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13Mar/13Off

Un-Distorted VMs

I recently upgraded my general purpose internet computer to new hardware and Windows 8.
Along with the upgrade in hardware and operating system came a change to the Virtual Machine software.

Windows 8 Full no longer supports Microsoft Virtual PC, and while Windows 8 Professional supports Microsoft Hyper-V, it is an RDP interface into the VM.

So I made the switch to VMware.

Installation and Issues

I installed VMware Player 5 onto my Windows 8 Full host operating system, and created the Windows XP Professional guest operating system virtual machines.
The first and only issue that I noticed is that the audio in the Windows XP guest OS is distorted.

A few quick search results on the Internet show that many users are experiencing this same issue.
A bit of troubleshooting led me to writing a software tool fix that should work for most people.

The Fix

If running Windows XP Media Player in the guest OS fixes the distorted audio issue, then the VMAudioFixTray tool should work as well.
You can find more information on VMAudioFixTray on its software page on the lilchips website.

VMAudioFixTray is a very lightweight tray notification icon that simply makes a change to the Windows XP timer event resolution.

VMAudioFixTray

 

-eof-

12Mar/13Off

Windows 8

I recently built a new Windows 8 system for general office/email/virtual machine use, and to test the development of TerreSculptor on the newest version of the Windows desktop operating system.
I did not expect any issues with TerreSculptor on Windows 8, and there were none, since the overall functionality of Windows 8 is still similar to Windows 7.

That said, Windows 8 has so far been a love-hate relationship, there are as many good new features as there are bad new features.

One of the things that I do miss when compared to earlier operating systems like Windows XP, is the overlay icons in Windows Explorer for shared folders.
Even the newer Microsoft Windows Server OS's no longer show overlays for shares.  I won't comment on Microsoft's reasoning for this.

Replies on Microsoft forums from MSFT's and MSVP's is to look at the Windows Explorer statusbar "State" indicator when selecting folders, but this requires that you click on each folder to see what its state is, and the State indicator also shows "Shared" for every folder under a shared parent folder so there is no way to determine from the State whether a specific folder is shared itself or whether its parent is the one that is shared.

Windows 8 shares state

Or they tell you to click-click all the way to Computer Management -> Shares to see the list of shared folders, which again has no direct visual bearing on what you see in Windows Explorer.

My personal method for dealing with this is to simply change the icon for every folder that I share. Right-click on the folder, choose Properties, Customize tab, Change Icon, then scroll across to the user share icon.  This is not the best fix, but at least is usable.

Windows 8 folder icon customize

 

I am running behind on the release of the next build of TerreSculptor due to a number of delays.  The next build will be available soon.

-eof-

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20Feb/13Off

Gooey Themes

Today I revisited the idea of adding GUI* color themes for the TerreSculptor interface.

I wrote basic theming code in the software during its early development in order to support the default grey color theme that is common to many paint applications.  Recently I have taken another look at adding a dark color theme that follows common 3D applications.  This has required some minor changes to the existing theme code in order to support a few additional GUI object color entries.

TerreSculptor will most likely support at least three color themes: standard Windows Theme, paint application Grey Theme, and 3D application Dark Theme.  The Dark Theme will initially not be available on all dialogs or all dialog controls, as it will take some time to integrate the theming on all dialogs.

A GUI theming poll and discussions is in the forums in the Feature Requests area.

* GUI = Graphical User Interface

Screenshots

The original default paint software Grey Theme:

Grey Theme

The initial test 3D software Dark Theme:

 Dark Theme

 -eof-

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14Feb/13Off

WIP 2013-02-14

The Smooth and Gaussian Blur modifiers (single-threading) are completed.

Threading

Work is underway on the Threading Helper library that will be used by all of the functions that will be utilizing multi-threading for a performance boost, which includes the Smooth and Gaussian Blur modifiers.
Changes to the application threading includes an increase in the supported total threads from 8 to 16, for those people who have power systems supporting 16 threads.
There is also a change to the way that the threading value override is managed, It is now not possible to choose more threads than the number of threads available in hardware.

Smooth

The Smooth modifier has been significantly rewritten and expanded.
The kernel Size maximum has been increased from 9x9 to 21x21.
An Edge parameter is now available, with Extend and Wrap settings, so that smoothing works correctly on tilable heightmaps as well.
A new Passes parameter allows performing multiple smaller Size smooths instead of a single large Size smooth, to increase the variety of possible smooths.
Smooth now supports the following 2D kernel smoothing styles:
- Average, the average value of all pixels within the kernel.
- Conservative, the kernel center pixel is clamped to within the outer kernel high and low values.
- Gaussian, a 2D gaussian bell blur.
- Median, the kernel center pixel is adjusted to the statistical median value of the entire kernel.
- Middle, the kernel center pixel is adjusted to the middle value of the entire kernel.
- Radial, a 2D radial gradient cone blur.

Smooth

 

Gaussian Blur

The Gaussian Blur modifier is complete.
This modifier performs a 2-pass 1D Gaussian blur, with a variable width window Radius parameter range of 1 to 256 for a 3x3 to 513x513 blur kernel size.
An Edge parameter is available, with Extend and Wrap settings, so that blurring works correctly on tilable heightmaps as well.
Unlike most other Gaussian Blur functions available in other software, there is also a Strength parameter that defines a 0% to 100% blur depth.

Gaussian

 

Work in Progress

The following items are under development over the next few weeks.
- The Threading Helper library.
- Multi-Threading on the Smooth modifier, Gaussian Blur modifier, and possibly the Noisemap generators.
- The Terraces modifier.
- A new set of Filter modifiers are coming soon.  The original Filter modifier has been renamed to Convolution.

-eof-

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31Jan/13Off

WIP 2013-01-31

The LCS and TerreSculptor website, blog, forums, and wiki are now all operational, more or less, just a few old blog posts remaining to get online on the wiki.

Tutorials

I have found someone willing to help with getting tutorials onto the TerreSculptor YouTube channel, so expect to see some videos rolling out over the next weeks and months.

Development

In the area of TerreSculptor development, I am working on the remaining Modifier Devices that will be available in the first retail version.
As soon as these are complete, the next area to be tackled is the Extractors (mask/weightmaps), followed by some reworking of the 3D render engine including xyz coordinates and mouse picking and the initial selection cube, and then on to finally getting the World Stack fully functional.  Additional tidying up and the first version should be ready for retail sale.

Later this year I should have the initial heightmap mesh painting tools working, along with starting to roll out the large list of 3D geotools including 3D terrain creation and morphing tools, 3D primitive terrain deformation, and 3D spline-based roads and rivers.

Work in Progress

The modifier devices that I am currently working on are Planetize and Tilable.

Planetize modifies the current heightmap with a gaussian or radial displacement to create a rounded planet surface.
This allows for the creation of terrains that have a curved horizon.
Note in the following screenshots that the terrain coloring is altitude-based so the original coloring is not retained even though the displaced features retain their respective differences.

 

 

Tilable modifies the horizontal and/or vertical edges of the heightmap to create a seamlessly tilable terrain that can be used as a repeating terrain system or as a tilable texture.
A user-defined overlap width and interpolation methods are available, with additional algorithms becoming available as they are developed.
Note that the screenshot is of the Offset Modifier Device edit dialog in order to see what the heightmap edge seam looks like before and after running the Tilable modifier device.

 

-eof-

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