Dubai is an interesting contrast to Iraq. The first time I went through DXB from BSR it was more than a little culture shock. Getting out of the airport only amplifies the experience.
Jared and I had dinner at the Mall of Dubai and before eating had a little walk around the fountains – the largest dancing fountains in the world at the foot of the tallest man-made structure in the world.
Dubai is an good place to spot cars. Obviously the gold accented rolls is more pose-worthy than the $450k GTO. Then again they were probably posing with the license plate number which I think was 1, and therefore cost as much as 20 Ferrari GTOs.
This band was playing a small stage along Via Roma at Borgo a Mozzano’s Halloween festival. I haven’t been able to figure out their name yet (will update when I do). The singer managed to put out an amazing amount of vocal power from such a small frame.
I went to see Scrapper, the documentary by Stephen Wassmann, that was showing as part of the SF Documentary Film Festival. It is the story of the people who live between the Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountain Bombing Range and make a living gathering scrap metal off the range between bombing runs.
It’s quite a frank and intimate portrayal of some extremely eccentric characters. They spend their time divided between driving around the range gently prying the aluminum tail fins off unexploded ordinance, heating the booty over open fires to loosen the scrap-value-reducing steel rivets, and doing crystal meth and drinking, though the last activity isn’t so much divided from the former two.
The most entertaining character is an old guy who set up camp on the isolated East side of the range, far from humanity, and cruises around the range in a highly modified VW bug living a life pretty much straight out of the Road Warrior.
It is definitely a movie where every moment seems to balance precariously on the edge of a ravine or on a delicate trip wire on a 2,000# bomb that failed to release when it buried itself fins-deep in the desert sand.
This is super cool. It is very tempting to imagine magnetic field lines as being physical wires, the superconductor being a semi-permeable substance through which the mathematical wires can be forced, but not so heavy as to drag itself through them, even flying around the track.
I animated Radioactive Mudworms in 1991 with a program called Infini-D. The soundtrack was courtesy of David Lenat. It was first published on the QuickTime Beta CD to Apple Developers and then in 1992 re-rendered on a Mac IIfx 40mhz 68040 with a massive 16MB of RAM in this version for the FigTime commercial CD. As I remember it, this took about a week to render on that massive machine. I’m pretty sure I ray-traced it, but I output to “thousands” of colors as required by the CODEC and so it is hard to see some of the details.
The file is so old that the “animation” CODEC used is no longer supported. I had to boot my old Mac 8600 to read the CD and convert the file to uncompressed, so I could re-compress it with a modern version of QuickTime. I was greeted with an alert that my last backup was in 2003. Time flies, but the mac still runs and that OS 9 operating system is still a nostalgic pleasure. I used it regularly from 1987-ish to 2003-ish, and it is still the OS I’ve spent the most hours in front of.
Digital obsolescence is starting to consume my work history as the past has already eaten the DECstation streaming tapes my MIT work was “archived” on. Of course, I can still read my preschool notebooks and I’m sure I could still read my parents notebooks.
Infini-D was my favorite 3D program of the time, though it was supplanted by StrataStudio 3D, Turbo-3D, and finally ProEngineer. It had a nice combination of modelling, rendering, and animation tools and was part of a brief “golden era” of 3D most remarkable for VPL and the existential excitement around Virtual Reality.
I was reminded of Radioactive Mudworms as I spent the weekend trying to teach the basics of video compression remotely to some coworkers who may not have been born when I made this.
The video was encoded at Valley Green 6, in the cube farm for the Advanced Technology Group at Apple.
We took a very nice tour from Baghdad to Basrah by car. The countryside is pretty amazing, from the relative lushness of the fertile crescent to the desert sands of the south to the marshes of the deep south and the distant flare gas fires on the horizon.
HDR is kind of cool – a nice way to get past the limitations of solid-state image sensors and recover some of the latitude of film, even improving on it.
The problem is that solid state image sensors tend to have very linear responses to light – an underexposed image vanishes into the noise floor of the sensor while an overexposed image clips off to pure white. Film exposure response is commonly called an “s-curve” and basically means there’s some data in the random conversion of a light sensitive molecule here or there even in the most underexposed image, and a few that resist converting under the harshest blast of light such that there is perceivable data in both.
This film is a pretty impressive example of HDR video. But there’s something a bit odd about such a technical achievement in cinematography mixing up “underexposed” and “overexposed.” The funny thing is, they’re using the terms as in making a print (e.g. printing on photo paper) or an x-ray where more light darkens the print: the paper starts out white and turns black with more light vs. a film or digital exposure where the media yields a black result that increases in representational lightness with with increasing light exposure.