Friday, September 24, 2010

Better Than The Hype . . . .

So, I was awful curious about how long my new Zune 120GB battery would last since it was rumored to last up to 30 hours of music playing time, and so I decided to test it. I started with a fresh charged battery at 9:45 PM on Wednesday night.

I woke up the next morning at 8:30 AM and checked it; it was still running. I put on my headphones and headed to class with it and let it run all during my classes throughout the day. I had a nap, ate two meals before 9:45 PM and started my homework at 9:00 PM Thursday night. 23 hours and counting. I did my homework, watched Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and had a bedtime snack. I dosed off with my headphones and woke up at 4:10 AM and it was STILL GOING! Since I needed if for the next day, stopped it at 4:15 AM a decided to call it good there.

Estimated battery life of my Zune 120GB: > 30.5 hours or 30+ hours. INSANE! It preforms better than the official time given by Microsoft and there was no telling how much longer it could have gone before it would have finally died. Needless to say, I'm very impressed. Good job, Microsoft!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happiness Comes in Many Different Flavors . . . .

What you behold before you is a truly amazing piece of technology.

Today, after my classes got out, I wandered over the cafeteria to get some lunch. I ran into some friends and chatted for an hour and a half. I looked at my watch and realized that it was 3 PM, that meant that the mail had arrived. I could hardly sit still from the excitement, but not wanting to be rude, I didn't tell my friend that I needed to go right away. So I waited. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long since my friend needed to get his bike fixed before the bike shop closed. Soon after that we parted ways and walked quickly to the resident life building (that's where my mail comes) and entered. Kathy, the nice lady behind the desk, saw me walk in and before I said anything, went over the mail rack and retrieved the package addressed to me.

I was elated. I quickly thanked her and literally sprinted across the lawn to my dorm and tore open the padded envelope with feverish haste. To my surprise I found another padded envelope inside of that. Strange, I thought, as I ripped into the second envelope. Thoughts were flitting across my mind that this was better than Christmas. As I opened the second envelope, I noticed that there was a box inside of this one. Surly, this was the last layer and then I could retrieve my prize. The box proved difficult to open since it had been taped on all 6 sides. My small pocket knife cut at the tape for a good 45 seconds before I could pry the box open. Inside the box was yet another padded envelope. Worried thoughts started to drift through my head that wondered if this could be some kind of elaborate joke. I tore into the third envelope with, if it's possible, more haste than the previous ones, but to my joy, a small, black brick dropped out that looked just like the one pictured above. : ) It should also be noted that this "brick" is much more functional than a real one.

With 120GB of storage (that's 4 times the size of my last Zune), a 3.2" screen (.1" bigger than my last Zune), a squircle (is a kick-butt rounded square that has touch sensitivity and button clicking capabilities that is HUGH leaps and bounds better than my last Zune) and a piano black finish (about a million time shinier than my last Zune), make it not only attractive, but useful as well.
There are a few things that I am disappointed about though. There is very slight background noise when songs are changed, also when it's plugged into the wall and the screen is on the screen "sings" in your headphones for some reason. Why it only does it when it's plugged in the wall, I don't know, but it's kinda annoying. Although I knew that there would be no equalizer, I still miss it. I'm used to a little extra kick from the bass and little more height to the treble. This a just a sacrifice for more storage, a bigger screen, three times the battery life and a 25% smaller piece of equipment. A fair trade.

Before you jump to conclusions that this MP3 player sounds bad, it sounds the same as my old Zune, just flatter than the equalizer setting I liked. But when my old Zune is set to default, my new Zune sounds the same on the same song.

Anyway, look and revel in its awesomeness just like I have all day. : )


Monday, September 13, 2010

Birthing Creativity: Animation Mother

The largest computer animation conference in the world is the International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, and is called SIGGRAPH for short. Every year SIGGRAPH opens their doors to submissions before the conference starts, and out of all the submissions they pick a piece that exemplifies the theme of progress and creativity that is the underlying goal of every conference. In 2008, the piece that was selected for the prestigious SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival Award was called “Animation Mother” and was created by Meats Meier.

At first glance this picture might appear to just be a whimsical piece that has no real motivation behind the subject matter or the execution, but as you delve deeper into the “Animation Mother” it becomes clear that it was thoroughly premeditated in every aspect. The color in this piece stands out right away, ranging from a fiery orange to subtle sea greens. The blacks are rich and dynamic and give exceptional depth to this delineation. The light greens and blues in her bust and hair give it a focal point, while your eyes slide through the rest of the picture, soaking up details as they go. The bright white of the hands also demands attention and suggests that she posses power, and it might even be construed that this power is the power of creation, similar to the ability of reproduction that women have. This aspect alone would have made the a strong candidate for the SIGGRAPH award, eluding to the capability we all have to “birth” creative ideas independently.

Another aspect that is quickly noticed by the eye is her striking pose and expression. A welcoming, loving gesture, conducive of the attitude of someone opening their arm for an expected embrace. The slight tilt to the head gives her a less rigid, and more welcoming feel, similar to your real mother. As your eyes travel downward, they notice the almost skirt shape of the grid material below her waist, once again, allowing her to take on a more motherly form.
From an artistic stand point, this is a marvel, but it is even more so from a technical stand point. If you look closely you start to see the vast amount of detail that went into her, from her delicate framework that is made up of thin, mesh like material, to her incredibly realistic looking face and skin texture. The unbelievable level of minute detail continues in the hair, which if you look closely, you will notice thousands of ridges, spines, bumps, dots, barbs, feelers and bristles that make up the individual strands.

The shadow and lighting in this piece also are quite the technical feat, ranging from the ethereal glow of her hands to the specular background of the heavens to the dynamic shadows of her hair and body. It also should be noticed that her form is giving off a delicate glow that could suggest divinity which also could bring to mind the creation aspect. Overall, this picture probably consists of somewhere in the range of the tens of millions of polygons and probably took Meier weeks to complete, if not longer.

Not only does this delineation exemplify all the attributes that SIGGRAPH encourages and promotes, it also gives a clear window into the future and of the possibilities of computer graphics and animation. “Animation Mother” lets your mind explore the creative possibilities that are inside of your own mind, inspiring, stimulating and encouraging the imagination to go towards new heights and possibilities, in a never ceasing effort to quench the inventive nature of the mind and give “birth” to something new.

Any insights for this paper would be appreciated and constructive criticism is welcome. Length is also a consideration, anything that sticks out to you about the picture that I didn't cover, let me know and I will consider adding a paragraph about it. Also, any titles ideas are welcomed! Thanks in advance!