Monday, January 25, 2010

Version 00l

Multiple crashbug fixes, and a new level in full version.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why NVidia(and AMD) won't opensource linux drivers

So much ranting about the topic on the internet, yet nobody has any clue. The crux of the matter is probably in NVidia Quadro (and AMD/ATI FireGL) cards which for most part only differ from the significantly less expensive "gamer" cads in the driver behavior - proper stereo support, antialiased lines, and such.

Those highly overpriced cards do serve a business purpose; them allow to cover development costs and generate extra profits while releasing cheaper cards for the masses. I wish they would come up with some hardware difference, such as 10% faster for 3x the price as common for the CPUs - but with every clueless gamer wanting 'overclockable' cards, it probably wont happen.

Open source drivers, whenever made through reverse engineering or with documentation available, are of no concern to either due to lack of manforce to make those drivers usable. People whom don't work in computer graphics don't quite appreciate the fact that 3D graphics card 'driver' is far more complicated than network card driver or sound driver; I'd say 3D card driver is an entire operating system in itself - with memory management, shader and OpenCL compilers, multitasking (for multiple OpenGL contexts), and such. The graphics card is a computing system of it's own.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Version 00k.

Has those flowers and wiggling things.
Main page.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fractal flowers

Some fractal flowers:

Gotta release it sometime soon. If I have time I want to make 'bots pollinate the flowers or something like that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Better animated things

Another video:

I need to refine some more things before release tho.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Animated objects!

I'm working on character animations now...

(guns turned off for test). Still needs some work - I need to manually or automatically select the shapes that look good when animated like this, and add more variation to the parameters.
The only problem it feels wrong to shot this stuff... I need to come up with some gameplay that doesn't involve shooting 'em down. Maybe shooting down evil geometric shapes that are trying to eat pretty wiggly fractal shapes...
Any ideas?

A while ago I also made some weird rings

(these will go with scripted levels and sort of physics puzzles, except the laws of physics are of my own making)

Ahh, and I might also make 'em evolve somehow or be editable.

Interplanetary drug trade.

A bag of cocaine found in space shuttle hangar
I wonder how you'd snort the coke in zero gravity... do you shake it up in the bag and then snort out? What's about stickiness of particles?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WTFest bug of mine.

Due to a bug in my site backend, google ads were displayed on top of my 'about' page. LOL. I didn't notice for several days because of adblock, which is a part of WTF. I use custom macro-expansion language to generate my web pages, similar to M4 - I implemented it ages ago when I began learning C++ .
edit: why ad code was here in first place: I'm trying to figure out if its worthwhile to buy ads myself for The Polynomial, so I did some experiments to find real (no bots) clickthrough rate. In fact I still have google ads on this blog for experiment's sake.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Minimal number of species for ecosystem...

Charles Stross posted interesting question on his blog a while back - what is the minimal ecosystem with humans in it?
He's kind of biased though to show that other science fiction writers get it wrong disregarding the issue, and he considers 'genetically engineered algae that makes everything you need' to be a magic wand (It is very easy to argue that something never done cannot be done or is very hard to do). He probably intends to write some fiction where he 'gets it right' in portraying the immense difficulties of building such ecosystem.

In reality though, while we're still very long way off from building a starship, we can genetically engineer rice, corn, some bacteria, etc to produce a variety of vitamins.
In my opinion, the spaceship ecosystem, if it will ever be done, would consist of:
1: Waste incinerator and chemical plant (for processing ash).
2: Many tanks of genetically engineered algae and possibly yeasts (feeding on algae), the tanks capable of being fully sterilized.
3: Food processing plant.
4: Humans and internal symbiotic bacteria etc.
5: Frozen, radiation shielded specimens of all algae, yeasts, and human symbiotic bacteria, for reseeding through the mission.
6: Genetics lab just in case.
The problem with more complex ecosystems is that them tie up a lot of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, etc etc. as non-human mass - wastes being processed, worms feeding on wastes, etc etc. Very small payload to weight ratio.

On topic of keeping humans on generation ship (a ship which is going on for hundreds years) civilized enough to maintain their plumbing, consider a normal small town, if you wish, on isolated island. In that town people are watching hollywood movies(they cant make movies themselves), kids are studying in school with books written elsewhere, they're believing in religion which came from elsewhere, they have social structure which 'feels right' because it matches what they see in movies, they do plumbing based on instructions from elsewhere, and so on and so forth. Right here on earth, not only such towns do not develop some widely divergent civilizations but the cultural diversity of such towns is diminishing, and been diminishing even before the Internet. Science fiction writers came up with a lot of strange social organization types for a generation ship (my personal scifi favourite is Heinlein's Orphans of the Sky), but it seems nobody explored the boring possibility that the people on generation ship mostly sit on the couch watching TV. (I don't think anyone would ever make a generation starship, but anyway)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cellphone microwaves are good for brains?
Really weird. Though, it goes to show that argument that 'cellphones are certainly harmless because them have no effect because radiation is not ionizing' was probably BS. TBH this study does also reek of BS, given that they did not measure health effects of different levels of microwave radiation. I.e. they weren't actually doing much science, more like, cellphone advocacy.
By the way, the fact that mobile phone radiation is not ionizing (and is, in fact, VERY far from ionizing) goes only to explain why you don't quickly keel over and die after a single phone call (which you would had cellphones been using ionizing radiation, like x-rays or gamma rays, at same power levels).
That being said, I'll keep using mobile phone; epidemiological studies have not shown any health effects whatsoever, even though in the Europe virtually everyone is using mobile phone, and most people use it a lot more than landline phone.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Security and mathematics.

In light of recent attempted plane bombing...
I think there is a huge number of unaccounted deaths from September 11 2001 attacks, in range of thousands, and I'm not talking of Iraqis or US soldiers. I'm speaking of US civilians in the US.

Let's look at US traffic fatalities (about 42,000 per year)
Note the rise in fatalities after September 11 2001. The traffic fatalities before 2001 were going up and down, and since 2001, only gone down in 2007 due to rising oil prices, and gone down sharply in 2008 due to the recession.

I'm pretty sure that plane security did increase the air travel time, as well as fear of flying. Consequently, some people had opted to get around interstate by car, especially for shorter distance flights where most of time is spent boarding the plane. Cars, as you can see, are significantly less safe than airlines even in the worst year (2001) counting the on-ground causalities.

I cannot know what percentage of people opt to drive rather than fly. That would require a poll. What I know is that even very conservative, small increase in car usage (1%), when multiplied by 42,000 and by 6 years, gives fairly substantial number (2,500), approaching the direct causalities (2,974 according to Wikipedia). Looking at the traffic accidents statistics, it could be even worse; thousand extra deaths per year.
That is seriously depressing. Aftermath of subway attacks in Britain may be even more depressing.
If you agree with the argument, and care about it, try make the difference.

Before giving up liberties and conveniences to avert some risks, it is absolutely essential to do a proper cost benefit analysis; failure to do so is quite equivalent to cooperation with terrorists, to direct participation in mass murder, for the suboptimal action easily results in huge number of additional deaths. Sometimes it may even be the case that very minor response is best (e.g. reinforced cockpit doors as response to 9/11/2001 could well be sufficient to prevent it from ever happening again, not because its absolutely impossible to cut through reinforced door somehow but because its secure enough to point that terrorists would rather do something else instead).
The problem is, how can democratic society do the cost-benefit analysis? A company does the cost benefit analysis for itself; for media companies, for military contractors, for pretty much all businesses involved in security, for members of the government, for many security experts, there are huge benefits from overreaction to the risks. Media is working to amplify our fears out of proportion; you will never see a major media channel comparing risks - unless it is e.g. promoting 'war on drugs' and wants to convince you that war on drugs deserves as much attention as war on terror.
On other hand, entire society bears the costs and extra risks resulting from the overreaction, not just the individuals getting the benefits. Consequently, response to terrorism is always overreaction, always biased for those benefiting from overreaction, against those harmed by overreaction.

Consider a bee sting. Normally, it takes hundreds, or thousands killer bees to kill healthy adult through the sheer amount of venom. But some people have highly overzealous immune system, sensitized to the bee sting, going out of control and destroying their own cells. Such people often die from a single sting - condition known as anaphylactic shock - people often get killed, in effect, by their own immune systems. Immune system is not intelligent - but we are. We should not let this happen to our culture.

We should not turn this failed plane bombing attempt into a successful act of terrorism, which it could easily become if boarding checks for internal travel are to take more time, for short distance flights, where driving, a much more dangerous alternative option, would become quicker and preferable leading to extra deaths in car accidents which would have been mostly prevented if people would travel by plane instead (airlines are a lot safer per km traveled than cars, even for short distance flights).

What is especially illuminating is those full body x-ray scans. I'm fairly sure that there had been no evaluation whatsoever of the number of extra cancer deaths that may be caused by x-ray scans versus deaths from terrorism that could be, arguably, prevented with those scans, which are unable to detect explosives within the body or detect plastic explosives reliably. All you can see in news about those machines is talk that dose is "very small", without actually naming the dose, and its hard to find dose estimate from reputable source (indeed, from any source other than equipment manufacturer). I bet if you ask a technician, he would be quite unable to name the dose as well (total incompetence is amazingly common).
It's as if prices did increase, and the increase was not described in percent but simply as "small". You can't straightforwardly measure x-ray dose with Geiger counter, not for low energy x-rays, due to low rate of detection for xray photons. (Though, I don't think extra x-ray dose is important problem in comparison with more car driving rather than flying because of people not wanting to be seen nude, deaths from money being spent on this rather than on healthcare, and so on and so forth). Other take on the issue.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Polynomial: now in (stereographic) 3D

New update
Main highlights: 3D stereographic support: anaglyph and interlaced&checkerboard (some 3D hdtv's , Zalman TRIMON, etc).

The anaglyph mode requires cheap red/cyan glasses. You may want to use 'desaturate' slider in Visuals panel to make it work better for strongly coloured arenas.

The 'H stripes' mode put left and right images into even/odd rows of pixels. This works with some 3D displays such as Zalman TRIMON and various 3D HDTVs. It could also work with some shutter glasses system which use interlaced video signal (when each frame is sent as odd rows then even rows, and glasses flip so that those go to different eyes).
'V stripes' is analogous but uses vertical stripes. It could work with such thing and various commercial 3d displays that use lenticular lenses, as well as polarizing displays like zalman's but using vertical stripes.
'Checkerboard' uses checkerboard pattern, for this kind of thing (some 3D HDTVs do actually use checkerboard format).

You will need to tune the Span and Shift sliders for best effect, and maybe toggle the "swap sides" button if your glasses are other way around.

Todo: support for opengl stereo left and right framebuffer mode (probably works only with nvidia quadro cards though. I can't initialize opengl context in stereo mode on my pc at all, with geforce 9800 GT :/ ), and support for left image on one display and right image on other display.

Other good stuff: Changeable key bindings and various bugfixes.

Stuff that does not quite work yet but is coming: Multiplayer. For now, just ignore the 'devel' options tab.