XScreenSaver 5.30

XScreenSaver 5.30 out now. iOS version, too.

I wrote a new screen saver, WindupRobot. This is one of my finest, if I do say so myself. You saw a sneak preview of it last month when I was learning Maya. The original plan was to 3d-print this robot to use for the prize statues in the DNA Lounge Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge (happening this Sunday!) but that didn't work out, and instead we built the statues by hand. But that 3d model did not go to waste, because, screen saver!

I also put an absurd, OCD-level of work into the Lament saver. When I first wrote that thing, back in 1998, I didn't have any 3D modeling software, so the way I cracked the problem was: 1) I modeled it out of clay, cutting apart a cube until I understood how it al fit together, and how the visual effects crew had cheated; 2) then I modeled it out of paper; 3) then I measured that paper, and typed in the numbers. So, anyway, it's 2014 now and flushed with my success at managing to export Maya and Sketchup models in a form that XScreenSaver can ingest, I made new models, re-built all the texture maps and added a bunch of models and behaviors that were missing, like "tube", "sphere" and most importantly, "Leviathan". You all laughed at me for the research I did on this a couple weeks ago, but who's laughing now, punk?

Also, using your finger to spin the various models around on iOS has inertia now. It's soothing.

And finally, I think the OSX auto-updater finally works. It was broken in a very unfortunate way: when it ran, it would give you a dialog showing that an update was available; download it; prompt you for the admin password; and then not actually update anything. Actually it updated the "XScreenSaverUpdater.app" program but not any of the savers! Doh. But I think that it works now. This time for sure. I think.

(If the auto-updater dialog popped up for you before 10:15pm on Sep 10 PDT, it probably didn't work and you're still running 5.29. If it ran later than that -- I think it worked!)

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Ball sack

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OpenGL multisampling performance

Dear Lazyweb,

If you turn on multisampling in xscreensaver on OSX, like this:

defaults -currentHost write org.jwz.xscreensaver.Geodesic multiSample -bool true

then one or two things happen. The first is, everything looks much prettier because the polygon edges are anti-aliased. Yay. But the second is, sometimes, the frame rate drops from 30fps to like 5fps, and CPU utilization goes up to 95%. Boo.

I don't understand under what circumstances multisampling kills performance. I assume it's exhausting some resource and falling back to software rendering, though I don't know what that resource is or what else is contending for it. Also, I haven't seen this happen on my current machine. I last saw it on a Mac with a GeForce 8800 GS in it, which is something like a 2008-vintage graphics card.

So... I'd like to turn on multisampling by default, except on machines where that's likely to suck.

Perhaps the question I want to ask is, "does this machine's video card have gobs and gobs of RAM?" Or maybe it's just, "was this machine's video card manufactured after 2013?"

Do any of you know how to ask questions like that of an NSOpenGLContext, or using some other MacOS API?

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HealthKit Constants Reference:

  • HKBodyTemperatureSensorLocationRectum

    The temperature was taken in the rectum.

    Available in iOS 8.0 and later.

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DNA Lounge: Wherein the robots are on the march.

The DNA Lounge Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge is this Sunday!

We've got our lineup of judges now, so these are the people you have to impress:

We'll have chiptunes music from DJ J.A.E. of 8bitSF, and the whole thing will be officiated by Dr. Kingfish, our official Cup Bearer (did you know that Cup Bearer was a fairly high rank in royal courts? I did not know this.)

But most importantly, check out those amazing award statues pictured above! Gold, silver and copper. Kinda makes the flyer come to life, right? I'm really happy with how those turned out. Devon and I spent about a month making them. It was a lot more work than I expected.

And yes, the robots still work. If you win one of these, you can wind it up and watch it's little legs flail in mid-air, because the award statue for a robot contest should be mechanically active.


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