More or less every two years, I am overcome by uncontrollable lust. Lust for some fresh computing hardware, that is. YEAH! 1.5 years ago it was the HP NC8430 laptop, 2 years before that my beloved HP NC6000, and slightly short of two years before that the infinitely heavy stoeptegel-1 (I still think there’s a mini-blackhole in there somewhere). It’s almost that time again, so I have begun shopping around (in WAB time, of course) for an affordable yet absurdly fast desktop for use at home, in my secret laboratory.
Last year I acquired this: So I could go here: … with some exceptionally cool individuals. Thanks to one of these individuals who has developed the amazing ability to stop time in his close proximity and, as if that wasn’t enough, to possess a pair of the coolest spectacles this side of the equator, you should be able to find me on the photo to his left.
My blood has cooled down enough for me to write this now, it was positively boiling an hour or two ago. Tonight Netwerk, a documentary on one of the Dutch national channels, reported on the AIDS vs sangoma situation back in South Africa. Those of you who understand Dutch can read this compact summary. In short, sangomas (witch doctors) have a huge amount of sway with the local population. So when someone is infected with HIV and it manifests as AIDS, they go to the sangoma, who then coolly explains that they’re sick due to the interference of the spirits of their forefathers and claims that they know exactly how to remedy the problem (usually with some typically ineffective mystical ritual, also involving giving the patient lots of laxatives, thereby exacerbating the symptoms).
I grew up on a healthy mix of Marvel, DC and other super-hero comics, but the Iron Man made a particularly deep impression on me. The idea of fabricating and donning an almost-invincible metal suit and then flying around and kicking idiot ass all over the show really appealed to my nerdish sensibilities. If the trailer is anything to go by, the 2008 movie is going to rock so incredibly hard.
Dear readers, although you remain anonymous, I now know quite reliably that there are slightly more than two of you. This knowledge makes me insanely happy. Thank you very much for taking the time to glance at my posts every so often. I’ve added three hopefully useful plugins to my WordPress (best blogging software EVAR) setup: Almost at the bottom of the right sidebar, you’ll find the section “Friends’ latest blogs”.
Non-technical or non-interested people: Good for you! I’m posting this so that others with similar problems have more joy with google than I did. Two days ago I made the mistake of even wanting to downgrade my laptop’s (HP NC8430) Windows XP SP2 video drivers from ATI Catalyst 7.10 to the latest HP-blessed version (8.391.3-070626a-050362C). My reason for wanting to downgrade was that all the ATI drivers suck (on all operating systems), but downgrading to the HP version at least gets me HP support, which I still have on this corporate grade laptop.
This is my links page, mostly reserved for static things I think are interesting. For dynamic stuff (such as blogs), check the right sidebar for my Google Reader exported items. De Wijn Recensent – my best friend (I have more than one. They are a small but very powerful group of shadowy individuals) is the only Dutch wine reviewer that you can trust. You have to subscribe to his weekly reviews on the site!
You know that it’s a great conference when time flies like this. Today (Thursday, November 1) is the fifth and final day, but I would really have liked more. The morning is mostly occupied with end-of-conference formalities, such as the official announcement of next year’s conference in Columbus, Ohio, now dubbed “VisWeek” and the best paper awards. As mentioned previously, VisTrails won best paper. Another one of my favourites (also from one of my favourite groups, hi there VRVis in Vienna!
On Day 3 (Tuesday) the actual Visualization conference kicked off with awards and a keynote by Rick Stevens of the Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago. Prof. Jarke van Wijk won the Visualization Technical Achievement award and gave the coolest acceptance speech I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. Spending quite some time on the origins of his (to our Anglophile colleagues) extraordinary name and succeeding in making all of the almost 800 attendees laugh several times, he managed to bring all of this back to the flow visualization research for which he earned this award, and then put it all in context by explaining what his daughter thought of his world-famous inventions: “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard”.
What an imaginative title! Today (actually yesterday, but I’m acting as if I wrote this up yesterday, when yesterday was still today, okay?) I had the typical IEEE Vis problem of Too Many Very Cool Things All at the Same Time(TM). I chose to start with the Illustrative Visualization tutorial. One of the highlights of this was Stefan Bruckner’s presentation of his Style Transfer Functions. Stefan is a brilliant presenter, and this deceptively simple idea makes it possible to render, in real-time, illustrative volume renderings with all kinds of cool lighting possibilities.