LookingGlass Progress 20090617

I spent a few days trying to get Ogre scaling of prim working. Decided to bag it for the moment. I thought that letting Ogre scale the prims would make most of the prims just unit boxes and these I could share vertices of thus reducing the memory problem. Well, it seems that entity scaling affects the coordinates of the entity also so linked sets (prims relative to their parent) would be messed up. Even after fixing that I discovered that the scaling messed up the texture mapping (which I am using Ogre for also) so I would have to scale the texture depending on the scaling of the face the texture was on. Ick.

Anyway, backed out the scaling code, found some bugs (one in the work queue that would ironically make more work) and the arrow keys now move t he agent avatar although the camera doesn’t move yet.


LookingGlass progress 20090614

This weekend’s time spent programming (as opposed to pulling weeds and cleaning the garage) was changing the scaling of prims to use the Ogre scaling factors rather than having Meshmerizer scale the vertices information. This will allow me to share vertices information within cube prims.

Ogre doesn’t allow one to share vertices between prims (well, not really true and I will look into creating my own vertices class but that’s a ways down the road) but it does have a feature to share the same vertices between all of the sub-meshes within a mesh. That means I can share the vertices between all the sides of the ubiquitous cube. This should divide the memory requirements by nearly 6. Fingers crossed.


Setting up the LookingGlass web site

I’ve been tweaking the LookingGlass web site at http://lookingglassviewer.org/. Just another thing to add to the project — learning MediaWiki. But the seem is new so it doesn’t look like the default MediaWiki page. More formatting is needed but that will come with time.

I will be updating my progress programming here and on that site. Manual cut-and-paste at the moment. That is another thing for automation.


LookingGlass progress 20090612

To get proper sun and moon lighting, I spent a day adding Caelum. This is an Ogre plugin for sun and moon and precipitation and everything atmospheric. I didn’t quite get it working and as I was looking for solutions I found that the person who created Hydrax (water and oceans) is now building a sky system. I think I might wait to see how that comes out. This means that, for the moment, Caelum build information is in the source tree but the ifdef in LookingGlassOgre is commented out to disable any use of that library.


LookingGlass progress

I am working on an OpenSim/SecondLife compatable viewer. I almost have it to a state that I am going to let the BSD Licensed code loose. I want to get it to the point of being buildable and runnable and not totally sucky before I put the code out. That’s not to say it will be anywhere usable or feature complete at that point.

The biggest problem at the moment is performance. I have clearly made some of the noob mistakes when creating a visual application. It disparately needs a manager and scheduler for all of the work queues. The current implementation gets totally overwhelmed when entering a large sim (especially an OpenSim sim since the whole sim contents is thrown at the viewer).

Here are some progress pictures. These are of the Portland Connection sim in SecondLife(r).

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LookingGlass SecondLife(r) Viewer
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SecondLife-20090509_001
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SecondLife-20090509_005

One person magnified by technology

I listen to the WNYC Radio Lab podcast and last week’s was about the musician Juana Molina. She creates music by using a looping machine to add to her presentation: she starts singing and plays her guitar, loops portions of it and has it play back while she sings over it. Layer upon layer is added all in real time until a complex chorus of voices and sounds creates a song.

Back in August, they podcasted about Zoe Keating who does the same thing with a cello: in a real time performance, she plays phrases and layers them into an accompaniment and creates an overall complex and full sound.

This all made me think about how the Internet is new, personal technologies are expanding what an individual can do. I remember talk about how, since tech is getting so complex, only corporation could do innovation — the garage invention is dead. But now we have people blogging and magnified without the need of a newspaper, we have musicians who can make an orchestra without the symphony and we have directors creating movies without the film studio.

Real innovation still happens at the “bottom” — one person with an idea. And that one person, with all our new technologies at are available to everyone, can still make a splash. There are two messages there: individual people free to create and technology in the hands of everyone.


Dynamic Loading of Ogre Resources

In trying to get LookingGlass working with Ogre, I had to figure out how to dynamically load resources (meshes, materials and textures). Ogre’s default methodology is to have everything preloaded. Loading meshes and materials on demand is not obvious. Especially materials.

I’ve figured some of it out and wrote up Dynamic Loading of Ogre Resources. Hopefully this will save some other people many frustrating hours.


LookingGlass Project

LookingGlass Viewer Logo

My latest keep-me-busy project has been building a new viewer for OpenSim. The LookingGlass viewer is a virtual world viewer with an internal structure that makes extensions and mixing and matching easy.
This all started as a project to learn C#. Work was dropping me into a project using that language so I had to learn and what better way to learn than to build something so grand and unattainable that I would have to learn something. Thus LookingGlass was born.

The sources are not quite ready for releasing. The BSD licensed sources will be out in a few weeks. I just can’t bring myself to put it out without the basic features going. I was put back about a month by switching from Mogre to Ogre which required me to learn the managed to unmanaged interface between C# to C++.

I will post a feature list and progress reports and some of my frustrations as time goes on. Eventually there will be a release date and wiki’s and source control and bug reports but that will come in it’s own time. For the moment, I will get back to the background loading of textures.


Parking lot tide







Parking lot tide


Originally uploaded by MisterBlue



I work for a large company and I witness this parking lot fill up and empty every day. And this is just one corner. I am amazed that we can move that many vehicles so far and so often. Every day.



Early season







Early season


Originally uploaded by MisterBlue



T-Mobile

It is Halloween as Costco,It is Halloween as Costco,



Portland Zoo

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Since everyone else is going green, I decided I’d take mass transit for a day trip downtown and to the zoo. It is a short drive to the local transit station (there are no weekend buses in my immediate neighborhood) so I bussed from here to downtown. The Portland streetcar took me cross town where I had a pleasant morning coffee with some friends — sitting in their old house with the windows open and the large trees overhanging the house and street. There are some great neighborhoods in the city.

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The train to the deepest subway station in North America and up to the zoo. I haven’t been in a few years and the place is expanding. There is a lot of construction. The monkey house is being remodeled for the great apes and the artic tundra exhibit has been torn out to be replaced with a large cat area. The zoo is not dying.

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The elephant barn was closed to visitors. I finally noticed the TV trucks parked outside and, when I went into the display area, I found a crowd of people watching closed circuit TVs. Just a few hours earlier, the mother elephant’s water had broken and there was great excitement over the imminent birth of an elephant. It could happen at any time. I waited around for about 30 minutes but eventually left. The baby was born about two hours later.

Mass transit worked wonderfully for me and the weather was lovely. A relaxing day.


Day trip to the Coast

Another beautiful day in Oregon and certainly not a day to stay inside. I got in the car and drove to the beach. Didn’t want to just visit the cities and the casinos and outlet malls but decided to see the relatively untraveled coast between Tillamook and Lincoln City. Pictures are available.

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Driving out highway 26 I saw that Banks was holding their annual Elephant Garlic Festival. I made a quick stop, enjoyed some music and purchased an elephant ear from a vendor. The vendors seemed to be mostly local people. While I was waiting for my ear to fry, another vendor came over and they swapped garlic recipes.

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At the coast, I stopped at the Tillamook Creamery and purchased some squeaky curds. Those are the un-aged cheese curds and they do squeak when you bite into them. You don’t find them in the stores because they don’t keep well. A delicacy of a trip to the beach.

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The beach time visited the town of Netarts, Cape Lookout and down to Neskowin. All nice towns and wonderful scenery.

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On the way back inland, I ran across the Driftcreek covered bridge. It has quite a story. The bridge, in its original location, was condemned by the county and was scheduled to be torn down because of rot and a good bridge was needed. A local family took all of the bridge pieces and, with the help of many local volunteers and a local lumber mill, they rebuilt the bridge on their land. An act of love.

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I also stopped at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum. Evergreen Helicopter is based there in McMinnville and the family has built a gigantic museum sitting among the fields of grape vines. Besides many interesting planes, the museum now sports Howard Hughes Spruce Goose. I don’t have a good picture of that plane — it’s just too big. If you are a fan of airplanes, though, this is the place to go.


Squaking in the house

For this warm weather, I open up the house in the morning to let the cool night air in. I open windows and the door to the patio. This morning, the quiet of a Saturday morning at home was interrupted with chirping and tweeting and thumping from the living room. I ran out there to find one frightened and frantic bird flying around the living room with a cat in close pursuit.

There is a happy ending to this story. The bird flew behind the stereo speaker in the corner of the room and I grabbed the cat and got her out of the way. A dish towel thrown over the bird allowed me to pick it up and take it outside where it flew off into the trees.

Now, a few hours after the excitement, all of the cats in the house are still looking around the living room for the bird. They can smell it.


Travel updates

Finally home and a real computer. It’s nice to be home in my own
bed and with my own files.
I haven’t moved my digital presence totally onto the network
so my own files and desktop and organization are not portable.
It feels comfortable to be home.

I’ve sorted through the pictures and the main groups are up.
This is a long, catch-up entry with descriptions and pointers.

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First is the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
(pictures)
which were, well, smoky.
The haze is a natural phenomena and the park is full of hills, trees,
camping, water falls and streams.
A
previous blog post
was from Mingo Falls
and later in the day we hiked in to see Laurel Falls
(pictures).
We hiked the mile to find a small falls filled with people.
Some had obviously packed everything for a day of picnicking
and splashing with the kids. A nice hike in the woods, though.

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Just outside the park is Tuckaleechee Caverns
(pictures).
This is an old fashioned, family owned cavern roadside attraction.
An easy walk through the well paved cavern with interesting rock
formations.

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For a little historical South, we stopped at
The Hermitage
(pictures).
This is the farm Andrew Jackson retired to after
service as the president of the United States.
It’s back in the time before secret service and security
details. It’s just a farm although, these days, they make a big
deal about the slaves who lived there and made the farm work.

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Keeping with the presidential theme, the next stop was the
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site
(pictures).
Wikipedia has a
concise description
of the history of this monument.
In our cynical age, it is hard to comprehend the adoration a
log cabin received. Eventually, it was enshrined in a granet monument.

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The next stop was to downtown St. Louis with a visit to the Arch.
If you were following the news at that time, you would know that the
central U.S. was surviving record floods and tornadoes.
We weren’t sure the arch park would be open but it was completely
operational although some of the
pictures
do show the Mississippi overflowing it’s banks onto the sidewalks.
The trip up the Arch was bizarre.
You get into these claustrophobia attack inducing little pods which
then click and clunk as they take you to the top.
Once at the top, you are in a small arched room with
TINY windows to peer out over the city.
It is clear that Disney was not consulted when they built it.

A lot of driving brought us to
Jewel Cave National Monument
(Wikipedia explains
that a “national monument” is declared by the
president without requiring the approval of Congress.)
This gigantic system of caves now has an elevator for us softies
to casually tour the underground.
There are still people squeezing through the caves but we get to
walk through the cool 56 degrees on concrete and aluminum walkways
and enjoy the formations.
It was hard taking pictures because the lights they used
had widely different temperatures.
That, and my little digital camera doesn’t have a flash that
goes more than a few feet.
Some pictures
did turn out.

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Out of the ground and over to Yellowstone National Park
(pictures).
It was an amazingly beautiful day — cool temperatures, bright sun,
blue sky filled with white clouds.
The park was showing itself off.
Bison grazed (and clogged the roads) and the rush of melting snow filled
the streams.
Beautiful.

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Well, how do you top Yellowstone?
With a nuclear reactor, of course.
Pictures.
In the 1950′s, a small reactor
(“Experimental Breeder Reactor 1″ or “EBR-1″)
in the middle of Idaho
proved that nuclear reactors could create their own fuel
(“breeding” plutonium) and generate electricity efficiently
(output more than goes in).
The DOE keeps the building open in the summer with tours by informed but otherwise very bored
employees.

Up the road is an area of lava formations in the
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
Pictures.


Finally home

After 9476 miles, we are finally home. Whooo hooo!!! The bad news is the of bills and weeds to contend with. I will be uploading the rest of the pictures and videos and adding some more commentary the next few days.


Past the storms

It looks like We have made it through the bad weather in the middle of the country. The stop at the arch in St Louis meant some extra driving around since the road along the river was closed. Flooding because of the high Mississippi River. there have been many flooded fields along the highway with rain still coming down.

We spent the night in Kansas City. The night was windy and the tornadoes occurred to the west of the city while we sleep peacefully in our beds. Thursday morning was cool (65: the coolest weather we’ve had since touching California) and the front had moved to the east leaving us to travel north behind all the bad weather.

The plan is to move quickly with long driving days so we can get home next week. We are getting tired of traveling around living out of suit cases. The boys also remembered things they would really like to do on the 16th (Monday) so we are looking at driving 11 hour days to make it home by then. It will be nice to sleep in our real beds after this trip.

I have a lot of picture processing to do when I get home. There are many panoramas to build from pictures and I have videos of some things that I thought would be better as video than still snaps.

We drove through Iowa today to get up to South Dakota. One the of main differences between here and the Southern states is the lack of billboards. Most of the south has zillions of billboards along the road. Even better, since the road service planted trees on both sides of the road, the billboards are on large green poles (large to withstand hurricanes) 50 to 100 feet in the air. What a visual mess.


Abe birth place







Abe birth place


Originally uploaded by MisterBlue



There is a national park with a monument to the log cabin that Abe Lincoln was born in. Inside the building you see here is a log cabin. The laptop I was borrowing died so it will be a while before U get more pictures up.



Mingo Falls







Mingo Falls


Originally uploaded by MisterBlue



Today driving through the Smokey Mountain National Park. It looks a lot like home except for the humidity and that it is kudzu climbing the trees and not ivy.



Finally Westward

We are finally moving westward. A lot of time was spent getting to the east coast so the trip back will be a lot quicker.

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After New Orleans, we spent a few days in Walt Disney World. The place is special, amazing and expensive. I think I’m getting tired of the parks like Walt did. Not that he came to dislike them, but he was ready to move onto something new. I am starting to get that feeling about being there — time to find something new.
In that vein, the pictures I took are of some of the many flowers in bloom and the crowds — things people don’t usually take pictures of.

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From WDW, it was to the far coast and the Kennedy Space Center.
This has been duded up with rides, multi-media presentations and gift shops — oh, and high entry fees — to make it a Disney-like experience. There are some rockets also. The bus tour takes you between fenced off places to peer at the launch pads, old Saturn rockets and modules being assembled for the international space station. The simulated shuttle launch ride was disappointing. The best presentation was the one about landing on the moon. Some pictures.

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Up the Florida coast to Palm Coast. Tonight we’re in Byron, Georgia. On the way there, the Fountain of Youth beckoned.
On the northern shores of Florida is where Ponce de Leon came ashore looking for the Fountain of Youth. The natives told him that an island existed up north (he was the governor of what is now Puerto Rico at the time) with such a mystical fountain. On that spot today is a tourist attraction and a well said to be the remains of the once bubbling fountain. I sampled but, sadly, I don’t feel any younger. But we visited the planetarium (with the oldest, manually operated planetarium system in the nation) and wandered the grounds until exiting through the gift shop, of course. Pictures.


Along the Gulf Coast

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After a night in a funky little bed-and-breakfast in
the town of Taos, New Mexico
we visited the
Taos Pueblo.
Just outside the town of Taos are Indians
living more or less (less actually) as they have for hundreds of years
The century old pueblos are lived in an maintained with as few
modern additions as possible.
They, of course open their houses to sell jewelery
and trinkets to the tourists.

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From New Mexico, we drove across the south end of the rockies
traveled through Colorado before making it to Texas.
What better indication of Texas-ness than
Cadallic Ranch
outside Amarillo.
From Amarillo, we drove through the traffic jams of Dallas
and southward into the heat and humidity of Houston.

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We just happened to be at the
Johnson Space Center
when the
space shuttle Discovery launched.
On the plus side we watched the launch on the IMAX screen with
commentary from one of the astronaut team.
On the minus side, the mission control tour was
unavailable because they were busy.
This place wasn’t what I expected at all.
There was the science side of the space program (the tram tour)
but, when you walk into the building you are confronted with this
gigantic jungle gym type of thing.
We’re talking kids climbing and bouncing all over a brightly
colored structure that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with
space flight. The only connection I can see is it relates to
astronaut training. Back in the back are some displays of space
suits and a full sized mock up of the nose of the space shuttle.

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We spent the night in Sulfur, Louisiana (it smelled of sulfer
that night too — I blame the oil refinery close by)
and the next day drove across the state to the city of New Orleans.
We took a walk through the French Quarter of that city and
ate some Cajun food.
The boys were unimpressed with the shops and bars.
They thought that, since it was set up as a party town,
you need your buddies and a buzz to enjoy the place.
Can’t argue with that.
What did get their attention were the
beignets
from
Cafe du Monde
– warm donut-like pastries smothered in powered sugar was worth a thumbs up.

Tonight we are in Pensacola, Florida before diving into
the central area of that state and finally to
Walt Disney World.

There are some more pictures up:
Taos Pueblo,
Cadillac Ranch,
Houston Space Center
and
New Orleans
.

We’ve gone over 4000 miles so far and we’re about to start our
third week. We’ll need to get a move on if we’re going to make
it back in our alloted time.


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