Papervision

Windows 7 – First Impressions

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009 | Personal | No Comments

It’s been a while — life has been quite busy.  Drupal, WordPress, Blender, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Illustrator, Flex, Flash, Actionscript, Papervision.  Even got some bicycling and racquetball in there on the weekends.

In the past, wow, month.  I’ve been up to quite a bit, and will be posting things on here about them all.  Right now my main focus is on my new install of Microsoft Windows 7 (the Release Candidate) while it is still fresh in my mind.

Background, Vista Recovery

A little bit of background, last week on Thursday I woke up to my Vista (32-bit) workstation completely hosed.  After a lengthy chat session with a Dell support rep (I can’t say how happy I was with the Dell support guy, he was friendly, smart, and patient through an almost 6 hour long chat session), I managed to get access to the files on my disk to back them up.  Happily, I reformatted.  I really needed it. 

The most amazing thing was when I put the Microsoft Vista DVD in, and it actually got my system to boot into “windows’.  Of course I had no icons or anything, the system was actually fixed by the Vista repair actions (a first for me, usually the only use I have for those is to get a command prompt to see the extent of the damage).

While the machine was on, but with no desktop — I was able to map to the drives through another computer and backup information (\\{Computer IP}\C$, D$, E$ until I found drives K, L and M).  That took forever, but it was successful.

Windows Vista 32-bit Install

It took FOREVER to get all the updates installed.  I know updates just accumulate while software is out.  I don’t remember it taking this long to update my XP machine which I had to reinstall 3 or 4 years into the lifecycle.  Maybe Vista just has more updates, but it took forever to get my machine back in working order.

Once I was up again, things were much faster (as they always are after a fresh format). 

I want to note, I’ve never had many Vista 32-bit driver issues, or any performance issues.  The few issues I had revolved around a few pieces of software that didn’t have drivers or fully compatible version for a few months after the Vista launch.

Welcome to Windows 7, how Vista should have been – the first 24 hours

Wow.  I downloaded the 64-bit Release Candidate from the official Windows 7 page yesterday.  I want to take advantage of the 16 slots my machine has for RAM.  Who wouldn’t?

I have a lot of good, and some bad, things to say about Windows 7 so far.

I’ll start with the positive:

  • The install process was a piece of cake, I’m running a raid controller for my OS drive (raid 0, living on the edge) — and didn’t have to do anything special
  • Updates to the OS through windows update were painless.  I want to say it was less than 10% of the downloads required by my Vista install a few days earlier, though the software isn’t even released yet.
  • Hardware wise, I have had ZERO, 0, problems with Windows Live 7.  not like the handful of hardware issues Vista32-bit had at launch
  • Google Chrome is giving me some issues.  I can get it to work occassionally but it always ends up “crashing” somehow.
  • I actually am not minding IE8, but I miss Chrome
  • Faster.  It’s true, this runs faster out of the box than my tweaked Vista install
  • Clean and easy interface.
  • Lots of room for running applications
  • Most of my old installers worked, a few of the installers had 64-bit versions I had to download
  • Everything with regards to the network seems to respond faster
  • It’s free! (for now)
  • Cleaner Start Menu
  • Higher Windows Experience Ratings

The Bad:

  • IE8 (yes, I don’t mind it, but I dislike having to use it instead of my Chrome)
  • Google Chrome won’t work well
  • Things have obviously moved, and I”m not comfortable with the locations yet.  This is really just me being stubborn
  • It will expire in 2010, and require a purchase

Conclusion

I’m happy with the install and highly recommend it.  I have not lost any productivity.  I’m not sure I’ve gained any though. 

I will continue to report on my experiences.

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GE Smart Grid Augmented Reality and FLArToolkit

Friday, March 6th, 2009 | Business | No Comments

If you haven’t seen the many internet postings about the website, check out the video below.  Even better, if you have a camera and a printer handy, check out GE Smart Grid Augmented Reality. The reason being the “cool” part about the site is the ability to put it’s 3d animation in your “hands” through your web camera.  Just print out the pattern, and you can do it.

The more interesting part is: how do they do it?

We had posted an article on this technology back in December, Papervision Augmented Reality.  Look familiar now?  It’s pretty easy to see that this is the same core technology.  I can’t say for sure whether they use the FLARToolkit and Papervision (which the original post described) but if they didn’t, there are 2 similiar tools.  

The greatest thing about this, is that this is only the beginning.  I have many ideas for commercial applications with this technology (which I won’t share, because I can make money off that… send me an email if you want to discuss this privately).  I’m sure you can come up with a few on your own.

Watch the video, it will probably bring everything together.  Great job GE in taking a publically available technology, and “finishing” the idea with some nice execution.

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Papervision Augmented Reality

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 | Business | 1 Comment

In the 2008 presidential elections, CNN had some pretty “cheesy” special effects.  

CNN tried to involve “holograms” (they were far from holograms technically) into their live coverage.  In reality, it was mostly augmented reality that they were using.  Give them credit for trying something new.  It would have been nice for them not to say it was a hologram.  For the next 5 years people are going to see real holograms and say they saw CNN do it better in 2008.  

Boffswana (formerly Digital Pictures Interactive) has published the source code to a Papervision and Flash powered augmented reality.  

Papervision – Augmented Reality, lets you print out a symbol and place it on your desk.  When you start up the flash movie and let it access your video camera, you can move a 3d object around in the flash movie — augmented reality .. not a hologram — and see a 3d monster object move around as if he were on top of it.  

They provide source code and printouts.  How fun.

The project requires Papervision and FLARToolkit libraries.  

A video from there site is below:


Papervision – Augmented Reality (extended) from Boffswana on Vimeo.

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Papervision3D update

Saturday, October 11th, 2008 | Business | 1 Comment

So far so good with Papervision3D.  It took me a few hours but I’m already mostly up and running with the new framework.

Later on I will post each step that I made in working with Papervision3D.

When I learn a new framework I like to learn each of the basic tools first in their entirety.  It helps later on when dealing with more complicated ideas.

Along the way I’ve run across a few extremely useful sites:

  • Mad Vertices – Jim Foley’s Brain.  Flex, Flash, Papervision 3D, Swift 3D and other cool stuff.
  • InsideRIA – Useful blog touching on more complex flash / actionscript 3.0 issues
  • EverydayFlash – Creative use of technology.  A blog about 3D Flash and Actionscript by Bartek Drozdz
The libraries that I’ve ended up with are:
Papervision is, of course, the core 3d engine.
Tweener provides some very nice 2D and 3D transformation animations with actionscript.  This is stuff I’ve always done by hand before, no longer!
AS3Dmod is a great library of cross-engine modifiers.  The modifiers provided include Bend, Noise, Skew, Taper, Bloat, Perlin, and Twist.  It has some nice developer documentation (for developers, not really mainstream).  To be fair, only hardcore developers should get themselves into these modifiers.
In a little over 5 hours I’ve managed to explore the nuclear functionality of all of these frameworks, so it’s quite possible.  
Sometime soon I’ll be posting my progress in a series of flash and actionscript source files.

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Papervision 3D work

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 | Business | No Comments

Among us flash web developers, who hasn’t tried creating a 3D engine of their own before?

I think it’s par for the course for any flash programmer who has taken linear mathetmatics or 3d coding classes at some point in our histories.

I’ll admit, my last official adventuring into 3D engine work was maybe 8 years ago back when I was in the Computer Science program at Boston University.

At that point it was mostly implementing ray tracers, DirectX 3D transforms and other basic 3d manipulations (stick figures, kinematics, reflectivity, etc.).

Flash has been much more “complicated” as it were.  Given the processing limitations it’s always been a game of artifically implementing 3D effects, as opposed to creating a real 3D engine.

In my upcoming project, I’ll be playing with Papervision 3D (Blog, Project Home, Official Site).  

I’ve followed Papervision3D for a while now, watching as site after site wins awards.  

The most interesting thing, is that the sites that win awards for implementation of Papervision3D don’t implement extraordinarily complex 3d sites (at least so it seems, maybe that’s the magic) but artfully integrate a 3d engine into their experience:

  • Barcinski & Jeanjean – I love the unique “loader”, as well as simple early interactions to allow for loading, while the user doesn’t think loading is going on.
  • Fat-Man Collective – A great website fully integrating a 3d engine with design, seamless, simple, and very effective.
  • 13Flo – Ignore everything you think a website had to be, just take a look at this.

Results will be posted here.

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