May 22, 2014

Malik Bendjelloul's translated speech


I'm the type of person who prefers to have a background sound on while working. Two of my favorite background sounds are the James Bond movie Casino Royale and the documentary movie Searching for Sugar Man. I frequently used both while writing my Elon Musk biography book

It was a very sad moment when I learned that the director of Searching for Sugar Man, Malik Bendjelloul, had passed away at age 36. In 2013, he participated in a Swedish radio program called "Sommar i P1" where he talked about not only the movie, but also other projects he had going on. It was a very good speech - one that you may get motivation from by listening to it. Unfortunately, it's only available in Swedish, so I thought it was a good idea to translate it to English. You can find the translated version here: Malik Bendjelloul's Speech.

The speech is filled with interesting anecdotes on how to create an Oscars winner. Searching for Sugar Man was far away from an easy movie to make: 
"It took an enormously amount of time to make that move: more than four years. And during long periods I thought it would actually never be finished."
It may have been easier, but Malik Bendjelloul didn't know it at the time. For example, he tried to make a longer interview with the main character, artist Rodriguez, but failed and had to create an entire movie about him with an interview that lasted only 15 minutes. But then he realized that 15 minutes was more enough. Malik Bendjelloul couldn't finish the movie because he couldn't afford a special camera and beautiful animations. But then he realized that he could use a 1 USD app on his phone instead of an expensive camera, and he could make the animations on his own for free. 

But it's maybe the end of the speech that is the most powerful:
"So when you sit there this summer and improves your house, carves your wooden man, or paints an aquarelle, so remember that those tiny things you have in your hands will survive yourself when they end up in their drawer or in their closet. They will get their own life and you have nothing to do with it anymore. And one day someone will certainly understand its perfection and eternal value. But it doesn't really matters if it happens today or in 100 years, or if it ever happens, you will anyway want to torch the millions the success would have given you. For the fun is the creation process itself."   

May 19, 2014

Tesla Motors Simulator Update

As I've said before here, I'm currently building a simulator in Unity where you can interact with different cars from the company Tesla Motors. There's still a lot of things to add to it, but the basic features are there. This is the overall shape of the Model S compared with the blueprint:

It's possible to open all doors, the trunk, and the frunk (the front trunk in a Model S):

As you move closer to the car, the handles that open the doors will "move out" automatically as described in this video:

The real Model S will come in many colors, and I've added 4 of them so far in this simulator:

The Model S is 100 percent electric, and the main problem with electric cars is that it take a long time to charge their batteries. To tackle this problem, Tesla developed so called Superchargers that will decrease the reloading time:

So that's it for now. In the future I will among others add:
  • Textures to the interior
  • The bottom part of the car
  • Lights
  • More realistic performance. The top speed is about 200 km/h, but this version will only reach 160 km/h
  • More models, such as Model X and the Roadster

Looks interesting? You can test it here: 

May 13, 2014

Random Show Episode 24

A new episode of the Random Show with Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) and Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek) is out! This is episode 24.

Lessons learned
  • Kevin Rose is drinking turmeric tea with black pepper for health purposes. 
  • Time Ferriss has decided to become more healthy (for a month). He will wake up earlier in the morning to catch more sunlight - he has earlier said that he's working all night and tend to wake up late so earlier in his case is probably "normal" for most other people. He will not drink any alcohol or watch any p*rn. 
  • Kevin Rose is keeping a close watch for new types of crypto-currencies. To find the next Bitcoin, he's using AllCoin. One of the currencies he's believing in is DodgeCoin that began as a joke but attracted an audience because it was so different. People are mostly using DodgeCoin for online tipping - if someone has written a good article they give him some DodgeCoins.  

  • - A site where you can directly fund homeless people in your neighborhood.
  • - Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on the site, and you can give any amount to the project that most inspires you. 
  • - a platform and a programming language that makes it possible for any developer to build and publish next-generation distributed applications.
  • Cricket protein bars from Exo
  • Kevin Rose has invested in Move Loot where you can buy and sell furniture.
  • Kevin Rose is using Shine from Misfit Wearables - a physical activity monitor.
  • Tim Ferriss recommended the book The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin and the graphical novel Slaine: The Horned God.

If you want to watch the rest of the episodes, you can find them here: The Random Show with Kevin Rose and Tim Ferriss

May 12, 2014

Tesla Motors Simulator

It's common to use Unity to make games - Rovio used it to make Bad Piggies and the people who manufactured Minecraft have also begun to use it. Mut more and more companies are using Unity for other purposes. One other purpose is simulations.

Tesla Motors is a company that manufacture electric cars. The problem with electric cars is that they are expensive, so since I can't afford a Model S from Tesla, I decided to make a simulator in Unity where you can interact with different cars from Tesla. I will use as much real data as I can find to make it as realistic as possible, but the model of the car will never be 100 percent realistic because of computer limitations. 

All 3d models consists of a lot of squares, and you must limit the number of these squares in each model or the simulation will run really slow. 

But what you can make almost 100 percent realistic is the car's performance in Unity. For example, according to Tesla Motor's official data the turning circle is 37 ft (11 m), or the white circle in the image below. A turning circle is a circle where a car can drive around 360 degrees without crossing the border to outside of the circle with any of the wheels. You can also open the trunk and the frunk (the front trunk in a Tesla Model S), but I will add more functions in the future.  

It's a little bit tricky to build up the vehicle in Blender and it's not easier when you don't have access to the real product. There's a Tesla Store in my town, but it's far away, so I've vacuumed cleaned Internet on images. There's also a few (unofficial) blueprints available.