Wonder Wednesday

Was looking for something the other day and came across my old, original, Orchid Righteous 3D video card!

Which was a blast from the past and definitively brought me back some cool vibes.  Back in ’96, the Righteous 3D card was one of the first two mainstream pure 3D video cards, both powered by the 3DFX Voodoo chipset.  They were so pure 3D that you needed a separate “regular” video card to handle anything that wasn’t 3D.  Only when you went into a properly enabled game did the processing shift to the card.  You’d hook monitor cable to the 3DFX card, and a pass-through cable that would route the output of the 2D card through the 3D daughter card when the 3D stuff wasn’t in use.  Though the other of these first 3DFX cards, the Monster 3D, was the more popular of the two, I always preferred the Orchid for its use of a mechanical relay to shift the video output when you went into 3D – the satisfying mechanical “Ka-PING!” when it would engage was most satisfying and let you know THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT THE POWER IS BEING UNLEASHED!

Those were wild and woolly days.  Much like the Betamax vs VHS competition, before settling on a standard there were several competing protocols and chipsets that were incompatible with each other, and you had to watch for what your game was able to use.  But it was such an amazing leap forward in terms of its capabilities* at the consumer level that it was an exciting time to get onboard and be wowed and amazed.  I’d get games I wasn’t totally keen on just play them through in god mode so I could wonder at the graphics being produced on the screen.**  Real good times.


* Before its release, I remember discussing with my friends about how some games, like, Wing Commander  would use bitmap/raster graphics that looked gorgeous since they were illustrations, but they were imprecise since they only show the object from the angles from the bitmaps that had been drawn.  So, flying around, ships would ‘pop’ to different orientations as you were in a dogfight.  Other games, like X Wing, used polygons, which were smooth and continual and super accurate, but were flat and featureless and not exactly pretty.  With the 3DFX chipset, these two worlds combined the best of those two ways into a mega-beast of bitmap textured 3D polygon awesomeness.

** One game I played that I played straight  (as in I didn’t play it just to see the pretty graphics) was Mechwarrior 3, and there was one bit in it that totally wowed me graphically in an unexpected way.  Many games began using the hardware-accelerated fog feature to make, well, a fog, to make items recede more convincingly into the distance.  But on a mission set in a swamp, MW3 set the fog plane horizontally, lending to a murky ground haze that fit perfectly with the environment.


Philosophy Tuesday

To make it very, very, clear:

“Yesterday’s Transformation

Is Today’s Ego Trip

That is to say that just because you know something about how our brains operate – whether about fallacies, or cognitive dissonance, or ontology, or psychology, or sociology, or ANY of those – just because you KNOW that they exist, and that we can fall prey to them, does NOT mean that you are IMMUNE from them.

And I want to make this hyper clear, because I have seen far too many posts recently from people who I think would “know better”, who are not only falling prey to these very things but are also accusing others of it. Using their knowledge as a cudgel* while simultaneously through its use exhibiting the very blindness they claim against the other.  They are using their knowledge to ensure they don’t see their own foibles and failures of the very same thing.

The knowledge makes no difference on its own. Quite the opposite. It’s just a tool, one that can be used well and properly, or, not well and in the most destructive fashion.

Being present is the key, using the tools on our own self, our own views, and our own actions.

That’s when the truth can begin, and the delusion(s) can end.

Along with the lies, and hurt, and ruin.


* In a completely ignorant, stingy, vindictive, harmful, division-inducing, and worldsuck-creating kind of way.  The kind of way that doesn’t create a world that works for everyone, the kind of way that instead seeks to perpetuate harm and, moreover, inflict pain and suffering on others.

Wonder Wednesday

It was 1992.  I was in my first year of university.  And the game Star Control II was released.  It was big, epic, and full of exploration and story and cool starship conflict, and above all else, it had a killer soundtrack.  In the game you spent a lot of time in hyperspace, and fortunately, the music for it was fabulous:

Ahhh, great memories.  There’s a reason this game appears on so many “top games” lists, and the music is certainly one of them.  I even have all the music saved within my music library, ready to pull up for fun times at any time.

Did you play?  If so, I bet you have the theme running gloriously through your head now…

Wonder Wednesday

It was 1993.  The Intel 486DX2 processor was the new hotness.  RAM was expensive.  VGA was the king with 256 colours max onscreen at any one time. And a demoscene group named Future Crew released Second Reality, a tour de force of visuals, music, and story/flow:

For a “demo”, all of the onscreen action had to be produced realtime, using stored bitmaps (rendered by home made pixel editors or raytracers), music sequencers, and vector graphics and other effects.  No movies and no prerecorded audio.  In the era of limited computing power, seeing what could be eked out of the hardware — often through tricks and hacks to bypass normal limitations — was a treat to behold.

And, I’d say, so too it remains a fun treat today, both for what it is and for it’s historical impressiveness.

Saturday Hilarity

I received this flyer in the mail… and spent a good five minutes laughing.  And still laugh whenever I look at it:


When Photoshopping goes horribly awry.  And then gets sent out to thousands of households.

Perfect timing too, I just taught a class last week on inserting people into photographs.  Brought this yesterday to class to show as an example… Hehe!


Wow.. the mental leap to make this new 3D printer is a big one:  use your computer’s sound card output to drive mirrors to direct a laser for X and Y axis, and use an IV-style drip for the Z axis.  Brilliant, I say, brilliant… and so did $700k worth of Kickstarter backing.  Plus, the dude’s open sourced the specs and it should cost about $100 to make one.  And this kind of laser curing is superior to a lot of the filament depositing techniques used by many of the other inexpensive models right now.  I’m excited!


“I don’t understand what it is about the idea of a “medium” that people find so confusing; it’s a conceptual space where works that share certain characteristics may occur.  Nobody is going to approve of the entire continuum.  …  There are also niches, as in any ecology.  You can certainly find things you don’t like, but those things aren’t anti-matter; when they come into contact with things you do like, there is no hot flash which obliterates both.  This totalizing dialogue, where “everything” and “everyone” is this or that, and here are the teams, and morality is a linear abstraction as opposed to its three dimensional reality is a crock of ******* ****.”

— Tycho @ Penny Arcade