Saturday, July 27, 2013

Find: With zero coding experience, artist building 180 webpages in 180 days

Kinda awesome. 

// published on Ars Technica // visit site

With zero coding experience, artist building 180 webpages in 180 days

One of Jennifer Dewalt's creations, this webpage lets visitors create paintings in the style of Piet Mondriaan.

117 days ago, having never done any programming in her life, Jennifer Dewalt built her first webpage. The next day, she built another, and she has kept building one new webpage every single day.

Instead of beginning with "Hello World," a class, or an interactive tutorial, Dewalt decided to just start coding, she wrote on Wednesday, day 115 of her trial by fire.

What's the best way to learn to code? After pondering this question for way too long, I decided to JFDI. But instead of just starting aimlessly, I decided to adhere to a simple and strict structure:

1. Build a different website every day for 180 consecutive days.
2. Every website must be accompanied by a blog post.
3. Any code I write must be made publicly available on GitHub (open source) so that everyone can see it.

The San Francisco resident notes that her background is in art, but she wanted to move beyond drawings and sculptures. "[W]e are no longer governed by physical media," she wrote. "We have the Internet! The Internet is awesome because it breaks down so many obstacles that used to inhibit communication. Barriers to communication are so low, in fact, that we feel compelled to create virtual identities in order to communicate and interact with each other. I think this virtual interplay is ridiculously awesome, and I'm not satisfied with just being part of the conversation. I want to be able to create the communication channel that makes these interactions possible."

Read 6 remaining paragraphs

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Find: Manifesto - Let my upload bandwidth flow!

On the up/down bandwidth asymmetry. 

// published on Ars Technica // visit site

Manifesto: Let my upload bandwidth flow!

Let it flow, I say.

Consumer broadband connections in the US are almost all "asymmetric" connections—that is, out of the total amount of bandwidth available, more bandwidth is allocated to the "download" direction than to the "upload" direction. This decision made sense 15 years ago when DSL connections were first gaining momentum. The Internet—and specifically the World Wide Web—was far more of a consumption-oriented construct then. People were far more interested in reading or watching content than in putting up their own. We wanted, needed, fast download speeds, and broadband providers jumped at the chance to differentiate themselves from dial-up ISPs by offering fast always-on connections and by using as much of that bandwidth as possible to send data to users.

The story today is very, very different. Download speeds are still important (by some estimates, just a bit under half of all Internet traffic is from people watching Netflix and YouTube videos), but it's become far easier to create content too. The ability to actually share anything that you've created relies on being able to upload that content.

Slow upload speeds are a problem even my mother has commented on—and when my mother starts commenting on a technical issue, that's when I know that it's absolutely a mainstream concern. She enjoys making videos of things she's painted and of new plants in the backyard garden, then uploading those videos to YouTube to share with her friends. But she's stymied by how long it takes to upload her videos, even if they're relatively short. She and my father are trapped by Comcast into an overly expensive residential cable modem plan with a grossly asymmetric download/upload ratio. Explaining the problem to her yielded the common sense observation, "Well, that's just stupid. How am I supposed to share videos if it takes longer to get them to YouTube than it does to film them in the first place?"

Read 11 remaining paragraphs

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Spotted: Adaptive Quantization Visibility Caching

Building adaptive visibility query structures for shadowing and other applications. 

// published on Computer Graphics Forum // visit site

Adaptive Quantization Visibility Caching

Ray tracing has become a viable alternative to rasterization for interactive applications and also forms the basis of most global illumination methods. However, even today's fastest ray-tracers offer only a tight budget of rays per pixel per frame. Rendering performance can be improved by increasing this budget, or by developing methods that use it more efficiently. In this paper we propose a global visibility caching algorithm that reduces the number of shadow rays required for shading to a fraction of less than 2% in some cases. We quantize the visibility function's domain while ensuring a minimal degradation of the final image quality. To control the introduced error, we adapt the quantization locally, accounting for variations in geometry, sampling densities on both endpoints of the visibility queries, and the light signal itself. Compared to previous approaches for approximating visibility, e.g. shadow mapping, our method has several advantages: (1) it allows caching of arbitrary visibility queries between surface points and is thus applicable to all ray tracing based methods; (2) the approximation error is uniform over the entire image and can be bounded by a user-specified parameter; (3) the cache is created on-the-fly and does not waste any resources on queries that will never be used. We demonstrate the benefits of our method on Whitted-style ray tracing combined with instant radiosity, as well as an integration with bidirectional path tracing.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Find: This is the future of web browsing

Html5 canvas

// published on The Verge - All Posts // visit site

This is the future of web browsing


An article shared on Sidebar today highlights the mind-blowing power of HTML5. Web developer / Mozilla evangelist David Walsh has collated nine demos that use just native web technologies to show how much can be done in your web browser without the need for plugins like Flash and Silverlight. Here are three of the best.

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