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Entries From August 2008

August 29, 2008

A Blast From the Past

Filed under Funny, WTF

Funny, I don't quite remember it like this...


Props to Bonnie!

August 28, 2008

Mojave Update

Filed under Computers, Software

The guys behind the Mojave Experiment have updated the site to address some of the biggest concerns. New to the site are interviews with the guys that ran the experiment, the demos they showed, and the hardware they used.

There is also a new web site called the "Windows Vista Compatibility Center" that lists hardware and software that will and won't work with Vista. Very helpful!

Here is a good interview with the guy that thought up the Mojave Experiment, David Webster. Expect the Mojave Experiment to move from the web to TV soon to reach a larger audience.

Also, the new Seinfeld Vista ads should hit TV Sept 4th.


August 27, 2008

New Post on Secret Stash

Filed under Blogging


Check it out here. No password? Send me an email request.

Google Reader

Filed under Blogging, Reviews, Web


If you aren't using Google Reader to read this, then stop what you are doing, click the above link, and continue reading this in Google Reader.

Google Reader is the best way to keep up on...everything! It has become my newspaper.

I'm currently using it to track 104 feeds in the following categories:

  • Entertainment
  • Gadgets
  • Games
  • Geek
  • News
  • Personal
  • Phones
  • Podcasts
  • Programming
  • Sports
  • Xbox

Almost everything on the web has a feed version that can be read in Google Reader: news, stocks, weather, traffic, blog posts, sports scores, movie reviews, podcasts, etc.

The big time saver is I don't have to go from web site to web site to see what is new...when someone posts something new, it comes to me.

For example, I have all my friends and family blogs listed under "personal." You can see from the above picture that I have 21 new posts to read. Those 21 posts are from a bunch of different people. With Google Reader, you just see the new posts in the same location and can quickly read them all.

It also has some nice keyboard shortcuts so you can do almost everything without touching the mouse. I use the spacebar to advance to the next page all the time.

Another cool feature...you can use Google Reader on your phone, too! Here is the mobile version.

And...the feeds in Google Reader don't have the ads that many web sites have, so it is easier to focus on the content without distraction.

Someone at work recently asked for a recommendation for reading feeds and the response was overwhelming: Google Reader.

I can't recommend this enough: Get Google Reader!

August 24, 2008

SIGGRAPH Day 1: Ed Catmull - Managing the Creative Environment

Filed under 3D, Animation, SIGGRAPH


Ed Catmull, president of Disney Animation and Pixar, spoke candidly about his experiences running Pixar and Disney.

The talk was fascinating. I wish I had the whole thing on video. I jotted down some notes on what Ed said.

Why Pixar is successful...

What makes Pixar so successful is that Pixar focuses on the story.

BUT...*everybody* says they focus on the story. So saying "we focus on the story" is really meaningless.

If focusing on the story isn't what makes Pixar successful...what is?

Ed came up with two more possibilities: good people and good ideas.

Which one is more important?

Good people.


  • Good Idea + Bad People = Bad Implementation
  • Bad Idea + Good People = Fix Idea or replace idea with a better idea

An example of this...

Pixar had their "A" team work on Toy Story and then Bug's Life. "A" team worked well together and were very successful. "B" team started working on Toy Story 2. "B" team didn't have the same "magic" as "A" team. Toy Story 2 wasn't working and was in trouble. When "A" team finished with Bug's Life, they took over Toy Story 2 and started over (new script) with only 8 months until the movie was scheduled to finish. The movie was finished on time and was a huge success.

Every 1st version sucks. The next iteration sucks less. Keep iterating until it is actually good.


The software is used internally by Pixar and sold externally as a product. Pixar once tried to keep new features internal before releasing them to customers so Pixar would have a competitive advantage. Net result: customers stopped trusting Pixar and lost faith in the product. Releasing all features fostered a better relationship with customers and meant new features were vetted by a larger audience which improved the product.

Peer reviews...

At Pixar, people have to present their work to an audience on a regular basis in an unpolished state. Because of the frequency, people quickly get over the embarrassment of critical reviews. Also, the whole group learns from the criticism.

Desired Qualities in employees...

  • Have to be a filmmaker
  • Have to be honest
  • Have to be able to criticize people you may idolize. Once you are successful, people give you a "free pass" because they assume you know what you are doing. Everybody needs criticism to perform their best work.


You can't be successful by avoiding crises...because they always happen. *How* you respond is what determines success.

August 20, 2008

SIGGRAPH Day 1: Massive Model Visualization Techniques

Filed under SIGGRAPH

This class dealt with how to interactively (defined as >= 10 fps) manipulate large models. The Boeing 777 data set was used for several of the examples, which has 470 million triangles and over is over 30 GB on disk.


There are two main ways to draw 3D: rasterization and ray tracing.

  • Rasterization
    • Advantages
      • Graphics hardware is optimized for rasterization
      • 1-2 orders of magnitude faster than ray tracing
    • Disadvantages
      • Direct Illumination
      • Performance approximately linear to number of triangles
  • Ray Tracing
    • Advantages
    • Disadvantages
      • No hardware support
      • Slow

As models get more complex, ray tracing becomes more viable compared to rasterization.

ReduceM is a data structure for geometry designed for ray tracing. It minimizes the footprint for viewing large models at interactive rates.

Far voxels are a way to represent lots of data by a simple cube. Each face of the cube is a texture of what the model would look like from that vantage point.

Samsung Omnia (i900) Unboxing

Filed under Funny, Gadgets

Wow! Finally somebody has figured out how to outdo Apple when it comes to product packaging.

I may need to get this phone.

August 19, 2008

TFU Demo

Filed under Video Games, Work


The playable demo of The Force Unleashed is coming out Thursday on Xbox 360 and PS3...check it out!

August 18, 2008


Filed under SIGGRAPH

I'm always curious about the attendance and exhibitor numbers for SIGGRAPH as a barometer for computer graphics.

Here is what I could find from this year's SIGGRAPH dating back to 1996...

Year Location Attendance


1996 New Orleans 28500 321
1997 Los Angeles 48700 359
1998 Orlando 32210 327
1999 Los Angeles 42690 337
2000 New Orleans 25986 316
2001 Los Angeles 34024 303
2002 San Antonio 17000 225
2003 San Diego 25000 240
2004 Los Angeles 27825 229
2005 Los Angeles 29122 250
2006 Boston 19764 230
2007 San Diego 24043 230
2008 Los Angeles 28400 237

I got these numbers from financial reports or the home page for that year's SIGGRAPH (here is SIGGRAPH 99). For 2008, I took the attendance from the final presentation of SIGGRAPH and I counted the number of exhibitors in the show floor guide booklet.

Here are a couple of charts to look at these numbers graphically...




SIGGRAPH had its largest attendance ever in 1997. Then there was a downward spiral until 2003. Since then, SIGGRAPH has been fairly stable.

My prediction for SIGGRAPH 2009 in New Orleans:

  • 20,000 attendees
  • 230 exhibitors

August 17, 2008

Startup Sound

Filed under Funny

My last post before I do my SIGGRAPH brain dump.

Thanks to Spaghetti for the hook-up.

August 8, 2008

Worst. Fight Scene. Ever.

Filed under Funny

What do you think? Is it this one (The Ghost)...


... or this one (Star Trek)...


...or our third contender (Gymkata)...


Vote early and vote often!

Am I Paid Enough?

Filed under Web

It is tough to know how you are paid in relation to others around you because salary information is normally kept private.

...except for people working in America via H-1B visas.

Check out this website with salary information for people working via H-1B.

The actual data is available (and is huge). It's much quicker to skip past that to the the interactive web query version.

For example, here is what I got when I asked for Pixar in California...


Big ups to Neil for the hookup.

August 7, 2008

Best SIGGRAPH Memory

Filed under SIGGRAPH, WTF

Here is a video of the coolest thing I've ever seen at SIGGRAPH. It looks like liquid that is "alive"...you have to see it to believe it.  People sat and watched in amazement seeing liquid do things your brain says it can't do.


August 6, 2008


Filed under SIGGRAPH


It's time to get my learn on!

SIGGRAPH is less than a week away.

I'm looking forward to hearing about DirectX 11 and Intel's new Larrabee graphics card. Both should have presentations at SIGGRAPH.

There is always way more stuff to see/do than you have time for, but that means there is never a dull moment.

Who's going? Let me know and we can meet up.

I plan on posting to twitter while I'm at SIGGRAPH. If you are going, you should get a twitter account and do the same. It's easy and you can read/write updates via your mobile phone. Let me know what your account name is and I'll track your updates.

I'm taking my new laptop with me and plan on posting blog updates at night.


About August 2008

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

July 2008 is the previous archive.

September 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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