Saturday, March 24, 2018

Latest Stuff..

Okay, this will be a fairly short entry, with just a few of the latest updates. 😉

First, the ailing laptops will be going out Monday to Velocity and Origin for repairs. I'm not sure how much it's going to cost me to get the Origin fixed, but I know I'm in it for at least 318 for the Velocity. I'm pretty sure that they will both be wiped clean and Windows reinstalled fresh, and that's fine. I may keep the Velocity upstairs, since it will have (hopefully) a working DVD drive in it, and just use it for light duty and watching movies and stuff. I won't be putting Photoshop or Poser back on it.

On the Origin, I'm not quite sure what I'll put back on it. I might put Poser Pro 11 on it just to see how it works. I've had Poser 11 since it came out, but I really haven't used it much as it wouldn't work at all on the old HP, and I don't want to take a chance on messing up my Poser installations on the other computers.

I was using the Origin for DAZ Studio, but I now have DAZ installed on this machine, and thus far I have been extremely pleased with the way it runs. This computer has a GTX 1070 card in it, and earlier today it crunched through a large render (about 3000 x 4000 pixels), in about 15 minutes. Granted, there was only one figure in the image, with no environmental props, but still... on the Origin laptop it would have taken at least an hour.

I'm kind of mulling over in (what's left of) my mind the prospect of getting a dedicated computer for DAZ Studio, but we'll see how that goes. It'll depend on expenses with these laptops, and any other things that might crop up. We shall see…

At least my DJI Mavic Pro and Inspire 1 are both up and working properly again. 😁

I've done a little bit of redecorating on this blog, and you'll notice my calendar girls over on the sidebar to the right. I'll be adding more soon. This will be kind of a fun little preview, and the calendar girls will be posted here in this smaller format even before they are posted at Renderosity or Deviant Art.

Well I said this was going to be short, so I'll stop rambling for now. 😎


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

And So We Wait...

Those four words pretty much sum up the current situation with my two malfunctioning laptops. I called Velocity yesterday to get things set up to send their laptop in for servicing. As instructed, I called, gave them my credit card number, and now I am waiting for the payment ($318) to be processed so they can send me a UPS label. The representative I talked to yesterday said the payment should be processed by this morning. I’m writing this at 9:19 in the evening, and have seen nothing from Velocity.

Yesterday, after yet another email to Origin, I was instructed to call their tech support line to get the Origin laptop set up for service. I called them today, and spoke with one of their representatives. Again, I had to give my credit card number in order to process payment. I will be paying for shipping both ways – a total of $68, plus whatever parts are needed to get their piece of crap up and running. At least I don’t have to pay labor on this one.

I did send an email to the person I’ve been working with at Origin to let them know that the system would be coming in for service. I also asked them why I should ever consider buying another computer from their company. This laptop cost a little over $2300. It lasted a little over a year and a half, and of course their warranty is only for one year. No response as yet.

As I stated in one of my earlier blog posts, this has all left are really, really bad taste in my mouth for these so-called “boutique” custom computer companies. They rant and rave on their websites about how great their systems are and how great their service is, but when it comes right down to it they're just like everybody else. Once they have your money, you can go screw yourself. Nobody gives a damn.

It remains to be seen what kind of a job either of these companies do in repairing their pieces of junk. I will reserve final judgment until that time, but as it stands right now you can rest assured that once this is all said and done I will be doing my level best to spread the word. If you need a good computer, you might as well build it yourself or just go down the street to Micro Center or wherever and get a decent machine locally. For half the price.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tech Support and Other Fun Things...

It has been a "fun" 😝 and interesting last few days.... I've spent most of it dealing with various tech support organizations. First, I got on a chat line with DJI's support people because I thought I was having an issue upgrading the firmware on my Inspire 1. Apparently, the firmware update came through fine and everything was normal, but the text file that is created when you do a firmware update had something in it about a failure. Anyway the DJI technician had me send a log file which they checked out, and said that the firmware update had gone through just fine. And apparently it did.

Previously (after the previous firmware update) the drone was locked into a mode where it would only go 98 feet either vertically or horizontally. But I took it out into the backyard today for a quick test flight, and it did well. It was cold and rather windy so I wasn't out there long, but I did take it up to about 110 feet. Here is what the view looked like looking to the West towards downtown Kansas City.

I heard from the folks at Velocity Computer, and it looks like it's gonna cost me about $318 for a keyboard replacement and replacement DVD drive. They said to call their tech support line to get everything set up, which I did earlier today. After waiting on hold for around 20 minutes, the phone tech came on, and surprise of surprises, it wasn't some guy in India. Named Peggy. Anyway, I got that all set up and they will be sending me a UPS label to ship it and have it serviced. Hopefully it will be back up to full capacity when that's done.

On my origin laptop, which has been having issues booting into Windows (throwing up a blue screen when it tries to boot into Windows), they told me to run a "memtest" which you have to put on a USB stick and then boot to the USB stick. I tried for the better part of an hour to convince the stupid computer to boot to the USB stick without any success. I emailed them again with a rather frustrated email, and a little while ago got a response from them. They said to call into their tech support line and get it set up to be sent back to their repair facility. 😧 I'll probably call them tomorrow, because right now I'm too frustrated to mess with it. And I really don't want to go off on the poor phone tech… I've sat in that chair before, and it's not fun.

The Titan computer is still working well; haven't had any problems with it since it came back. I wanted to add two more hard drives internally rather than trying to leave the USB external drives plugged in all the time. I was a little disappointed to see there wasn't much space to add any more hard drives – there are plenty of SATA connectors – but I did see two spots where I could add laptop size hard drives, which I did. I copied all of the stuff that was on the external drives to to the two new internal drives, and reconfigured all of my Poser materials and so on. Now I just use the external drives as backups for all the new stuff that I download or create.

So that's pretty much it for right now. Hopefully he will be moving into some warm weather for long, and we can get out and take some photos and fly some drones!


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Girls From T.N.A. Ch 6, Pg 14 Now Posted!

Latest page now up:
The Girls From T.N.A.

Also at my Renderosity Gallery:
Ch 6, Page 14 at Renderosity

I have to wonder how long my Patreon page will sit at 0 Patrons. Is my stuff really that crappy?


Saturday, March 10, 2018


Just got the "Your Art" Winner of the Week at Fantasy Attic! Miss Ranpha comes through again!

Your Art Weekly Winner


Friday, March 09, 2018

Update on the Computers..

I just installed a couple Western Digital 1TB drives in the titan computer, and copied everything from the external drives to them. Now all my master runtimes for Poser, as well as all my downloaded assets are stored on the internal drives so I don't have to repeatedly unplug the externals when I shut it down, then plug them back in after the machine boots up. I'll just use the externals as backups and plug them in once a week or so to back everything up. So far, everything is working smoothly - on this machine, at least...

I'm still waiting for a resolution from Velocity. The last I heard from them was on the 7th when I asked for an update. The guy I'm working with got back to me shortly after I sent the message, and said he'd follow up with a price. I've heard nothing since. I emailed the president of the company with my concerns, so we'll see if that does any good.

I emailed another message to Origin Computers regarding my 2300 dollar, less than 2-year-old piece of crap 'custom' laptop. Here's their response:

"Hello Rod Shelley,
Please call into the support line so a technician can assist you with this issue."

Thanks so much, buttmuncher!

I got more useful information from another DAZ user on one of the DAZ Facebook forums. It's kind of a sad statement when you get more useful help from a Facebook forum than you do from the high-end, custom computer vendors. They endlessly hype about thier fantastic, custom-built, heavily tested, absolutely awesome systems, and their "world-class, award-winning" tech support. But then they fall flat on their asses when their overpriced systems shit themselves.

Yeah, I'm through with these overpriced 'boutique' computer companies. Next time I need a system, I'll either build it myself, or run out to Overland Park and get one from Microcenter. At least there I can get a 2-year replacement plan for a few extra bucks.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

A Few Musings About "Custom" Computer Vendors..

Over the last several years, I have gone from custom building my own computer systems from bare-bones kits to getting the custom-built systems available from many vendors.

I have two systems from Velocity Computers – one desktop and one laptop. The desktop is a pretty heavy duty unit with two processors and 64 GB of RAM. Most of the time it runs acceptably well. It is used mainly for Photoshop, and occasionally for Poser Pro 2014. I had Poser on the laptop as well as Photoshop, but as of this writing the laptop is not working.

I also have a laptop from Origin Computers, which I use mainly for DAZ Studio. I have a desktop unit from Titan computers, which I use pretty much exclusively for Poser Pro 2014.

Right now, as I mentioned above, the Velocity laptop is pretty much a doorstop. I have a support ticket going with Velocity right now, and I am waiting for a response from them with our last email exchange.

Just last week, the Titan computer arrived back home after being sent to their service department for issues I was experiencing with it. One of the main problems I had with it was the fact that if I left my external USB drives plugged in when I booted it up, it would try to reinstall Windows. I did not have this issue at all with the old HP computer that I previously had in this spot. It would boot up just fine with all three USB drives connected.

Naturally, the technicians at Titan could not duplicate this problem. They updated some drivers, and put the system in a brand-new case as FedEx had apparently damaged the old case on the trip to their service facility.

Regarding the USB drives, I have two Hitachi drives, and had a Seagate drive on which I kept my master runtimes for Poser. The two Hitachi drives are rock solid, but the Seagate drive would continuously drop out, then pop back in, then drop out again, then pop back in again. With it dropping out every few seconds, it was completely useless. However, if I plugged another drive in, it worked fine. Similarly, if I plugged the Seagate drive into my oldest system (which was the last system that I built myself from a bare-bones kit), the drive works fine. So I now have two Seagate drives attached to my old computer, along with two Hitachi drives, and all four drives work fine. So I am basically using this system as a backup server. Why do the Seagate drives act so flaky on the Titan system? I have no idea...

Anyway, after taking a week to reconfigure everything, move my Poser files around, move my master runtimes to one of the Hitachi drives, I finally got everything working relatively smoothly.

No sooner did I get everything squared away with the Titan computer, then the Origin laptop began throwing boot up errors. It would throw up a message "your computer encountered a problem and has to restart" when it was booted up. The first time this happened, it took about five reboots to finally get it to boot into Windows properly. It will kick this message up about every fourth or fifth time I boot it up.

I just opened a ticket with Origin, and just got a response from them. In a nutshell, they said in order to rule out the problem being software-based, I would need to insert the recovery USB stick they included, and basically wipe the drive and reinstall everything factory fresh. Of course, this means that I would have to reinstall DAZ Studio, and a few other apps that I have running on the system. It's kind of a pain in the ass, but then again if it was a hardware problem I'd have to do the same thing after they replaced the drive.

So… At the moment I have tickets open with both Origin and Velocity. I don't even want to think about the total price I've paid over the years for all of these 'custom' systems, but let me just say that none of them were under $2300.

When the Velocity laptop decided to lay down on me, I went to Micro Center, and paid a little over $1200 for a Powerspec laptop with a 17 inch screen to use for Poser Pro 2014 and Photoshop. I haven't had it very long, so time will tell how well it continues to work. But at the moment it runs poser smoothly, as well as Photoshop and a couple other apps I have installed.

The upshot of all of this rambling is just this: why in the hell should I continue to spend inflated prices for these custom-built systems, when I can go to Micro Center and for half the price get a system that works just as well if not better? Next time I need a powerful system for 3-D rendering, I will be giving very deep consideration on whether to get a custom-built system or just simply go to Micro Center and bring one home the same day for half the price.