Shell's TechBlabber

…ShelLuser blogs about stuff ;)

(Review) ZBrush: the most sophisticated (and expensive!) 3D editor?

So in my previous post (about Daz Studio) I also briefly mentioned ZBrush: a program which can be used to edit 3D figures from Daz Studio. My girlfriend often uses this but so far I’ve never been too interested in it, also because it seems to be very complex to use and well.. as I’ve also mentioned before I’m a hobbyist at best when it comes to 3D modelling. I know my basics for sure, but I’m hardly a professional artist.

Even so, since my girlfriend is quite excited about ZBrush I figured I might as well give it a try to see what this is all about. And so I installed a copy, spend a few days on looking around in the documentation and watching several tutorial videos to get a good impression. Well, guess what? Now I’m getting pretty excited about this software as well!

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November 21, 2020 Posted by | Editorial, Software, TechBlabber | , , , | Comments Off on (Review) ZBrush: the most sophisticated (and expensive!) 3D editor?

Freemium done right: Daz Studio (3D modeling software)

‘Freemium’ is a term used to describe software which is provided free of charge but with one small catch: it’s also meant to be an appetizer which tries to persuade you into actually buying stuff from the company behind it.

Now, it’s not my intention to make things look better than they actually are: the things I mentioned above most definitely also apply to Daz Studio. Sure: you get a lot of freebies in the so called “Starter Essentials kits” which are more than enough to build some cool ‘renders’ of your own. However you’ll also soon discover their limits and maybe you want more after that . When that happens the Daz store will be patiently waiting for you.

So why this blog post you might wonder? Trust me: it’s not meant as some kind of hidden advertisement for the Daz3D company, though I suppose it could still be explained as such. But no, the reason for this post is because this software is actually quite impressive, especially if you take a closer look at all the features you get. Things easily overlooked and so: I wanted to vent.

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November 15, 2020 Posted by | Daz Studio, Editorial, Software, TechBlabber | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Freemium done right: Daz Studio (3D modeling software)

[Review] Photoshop Elements 2020

I’ve used The Gimp for a long time, first on Linux and FreeBSD and later on it also became my de-facto editor on Windows. What can I say… the software takes getting used to and most definitely has a bit of a learning curve but once you passed all that you’ll soon realize that you got yourselves a magnificent toolbox at your disposal, and all for free! Well, sort off… the one problem with open source software is that things can change on a single developers whim and if you (and maybe many others) don’t like those changes you can usually go ‘fork’ yourself.

No, that’s not meant as an insult, though it’s definitely a bit of a sneer. ‘Forking’ means that you grab the source code of a certain project and then use that as the start to build your own project with it, based on the existing projects source. Of course, the problem with that is that such undertakings are easier said than done and if all you want is to get some work done it’s probably a better idea to find something else. Which I did…

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October 19, 2020 Posted by | Software, TechBlabber | , , , , , | Comments Off on [Review] Photoshop Elements 2020

Let’s talk synthesizers…

Komplete 13 just released last week, my first Komplete upgrade, and it made me reflect a bit on my synth passion. Since this blog hasn’t seen much posts as of late I figured I’d share, you might even learn something. I’m not fully sure how it all started, but as a kid I was quite interested in electronic music. There were two major influences here. First an audio cassette which I got from my grandparents which featured synth versions of popular theme music from that time (think Star Wars, Aurora, Close encounters of the third kind, and so on).

(offtopic: I know the formatting looks like shit, blame the new WordPress editor which is so easy to use that I can’t even find an option to apply some spacing to my images. Not without having to manually add CSS which I don’t have handy from mind on a late Sunday evening.. sometimes I wonder why I even bother…)

And then there was the Commodore 64 home computer which was known for its powerful audio capabilities through use of the SID chip.

For some reason electronic music (not necessarily dance music!) always fascinated me and so when I got a place of my own I was determined to get myself a synthesizer to go with it.

And I did, but not in the way you might expect, also see the picture…

It’s more than 10 years ago since I started my synth hobby, which quickly turned into a passion, and well… I felt like venting. Unfortunately my synth blog where I’d normally share this kind of stuff is currently down (and it’s revival is still on my (in)famous todo list) so I figured I’d “abuse” my WordPress blog to share.

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October 5, 2020 Posted by | Editorial, Software, Synthesizers, TechBlabber | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Let’s talk synthesizers…

Microsoft Surface Pro X: underappreciated & misunderstood!

Surface Pro X

A Microsoft Surface is a computer, obviously designed by Microsoft, and this may sound a bit weird if you look at the screenshot but it’s actually a tablet. As you can see it clearly resembles a laptop, but looks can be deceiving


If you buy a Surface device you only get the computer (so: the tablet), the keyboard must be purchased as a separate accessory. This may seem a bit weird but it makes sense if you look at the capabilities of a stand-alone Surface device. I also believe that because the keyboard is a separate product the build quality is significantly better than that of a regular accessory, but then again I am biased. Despite being a separate product the keyboard is tailormade for the Surface and can also be used as a cover. This is one of the many differences of a Surface in comparison to a regular laptop: you don’t fold the screen down but you flip the keyboard up if you want to close it or shut it off. But now I’m getting ahead of myself…


The Surface Pro X is a rather recent model which severely differs from other Surface models, instead of being equipped with an Intel processor the Pro X uses an ARM based Microsoft processor called the SQ1. Because of this the Pro X has a much lower power consumption which allows it to operate on battery power for longer periods than a regular Surface device (let alone a regular laptop). Unfortunately there’s also a downside.. because of the ARM architecture you can’t run regular 64bit applications and you’ll need an emulation for running 32bit based software.

This has caused many Youtubers to review this device in a rather negative way, something I’d like to address in my blog post. I’ve been working with my Surface Pro X for almost half a year now and I’m still very satisfied and sometimes even a little excited about all the things it does for me. So… time to set the record straight!

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July 14, 2020 Posted by | Microsoft, Microsoft Office, TechBlabber, Windows 10 | Comments Off on Microsoft Surface Pro X: underappreciated & misunderstood!

Microsoft Word vs. LibreOffice Writer

You know what the biggest problem is with reviews? They’re written (or recorded) by people who have a certain bias either towards or against the product. Now there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that perse, but when it becomes obvious that this bias is also affecting the review then I think you got a bit of a problem because it will make the whole thing look out of place.

So before I continue I’d like to state that I am definitely biased towards Microsoft Office and that this blog post was even fully written within Word 2016 (I usually rely on Open Live Writer), so do with this as you want.

Fortunately for us the Document Foundation (= group behind the LibreOffice project) didn’t go here and instead set up an extensive feature comparison. However, the problem with that is that it becomes awkward if you see that some people apparently consider it an important feature that a product still supports obsolete standards. For example: when was the last time than you opened a PCX graphics file?

Therefor I figured I’d install LibreOffice and do a small comparison myself. And honestly? LibreOffice is an amazing and most definitely an impressive project. However… the saying that “you get what you pay for” still holds true today.

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April 28, 2019 Posted by | Editorial, Microsoft Office, TechBlabber | , , , , | Comments Off on Microsoft Word vs. LibreOffice Writer

Why I bought MS Office despite Libre & Open–Office being available?

office-365-icon-0When my PC crashed last year I had many administrative tasks on my todo list which were quite important to me. Fortunately I always kept the risk of my PC crashing in mind and maintained a KDE desktop on my FreeBSD server which included Libre Office and that seriously saved my hide. Well, apart from the ability to print, for some reason CUPS didn’t properly support my Samsung multi-function network printer even though it claimed to do so (the driver was even named after it).

Fast forward to the here and now; I got a new PC running Windows 10 and have less administrative tasks to perform. So surely Libre Office would be the perfect candidate, also considering that I’m quite familiar with it, right? Well… no. I ended up getting myself an Office 2016 pro license which only cost me around E 50,-. None of that 365 subscription nonsense: just a license and the desktop applications. And that made some of my friends wonder; why would you want to pay for an Office version when there’s free stuff available? And how did you get Office so cheap, doesn’t that normally cost hundreds of dollars?

Sounds like a good topic for my blog 😉

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March 4, 2019 Posted by | Microsoft Office, TechBlabber | , , , , , | Comments Off on Why I bought MS Office despite Libre & Open–Office being available?

Replacing NetBeans with Visual Studio Code

logoAlthough I’m not a fulltime programmer I’ve always been interested in software development, and during my time as Solaris systems administrator I quickly developed a fondness for Java.

Although it’s perfectly possible to write Java programs on a command line (which is even recommended as a learning experience) you’ll be more efficient when using an Integrated Development Environment, or IDE for short.

I quickly took a liking to the NetBeans IDE and have been using it ever since I got hold of version 4.1, now more than 12 years ago.

This week though it all came to an end.

And the most ironic part? I’m now using software which was designed and developed by none other than Microsoft, the competitor for Java if there ever was one. Am I slowly turning into a Microsoftie? 😉

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February 13, 2019 Posted by | Editorial, java, Software | , , , , | Comments Off on Replacing NetBeans with Visual Studio Code

Windows 10 is amazing!

win10_logoIn November last year my trusty Windows 7 32bit machine with a whooping 4Gb of memory (of which only 2,7Gb could be used due to the 32bit restrictions) crashed for reasons unknown (later examination hints that the power supply might have failed). And this left me with quite a problem because it was the only Windows machine I had. And to make matters worse: in an attempt at creating redundancy I had set up dynamic disks to mirrored those. The strategy was perfect, but unfortunately you can’t easily access dynamic disks on another PC.

Alas; I managed to cope, thanks to my FreeBSD backup desktop, and had set my mind on getting a new PC. I wanted to go high end and earlier in January this year the new machine finally arrived. As one could expect it ran Windows 10, the same OS I had been actively trying to avoid for a long time (I even applied registry changes and installed anti-upgrade software to ensure that my Windows 7 environment wouldn’t get hijacked).

Although I did consider a downgrade first, as always, I gave the new environment a fair chance. And honestly? I came to enjoy Windows 10 quite a bit, I think it’s actually pretty good!

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February 10, 2019 Posted by | Editorial, Software, Windows | , , , | Comments Off on Windows 10 is amazing!

How open are ‘open standards’ exactly?

VP_EAs you may (or may not) know I’m quite passionate about so called modeling languages; modeling standards which are often used within the field of software design. Some languages which I use on a regular basis are UML, BPMN, ERD and some diagrams which are specific for my modeling tool of choice: Visual Paradigm.

This week marks a bit of a milestone for me because quite recently I gained access to the Enterprise edition of Visual Paradigm which introduced me to Enterprise Architecture.

Although I was already roughly familiar with the concepts I never really followed up on those because I didn’t see the need. But now that I can get hands-on experience with Enterprise modeling languages and frameworks such as ArchiMate, TOGAF and BMM I figured I should do some research. ArchiMate for example is described as an “open and independant enterprise architecture modeling language”. It’s even developed by the ‘Open Group’ so surely this is as open and transparent as it gets, right? Well… maybe not.

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June 21, 2018 Posted by | Editorial, Visual Paradigm | , , , , , , | Comments Off on How open are ‘open standards’ exactly?