d357 120831 Ink Drawings II

[120831]

Well, I haven’t really had the chance to draw much since the last update, but I figure I’d get this post in before the month was up (30 minutes left as of this writing!). Last time I posted what I’d consider my first “true” ink drawings, and today I’ve got two more. These are both from reference:

Both drawings are slightly disproportionately narrow compared to the original. I’m not exactly sure how I screwed them up the same way twice in a row, but it might have something to do with the translation of the photo aspect ratio to the paper aspect ratio. Hopefully will have a chance to draw more in the next few weeks.

The following comments about computing and whatnot were written at the beginning of August. As these things go, they are already out of date, but since it’s already written, I’ll post it for my future self to read.

Continue reading “d357 120831 Ink Drawings II”

d344 120102 Akemi Homura 2011 R2, Love Hina sketches

[111220 – 120102]

The first illustration in today’s update was actually done before the last picture in the last update, but everything in the last update flowed together better, so I didn’t include this.

This is basically a remake of what I consider the crappiest painting as of late, the Akemi Homura 2011 painting. While this colored pencil piece is obviously somewhat less polished than its digital counterpart I think its also a lot closer to what I originally wanted. In part due to the immaturity of my colored pencil process, the lighting here is also fairly ambiguous.

There’s a less-than-interesting process photo I took a little more than halfway through too. A little bit of color testing on the side; for whatever reason it was significantly harder to settle on Akemi’s colors than it was to settle on Inori’s colors. You can also see that there’s actually a lot of “junk” lines that the colored pencil covered up really well. Overall, fairly satisfied, though. Satisfied enough that I wouldn’t attempt another in the near future.

Continue reading “d344 120102 Akemi Homura 2011 R2, Love Hina sketches”

dcomic 536

[100308]

So today, my biggest gripe with the E6400 goes away for good!

My biggest concern with computing these days, and probably for a good year or two now, has been with power consumption and noise. Back in the days of my CpT C and 500m, it really wasn’t a big deal, cuz the processors didn’t dump much heat and the fan(s) rarely, rarely came on. Hard drives were kind of annoying, but 4200rpm drives are pretty quiet on the whole (unless you get some old clunker with a dying bearing or something silly).

I really started noticing all the noise computers made when I put the old Dell tower in my room. I don’t quite remember the rationale for that (except that it was for the lulz), but soon the Dell tower wasn’t good enough and I got Colette. In the original configuration, Colette was pretty noise, with a cheapo case and a bunch of 80mm (and smaller fans) running at full tilt. Over the next year or two, I spent considerable time and effort quieting her down, and I’ve detailed that in the past (too lazy to go reference older posts at the moment).

That being said, it gradually came to be that the most important thing in a computer was pretty much it’s power, and subsequently, noise footprint. Power’s not the whole story, as many computers these days seem to have really aggressive fan profiles, but I’m not going to get a laptop with a hot processor, a noise fan, and then active noise cancelling speakers in order to make it inaudible. That’s clearly inelegant, and that kind of thing matters to me.

The opposite side of the coin is passive cooling. Whenever someone asks me about netbooks or something, I always volunteer the (few) that have passive cooling. Considering the low power consumption of the Atom, it’s the perfect candidate for such a thing, but so many manufacturers insist on putting a shitty, whiny fan into their chassis and keeping the whole thing at 32C, whereas I’m pretty sure filling up that fan space with a bigger heatsink would solve the cooling problem just as well.

Of course, that’s ultimately speculation, but if the mini 9 can passively cool a 9″ chassis, there’s no way, it’s ridiculous that some of the bigger 10″ and 12″ netbooks can’t.

But I digress. The HP TC4200 really opened my eyes to what kind of noise profile was possible even in a small notebook with a mainstream processor. While my D830 ran it’s fan most of the time, the TC4200, undervolted and all, would only crank it up after long periods on my bed or under full load. The fan consistently came on at 60C and shut down at 50C, and thus never ran long.

If every notebook had such a nice and simple fan control, I wouldn’t be making this post. Undervolted, the P8400 in my E6400 and the Pentium M in my HP both put out what seem to be similar power figures under light to mid load. The P8400 tops out at a higher wattage, but I don’t really mind running a fan if I’m playing SC2 or something. The problem has always been the shitty fan control on the E6400.

I don’t want to go into the details, but it pretty much sums up what I hate about “modern” fan control. It turns on at a low, low temperature, and runs forever. It isn’t even controlled by a temperature sensor that’s picked up by HWMonitor, so it’s very, very hard to work around. I can’t just lower the temperature and get less fan noise and that is the crux of the issue.

So after the owning the machine for about a year, it began to dawn on me that what I wanted to do was get rid of the damn fan altogether.

The first thing I did was an experiment. I unplugged the fan, booted the machine, and used RMClock to lock my P8400 to its lowest multiplier (for a speed of something like 1600MHz). Then I loaded up the CPU and let it run. I wanted to see if Penryn-based processor running at a lower clock speed would generate enough heat to saturate the passive cooling capabilities of the E6400’s stock thermal solution.

It almost did. At 1600MHz and 0.8750v, the temperatuers topped out a bit above 60C, which isn’t dangerously hot, but fairly hot. Given that was a full-load speed, it’s not that bad, but still a bit hotter than what I’d like. Furthermore, a software solution like this is a little dangerous. If the machine freezes for some reason or another while I’m not at it, the software cap will go away, and the thing will try to run the P8400 at full speed, stock voltage, without a fan. That’s a fairly dangerous situation I’d like to avoid.

So what I needed was a processor based on the same Penryn core, but hardware-capped to somewhere around 1.5GHz. Intel doesn’t actually make a standard socketed processor like that. The slowest Penryn is a 2.0GHz T4200, which is definitely not going to work here. Older Socket P processors are capped at lower clock speeds, but they are also based on older cores that dump more heat per clock.

But there is a niche market apparently just for this. Intel’s ultra-low voltage processors are based on the same cores as their full-power counterparts, but capped at lower clock speeds and rated at lower TDPs. They are also typically soldered to motherboards, and you subsequently can’t drop them in a typical mainstraight notebook.

I don’t remember why I first looked into this, but for the longest time, there have been a small number of PGA-modded ULV processors on eBay. This means that the ULV processor has been soldered to a PCB with pins on it, such that you CAN put it in said mainstream motherboard. It’s a little bit thicker than a standard Socket P part, but thankfully in the case of the E6400, it doesn’t matter. I got an SU9300 for just over $100.

Yesterday, it arrived. Today, I put it in.

I ran the load test again, and they were very good. At stock speeds, it stayed under 60C on my desk, and I went so far as to put it on my bed, where it gained another 5C, but 65C isn’t too dangerous. Undervolted, I dropped 5C off both of those figures, and the best part is, I can still play Starcraft II! What an victory for silence.

Alright, that’s probably it for today.

dcomic 518

[090920]

Hmm… there are about 14 weeks left of 2009 and a few more than 14 comic pages left to post… what to do what to do… Not to mention I really need to start drawing again. Anything really will suffice; but the backlog, once 30+ strong, is dwindling. If I can’t replenish it, the story might not actually finish this year (for fear of me not having any updates down in February or March). It doesn’t help that these tablet comics take forever to do.

So this update marks the first year for the E6400. I originally bought an E6400 (or rather, posted about it) in d203, which was dated for 08/09/20 (exactly a year ago), so here comes the one-year followup.

I should start by describing what has ultimately become of my usage patterns. Back in the day, when I only had one laptop, it mostly stayed at home. High school doesn’t really encourage the use of laptops, and other than that, I’m not going anywhere. Laptops are just convenient cuz I can take ’em with me on my family’s yearly jaunts to Hong Kong and whatever.

So somehow, when I bought D830, I bought it with this kind of usage pattern in mind. I could get a larger, more powerful laptop that would still fit my high school usage pattern perfectly. Of course, in retrospect, I didn’t really need a much more powerful machine – it was just my luck that my 500m was a generation too old to smoothly play 720p video – but I didn’t know it at the time. I thought the bigger computer with the faster processor and the discrete GPU would be a good idea.

Well, it was. And it wasn’t. Had I stuck with my high school usage pattern I don’t think I would have sold the D830. But I already had to switch my backpack – to something I didn’t really like – in order to carry the D830, then I started taking the machine to class, discovered the shitty, puny-ass auditorium desks, the pain of unplugging a bunch of peripherals going to every class, etcetera, etcetera, and it got somewhat unpleasant.

The 500m saw use on the go for another six months as the D830 sat in my room, occasionally venturing out because the 500m just doesn’t hold much water with its four-year old battery. I got my TC4200 and it became the only thing I used on the go, but my experience with less-than portability of the D830 still left a bad taste in my mouth. Not to mention it was relatively hot and noisy, especially compared to the TC4200 (which is still the quietest machine I have since the E6400 spins up its fans more often).

So I got my E6400.

Anyway, this is what it’s come down to: the E6400 stays in my dorm like a desktop replacement, and the TC4200 gets taken out. The D830 would have done the job perfectly well, but the E6400 does it better. On the other hand, if I had the D830 with this usage in mind in the first place, I don’t think I would have switched to the E6400 quite so fast. I guess it’s a little wishy washy, but I have no regrets this time around.

That’s the consensus there. I have no regrets this time around. The E6400 could have been a bit lighter, could have a better display, could have a not off-centered latch, could have all-aluminum or alloy construction, could have a slightly less obnoxious fan controller could have a ton of small improvements, but I’m not going to go pick up a T400s or something anytime soon. I’d venture I’ll still have this machine when the F-Series comes around.

Anyway, topic two.

The observant ones might notice that I’ve moved into a dorm again, as that table certainly isn’t the one that I use in my room at home. I’ve got my Higurashi mousepad, a ton of peripherals connected, my desklamp but wait – what’s that on the right?

That’s a Samsung SyncMaster 204B. It’s an old-ish (3 yrs old) 20″ UXGA (1600 x 1200) LCD that goes for about 100-150 on ebay, and I’m now using it as a secondary display, partially at the urges of the great Generalachoo. I was originally planning on getting another Sony HS95P to match the one in my room, but I changed my mind (at least for now). The HS95P is hard to find, expensive given it’s (relatively) small SXGA resolution, and even harder to find in black, which is what I need. Also, the Samsung was free.

Yeah, that’s right. My good friend Mr. Tsui came over to play a certain children’s card game and we decided to take a peek at my neighbor’s garage sale. Among the odds and ends that I think typical of garage sales (books, clothing, golf clubs, etc), there were these three monitors, the SyncMaster and two smaller Sony displays.

I was taking a look at them, and was going to ask about the pricing, when my neighbor mentioned that he’d give ’em up for free, partially because he didn’t have the cables for the displays. This was kind of like the “what!?” moment I had when I bought my original Samsung SLC SSD. Well, that made up my mind, pretty quick; he assured me it was working, and I took it off his hands. We went back to my place and fired the thing up.

Quite frankly, it’s a very nice display. It’s got a really high resolution for a 20″ display (as I mentioned, my HS95P has a 19″ screen and pushes 1.3 million pixels. This 20″ display pushes nearly 50% more; it’s got 1.9 million pixels. My dad’s twin Dell 2008WFPs are 22″ on the diagonal and have 1.7 million pixels each. The color range is also superior to that of my E6400’s display.

A bit hard to tell in the picture, but the top half is Samsung and the bottom half is Dell. It’s not the best picture, but you can see that Dell’s a little more faded; it’s a bit more noticeable if you’re standing directly in front of the two. Nonetheless, the best LCD display I’ve ever used is the one on my TC4200, which might be a bit dim, but has great viewing angles on ALL sides and a fairly good color gamma. I think that’s the word I should be using. Gamma, not range.

Ok, that’s it for now.

dcomic 516

[090908]

One other reason that you want an SSD is that it’ll considerably lower the power consumption of your laptop (will obviously be less and less of a help depending on how much juice the rest of your system is eating).

Last week, on Tuesday, I ran the E6400 for 102 minutes while consuming 37% of my battery. On Wednesday, that was down to 71 minutes on 25% of the battery. On Thursday, I did 58 minutes on 20%. Cumulatively, this is 231 minutes of runtime on 82% of my battery using the Fujitsu 7200RPM HDD. If you crunch the numbers, that’s 2.81 minutes for every percent of my battery, or 4.68 hours of “real” runtime (wifi on, screen brightness all the way down, fairly heavy internet use). Factoring in that the battery has a full capacity of 57WHr, this works out to an average power consumption of 12300MW.

On Thursday I also got my X25-M, so on Friday I did a real shakedown, 171 minutes on 48% doing more or less the same thing under the same conditions. Doing the math here gets 3.56 minutes for every percent of my battery, or 5.93 – nearly six – hours of real runtime. That works out to an average power consumption of just 9700 MW – nearly two whole watts less! That’s not to mention that it does so with no noise and at a much lower temperature than the spinning thing.

I was original skeptical about these figures, but I found some data online indicating that the Fujitsu HDD does 1W at idle and 3.4W at full load, whereas the X25-M does 0.1W at idle and 1.8W at full load. So the 2W difference doesn’t seem that unrealistic considering that the spinner will also be under load for longer periods of time than the SSD.

Ok, that’s all for today. Kinda not as long on time as I’d like.

dcomic 477

[080920]

So as these things tend to go, I’m actually at my friend’s house writing this entry a day or two early. We’ve been playing Tales of Vesperia for the past six days and I have essentially done nothing else besides move a couple things to my dorm for this academic year. Another friend of mine who played this game before us reported that it took him something like 70 hours to complete it; we’re currently at hour fifty-something.

These Tales games really seem to get longer and longer as the series goes on. Symphonia was seriously a 40-hour game; Abyss, something between 40 and 50; but Vesperia is really pushing it now. At least it doesn’t lag like Abyss did.

I could have actually finished the game by now if I paid something like $200-250 upfront a couple weeks ago; Vesperia is currently only for the 360 and I don’t have one. It’s possible to get a used unit for something like $100-150 on ebay, but then the game still costs $50 and then there’s always taxes and shipping. I didn’t really want to pay for a console I’d only use to play one game (as I already effectively did with the freaking PSP and DS) so I held off ’til now.

I have a huge bitch with console gaming, but I think I’ll save that for another day.

Instead that $200-250 went to pay the difference between my old D830 and a new E6400, the latter on which I am typing this entry right now. The Dell E-Series machines were announced way back in like May or something, but I didn’t really consider switching machines again until less than a month ago, at about the same time I ranted about 15-inch laptops. Really it was a spur-of-the-moment kinda decision, but about a month later, I don’t regret it (and really, there’s not much I can do anymore anyways – I already sold the D830 two weeks ago).

The E6400 is a 14-inch computer, and though it’s widescreen, the extra inch off the width and depth (and the little bit off the height) really make it a lot more convenient as a laptop. Dell made a lot of big claims for the E6400 which might have influenced my impulse buy. The original advertised weight was 4.3lbs (crazy for a 14-inch laptop) but that turned out to be with a bunch of weight saving features: 4-cell battery, SSD, no optical drive, etc. The more practical weight is something like 5lbs; slightly below average in this class. Battery life with a 9-cell primary and a 12-cell slice was supposed to be in the range of TWENTY hours; I get about 5 on the 6-cell. Overall, it turns out to be solid for this type of machine, just not as exceptional as Dell would have you think.

Only extented use will tell if I’m really satisfied with this thing, but after two weeks of use, my thoughts on the good and bad (relative to the D830):

Primary benefit is the fact that it’s smaller and lighter – much more like a notebook than a desktop replacement. Battery life is a bit longer on a smaller battery, without really sacrificing any performance (not that I need much of it). The LED display is really bright when turned up and the colors aren’t as washed out. Backlit keyboard. It feels pretty nice to type on too: the keys don’t really have that much travel or feedback, but the back of the keyboard compensates by being hard as a rock. One more USB port, no more legacy ports – eSATA if you use Vista (but who the hell would do that). Very easy to access all upgradeable components; the entire underside is a single access panel. Fan also runs less and stays off completely while the computer idles.

Did I mention it looks hella good?

As I said before, the biggest fault with the machine is that it’s simply not as amazing as Dell would like to have you think. It’s just not that light and not that small. Widescreen machines seem to have a lot of “wasted” space compared to their standard-aspect counterparts. The bezel around the screen is kinda thick and you get like space around the keyboard and stuff to put speakers and the like. It’s kinda like most companies just don’t really know what to do with the shift in space. Because the LED display is also pretty thin; it seems a bit flimsier than the D830 lid and this is exaggerated by the fact that the latch is off-center to make room for the touchpad. Speakers are also a bit worse. “Tinny” if you will.

But it still looks hella nice.

[1]
[2]
[3]
[4]
[5]
[6]

A few select pictures here; the first is actually of the C600, D600, and E6400… from the, uh, Derek Lim collection.

Oh. The specs. It’s a 2266MHz P8400 (higher clocked, less cache, ultimately only a bit faster than my old T7300) paired with 1GB of PC6400 memory and a crappy 80GB HDD. nVidia NVS160M and a 1440 x 900 display which is, in my opinion, the sweet spot for a 14-inch monitor; I can actually run it at the native resolution and it looks very good. Most of the parts here are the cheapest configuration options for this machine; I only upgraded things that aren’t as easy to switch out in the future such as the LED display. I needed to keep the cost down since I’d be shelling out for this thing myself; everything else can be upgraded later if need be.

Anyways, my friend is taking a short nap right now, though I think I’ll wake him soon. We probably won’t finish ToV before classes start for either of us on Monday (insert sad smiley) so I’ll have to borrow the 360 and the game or something if I want to finish it on my own time. That probably means I’ll have to drag a TV or a desktop (with a TV tuner and monitor) over to my dorm in the near future; both options are going to be a pain.

Speaking of the dorm; I have a two-room double this year and it’s a MUCH nicer than the one-room double I had last year, not just in the sense that there’s a lot more room; the building itself is a lot newer too. I do miss having a sink in the room though, as well the single-person bathrooms found in my old dorm. Cafeteria is also kinda far away, which makes bringing food back somewhat difficult, but I think I’ll have my own fridge and microwave this year, which’ll be an improvement (spelling?).

So that’s prolly it for now; you can expect ToV fanart instead of comics in the near future. Probably a lot of them too.

dcomic 473

[080825]

So it’s funny that today’s comic is what it is. Like a week ago, J was making some comment about drawing blood and I said that I’d tried it a few times. Well, 473, which, just FYI, was drawn in March, just happens to be one of those tries. C070211 is another, and as you may have guessed, so is next week’s 474. While I don’t really have anything against the attempt at blood here, I have to admit, the shading sucks pretty hard. As such, you will notice a series of shading fuck ups within the next ten or so comic pages while I try to sort something out.

So that’s pretty much all there is to say about 473. Today I finished my first story comic (488) since June this year. I’m missing my 6H pencil, so it’s kinda hard to do any sort of outlining atm. Other than the fact that it’s the first story comic since June this year and that it has some pretty heavy-handed shading (really still some backlash from the crappy shading of today’s 473), there’s nothing else to say about 488. It’s very average. Moving on now.

Yes, it’s been about ten years since J and I started doing comics. Yes, that’s a long time. It’s more than half the time I’ve been alive. Yes, I’m almost twenty now. Yes, that means I was nine in 1998. Yes, I was younger than I actually thought I was. Wait what…

Here’s a dumb comparison that I can really only make now in the tenth year. If you look at the episode one linked in Justin’s entry, you’ll notice it says… well, “Episode 1”. As I may have mentioned before, this is first in the numbering system that I am still using to this date; this “Episode 1” is “Episode 1” as in 473 (today’s comic) minus 472 (number). This is technically Epsiode 473 though that makes absolutely no sense as one page now certainly doesn’t qualify as an “episode” in any sense of the word. Then again, neither did the pages back then, really…

Back to the comparison, “Episode” 200 (too lazy to scan it – looks about like the first page of Starcrossed) was drawn just over five years ago, in July of 2003. This also marks the approximate time that I started taking this comic thing a bit more seriously and thus the approximate time that the art stopped looking like crap. Relatively. When 200 was drawn, the pages were still numbered chronologically (as in Episode 1 was drawn before Episode 2 and Episode 2 was drawn before Episode 3, etc) (though nowadays, a00 numbering series used in the part 2 remake) which implies that I drew exactly 200 comic pages (of varying quality from shitty to very shitty) between July 2008 and July 2003.

You work out the numbers (488 – 200 + 17, 17 from the a00 series) and you’ll see that I drew just over three hundred comic pages (of varying quality from very bad to bad XD) between July 2003 and July 2008. Not bad I daresay – there’s a jump in quantity AND quality. WOOT.

Another anniversary is that of my D830. I’ve had it just shy of a year today and I’m generally pleased with it – performance, build quality, appearance – all very good. The problem is that it’s a 15″ machine. Having owned this machine for a year, I’ve come to despise 15″ form factors. And 17″ form factors. And fuckin 20″ form factors and all the piddly shit between (and yes, HP and Dell have both made 20″ “laptops” – they are fuckin hueg like XBOX).

Somehow between 2003 and 2007, fifteen inch became the new mainstream laptop size. Subsequently since J and a few other ppl I knew already had 15″s, I figured it’d be fine to get a 15 myself. My 500m and Latitude CpT C were both pretty mainstream for the time, so what’s wrong with buying another mainstream sized machine? It’ll be nice to have a bigger screen for anime or drawing right? WUXGA fantasic on 15 inches right?

No, not quite. First of all, WUXGA at native resolution on a 15 inch screen is miniscule. I really liked the SXGA+ on my 500m so I figured one step up in screen size would justify one step up in relative resolution… no, not quite. WUXGA on a 15 inch screen is PUNY. Furthermore, I learned that I cannot tell the difference at all between 720p and 1080p. I think a pleasant viewing experience is more about filling up the screen rather than the resolution of hte relevant video. This is completely bullshit when it comes to widescreen as some dumbass decided that TV widescreen and notebook widescreen shouldn’t be the same resoltion. What the crap is up with that shit. 3:4 anime looks nicer on my significantly smaller TC4200 than widescreen anime looks on the D830. As for drawing? I’ve got a a very practical TC4200 to draw on right now and I don’t think I’ll be using a conventional tablet for a while, especially considering the size (and subsequent immobility) of my Intuos3.

I also had to buy a new backpack which I am not terribly fond of for a computer that doesn’t fit on the puny-shit auditorium desks that most of my classes have so far been held in. Did I mention that 15 laptops are hueg? Liek XBOX? I maintain that weight still isn’t really a problem. 6lbs is about how much my old CpT C weighed. My how technology has progressed.

So widescreen 15″ laptops are suddenly the mainstream, displacing the standard 14″ machines that have held the market for such a long time. This is complete bullshit. I don’t seen how people can live with it. I don’t even want to go on about glossy chassis and glossy screens. HP dv6x00 and dv9x00 (15 and 17 machines, respectively) series machines are among the ugliest pieces of computer to grace the market for long time now. “Entertainment Notebook” my ass. And people say Dell is ugly. Sadly the dv6x00 and dv9x00 series machines are pretty much representative of the typical consumer machine. It’s absolutely terrible what has become of this market.

I’m hoping to get at least a grand from D830 since it’s in good shape even for a one year old machine. I want to put that towards an E6400. It’ll be cool. If I can scrape together enough, I’ll have a C600, a D600, and an E6400 (which should have been called the E600). In another six years I can buy an F600!

Anyways, I actually didn’t mean to rant about 15″ laptops. But the industry is cheap and consumers are dumbasses.