Monday, July 18, 2005

Electric Sheep - Best. Screensaver. EVER.

It's all your fault, Linden.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it...

I was just about getting around to actually making some more art recently, playing around in Photoshop like I did in days of old. And then Linden posted this link here.
So I started googleing fractals again, with the end result of doing to my hard disks the very thing you feared - filling them with thousands and thousands of fractal renders. 8 )
Now, I have stumbled upon something truly astounding, whose time has finally come:

http://www.electricsheep.org/

Best. Screensaver. EVER.

Screensavers nowadays are both totally unnecessary, and in a golden age of coolness. Modern display technology, for the most part, doesn't need screensavers - even the TVs starting a few years ago have built in display saver graphics (bouncing brand logos, etc).
However, they've evolved into a refined art form of animation and programming.

My previous favorites were the OS X screensavers Fracture and Fluid, which I actually use in combination on my Spiffy Super Upgraded Smurf Machine. I've sung their praises before.
But, I have to admit - for sheer coolness, they can't touch electricsheep. It combines (open source!) flam3 fractal animation with an online render farm approach, and add an interactive element, where you get to vote with the up or down arrow keys for the sheep you like. Those sheep go on to MUTATE and REPRODUCE. As in, the patterns change over time, and the more you vote for a particular "sheep" the longer it survives on the server to reproduce!! You can also cast a negative vote, if you think a pattern is less than attractive.

I'm way, way too tired to properly explain the extra uber cool phenonmenon that is electric sheep, so I'll just cop out and yet again link to them, they explain it so much better than me.

If you have a high speed connection and even a decent amount of power in your system, you MUST try this. It worked for me with no problem whatsoever with a Windows XP Home service pack 2 2.3Ghz Dell with 512 RAM, I have no idea about older systems, or anything with less RAM.

The only not-so-cool thing about the electric sheep screensaver is that the Mac OS X version was really buggy. Things that haven't happened to me in forever started up - Unexpectedly Quitting and reloading the Finder - In short, one unhappy Smurf. But it's open source, so if you have the talent, knowledge, and/or inclination, you could maybe do something about it! Yay, open source!

So I guess my two Dells (shut up, I got the newer one on ebay for 300$) can run electric sheep, and I get to not feel so bad about the Smurf not contributing to the sheep-rendering effort.

So.. well, if only I could stop staring at the frelling thing... I have, like stuff.. to do... Ooo, purty...
0_o

8 comments:

Linden said...

mmmmm, electric sheep. I'll have to look into that open source fractal engine, maybe use it in rupture to create truely unique level backgrounds.

Rachel said...

That would be *so* cool.
..but it might be a bit demanding, render-wise? Apparently from what electricsheep.org says, it takes about 15 minutes per frame. I may be misinterpreting that, but... that would be a bit hoggy for tetris backgrounds...

...but, I just had a thought...requires an internet connection, but...it would be both interesting and SO cool if Rupture could somehow participate in the render of electric sheep, and maybe display the resulting frame as a background? And in case the render wasn't fast enough for that, it could also download a few frames.
I guess you could also include a default "flock" of frames for offline play backgrounds.

Of course I have not even the slightest idea if any of this is even remotely possible - but from what I can tell, to pull off any of the above (involving specifically Electric Sheep) you would need to work with their special mpg encoder / decoder. That's as far as my increasingly vague tech knowhow goes... :-]

Linden said...

Ah, to display a movie type thing would be too much processor wise (and probably also challengingly distracting). Although tests on my G4Ti Powerbook show that it's not such a processor hog as some other games, I'm not going to push the envelope.

I was thinking of looking into their fractal engine to create single background images, which hopefully I can render with pygame, which uses SDL to push pixels. I wonder if you can get the info that made the most popular sheep that particular hour or something and rerender that. hmmm..

Rachel said...

That's what I meant - a single image of a frame from a sheep - not the whole mpeg movie! o_o Sorry about that ^_^
You can definitely, absolutely tell which sheep are most popular. Yay, stats! They even keep track of what user rendered what frame. That's what made me think of Rupture acting as a client & rendering these frames - and instead of the sheep screensaver running (which I imagine is pretty darn memory intensive), you would have Rupture running. Sorta crazy, eh? ^_^
In terms of displaying existing frames, you could maybe just grab a frame from the website, like this one here.
So that people with active web connections could just download a frame from a popular sheep every so often. The point being, that would be more bandwidth intensive than *rendering* frames, but less processor & memory (and programming) intensive.
But it would be so cool to help render new sheep just like the screensaver...

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Tropical Screensaver said...

Greetings to you. screensavers related information is of great interest to me and so I am usually online checking it out. I came accross your site and spent some time checking out your content, although I was really interested in screensavers related stuff. Keep up the good work.

Maybe you can drop by my site http://www.natureislephotos.com one of those days.

Cialis said...

That is so neat!