Archive for November, 2008

Прогресс технологии

Friday, November 28th, 2008
(Click here to translate this post into English.)
Я фактически не говорят по-русски. Но сегодня, друг, и я говорю о том, сколько технология изменилась в последние пару десятилетий. Пожалуй, самые большие изменения в компьютер. Теперь мы машины, которые являются чрезвычайно быстрее, мощнее и меньше по размеру. Но еще более впечатляющим являются новые вещи эти компьютеры могут теперь делать.

Например, теперь я могу использовать Google Перевести с тем, что он выглядит я могу писать на русском языке. Ну … тех, кто действительно знает русский, не обманывайте себя настоящим машинного перевода. Но, по крайней мере эти слова можно понимать тот, кто умеет читать русский. И это прогресс.

В течение нескольких дней с этого момента, я буду дает лекции в Москве. Компьютеры не могут жить переводы с голосом совсем еще. Но к счастью, реальных прав переводчиков будут там. И как мощные, как компьютеры будут становиться, я все еще надеюсь, что некоторые вещи, которые сделал человек.

Giving Thanks

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in America, the day we traditionally gorge ourselves on copious amounts of turkey, cranberry sauce, and just about every form of potato side dish known to man. Tracy and I will be headed down to my brother’s place tomorrow so I wanted to say a few words of thanks in advance.

First off, I’m thankful for my family and friends. They’re what makes life so worth living. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given in life. I’m thankful for my job. As tough as work is sometimes, it’s still a great place filled with great people. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to go to Russia in a few days. I’ve never been to Eastern Europe before and I’m very excited to have this chance to see Moscow and make new friends.

But most of all, I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of you who read my little blog, have bought Mach Dice over the months, or have taken the time to write a comment or email. I’ve had other hobbies before but I’ve never had one that’s been this rewarding and that’s because of all you wonderful people. So thanks and have a great Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 24th, 2008

One of my co-workers, Jiayi Chong, wrote his first iPhone app called, “Fish!”. It’s a simple little game where you touch the screen to drop food, which attracts the fish, and you try to get the fish to collect gold coins. But the coolest part about it is that he implemented a full SPH solver to simulate the water. What does SPH stand for? I think it’s either Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics, the mass-conserving mesh-free Lagrangian method, or Silly Putty Heuristics. Another cool feature is that when you complete a level, it creates a graphical interpretation of what you did. It’s $1.99 on the iTunes Store. Check it out!

Also Known As

Friday, November 21st, 2008

So … I have  a confession to make. I’m not really Mach Kobayashi. I mean, I am in as much as anyone could be. But I was born with the name “Tony Kobayashi”. (And oddly enough, not “Anthony Kobayashi”. My mom’s from Japan and liked the name “Tony” and didn’t know it was short for something.) I used that name all the way up through high school.

Then I went off to college. It was clear on the other side of the country and I knew practically no one. I wondered, “If I introduce myself by a completely different name, will people call me by that name?” It turns out that yes, people will use pretty much whatever name you give them. So for five years (I took an extra year to get a second degree), I went by “Dexter T. Kobayashi”.

Then I went off to grad school. It was in a completely different country (in as much as Canada is a foreign country) so I thought, hey, time to try a new name. We had just spent a year in Japan so I was thinking of using something Japanese and tried “Makoto”. (My mom also liked that name but my dad wanted us to have American first names.) But it’s kind of a hard name to pronounce for westerners so I shortened it to “Mach”.

That turned out to be rather fortuitous because there are a ton of “Makoto Kobayashi”s out there. There’s Makoto Kobayashi, the mecha designer. There’s Makoto Kobayashi, the manga artist. And there’s Makoto Kobayashi, the Nobel laureate. And that’s only the famous ones. But you’re looking at the only Mach Kobayashi out there. (Well, maybe not so much “looking” as you are “reading the words of”, as it were.)

Anyways, I recently wondered if anyone from high school or college ever looked for me on the internet. Changing my name a few times might make that a little trickier, which led to this post. So, SPHS class of ’89 and CMU ECE & Math/CS class of ’93 and ’94, here I am!

Joining the 21st Century

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

First twitter, and now this… At the urging of several friends, I’m attempting to join the 21st century but it’s a rather strange experience.

I grew up in the 80s, waaay back before the turn of the millenium. When I was in high school, I wasn’t the biggest sports fan or anything but I enjoyed hanging out with friends and going to the high school football games. (Sometimes we’d all go to a school dance afterwards where I’d spend the evening getting rejected by girls. Ah… good times, good times.) But once a year, they’d have the big homecoming game. That was the game where former students from the high school would come back and watch the game along with all us kids. I remember thinking, wow, that must be weird being all old and everything around all these kids.

Now I’m on Facebook.


Monday, November 17th, 2008

My very first computer was the Timex Sinclair. As a kid, I was amazed by the fact that I could write little instructions on this thing and have it actually do something on the screen. It wasn’t a great computer. It didn’t have a real keyboard and the memory would completely wipe when you turned it off. You had to save programs using a tape recorder or write them down by hand and then retype the whole program each time you turned on the machine. Oh, and it had this annoying habit of power-cycling if you happened to bump it too hard. So there was a lot of typing involved.

Then my dad got an IBM PC XT. This thing was state of the art at the time. I think ours had 20MB of hard drive space and the CPU ran at a blistering (for the time) 6MHz. Compared to the Sinclair, it was a powerhouse. Just the fact that it had a hard drive and a real keyboard with working keys was a huge win.

Now, I’ve got an iPhone. The gap between this device and those first computers is absurd. It’s got hundreds of times as much memory and is hundreds of times faster. And this thing fits in my hand! And yet, for all the progress that’s been made, I find myself thinking the same thing for each of my computers: “I wish it ran a little bit faster…”

Film Werx

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Over this past weekend, some friends and I participated in a 48-hour film festival. The idea is pretty simple; get a bunch of teams of people together and each team tries to make a short film over the course of a weekend. To ensure that the films are created in that period, they give out a list of “ingredients” at the beginning that all the shorts have to contain. This year’s ingredients were:

  • a plunger
  • a case of mistaken identity
  • a line of dialogue repeated 3 times

These projects are a ton of fun as everyone scrambles and works together to make it all happen. The teams are small and time is short so people often serve multiple roles. I had a small acting role (“Johnny the Human Dynamo”!), I was the AD, one of the producers, and I drew that tatoo of the skull with batwings on roller skate wheels (oh yeah….).

If you ever get the chance, I heartily recommend you try it. Or heck, just grab a bunch of friends, a camcorder, and shoot something over a weekend. One piece of advice: leave plenty of time for editing. It takes longer than you’d think.


Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
You will do well to expand your business.

You will do well to expand your business.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I’d be interested in giving a talk on RenderMan and Wall-E at CG Event, a computer graphics conference in Russia. I said, “Hells, yeah!” I just got my tourist visa yesterday and then I got this fortune cookie message that read, “You will do well to expand your business.” Coincidence or eerily prescient piece of confectionary? You decide. Perhaps the cookie is telling me to start pushing my iPhone app in Russia. Or perhaps it’s telling me to go ahead with that idea of Mach Dice plush toys for Christmas.

In any case, if there happen to be any of you blog visitors or Mach Dice purchasers that are going to be in Moscow on November 29 or 30, let me know. I’d love to say, “Hi!” (or “Privet!”, as it were…).

In other news, my foot is healing up nicely from the motorcycle accident. (Note to self: slamming into a concrete barrier is a painful, though effective, method to slow down.) But the other day, I discovered something neat, although gross, about my swollen foot. Check it out if you dare, but this video is not for the squeamish

Tattoo Werx

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Over the weekend, I was involved in a 48-hour film project where teams of people get together and try to make a short film in two days. I’ll talk a little more about the project itself next time but here’s a photo of a tattoo that I drew on one of the actors, my friend Kai Morrison. Yes, it’s a skull with batwings on roller skate wheels.

Using Photos in an iPhone App

Friday, November 7th, 2008

I found a nice tutorial on using UIPickerController to use photos on your iPhone in your application. It’s a nice simple way to select a photo and then use it in some way, like as a texture or something. Unfortunately, it’s a little limited. There’s no way to tell it to grab a specific photo or to use the camera directly to display real-time images of what the camera sees. So I can’t use this to turn the iPhone into a funky kaleidoscope, but I do plan to make some use of it in Project #2.

In other news, here are some pictures. The first is my friend Sonoko and her awesome Alec the Bunny costume and me in my army dude costume. The second picture is me with the rest of my “platoon” after we just did a little invisible gun fight. Lots of fun. The last picture is my foot after getting smooshed between my motorcycle and a concrete barrier on the turn while exiting off a freeway just a tad too much velocity while on my way to the Russian consulate. Not quite as much fun, but still an important lesson was learned: slow down before entering a turn.