Basically, they reel off a bunch of blue-sky projects that vary in likelihood of being built from "no way" to "yeah right". Some of the ideae are just stupid, like Stupendously Tall Tower in Hong Kong. In order to cut down on wind forces, they make it not just cylindrical but conical. Hello, a cone has 1/3 the volume of a cylinder of the same height and same base area--why not just make a cylinder that's 1/3 the height and save yourself a lot of trouble? (Answer: Because then the architect would be known to have a small penis.)
The narrator is a cheesy-voiced idiot and it is only made worse by the script he reads. Each engineering project naturally has dangers and they just as naturally want to explain how they guard against them. Explaining how the danger avoision works: Good. Giving a dramatization: Good. After the dramatization, acting like this was a real emergency and the system has proved itself even to the point of saying "The bridge is saved and engineers have proved their system works!": Stupid.
1 star because I can't give any lower number.
Speaking of blue-sky projects: What with one thing and another I've got some free time at work right now, so I've been working on adding 3D graphing to our app. We have a very flexible graphing system but the fundamental basis of the entire thing only supports 2 dimensions which has caused some limitations (not that anyone else notices these limitations, because they are used to them). I can't just chuck the lowest level graphical widget out, so I'm doing all the 3D math myself in the 3DGraph object. The graphing system itself is pretty cool and easy to work with which leaves me free to do all the fun parts. I've gotten the axes drawn, in any given angle, along with tickmarks drawn such that you can always see them (i.e. they don't disappear when you should be seeing them end-on). It all runs fast enough that I can update the display at 30 Hz for some cool animation, too. And all in Tcl! Of course, there's only really 3 points to rotate at this point...
Today I plan to put numbers on the tickmarks and get the auto-scaling working. When the guy who made the 2D system comes in on Monday, I can ask him how to get the UI elements working (there's a mouse interaction system I'm not sure what to do with). Then I'll have a 3DGraph class, but no 3DPlot class (i.e. a place to put stuff but nothing to put in the place). That should be pretty easy, though. I think that once we have the ability to make 3D graphs, we'll think of hundreds of uses. I already want to show orbit trajectories on there and the boss was mentioning one of our datasets is 4 dimensional.
(I used a rotation matrix which is apparently tres non-chic since I could barely find any info online about them. [Yeah, like I'm going to compute the rotation matrix from first principles myself.] Everybody is all about quaternions, despite the fact that nobody understands them and I couldn't really see the benefit, at least for an output-only viewing system.)
Changed the robot a bit--now it has wheels instead of tracks. It also has a light sensor, but it doesn't use it. I'm planning a light-following robot and that works best if you have two light sensors to get a gradient. Found a guy on ebay selling them for $7 with free shipping. I was about to order 3 when I realized I couldn't hook up more than 2 anyway and still have room for a bumper.
Programmed up a subsumption architecture with a parallelized output arbitration task and everything--seems to work fine. Eventually the robot will have 3 behaviors, in reverse order of priority: Go, Turn_Towards_Light, Avoid_Obstacle.
I'm thinking that when the Mindstorms NXT comes out, the 1.0-2.0 RCX bricks will suddenly get cheaper and I can pick up a couple for multiple-robot interactions or just doubling/tripling the sensor and computation power of a single robot. Kind of a hindbrain/forebrain thing where the brains communicate via IR.
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