece them together afterwards, where they were not all quite the same colours, or even all quite the same sizes. Then, with that done, there was nothing I could do with the file, the background was slightly off white and so many different shades it would have taken hours to change the colours, to fit it to a different background image, even to rub out the little mistakes and replace them with the background colour. Certainly I could not actually colour in the picture itself. then, how would I go about fitting other images to it, they would all be so much brighter being taken from a computer, and how would I have the one I wanted such that it faded from one side to the other?
So, I gave up on that and worked on it all by hand, with a set of colouring pencils, and within an hour it all looked rather nice, less time, in fact, than it had taken me to get the scanner to work in the first place. Such a shame the other part is a computer drawing exercise.

I think, tomorrow I will have to be up and in the university really early, I can have another go at recreating that same set of images, I think I will try a different program, see if I can find any others that allow pictures to be imported from elsewhere, and I might try photoshop again, perhaps if I reduced the resolution of the pictures a bit, so that it does not take up so much space or take so long to load? Got to be worth a try, at least.

Meanwhile, yes, my laptop is broken now, only a couple of months after I got it. Every time I plug it in, it just switches off, so I have to run it on the battery and recharge it only between uses. Fun.

16.9 no work

November 10, 2011 Leave a comment

I was going to come on here and say this yesterday, when I could comment that my work on various projects was not going quite so well as I had hoped, but it has gotten worse since then. Some annoying computer trouble yesterday took up a lot of my time, even though really I could have just mostly ignored it, anyway, the result was that I got rather little done all that day, and found myself late in the evening rushing to do anything.
I am still attempting this Nanowrimo thing, but though I am managing it moderately well, only with some difficulty and nowhere near as well as last year’s effort. I have to hope, then, that I start to get into the story now and can write more the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, I have been all but abandoning all my other writing projects, something else I would like to change, if I had enough time.
On the subject of not enough time, though, I also have a lot to do for my university work. I am due to show some to my teacher tomorrow afternoon, and so far I have done nothing more since they last saw it. This is my last chance to show them how well I can actually do before I have to hand the work in next week, so I wanted to have quite a bit done to a high standard, I guess I will be very busy tomorrow morning, then, four hours from when the art shop opens to when I have to have it ready to show. My other university work is not going that well either, moving along slowly, less time put in to it each day than I had hoped, I have a list of things to have done by Tuesday, and have done none of them.
Trouble is, things keep cropping up that aren’t on my timetable and leaving me behind schedule, or things take too long, or I just can’t be bothered to do something, and as soon as anything like that happens, it puts the whole rest of the timetable off and all my plans fall apart. same has happened today, more computer related trouble, I cannot see how to fix it, so I have about given up, moved over to my tiny laptop, and decided to write this to get myself back into the habit of working and to effectively put the rest of the day behind me.
Then, all I have to do is work hard the rest of this evening, get back into my timetable tomorrow, finish all my work on time, and finally get around to ordering this book I want. Apparantly it was out of stock in the first place I ordered it from, so I had to find somewhere more expensive, and they refused to accept my card details, even though there was nothing wrong with them, which then means the next most expensive place after that, I think.

16.8 been away too long (4)

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

It has been far too long since I last bothered to update my blog, I have been meaning to for days, but every evening, after putting it off for later, or simply forgetting, I decide it is too late and leave it for the morning. truth is, for once there is quite a bit to say, on a wide range of different topics, so I thought, rather than one really long post on every last detail, I shall break them up into different topics.

What else, oh yes, computer stuff. Aside from these various drawing programs I need for my coursework, I have never gotten on that well with computers, I can type on them and play games, but that is about it. Some months ago I decided to change this by actually learning how computers work, coming to understand why they do not, that sort of thing.
As an extension from this, I gained some interest in learning to write computer programs, had a couple of ideas of things I wanted to try, but it did not work out very well, noting did what it was supposed to however closely I followed the instructions. I gave up then, but in the last few days I have started again, and it is going rather better. I have found some useful online resources, places that can teach me much of what I need to know, and programs to help me organise and run everything, and within a few days, I had created something that actually worked and could handle simple maths.
That is as far as I have gotten now, though, I have been putting off studying more, the lessons are getting more and more technical, introducing new terms I do not understand without explaining them at all, there are ever more pages of going on and on about stuff I do not understand and less examples that I can study and work out how they work. I think I need to spend more time working on all my projects, including this one, rather than putting them off to sit reading or drawing or whatever else makes so much of my time disappear. That and perhaps I would be better off looking elsewhere for better lessons, perhaps I could go and buy a book on the subject, I have been assured that is the best way to learn.
Meanwhile, I have started to develop plans for the larger and more complex programs I will be able to work on once I have learnt more, perhaps I am being rather optimistic, but even so I am spending some time as well planning them out, mostly a couple of ideas for games rather than any of my other plans, simply because I find designing them easier and more enjoyable than planning different tools and functions for a new drawing program, even though chances are that is the sort of thing I would work on first. perhaps, with enough time and effort, I can design something that I can use for my coursework. Yes, I think I am being too optimistic, but in theory it is possible, someone must have designed those that I have been having such trouble with, how hard can it be to do something a little simpler and better?

20.7 Back at university

September 17, 2011 Leave a comment

So, it seems all my efforts to get into a different university failed, I started too late,asked the wrong people, and quite possibly got the wrong grades to get their interest. So, I am instead back here, starting a week earlier, doing the same work again. Just this time, I will have to try a lot harder and do a lot better.
Meanwhile, though, I finally got my new laptop, it is quite nice, but as yet I have only just started moving things onto it from the old one. So, right now, I have three computers, my big desktop computer which most likely I will be using for most things this year, my little laptop, with a low memory, no CD drive and so on that I can type on and such like, and my old laptop, which I still need to get at some of my saved files to copy them to one or the other, if I can find where they all are.
And, it turns out, a slight difficulty even with all these computers around. Whatever they might say about wireless internet here, there is none, I found that out a while ago, and so I need to plug my computer in to get online. Right now, my big desktop computer is plugged in, if I want the internet on my laptop any time, I will have to somehow get the wire out the back of the machine, untangle it from the rest, thread it back up through the hole in my desk and plug it into my laptop. Meanwhile, it turns out, with the main computery part of my desktop on the floor under my desk, my headphones just do not reach all that way, so if I want to listen to anything online, I would have to do so on my laptop, which I had wanted to keep free of all that clutter and use mostly just for typing on. That or find something to put that computer on, to raise it a little closer.

However, I am here now, unpacked, settled in, the room is mostly tidy, I cannot think of anything I have left behind. as yet, I have not met most of my neighbours here, having spent most of the time since arrival unpacking. With my parents taking me out for lunch, I have not felt anywhere near hungry enough for anything to eat since then, perhaps that will change later in the evening, but right now, there is no reason to leave my room except just to wander about until I meet some of the other people here. I think instead I will get on with my typing, I have gotten a bit behind schedule recently. As well, I should really be getting on with practicing the sorts of things I will need to do for my work, learning how the new drawing program I got works, if it does, sketching out ideas, that sort of thing.

9.7 all coming together now

September 6, 2011 Leave a comment

I may be a bit behind on my timetable, but I have decided I do not much care, I am from now on going to be more interested in typing my stories well rather than fast and in the right order, or at least I am going to try, though it has long been a habit of mine to see such things in terms of numbers and dates, and that might be difficult to change. So long as I do not use it as an excuse to do nothing for days on end, an even more difficult habit to get out of once I have started, I intend to do whatever I can, when I can, to see what ideas I have and work through them rather than trying to force out rubbish on that day’s story. For example, though I am a little behind on planning the sequal to one of my earlier stories, and might start it in a few weeks instead, I have already planned in some detail a scene that did not fit into the original and will instead have to be the start of part three. So, now, I will most likely write up this scene before starting part two, rather than waiting maybe a year and hoping I can still remember most of it.

Otherwise, I have made some progress at university, my useful contact here referred me to someone there that might be able to help, though forgetting to give me their actual email address before leaving the country for weeks. I managed to get in touch with them, though, by asking their department for contact details, and now have their interest, and hopefully they will do all they can to help, there are still a couple of weeks left before the first term starts for us to convince the university staff they want me on the course.

And, after a few months putting off shopping for a new laptop computer, mostly because I had wanted to look around shops and my parents assured me looking online would be better, I avoided looking on the internet for them whilst waiting for them to drive me to the shops, they avoided taking me to the shops, still saying the internet was better, and after getting nowhere, we all almost forgot about the whole thing most of the time. Now, though, with the start of university coming close, they agreed to take me out shopping, and I agreed to at least look on a few websites the day before we went, and again after we got back, finding that all the computers were virtually identical. After a couple of days thought on the matter, looking at different models and sizes and specifications, even sitting and trying typing on some, I have narrowed the choice down to two, though of those, one I could get any of a dozen seemingly identical models at almost the same price, so of course I have been looking at the cheepest of them. If, then, the one I have seen slightly cheeper proves on a second look to have a decent battery life and not to be noticeably worse than any other, then I have two choices- the little tiny computer I wanted though with the worry that it might run quite slowly even though I plan to use it mostly for typing and such like on, or the slightly bigger, much better and more expensive one. If only there was some way of knowing how well the cheeper one would run before buying it.

So, things are looking a little better these last few hours, but still much to do, I have still to meet with various university people, make the final choice for my computer, write out a list of all the projects and such like I should be working on, and get into the habit of dedicating more time each day to editing all my stories rather than just typing lots of new ones and leaving them.

29.2 easter

Meanwhile, what have I been up to these missing few weeks, and where have I been whilst almost ignoring this place?

I have little idea, the time seems to have passed by rather quickly (though even more so this afternoon, it feels like just moments ago I was having lunch, and now it is getting late in the evening). I kept meaning to come back here and add more, but then I would put it off again, I had other more important things to be doing, lots of work I was getting behind on, and what was just one more missed day. Thing is, of course, I was spending rather little time doing any work, though in part that was because it was difficult to find anywhere to do it, now that I have to share a bedroom, which is rather cluttered, as is much of the house, and there is no clear desk area where I can sit and work. Sure, a laptop is useful for working anywhere, but it can be rather awkward sitting with it on my lap for hours at a time, trying to find comfortable positions.

As well, of course, there was always stuff going on, the snooker championship was on all over easter, and I was watching that a lot, and of course there was easter itself, the egg hunt, the party we held, and so on. But mostly, as always, I simply couldn’t be bothered to get on with my work. Though, I do admit I have been finding it difficult, that is why I left much of the stuff I have left this long, the easy bits were mostly done weeks ago. Early on in the holiday I thoguht I had plenty of time to get it all done, in the middle I wasn’t entirely sure what it was I was supposed to be doing, other than a vague idea that I had to be able to start work on my final presentation as soon as I get back, and towards the end I was sure I would not be able to finish in time, and had started coming up with other plans of what I should be doing and when I could get it all finished. Now, I hope to have enough on Tuesday that I can go in, show that I have done a lot on my design, that it is all worked out and detailed and ready to go, and also that I have considered their suggestions and tried to make them work. I still have a lot to do tomorrow, then.

Meanwhile, of course work includes writing as well, I am getting rather behind on my current story, I have very little plot, I am jsut making it all up as I go, and not very well, and as such, as well as all those distractions above, I have struggled to get much done each day. Meanwhile, I have not gotten any of my history work done, being away from the library all that time, though I had hoped to at least look through part of what I have already done and see if that needs any changes.

And, my parents were able to persuade me not to get a new computer, I am still using my old laptop, with the battery that runs out in a few minutes, and now the buttons that don’t always work, and the worry that something more serious might go wrong any time. I know they are right, though, it still works quite well, other than the battery, and I can still plug it in wherever, and I would be better off waiting until I have more time to look around at a range of cumputers and chose just the right one, rather than rushing off any buying one in the few days I was at home for. And it does save me trying to move everything over whilst also rushing to finish it all at the end of the year. Meanwhile, no luck as yet with finding a new program to do all my work on, either, I am hoping I will be able to ask some advice on that on Tuesday, along with everything else. If not, I will have to make a start on the model and hope sometihng turns up out of nowhere in the next few days, or I have rather little chance of doing well this time around. all I need, though, is for someone to reccomend a decent program, and a suggestion of where I could learn a bit of how to use it, and most likely someone I can go back to to complain that it doesn’t work. Surely that should not be so difficult around here?

2.2 Computers again

So, as part of my university course, I am required to do a lot of drawings, and apparently these should be done on certain specialist computer programs, though I am not sure why. A few months ago, I produced a set of drawings for one project that I had drawn in pencil, with all the details, right down to the grain of the wood, all carefully measured too, and though I do not usually like claiming that anything of mine has been done well, I thought they were amongst the best pictures I had done in a long time. And I was just told they should have been done on a computer instead. Next project, I worked entirely on the computer, and this time had to rush a bit towards the end, the finished product could have been a lot better with more work, and with a printer that bothered printing in the colours shown on screen too. And I was told it should have been a different program. Now, I have a chance to do all this work again, so long as I can get it finished in a few weeks, and I decided to find some better program to draw in. Though, in all my time at university I have learnt little about such things, and didn’t have much time to teach myself, I thought I might as well give it a go.

I have since tried three more programs. The first seemingly only allows simple black outlines, and after spending hours copying out the first project, and rather a long time getting it printed as well, it seems the expensive new university printers cannot cope with lines less than 2mm thick. I had carefully gone through and set the lines to a range of different thicknesses to show the building receding into the distance, and to separate the main outline from the little details, and it printed them all in big thick lines sprawled across the page. And this a program I was repeatedly reccomended by both staff and fellow students.

The second program, as far as I can tell, only allows very simple drawings, it takes a lot of effort to produce anything more than a few squares and circles, and then gives them each bright unrealistic colours. So that was out. Then just yesterday I spent hours searching the internet for something better, and trying to download a free trial of another program I had been reccomended. This one, when I eventually got it… there are no words to describe how terrible it is. The whole thing is confusingly arranged, I have been unable to find most of the tools I would need still, and it works by creating a 3 dimensional model, but of course, drawing on a 2D screen, it makes up the other distance, giving all sorts of strange angles. And that is when it isn’t simply not doing anything or putting stuff in the wrong place. And then it gives to option of taking pictures of the model from different angles, these, on the highest quality, are tiny, zooming in reveals a very low quality pixilated image. I could have brought up Microsoft Paint, (which I am now forbidden from using), and done a much better drawing in half the time.

So, at the end of all that, I have come to the conclusion that all these programs are terrible, that I have no chance of working out what to do with them by myself, know of noone that can teach me, and have nowhere near enough time to learn. I shall just have to take the bits I have managed to do in to studio tomorrow and ask for some advice, perhaps ask to be allowed to do the work properly, with a range of different pencils and a ruler. It seems to me the only advantage to working on the computer is if someone needed to measure something off it with absolute accuracy, and then, surely it would be best to keep it all on the computer, where the distances can be easily looked up, rather than printing it out and trying to measure with a ruler?