Tuesday
Aug102004

looking my age

After the day's debacle, I went down to the Tiki-themed bar at the Wilshire Grand. I took a stool at the bar and ordered a virgin margarita on the rocks. The bartender asked for my ID. I didn't have it, but I explained that I am, in fact, old enough. My companion also claimed to be over 21; in fact he's thirty, just a few months older than me. She wasn't interested in his ID. Then she asked for $4.00. I didn't have any cash, or in fact, any negotiable currency substitutes. I asked to bill it to my room. She is at this point extremely skeptical. I showed her my room key, which gave me at least a bit of credibility, and checked my last name in her computer. "I'm standing here shaking my head" she said as I patted myself down looking for some proof that I'm over 21. She gave me the margarita -- yes, virgin -- and I went up to the room and found my driver's license before ordering my next drink: a shirley temple.

On the show floor I am regularly mistaken for an undergrad. I'm dressed pretty professionally, trying to make a professional impression, and I replaced my faux-hawk with a restrained bowl cut, but still, I look like an undergrad. I enjoy it, but what do I have to do to come across as my age?

I turn thirty in two weeks.

Tuesday
Aug102004

losing things

I have somehow lost my siggraph credentials. After browsing the exhibit floor, I sat outside Guerilla Studios and looked over the brochures I'd gotten. Did I leave my credentials with the last person who swiped my card? Unlikely; I'm pretty sure I had it when I got on the bus, where an Electronic Arts recruiter started up a conversation with Josh. "Brown University? My sons went to Brown!" Did I tie my shoes? I remember tying my shoes a lot. Probably the cards dropped out of the nametag-pouch when I tied my shoes.

Anyways, this leaves me in a bit of a state. I'm leaving Thursday afternoon, so I just need credentials for Wednesday. Tomorrow morning, Cassidy Curtis is giving a talk on Grafifiti Archaelogy, and I really want to hear it. Probably if I get there on time, Cassidy can get me in. Which leaves the rest of the day. I'd been planning to see Emerging Technologies. I really need to see it, if I'm going to justify the thousands of dollars spent on this trip. And I need to do the other half of the exhibit floor. So, yes, I'm going to have to spend $75 and get an "Exhibits Plus" pass.

The horrifying thing is that I also lost my credentials at my second siggraph, in 1994. Then the "Exhibits Plus" pass was just $35.

Tuesday
Aug102004

ah, the trade show floor

I'm just back from ninety-minutes-that-felt-like-three-days wandering the trade show floor.
I saw some cool things:

Kodak's new 3D display technology: "Autostereoscopic Display:" (Sorry, no url on promotional materials!) I stuck my head into a cowl, and the lenses focused the light onto my eyes. It was easy to position my head to have an adequate view. I can't say I was blown away by stereo, but the brightness and contrast was definitely great. The new mobile version (on a cart -- not something you'd carry in a briefcase) targeted at medical applications, is $23,500, which is remarkably inexpensive for a 3D stereo display of this quality. Perhaps Brown needs one.

The huge alias booth had so much going on that I couldn't take it all in. Apparently they have whole product lines I've never seen: Alias Studio? I got a bunch of demo cd's, so I'll figure it out. They also sell "MasterClasses" in maya, which sound good. I'd like to learn from a master. I don't have a completely cogent reason for needing to learn maya, though.

PI Engineering had a moderately cool programmable USB button pad. A variety of pads, actually, in a variety of sizes. I could see this being useful for VR.

Tuesday
Aug102004

Today I'm going to go see a new 3D stereo imaging technique by Kodak -- high resolution stereo images without special glasses or filters, but with, ahem, floating balls of light which yield a wide field of view. Hmm.

I'll also see a demo from @Last Software of SketchUp 4 Film & Stage. Here's a nice quicktime video of what SketchUp is all about..

It's really hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer mass of things going on here. I'm finding that I could shop presentations forever, but what really works is for me to commit to being in a particular presentation for a natural chunk of time, like I'll satay up until a break. This keeps me from trying to choose where to be when I'm already somewhere. As Ken Kesey used to say, you're either off the bus or on the bus.

That said... I wonder if there will be good shwag at the trade show that disappears early.

I'm currently in An Interactive Introduction to OpenGL Programming, getting comfortable with what OpenGL code looks like. This is probably the most actually educational and useful course I've ever attended.

Tuesday
Aug102004

Maya, Color course, Danah

I spent the morning doing Maya tutorials and feeling vaguely guilty about not being in a technical session. I made a nice bump-mapped orange, and got my head scanned. I look pretty much the way I think I look. It didn't capture my hair at all though, except for the stuff right at the front. I want to make a complete model of my head, with, you know, a back and everything, but I don't have the Maya skills yet to do it.

I spent the afternoon talking to Danah Boyd. She's a total pleasure. I'm so honored to have her as a friend. We talked about how we'd known eachother for eight years and had both changed tremendously, but still like eachother. Pretty amazing; we outgrow so many friends, but Danah and I fit.

I went to Maureen Stone's Color in Information Display course this afternoon, and had an idea: figure out the gamut of the CAVE projectors, then determine good colors for VR text annotations by analyzing the image behind the text and computing a color for the text that will be contrasting enough to read, but not so contrasting that ti's distracting.

Tomorrow I'm going to Emerging Technologiesand the exhibition. I'm ready for the bright shiny lights.