Gigapixel images in Google Earth

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Zoomed in
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Gigapixel images contain about 1 billion pixels. That works out to about 32,768 by 32,768 pixels. The average computer screen is about 1,200 pixels wide so to view a gigapixel image requires you to do a lot of zooming in and out and panning about. A gigapixel image requires lots of memory so viewing an image this large using your average photo software will quickly bring your typical computer to a grinding halt. Special software has been developed to allow you view these high resolution images on a desktop PC. One such program is LizardTech Expressview. You can also view gigapixel images using Google Earth. This Youtube video demonstrates Google Earth’s gigapixel viewing capability.

Xrez is a company that is in the business of creating extremely high-resolution gigapixel photography.

Microsoft finally makes a decent commercial

Apple has been running the “I’m a PC and I’m a Mac” commercials since 2006 without a word from Microsoft. Finally Microsoft has responded and created an ad which says, “I’m a PC and I’ve been made into a stereotype.”

From TechCrunch.com

[The new Microsoft ads] show lots of fascinating people saying that they use PCs. They highlight the fact that many people may be somewhat offended by the idea that they can’t be interesting or cool if they don’t use a Mac.

Suddenly, Apple looks a little elitist. I mean, they were elitist before, but in a way that made you want to be a part of the club. Now, they just seem a little snobby.

Edit: The links I had posted to videos of the ads are no longer available.

Firefox 3.0

Get it now

Update [20 June 2008]:
My initial reaction is positive. I use Safari most of the time, but Firefox has fixed some things that make it work more like Safari on Mac OS (purely cosmetic).

1. When I drag an image from a web page to my disk drive it now drags a translucent version of the image. Version 2.0 just displayed a rectangular outline.
2. When I use the “Zoom” widget it causes the window to maximize. Version 2.0 just resizes the window. I think this should not be called Zoom, because (see 3.)
3. New to version 3.0: Full Zoom. Web pages “scale in the way you’d expect them to, with all the elements of a page’s layout expanding equally…”[source]

One thing they didn’t change: The tab key moves the focus from link to link within a web page. I prefer the tab key to move the focus from text box to text box. There may be a way to change this in the settings, but I haven’t found it. Can you change this setting on the Windows version?

Blender People

Roland Hess Blender People

Roland Hess is an artist, author, coder and Blender enthusiast. He is also the creator of Blender People, a crowd simulation add-on for Blender. It is still under development and requires that you have MySQL installed on your computer. I haven’t attempted to get it working on my machine yet.

Massive: Artificial Intelligence for Animation

A more expensive solution to the crowd simulation problem (and more fully implemented) is Massive [Wikipedia article]. From the Massive website:

Massive is the premier 3D animation system for generating crowd-related visual effects for film and television. Using Massive, an animator or TD designs characters with a set of reactions to what is going on around them.

The reactions of the characters determine what they do and how they do it. Their reactions can even simulate emotive qualities such as bravery, weariness, or joy. The agent reactions can control key-framed or motion captured animation clips called actions.

Characters that perform on their own in this way are referred to as agents. Massive is a system for designing and running such agents. When scaled up into the hundreds – or hundreds of thousands – the interaction within the crowd that emerges from these individuals is highly realistic.

By building variation into an agent, the Massive artist can populate a scene with individuals who are unique in everything from physical appearance to how they respond.

Massive costs between $6,000 and $18,000 USD. Whew.

Realistic CG water

Fluid Simulation by Scanline VFXScanline VFX has created some amazing computer generated water effects with their proprietary Flowline fluid simulation software. Their website has some great videos demonstrating what they have done.

You can create similar effects with the free open-source software Blender. Of all the physical phenomena you can simulate with Blender, fluid dynamics is the easiest.

Here are the greatly simplified steps:
1. Create a starting shape for initial state the liquid will be in. In my short video I started with a sphere.
2. Create a shape to contain the water. I used a cube that was slightly larger than the sphere.
3. Tell Blender how many frames of animation to create.
4. Tell Blender to “bake” and Blender goes to work cranking out your animation.

By default the only force acting on your fluid is gravity. You can increase the complexity by adding inflows, outflows, obstacles, etc.

Big Buck Bunny now shipping on DVD

Big Buck Bunny
(c) copyright Blender Foundation | peach.blender.org

From Wikipedia:

Big Buck Bunny is a short animated film by the Blender Institute, part of the Blender Foundation. Like the foundation’s previous film Elephants Dream, the film is made using [Blender] open source software. Work began in October, 2007 and the film was released in an April 10th, 2008 premiere in Amsterdam.

The film is the first project by the Blender foundation to be created by the Blender Institute, a division of the foundation set up specifically to facilitate the creation of open content films and games. The film is being funded by the Blender Foundation, donations from the Blender community, pre-sales of the film’s DVD and commercial sponsorship. Both the final product and production data such as animation data, characters and textures will be released under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Burn DVD from VIDEO_TS folder

From gavynj on Macosxhints.com:

After searching the forums and trying various things, I still couldn’t find a quick, reliable, free method of burning a VIDEO_TS folder to a pure UDF DVD, so that it would play in regular DVD players, as well trigger DVD Player to start up automatically. Anyway, as often is the case, Terminal had the answers. Just type in this command and change the paths to suit:

hdiutil makehybrid -udf -udf-volume-name DVD_NAME
-o MY_DVD.iso /path/to/VIDEO_TS/parent/folder

Make sure that /path/to/VIDEO_TS/parent/folder is the path to the folder containing the VIDEO_TS folder, not the VIDEO_TS folder itself. Once the .iso file has been created, drag this to Disk Utility and hit the Burn button.

List your iPod songs without iTunes

iTunes makes it easy to put songs on your iPod, but what if you need to transfer one or more songs from you iPod back to your computer?

I don’t know if you can do this on a Windows computer, but on a computer with Mac OS X type this command in the Terminal application (Replace “Your_iPod” with the name of your iPod).

find /Volumes/Your_iPod/iPod_Control/Music -print

This will display a list of all the songs on your iPod.