more recent graphics

Enlighten, a newish graphical engine developed by Geomerics, has actually achieved real-time radiosity effects. It simulates light scattering off of lit surfaces and lighting other surfaces that are not directly in the light, which then  light other surfaces… a process which Geomerics claims continues effectively ad infinitum with their engine.

It’s quite impressive, and I recommend that you give it a look on their media page.

In other somewhat-related news, VLC Media Player’s newest version finally has good-looking subtitles. For anyone still using 0.8.6, now is a perfectly good time to upgrade to the newest version0.9.8a at the time of this writing.

It’s been over three years since I first used VLC, and the whole time I’ve wished that it had more powerful subtitles. Now it features a pretty powerful engine with proper layout, colors, and fonts as dictated by some of the most recent subtitle formats. I thought this day would never come.

In fact, I had just installed the newest version and was chatting with a friend about this very feature, pondering if and perhaps when it would ever be made. I was somewhat doubtful…and then BAM they’d actually done it. Pretty crazy.

gauss chariot

I think it would be fun to make a map in Hammer (the Source engine map editing kit) where the people who work on it just add a few things per day, slowly expanding the contents of the map until there is a gigantic building filling up the entire 0.5×0.5×0.25 mile space. Then we could go around trying to finish it off and compile it (haha, it would probably take about a week to compile on a regular machine). I figure we could just rule out moving parts and map triggers, since stuff like that would just overwhelm the engine, plus they’re one of the hardest things to do when you’re mapping. I think getting the cubemaps right would be overwhelming enough, if it’s even possible.

Either way, I think I’d be willing to work on something like that.

Important things I left out of the last post:

Someone actually developed a volumetric 3d display that displays dots on thin air. I must be frank, I totally did not see this coming. It can display about a hundred dots per second so far, and can actually display two to three meters away from the projector. That’s right. Just the projector, and empty air.

You might laugh when you hear how they do it though. It’s kind of like a humorous mockery of Ye Olde Starre Warse holograms, because it actually superheats tiny pockets of air with a focused infrared laser, creating a flash of light and a small plasma explosion. (Here’s an article about it, and the official press release translated into english). So it totally works and everything, but it’s really loud.

Something that will delight fans of technology and newer user interfaces: Johnny Lee has done a number of really neat projects which save hundreds and hundreds of dollars off of expensive equipment by merely using a wii-mote to do the same thing. (Specifically: using the wiimote for 3d head tracking, multipoint interface with your fingertips in the air rather like Minority Report, a digital white-board you can put pretty much anywhere…) It’s extremely impressive, and you need to check it out.

Among all the weird things that happen to city wildlife, I think this particular link in the food chain ranks rather high up on the scale of the weird and unexpected. I mean, pelicans eat FISH, not… certainly not that.

My room mate signed me up for a 440 gloss page magazine called Bridal Guide… I got in my mailbox and had no idea what to think. Then he put up bald-faced lies about it for almost a day before casually bringing up that it was totally his fault and on purpose. I encourage you to do this as well, it’s a great prank; you can get free magazine subscriptions right here, with no commitment. Seriously, it does work. Just… well, this is better for doing in dorms where you’re not going to be living there the next ten or twenty years; if you’re too concerned about causing them bulk mail problems, you could always just double check to make sure that they don’t distribute the addresses to anyone.

One of the more silly brainchildren of the half of my brain devoted entirely to ludicrous engineering (the part that will forever be deeply enamored with the Space Fountain) is the house heated by bulk mail. The idea is, get yourself signed up for as many cupon newspapers, thick magazines, and free, worthless publications as you can, then stockpile them and use them to heat your house via a clean paper-burning stove, which should also include a catalytic converter in the chimney stack to cut down on any nasty chemical emissions due to weird inks or plastics that get burned along with it. (Mind you, I’m not really overly concerned about emissions in general, but seriously, it’s coming out right over your house.) If it worked, you’d basically be heating your house to free, with fuel being delivered to you sporadically by the national mail service.

That shit would be so cache.