What is the best use of my time at SIGGRAPH?

I'm in the Point-Based Computer Graphics course. I'm not taking in the specifics, since I missed the beginning of the talk where he presented the overall approach, but I'm getting the general idea: hierarchical level-of-detail rendering of point clouds. Now, already, my thinking has been plinked: instead of drawing points as splats of uniform size, draw them at sizes appropriate for each point. I don't know how he decides what size is appropriate for each point, though. Something about the detail, and/or the amount of screen-space they will take up. He's also talking about combining triangle rendering with point rendering. I like the idea of adaptively sizing the points to fill holes in our point cloud.

The question on my mind is, What is the best use of my time at SIGGRAPH?

The papers, frankly, go over my head most of the time. I don't use that much math, so the new algorithms are pretty opaque. If I sat down with one of the authorsand did an interactive tutorial and was highly motivated, I could get it, but powerpoint presentations just don't work for me.

Panels are usually sort of "eh". I wish they were discussions or even debates between experts with different opinions, but they usually end up being more like everybody gives a canned 30 minute talk about their then takes questions from the audience who mostly want to make a point, not really ask a question.

Courses are easier to follow than papers; they present previously published information at a pace designed to teach, not just describe. However, they're interminable. Try to get me to pay attention to the same thing for three hours straight... I can do it, again, if I'm extremely motivated, and I have some of my tools: hard copy, a few colors of pens, eye contact with the presenter, a well-lit room... but it's hard, here. There are no hard copies of course notes! They used to sell them; now they just put them all on a dvd. I'm putting the notes from a few of the courses onto my tablet, so I'll try taking notes on the tablet, but I don't think it will be as useful to me as hard-copy notes. The tactile aspect of note-taking helps keep me engaged.

My conclusion is that I should do the things which I enjoy... the things which excite me... the things that I want to pay attention to. The Emerging Technologies stuff, the art show, hot demos on the exhibit floor-- that's the sort of thing that has the power to really impress and excite me. Inspire, even. Aha! That's what I'm here for: inspiration!

After shopping a few presentations, I went to Guerilla Studios, a roomful of hot computers (PowerMac G5's with apple cinema displays) loaded with tons of hot software: Maya, Adobe Creative Suite, After Effects, Corel Painter, combustion, and probably other stuff I haven't even seen yet. Thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of software, all installed on the same machine, all for me to experiment with. Tomorrow I can get a 3D scan of my head -- then edit it! I'll show my hairstylist exactly what I want next time, with my very own virtual model. They also have a rapid prototype setup, which can take a 3D model and make a 3D print out of it -- from a digital representation to a 3D physical representation. I wonder what I should make... I'm signed up for a chunk of time tomorrow so I should have an idea tonight.



I made it to SIGGRAPH with remarkably trouble-free travel, even though I overslept by an hour. Flying direct from Logan (Boston) is much much better than flying from Providence to Chicago/Dallas/St.Louis/Memphis/GenericMidwestHub. We made the trip in five and a half hours, then sat on the tarmac for 20 minutes waiting for a gate to open up.

This morning I attended Sketches: Artistic Depiction but got there late and only saw a paper on physical simulation of viscous paint for painting with a virtual brush.

Now I'm in Seeing, Hearing, and Touching: Putting It All Together, a course led in part by Tamara Munzner, a very nice, talented woman whom I met wey way back in 1996 or so, at SIGGRAPH. She was working on a project involving a technique for turning a sphere inside out without having to actually make any folds. It involved a twist, and something about seventeen. Anyways, this course is interesting so far: kind of pushing Edward Tufte into VR, explained by a very intelligent woman, related to cognitive science. I'll stop blogging and start listening now :)


"A West Texas girl, just like me." 

And more from The Complete Bushisms - Updated frequently. By Jacob Weisberg:

"I want to thank my friend, Sen. Bill Frist, for joining us today. … He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. (Laughter.) Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me."—Nashville, Tenn., May 27, 2004

"I'm honored to shake the hand of a brave Iraqi citizen who had his hand cut off by Saddam Hussein."—Washington, D.C., May 25, 2004


Bushism of the Day By Jacob Weisberg

From Bushism of the Day By Jacob Weisberg:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004


Connected in so many ways

In preparation for siggraph, I've established identities in a variety of media: finding friends via cel phone photo sharing

the siggraph wiki

I'm taking a fairly rad but clunky camera with me -- the Nikon Coolpix 990 -- and I plan to moblog like mad. Should I carry my tablet around with me? Will siggraph have free wireless access everywhere?