Monthly Archives: September 2007

I get no respect.

My online Data Mining course has a web-based forum that students can use to post questions. The course instructor asked how everybody was doing on the first homework assignment. I replied, and in my reply, I asked the instructor if I was on the right track for one of the homework problems. The subject of the reply was quite surprising:

Man, that’s cold!

Wow. Harsh. I know that these instructors are very stressed graduate students; but this can’t be good for bumping up the enrollment numbers.

Sadly, the source of the subject wasn’t as dramatic as true malice, because the subjects are simply generated from the first parts of the responses. Here is the real reason the subject was so insulting:

Oh. Not REALLY fighting words.

Technology is the culprit. One day it will enslave us all! (Wait… I think this has already happened…)

Creative computing: Pushing eyecandy around

Back in 1993, during freshman year of college, my friend Brian McEntire introduced me to the “demoscene“, which is, at its best, a group of extremely highly skilled (and often very young) computer sound/video programmers who specialize in creating dazzling presentations that run in real-time on computers. Demoscene folks spend a lot of time trying to out-program each other, showing off what kind of amazing audio and visual effects they can do with computer hardware. Demos at the time were amazing to watch. When I watch the older demos now, 14 years later, they seem very quaint and primitive.

Second Reality, a demo by Future Crew, one of the most famous demo groups back in the 1990s. This was cutting-edge realtime PC sound and graphics back then.

Some of the best demos have come out of the Assembly demoparty, an annual Finnish gathering of demoscene enthusiasts which features a demo competition. Many people enter their productions into the competition, and the winning entries are usually very high quality. The recent Assembly demoparty was held in August 2007, and I was amazed by the creative and dream-like stylistic quality of the winning demo, LifeForce, by Andromeda Software Development, a Greek demogroup.

Screenshots from LifeForce by Andromedia Software Development. Click for a larger view.

To see this production in glorious motion, download the high-quality 246MB AVI movie file via this link. It is a much better experience than watching the embedded lower-quality YouTube version below.

LifeForce demo. Youtube does not do it justice. Get the high-resolution version!!

The pure skill and creative talent needed to generate these real-time productions (the animations are NOT pre-rendered), combined with the fact that the best demo groups consist mostly of teenagers and very young adults simply doing this stuff for fun in their free time, continue to amaze me.