A few computer upgrades

It’s been a big week for figure acquisitions and computer parts! To take stock, here are just a few things that arrived…

1/4 scale Mikuru Bunny by FREEing

1/8 scale Narusegawa Naru by EPOCH

1.5TB Seagate Barracuda Hard drive

300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor

I’m still waiting on a few things, including some wireless networking equipment (finally taking the plunge and upgrading things to N) as well as this little gem. Most of the latter half of the week involved rebuilding my computer and setting up the new equipment. Photos of figures will be forthcoming, once I get in that last item.

My first order of business was to install the 1.5TB drive into my home server. It replaced one of the existing 750GB drives, bringing total storage spaces to 4.78TB:

WHS

The slight upgrade leaves me with a bit more space to store DVDs, and also frees up a drive for use in my main machine. At some point, I’ll be replacing the last 750GB drive, though I’ll likely wait for prices to drop on the 2TB drives prior to making that move. It may also let me wait until the next version of WHS is released as replacing that drive will require a server rebuild.

With the spare 750GB drive in hand, I set on my next series of upgrades. Up until now, Chikane was the last machine I had that wasn’t running the Windows 7 RTM bits. While the post-RC build was mostly fine (build 7201), it was time for me to move forward. In anticipation of the upgrade, I’d also replaced the video card with something that is still supported by ATi. Now sporting a Radeon HD4830, Chikane was ready to rock and roll.

To complete the upgrades, I went ahead and installed both the 750GB Samsung drive and the VelociRaptor. Since I already had an equivalent 750GB drive in the system already, I placed the two in a RAID0 array for a bit extra performance. The OS and programs, however, would be handled by the VelociRaptor.

Performance rating

Sadly, even though the VelociRaptor is a 10kRPM drive, it’s still the bottleneck in my system. I just can’t win! Finally, however, I come to the capstone of my upgrades for the week. Thanks to my friends at Costco, I now have a pair of Samsung SyncMaster 2343BWX LCD monitors!

Lots of desktop real space

It turns out that my local store was clearing these screens out. I grabbed the last new display and the display model for $175 each. I’ll have to say though, when I first got them hooked up, it took some getting used to. I was actually feeling a bit motion sick from having to move my head around to see everything. Now that I’ve resituated my sitting position and had some time to adjust, it’s actually pretty natural. I’m just wondering how I can go back to such little real estate at work tomorrow…

Desktop wallpaper was found here. I’d also modified it to have a mirror image on the other screen, giving a nice symmetric effect.

More Photosynth action

After some success at creating a Photosynth of upstairs area, I decided to try my hand and doing figures again. With the newly installed flooring downstairs, I think I’d created the perfect backdrop for good synthing potential. First up, a quick reminder of what Photosynth is. It was created out of the research done at Microsoft Research as a method to use information from photos to generate a virtual environment. In essence, it is a tool to facilitate “photo tourism.” From photosynth.net:

What is Photosynth?

Photosynth creates an amazing new experience with nothing more than a bunch of photos. Creating a synth allows you to share the places and things you love using the cinematic quality of a movie, the control of a video game, and the mind-blowing detail of the real world.

How Does it Work?

In simple terms, Photosynth allows you to take a bunch of photos of the same scene or object and automagically stitch them all together into one big interactive 3D viewing experience that you can share with anyone on the web.

Photosynth is a potent mixture of two independent breakthroughs: the ability to reconstruct the scene or object from a bunch of flat photographs, and the technology to bring that experience to virtually anyone over the Internet.

Using techniques from the field of computer vision, Photosynth examines images for similarities to each other and uses that information to estimate the shape of the subject and the vantage point each photo was taken from. With this information, we recreate the space and use it as a canvas to display and navigate through the photos.

Providing that experience requires viewing a LOT of data though—much more than you generally get at any one time by surfing someone’s photo album on the web. That’s where our Seadragon™ technology comes in: delivering just the pixels you need, exactly when you need them. It allows you to browse through dozens of 5, 10, or 100(!) megapixel photos effortlessly, without fiddling with a bunch of thumbnails and waiting around for everything to load.

We deliver this immersive viewing experience to users on multiple operating systems by tapping into the power of Silverlight, Microsoft’s rich web application technology.

Without further ado, a few synths I’d recently created. First up, the synth I’d done last week showing off my upstairs area. There’s quite a bit to explore here, from the keyboard on my desk to the shelf of manga and DVDs. Unfortunately, I didn’t do too much in terms of closeups with the figure displays, something I may revisit in the future. Click the image to view the synth!

room

My first attempt tonight featured working with a recent acquisition, 1/6 scale Yoko Littner by Kotobukiya. This is the first time I tried using the floor as a background and am very encouraged by the results. In addition to the floor, I also grabbed a wood cutting board to provide more background complexity…

yoko

My second attempt tonight featured Dollfie Rin. I achieved slightly better results with this synth (100% synthy) since I didn’t try to do any odd-angled close ups. I will probably revisit this one later to do some more close up detail shots for a better “tour.”

rin

In addition to these, I had done quite a few others in the past (with varying success). Check the rest of them out here. I’ll continue to do other figures and may expand on to doing some scenes. Such a cool little tool, isn’t it?

Display case upgrade

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The recent Dollfie acquisition caused me to think about the best way to display and protect my new daughter. As a result, I trekked up to IKEA over the weekend and got two more DETOLF display cabinets and light sets. Since I knew Rin would be too tall to stand in on one shelf, I decided the logical course of action would be to remove one shelf and give her half the cabinet to herself. Worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself…

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My first Nendoroid

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I got my first Nendoroid recently, and I’m happy to announce that it’s also my first Yoko figure! First impressions are very positive. The parts have a very chunky and solid feel without being too heavy. The facial expressions swap out easily and there is very little play once the hair pieces are snapped on. Downsides that I discovered are that the appendages require a bit of working to get in place and stay on. I often ran into issues where her hair interfered with the arm placement, resulting in the arm falling off. Also, since they aren’t jointed, there is little range of movement.

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First loot of June & Kagami Cosplay ver. review

When I got home today, I found a couple of small boxes on my front porch. One was marked from HLJ and the other from RightStuf. Behold, the first loot of June!

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Today’s arrivals: Kagami cosplay ver. Figma, Excel Saga 19, Kannazuki no Miko 1, Sunshine Sketch 2, and Enchanter 10. The manga isn’t anything terribly special, so let’s focus on Kagami.

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New Arrival: FREEing 1/4 scale Ryoko Asakura bunny

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She took awhile to track down, but I finally found the 1/4 scale FREEing Ryoko Asakura bunny figure for a decent price. Thanks to MooMooCow on Dannychoo.com, who made the decision to part with this beautiful figure and sell her to me for the great price of $125. Up until this point, I’d been scouting out eBay and other sites, but without much success. The lowest going price for a brand new figure had a minimum price tag of $150 plus shipping, with some listings going well into the $200 range. I like the Ryoko bunny, but I don’t like it that much.

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The replacement figma

I came home today only to find an interesting bundle sitting in the middle of my driveway. It seems that the postman had put a package in a plastic bag (it was raining most of today) and dropped it off on my driveway. It was blocking my car from getting into the driveway, so I had to retrieve it before coming in. It seems that my two figmas had arrived from eBay! To get to them, I had to go through several layers of packaging. The outside was wrapped in thick paper, which was covered in tape. Inside was two cardboard boxes wrapped together with tape. Once I got the boxes open, there were layers of bubble wrap. Lastly, each figma box was wrapped in tissue paper. Talk about thorough! As a result, both arrived intact and in good condition.

I immediately set to opening them up, checking them out, and posing them in all sorts of interesting ways.

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