Samsung Gear VR + Edge S7 could popularize virtual reality

People often ask me why I decided to study human-computer interaction after a long career in journalism and media. For me, it’s primarily because of the chance to be on the frontlines of tech innovation and explore the different ways that computing in its current forms — social, ubiquitous and immersive — are impacting media, the law and our society.

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Paying for college: August 2015 update

It’s been a few months since I updated this blog. Partly this was because of my end-of-semester crunch after Spring 2015 midterms. I had a lot of work to complete fast. Something had to give. And then came summer classes and, you know, VACATION.

With Semester 2 about to start Monday, however, it’s time for me to get back in the regular writing habit — and also, take stock of how well my plans for paying for college as an adult returning student have played out in real life.

How am I doing money-wise so far this year? Looking at my Quicken stats this week gave me pause.

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My 3-D soccer ball modeling and animation in Maya 2015

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve surely noticed I’ve suspended daily news-link roundups for now. That’s because, with deadlines looming, I’m trying to force myself to work on my semester projects by limiting my Internet and social media until they’re finished. Writing on the blog was becoming a form of procrastination!

But I have to show off this: my first-ever creation of a 3-D model and animation. It’s a bouncing soccer ball, partly because my team’s multimedia course project for our N501 class on Foundations of Digital Production might require such a 3D special effect. I picked it also partly because I suspected it would be an easy object to model!

To create the work, I used a trial version of Maya 2015, the industry-standard software. I was guided by tutorials from my fellow students and from Lynda.com on how to set up and render a realistic 3D virtual environment, particularly setting up three-point lighting in order to create shadows and adding the coloring and material texture that covers the geometric skeleton of the ball. I also owe a debt to a YouTube tutorial posted by TheArtAshram.com on creating a realistic soccer ball.

This is actually the second video I produced. I created a much more realistic environment and soccer ball for a first draft — waving blades of grass for the ground; shiny leather and distinct stitching between the pentagonal ball segments; even more realistic bouncing motion — but my creaky old MacBook was not able to render the fine details successfully. Sigh. I downgraded it to a flat plane surface and a rougher Nerf-style texture for the ball in order to make sure the video output would show all my hard work.

As frustrated as I was not to be able to show an even better example, I was psyched to receive 10 out of 10 on this assignment!