Tuesday, January 27

30+ Websites to Download Free Photos

Free Stock Photography

Think that no one gives away great photos?  Even if you don't need a photo for a project today, you should visit these sites to see how photographers make common subjects interesting.

30+ Websites -- Yes, there's a lot of content that can be reused or mashed up to create new content. Designskilz compiled a list of sources for high resolution photos which may be used to create other projects.  Restrictions may apply, so be sure to check the terms at each site before using photos found there.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 12

Powerful 3D Apps for Computers & Mobile Devices!

With the growing interest in 3D printing lately, I thought it would be nice to find some applications to get people started creating in 3D with no start-up cost. Some of these programs are 100% free and others are available as a trial.

It is important to note... what file formats are used by the 3D printing program the printer is using. The most common format I have seen used is "OBJ." I have not come across a 3D software that does not export in OBJ, and likewise I have not come across a 3D printer software that will not accept OBJ. So when in doubt, export to OBJ.

Wearable 3D Printed Shoes

Programs You Might Already Be Familiar With...

We already have two programs on the computers here in The Center that can export 3D models, SketchUp Make, and Blender. Both of these programs are free to download to your personal computers as well, so if planning on doing work on both computers here and at home, they would be ideal.


SketchUp Make
Download Page
Official SketchUp Tutorials
VTC Tutorial Page

Download Page
Official Blender Tutorials
VTC Tutorial Page

Other Free-To-Use Programs for Computers

A very simple browser-based 3D modeling app. You can specify and place shapes from a library of presets, and modify the measurements. The models you create can be exported to your computer as DAE, STL, or OBJ to continue modeling in a different program, or to send to print immediately.

Website Link

Autodesk Programs

Autodesk publishes a variety of popular 3D modeling, architecture, and engineering software. Some of the most popular are 3DS Max, Maya, and AutoCAD. Most Autodesk programs are not eternally free, but are available as a trial for a very lengthy period of  3 years with a valid .edu e-mail address. The software is full version and not a limited "trial mode" that a lot of trial software will impose.

To get started using Autodesk software, you will need to first create an account with them using your @udel.edu e-mail address. Click this link, then click "Sign Up" in the upper right of the screen, and then the "Need an education account?" link that appears next to the sign in button.

3D Studio Max (3DS Max)
3D Studio Max is an advanced software that is used mostly to model for video and games, but can also export 3D object files that can be used with printers as well.

Download Page
Official 3DS Max Tutorials
VTC Tutorial Page

This is another piece of advanced 3D modeling and animation software. Best used for animation similar to what you would do in After Effects (but with 3D) it can also be used to create a 3D object and export. I would suggest using this program only if you are also interested in doing 3D animation, so that you can work on both 3D printing and animation in one program.

Download Page
Official Maya Tutorials
VTC Tutorial Page

If you like to create more organically than mechanically, Mudbox is worth checking out. This program lets you "sculpt" in 3D on the computer. It uses a lot of preset tools that are similar to what you would use when actually sculpting in clay in the real world. This will let you create some really awesome abstract forms and help get the creativity flowing. This program pairs great with a Wacom tablet for more natural sculpting!

Download Page
Official Mudbox Tutorials
VTC Tutorial Page

This app is free-to-use and gives a basic introduction to 3D modeling in plain-terms. This is a great start for someone completely new to 3D software. You must have an Autodesk Account to use this app.


123D Make
This is another Autodesk program that IS 100% free, no trial or anything. The 123D suite of software is a great set of apps, some for PC/Mac some for iPad/iPhone/Android.

Download Page

Free-To-Use Programs for Mobile Devices

As mentioned above there are a few mobile apps in this 3D suite, and they are all free. Some really exciting ones are 123D Catch, a 3D scanning app that uses your phone/tablets camera, and 123D Sculpt that will let you sculpt in 3D, similar to clay in real life,

Product Page

Wednesday, January 7

New type of USB being demoed.

USB Type-C is in the demo phases of its release.  Double the speeds of USB 3 and enough power to power some laptops.  Added benefit of not needing to worry about inserting the cable upside down (Yay!).  Read more about it here.

Wednesday, December 10

ArcGIS and Macs

Have an Apple computer and are upset you can't run ArcGIS products like ArcMap?  Don't rush so quickly to trade up for a Windows machine because all is not lost!

There are a few options to consider.  One, you can use Boot Camp on your Leopard or later Mac OS.  Boot Camp is free and allows you to partition a Windows operating system on your Mac! Keep in mind though that Boot Camp will create a distinction between both systems and allow you to only access one at a time.  That said, you would not be able to work on your Windows side and simultaneously switch back and forth to the Mac side without completely rebooting either partition.

Prefer seamless travel back and forth from Windows to Mac? (might be useful to go from recording 3D mapping on your Windows side to a Mac exclusive software like FinalCut to edit the video on the Mac side) Well there are other options like Parallels and VMware that allow such simultaneous use.  The down side of these?  Well for one, they are not free like Boot Camp and will run you about $40 each.  Another downside, is that because both systems are running, they will naturally run slower using more memory than usual.  You should not experience any kind of slowing with Boot Camp.

After you decide HOW to use Windows on your Mac, you will of course need to install the Windows software.  Unlike ArcGIS products that are free to download for University of Delaware students at UDeploy, Windows software cannot be downloaded for free onto your personal computer from the school and you will have to purchase it.

Hopefully this is useful to any of those who would like to utilize ArcGIS software, or any other Windows exclusive software, on their Apple computers.

Here is a helpful PDF outlining the previously mentioned software and Boot Camp when using ArcGIS on Macs as well as other specs and requirements that might be useful.

Tuesday, December 2

What happens when WMS crashes

Recently at the SMDC desk, we experienced an expansive technical breakdown. WMS crashed, making it impossible for us to check in or check out kits (or so I thought). The cause of the crash was completely outside of our control, it likely occurred in the server department (which may or may not be its actual name) though many leading defense analysts have reported that the crash was actually the result of a Electro Magnetic Pulse weapon (or EMP) detonated in the upper stratosphere. As Nadine described it, when WMS goes down "You cry, you scream." She then collapsed unto the floor sobbing. The ensuing chaos was breathtaking in scope and apocalyptic in nature; unchecked kits strewn all over the desk, screams of frustration, panic stricken SMDC patrons stampeding for the exits...it was horrible. 

Times of disorder turn law abiding citizens into marauding rock artists, practitioners of what is popularly known as "apocalypse" metal as opposed to grunge or thrash. Here we see members of the  punk rock band "Jason Walsh and the Cannibals" enjoying a night on the town.

The work day began like any other, but several hours into my afternoon shift, we humble student workers started getting errors in WMS whenever we tried to check in or check out items. We would scan an item, WMS would say loading for awhile, and then it would pop up a little error message saying "Unknown error occurred" or an error saying that there was something wrong with the connection. After showing this to our supervisors, we were informed that WMS seemed to have crashed. We feared the worst; could this seemingly mundane incident be the first indication that America had suffered a crippling attack? 

Manual charge was the result of a secret DARPA research performed at the height of the Cold War, in an effort to protect American communication networks from Soviet electronic warfare. Diana, a former DARPA Analyst, was able to implement this system at the UD after the Department of Homeland Security identified the Morris Library as the 13413th most likely target for an electronic warfare attack. 

However, thanks to good planning on the part of Diana, we have infrastructure in place which is made specifically to deal with this event. This back up system was referred to by Diana as "Manual Charge." Manual charge is a system accessible on the desk computers that allows us to manually print out a receipt for items that users want to check out. These receipts are printed out twice; one copy is given to the user (AKA renter in layman's terms) , and another is kept at the desk. The receipt has all the information that one of our normal receipts would have, its just a whole lot bigger; these receipts are stored in the manual checklist drawer along with the other manual checklists. When WMS comes back online, we go back through all the receipts acquired through manual charge and enter them into WMS.

Experts predict that in the aftermath of an EMP attack, libraries would become shelter for refugee families and stray dogs, such as Little Jenny and her dog Richie (pictured above) at the Morris Libraries' annual EMP Awareness Day celebration.

This is because Manual charge does not make any actual changes to our internal databases, it simply allows us to keep checking out equipment so that the work desk does not completely shut down. Users looking to return items can still do so; items returned during the duration of the crash must be stored in a separate box and checked in when WMS comes back online. This allows the desk to still maintain a semblance of order amid the storm. 

It must be added that using Manual Charge is an unusual emergency measure and thus must be handled carefully. For this reason, student workers require permission from one of their supervisors to use it. Also, very importantly, the checklist system is not the same as WMS, so it will not crash just because WMS is down. Anyone using Manual Charge is reminded to still check the items in and out through the checklist. 

The US Department of Defense has not yet announced the results of its investigation into the incident, but insiders at the Pentagon believe that the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) is likely responsible for the attack, judging from the fliers which were dropped pre-detonation that read "Xi Jingping was here". According to leading defense analyst Dillon McLaughlin, the Electro-Magnetic pulse capabilities of the Chinese Military represent an "existential and growing threat to American national security"

What You Meant To Say Was...

Hey ladies and gents,

This is just a reminder but when you are checking out anything and the due date time says "11:29" or "7:29," do not say that it is due back at "11:30" or "7:30". At that time it is late and then we'll have an angry customer on our hand if it is late and it is actually our fault. This also works for whatever time. Tell the person who is checking out the equipment the specific time; not a rounded time.

Have a great week!

Garageband in the Studios

Hi everyone!
Hannah brought this up to me after she helped someone in Studio 4 and I thought I would share her wisdom in case any one else encounters this problem with the mad rush of students completing projects before the semester ends. Anyways, if a student wants to use the old version of Garageband, the old version is available in Studio 6. You can make a reservation for them in that studio. Otherwise, the newer versions of Garageband are available in Studio 3 and 4. However, there is a catch... The computers will be uploaded to all new versions of Garageband in January, so this literally applies just for the next few weeks. Anyways, just let anyone know if they're really looking to use the old version to go into Studio 6.
Happy finals!