Miscellaneous

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Chris Wyman pointed out this entertaining Amazon world-view:

Wow, cool, we’re #1 for DirectX books, and the book’s not actually shipping yet (the second printing should come out in May, with little fixes). Click on that “DirectX Software Programming” link and you can see the competition we beat out:

Yes! We displaced that best-selling book on DirectX programming, the classic Air Fryer Cookbook.

Update: sadly, the next day we fell to #2. That cookbook is an unstoppable computer programming guide, as it’s also #1 in many other programming book categories, such as for OpenGLJava server pagesCold Fusion, and XSL, not to forget CAD software control. That said, sous vide cooking controls PHP programming, classic authors top Ruby programming books, and, appropriately, the Harry Potter Coloring Math Book controls Flash programming, beating out books on machine trading, Excel, Javascript, Adobe Animate CC – aha, at #15 there is actually a book about Flash.

Clearing through a Google Doc, I found a number of links stored away for a rainy day. It’s raining, so here goes:

First, Ray Tracing Gems is now available on Kindle for free; it’s also free through the UK and Germany Amazon sites. Great stuff, and I’ve asked about whether it could also be made available on Google Play in some form.

When Real-Time Rendering, 4th Edition came out I decided to plunk down the cash to get the Kindle and Google Play versions, just to see how they came out. Not bad: the resolution is not as high as I’d like for a few images, but overall the results are good. It’s understandable why the image quality was not up to the 300+ DPI of some of the original material, as the book’s file would be massively larger.

What’s of interest is how much more often I’ll use the Google Play version than the Kindle. I’ll even use it more than my own private PDF of the book. This is because it’s one click away: I have the URL bookmarked for the Google Play version, so it’s up immediately, no messing about looking for the file, loading an app, or any other nonsense.

For example, today I just tried Amazon’s cloud reader for Kindle, but I run into “License limit reached,” that I have exceeded the number of devices authorized blah blah blah. My favorite line of the warning is “You may also purchase another copy from the Kindle Store” – great, thanks. There’s none of this annoyance with Google Play; I can immediately read the book since it’s tied to my Google Account. I hope Amazon someday figures out a way to determine that I’m me (judging from the targeted ads I see on Amazon, they already have, but they haven’t extended the courtesy to Kindle access).

BTW, anyone trying to reproduce antialiasing or noise images in a book or printed article, be careful: you’ll probably want to zoom in on parts of your image, and want to make the zoomed image literally zoomed up using “nearest neighbor” filtering or similar. That is, say you select a 200×200 piece of an image to magnify, to show noise. I’d resize this to 600×600 and just replicate the pixels, “select and repeat” (often called “nearest neighbor” or “hold” or “pixel replication”). The printing process will naturally try to smooth images out the other direction, so you usually need to counteract this. If you have any sure-fire tips on doing this better than I’ve described here, I (and others) are all ears.

I saw this work at the New Orleans Museum of Art – tres ray tracing. See if you can figure out why it looks how it does, from these images and film clip. Last image in album is the reveal.

 

The influx of registration spam (fake accounts registering) is just too much for me to keep up with.

Sorry.

Time to clear the link collection before GDC/GTC – download some web pages for the plane ride.

OK, even I’m getting a bit tired of writing about Ray Tracing Gems (not to mention Real-Time Rendering) goings ons. But, a few things:

  • The code repo for Ray Tracing Gems is now up! Some more code will be added and updated later, after the GDC/GTC rush.
  • At GDC Naty Hoffman, Angelo Pesce, and I will sign copies of Real-Time Rendering on Wednesday, 3-4 PM, at the CRC booth, P1867, located near the Connect Lounge. If you’re around (and even if you already have a copy or never want one because GPUs are a fad), come by and say “hi.”
  • Authors of Ray Tracing Gems will sign the book right after, 4-5 PM, in the alcove west of Room 201 South Hall (two floors up). It looks like at least 17 authors will be at GDC, but all may not be able to attend. I’ll be giving a rap-free fast-forward talk after, in Room 205. Map below.
  • GTC: book talk Thursday 2-3 PM room 230B (Concourse Level), book signing after at the GTC bookseller 3-4 PM.
  • The only physical copies of Ray Tracing Gems available until May will be sold at GDC and GTC, nowhere else. So buy them all and resell on EBay. No, don’t do that.

Really, all this info except the Real-Time Rendering signing is covered on http://raytracinggems.com

Book signing (in yellow) map for GDC, right next to the restrooms – classy 🙂

 

On November 1st of every year, the Finnish government publishes everyone’s salary. It’s a nice leveler of the playing field for workers, as they can see if they’re paid fairly and what to expect at another company.

In the U.S. we generally know elected officials’ salaries (president $400,000, senator $174,000, etc.) but not much else. Except for non-profits, who have to file public tax returns.

I’m doing my taxes this weekend. To avoid that time-sucking task – one that takes only five minutes in The Netherlands – I decided to go look up the ACM’s and IEEE’s forms. It takes a bit of searching, but it’s interesting to see where the money goes. To start, here are some ACM salaries from their 2015 return (actual return here):

Half a million for the outgoing Chief Executive Director – not bad. I’ve asked around, and on one level this amount is a bit shocking, but it’s evidently (for good or ill) the norm for non-profits of this size.

Putting this info on the blog makes me feel a bit embarrassed; it’s breaking a social norm here, revealing a salary. But, it’s public knowledge! We’re now used to services such as Zillow to see someone’s property value – something we would have had to work hard to do back in 2005 (e.g., go to some government office and look up the deed). However, in the U.S., knowing someone’s salary is usually not something you can look up and is pretty taboo. So, cheap thrills, and it’s easy to do so now for at least a few people.

Wading through the rest of the return turns up various tidbits. For example, the ACM’s overall budget:

So they added about $6.7 million to their total assets in 2015, and ended the year with assets of:

I find these documents worth poking at, just to get a sense of what’s important. For example, the ACM makes its revenue as follows (see Part VIII for details):

Expenses, in Part IX, go on and on, with a large portion of the $60 million going to conferences:

Conferences raise $29 million each year (the revenue snippet), so I guess I conclude that conferences netted $5 million for the ACM in 2015. That cheers me to hear, vs. the opposite. Me, I’m curious how much the ACM Digital Library costs and how much revenue is raised, from individuals and institutions, but these numbers are not found here. I asked once back in 2012; the ACM doesn’t split out the DL income and costs from their other publication efforts.

There are lots of other tidbits in the return, but take a look for yourself.

Let’s go visit the IEEE – hmmm, wait, there are two of them. But both have small budgets, less than $7 million, so that’s not them. Searching a bit (quick, what does “IEEE” stand for?), I found them:

The Assistant Secretary and Executive Director (one person) gets $1.2 million – OK. The actual Director & Secretary doesn’t get paid at all, which I find entertaining somehow:

Now, the IEEE’s budget is a lot higher that the ACM’s, $436 million vs. $60 million:

It’s a different report format, so it’s not clear to me what assets they have.

It’s fun to poke around, e.g.:

ACM doesn’t seem to have any lobbying expenses. I wonder what the IEEE lobbies for – they’re really not spending much, but it’s more than zero. Better electricity? Lobbying is not in and of itself bad (I like it when the AMA lobbies against the use of tobacco just fine), but it’s interesting to see and great for forming unwarranted conspiracy theories.

OK, enough goofing off, this took way more time than I expected; back to my own taxes.

Tomas and I turned over all our final files for Ray Tracing Gems to the publisher on January 2, and we’re gathering edits from the authors. The Table of Contents for the 32 articles is now public. The publisher’s webpage is up. There’s an Amazon page in progress (BTW, the after-the-colon title, “High-Quality and Real-Time Rendering with DXR and Other APIs,” was requested by the publisher to help search engines find the book).

The hardback book should be available at GDC and GTC, with a free electronic version(s) available sometime before or around then, along with a source code repository. Also, the book is open access, under this CC license. This means that the authors, or anyone else, can redistribute these articles as they wish, as long as it’s a non-commercial use and they credit the book as the source.

Here’s the cover, which should be on the other sites soon.

"Ray Tracing Gems" cover

By the way, if you want to read an article about ray tracing actual gems, this one is a good place to start. I happened upon it by accident, and it’s educational, approachable, and not dumbed down. The design criteria for a good gem cut are fun to read about: maximize reflected light as well as contrast, take into account that the viewer’s head will block off light, and so on. If you need a more serious paper from graphics people, there’s this article. Surprisingly, though fairly old, it is newer than any of the articles cited by the first, much newer article.

Well, not exactly Atomic Age, which I think of as late 40’s through mid 60’s, but close – what would you call it when you’re rendering on a plotter and drawing “+” signs for shading?

Arthur Appel’s paper from 1968 is considered the first use of ray casting for rendering, for eye rays and shadow rays.

One surprising part is that the paper includes the idea of shooting rays from the light and depositing the results on the surfaces – early photon mapping, or radiance caching, or something (details aren’t clear).

Update: an anonymous source let me know, “When I worked briefly at the IBM TJ Watson lab, I made a point of seeking out Art Appel. He was friendly and nice. As I recall, he said that he was working as technical support at the time of the ray tracing work. As he described it, most of his day was spent hanging around, waiting to answer the phone and help people with computer issues (this may have been a self-effacing description of a very different or important job, for all I know). He said that he had lots of free time during the day, and he was interested in using the computer to make images, so his ray tracing work was basically a hobby!”

 

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