Sunday, April 24, 2011

Science Fiction heroes in urgent need of rescue!

Just a quick update ... touching base with another bundle of photography. We're getting ready to literally format the harddrive, which involves shipping out every morsel of data you can remember to ship out -- and some fancy dance steps with the DAZ files.

Luckily, we've done this before. Just over one year ago, this computer had to be set back to factory specs -- and if you've been following this blog for any length of time, you'll remember that I lost a whole army of characters for over six months! Too late, I learned that your old DAZ projects won't just reopen after a reformat, or on a new computer...

Say, what?

Um ... if Google sent you here because you're asking, "Will my existing DAZ projects work on my new computer?" Then, you need to pull up a chair and read the next bit carefully. Because the simple answer is, no, they won't. Your projects will start to open on your new system (or on your reformatted old one), and then the error messages will start to pop up. "Can't find this file," and "Can't find that file," and at the end of the process, the project won't open.

Sinking feeling. Faint nausea. Slight fever.

What went wrong?!

Well, to set themselves up properly, DAZ projects depend on a bunch of data files which are made by the program on the fly as you create those projects. The program is making these data files all the time and just not telling you, but in fact it's these files which "spell" your character faces and physiques! Without these files, those faces and physiques can't be loaded up when you open a project. So if you happily reformatted the harddrive, thinking all you had to do was reinstall the software and all the models, and you'd be off to the races tomorrow --

Wrong. This is what I did, in all innocence (ignorance!) and learned the hard way.

The critical thing is to track down your data files and copy them all over onto an external harddrive. Then, when you reinstall DAZ, copy them all back into the folder where they're supposed to live. Then try opening the old project file and see what happens.

The file will certainly open, but what you'll probably see is the Michael 4 doll, the store-window mannequin, where your own self-designed, carefully sculpted and much loved unique face used to be. Why? I don't honestly know! But this time around we had the savvy to copy out all my data files onto another computer (so far so good), and then load up one of my projects, and see if it opened.

Oooooh, it opened. But it left my character faces behind. Jarat, Stone, Gil Cronin, Joe Ramos, Richard Vaurien, Curtis Marin -- all standing in a line looking like sextuplets. All of them were just the Michael 4 doll. Uh..huh.

Next: nervous breakdown.
Next: cup of tea.
Next: another cup.
Next: start thinking clearly again.

So I ran the experiment of exporting my characters to Character Presets. These are tiny little data files on a .dsb file extension. You open the file in which your character lives; selct him; go FILE > SAVE > Save as Character preset. The software generates a tiny (32k) file, and you apply this to a freshly loaded Michael 4 doll. You load up the mannequin; select him; then go FILE > MERGE, and select the .dsb you want to drop onto the model.

Does it work perfectly? Yes -- when it works, it works fine. But about 1 time in 10, it doesn't seem to work at all. Right now, I've managed to save Stoney but not Jarrat; Richard and Barb, Mark and Curtis, but not Neil Travers -- and so on. I'm saving them to .dsb files and then checking them all. I have no idea why I can't get Jarrat to save in .dsb format, and this is going to be the chore for tomorrow -- figure it out, save the character! I think I have something like 50 - 60 characters to save this way in total, and I think I have about 25 - 30 of them saved. So tomorrow they should all be squared away. In just a tiny handful of cases, there seems to be some problem in making the .dsb file...

Tomorrow. Yaaaawn. Too tired right now. It's been a very stressful time, what with Mom still being very frail and the computer doing weird, weird stuff. But if rolling it back to factory specs works, I'll be glad! Saves us $1,200 for a start. If this reformat works as well as the last one did, it'll be April 2012 before I have to go shopping for a new system -- and I can live with that. Gives me plenty of time to save up!

Jade, April 24 (Easter Sunday)
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