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efaardvark last won the day on May 17

efaardvark had the most liked content!

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About efaardvark

  • Rank
    Regular AF Member


  • Favourite Anime
    Lots. Off the top of my head (and in no particular order)...

    Ghost in the Shell
    プラネテス (ΠΛΑΝΗΤΕΣ)
    Any "real" science fiction actually
    Angel Beats!
    Clannad: After Story
    Your Lie In April
    Pet Girl of Sakurasou
    Spice and Wolf
    FLCL (original)
    Any Miyazaki/Ghibli
  • Favourite Genres
    Slice of Life
    Space Opera
  • Favourite Character Type


  • Image


  • Location
    Someplace between Santa Monica and Sedna.
  • Occupation
    Data systems engineer
  • Interests
    reading, electronics, science, space, programming
  • Gender

Video Games

  • Favorite Video Game/Series
    Kerbal Space Program

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  1. I was just reading up on the latest rumors a couple days ago. We'll see. That's the draw of VR.
  2. I've tried the Sony VR. It is .. marginal, IMHO. Resolution and FOV are limited, tracking is sometimes questionable, and the controllers are cheap. In fact, the whole thing is cheap-feeling. Not that cheap is a bad thing, all else being equal, but this is clearly a low-end device. For a first attempt at a broadly-deployed consumer VR device it is a good try, but frankly, the biggest thing the Sony device has going for it is the software available.
  3. Stuff like Dennou Coil is why I like "hard" SF. It gives you a glimpse into where we are, or at least could be, going. Sometimes it is a warning. Sometimes it is a wonderful vision. It is always interesting, IMHO. Unfortunately "hard" SF is hard to get right. You re constrained by the known, and very limited in what you can extrapolate and make into a story. Stuff like Star Trek and Summer Wars is more entertaining for most, gets a wider audience, and is ultimately more profitable. STEM education being what it is these days quite a lot of people can't tell the difference anyway. Not that I'm knocking the "soft" stuff. I can appreciate that too. I enjoyed Summer Wars. But to really get my brain engaged I need the hard stuff. Current best-tech for AR/VR is anything but simple or cheap. The hololens is $3000 last I checked, and is bulky and balky. The stuff from Magic Leap is cutting edge and cheaper, but still not anything like the almost-not-there I/O glasses/devices in Dennou Coil. That said, once a prototype of a device like this is built, no matter how bulky and impractical, if there's enough perceived demand then the electronics of things like the cameras that do the "inside out" positioning can be merged and miniaturized. The software that runs on a general-purpose CPU to do those "background" tasks can be hard-coded for a dedicated, massively parallel processing chip that does that one thing far faster and cheaper and use less power besides. We've seen this effect already in 3D gaming with GPUs, which themselves evolved from FPGAs. GPUs could be used in machine learning, but now nvidia and Intel are making even more specialized chips for that. Tesla's also done their custom "FSD" - Full Self Driving - chip for their cars which consolidated, "simplified" (from an outside perspective), and made more reliable and cheaper a bunch of stuff that had been done the hard way with off-the-shelf general purpose components. The HoloLens/Magic Leap AR gear (and some consumer VR gear as well) are already mounting outward-facing cameras that the system's software uses to position and orient the headset in the user's existing, ambient environment. In some cases it also positions associated "peripheral" devices like hand controllers in 3d space. This is what I meant when I used the term "inside out" positioning, above. The position and orientation information originates from the device itself. As opposed to "outside in", which relies on separate outside sensors pre-positioned in an environment and connected to a computer to feed the headset's position and orientation data to the VR engine. Clearly "inside out" is what you want in an ultra mobile device. That's pretty hard. The outside in method is currently the cheapest, most accurate, and most easily do-able with existing off-the-shelf components. Unfortunately it kind of ties you down by limiting you to a predefined operational area defined by the outside sensors. There's nothing tech-wise which is impossible in the Dennou Coil world however. Cameras can be made almost as small as you like, and their inputs fed into massively parallel, special purpose silicon built into the frames, which in turns outputs position and orientation info to the upper layers of software. Virtual retinal displays are already a thing.. actually kind of a solution in search of a problem like lasers were back in the day. Smarphones can already play 3D games, and connect wirelessly to periperals and the 'Net. Support a VRD with a phone-sized "compute brick" that uses an inside-out headset as its user interface and there you go. Probably won't happen any time real soon, but I see no intrinsic problems with implementation. And yes, there would no doubt be hazards with the new technology. There's already been people running out into traffic chasing pocket monsters. 4 billion years of evolution are wasted on some people. SMH.
  4. If you haven't already, go watch Dennou Coil, aka Cyber Coil. It is kind of a fun sci fi about a bunch of kids and the fun they get into while wearing augmented reality glasses. In the real world we're not quite there, yet. Augmented reality in the real world is bounded by things like Pokemon Go and StarChart on smartphones, and Microsoft's HoloLens is still pretty bulky and expensive. Nowhere near the nearly-invisible glasses they wear in Dennou Coil. If you've never seen MSFT's 2015 E3 Hololens minecraft demo you should. Microsoft obviously wants us to go there. They've just announced their Minecraft Earth app (below), which to me looks like a portal, both in a marketing sense and a gaming sense. Clearly - to me anyway - the plan is to get people using the app to build content and attach it to the real world so that when things like Hololens get cheap enough there will already be a rich environment to work with. [mal type=anime id=2164] and Minecraft Earth,
  5. I'm concerned about the weight of the VR headset and etc. as well. I'd really like to see a light headset that works wirelessly. Making the headset light but cabled to a small backpack or fannypack that actually holds the battery and most of the electronics would be acceptable, as long as the cable is well-managed. It is being worked on and it'll happen, but it isn't here yet. The other thing I'd really like to see is a simple glove type device for hand positioning and gesture sensing. (Simple for the user.. it can be PFM inside, as long as it is easy to use.)
  6. Built an aquarium... ... and a villager photobombed it when I took a picture of it.
  7. efaardvark


    If we're still talking the anime then that would definitely be Edogawa. He's actually member of the photography club (for dubious reasons), but he's always hanging out with the astronomy club.
  8. efaardvark


    You wouldn't be from Nogishiro High School would you? [mal type=anime id=6098]
  9. efaardvark

    Anime Chit Chat

    I pronounce that "nostalgia factor", tyvm... There was also this in the Crunchy news feed about UchiMusume. I liked Usagi Drop & from what I can tell this seems to have a similar vibe. Another one to add to my list of things to check out at any rate.
  10. efaardvark

    Anime Chit Chat

    I may track down Kimagure. I saw some of it (quite) a while back, but not all. It was kind of long and what I saw of it wasn't really worth writing home about, but it was good enough that I'd be interested in going back to fill in the gaps and complete it. For closure if nothing else. I also see stuff like Inukami, which was pretty stupid, but fun nevertheless.
  11. Got to do some capture-the-flag / village defense in minecraft today and got my first set of captured raider-captain banners: Not exactly heads-on-pikes, but it'll do for now.
  12. Just a couple hours until SpaceX launches 60-satellites on one rocket, weather permitting.  This is the first of many such launches for the Starlink constellation of satellites.  The company's FCC license requires at least  4,400 satellites to be put in orbit in the next 6 years, and the final Starlink constellation is planned to have around 12,000 satellites total.  😮   

    For the math challenged:

    4,400 satellites in the next 6 years is 61 satellites per month every month for the next 72 months. 

    12,000 satellites would be 200 launches of 60 satellites each.


    1. Show previous comments  4 more
    2. efaardvark


      Long terms this is really another reason to get some industry going in space.  The biggest problem right now is the cost of getting stuff from the Earth's surface to orbit.  The.  Absolute.  Biggest.  The problem has been known about since even before Apollo, and NASA has talked about doing something about it for decades, but what they've come up with have been pork projects like the space shuttle that are really not useful for anything but getting money spent in certain Congressional districts.  Fortunately we now have people like Musk and Bezos with personal fortunes able to address the issue.

      If we could get something like a lunar mining/manufacturing/industrial process going then getting heavier vehicles into orbit would be so much easier in the long run.  Thicker skins, less fragile components, extra redundancy, and more maneuverability due to bigger fuel margins would in turn all go a long way towards both strengthening satellites against damage and enabling the Toy Box option to clean up old debris before it causes problems.

      It is kind of like in the game Kerbal Space Program.  (Bear with me here.)  At the beginning of the game you're just so happy that you can get something into orbit that you don't even care where the spent boosters wind up.  Over time though the old bits start to clutter up the displays in the tracking station, and even once you get better at putting stuff in orbit it still takes a lot of skill and massive rockets to do anything useful, especially when you want to send stuff to other planets. 

      Now, KSP has a "cheat" where you can just delete stuff from orbit from within the tracking station.  Unfortunately that's not an option in real life.  I've tried doing it the hard way, by launching new rockets with missions to physically go collect and de-orbit the clutter, but that takes a lot of fuel and rockets.  It is very expensive, which matters a lot in the career game.

      Pro game tip... build a mining base on Minmus.  Minmus is a small moon of Kerbin, the planet you start on.  The moon has such low gravity that even the weakest, cheapest rocket engines can lift massive amounts of, well, mass.  Most of a rocket's launch weight is fuel.  It is actually far cheaper to manufacture fuel on Minmus, launch it into Minmus orbit, and transfer it to Kerbin orbit than to launch the same amount of fuel from Kerbin itself.  If you can plan on refueling in Kerbin low orbit then the rockets you launch from Kerbin don't have to carry nearly so much fuel along with them and can be much smaller/lighter in the first place.  If you have a way to refuel in space then you can also build more flexible, capable, and durable space ships and reuse them on multiple missions, instead of doing expensive one-shot missions that leave a lot of old, useless hardware laying around cluttering up the place when you're done.

      True, it takes a bit of work to get that first mining base going.  You need to get the mining hardware to Minmus after all, and you need to do it without having the benefit of being able to refuel initially.  It isn't easy either.  I've crashed plenty of times just trying to get the equipment into orbit, or doing the transfer to Minmus orbit.  Or landing!

      Ok, about landing.  Minmus is like the Moon.  It has no atmosphere.  Atmospheres are like extra fuel.  If you have an atmosphere then you can target your orbit to enter the upper levels of the atmosphere and slow down without using fuel.  If you do it just right then you can slow down enough that you can get rid of all that orbital velocity without using a drop of fuel and wind up coming straight down instead of continuing back off into space. 

      That would be kind of a Bad Thing too, except for parachutes.  Having an atmosphere means not only not having to use fuel to come down from orbit, but you also don't have to use fuel to slow down enough to land safely.  Just pop the parachute and drift down.

      Minmus.. isn't like that.  You can put the low point of your orbit 1 foot off the surface and you won't slow down a bit.  You'll just fly by the ground at hundreds of meters per second and continue back up into orbit.  (Pretty thrilling, actually, considering things like mountains.)  If you use a little more fuel to cause your orbit to "intersect" the surface then that's called an "impact" because you'll still be going at orbital velocities of hundreds of meter per second.

      Worse, even if you expend the large amounts of fuel necessary to kill all your orbital velocity and drop like a rock straight down.  You'll still need to expend even more fuel to slow down and land gently.  Parachutes don't help at all if there's no air to inflate them.

      I can't tell you how many times I've crashed trying to land heavy mining equipment on Minmus.  (Or the Mün, which another moon of Kerbin that is easier to get to in terms of orbit, but has a higher gravity, is even harder to land on, and is ultimately less efficient in terms of getting fuel to orbit.)  But if you can do the landing, get the mining equipment set up, and start manufacturing fuel on Minmus then everything for the rest of the game becomes SO much easier.  Even building a reusable/refuelable spacecraft with a grapple to go and grab all those old booster stages and put them on new trajectories that reenter Kerbin's atmosphere and burn up are cheap enough to be feasible within the financial constraints of a career game.


    3. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      Man, you really know how to make something sound tempting. I mean I've seen some of your screenshots in the gaming section but never knew the game was so advanced/realistic in a way. I wish I had the time to actually game, but when I get to your age the latest I hope I'll have a steady job and enough stuff figured out that I can indulge myself in gaming again.

      On the cleaning up space debris issue, I think it's kinda weird that you might have to rely on people with their personal fortune, when (at least in my book) it should be part of governments' jobs (either national or through international treaties). But I'm not complaining about SpaceX, more about the lack of ambition from the official side.

    4. efaardvark


      It should be part of government's jobs, but nobody is doing anything anymore for the country's sake.  They're all doing it for themselves.  If you're a Congresscritter then the money you bring in to your district is almost directly tied to whether you get reelected.  Either it puts "federal money" (someone else's taxes) into your local economy and makes you popular with your voters, or else it channels money to certain special interests whose lobbyists in turn channel a certain fraction of it into your campaign funds.

      It is all short-term too.  Elections typically happen ever two or 4 years.  Anything beyond that is hard to justify, especially since even if it works out then by that time you may have been replaced by your opponent.  Who then of course will claim credit for the resulting benefits.

      The only way to do this sort of long-term stuff is to have your own resources and spend them as you see fit.  That or have a command economy at your fingers, which amounts to the same thing. 

      Of course, the guy at the top has to know how to spend the money and get things done.  Musk clearly has what it takes, and has hired some of the best people in the world.  Bezos hasn't even got to orbit yet, but he has far, far, more money to spend, and has the right ideas and has also hired top talent.  And he did create Amazon after all, so he personally knows at least a thing or two about technology.

      On the "command economy" side,  Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping, the Chinese leadership are all quite well educated, with the first two even having engineering degrees (electrical and hydraulic, respectively), and all are proponents of the Chinese "Scientific Outlook on Development".  China is already ahead of the US in many ways.  They're already the most influential economic power in the world, with most of the world's manufacturing under their control, including key industrial resources like rare-earth minerals.  They've got the biggest solar power station in the world, the biggest hydro power station, and they're going ahead full speed with "modern" clean nuclear ideas like molten salt breeder reactors.  (Which they got from us btw.)  They're even putting SpaceX under pressure by duplicating their reusable booster concepts.  The rover they landed on the lunar far side last year shows that they have the technical chops for space and they have credible plans to put a manned base on the moon by the 2030s.  Couple their manufacturing and industrial power with extremely cheap, virtually unlimited electrical power and they'll be unstoppable, not only in space but wherever else they decide to exert their influence.

      Our government .. has Trump.  And Pelosi, and Schumer, and Hillary, and McConnell, and etc.  Career lawyers and politicians all.  Not a single science or engineering degree in the bunch.  :( 

  13. I can't speak to that anime specifically but I have had that sort of issue with quite a few other animes over the years. It seems to be hard for many animes to just tell a good story, reach a satisfactory ending, and go on to another topic. If the current season is popular - which is not necessarily the same thing as "good" from a story progression point of view - then there's a strong tendency to do more of the same and it gets boring. If the current season isn't popular then they often simply quit and leave it hanging instead of ending it properly. Sometimes an anime will intentionally leave the last episode in a "cliffhanger" state, which is really annoying if they don't actually ever get around to making/releasing another season. That kind of thing pretty much ruins the whole thing for me. As an artist, why even bother if you're not going to do it right? As a fan, that feels incredibly rude, like they just did it for the $$. Why? Why! 😭 ( ) I'm to the point now where I don't usually even start an anime if I know it is going to be a multi-season deal. I'm a binge-viewer who usually waits for the season's end anyway and I can always come back to it later if I hear it turned out well. In my experience it is unusual for an anime to get better as time goes on though. It is rare enough if a second season is better than the first, and I can count on my fingers the times when a 3rd season has been better than the second. All IMHO, YMMV, etc....
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