Microsoft Saves the Day on Friday the 13th

July 14, 2007 at 6:43 am (computer art, Digital Art) (, , , , , , , , , )

The trouble began when I decided to free up some space on my overly-full hard drive. I removed some large programs that I rarely use, Encarta, Big Box of Art, Macromedia Freehand and a few others.  Suddenly I could no longer access the internet.   When I tried to shut down the computer, it would remain hanging, forcing me to do a hard restart.  I thought I’d easily resolve the problem by doing a defrag of my system, but I got a message saying it requires 15% free space to complete this operation, whereas I only have 10% free space on my hard drive.  

I then came up with the brilliant idea to do a System Restore, which would allow me to go back to a point in time before I removed the programs.  This was unsuccessful.  I spent several hours trouble shooting the problem until I finally decided to put in a service call to Microsoft.  My hopes weren’t overly optimistic.  It is Friday the 13th, and although I’m not  superstitious, prior experience with IT Departments left me feeling skeptical. 

I Thought I Might Be In For Some Cosmic Retribution

I noted the irony, after my last blog entry praising the PC and mocking my Mac Powerbook Pro.  I thought I might be in for some cosmic retribution.  I reached a Microsoft Service Department in New Delhi, India. The service person,  Sumitan Kaushal, was working the graveyard shift, 12 and a half hours ahead of Vancouver time.  My call went in at 6 pm my time and he so patiently and politely guided me through a labyrinth of steps, using the process of elimination, until we finally arrived at a solution three hours later. It turned out that uninstalling the programs had created a conflict with Norton Antivirus, which I then had to uninstall and reinstall.

Maybe I’m still entrenched in student mode, but I actually enjoyed this learning experience.  Sumitan was a consumate professional throughout the process.  It was like attending a captivating seminar.  Microsoft should be proud to have him as one of its own.  His service was beyond excellent.  In a show of appreciation, I afterwards sent an email to his management, commending the great service.  It certainly confirmed my faith in the PC and Microsoft.   And it’s a darn good thing, because just yesterday I slapped down more than $6000 to have a brand new custom built computer, that will run Vista. With a dual quad core processor and 6 gigs of RAM, watch out!  My digital art will be smokin’ !!

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Mastering the Mac (aka taming the beast)

July 11, 2007 at 10:52 am (computer art, Digital Art, Photoshop tips and tricks) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The first Term of school is finished and I have one glorious week of vacation before I begin the second Term. Finally a little time to allow my mind roam free, no binding schedule, no urgent technical data to cram into my brain cells. Yet old habits die hard. I’ve spent my last three mornings reading a manual on Mac OS 10. But there’s no rush, it’s my own reading choice, so it feels leisurely and luxurious. I am determined to conquer the beast, my Macbook Pro laptop that I’ve been using for all my courses at school.

I’m Not Ashamed to Admit I’m a Loyal PC Lover

Windows is so logical, so user friendly, so intuitive. It has gorgeous thumbnail views of images that open immediately (unlike Photoshop’s Bridge). I can choose film strip view … whereas Mac on the other hand … well, let’s not get onto that topic, or I’ll go off on a tangent. No worries. I have a week to finish this manual and hopefully make peace with the beast.

My desktop home computer, a PC, is now completely full. Even with 3 external hard drives I’m still having troubles because I’m afraid to put my important images on the externals. One folder full of tifs and psd files already somehow became corrupt. Luckily, after several tense hours I was able to recover all the files from my other hard drives but had to painstakingly rename each file in the folder by hand. This worries me because I don’t know what caused the files to be renamed in all caps with a tilda ~ symbol, and all the extensions were capitalized instead of lower case. I’ve used the external drive on both my Mac and PC to load photos, and am wondering if this cross platform might have confused the external drive, but the LaCie is supposed to be cross-platform. If anyone knows what might have caused this, please let me know.

In the meantime, I’ve made the decision to get a new desktop computer … a PC of course !! My current desktop PC has 2 gigs of RAM. I’ll need much more to do the rendering I often perform in Photoshop when making a digital art piece such as the image below that I just finished moments ago. Hot off the press.

Once Upon A Summer Dawn

Finally Some Digital Art

It feels so wonderful to be able to fall back into my familiar routine of working all night, until the birds begin chirping as they’ve started doing right at this moment as if on queue at exactly 4 a.m. I worked for 3 days and nights on this piece. My creative juices seem to have become sluggish from lack of use. The school work load is so intense that there is no free time at all to do digital art. Most images take a minimum of 14 – 30 hours. With this one, because I’ve become rusty, I struggled with every detail. I finally finished an hour ago.

Detailed View

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All Night I Rose and Fell As If In Water

July 6, 2007 at 6:28 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better

– Mary Oliver

Sometimes all it takes is a beautiful poem like this one to inspire me. After hearing this poem I sat down in the evening and worked all night on this image, finishing at 6 a.m. the following morning without any breaks. When I feel inspired, the pieces just come together so easily, seamlessly. Whereas when I begin a piece without being in ‘the zone’, I can often spend hours struggling on the smallest details. This poem is by far one of the most beautiful I have ever heard. It’s as though it is able to reach into the deepest part of my being, that part where no words exist, only deep primal feelings and yearnings. This poem somehow gives voice to that submerged inner place.

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Butterflies for Freedom

July 2, 2007 at 12:16 am (computer art, Digital Art) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A War Story

Piet Scholten and his wartime friend, Rene La Fleur used to paint butterflies on the walls of the barracks in the work camp where they were held during WW2, an expression of their yearning for freedom. Piet doesn’t like to talk about the war and the terrible things that happened during his internment. Years have passed, yet a flood of memories remain fresh and ever painful. To be taken away from his family, not knowing the fate of his wife and child, whether they would be able to survive was an anguish too horrible for words.

The work camp was in Norway, at the time occupied by the Germans. More than 100 men lived and slept together in one large barrack. Food was provided once per day, a bowl of soup. The men were always hungry. His friend, Rene had no shoes so Piet gave him an extra pair that he had with him. A deep friendship and loyalty developed between them, and they shared an intense desire to be reunited with their familes. Over time, the butterfly paintings spread throughout the barracks and marked their deep longing for freedom.

Piet Still Hears His Friend’s Voice

Their desire was eventually fulfilled. When the war finally ended, the work camps were shut down and the men were allowed to return to their respective countries. Piet returned to Holland. Rene returned to Rouan, France where his family had previously owned a hotel. When they were departing, Rene kept waving and shouting, “Au revoir Monsieur Pierre!!!!” Piet told Martine he still hears his friend’s voice from the day they departed. Upon returning home, Piet didn’t recognize his own child.

Piet is now 87 years old. He has never since heard from his friend Rene La Fleur. After hearing this story from her grandfather, Martine asked me if I would make a graphic that she could give to her grandfather to hang on his wall, with a butterfly representing his freedom. She told me that everyone in the family has images of butterflies that are hung on the walls of their homes. I was profoundly inspired by the story, and was happy to make this image for Martine, featuring her daughter, Danielle. When the image was finished, Martine told me it made her grandfather very happy. It now hangs on his wall.

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