View Full Version : Do you feel lucky to be in the age of computers?

06-08-2002, 01:33 PM
Inane and off-opengl-topic thread, maybe, but I just got an overwhelming feeling of how lucky I was to be able to program a computer. We (as programmers) have opportunities that mathematicians and engineers stretching back centuaries would have killed for. I've been playing with ODE (Open Dynamics Engine) recently, and I'm constantly in awe of the complex behaviour simple rules can produce...

...and no, I haven't been on a drugs binge.. http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

06-08-2002, 02:15 PM
I feel very honored to have been born in this era. C++ was even just a baby when I started programming...makes you feel all mushy inside http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif.

06-08-2002, 03:16 PM
I've thought this too...we are in a sort of golden age of computer graphics.

The real-time visuals we can get now are pretty damn good and the progress is still really fast, which makes it a very exciting time to be in this field.

-- Zeno

Julien Cayzac
06-08-2002, 03:46 PM
Originally posted by Zeno:
I've thought this too...we are in a sort of golden age of computer graphics.

I don't think so.
Sometimes I wish I would be born 100 years ahead from now :p
That's the discrete (math. sense) nature of computing that bothers me.


06-08-2002, 04:09 PM
100 years!?

I dont think we'll even need graphics coders anymore in 100 years. Few more years down the line, and we're gonna approach ray-traced quality one way or another. After that everything will just be done for you.

I think now, is the best time to be a graphics coder.

06-08-2002, 08:36 PM
>>I dont think we'll even need graphics coders anymore in 100 years<<

true, there is gonna be a limit reached ( i think about in 20 years time) where real time graphics are gonna be pretty close to 'visualy perfect' (then what are we gonna do? improve on perfection

'visualy perfect' defined as where improving the quality/performance doesnt have any human visual imporovements

eg take a 17inch monitor, have a 10000x10000 pixels on it does 1000000x1000000 look better to the viewer, it maybe measurably better but for joe blow both images look alike.

what are 3d programmeurs of the future gonna do then?
become artists

06-08-2002, 10:32 PM
I feel like I'm living in between times.

It's certainly great having what we have at home now, *at home*.
At the same time, you have to think of the possibilities. How about some real 3D imagery. 3D holograms that you can perhaps touch, interact with. Androids that are very human like. And how about computers that don't crash and that can fix their own problems or give us a clue http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

Watch Star Trek, you'll see what I mean (Next Generation, or Voyager)

It's pretty hard tracking bugs. Making mistakes is easy. I sometimes compile to find typing mistakes! VB is nice for that case.


06-09-2002, 01:27 AM
i dont really care about what could be done etc, i just like what i have now. if we would not have pc's i would like what we would have then etc..
and i dont think we get that far that we have androids and holograms, because our civilisation will die out before because of alergies.. like the romans who all got white hairs and started to die out because of the tin/copper stuff they had in all the water in. look out and you see that today in the rich states there are more alergicans than normal peoples, and the rate people die because of it is growing. more and more people can't move out into some grassfield with short trousers anymore without getting fully red else.

and ther are always our sweet terrorists and wars..

in the end i'm happy to be in a world where i can do what i want more or less, but human contacts are much more satisfieing than any virtual world. why i love pc's is just because i love math..

Julien Cayzac
06-09-2002, 02:07 AM
Originally posted by Nutty:
Few more years down the line, and we're gonna approach ray-traced quality one way or another.

Ray tracing handles only one kind of light path: DS*E (D=diffuse surface, S=specular surf., E=eye). You have to use some kind of tricky integration method (montecarlo, etc.) to poorly simulate global illumination. Furthermore, raytracing is for rendering surface, not volume -in reallife there is not "matter surfaces" and "vacuum", but a whole large matter density distribution along 3 axes. No rendering method can handle that nowaday :p

I think graphics rendering algorithms have not evolved so much in 30 years. We got raytracing, we got scanline, so what ? Is that all ? We're still bound by computing power and data storage formats, IMHO.

Come on, what have lookups (a texture is nothing but a lookup) in common with reallife lighting ? I look forward for global procedural matter density algorithms, and who knows, maybe I'll still alive when hardware can handle the thing http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

just woke up, too early sunday afternoon http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif

06-09-2002, 04:36 AM
in reallife there is not "matter surfaces" and "vacuum", but a whole large matter density distribution along 3 axes. No rendering method can handle that nowaday

That may well be true, but the better we get, the smaller the difference becomes of what we can render, and what real-life looks like. At some point you will get to a stage, that looks easily better than TV-reality. But to get as good as real-life, would require exponential amounts of computing power, for very subtle and almost negligable effects.

I do think once we reach simple global illumination systems, there will be a huge reduction in the amount of work a graphics programmer needs to do, in order to get a scene rendered. More time will be spent on authoring the data, with very little time setting up the hardware.

I could be wrong, but who knows.


06-09-2002, 08:05 AM
yes, i do.
i think i am living at the right time. some year earlier or some years later would be completely wrong for me.

06-09-2002, 08:19 AM
i agree with davepermen.
i don't think that everything can grow without end.(especially populations...)

Jeffry J Brickley
06-09-2002, 10:44 AM
I think I am in the right time. I am not the best expert here, there are many far more talented in these forumns. My skills are all self taught, but find myself in an industry outside of games and film that I am fighting hard to push in the direction of realism. People here complain that things look "cartoonish" yet fight me for bringing techniques from the gaming and film industry to make things more "real". I'm just a small fish, but the it is the struggle now that I enjoy. In a hundred years, I would be looking for another struggle, maybe AI, robotics or something similar because this fight will be done. But I am glad I am in this struggle, I enjoy it. http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

06-09-2002, 11:22 AM
I thought we were in the Space Age.

06-09-2002, 12:03 PM
I'm not necessarily talking about graphics here... http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif Just having this tool at your disposal. Have any of you done something like write a newtonian simulation of galaxies? Imagine what Newton would have done to be able to actually 'play' with such a simulation....I know he could play the simulations in his mind, but a computer would have given him more opportunities to experiment....
I've just realised I'm talking bollocks on an opengl forum - forgive me, I've been talking to a lot of non-programmers about programming, and it's clarified how lucky I am to be able to program.

06-09-2002, 12:25 PM
Originally posted by dorbie:
I thought we were in the Space Age.

The 50s and 60s were the Space Age.

The 70s were, uhm, a blur.

The 80s and 90s were the Information Age.

Nowadays it's either still the Information Age or the Biotech Age, depending on who you ask.

06-09-2002, 12:30 PM
Originally posted by knackered:
Have any of you done something like write a newtonian simulation of galaxies?

Funny you should say that http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

06-09-2002, 12:49 PM
Very cool.

I'm curious, how do you seed the initial star distribution, mass and velocities?

Is there documentation on some galactic model or other?


After downloading I noticed it starts off with a neat geometric distribution & settles down after shedding a few stars. It looks spectacular animated.

[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 06-09-2002).]

06-09-2002, 12:52 PM
Adrian, it was kind of a rhetorical question - I assumed everyone had. Having said that, yours is without a doubt the best one I've seen! Nice one! http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

06-09-2002, 01:42 PM
Thanks guys,

Dorbie, I randomly distribute the stars in the xz plane and then recycle those that are outside a certain radius.

I use Keplers law to calculate the stars velocity so that it stays in a stable orbit. There was a flaw in my code which is why some stars get flung out immediately (I have since fixed this).

The two parent stars have random mass the rest have zero mass.

The latest version (not yet released) loads a greyscale density map and the stars are distributed according to that. That way I can use real images of galaxies as templates.

Jeffry J Brickley
06-09-2002, 01:52 PM
Impressive! Makes my particle simulations look pretty lame. http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif Though admittadly, my field is somewhat different. However, I may borrow the idea of particle distribution based on images, I hadn't thought of that. Mine are explosions not gravity models, but I could use prior images to adjust initial velocity models rather than my current vector addition with random distribution and last velocity. I'd be interested to see the difference in my code.

John Nagle
06-09-2002, 09:45 PM
Originally posted by knackered:
Have any of you done something like write a newtonian simulation of galaxies?

I haven't worked on that problem, but there is a famous algorithm for the N-body problem which allows efficient simulation of galaxy formation.
The basic idea is that faraway objects can be grouped and handled as a single mass. Error bounds can be computed to determine when it's valid to do this, so it's theoretically sound.

06-09-2002, 11:10 PM
Originally posted by knackered:
Have any of you done something like write a newtonian simulation of galaxies.

This is exactly like writing a map of the earth _assuming_ that the earth is flat ! Newtonian physics is just a _local_ approximation of the physical world. The larger the distances and/or the masses involved, the lesser the accuracy. What's more, many galaxies (maybe most? astrophysicists still don't know) have a black hole in their center. A black hole is a place of extreme curvature. So it's impossible to get anything realistic with newtonian mechanics.

06-09-2002, 11:59 PM
Am I the only one who dream about being born 10 year earlier or 30 years later ??
I'm arrived just few year late in early 80's, just to smell the end of the "real" pioneer era.
I prefer more those years when ppl REALLY had to be genius to achieve just one "sprite" moving on screen.
And I'm arrived to early to see those "brain computer implantation" seen in cyberpunk litherature. http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/biggrin.gif

06-10-2002, 12:49 AM
It doesn't matter what period of computing you're in, the important point is you're in the era of computers - tools that can do many computations in a second and display the results graphically. Whether you're doing it in the early 80's (as I was with the BBC micro), or now (with > 2ghz) it doesn't matter - you're still lucky! http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif

Jeffry J Brickley
06-10-2002, 04:42 AM
RIO, there is always a pioneer area. True, your "real" pioneer era was sprites on a computer screen in 1980s.... However, that was the pioneering era of 2D graphics. The pioneering efforts in 3D graphics is right now (in my humble opinion). We have gone from wireframe 3D graphics in the late 70s, to solids in the 80s, simple shaded models to advanced pixel shaders now. Every 6 months is a new developement in 3D graphics just as in computers. I like this age for me, however, I will be honest, had I been born in any other age... if at all possible, I would want to be on the edge again, whatever that pioneering effort is. I don't have to be on the "bleeding edge" so to speak, but I like working with the new stuff, new ideas, finding new ways of working with things. For me, this is fun. And I get paid for doing it! http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif

06-10-2002, 07:30 AM
I think the 70's and 80's were the golden era of computers.
Now everything is dull and boring, canned and strict.

For example,
Bill gates wrote the entire language of Basic in a few days. Now if you wanted to write basic you would need a team of 10 and 2 years, even then you would probably be behind schedule.

The day of the thinking programmer are over. Now everything is just process. Each programmer can be replaced by another.

Computers are boring.

And further, they wont live up to what they hyped. The smartest computer ever will probably not be one billionth as smart as a microbe. AI is a wet dream.

Computers are just glorified shovels (moving data instead of dirt). At least with a shovel you would get some excercise.

(Is it obvious someone has burned out on programming??)

Still love programming some stuff, though; but for work, maybe 2% of computers jobs are interesting, the rest are dull as night.

06-10-2002, 10:03 AM
You need to get your CV out, mate http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif
I wouldn't recommend pouring out that trash in your next interview, though. You have lost your soul to.... database programming? (at a guess)...

06-10-2002, 10:16 AM
It is time for the CV. Actually I got all my old transcripts out and am back to school in the fall for the Ph.D in math. Doing math simulations on computers is very fun, but hard to get a job doing.

Of the 4 computing jobs 1 has been interesting --writing simulators for aircraft--. The other three were tough; too much process, not enough coding. Wrote more code in one evening at home that in 6 months at work!!

Computers are great, but they seem to have reached a point where there are less new ideas. Instead, the emphasis is bigger and faster, not totally new ways of doing things, as it was in the beginning. The science must evolve into something new or stagnate....


There is also a lot of talk that programming is for 25-40 year olds. After that the profession is kind of a dead end, since companies prefer to hire people with 4-5 years of experience over someone with 5+ because they can pay them less. Since I am 30+ this is something to think about...

Interesting to see how the next few years treats the profession...

[This message has been edited by nickels (edited 06-10-2002).]

06-10-2002, 10:30 AM
for vigeo games to me the golden age was 1977/78 in my town (3000ppl) we had 4 videogame parlours total about 40 machines and every single one (no exceptions) was space invaders, over the weekend i went to one town of 110,000 ppl and there was 1 videogame palour! 1977-1980 was like the beatles era WRT music

06-10-2002, 11:08 AM

I feel lucky to be alive at this time, especially as realtime computer graphic proceeds in a rapid way. Im doing OpenGL since the end of 2000, mainly I wanted to visualize myself some vector operations as cross product ...., and now I'm playing with
vertex programs and register combiners, I'm amzed... http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/biggrin.gif And my heart beats when I think about the upcoming GL2.0 and the next generations of graphics hardware. I like the highway of new toys http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/biggrin.gif http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/biggrin.gif http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif

I think it is useful to learn as much as possible about 3d stuff like algorithms/hardware even when in perhaps 2 years nobody talks about fixed function or non high-order primitives.

I especially feel lucky that my first programming experiments were in the time as a 386 with 4mb ram was state of the art, because with pascal doing little nice experiments was easy and you learned things just by doing,as basic control flow, file io ...(when I look at my co-students, some of them have problems with just splitting a small project into some procedures http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/frown.gif )
You did not to struggle with windows creation, windows messages ... when first encountering with programming. It was easy just to draw with BGI (you know http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif) some lines and some circles without device contexts ...

I think there is always the chance to learn and utilitize new technologies while still using knowledge learned some time (and tech-generation before)

But sometimes I feel that I wish I would be born 5 years ago, because then I would have had the chance to do asm stuff to write VGA mode apps, but every generation has its frontier, the before-born had to fight against 64k segments, we have to fight against fill-rate limitations and insufficient texture memory and perhaps the next will struggle against correct shader setup...


06-10-2002, 11:56 AM
We are living in the golden age? Not quite, but we are definatly on its event horizon. Moving faster and faster the further we move. I am patiently awaiting 1 thing, that will take computers to the step that Color took the TV. Light proccessors. They are comming, and FAST, they have been indevopment for years, and are finaly making head way. Were talking about speed of light computing with NO heat issues. But mostly, I am excited about the GRAPHICS. No graphic programers will not simply die off like the dinasaurs, but evolve. I envision a new gaming demention. One of wich rivals the quality of Cinema. People will no longer we watching movies, They will play them. The poly count will become so high, it would require a thousand gforces to equal the output power needed to see them. No more QUICK short cuts, with lightmapping, or faking, some collisions with bounding spheres. No my friend were talking about down to the hairs on the characters head, brushing against the banaster as they fall to the ground. THAT will be the evolution of gaming. And that is wave i want to be on. Strike that, thats the wave i want to be leading. One day our children will see a battered old copy of Doom 3 and go, man those graphics SUCKED. Now that will be GAMING.

06-10-2002, 12:19 PM
Memory bandwidth is going to be the biggest problem.

06-11-2002, 03:37 AM
->Nickels, sounds like you lost your dreams, boy. http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif If you think it's all too canned, go solo and do your own thing. Look at the demo scene - they won't agree with you.

Besides, anyone wanting to pick up their love for computing? Unplug totally (bring the computer into the basement) and head to the book store, picking up Jean Hegland - Into the Forest. Do not use the computer at all while reading. http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif