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Entries From July 2006

July 31, 2006

Day 2

Filed under SIGGRAPH

The first class I went to today was called "Physically-based Reflectance for Games." It was taught by Dan Baker from Firaxis and Naty Hoffman from Naughty Dog. Basically they talked about how to make objects reflect light in believable ways, yet still be fast enough for a video game. I believe the course had lots of good information, but they rushed through the slides so fast, it was hard to get any more than the high level concepts. After the talk, I decided to seek out a good reference book on reflectance.

I went to the SIGGRAPH bookstore (again) and I didn't find much selection focusing on reflectance...just two. I decided to go with "3D Computer Graphics", 3rd Edition, by Alan Watt. It has a nice chapter that details many of the subjects in today's class. It also covers lots of other topics I'm interested in (NURBS, ray tracing, shadows). It is an older book, but definitely fills a hole in my personal library.

Another book I picked up should help with picking colors that go together for my web site..."Color Index."

I checked out the art exhibit today. I got some video clips I'll upload when I get back. One bizarre creation was a black room littered with thousands of receipts in piles all over the floor. Each receipt was a few lines of text from a personal ad (like, "I'm looking for a girl that...". Above, in the ceiling, is a printer that prints out a new phrase from a personal ad on the internet and lets it float to the ground every 12 seconds.

Another art piece used the same "magical oil" that was demonstrated at a previous SIGGRAPH. A metal spiral poked out of the oil. The oil would jump out of the pan and cover the spiral and create wild spiky effects...like it was alive...you'll just have to see the video...amazing.

They had a special "teapot" exhibit in honor of the 3D graphics icon...the Utah Teapot. I have a photo of teapot origami, fashioned from a single piece of paper.

For the afternoon, I went to a course called "Spacial Augmented Reality." The main idea is that soon, projectors (like the ones used to show a movie) will be ubiquitous. The technology is shrinking to a point where they will easily be included in cell phones. The problem is, where do you point the projector if you don't have a screen? These guys have done research into how to make almost anything a screen. For example, you could aim your projector at a window covered with curtains. Using a camera and some special graphics hardware (a GPU), they are able to warp the video/image so that when you look at it on the curtain, it looks like a flat surface. They also do color correction so that the video/image looks consistent, even though the background maybe a checkerboard instead of the desired solid white background used for most screens. They take into account some surfaces may be closer or further away and require different focal distances so that it looks the same sharpness in the final output. Impressive stuff.

My buddy John Verostek joined me for the Electronic Theater tonight. We were handed a paddle with a green side and a red side when we entered the theater. When you walked to your seat, you could see on the screen the layout of the theater with green and red lights representing every person holding up their paddle with the green/red side facing the screen. You could find your dot on the screen and flip your paddle to make your light turn red or green. We did some fun interactive games with this gimmick. The best was the giant Etch-A-Sketch projected on the screen. The audience was divided in half. One side controlled up/down by displaying red/green. The other half controlled left/right by displaying red/green. If the audience was split 50/50, then nothing would happen. Mostly green would move up, mostly red would move down. Same goes for the audience with the left/right controls. We were given the task to trace the outline of some shapes: a square, a triangle, a circle, and (of course) a teapot. And how do you clear an enormous Etch-A-Sketch? You shake it, of course! We all shook our paddles in unison and the screen would clear. It was a lot of fun...even though they had some problems registering our paddle information in the section I was sitting in.

The ET was shown on the new Sony 4K SXRD projection system (think 4 times the resolution of HDTV at 1080p). They did a demonstration of 2k (1080p) vs 4k (2160p), but I honestly couldn't tell a difference. To be fair, I was sitting in the back part of the theater.

There were lots of good animations. A couple of beer ads were very clever (Guinness' "noitulovE" and Foster's Australia "Big Ad." Pixar showed "One Man Band", which is the short that preceeds Cars in theaters now. Pixar's stuff always stands out of the pack. A really cool concept video is "Doll Face." I always love the special effects reels (ILM: "Poesidon" and "Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest", Weta Digital's "King Kong", Sony Imageworks' "Open Season"). I think the one that blew me away the most was King Kong's "In a New York Minute" (separate from the King Kong effects reel). It showed Manhattan built building by building in 60 seconds. I went to the talk about how they did it (using procedural buildings), so I already had an appreciation for the work involved. The amount of detail was just awesome.

July 30, 2006

Day 1

Filed under SIGGRAPH

When I arrived at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) this morning, I was reminded of why it is a good idea to pay the extra $10 and have your credentials mailed to you...the line to pick up your credentials was over 2 blocks long and not moving! You have to have your credentials in order to get in to the classes. Registration opens at 8am and classes start at 8:30am...a lot of people missed the first few hours because of that line!

I walked past a window into the show floor, which opens on Tuesday. It looks *way* small. I remember back in '97, it took me two days to see everything on the show floor. This year it looks like 2 hours will be plenty.

My first class was Interactive Ray Tracing. When you see interactive 3D graphics (video games) on a computer, they all use a technique called Z-buffering. Ray tracing is an alternative approach to 3D graphics that works by tracing the path light travels from a light source to your eye. It gives much more realistic results, but it is *very* time consuming. Computers are getting so fast that the idea of using ray tracing for video games is gaining steam suddenly. We still have a ways to go, but this could radically change how we work with 3d graphics. Adding extra CPU's (cores) really helps ray tracing.

I skipped the second half of ray tracing to see a class called "Procedural Modeling of Urban Environments." The idea is to create some simple rules (buildings have floors, floors have windows, top floors have a roof, bottom floors have doors), and then let the computer create models of buildings for you. I am currently building the Bank of America building, and it is taking a lot of time. With this approach, you could build a very detailed city very quickly. The city would not look exactly like the real thing, because it is using rules to build a building, not blueprints. It is an interesting idea and I can see it saving a lot of time for flight sims and games.

I picked up a cool book at the SIGGRAPH bookstore. It is called "The Elements of C++ Style." It a small book that talks about how to format your code so that other people can read it. I've just glanced over it, and I agree with their sentiments. Most of the things they write about I've learned over 16 years (has it been that long?) of writing and reading code...it would have been nice to have this from the start because no class teaches this. This is one of those books that I wish my team lead would hand to each member of our group. It will help make your code more readable and look less like a ransom note.

I have lots of pictures and some very cool videos from the Emerging Technologies display. I'll post those when I get home.

July 27, 2006

Window Finished

Filed under 3D, Maya

I finished up a single window for my model of the Bank Of America Plaza. I used a couple of pictures I took as reference photos (here and here).

Being an engineer...I like to make things perfect. However, I don't have the blueprints for this building, so there is a lot of guess work. That is probably the most difficult part for me...using my best judgement instead of using an exact measurement.

I put *WAY* more detail than I needed, because I want the model to capture subtle shadows in the crevices (between windows, the horizontal indention in the base, the horizontal bar across the window, window indention from frame). It took 47 faces to build, which isn't much. However, this window will be repeated on the building over 13,000 times! That will put me at around 600,000 faces! And I haven't even gotten to doing the ground level or the detail on the roof. I will quickly have to figure out how to work with a very polygon-heavy model!

After I finished the window, I tried to attach it to the shell of the building. I *thought* I would just turn on snap to vertex and then use the scale tool to stretch the window to fit inside one of the open window faces on the BOA shell.

Unfortunately, Maya doesn't work that way. Snap to vertex only snaps when *moving*, not scaling. I could not just move my window because I needed to move *and* shrink the window proportionally to fit in the face of the building. My Maya mentor Kyle Rives had a brain storming session on how to best make the window fit precisely in the face on the shell of the building. There were plenty of ways to do it, but I wanted to do it the "right way"...the most efficient way possible. Kyle came up with the idea to try using the animation menu's "Deform->Create Lattice". I never would have thought to look in the animation menu set for the solution to a modeling problem, but it worked really well. I just put a lattice around my window, turned on snap to vertex, and then moved each corner of the lattice to the face of the building. The lattice took care of scaling the entire window appropriately. I still have more work to do on it, but the lattice tool worked really well and is a big time saver.

I'm off to SIGGRAPH...so no more updates until I get back.

Prepping for SIGGRAPH

Filed under SIGGRAPH

I am getting ready for my annual pilgrimage to SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group for GRAPHics). This year marks my 10th SIGGRAPH in a row! I really love going to this conference. It always energizes me and makes me want to learn more about computer graphics.

This year it is in Boston. I've never been to Boston, so I'll spend a day and a half sightseeing before the conference starts. My friend John Verostek lives in Boston and plans on showing me around over the weekend.

I plan on taking a bunch of pictures and video, but I probably won't post them until I can get home to my desktop and image editing software. I'll jot down my blog posts in a notebook (the old kind that doesn't need batteries and won't get stolen) and transfer them to my blog when I get access to an Internet terminal. I could post via my cell phone...but that is just too painful...even with its tiny QWERTY keyboard.

I've added all the papers, classes, panels, and talks to my calendar. On average, I have 3 things I want to attend at any one time. On Sunday, I have 6 things! You can't see it all, which is part of the draw of SIGGRAPH.

July 24, 2006

CSS Updates

Filed under Blogging

I'm trying to fix some formatting issues on my website. If you see something that looks weird or wrong (formatting, not content), post a comment with what issue you see and what browser (including version) you are using.


July 23, 2006


Filed under Architecture, High School, Photos, Reviews, Video

My old high school buddy Chris Franka flew in to hang out for the weekend. Our first stop for happy hour was the new Ghostbar on the 32nd floor of the W Dallas-Victory. The elevator says it is the 33rd floor, but it skips floor 13, just to be safe. Ghostbar has been open for only 3 weeks.

I took pictures and video with my Motorola Q. Let's just say it is a better phone than a camera. Here are the photos. Here is a video from the south balcony, which has an outdoor bar. Here is a video from the north balcony, which has a see-through glass floor.

We got in just before 7 and did not have to pay a cover. For Friday's and Saturday's after happy hour, cover is $20 for guys...girls get in free. For happy hour, ghostbar is just a bar/lounge. Later on a DJ plays music and it becomes a dance club.

The first thing I noticed when I got off the elevator were the waitresses. They are all very tall (most around 6 foot with their heels), very thin, very cute, and dressed in sexy outfits with fishnet stockings. Here is a photo of one of our waitresses.

Ghostbar is one large room with a bar on the west side and couches and chairs throughout. It has a lot of style and attention to detail. Very cool design.

We headed out to the south balcony to see the view. It is amazing, but it got to me a bit. I *love* observation decks in tall buildings, but they scare the *hell* out of me. I could feel the building shake a bit...but I found the more I drank, the less I noticed. We sat at some bar stools right by the glass window on the balcony. The window has a glass bar on it so you can take in the view and enjoy a tasty overpriced beverage. My rum/diet coke was $10 after tip! The window is not connected to anything above, so you really are outside. Besides the bar stools by the edge, there are also some couches and tables that are on the balcony but closer to the building.

The north balcony is much smaller, but it has a see-through floor! That is such a bizarre feeling to be able to see cars driving 32 floors beneath your feet! It took me a while before I could be comfortable out there...but it was worth it. Definitely a thrill.

I ran into one of my friends that works at Ghostbar. He was nice enough to take us to the "VIP" area. The VIP area is just a small corner in the north part of the bar that is sectioned off with a curtain and a private bar and waitstaff. Next, he took us around to meet all the really cute waitresses. Why can't all my friends be this cool?!?!

We left Ghostbar to check out some other places. We planned on coming back to see what it was like later in the evening. We returned at 1:30am, but they had stopped letting people enter because Ghostbar had reached its maximum occupancy of 450.

In summary...way cool bar! I'll put Ghostbar in my regular rotation. Two acrophobic thumbs up!

July 15, 2006

The Coolest Gadget of All Time

Filed under Gadgets, Reviews

This one is impressive. As I've detailed ad nauseum, I bought a Motorola Q. With a new gadget I bought last weekend, I have turned my cell phone into a TV with DirecTV and TiVo!

The device that makes it possible is called SlingBox. You can see my SlingBox sitting above my DirecTV TiVo in the picture above. The SlingBox takes the output from the TiVo (or any cable box/DVR) and then broadcasts it over the Internet to any PC running SlingPlayer or cell phones running SlingPlayer Mobile. Anything you can do with a TiVo remote can be done by SlingPlayer. The SlingPlayer sends commands over the Internet back to the SlingBox, which mimics the TiVo remote with an IR repeater. You can see the IR repeater in the photo above. It is a small black arm sticking out beneath the TiVo and pointing at the black circle that receives the remote control signal.

Here is a video of the SlingBox/SlingPlayer Mobile in action. It shows my TV broadcasting live TV. I put my cell phone next to the TV so you can see that it is showing the same content. There is about a 5 second delay between live TV and when it arrives on the SlingPlayer. This makes it a bit tricky to try and fast forward with TiVo...not impossible, but certainly more difficult. As long as I have a good signal on my cell phone, the video quality is extremely good. It is sharp enough that you can read the text scrolling by at the bottom of the screen of CNN Headline News. As the signal degrades, the SlingPlayer will drop frames so that it will still work with less bandwidth. Audio rarely ever drops, but video rate can fluctuate. Typically, it runs around 30 fps, which looks really good. I've seen it drop down to 5 fps, which is still very watchable.

All SlingBox does is rebroadcast what your TV is currently doing. If I change channels when I am watching TV at work (this is an example...I would never do this), then my TV at home will be changing channels as well. This works fine for me, because I'm single. But I could imagine this might cause some issues when multiple people are using the same TV.

With my SlingBox setup and DirecTV TiVo, from anywhere that my cell phone works I can now:

  • Watch any DirecTV channel
  • Listen to the DirecTV music channels
  • Order and watch Pay-Per-View Movies
  • Pause, fast forward, or rewind TV using TiVo
  • Watch any programs I've previously recorded with TiVo
  • Set TiVo to record something that is about start in 5 minutes

What a great time waster!

I installed SlingPlayer on my desktop. It can be docked on the side of your monitor to allow you watch TV while you work on your computer. Video/audio quality is excellent.

Installation was surprisingly simple. SlingBox comes with a single sheet of instructions that is about 1' x 2'. SlingPlayer is also easy to install, but requires a bit more Q&A to find out what type of remote control you have and how to optimize the video stream to look its best.

I pay for DirecTV in my bedroom in addition to my living room. With SlingPlayer and my laptop...I may cancel that service. Now I can watch DirecTV *AND* TiVo in my bedroom for free.

How much does all this cost? It is surprisingly cheap. I bought the SlingBox for $150 at Best Buy. I didn't want to run an Ethernet cable from my SlingBox to my router, so I also bought SlingLink (uses power lines to transmit Ethernet in your house) for $80. The SlingPlayer for PC's is free. I am using a free 30-day trial of SlingPlayer Mobile for my phone. After the trial is over, I will pay $30. So the total comes to $260 to turn your phone into a portable TiVo. Since I have unlimited data usage on my cell phone, I can stream video all day and it doesn't cost me anything extra. For comparison, Verizon offers video to your cell phone with their "V-Cast" service for $15 a month with a selection of "dozens of broadcasts per day."

SlingPlayer Mobile is still in beta. I did notice a few issues with the software that will hopefully be fixed. The keyboard mapping to TiVo functionality is a bit awkward for some functions. Turning the volume up and down doesn't use the Q's scroll wheel as you'd expect, but instead requires you to switch the keyboard from "123 mode" to "SC" (short cut mode) by holding down the space bar and then use the shifted 1 and 3 keys to turn the volume up and down. That is a lot of work if you turn on the TV and it starts blasting Oprah in a boring meeting. I want the volume controls *always* available. Also I found that performance can degrade if you start and stop the player a few times. The only way I could get the performance to improve was to turn my phone off and then back on...which sounds like a software bug. Otherwise, the software works really well.

I'm blown away by this. It is very cool and fun. I used it yesterday when I was waiting in the doctors office. The doctor was running over an hour behind schedule so I watched 30 minutes of Headline News and then I watched a South Park episode.

Highly recommended! Two thumbs way up!

Does Your HDTV Do 1080i Right?

Filed under HDTV

Here is another "gotcha" for HDTV's...processing interlaced signals. There is a right way to do it and a wrong way. The right way is (of course) more expensive than the wrong way. But the wrong way only gives you 540p resolution from a 1080i source (that is less than 720p...ouch!). This guy did a test of 54 HDTV's to see which ones do it right and which ones do it wrong. The results are a bit surprising. Almost half the TV's failed. If you care about image quality from 1080i signals, then make sure you get a set that does interlacing the right way. I wish I could get an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray Video Essentials so I could test this myself.

Viewing Distance for SD

Filed under HDTV

My bro and I went to several places today looking at HDTV's. Probably one of the biggest complaints about HDTV's is how poorly they show standard definition (SD) television - regular television. The bigger the TV, the further back you will have to sit in order for SD television to look good

This web site has a nice calculator for figuring out how big a TV you should get if you want SD to still look good. You can skip the first input (distance to main viewing location) since that is not used in the calculation we care about. Just enter your screen shape (4:3 or 16:9) and screen size, then press "Calculate."

The result we are interested in is at the bottom under "Viewing Distance Based on Visual Acuity", "Maximum Viewing Distance for NTSC/PAL". This is the closest you should sit to see SD television. Sit any closer and you will start to see visual artifacts and bad-looking SD television.

I did a test with my current TV, a 4:3 32" Sony. I sit about 9' away from my TV. I am supposed to sit 10.2' away, according to the calculator. So I am too close. At 9', I can see some compression artifacts around text sometimes. Those artifacts would go away if I moved back a little more than a foot (which I can't without knocking out a wall). The visual artifacts are fairly minimal, but they are present.

SD is viewed as 4:3. To watch SD without stretching/distorting it on a 16:9 screen, you have to have the black bars on the left and right sides. This is the same as the mechanism called "letterbox" used to make a widescreen film fit on a 4:3 TV screen.

For 16:9 TV's, the calculator assumes you will be watching SD in a stretched/distorted (zoom) mode which fills the screen. I won't do this because I *hate* distorted video. If you want the results for undistorted SD on a 16:9 TV, you need to figure out the 4:3 screen size equivalent of your TV. This web site makes it easy. Go to "Screen Size Calculator", "Wide-Screen 16:9 TV." Enter your 16:9 screen size and press calculate. The 4:3 version of your TV is listed on the right as "Windowbox view diagonal."

For example, the TV I'm planning on getting is the 46" Sony LCD (KDL-46XBR3). The 46" 16:9 TV is the equivalent of a 38" 4:3 TV when showing SD material undistorted. Now I go to the Viewing Distance Calculator and use *4:3* for screen shape and 38 for screen size. The results say I should be sitting 12.2 feet away to see 4:3 content the best. Since my new set will be LCD, I should be able to put it closer to the wall than my CRT TV. That should increase my viewing distance to about 11 feet. So I'll be about 1 foot too close, just like I am now with my current TV. With a 46" 16:9 set, I expect SD quality to be about the same as my current 4:3 set.

July 10, 2006

#1 on Google!

Filed under Blogging

When looking for the fugative David Lenihan in the previous post, I noticed that a search for "David Lenihan" on Google brings up my blog as the top entry! With all the attention to the racist David Lenihan and the sue-CA David Lenihan, I'm a bit surprised I've moved into the number one position! Thank you Google!

Audited by the IRS

Filed under WTF

I was greeted by a letter from the IRS about 3 weeks ago. It claimed I did not pay enough taxes in 2004. I owed an additional $4,000. I had three options:

  1. Pay in full
  2. Pay using an installment plan
  3. Disagree and pay the correct amount with supporting documentation

I was shocked when I received the letter. My taxes are usually pretty simple and I do them myself. It took some research to find out what exactly happened. The IRS said I did not report my wages from my W-2 from Computer Associates (CA). They are correct...I quit CA in 2003, so I did not have any wages for 2004 from CA.

I called CA and asked for a copy of the W-2 form that the IRS had used as the basis for the taxes I owed. I asked CA why I never received the W-2 from them and they said I did not give them an updated address once I moved, so they had no way to get me the W-2. They faxed me a copy of my W-2. I noticed three strange things on the W-2:

  1. The wages were less than $500 (I had no idea how they came up with that number)
  2. The address for me on the W-2 was in Massachusetts (I've never lived there!)
  3. Under my name, they had another name, Jan Lenihan, as if I was married (I'm not!)

Now things were starting to make sense. My name is fairly unique. The first time I met somebody with my same last name I was 20 years old. I never met anybody with my first name *and* last name...until I worked at CA. I guy in sales in Boston had my name. I used to get all his email and he got my paychecks for a month. I thought after I got the paycheck issue resolved, I would be done with mistaken identities! (Other than this time, which was actually really fun!).

This *other* David Lenihan was involved with a lawsuit against CA when he was required to improperly pay 40% of his commissions to his boss. His boss got in trouble with the IRS for not reporting income from commissions shared with subordinates.

So that explains why I didn't get my W-2 and why the IRS is monitoring me...but where did the money go? I never got it...or so I thought.

The money is from when I sold my shares of Computer Associates stock I purchased through the Employee Stock Purchase Program (ESPP). I got the shares at a 15% discount. That discount counts as income. The income from the discount is not reported until you sell the shares. I sold the shares at the beginning of 2004, so that is how I had wages from CA in 2004 even though I did not work there.

The last issue was the amount I owed. The IRS knows what you sold your stock for. They don't have documentation about what the purchase price was. You pay taxes on the profit (capital gains) you make from selling the stock. The IRS assumes you bought your stock for $0, which means my stock sale was all profit. I wish I could buy my stock for $0...but in this case, I didn't. I contacted my broker and got documentation about how much I paid for my stock.

I downloaded a new 1040 form from the IRS web site and did my taxes again with the extra income from the sale of my ESPP shares (15% discount plus capital gains).

I called the IRS to make sure I had everything correct. I was on hold 45 minutes before I got through to a live person. The lady was very helpful and patient. Her numbers did not agree with mine. I explained how I came up with my numbers. I found the difference between my numbers and her numbers were that her numbers also included the interest and the original tax refund I had already received...which I was going to get to *after* I had my correct taxes figured. Once we were on the same page and she agreed with what I owed, I told her when I would be mailing the check for the full amount. She figured out the interest owed since taxes were due in April of 2005. I did not have to pay a penalty other than the interest.

I am certainly to blame for this, because the IRS does not accept ignorance as a valid excuse. CA messed up, too, but I ultimately should have chased CA down and asked about my W-2. I'm just glad to be done with it...it was very time-consuming and stressful.

So now that I have cleared my good name (again!)...let me do a little preemptive work. I do not have a surprised expression, have a birthmark in the shape of monaghan on my left buttock, and I have NEVER ABUSED SHEEP!!!

And the winner is...

Filed under HDTV

In my search for HDTV, I narrowed my choices down to the LED DLP or the Sony SXRD.

But the problems with DLP not being true 1920x1080 and reliability issues with SXRD made me decide to reevaluate plasma and LCD.

I still can't do plasma because the burn-in issue worries me...so that leaves LCD.

Samsung has a new 1080p LCD 40" set out that looks really good, the LN-S4095D. I saw it today at Best Buy for $3,300. Sony is supposed to come out with their own 1080p LCD's in September. I need to read some reviews, but right now I'm very tempted to get the Samsung.

July 9, 2006

Taste Of Dallas

Filed under Reviews

I went to Taste Of Dallas this weekend. I *thought* (based on my experiences at Taste Addison) that the idea was to sample small portions of a variety of foods from various restaurants. I tried food from The Spaghetti Warehouse and Landry's...both were really good. There were a few places (less than 10) that did this, but for the most part it was just carnival food...corny dogs, funnel cakes, and turkey legs from no-name vendors. What a disappointment! I guess you get what you pay for (admission was free). My recommendation...skip Taste of Dallas and do Taste Addison instead.

My Next Car

Filed under Cars

This is a pretty cool car...the Smart Fortwo. They have been in Europe for a while. They will start selling in the US in the 1st quarter of 2008.

Here is a good article about Smart cars. From the article... It is only 8 feet long (4 feet shorter than my MINI!). It gets 60 mpg. It was designed by the same people that do Swatch watches. The car's panels can easily be changed to give the car a whole new look.

Stop Using Cell Phones While Driving!

Filed under Beefs

I have been against using cell phones while driving for a while. If you call me while I'm driving, I let this magical device called "voice mail" answer the phone for me (it truly is amazing...you should check it out). I don't see any reason why people should be on the phone and driving.

A new study is out that shows using a cell phone (held to ear *and* hands-free) impairs a driver much like alcohol.

It shouldn't be too surprising. You see bad driving by people with cell phones all the time. If you've ever been upset by it, don't be a hypocrit...get off the phone!

Anyone want a *free* printer or scanner?

Filed under Computers

I got a new all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier yesterday, an HP Photosmart 3310 All-in-One. So now I don't need my old printer and scanner. They both work fine, but I wanted something more integrated and with support for faxing.

The printer is an HP Deskjet 990cse.

  • Color ink jet
  • Can print on both sides of a page
  • Comes with unopened color ink cartridge.
  • Includes USB cable

The scanner is an HP Scanjet 5470c.

  • Flatbed scanner
  • Comes with software to make it like a copier when used with a printer
  • Includes USB cable

If you are interested in either or both...send me an email or post a comment. If nobody wants them, I'm going to drop them off at Goodwill.

July 8, 2006

Building Downtown

Filed under 3D, Maya

My buddy Trey (a.k.a. Spaghetti) and I want to get better at 3D modeling. The problem is that 3D modeling is time consuming and it is very easy to let it drop as life gets hectic. That's where the blog comes in. We are both going to detail our work in our blogs. If I don't see a regular update from him on his blog, then I will harass him until he starts producing...and I expect the same out of him.

Peer pressure has already worked...I was supposed to do this initial blog entry last week, but I got tied up with a few things...which triggered the guilt-inducing emails from Trey. It worked!

Trey will keep me honest...but I welcome prodding from anyone. If you notice I'm not updating my blog with 3D modeling updates, send me an email or post a comment...it will definitely help keep me on track!

So what am I going to model? I want to build downtown Dallas. I am starting with the tallest building in Dallas, the Bank of America Plaza.

The Skyscraper Page is one of my favorite websites for looking up information about tall buildings. Here is their info on BOA Plaza.

I am going to use Maya 6.0 for modeling. We use Maya at work, so anything I learn on this project helps me with my job as well. I use a SpaceBall 5000 to make manipulating 3d models easier (left hand on SpaceBall, right hand on mouse). For manipulating images, I'm using Corel's Paint Shop Pro X.

Here is what I have so far. I built the frame of the building. Next up: add the windows.

All of my updates will be filed under the BOA Plaza Model, which you can search for. Spaghetti's updates are here.

July 4, 2006

Violence In The Workplace

Filed under WTF

I had a company training class recently about workplace violence. It reminded me of a situation I was in a few years ago (January 2002)...

I was in an engineering meeting on the 2nd floor. The meeting room had windows overlooking the lobby of the building. Because we were so close to the lobby, we always had a steady stream of background noise from the conversations of people coming and going. Midway through the meeting I remember hearing a "pop" and then a high pitched shriek. It sounded like someone popped a balloon and it scared someone enough to make them scream.

We finished our meeting and I went back to my office. An announcement was made by our receptionist over the intercom, "Building management has requested everybody return to their offices and lock the doors."

Never heard that one before!

Then I noticed the flashing lights outside my window...several police cars and some ambulances had pulled up around the building.

Overhead I could hear the sound of multiple helicopters flying around. I saw one go past my window. It was a local news helicopter. I called my girlfriend who was working at home. I asked her to turn on the news to tell me what was going on.

She said local news was showing the view from the news helicopter. They were reporting a gunman was on the loose in the building. CNN was covering the story live.

I saw that a SWAT truck had arrived. The SWAT guys had bullet proof vests and helmets.

I saw the SWAT guys enter the lobby. Then there was a long period where there were no events. Next I saw the paramedics go in and come out with a stretcher with a body cover by a blanket.

Apparently the shooter was upset with his girlfriend. He came to where she works and walked up to her and shot her in the face (hence the "pop" and scream I heard in my meeting). He stayed with his girlfriend until the police arrived. The police shot the gunman because he still was holding a gun. The girlfriend died later that day. The gunman survived.

Here is CNN's coverage of the story.


About July 2006

This page contains all entries posted to David's Blog in July 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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