In Animation and 3D: the web is doing it wrong, I argue that the way the web does animation and 3D is completely bogus and deserves to die. With Tao Presentations, we offer a dynamic document description language that lets us write shorter code that is much closer to storytelling. We’d like to bring this to the web.
Have you ever created a dynamic animation on a web site, or displayed a 3D object? Really, why is it so complicated? Why should I learn how to use half a dozen libraries, write dozens of line of boilerplate HTML, WebGL and CSS code, just to rotate some text on the screen or display a 3D object? Why do I need three (or four, or five) languages, libraries or frameworks to design a single animated web page?
In the realm of business presentations, Tao Presentations solved this problem with a 3D dynamic document description language, letting you easily create sophisticated interactive 3D animations and presentations. What if we brought this very innovative platform to the web? What kind of applications would become possible if we improved web browsers in the areas of storytelling, interactivity, 3D or multimedia?
La SNCF affirme ne pas pratiquer l’IP tracking, J’ai du mal à y croire.
Il y a quelques minutes, ma femme va sur le site Voyages SNCF, et demande un billet Paris-Antibes. Prix du billet: 80€. “Attention, dernières places à ce prix”, bien sûr. Mais à un moment, elle fait une erreur, et décide de refaire une recherche sur le même site. Le même billet passe soudainement à 113€.
Je fais un essai depuis un autre navigateur, puis depuis une autre machine dans la même maison (donc même adresse IP depuis l’extérieur). Le billet reste coincé à 113€.
Mais, histoire de vérifier si les billets à 80€ ont vraiment été épuisés (la théorie du blog de la SNCF ci-dessus), je décide de passer par mon smartphone en 3G. Du coup, forcément, changement d’adresse IP. Et là, surprise (pas vraiment, en fait), je retrouve le billet à 80€. Que j’achète.
Alor, si la SNCF ne fait pas d’IP tracking, pourquoi ce que je viens de décrire se passe à chaque fois? Ce phénomène ne peut pas s’expliquer par l’épuisement des billets à un certain palier de tarif; parce que les prix affichés sur un même ordinateur dépendent de l’IP utilisée !
As usual, Paul Graham writes an interesting piece about startups. He recommends doing things that don’t scale. Thinking like a big company is a sure way to fail. It’s a reassuring piece for the startup creator that I am, because at Taodyne, we are indeed in this phase where you do everything yourself and you’d need 48 hours a day to do the basics. Good to know that the solution to this problem is to keep working.
Connect this to the survivor bias. This is a very serious cognitive bias, which makes us look only at the survivors, at the planes who return from combat, at the successful entrepreneurs. Because we don’t look at the dead startups or planes that were shot down, we build our statistics on a biased sample. As a result, we make incorrect assumptions. For example, if the planes that return have mostly been shot in the tail and wings, you might deduce that this is where planes are being shot at, so that’s the parts you need to protect, when in reality what this proves is that these are the parts that don’t prevent a plane from returning when shot. Very useful.
Last interesting link of the day is the discussion about bullying on the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML). Sarah Sharp, a female Intel engineer, stands up to Linus Torvalds and asks him to stop verbal abuse. It’s an interesting conflict between very smart people. To me, there’s a lot of cultural difference at play here (one of the main topics of Grenouille Bouillie). For example, I learned from Torvalds what Management by Perkele means. On one side, it’s legitimate for Sarah to explain that she is offended by Linus’ behavior. On the other hand, it’s legitimate for Linus to keep doing what works.
Sarah reminds me of a very good friend of mine and former colleague, Karen Noel, a very sharp engineer who joined me on the HPVM project and taught me everything I forgot about VMS. Like Sarah, Karen was willing to stand up her ground while remaining very polite.
In this screencast, I show how you can build a dynamic, real-time clock in less than 10 minutes with Tao Presentations.
In this live coding session, we demonstrate how to quickly create a DNA strand in 3D:
The whole code is below:
import LuckyStarsTheme theme "LuckyStars" picture_slide "Did DNA come from outer space?", light 0 light_position 1000, 1000, 1000 translate -300, 0, -300 rotatey mouse_x random_seed 12345 dna_strand with -30 .. 30 slide "Arguments in favor", * "Tardigrades can live in space" dna_strand N:integer -> locally translatey 50 * N rotatey 10 * N locally rotatey 90 color "#BBB" cylinder 0, 0, 0, 10, 10, 200 dna_base_pair random (0, 3) dna_base_pair N:integer -> dna_base_color N mod 4 sphere 100, 0, 0, 40 dna_base_color (N + 2) mod 4 sphere -100, 0, 0, 40 dna_base_name 140, N mod 4 dna_base_name -140, (N + 2) mod 4 dna_base_color 0 -> color "red" dna_base_color 1 -> color "blue" dna_base_color 2 -> color "green" dna_base_color 3 -> color "grey" dna_base_name X:integer, N:integer -> text_box X, 0, 40, 40, font "Arial", 30 color "white" align 0.5 vertical_align 0.5 dna_base_text N dna_base_text 0 -> text "C" dna_base_text 1 -> text "A" dna_base_text 2 -> text "G" dna_base_text 3 -> text "T"
Recently, someone posted a comment on “The Dawn of 3D Games” which I suppose disputed the vaguely stated claim that I wrote the first 3D game for a PC. So I felt like I had to reply and give my point of view on exactly why me, myself and I alone consider that Alpha Waves was a small milestone in the history of 3D gaming.
In reality, there is in my opinion not a single “first 3D game on a PC”, but for a given definition of what a 3D game is, you have a first one that matched these criteria. And for a set of criteria that seems to be relatively reasonable to me (like: it has to be a game, it has to run on some kind of PC or microcomputer, it has to be true 6-axis 3D on a reasonable portion of the screen, and you need some kind of immersion and interaction with a large number of objects), Alpha Waves may very well be the very first. Change a tiny bit in the definition, and some other game gets the crown. So let’s put it that way: Alpha Waves was innovative, and that’s my personal favorite for the title, for obvious reasons.
All that doesn’t matter much, except that in my attempt at documenting this bit of useless ancient geek history, I visited the id Software web site, and I was surprised to see that there’s still the following on their web site:
The first 3D PC game ever! Hovertank 3D debuted the amazing technology that was used to usher in the First Person Shooter genre with Wonfenstein 3D.
Is this a boiled frog approach to marketing? Just by leaving patently wrong stuff on the web site long enough, folks will stop noticing and end up thinking it’s true?
Come on, John! I hesitate writing that about Alpha Waves, when it predated Hovertank by a good year and had a significantly better 3D rendering (if only because it had three axis of rotation). And Alpha Waves is by no mean alone, there are easily half a dozen games predating Hovertank and offering better 3D. You are a celebrity in the world of video games. With all the credit that is due, why do you need to keep this little lie on your web site?
Why does it matter? Precisely because you are a celebrity, so everything you say has a huge impact, including minute details of wording in a long-forgotten corner of an old web site you probably don’t even remember existed. Nonetheless, just fix it. Simply write something like “The first id game ever.” That would do just fine. And that claim is a significant milestone in its own right. Probably a bigger one than “first 3D game on the PC”, as far as the gaming industry is concerned…
And if you feel concerned about your personal place in history, I’m sure Armadillo Aerospace will take care of that.