Charlie's Diary

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Thu, 04 May 2006

Tonguing the physics model

I'd have been a lot more talkative this week -- I was planning to resume regular blogging -- if not for the fact that on Tuesday my shiny four-week-old laptop began showing signs of severe flakiness. Some twelve hours of brown-pants backups (yes, I back up regularly, what's your problem with multiple backups?) followed by another twelve hours of diagnostic tests confirmed that the hard disk has the electronic equivalent of chickenpox, a rash of bad blocks proliferating across its surface. It's a good ten years since I've had an honest-to-god disk crash; this really takes me back. And indeed, take back the laptop is exactly what I did next: it's in the shop for the next week or so, and I'm now running a week behind schedule.

I notice that in the computer graphics world Ivan Sutherland's wheel of reincarnation is still turning, sort-of: the latest topic to hit the Register seems to be physics engines (like the Ageia PhysX chip reviewed behind that link). 3D graphics is all very well, but for a realistic VR or gaming environment (which is largely the same thing these days) you want realistic physics -- objects should exhibit the same sort of dynamics as they do in the real world, except where the designer wants them to deviate for enhanced game-play. My eyes nearly fell out when I got to the bit about the PhysX being effectively a 4x4 array of vector processors, able to peak near 50GFlops when fully utilized: I last paid attention to this sort of thing back in the days when 0.5GFlops was the sort of thing universities would pay big money to house in their computing centres. Doubtless in a decade's time the idea of throwing 50GFlops at optimizing the trajectories of your grenade fragments in a first-person shooter will be ho-hum, but right now it's got me wondering what the implications are going to be like when this sort of thing gets cheaper/faster/embedded in your cellphone. Put it together with the tongue sensor (that feeds data to you sublingually) and I'm thinking it'd be bloody useful to use one of these things for proximity analysis (with input from your phone's position sensor and your eyeglasses video cameras). Train the user how to react with a few hours of some DDR-alike full-body motion game cued via the tongue and, well, you didn't see that mugger? No need, your phone spotted him and body-swerved you around him while it uplinked his mugshot to the police.

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posted at: 18:38 | path: /toys | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

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Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

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