Buried

Apologies if my replies in the forum and to email are a little more terse / slow / non-existent than usual, but I’m a little swamped right now. Houdini owns my days, and in my evenings I have a new server to configure (I’ve gotten used to SELinux now), plenty of email to deal with, an Eihort RC1 to organise (and there’s still some tweaking to do before that can be done), and a business to run (I need a full-time secretary I think ;)).

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Meeting Houdini

No, no, this has nothing to do with Hungarian blokes dangling upside down in straight jackets. Houdini is the name of a rather unusual modelling, animation and rendering tool that I’d heard of in passing before - a friend / former work colleague had used an academic version at university and was always extolling its virtues - but I’d never actually encountered it until this week. It’s not really talked about in real time graphics circles, unlike contemporaries like Max, Maya and XSI, but when you look at its rap sheet, you really wonder why it doesn’t get more attention in our field.

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SELinux - very handy

Those NSA techs know a thing or two about security - you’d kind of hope that was the case I suppose, especially if you’re part of the world’s current dominant superpower (at least for now ;)). They came up with SELinux in response to a need for kernel-level mandatory access controls which were very configurable to many levels of security clearance, and indeed in its entirety it’s a pretty complex policy-driven security system which greatly enhances both the granularity and strength of security policies over and above the typical Directory Access Control (DAC) approach you get with regular Linux filesystems.

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Surfing the game wave

So, enough work-related posts lately, let’s talk about games. I’m being seriously fickle with my gaming love these days. The Wii came out, I got Yoshi’s Island DS for Xmas, and I still had NWN2 and KOTOR unfinished from 2006, and now I’ve been foolish enough to pick up Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin on import on a whim, since a couple of our local shops imports US games now and then.

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I don’t really have time for this, but I need to get to know Redhat Enterprise Linux a little since the machine that will eventually be our new server is running on it. In recent years I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with Debian which is great for servers IMO - its racy teen offspring Ubuntu might be getting all the attention lately on the desktop, but Debian is a solid workhorse with a sensible stability / security policy and lots of really sensible and useful tools.

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Stay on target!

It’s coming. Eihort, that is. I’ve been working on pretty much nothing else since just before Christmas and the items on the TODO are, one by one, getting ticked off. Annoying gotchas with the texture shadow enhancements delayed me for a bit but the going is smoother now. I have a hard deadline of the end of the week to finish the majority of the new code. That’s because for the 3-4 weeks after that I have commitments to third parties and thus any OGRE work will have to be done around that.

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Gah

Sorry for the downtime of the site, and any bounced mails you might have had from my personal domain over the weekend. This domain’s contact email, unlike all the other domains I administer, was set to the old webmail account I used when I set it up, which I don’t check very often, and so I missed the renewal reminders. Dumb mistake, especially since this happened a few years back too and I thought I’d altered it, but obviously not.

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As you probably already know, I live on a tiny island just off the French coast. Many of you might not realise just how small it is - about 78 square kilometers in total and about 62,000 people. The upside is the quality of life is a lot better than many places, one of the downsides is that a small population and a significant economic skew towards financial services means there aren’t that many software development people about.

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I spent yesterday sorting out all the dependencies for Eihort - that meant updating to the latest versions of almost everything. For the core that meant rebuilding FreeType (v2.3.0), FreeImage (CVS - I submitted a patch because they had a small scoping bug in VC8), and Zziplib (0.13.47). I’m building all these with VC8 SP1 now, since I intend to supply binaries for Eihort with the SP installed. For the recent Dagon stable release I used my laptop which doesn’t have SP1 on it, to make it easier to update for those who are sans-SP1, but with Eihort it’ll be full-bore only.

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I finally got around to giving the Athene model a combined normal mapping and depth-shadowmapping shader - you might have noticed I’d avoided doing any close-ups of it in previous shots, it’s because it I hadn’t gotten around to it yet and Athene was still using the old normal mapping shader. As you can see she self-shadows nicely now and the shadow detail nicely follows the normal mapped detail like the folds in her cloak.

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