Saturday, July 31, 2010

Find: Google isn't just engineering smart it's people (ok nerd) smart

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Etc: Bored waiting for your Youtube video to load? Hold the left arrow button and you can play a quick game of Snake.

Bored waiting for your Youtube video to load? Hold the left arrow button and you can play a quick game of Snake.

Read More:
YouTube Easter Egg Lets You Play "Snake"

Read the comments on this post

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Skimmed: cool idea -- google cooccurence

Google tracks political allegiances

Search engines provide a rough and ready way to map political relationships

Friday, July 30, 2010

Find: for graphics geeks -- Random graphics paper title generator

Sent to you by Ben via Google Reader:
Random graphics paper title generator
via Real-Time Rendering by Naty on 7/12/10

Try it – it's a blast (keep hitting "refresh" to see new titles). Here's a few that I got:
  • Bidirectional Rendering of Caustics for Light Fields
  • Reflective Normal-mapped Light Fields
  • Rendering of Inverse Geometry
  • Texturing of Multi-resolution Geometry using Polygonal Approximation
  • Displacement Mapping of Reflective Geometry for Surfaces
Can't tell them from the real paper titles…

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Find: Google looks to expand with acquisitions

Nice summary of recent google purchases

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Google looks to expand with acquisitions

Google Inc. snapped up at least 15 companies in the first seven months of the year as it fights to protect its online dominance amid rapid transformation in the sector. The Mountain View search king's deals cover the map, as it collects technology and talent...

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Find: A timeline takes its first steps

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A timeline takes its first steps

We are excited to announce the alpha release of TimeFlow: an open-source analytical timeline for reporters. This is a project we've been working on with Sarah Cohen, a Knight professor at Duke University and former reporter at the Washington Post.

The motivation behind TimeFlow comes from Sarah's realization that visual analytical tools for reporters are rare. There are good visual presentation tools out there, but those that allow journalists to mull over hundreds and thousands of data points, slicing and dicing the information as they go along are harder to come by. Given this mandate, we set out to rethink timelines,

striving to always show as much textual detail about the data as possible (a goal dear to reporters that, interestingly, goes against the visualization impulse to always aggregate).

TimeFlow offers five different viewing options: timeline, calendar, bar chart, table and list. There is also considerable flexibility in filtering values, combining filters, and re-arranging points on the screen.

TimeFlow is a Java desktop application. Read more and download the files at the TimeFlow home page.

Give it a spin and let us know what you think!

Also, if you're interested in contributing to the future development of the tool, we welcome help in that front too!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Find: NVidia releases new 3D Vision Pro, OptiX2, SceniX 6

Stereo with rf glasses serve crowds. New geometry shading stuff. 

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NVidia releases new 3D Vision Pro, OptiX2, SceniX 6

Huge day for NVidia.  First the amazing Quadro Fermi series (Read our review of the Quadro 5000), and now new 3D Vision Pro and new AXE systems.  First, let's discuss the impressive new 3D Vision Pro.

NVidia brings their 3D Vision Pro to a new class of applications with one simple change:  Switching from IR transmitters to RF transmitters.  This effectively eliminates line of sight problems, opening the 3D Vision use for crowds of people, multi-screen displays, and VR environments like the CAVE.  Also, this allows them to synchronize glasses to specific displays, as they've done in their impressive SIGGRAPH Booth.  3D is a big driver today, and they've got around a dozen different 3D displays running different demos all around the booth.  Each display has about 4 3d glasses synced to it, and they don't interfere with other displays, nor do the glasses work with other displays.  The display can effectively turn the glasses on and off, without messing with other displays.  This kind of managed interface is critical for large-scale professional applications.

"By providing large scale visualization capabilities and remote management capabilities, NVIDIA is pioneering 3D technology for the enterprise, opening the door for professional users and large scale visualization system integrators to utilize 3D in ways not thought of before."  Dr. Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research.

The other big announcement coming out right now is the slew of updates in the AXE suite, the Application Acceleration Engines.  These are the various support technologies based around the NVidia brand like OptiX (ray tracer), SceneX (scene graph) and others.  Today they'are announcing major revisions to several of them.


  • New Bezier Patch geometry class, using Cg tessellation programs for the smoothest of surfaces on NVIDIA Fermi architecture class GPUs;
  • OptiX 2 support for faster, interactive ray tracing;
  • Continued improvements in overall performance and fidelity, and;
  • Future support for iray by mental images.

NVIDIA Cg Toolkit 3

  • New tessellation programs, allowing displacement and procedural surfaces to dynamically adapt their tessellation in real-time on the latest NVIDIA Fermi architecture class GPUs, and;
  • OpenGL 4 and DirectX 11 level of programmability for the latest in portable, cross platform effects.


  • Optimizations for new NVIDIA Fermi architecture class GPUs, delivering up to 4X performance over previous gene...

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Find: Looking Beyond Stereoscopic 3D's Revival

Current stereo doesn't match visual focus. 

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Looking Beyond Stereoscopic 3D's Revival

Researchers working in vision and graphics are attempting to develop new techniques and technologies to overcome the current limitations in stereoscopic 3D.

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Find: SIGGRAPH: Future Directions of Graphics Research

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SIGGRAPH: Future Directions of Graphics Research

This afternoon I took in a panel discussion entitled "Future Directions of Graphics Research".  I had expected a panel of experts going into blue-sky visions of research so mind-bending it would leave us all raving lunatics, but instead I found something much different.

The Computer Graphics industry is suffering from its own success.  Recent smashes like Avatar, Toy Story 3, and others have several people thinking that computer graphics is 'done', there's no more research to do.  The technology has matured to the point where we can not only realistically create digital actors, but completely make up alien planets and worlds.  What is possibly left to do?

Such thinking is beginning to impact researchers and academics financially, as government grants are becoming more and more scarce.  Shrinking government budgets doesn't help things, so the academic community has decided to come together and write up a lengthy report to the National Science Foundation (NSF) detailing areas that still need research.

Read the rest of SIGGRAPH: Future Directions of Graphics Research (1,210 words)

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Related posts:

  1. Jon Peddie Research Says the CG market to exceed $150 billion in 2013
  2. OptiTrack to demo Insight & Arena at SIGGRAPH
  3. Envisioning Your Future in 2020

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Find: Poyozo the personal data gatherer

Take a moment and think off all the data you put other there on separate Web services. Email, photos, status updates, documents, location, contacts, and the list goes on. Many of the services are really good, but what if they went down? Where would are your data go? Or what if you could bring all that data into one place, so that you didn't have to login to Flickr, Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook. Poyozo tries to get all your data in one place - on your own computer - and help "make life make sense."

Poyozo gives you your own data back by downloading the information you're currently giving to the web on to your own computer. You can opt-in to importing your data from Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare,, Google Calendar, any email service, any RSS feed, Flickr, Wesabe, Listit, Skydeck, Dopplr, your Firefox browsing history, the local weather, and your location, allowing you to access all of this personal data as easily as the companies that run these services can.

Simply install the Firefox plugin, choose what services you want to scrape, and you're good to go. Poyozo then provides an API that you can use to access and query your data. Visualize it any way you want.

Or if you like, you can browse your data through Poyozo's calendar interface. Although at this point, it's still kind of rough around the edges. The data gatherer aspect is personally my main interest.

Watch the video below for more, or check it out for yourself. They've also got a Kickstarter page for Poyozo so that supporters can pitch in.

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Find: 30 Great Visualization Resources in 30 Days

As a visualization expert, the first thing you always have to do when dealing with a new person is explaining what you do.  Many people have seen so many badly done infographics and excel charts that they think that is the state of the art for data visualization, and convincing them otherwise can be difficult.  Juice Analytics has a great new poster available that can turn anyone from ignorant to knowledgeable in 30 days at less than 30 minutes a day.

One of the hurdles we frequently come up against is that people who aren t actively participating in the visualization discussion don t know what s possible. All they ve ever seen in many cases are the confusing dashboards charts and graphs that are all too prevalent from the vendors in our space. You know the ones a thick layer of technology slathered with some gloss and wiggle between two slices of "do it yourself".

It won't make them experts, but at least they won't be ignorant.

via 30 Great Visualization Resources in 30 Days: Juice Analytics.

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Related posts:

  1. 2010 World Cup – The Ultimate Graphic and Data Resources Guide
  2. Resources for tracking the Gulf Oil Spill
  3. The Chalk Board: Graduation Days

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Find: Grow Your Own City. Suicidator 3D City Generator for Blender

Next time you need a giant random scene for a project, check out Arnaud Couturier's 'Suicidator City Generator' tool for Blender.

"With it, you can automatically create entire, three-dimensional modern cities in a matter of seconds by adjusting various parameters, such as city size and complexity, rather than creating each building, each street, and each texture manually."

It's a tiny little python script capable of building entire cities with textures, roads, elevations, and much more with just the click of a button.  And what makes it even better: It's completely free.  No charge, public domain, and source available.


via Grow Your Own City. Suicidator 3D City Generator for Blender >>

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Related posts:

  1. Blender Tutorials: Creating Fur with the Particle System
  2. Defense and Government 3D Visualization Market to Grow
  3. The Blender Foundation's Sintel trailer Online

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Find: Growing our appetite for geeky girl dinners

(Cross-posted from the European Public Policy Blog)

We're always looking for opportunities to partner up with organizations that promote diversity and encourage women to excel in technology. Girl Geek Dinners is a world-wide initiative that does exactly that—it helps build communities of women who have a passion and interest in science, technology and other traditionally male-dominated fields by hosting social events around the world.

We recently sponsored the Amsterdam Girl Geek Dinner and I attended the event with my colleague Noha, who, like me, is a software engineer for Google in Zurich. At the dinner, we had the opportunity to meet and mingle with other women in the tech community and talk about what it's like being a woman in the field of computer science. The keynote speaker at the event was renowned mathematician Ionica Smeets and I can't imagine a woman more inspiring.

Google shares a similar goal to Girl Geeks—we want to make it possible for everyone to pursue careers in technology, regardless of gender. And, in our presentation at the event, we outlined our numerous initiatives to promote and support diversity in technology. We have various scholarship programs to help students to pursue their interests, excel in their studies and become leaders. And to encourage more female computer scientists to attend and participate in research conferences around the world, we also offer travel and conference grants in the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. You can learn more about our diversity programs, here.

Posted by Alexandra Alecu, Software Engineer

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Find: Reading on Paper Faster than Reading on iPads, Kindles, and Other Digital Devices [Reading]

You can read faster on good old-fashioned dead-tree paper than you can on iPads, Kindles, or your PC monitor, according to a study by consultancy company Nielsen Norman Group. From PC World:

The study found that reading on an electronic tablet was up to 10.7 percent slower than reading a printed book. Despite the slower reading times, Nielsen found that users preferred reading books on a tablet device compared to the paper book. The PC monitor, meanwhile, was universally hated as a reading platform among all test subjects.

It's a little surprising that people preferred reading books on tablets over paper, considering the weight and eye strain that's still common to a tablet like the iPad, but the difference in rating was marginal. Two steps forward, one step back? [PC World]

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