Valve Handbook Leak

Written April 25th, 2012
Categories: Blog
1 Comment »

As much as I hate jumping on the bandwagon, this is something you should know about. Valve’s internal employee handbook has been leaked. It doesn’t contain anything about upcoming releases. You can check it out here:

To be frank, I feel bad for Valve. They work hard to cultivate their reputation and relationship with the public, and leaks aren’t like them. I deeply hope that this isn’t the beginning of a bad situation where they begin leaking content on a regular basis because it’s nice to be surprised sometimes.

It’s a fantastic insight into the company culture though. They really are a very flat organisation that most small companies would do well to emulate. Good luck Valve- stay strong.

Mr. Bluesummers Visits Valve

Written March 9th, 2012
Categories: Blog
1 Comment »

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.”

Just a quick note letting you know that the Valve office is packed full of awesome.  People, workspace, and games.  It was an incredible experience that I unfortunately cannot detail for you because of an NDA.

All I can say is that I’m coming Valve.  It’s going to take a year, but I’m going to apply and you just might hire me.

I'm kneeling on the right.

Site Updates and Renewed Interest

Written February 22nd, 2012
Categories: Blog

Site Updates:

Tutorials pending, between getting out and about.

  • Fixed a bunch of posts with broken images.
  • Misc repairs with offsite posts.
  • A lot of downloadable content.
  • A few smaller tutorials and techniques I have backlogged to write.
  • A big, long, epic, AWESOME video/written tutorial guaranteed to knock your socks off.
Finally, I’d like to start a more fluid dialogue.  Please post comments to these blog entries letting me know what you want to see.  Please do not e-mail me as I don’t have time to review everyone’s letters.  Your best bet is to catch my attention in the comments!

Changes Afoot!

Written February 2nd, 2012
Categories: Blog

Big changes are headed this way.  Let me break it down quickly to make sure we’re on the same page.

Theme Redesign

As you’ve probably noticed, the site has undergone a massive theme overhaul.  I noticed that you viewers were rarely using the front-page links and instead using the site as a sort of encyclopedia of 3d knowledge.  Along those lines I’ve removed a lot of the links from the front page for a cleaner look.  There are still a lot of performance enhancements to work on, but the biggest one is going to be my new host.  I’ve transferred to Rackspace to help improve latency in non-USA countries.

More Content

My next goal is to improve the site’s content. I’m looking for ways to include more tutorials and articles for your enjoyment, but gathering that kind of information can be pretty time consuming. Keep an eye on the site for more posts and downloadables!

More Blog Posts

Now that girlfriend is blogging I’m thinking that I should be writing more blog posts about life in San Francisco. I’m also considering getting into electronic music so you might be seeing more on that.

Rendering 3d Objects in 2d Photographs

Written October 24th, 2011
Categories: Blog
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Sorry for my latest absence; there’s been a lot going on.  Change in apartment, new girlfriend, and a new music hobby hasn’t left much time for 3d.  I’ll see if I can try picking things up again.

In the meantime, get a load of this video.  Original site:

Rendering Synthetic Objects into Legacy Photographs from Kevin Karsch on Vimeo.

Supplementary material video for our 2011 SIGGRAPH Asia paper (see the project page here: 3D objects are rendered using LuxRender (

Authors: Kevin Karsch, Varsha Hedau, David Forsyth, Derek Hoiem

Abstract: We propose a method to realistically insert synthetic objects into existing photographs without requiring access to the scene or any additional scene measurements. With a single image and a small amount of annotation, our method creates a physical model of the scene that is suitable for realistically rendering synthetic objects with diffuse, specular, and even glowing materials while accounting for lighting interactions between the objects and the scene. We demonstrate in a user study that synthetic images produced by our method are confusable with real scenes, even for people who believe they are good at telling the difference. Further, our study shows that our method is competitive with other insertion methods while requiring less scene information. We also collected new illumination and reflectance datasets; renderings produced by our system compare well to ground truth. Our system has applications in the movie and gaming industry, as well as home decorating and user content creation, among others.

Halo Reach Renders & Wireframes

Written June 5th, 2011
Categories: Blog
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Forum-member X-Convict posted some amazing renders and wireframes from Microsoft’s Halo Reach. Re-Posted here, learn and enjoy!

The Hyatt Hotel Uses Vampires in Their Ads

Written October 6th, 2010
Categories: Blog
1 Comment »

That’s the most fun explanation for this absurd advert in the September 18th issue of The Economist. It’s more likely that their ad department sent the wrong version of the ad copy and didn’t notice.  If you look closely you can see that the entire pool is fake.  Normally that wouldn’t bother me but they really dropped the ball on the effect here.

Anyway, take a look at the image below.  I had to really double check to make sure I wasn’t crazy.  Click on the image to see a high-res version.

The woman's reflection is missing.

There's something odd about this image…

My New Circuit-Bent Speak & Read

Written September 21st, 2010
Categories: Blog, Videos

This is my new circuit-bent speak & read. For those unfamiliar with this kind of thing, there are people who open up old Gameboy or Speak & Spell equipment and modify it to play music or make unusual sounds. It’s a pretty awesome toy.

I bought it at a store here in San Francisco called Robot Speak that sells all kinds of computerized music equipment. The video was recorded simultaneously with separate tracks. The audio came from my headset while the video came from my Nexus One.

Despite the outpouring of negative feedback for this video, I’ve decided to post it to my blog anyway.  While I understand that most (all) of you are eagerly awaiting additional 3dsMax instruction, it’s coming time that I start branching out this blog into other interests.

That doesn’t mean I’ll abandon the article I’m writing about mental ray ProMaterials though.  Expect that after my travels are complete in October.

W3 Total Cache, YARPP, and mySQL: A deadly combo

Written September 18th, 2010
Categories: Articles, Blog, Scripting / Programming

Last night I got an e-mail at 2:00 am from Bluehost stating that my account was being blocked for excessive resource use.  Naturally, I was not happy because it was very late at night, I was a few beers in and couldn’t see straight, and the e-mail was totally out of the blue.  Take a look:

Dear Alejo:

Your web hosting account for **************.com has been deactivated, as of 09/18/2010. (reason: site causing performance problems)

This deactivation was due to a Terms of Service violation associated with your account. At sign-up, all users state that they have read through, understand, and agree to our terms. These terms are legal and binding.

Although your web site has been suspended, your data may still be available for up to 15 days from the date of deactivation; if you do not contact us during that 15 day period, your account and all of its files, databases, and emails may be deleted.

If you feel this deactivation was made in error, or in order to gain access to your account, please call our customer service line as soon as possible at (***) ***-4678.
Please read the following, derived from our Terms of Service agreement, for additional information regarding the matter.

Engaging in any activity that, in BlueHost.Com’s sole and absolute discretion, disrupts, interferes with, or is harmful to (or threatens to disrupt, interfere with, or be harmful to) BlueHost.Com’s services, BlueHost.Com’s business, operations, reputation, goodwill, subscribers and/or subscriber relations, or the ability of BlueHost.Com’s subscribers to effectively use BlueHost.Com’s services is prohibited.

Please review the current copy of our Terms of Service here:

Thank you,
BlueHost.Com Technical Support

I immediately called them up to get more information, and got to talk to a nice gal in tech support right away.  She looked up my account.

Yah, we’re not sure what your site is doing but you’re putting some heavy strain on that mySQL server you’re sharing.

“Absurd! My site only gets a few thousand hits per day.  There’s no way I’m dragging things down.”

Nope, it says right here.  In the last few days you’ve moved 1.9 terabytes in and out of the ****** and ******* tables.

I’ll show these dunderheads.  I logged in to my PHPMyAdmin and quickly found out that she was right.

Well this isn't good.

So a few diagnostics later, we figured out the problem.  My W3 Total Cache (W3TC) plugin was set to automatically pre-cache pages at a rate of 10 pages per minute.  Combined with a relation-intensive plug-in like the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) this meant that the server was hitting the database for the wp_term_relationships table hundreds of times per minute.  This created a stupid amount of database traffic.

I think you may have a point Julie at Bluehost…

The moral of the story here is that you should be really careful with what your plug-ins are doing and how they might interact with each other.  And take frequent backups- you never know when your host will drop a bombshell on you.

Mr. Bluesummers Goes On A Trip – Part 1

Written September 17th, 2010
Categories: Blog
1 Comment »

In the interest of beefing out a real “blog” section I thought I’d talk a little bit about real life.

As some of you know, I don’t work in the industry.  I have an ordinary desk job helping people make money with online advertising.  The nice kind, not the annoying kind.  Well that desk job is about to send me on a 3 week trip around the world to make everyone some money.  It would be pretty sweet to make a project out of this, so I’m going to post my itinerary and hope that you can help me think of something totally sweet to try.

Here’s the rundown.  Starting Sunday the 19th…

  1. Fly to New York City.  This is the easy part.  I’m bringing LSDJ and I want to learn how to use it.
  2. Stay in New York until Wednesday, brainstorming with smarter people and hugging our engineers because they tolerate us in Ops pretty well.
  3. Wednesday I fly down to Austin TX to meet up with some friends and be reminded that there’s no place like Texas.
  4. On Thursday I fly back to SF to get my bearings, sleep comfy for a few nights, and get a Star Craft 2 fix.
  5. Then on Sunday (09/26) I fly back to New York City as a layover to Dublin, Ireland.
  6. It’s a full week of rocking out with other kids in operations with trainings, coaching clients, and making everyone some money.
  7. Go partying with the Dubliners as often as possible and as hard as possible without requiring hospitalization.
  8. Then the following Saturday it’s off to Paris to spend some time with family and get put in my place for only speaking English like an idiot American.  I also can’t readily distinguish between a Chardonnay and a Pinot Grigio which probably won’t win me any points either.
  9. Then on Wednesday it’s a grueling 2 day flight that would have taken two months by boat a few hundred years ago.  What an inconvenient distance!

On the one hand, this means I get to see the world and hang out with people that I only really know as e-mail addresses right now.  On the other hand, it means working while under the stresses of jet lag, language barriers, and my regular workload.

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas on a neat project to go with this that doesn’t get me hurt or fired I’m all ears.

More to follow as it happens! Back Online

Written September 12th, 2010
Categories: Blog

Thanks for taking the downtime like a trooper.  The website is back online, and better than ever.  I’ve got big plans for this new revision!

For your information, check out the stats below.  Taken before and after the front-end revision.

Performance metrics before and after WordPress theme change

The new site is about 20% as big as the old site, and more flexible, too!

Pending Redesign Launch

Written September 8th, 2010
Categories: Blog

Hey all,

Just wanted to let you guys know that I’ve been working off and on with a site change. It’s mostly thematic and color changes based on the feedback I got for the old CGCodex project.

Why are you doing this?

The fact is that the current site isn’t as flexible as I once thought, and this gives me more ability to make changes and improvements in the future.  It loads faster for people in other countries, too.  Yes, Brazil; I know you’re watching and this is my way of thanking you!

Anyway, there are a lot of things I want to fix but I’ll roll out the first version this week.

We want more tutorials!

I know.  I’m in the middle of serious real-life stuff at the moment that prevents me from taking the kind of 4-hour work sessions needed to build up a real tutorial.  Luckily it doesn’t prevent me from taking 10 minutes here and there to keep working on a new blog interface.  If things back off a little this weekend I’ll hammer away at that Arch & Design tutorial I’ve got coming up.

Working On It

Written August 25th, 2010
Categories: Blog

Hey all,

I know the site is in a state of craziness right now, but the day job is eating me alive.  Still trying to find some free time to get that Arch & Design materials tutorial hammered out.  Another thing that needs to happen is a core rewrite of the site.

The things that hold this website together are falling apart at the seams and it might be time to run a new template and installation to clean it up.  More to follow on that.  Maybe this weekend after I catch up on sleep debt?

Mr. Bluesummers is at Comic-Con International

Written July 18th, 2010
Categories: Blog

Hey all,

I’m on vacation until the 27th or so at the Comic-Con in San Diego. I’ll be the guy wearing ordinary clothes, looking totally normal. You can’t miss me.

If you’re going and want to grab lunch or whatever you can e-mail me at!

I’ll upload photos when I get back.


Written July 5th, 2010
Categories: Blog
No Comments »

Hey all,

Running into some nasty errors.  Working on fixing them; sit tight.

Designed by Alejo "Mr. Bluesummers" Grigera"