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Entries From March 2008

March 26, 2008

Wave Organ

Filed under Travel

I found the "Wave Organ" today. I jog past it all the time, and I had no idea it was out there. You have to walk to the end of a thin jetty to find it. You get nice views of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from the Wave Organ.

What is it? It's a sculpture made up of pipes that create sound as the tide comes in and out. It reminds me of something out of Myst. It's an interesting concept.



Mom listening to the Wave Organ

  P1010465 P1010464

Pipes that let sound out (you can see them continue into the water)

 P1010463 P1010462



More Pipes!


Alcatraz from the Wave Organ


Golden Gate Bridge from the Wave Organ


BigDog (Beta)

Filed under Funny

BigDog is certainly an impressive robot. If you haven't seen it, you should first check out the latest video.

Here is a video that shows an earlier version of BigDog...

March 23, 2008

Visual Studio Gem #1 - Include Files

Filed under Programming

Tracking down how an include file (.h) got into your project can be painful.

It's obvious if the include file is #include'ed by one of your files. It's less obvious when the include file is brought in by nested includes. Also, some include files are enclosed in #ifdef XXXX/#endif which requires knowledge of macro XXXX in order to determine if this code path is actually used.

There's a better way!

Go to...

Microsoft Visual Studio->Project->Properties...->Configuration Properties->C/C++->Advanced->Show Includes

Set this option to "Yes."


When you compile your files, the Output window will show you:

  • Every include file
  • The order include files are parsed
  • The parent include file via indentation


For example, in the above Output window, stdafx.h brings in targetver.h and windows.h. Windows.h brings in sdkddver.h and excpt.h.

Here's what stdafx.h looks like for reference...


You don't want this option on all the time because it will really pollute your output window and slow things down with massive amounts of information.

This setting can also be helpful in determining what include files should be part of your precompiled headers.

March 18, 2008


Filed under 3D, Animation, Computers, SIGGRAPH, Software


I registered for SIGGRAPH 2008 this morning. This year it will be in Los Angeles August 11-15.

Registration opened yesterday. Register before July 4th for the best rates. Become a SIGGRAPH member and save $50.

One notable difference this year: no Electronic Theater viewing day selection in the registration. I actually can't find any mention of the ET. The closest was this quote about Computer Animation Festival changes:

Computer Animation Festival
For SIGGRAPH 2008, the festival has adopted a new format. Each day of the conference, it presents competition screenings, showcase screenings, and panel discussions with filmmakers, instructors, and artists involved in the creative process. The traditional Animation Theaters will not be available for SIGGRAPH 2008.

I hope this doesn't signal an end to the ET...it is one of my favorite parts of SIGGRAPH.

Sounds like several things have changed (or at least changed names).

Here's a list of future SIGGRAPH's...

Year Location
2008 Los Angeles
2009 New Orleans
2010 Los Angeles
2011 Vancouver (first time held outside of the US)

This will be my 12th SIGGRAPH in a row! It never gets old!

March 17, 2008


Filed under Gadgets, WTF

This is amazing.

I worked with these guys (Boston Dynamics) a long time ago when I did flight simulators. We integrated their DI-Guy product in our flight simulator API (Vega Prime) to get realistic looking people.

Their *other* product line blows me away...robots! REALLY CREEPY ROBOTS!!!

Check out "BigDog"...a robot that can carry heavy equipment across almost any type of terrain.


Next up is RHex, which can traverse difficult terrain *and* swim underwater...


Finally, RiSE can climb up any surface...


March 15, 2008


Filed under Computers, Reviews, Software


I noticed a co-worker had some cool Mac-effects on his Windows box. He was using ObjectDock, a free utility.

I've tried it on my work XP box and my home Vista box, and it works equally well in both OS's.

Above is a screen shot of my current Vista desktop. I turned off the Windows taskbar and I'm using ObjectDock exclusively now.

It's definitely fun to play with.

The one thing I wish it could do is show the taskbar notifications AND open windows. The property page only lets you do windows OR system tray (notification area)...not both:


As a work around, I added a system tray dock at the top of my screen. You can see it "hidden" in the top photo and expanded below. It will suffice, but I'd like to have all this in the same dock at the bottom of the screen. The ability to add extra docks is part of ObjectDock Plus, which cost $20.


March 9, 2008

Improv Everywhere

Filed under Funny, WTF

This is pretty good. The group is called Improv Everywhere. I've heard about the Best Buy prank before, but I had not seen this one, Frozen Grand Central Station:



March 1, 2008


Filed under Programming, Software

XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is a standard way of storing data. It became a W3C recommendation in 1998.

If you aren't on the XML bandwagon yet, you should be. XML is a good thing and it makes software better.

XML is confusing at first, but it is worth the time spent understanding it.

I found a great resource that explains XML concisely, quickly and with many examples.

Here is the section I read to understand the XML format (.xml files).

After that, I read this section about how to "design" an XML file format using XML schema (.xsd files).

In less than a day, I have learned a lot about XML. I highly recommend the above two links to anybody doing software development.

The next issue is how to author XML.

Visual Studio 2005 comes with really good XML tools. Here's more info on what Visual Studio can do with XML.

I use Visual Studio 2005, but some of the people using the software I'm writing may not. I needed a free XML editor for these people.

I looked around and tried out several free XML editors. Many of them did not support .xsd files (which ensure the XML data is in the format you expect).

I found out that Microsoft's *free* version of Visual Studio *does* include the XML tools! These tools are great for creating XML schema, authoring XML, among other things. I'm going to recommend anybody that needs to edit/author XML use Visual Studio C# Express Edition or Visual Studio C++ Express Edition if they don't already have Visual Studio.


The Last Lecture

Filed under 3D, SIGGRAPH, Software

Randy Pausch is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He is losing his battle with pancreatic cancer and is expected to live for a few more months.

CMU has a lecture series entitled, "The Last Lecture." It is supposed to be your chance to talk about things that matter deeply to you. For Randy, it really may be his last lecture.

I first watched his 10 minute reprise of his lecture as a email forward...


After watching it, I wanted to see more. Here is the full video (76 min) from his original talk, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams..."


The second video is more sincere and drawn out and I recommend viewing it.

Also, I was surprised to see a co-worker in the second video, Tommy Burnette. Tommy got a nice shout out from Randy for following his dreams to work on Star Wars.

I've seen Randy's work at SIGGRAPH's Emerging Technologies. He's worked on a VR project called "Alice."

Randy was involved in the Aladdin Magic Carpet Ride ride at DisneyQuest, which I tried out during SIGGRAPH '98 Orlando.

In his "last lecture," Randy announced one of his childhood dreams of "being Captain Kirk"...since then, J.J. Abrams gave him a role with a line in the upcoming Star Trek movie.


Filed under Video Games

Here are a couple of new TFU videos that were shown at GDC.


Raxus Trailer


Lightsaber Gameplay



About March 2008

This page contains all entries posted to David's Blog in March 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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