Archive for January, 2009

Beware of avgnsx.exe

Wondering why my CPU usage peaked between 25 and 50% when using a download manager to max out the 16 MBit cable connection, it turned out that the “network scanner” in AVG 8 (free) is to blame. Even if the obnoxious link scanner (which loads every link in a Google search result and checks for “trojan” web sites) is disabled, AVG still monitors all network traffic on port 80.

The only solution (suggested in the AVG Free forum) is to reinstall AVG, choose a custom install and disable the link scanner… yikes.

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Everything Is A Sphere

When I was down with a cold last week I dug out a book about computer graphics that I bought during my university time (3D Computer Graphics by Alan Watt). It provides a mathematical foundation for many core techniques in CG, and it got me interested again. About 8 years ago when I bought this book I wrote a small raytracer in C++, and since I am really in search for new hobbyist projects to teach myself Scala, I figured I could give it another shot.

Scala is a statically typed functional/object oriented language for the JVM and the CLR, and at least on the JVM it is known for providing performance similar to Java (in contrast to dynamic JVM languages such as Groovy or JRuby). This is the first scene that provides something my 8-year-old project couldn’t, namely a checkered surface (composed of two other surface instances). The code is pretty newbie-like and a bit unstructured, so for now I’ll leave it at that. FWIW, it took about 5 seconds to render this picture on my rather mundane home machine (Athlon X2 @ 2.2GHZ, Windows XP) using the 1.6.0_11 server JVM.

A World of Spheres

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Not-so-white christmas, but still…

…it was great. Just for fun I mounted some really old tele lenses from my father on my EOS 450D, and managed (with great patience) to take some shots that were in-focus and reasonably illuminated.

The longest was a 300mm lens from his old Praktika, which went to about 1000mm with two tele-converters and considering the DSLR’s crop factor. Of course a tripod was mandatory, and I finally found a use for the 450D’s live view: sometimes it was easier to adjust the focus watching the back LCD screen, especially when the lighting was poor (I usually had to focus with the aperture wide open to be able to actually see something). With the ~1000mm I also had to use a 10-seconds-self-timer, because it would take the setup this long after pressing the button to stop swinging.

The outdoor photos were shot hand-held with a 135mm (before cropping) lens of a Yashica SLR. Photos 1-3 and 5 were taken with the 450’s kit lens.

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008

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