The collected works of SiliconClassics - Page 1

I've got a big green coffee mug with the new SGI logo on it. Tried drinking out of it once, but it's just too huge - that much caffeine would kill a horse. So it mostly just sits on my desk at work.

I've also got one of the vinyl SGI stickers that you see on eBay occasionally and a purple Indigo2 mousepad. And that 11-piece SGI toolkit, also from eBay. Still trying to figure out what that plunger thing in the middle is for.
Are there any Irix ftp daemons with GUIs? On the peecee I use warftp, which has a nice interface for managing accounts and system settings, and I'd like to find something similar for SGI.
foetz wrote: 'real' ftp servers never have a gui.

But I NEED my big, shiny, candy-like buttons.
Seems like every year it makes less and less sense to run a Microsoft OS. While they focus on imposing their proprietary standards and forcing users to upgrade, the Linux / Unix standard is gaining ground in everything from cell phones to corporate networks. It runs on just about anything, more and more companies are porting their software over to it, and best of all it's cheap. How much longer will people keep paying for something they can get for free?

Vista might be the first Windows release to fizzle. Or at least I hope so.
Back in 2003 I bought a Honda Shadow 1100 Touring bike and rode cross-country from Los Angeles to New York. Spent about two weeks touring the southwest - Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Carlsbad Caverns, etc. Some incredible natural beauty in this country...


When I got back to Long Island (where I grew up) I left the bike with my parents and sold it on eBay.

Great trip, but if I had to get another bike I'd probably want something small and light like a little Rebel 250. Trust me, a 650lb bike is a BITCH to pick up once you've dropped it ;)
Inferno system on fleaBay:

Seriously now. I'm sure that this system cost close to that amount when new, but can it possibly be worth anywhere near this much years later? I've got a buddy who just did an entire movie on a Macintosh with a 2TB firewire array, and the whole setup probably cost less than 7 grand.

Any guesses as to a fair price for this Inferno?
kshuff wrote:
hamei wrote:
kshuff wrote: Its not going to sell anyway - who cares :wink:

When I saw the topic title I thought that ajerimez had a deal to buy the company :-)

You probably could for that amount of money :wink:

A check of Yahoo Finance Key Statistics for SGI reveals that their net assets (assets minus debt) are negative $228 million. This company owes hundreds of millions more to creditors than it's got in plant, equipment and cash. In addition, it's losing tens of millions annually and has no effective turnaround plan.

$300,000 for SGI? WAY overpriced! :)

Seriously though, SGI has a market cap of $114 million. If we can scrounge up that amount we can buy the company and raid the supply room.
Here's a rare one for vintage collectors. Not my auction, but I'd be bidding if I didn't already own it:

I think FormZ interfaces with this. Are there any other programs that hook into MacRenderMan?
That is one seriously cool-looking computer. Sounds like there might be less than a hundred currently in existence. I bet there are plenty of them collecting dust in hospital storage rooms...
Generally, you can expect performance similar to a well-equipped late-90's PC. For example, a 300MHz Octane with MXE is probably about the speed of a 500MHz Pentium 3 with an Oxygen VX1 card. It should do everything you want at an acceptable speed.

Typically, SGI machines are less adept at common tasks like web-surfing, movie watching and photo editing. This is largely due to a lack of well-designed software and not a shortcoming of the hardware itself. These machines were designed for intensive graphics production work such as 3D animation and video compositing, so there's a wide variety of high-quality graphics software available. They were not, however, designed for AOL, playing Warcraft, or burning home movies onto DVD.

Of course, with the Octane you're getting an industrial-grade UNIX workstation with a very high coolness factor. Plus the Octane's digital audio subsystem is of extremely high quality. And an MXI or Odyssey system will actually run Quake 2 pretty well :)
Thirded. Going from Maya to Blender would be a big step backwards. What exactly are you "sick" of? Can't imagine that Blender would offer any capabilities that Maya lacks.
You're going to need a WAY bigger machine :) Even on a decent Octane with texture acceleration, frame rates will hover around the low teens. Even if, by some miracle, Flightgear were to run on your Indy, the lack of texture acceleration and the R5k CPU means you will basically be watching a slideshow.

Indy is good only for non-textured games like Battalion and the SGI flight simulator demo. Doom will also run fine. But Flightgear, Quake, and anything that uses textured 3d is out.

EDIT: Just to give you an idea, here are the kind of frame rates you can expect from Flightgear on SGI hardware. As you can see, an 8-bit R5k Indy will get less than one frame per second.

Part of the reason is that Flightgear is not written with SGI hardware in mind. It's not a very optimized piece of software on any platform, let alone our specialized niche hardware. I'd guess that if it were coded to efficiently utilize these machines, a midrange Octane would get 20+ FPS.
You must get some incredible sound out of those headphones! Have you got it up and running yet?
I've done quite a bit of video capture with my 250MHz R10k O2 using cross-platform MJPEG compression. I then transfer the resulting Quicktime movie files to my PC for editing in Premiere and final output.

One thing that was always a problem was the playback frame rate on the PC. For some reason, directly playing the resulting video on my PC resulted in frame rate anomalies. I always had to output the Quicktime video to uncompressed still images and import them into Premiere as an image sequence, and then the frame rate would be correct. This does not appear to be a CPU speed issue or anything of the sort; there just seems to be some problem with the way the SGI encodes video for cross-platform purposes.

So bear in mind that you may need to perform this time-consuming step to get video looking "right" on the PC, unless this problem has been fixed by a patch or workaround that I don't know about.
Yes, I just use the capture tools that come with IRIX, and the Cross-Platform Quicktime settings. I've never actually used Premiere on IRIX to do anything useful, in no small part because it doesn't include any modern codecs. So the captured video gets immediately shuffled across the network to my PeeCee, where it gets output to a targa sequence (to get around the timing problem), reassembled in Premiere, and compressed with whatever codec seems appropriate.

This whole process is cumbersome and eats up a good deal of disk space, so I've only used it for short clips. Capturing an entire feature film, or even a TV show, will require a better way of doing things. Better methodologies obviously exist, but I just haven't bothered to figure one out, since I don't do this on a regular basis.
I think ILM held onto their Softimage 3D Extreme seats for a while, using it several years ago for the Star Wars prequels. They may still even use it on some projects. Any ILMmers here?

By and large, however, the CG world has moved to Maya. It has a more open architecture so large studios can customize it to their production pipeline. When I was at Sony we hardly used any of the built-in features; 95% of the tools were custom-made. Soft3D also lacks subdivision surfaces, which seems to have displaced NURBS as the high-end modeling paradigm du jour. Maya and Linux are the current platform of choice.

Soft3D still holds a special place in my heart, though. It's tight and slim and runs great even on older SGI machines like the Indy. And if it was good enough for the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, it's good enough for any task!
Tell me about it. I think most major software packages reached maturity a long time ago. My father, also an architect, has also stuck with AutoCAD 2000, and was using it on an 850MHz P3 running Win2k until a week ago when he succumbed to the urge to buy a new Dell XPS. He's sticking with AutoCAD 2000, though, which seems to run ok on Vista.

Other software that stopped improving a long time ago?

Microsoft Word - probably no worthwhile improvements since 1995, when they added long filenames. You knew in Word 97, with the debut of the talking paperclip, that they had run out of ideas :)

Windows - 2000 was the last worthwhile upgrade for most users, adding USB and FireWire support along with DirectX and Plug and Play. XP was the same product with a dumbed-down interface and more bloat. Vista is an order of magnitude worse, and they've altered the interface so drastically that it's now a completely un-intuitive hodgepodge. I think Microsoft has become their own worst enemy, and the best reason to switch to a Mac.

America Online - oops, sorry, this was never worth using!

Photoshop - 4.01. Sure, there are some added features in later releases, but Adobe always seems to add more overhead than features. 4.01 is stable, fast, and compatible with every major file format in use today. Not bad for a 12 year old program.

One general peculiarity of software - the bloat always seems to increase exponentially, while the features only increase linearly.
Bentley released Microstation for IRIX, which runs pretty well even on an Indigo running IRIX 5.3. There's a screenshot in my gallery section.
For me it was always SGI's prominence in the visual effects industry that was most exciting. I grew up watching shows like "Movie Magic" on the Discovery channel, which chronicled the transition from practical effects to CG in the early 90's. They showed SGI boxes in use on Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park, and I was hooked.

Back then I was learning graphics on a 486 running AutoCAD, and I longed for an Indigo with Softimage. In college, I tinkered with 3D Studio 4 for DOS in between classes. By the time I finally got into the Hollywood VFX industry (2004), all the studios had abandoned SGI machines in favor of PC workstations running Linux. When I worked at Rhythm & Hues, the only SGI machines I saw were sitting on a rack near the loading dock, waiting to be shipped off to a recycler :(

Fortunately, now that these machines are dirt cheap, I can fulfill all of my teenage wishes for less than the cost of a new PC.
Uh oh, just when I thought I was done spending money on this system...

The PR440FX can make use of 1mb cache processors? I've read conflicting reports on the newsgroups - either it won't boot with them, or it won't utilize more than 512kb of the cache, or that it works great. Could depend on the mobo and bios revisions. Unfortunately I don't have 1mb cache processors to test with, and I'm reluctant to spend $ on them if they might not work well.

Also, according to the manual the PR440FX can only take up to 512MB of memory in four 128MB ECC EDO dimms. You have 1Gb running in yours? Does it work well?
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Hmm... Guess I'll keep on the lookout for a matched pair of 1mb 200MHz PPros on eBay.

I have 512MB (4x128) in the system now, though it would be much more interesting with a full GB.
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Not my auction, but definitely one of the more interesting and unique things I've seen on eBay: An entire 486 system built into an AT keyboard , with floppy drive, ethernet, and apparently even an expansion slot. Were it not for the high price I'd be all over this one.

EDIT: From Google: Keyboard Network Station (KNS) from Advanced Interlink Corporation. It has a built-in 486-DX microprocessor, up to 32 MBs of RAM, super VGA adapter, 2.5" hard drive,, built-in 3.5" floppy drive, optional on-board Ethernet, two serial ports, one parallel port, standard 16-bit expansion slot, optional barcode reader and external 5.25" floppy drive. And it's fully tested with Novell Netware, Windows, and DOS environments.
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nekonoko wrote: Yeah, it's one of those things that sounds really cool until you realize that a laptop has all of that, plus a built in display ;)

True. There are, however, some advantages to this keyboard unit, especially for playing vintage DOS games. First, you can throw a genuine Sound Blaster into it, while most vintage laptops only offer quasi-compatible SB emulation hardware. It also has built-in networking, something that most 90's era laptops lacked. Also, most old DOS games ran in odd resolutions that used non-square pixels, so they appear stretched on laptop LCD screens. You can, of course, connect an external monitor to a laptop to alleviate the problem, but then the laptop LCD screen gets in the way.

Perhaps running old DOS games in DOSBOX on a newer laptop is the best way to go, but there always seem to be minor compatibility or speed issues.
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indigofan wrote:
PowerAnimator is great!...

Great, an experienced PA user! A few questions:

1) How would you compare PA's OpenGL viewport performance with Maya's?

2) How does PA's renderer stack up? Does it output RIB files?

3) As far as ease-of-use goes, how is PA compared to Maya? How about particles and cloth?

4) If you had to do an entire animated short film using a MaxImpact Indigo2, would you choose PA or Maya?
Great answers, thank you! It sounds like you have a lot of experience with PA. Did you work professionally in CG?

I have both PA 8.5 and Maya 3 installed on an R10k MaxIMPACT Indigo2, and PA definitely runs faster and lighter.

Actually, the king of fast & light pro 3D apps was probably Softimage|3D, but it lacks certain key features like particles, cloth, and sub-d surfaces, so I'd be hesitant to attempt any sort of project with it.
With Vista they forgot to rip off OS X's dock. Windows 7 has fixed that.
So I stroll into the NY Southern District bankruptcy court this morning for my internship, and what do the clerks tell me? We've just been assigned SGI's Chapter 11 bankruptcy case ! The first hearing is this afternoon - can't wait to sit in on THIS one!

Unfortunately, I'll only be here for another month, so I won't see this case through to completion, but if there are any interesting tidbits that I can disclose I'll post them here.

Sorry, it may be April Fool's Day, but this is definitely NOT a prank!
Here's SGI's Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, which is essentially the broad outline of their request for bankruptcy relief, listing their creditors and total debts. Of note are the full list of SGI subsidiaries involved on page 4 and the list of the 50 largest creditors on page 12, which, interestingly enough, includes Barco.

Apparently, SGI's "first day motions" are scheduled for 4:30pm today - I'll sit in on them and write if anything interesting happens.

SGI Bankruptcy Petition.pdf
SGI's Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, filed in SDNY on 4/1/09.
(2.96 MiB) Downloaded 70 times
Buy this . (not my auction)
Apologies if this has already been posted, but anyone who loves classic computer animation should check out this YouTube channel . Lots of great stuff here.
All sorts of different hardware. Back in the 80's there was no established vendor of CG workstations, and 3D was still very much nascent, so most of this stuff was done via custom-coding on various platforms - Symbolics, Apollo, Silicon Graphics, etc. Since there were no commercially-available 3D packages, and since doing these sorts of animations in realtime was impossible (save for the E&S simulation stuff), any sufficiently fast computer with enough memory and disk space was appropriate.

What surprised me was how many of these have Chris Wedge's name on them. Never knew he was involved in CG for so long.
I have a 12" iBook G4 1.33GHz with 1.5GB RAM that I use in the classroom and at the bedside. It's used mostly for web surfing and Word, and it fills those roles nicely, though it can bog down a bit on flash-heavy pages while videos are running. I paid about $300 for it a year ago. Overall I'm very happy with it - the form factor is great, it's very ergonomic, the wireless reception is good, and it's quite solid. Runs like a Honda Civic - no problems, I just keep a charger nearby, as the battery only lasts about an hour now. It runs X-Plane 7 pretty smoothly, is a decent Photoshop machine if you don't mind the small screen, and can even run Maya 7 pretty well, though the screen is not quite large enough to fit all the GUI elements. A 1.5GHz Powerbook would no doubt be even slicker.
Yeah, when a 1.33GHz G4 can't play a 320x240 streaming video without dropping frames, its obvious the code is shit. You could write a more efficient video player in Visual Basic.

Reminds me of that other ubiquitous Adobe app, Reader. Which is no longer called "Acrobat" because apparently it's no longer capable of any actual physical performance. It just lounges around in your system memory, sucking up RAM and cycles like a deadbeat uncle who won't leave your parents' basement. Recent versions are so bad that I've switched to a freeware alternative called Foxit Reader that works the way Acrobat used to - unobtrusively.

I wish some enterprising company would come up with an alternative to Flash player that's actually optimized for the underlying hardware. It can't be that hard!
hamei wrote:
ajerimez wrote: I have a 12" iBook G4 1.33GHz with 1.5GB RAM that I use in the classroom and at the bedside.

Electronic pillow book ? Kewl :P

Heh, yeah, I guess you could call it my PillowBook G4
I don't have this setup anymore (moved out and put most of my babies in storage), but this setup will exist again someday, and more.

Not pictured: Crimson, SPARCstation 10, and a half-dozen PeeCees & laptops.

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Good eyes, yes! Radius 81/110, which is indeed an 8100 clone. It runs MacOS 7.6.1 and contains a SuperMac Thunder 24, an FWB Jackhammer SCSI card, and a VideoVision video capture board with the Studio upgrade. It's a very solid system - nice thick metal case. I've got ElectricImage, Strata Studio Pro, and Lightwave 3D 5.6 installed on it, with a bunch of other graphics apps and games. Runs very nicely and is very useful for care and feeding of the other Macs.

The Color Classic is stock, with an 80MB HDD (still works!), an ethernet board, and the maximum 10MB of memory (actually 12MB but the last 2MB are unusable). Bought it for $40 from a thrift store in Los Angeles about six years ago, which explains the suntan :) It runs MacOS 7.1 and is so damn slow that it's really only useful for word processing. Interesting note - it was playing dead recently, refusing to power up, but leaving it plugged in for several days was enough to "refresh the capacitors" (or whatever), so it finally booted.

The third Mac is a Performa 466 running MacOS 7.5.3. It's also maxed-out: 36MB RAM, ethernet, 68882 FPU. It's a pretty unremarkable system, but it does make for a decent vintage gaming machine. I also found it in a thrift store in Los Angeles - it had never been used.

Not shown: my 12" iBook G4, 17" PowerBook G4, and a Quadra 700 running A/UX, maxed-out with 64MB of RAM. Very cute system, if not very useful. Would be fun to turn it into a web server someday and list it here.
Geoman is right - if you're looking for a movie editing app with ease-of-use and a feature set comparable to M$ Movie Maker, use IRIX's built-in tool of the same name. High-end packages like Effect, Jaleo, or Piranha are overkill and will take far too long to learn (if you can even find them in the first place).

Just bear in mind that regardless of which program you use on the O2, you're going to be dealing with old codecs and a system that can only do NTSC video in realtime if it's either (A) uncompressed and accessible via a fast disk system, or (B) compressed using the specific M-JPEG codec native to the O2's video capture hardware. You will probably want to render the video uncompressed and transfer it to a fast PeeCee or Mac for compression & output.
I know this isn't an SGI system, but damn if this isn't a great deal!
I'm still using XP, having avoided Vista at all costs. I also prefer the old gray Win2k-style interface, which, ironically, looks more like OS X than Vista or 7 do, and leaves more system resources free for things I actually care about.

What are the advantages of 7 over XP? What will it let me do that I can't already do in XP? Most of the answers online seem to take the position that it's new, so it must be better. If this article is any indication, 7 is generally slower than XP, especially in OpenGL, so hopefully it offers some compelling new features to justify its existence.
This is a great episode of the old Discovery Channel program "Movie Magic" which explains the basic process of CG. There are plenty of shots of ancient Silicon Graphics hardware, and some interview footage of John Lasseter looking amazingly young and thin :)