They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

Penguicon 12.1 -- Morning

One complaint I would have with Penguicon, was that there were differences between the online spreadsheet schedule and the printed schedule. And the session descriptions weren't keyed to the schedule. In other words, the Linux open source and SF con didn't update their server.

But... my prelabs from home had enough in common to get me started. Having pulled in at 9:19am, got out the walker, the shorter four-point cane with the hooked handle that stays put on the roll bar better, grabbed camera bag, day bag, keys, etc. Once inside, the registration line was short and I was on my way.

0900 Adventures in Metallurgy Algonquin D
Ron Demerino
--What does the CIA have in common with dinosaur extinction? They have a great metallurgical story behind them! Come hear some great stories from Professor Ron, followed by Q&A.
1000 Harrowing Tales in Metallurgy Algonquin D
--Christmas Interruptus? Narcs on a bus? (Nope! They are engineers) Professor Ron relates more great tales from his career, followed by Q&A.

Ron Demerino holding Metallurgy class - "If you were in my class you'd know..." (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

In both sessions, there were (a) a number of Michigan Tech grads, as was Ron, and (b) a bunch of his former students. Of course, I did grad school at Tech, but many of you don't know that when I started grad school there wasn't yet a PhD in Applied Physics, so I did take courses and flunked the PhD qual exam for the PhD in Metallurgy (Physics of Solids option).

2nd session had great stories. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

One of his stories involved the overtorquing of bolts. He explained why tire irons are so short and whether anyone ever used the right tool. I, of course, raised my hand. When I bought the Suburban in 1979, the manual said tire lug nuts needed to be torqued to 100 ft-lbs, so I bought a Sears Craftsman Digitorq socket wrench. Really impressed Ron. Even more so, I told the tale of the breaker bar that I saw a mechanic use on an oil filter wrench. Torque = Force × radius. Lesson taught, lesson learned.

Ah, these are my people... (grin)

1100 Virtual Reality: Fact vs Fiction Windover
Ernie Cline, Ed Mason
--With the Oculus Rift being bought by media giant Facebook, the cautionary tales of science fiction seem closer than ever to reality. Join authors Ernie Cline and John Scalzi, and Android VR creator Gameface Labs, as they talk about where our communal virtual fantasy is headed.

One of the first books I read in the hospital after I was ready to concentrate on books, was Ready Player One by Ernie Cline. I knew he was a GoH at Penguicon and this was his first talk.

Ed and Ernie squaring off. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Lest you think the computer end of VR was neglected, Ed Mason of Gameface held up his end with (1) a charming British accent and (2) hardware to show off.

There was a lot of discussion of the history of video games and how VR setups would change how we see movies. Not sure I care about those uses, but VR is coming and it's cool tech.

They passed around the Gameface set twice -- once with a CGI scene and another with a vista over a parking lot crowd at an event. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Move your head, side to side, up and down, and the view changes. This new VR helmet/goggles is wireless, which really makes the lightweight thing work pretty good.

One big obstacle is GLASSES. It's not enough to have a diopter adjustment -- my astigmatism means that circles aren't circular without correction and I HATE THAT in graphics. You can also see the awful lighting conditions I was shooting under. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Afterwards, Ed Mason was quite a hit -- he showed that the one thing on the front wasn't a button, but a peephole cover. Someone said there should be two -- Ed said coming. They are looking at a release in September 2014 at a $500 price point. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

1200 A Special Reading By Cory Doctorow Windover
--A sneak peek at an untitled, in-progress novel for adults, that is something of a prequel to Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, in the vein of Makers. You’ll be the first people apart from Cory himself to come into contact with this material!

I have not read Down and Out, but the reading from the first chapter of a new novel, a century or so before, is delightful. Such words! Such images painted. It's called Utopia, and he's been writing a thousand words/day over the last month. Never been read aloud or even reread by Cory.

Penguicon runs a bit looser on time than other cons, so Cory wanted to wait a bit before reading, so did Q&A before and after. I got the first question -- a continuation of a question I asked Cory at a kaffeklatch at another con a few years ago. What's the status of Cory's xkcd balloon? Randall has never created any fantasy bigger than the thought of Cory blogging from a balloon. He's terrified of heights, pinned against the wall on the open air observation deck of the Empire State Building -- and a wicker basket under a balloon is nothing but the ledge over a great height. (double-jeopardy-grin)

Also here.

Q&A: Are you a plotter or a panster? I'm a heuristic writer. Need the rush. Once wrote 80,000 words into /bin/usr/god (the perfect titles for a Linux/SF con) and got stuck. Tried to write more scaffolding by outlining -- couldn't get back on to it. Only project never finished. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Once video cameras were used to shoot video. Now increasingly people are shooting video with DSLR and other digital still cameras. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

And then it was 1pm -- time to wander.

Dr. Phil
Tags: cons, nikon, penguicon, photos

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