Saturday, 26 February 2011

A Wallpaper

I know it's nothing special but I wanted to try making at least one of the stuff I edit in Photoshop in a proper resolution, suitable for a desktop wallpaper. 

At 1920 x 1200 pixels, it's something widescreen owners may enjoy, unlike me, ironically. I'm still using a shitty old low-res square monitor, which flickers horribly when gray (a very common color in website backgrounds, including this blog) is dominating the screen and is incapable of displaying colors properly. So yeah, I'm in desperate need of buying a new one very soon.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


I've been so busy with a few exams and a bunch of other work in the last couple of days, I can barely think properly, let alone write and compose an entire decent blog post. So, sorry if I can't update on a regular basis, even tho I'll try.

Well, I guess I'll try to make this post a little less pointless than it already is with some more ridiculous rip-offs of famous products and brands.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Folding @ Home

First of all, I  am sorry that I've rather inactive in blogging for a while, but, as I said a few posts ago, I am quite busy lately and I don't really even have the time to turn on my computer.

Today I shall write a post mostly about the marvels of modern science and technology, or more importantly- distributed computing (abbreviated DC) and it's probably most successful and famous project- Folding@Home (F@H for short). Since it's start in 2001 F@H now uses the spare CPU cycles of thousands of idling home computers to simulate the folding process of proteins in the human body and try to discover the causes for illnesses such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and many types of Cancers. What this means is you can contribute to the development of modern medical science by simply running a program on your PC.

What is protein folding, you ask? Well, proteins are one of the types of organic matter that build up everything in our bodies. Once they are synthesized by the ribosomes in our cells, proteins fold themselves incredibly quickly before they can carry out their designated functions. If all is done properly, everyone is happy.

Sometimes, tho, errors can occur during this process and those can cause the diseases mentioned above. To find out what exactly makes those errors happen, scientists needed to know more about the folding process in detail. Because folding is an incredibly complex thing, not even a modern supercomputer can't cope with simulating it in an efficient matter of time. So a bunch of people got together in the Stanford University and made a piece software called Folding @ Home and made it available for download to the entire world.

Now, more that ten years later, almost 400 000 CPUs (as you can see by the graph on the right) are actively folding proteins for the further progress of medical science. That's hundreds of times faster than if the project was granted exclusive access to the most powerful supercomputer!

To wider the range of the project and make it even more efficient, F@H has had a client released for every OS out there, including the Sony PS3. Besides those, there are also GPU clients (pictured above) for users with more powerful graphic cards. As you can see, the coolest thing about it is that you can view the folding process in real time.

Here's how it basically works- you download the proper client, enter your nickname, the program downloads a protein from their servers. Then your computer starts working on the unit, which can take from 2 to 10 hours. If it's done before the deadline, the finished unit is then sent back to Stanford and the data is compared to 2 more copies of the same protein calculated by different computers (in case of errors due to a faulty CPU). If everything is OK you get points for the work well done and your rank amongst everyone else who folds goes up.

Interested? You can download the proper client for your OS from here. Or, if you own a high-end graphics card (Nvidia with CUDA supportm for example), download the GPU client from here. If you own a Sony PS3, you need to have the most up-to-date firmware version and then download the optional Life with PlayStation software, which automatically starts to fold every time you run it.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Video Pick #2

This is one of those things you discover, most of the times by accident, that change your life forever. It is so amazing that I just felt the urge to share it with as many people as I could. You've probably seen trippy, psychedelic animations on Youtube before, but nothing else can be compared to "Love & Theft" by Film Bilder- a German animation studio that has been around for 20 years now. The video itself has been nominated and has won tons of awards at many festivals throughout the years. 

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Photoshop Is Game To You?

Yes, it is. It's like Sim City, only without the natural disasters. In this particular blog post I show you photographs, which have gone trough slightly more severe digital manipulation, unlike some of my older posts where it is rather lacking. As you can see (those of you, who are familiar with the program itself), adjustment layers and I are good friends. Other than that filters and some of the tools come useful in the process.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Crysis 2 LEAKED!!!

News has come that yesterday, 11.2.2011, the beta version of the highly anticipated game, Crysis 2 has been leaked by an unknown source and is now being hosted on all major torrent sites. Only the PC version, which was supposed to officially come out on the 22nd of March, this year, is known to have been leaked.

I seriously have no idea how EA Games are going to react to this but they sure won't be happy.  Law suits and crucial game game changes with delayed release dates aren't out of the question in this case. We'll just wait and see how things turn out.

Personally, I'll just be patient for Crysis 2 to officially come out so I can play the finished, bug-free product.

Ripoff Masterpieces

We all know very well by now that everything is bound to be ripped off, whether it's material or work of fiction, popular or unknown. From toys to electronics, famous brands to iconic figures and names. Literally everything. Here are some images of products, in the final frontiers of ridiculousness.

"I'm the operator with my pocket calculator."
"Once own, nothing can instead."-
quote of the century!
This is what the new WoW expansion might look like.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Anniversary Time!

Holy Jesus! I can't believe I actually got one hundred follows! Honestly, I didn't think I could reach even 10, but instead I got ten times more than that! That news certainly made mt day. I'd like to thank every single one of you who has followed me and encouraged me to post more. Next stop- 500.

However, I have buried myself in quite some work recently, which means that frequent blog updates are not guaranteed. I've posted daily so far, but unfortunately, I'm afraid I won't be able to allow myself such a luxury in the upcoming week or two. But worry not, for I am going back to the previous tempo after I've finished with all the work.

So anyways, have a nice remaining week and here's another picture of a cat.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Life in Macro

I just decided to dump some of my macro photos.

If anyone of you can help me identify the bugs and the type of moss in the second picture, that would be great.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The New Generation

Whether you like it or not, the next generation of video game consoles is coming. This fact became clear with the announcement of the 3DS- Nintendo's new entry to it's portfolio of portable gaming devices. Then, it wasn't long for Sony, after much leaks and speculations, to reveal their own next-gen handheld- the Next Generation Portable (or NGP for short). Keeping in mind that it has not been a lot of time since the two devices' announcements, only general technical info and a list of launch titles (amongst which there are some quite interesting stuff) have been officially released. 

Visually, the Sony NGP's design doesn't differ much from the original one's. However there's a number of changes and most importantly- tasty, tasty new stuff. The first thing you have probably noticed are the not one but, count them, two analog sticks on the front- yes, all the prayers of the players have finally been answered! But it doesn't stop here. The console's much bigger than the old PSP's 5 inch 960x544 OLED screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio is going to be multi-touch sensitive, opening a vast number of control possibilities. Another thing is, as you can see, that there are no buttons beneath the screen but instead, the volume buttons are now on top, the PS button is on the left-hand side of the devise and the start and select ones are on the right, respectively. An interesting control feature are the two capacitive multi-touch pads on the back of the NGP. I have no idea how they're going to be used or even utilized in the games themselves but if done properly, I'm sure it'll be awesome. The handheld will also be fully motion sensitive with a three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer and a three-axis electronic compass.
The processing power of the NGP is simply mind-blowing for a portable device. There are even rumors going around the net that it's Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and Quad-core PowerVR SGX543MP4+ GPU are going to be capable of producing PS3-like visuals! Talk about sheer computing might! Other hardware includes options for WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G mobile network connectivity, a GPS and one camera on each side with resolutions not yet known.

The list of games announced so far looks very exciting. Uncharted, LBP, Resistance, Wipeout, Metal Gear Solid and Call of Duty are just a few of the titles, going to be playable on Sony's newest console. An interesting thing is that no UMDs or anything disc-based will be used but instead, they're going for cartridges, which is great news for two very important reasons: faster load times and longer battery life. The release date and price tag is unknown but I tell you, all that hardware WON'T be cheap.

The 3DS
Just like Sony, Nintendo have decided not to alter the visual design of the NDS when making the 3DS.
The special thing about it is that it's going be able to display 3D images on it's top screen, hence the name, without the need of wearing any glasses. On the right-hand side there is a slider for adjusting the visual depth of the screen or completely turning the 3D feature off. This handheld gets a +1 analog stick too, a 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis gyroscope for motion controls.

The top screen is a 3.5 inch with an effective resolution of 400x280 while the lower one is a 3 inch 320x240 and is touch sensitive but whether it's multi-touch or not is not certain yet. One frontal and two rear cameras (for 3D photos and videos) will be placed on the unit. The DMP PICA 200 GPU is said to be capable of graphics, even better than the Sony PSP.

Streen Fighter 3D, Kid Icarus, Dead or Alive: Dimensions and 3D reworks of old Nintendo classics such as Legend of Zelda:OOC and Super Mario Land are some of the promising titles announced.
The Nintendo 3DS is scheduled to be released in the US on the 27th of March at $250.

Personally, I am very excited for both handhelds and I think that they have a lot to offer to us in the upcoming years. If I had the money I'd definitely get both but since I don't I'll just wait and see how things develop (and for the prices to drop in the meantime) and then get one of them, tho I'm kinda leaning towards the NGP for now. There are just slightly more games I find worthwhile for it than the 3DS and I've spent countless hours on my PSP, while barely touching my NDS, which eventually got sold.

Another thing that makes me uncertain about Nintendo's console is the 3D screen itself. I've seen glassless 3D before and it's main disadvantage is it's very limited viewing angle, where you have to stare from one specific spot, otherwise it gets blurry and simply unwatchable.

Despite my own views, the 3DS is probably going to dominate the market again for three main reasons: the lower price tag, it's general appeal to the casual community and the pre-generated popularity from it's predecessor. But yet again, I might be wrong.

So which one do YOU think looks more promising? Which would you buy and why? Please feel free to share your thoughts!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Sky

In case you don't get to see it too often, here are some photographs of the goddamn sky. Enjoy!

This one counts, right?

The last two suck, I know.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Of Games and Great Anticipation

Last year has left us with some really awesome worthwhile games such as Red Dead: Redemption, Fallout: New Vegas, Dead Rising 2 and Super Meat Boy. However, the list was relatively small in quantity in comparison with previous years. Looking at the list of this year's upcoming games, 2011 is looking quite promising, to say the least, but as it is with games (and pretty much else for that matter), any given title can turn out to be a huge disappointment in the moment it is released.
So, with no further ado, here's my list of my top 5 anticipated games of the year.

1. Portal 2
The first game was love at first sight for me. I just simply loved every single aspect of it, especially the dark humor. That is, before it got brutally murdered by being overused by everyone and their grandmothers on the Internet to the point where mentioning the word "cake" in the wrong time, at the wrong place might get you punched in the face.

So enough about that, Portal 2 was announced around April last year with the most mindfuckingly awesome ARG ever. According to most recent info, it is going to be released on April 18, this year for the PC, Mac, Xbox 360 AND PS3, which is also getting a promised Steam support.
Unlike it's predecessor, Portal 2 is going to be a full-length game with tons of more gameplay features such as the propultion and repultion gels, the excursion funnel and a thermal discouragement beam (a.k.a.- LASERS!). The game is also going to have a multiplayer co-op mode, requiring players to team up with each other in order to conquer various obstacles in specially designed chambers.
Portal 2 is going to take place many years after the events in the first Portal when the Aperture Science facility is slowly decaying and lush vegetation can be seen all over the place. GlaDOS has now awaken from her long sleep only to meet her new human friend, about who there is not much info yet and all we know is that she is NOT going to be Chell from the first game.
Besides longer gameplay and a whole new bunch of stuff, there will be new characters and according to Valve, the test chambers are going to be a lot more challenging.
And are we in for another epic ending with proper musical accompaniment? Only time will tell.

2. Duke Nukem Forever 

Hail to the king, baby! After 14 long years of empty promises, fake trailers and screenshots and god knows how many dollars of budget money wasted on hookers and cocaine, we can finally safely state that this long awaited sequel is going to be released this very year. May 3, to be precise, for PC, Xbox and PS3. What makes me so sure that this time it's legit? Because it's not in the hands of the lazy-ass liars of 3D Realms anymore. Gearbox software is in charge of development now and they've had Borderlands, which was an awesome game.

Anyways, let's face it- we all know that it is almost certain that this is going to be a mediocre grayscale FPS, no other than the crap that is released dozens of times every single year. But deep down in our hearts we have that little flame of hope that this decade and a half of waiting might actually be completely worth it. Again, only time can tell.

3. Mass Effect 3 
I am not a big fan of RPGs and little are those which don't bore me but Mass Effect 2's excellent storytelling, sci-fi done right and action elements made it one of my favourite games of all time.  In this final installment of the trilogy capt. Shepard's epic adventure will finally come to an end. That is, if Bioware doesn't decide to milk the franchise by spewing a million expansions and spin-offs but that is not our concern for now.

Not a lot of info is revealed about the game for now, besides that it is going to be released sometime during Q4 of 2011 and that it's going to be on all 3 major platforms.

4. Crysis 2 
This time not a PC exclusive but a multiplat, Crysis 2 will be the first game ever to feature the new CryEngline 3. Because of that a lot is expected from the game itself in therms of graphics and physics engine capabilities.

Crysis 2 will take place in deserted New York City in the year 2023. Aliens have somehow made their way from the island to the rest of the world. You play as Nomad- the protagonist from the first game, with an improved nanosuit in your quest to kill all the bad guys. By now only one new suit ability is revealed- a special tactical vision mode to display detailed info about your surroundings. But this is just a mere fraction of the new features and weapons that are expected to be included upon the final release of the game.

Crysis 2's release date was announced to be on the 22 of this very March.

5. The Last Guardian
Although this is Team ICO's third game, the previous two being Ico and Shadow of the Colossus (both for the PS2), have been, simply put, masterpieces and I loved every single minute of them. The atmosphere, the thing I most cherish in a game, was amazingly done in way that made you feel you were literally in another world.

The Last Guardian (a PS3 exclusive) is going to have a similar to it's predecessors environment (will probably in the same fictional universe) tells a story of a young boy, finding and unleashing a huge best, eventually becoming friends with him. According to videos the gameplay will center around controlling the strange creature, tho not directly but trough the boy's actions in order to solve different puzzles throughout the game. 

So far, little information has been revealed but I'm having high hopes about it. The Last Guardian is to be released, like ME3, some time in the fourth quarter of this year.

Friday, 4 February 2011

More 3D Fractals

Again, I'm uploading fractals. Unfortunately, because of techical reasons, I won't be able to show everything I meant to share. It seems the server decided to hate one of the pictures and simply gives me a "server rejected" message. I'll try to investigate the cause but if any of you knows anything about why an image would not be allowed to be uploaded, feel free to share the info.

Usually, after I'm done with rendering and exporting, I edit the image in Photoshop, adjusting various settings and playing around with the sliders and variables.  The software's different types of adjustment layers makes it much easier to experiment on multiple levels, without the fear of having to start all over again of a serious mistake is made.

As you can see with these two, a hue/saturation and a color balance layers can make a huge difference.

The top one didn't turn out to be as good, because it needed to be blurred in order to make the unrendered parts less visible, since it was exported at an earlier rendering stage.

More sharpness, warmer and more vibrant colors and the fact that it's completely rendered, made this second edit of the fractal much more eye-pleasing than the first one.

This last one is pretty lame but I'm uploading it anyways.

All of the above were made using Incendia 1.3. If you're interested, you can check out it's official site here.

HDR Photos

As I mentioned in my very first post, I am a photography enthusiast. Amateur, of course. I like to experiment and try out new shit.

HDR, for example, is something I wanted to try out the first time I found out about it. The problem is, many of my first tries resulted in complete and total failure. That is because My DSLR camera doesn't have a bracketing feature (the ability to make multiple shots, each with different aperture/shutter speed values) and a proper HDR merge in Photoshop requires no camera movement whatsoever. So I needed either a tripod or a steady flat surface to place the camera on and extra caution when messing with the settings to alter the exposure.

This one is far from perfect but I'd call it my first successful one. Camera was simply placed on the desk with it's lens lifted up by a stack of books to get a proper angle. Took me only 4 shots to merge.

For this time I used a steady tripod and was made with, I think, 7 shots. Considering it's a night photograph, the most exposed picture had a time value of more than 30 second, as I tried too keep the ISO low.

Both photos were taken with the Canon EOS 550D and the single lens which comes with the camera- a 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 EFS with AF and an image stabilizer.