Saturday, 23 June 2007

Day170 SonyHome

Sony PS3 Home
This is a PS3 venture from Sony and has that Second Life community feel but with several big differences. First up it looks smooth and organised in the demo (curse or blessing is anyones guess) and the graphic quality uses the fact that all users have PS3 grunt behind them to deliver a beautiful world.
There doesnt seem to be that much info on this baby yet - but the youtube vid above does introduce the main concepts. I like the idea that you can get 'friends' from that virtual world and then join them in other PS3 multiplayer titles - clever. We dont get a feel for how really customisable the place, people and wearables are or how the 'economy', if there is one, works.
Here are some images from the PS3 Home Beta:
To me it all looks kinda too much like real life - why??

Friday, 22 June 2007

Day169 More on the Mac

Steve's Keynote
watched through Steve's Keynote ( from the WWDC again and it is kinda fun, showing off primarily Leopard and some of the sexy things coming our way. It was interesting to see the Safari demo - running at twice the speed of IE7 :-) Then there is the iPhone - sooo beautiful and it has the full Safari engine on it as well. Oooh and we get multi-touch and soo much web capability that makes this baby just soo nice. Maybe nice enough for me to not get an iPod now and just wait for one of these...
My Mac
The next step is to get my final pricing and package details - then get this baby. Apart from the outlay I am looking at on day1, there will be a hit in October (or after session perhaps) for Leopard and the iLife upgrade.
One thing on the list still to work out in detail before Monday is the memory upgrade. Apart from the crazy $981 educational price from Apple I have pricing at around $550 for it so far. But I could get it for less ( maybe.
Bill and Steve
Seeing these 2 giants together at All Things Digital 5 ( is very interesting. There is some tension there and some mutial respect of course. I like the way they talk about the commercials and that everyone seems to like PCguy (though Bill didnt seem to think that made it ok). My view is that Bill brought more vision to the conversation and less company-centric views on technologies that exist today and where they may go.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Day168 Heroes and ToDos

Ep21 - getting close to the season finale. The web of plots is weaving closer together as we get closer to the explosion. The future, past, and all the characters are slowly but surely touching each other, bringing us to somewhere special in just 2 Eps time. On the edge of my sea the entire time - Can't wait!
ToDo (Mac, storage, applications and movies)
There are plenty of little things to get done and worked through over the next two weeks.
The Mac purchase being by far the chunkiest (and scariest). The cost is growing all the time and it is hard to know how many of my eggs I should throw into that basket. Armed with say a 4K budget it starts to put the higher-end macbookpro out of reach and the extra memory. Once you add the software and peripherals it makes it hard to spec things up.
Mac Graphics
Really the only difference apart from the 2.2 to 2.4 chip between the 15" MacBookPros is the video memory (128 vs 256) Does this make any difference? Links like this one point to there being no difference and thus the large differencial in the cost looks less price-worthy: There may come a time when I may regret having just the 128 - but maybe Vista's shared memory model might come to my rescue?? Anyhow it looks like I will be going with the 2.2/128 and being happy I can double my memory!!
Portable storage
I will need to get some form of portable storage device above what I have thus far. I could go with say a 4GB+ usb flash drive or some sort of usb/firewire external drive instead (be it large like a 500GB beasie or go laptop size to make it more midgetey). Another alternative is something like an iPod video which could give me say 80GB and also give me a really mobile viewing platform for lectures and other learning material perhaps.
Application licenses
With my eyes being far larger than my tummy (read wallet) my software wishes are going to have to find another way. Even on the new Mac side a simple suite of Maya, Motionbuilder, Creative Suite3 and FinalCut is an astronomical amount of $$$ even at educational pricing. You can see why students use cracked versions of software when their software needs may add up to several thousands for licenses that only last for the one year. If you want to play by all the rules then software expenses skyrocket beyond most student's means. In reality what choices do students have if they want to replicate software configs in use through their courses in lab infrastructure.
There are a couple of movies out that I havent found the time to see yet that are essential viewing. Plus there are others right on the doorstep - I have to get onto this fast: Pirates 3; Fantastic Four 2; Bridge to Terabithia and soon the Transformers.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Day167 iCinema and more on the Mac

We had our tour of the iCinema ( setup today and after getting a good look at things from one of their enthusiastic software engineers had a chat with their directors about the overlap with FBE's directions.

[images from the iCinema site showing their Scientia installation and thier AVIE]
First up we got to see in their AVIE 3D experiential wraparound display system. Using 16 linked projectors using polarised glasses to deliver the 3D effect was beautiful with the full surround effect. I am sure some people would be physically ill with the emersive motion that you feel - it was fun. The iCinema folk have done a great job of getting the distortion and stitching down pat and the motion sensing controller works intutively. The software is based around VirTools ( with local customisation and has allowed them to build some projects atop the infrastructure like these:
This project ( is what we saw first and it really shows off the environment. The interface showed us a myriad of videos playing suspended in a 3D world which were ordered by meta-data and could be re-arranged by choosing images from the set to be the 'main' image.

[images from the iCinema site showing the T_Visionarium project]
3D Mining
The next demo in their AVIE was some of the work they are doing for Mining Engineering. Real-time 3D mine environments in built using Virtools. The models were simplistic by game engine standards, but the groundwork there to see and the feeling of motion and emersion was glorious. The second mine had our controller acting as a torch to light the mine dynamically which added to the emersion. and interaction with the world.
This project takes 3D panoramas and integrates 3D video/objects into these spaces. This is a nice application which illustrates ideas and concepts beyond pure reality that matches very well with Architecture with the capital A.
The much smaller and simpler iDome ( is still very interesting because it has a simpler tech requirement and lower cost. The version at the Scientia uses a projector and mirror and single computer input. The software is still VirTools with special software written by their techs to handle the image manipulation to throw it onto the dome.
They are working on a 3D (using the polarised glasses again) version of the same dome as well.
In conversations with their staff we worked around using their solutions with game engines and with other software we use. Plus simpler techs of just large format 3D flat screens etc which all sounded very positive.
The Mac
I looked some more into my needs for the MacBookPro. Now I understand that Vista Home Premium's license agreement doesnt allow it to run under Parallels - so it is Vista Business for me now. This way if license codes or authorisation go funny in this arrangement I can get help from MS. I contemplated the extra cost to get to 7200RPM drives - but it just doesnt seem to be worth the extra. This leaves me with just the memory upgrade from the 2GB - well Apple's pricing is crazy so its 3rd party or nothing. I will see how my quotes come in tomorrow I guess.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Day166 Architectural Computing

Spent plenty of time working with others on new ideas for the Arch Computing program. We covered alot of ground and there are a host of great ideas getting ready for some juicy implementation.
One of the things that got some attention was around ICT infrastructure for the program. Looking at this in more detail reveals a host of areas requiring attention, many of them revolve around student laptops and the extensive software requirement.

Some Google links that use the term "Architectural Computing": (Org using the term formed by CAAD companies) (link on the journal from above with paper lists) (program from Texas A&M) (course at GSD Harvard) (School in Illinois)
Plus the FBE programs come up quite often as well, which is a good thing.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Day165 Crytek, Torchwood and the Mac

Another little peek around what Crytek ( is doing with the mighty CryEngine2. Just have a look at the real vs realtime comparisons here - just too good. The ability of the engine, the editor and some oviously talented folk at Crytek is bringing this area of computing to a point where the realtime emersion capability will have a feel far beyond the 'gamey CGness' that many people are used to. We will be able to get visualisation to a point where it can play a real role in design disciplines and not just in a playful schematic way. The model and the experience can cover details, environment, texture, lighting, mood and more.

[images from the Crytek site showing their realtime vs reference images]

Ep1 of the new Dr Who spinoff today. It wasnt bad - ticking along with just the barest of subtle references to its origins really. It didnt make a stunning first impression that makes it unmissable - but it was also entertaining in a nice Dr Whoish way. Not much special effects work on display thus far - perhaps more to come in future Eps...

the Mac
A further look at the Mac purchase - my plan now is to run Tiger with a bootcamp partition of Windows Vista Home Premium which I can also access from Parallels v3. That is the plan anyhow, if it works out then I will have Tiger and Vista on the macbookpro then XPpro on the M90 (all 3 OSes with a future upgrade to Leopard to come). Posts out there seem to say that this will work:
I had a look, wondering if by chance the new macbookpro machines were 64bit - alas they are just the 32 (it was worth a try). The Mac site doesnt even seem to say, which is interesting - anyhow, perhaps one day not too far away a laptop will sport grunt like the MacPro 8 core beasts :-)

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Day164 Mac things

Mac things
What would I want in a Mac on day 1?
I guess there are two ways to go - one is the pretty stock standard entry macbookpro15" with just the software that I need right now - Parallels & Maya, plus a mighty-mouse. This would cope with my current needs just fine, but may struggle to push the boundaries I am interested in. It will come in around the $3K mark somewhere which is just affordable. Warranty and extra bits will push this out even further...
Another approach is to step it up a notch on all fronts with something more like: 15" MacbookPro 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM, 256MB GeForce8600M GT, 160GB 7200rpm HDD, 2 x mighty-mouse, an extra adapter, parallels v3, Autodesk Maya 8.5, etc etc - this will cost a fortune though I am almost too scared to work it out.

Advertising - we all know the new Apple vs Windows ads that are everywhere. They are without doubt extremely clever in their own way. They show off a simplicity and understated watchability that is refreshing compared to most advertisng we see. However the ideas and realisation of the campaign itself rubs me the wrong way - it is quite misleading and/or false in its assault on Windows and the PC. It is unfortunate that Apple feels it needs to put down its competition in this way - I am sure there is some moral high-ground waiting to be taken. Microsoft are no saints as we know, but there is a tendancy to think of the Apple camp as 'nicer'.

Just for fun here is a link to some fun comparing the Apple ipod packaging to how Microsoft might do the same thing. I think this was actually done in jest by MS folk - either way it is great fun and as with much comedy, it reveals alot about the world.

This may be one of the key pieces of software throughout the MDM. The educational version of the full studio2 version is over $1000 while the Express version comes in at $250. The main differences are in the actual software included in the suites actually. I will see how things start off before diving into one of these. Maybe iMovie will get me part of the way there???