Mike Jacobs

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Top Stories by Mike Jacobs

The Star Trek universe has inspired many technology ideas but I'm disappointed I don't have a transporter yet. One Star Trek technology that has been available for sometime is the particle system. No, this is not an exotic propulsion system for your flying car. The particle system was invented to animate the Genesis effect in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. While the Genesis device was used to transform a barren planet into one full of life, we can adopt this technology for more modest effects in Java3D. In the Beginning In previous articles, we've focused on creating planetary surfaces with Java3D. One challenging area of graphics programming is rendering irregular or ill-defined objects like clouds, smoke, or fireworks. William Reeves faced that challenge when Lucasfilm was asked to create a planetary creation effect called the Genesis effect for Star Trek II: Wra... (more)

Casting Perlin's Movie Magic in Java3D

Reach behind your television and yank the cable out of the wall. Do you hear that noise? Not the kids screaming about their movie. Look at the screen. What you see is white noise: random bits of white, black and gray changing constantly. What does this have to do with movie magic or Java3D? What if a spell could conjure roaring fires, fluffy clouds, rippling water, naturally grained wood, smooth marble and even realistic terrains? That spell is available to us thanks to the inventive mind of Dr. Ken Perlin. Who Was That Math Man? Ken Perlin is a professor in the department of comp... (more)

Bringing Mars Down to Earth with Java3D

You've probably seen the breathtaking photographs of the surface of Mars from the rovers Spirit and Opportunity. You've also seen the amazing high-altitude photographs taken from satellites orbiting Mars. But let's face it, the rovers must land on flat, boring areas and the satellites are too high above the interesting places like canyons and craters. What is an Earth-bound Java programmer to do? Using the Java3D API and publicly available data, you can create pictures like Figure 1. The Java3D API is robust enough to handle just about any 3D programming job. The complexity can ... (more)

Cover Story: When Mars Is Too Big to Download

Related Links: Bringing Mars Down to Earth with Java3D In my previous article ("Bringing Mars Down to Earth with Java3D," JDJ, Vol. 9, issue 6), readers were expected to download hundreds of megabytes of Mars data to enjoy the Java3D example. This requirement challenged even the cable modem bunch ambitious enough to get the source code in the first place. This time it's definitely different. This time, the code generates the landscapes so all you have to download is the source. We'll cover the foundational Java3D data structures suitable for terrains, and how to completely generate... (more)

Living on the Edge of Mobile Development

Which mobile device should I target for my application? That's one of the first questions you need to answer as a mobile developer. You might select the device based on personal preference or what looks cool today. The problem is that mobile technology choices are diverse and evolving quickly. The tools and languages used to develop native applications vary wildly and you probably cannot afford to learn them all. Chances are you want to find a way to replicate your application across multiple devices while minimizing your investment.  How can that be done? Hybrid Is More than a ... (more)