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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Batch renderer software for Blender available for download. FastF12 by Super3boy.

Super3boy has been busy and has developed a batch render program (currently in beta) for Windows, Fast F12, which you can get more details and download from here

FastF12 can render whole animations or individual frames and you can set it up to do the renders you need in batch so you can set it running, leave it, and when you return all the animations and or specific frames will be rendered without having to keep going through blender

Now this is a really neat idea. Polybore has been using a linux system on the polybore LAN to render blender animations because it was taking up to much time and system resources on the main windows PC.

Because polybore accesses this headless linux blender render box by xdmc (Xming) over LAN from a windows machine then having this simple GUI, rather than booting up the whole blender program, would make the operation a lot less fiddly. Alas though, Fast F12 is windows only just now, so polybore needs to think about having a windows based headless blender render box on the LAN. As it happens polybore has the parts to build one…

Super3boy mentioned a possible very interesting future development for Fast F12. From his remarks at the end of the video it seems he plans to develop Fast F12 as a a web application for users to create a distributed computing blender render engine. Similar to that used by the SET@home project. In theory you could have hundreds of computers available over the internet to spare some processing time to render your animations thus cutting your render times exponentially. Now that would be excellent.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How to get the best out of internet radio, spotify, BBC iPlayer, VLC, WinAmp and Windows Media Player.

Wireless headphones

Internet radio is great as is having your music stored on your computer. However there is one snag, you are pretty much tied to the location of your computer.

If you are someone who likes listening to the radio or music while you are doing things round the house you may use an mp3 player or the good old FM radio. Of course the MP3 player is no good for streamed content like that provided by spotify and the FM radio can’t do on demand radio as provided by the BBC iPlayer.

Having experimented with using laptops and wireless internet radio polybore has come to the conclusion that a pair of wireless headphones is the easiest and best solution.

Polybore has a pair of Philips SBCHC8440 wireless stereo headphones the base station of which simply plugs into the headphone jack of the computer and that is it you are good to go. The range is impressive in practise with the headphones getting good reception throughout the polybore house and to an extent also the garden. The manufacturers stated maximum is 100 meters but of course this is affected by walls and interference.

Compared to using your home wired or wireless lan to stream music round your house this solution is so straight forward to do and cheap it is well worth considering.

Interestingly the headphones work on FM band. This does give rise the thought of copying the principle of FM wireless headphones but instead using a FM transmitter that works on a wavelength that standard FM radios can pick up. Devices which wirelessly connecting your ipod or equivalent to your car stereo already exist e.g. the iTrip The thought of creating your own home radio station transmitting the varied media of your PC is an attractive one although you would have to be careful you did not break any local laws. Could be a good, simple and cheap whole house music solution.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Flight Data Recorder “Black Box” recovery. Lessons must be learned from Flight AF 447 tragedy.

image of orange spherical black box flight data recorder (red egg design)

“Red Egg” FDR variant. Photo credit Leo Reynolds

Creative Commons License
This image is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.


The data held by black box flight recorders is essential for tracking down the causes of the loss or damage of an aircraft. This data is more vital today than ever because modern planes are fly by wire and therefore heavily dependant on electronics, data transmission and software.

Considering the high value of the data held by an aircraft’s black box (this data can save hundreds of lives) and the amount of time aircraft spend flying over deep ocean it is surprising that there is only one flight recorder and it is bolted to the airframe of the aircraft (usually the tail section which is most likely to survive impact). As the black box is attached to the air frame it is highly likely that it will end up on the sea bed.

Today’s black box is basically a hard drive albeit a hard drive encased in a specially designed high impact/ heat resistant orange shell. As well as the impact and possible fire the black box is designed to with stand deep sea pressure and is fitted with a location beacon that works underwater as well as on land for 30 days.

The current design features of the modern day black box are all to the good however any IT professional will be alarmed at the apparent lack of a backup of the data, in particular a back up black box on the exterior of the plane which can float to the surface in the event of the loss of an aircraft over deep water.

Despite the black box location beacon, the huge potential search area, especially so when in deep water, makes it incredibly difficult to locate a black box at depths in the thousands of meters and under the influence of strong deep sea currents.

The idea that the causes of this crash may never be fully understood is awful, detrimental to the future safety of the A320 fleet and worst of all terrible for the families of the deceased.

If Flight AF 447 had been fitted with a backup floating black box designed to separate from the airframe the probability of finding out what happened to the aircraft would be greatly increased.