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.


Wonder Wednesday

How could this not be about the SLS launch last night?  Despite the rocky road to flight (prime being Boeing’s perhaps willful incompetence) and a changing rocketry landscape that now surrounds it, it is always exciting to see a new vehicle leap to the heavens, especially the largest lift vehicle that has ever flown.  Doubly especially one that uses massive solid rocket boosters and their insane flame gouts — when I saw my first Falcon 9 launch, it was daytime and the brightness of the flame was astounding.  This SLS has to be orders of magnitude even more insanely bright.

I was supper giddy and cheering at the livestream as I watched SLS launch.  So exciting to see it soar upwards and help start a new era of space exploration.

Amazing photo of the launch with the moon in the background (click on the photo above to see it, and it’s not composited, this was an actual shot.  You can tell by the pressure waves from the rocket exhaust warping the bottom of the moon).

Great shot of the moment SLS went supersonic!

8 million pounds of thrust….

Liftoff beauty shot…

And a frikk’n amazing tracking shot at the moment of booster separation!

Wonder Wednesday

When I visited the Amager Bakke, the power plant + ski hill (no, really!) in Copenhagen, besides the ski slope not being open yet (we unfortunately visited just a scant month or so before completion), there was this other odd thing they were adding to the side of the building.  I didn’t realize what it was at the time, but turns out it’s a giant climbing wall.  And I do mean giant.  The building is tall enough for a ski slope… so this thing is 85 meters (280 feet) tall!  It’s so tall it’s a 4 pitch lead/sport climb only, and requires a multi-pitch certification just to climb it’s 4 lanes (8 routes total).  Amazing.

Check out more, including route topos, videos, and more at https://www.dbkk.dk/amagernordvaeg/vaeggen and https://www.copenhill.dk/en/aktiviteter/klatring