Focus on sustainability

Business and focus

Every business book that you will get your hands on will tell you this lesson: to be successful, you need focus. What they don’t all describe is why focus is so important. It’s not terribly hard to figure that out though:

  • Having focus means that you can separate the important and unimportant things.
  • Knowing what your focus is helps making decisions, like which customers to serve, what people to hire, what stuff you should buy or outsource, and so on.
  • Focus makes your product easier to understand for your customers.

Focus is not just a buzz-word, you can actually use it to make your company more successful. To give some examples:

  • Discussions and meetings become easier, because you can relate arguments and decisions to the single goal.
  • Explain and repeat to your employees what it is you’re doing – and they’ll help by generating ideas and bouncing off ideas.
  • Tools like scenario planning and the business model canvas can break down your main focus area into smaller, measurable goals.
  • Enterprise architecture helps to break down the company focus into the underlying systems and processes.

On the contrary, if you don’t do all those things, there’s a high chance that your company will fail. And even though focus is not a guarantee for success, most business people do see it as a necessary requirement.

So, if focus is so important, what about society as a whole?

Society and focus

In our society there is no focus. Politicians consider almost every topic a matter of political taste and debate. And worse – they’re even right: as long as we don’t have a common goal (if at all), we can debate endlessly about all kinds of things that probably all don’t matter. Eventually the only thing that matters is who’s in control. Things that threaten or strengthen control become important, such as media, terrorism, mass-surveillance and other things; long-term goals become completely irrelevant. This is how politicians control our country.

Therefore I have a proposal.

If there is one thing above all that seems important to all of us, it’s sustainability.

Definition. Sustainability is the ability for our civilization to keep running until the end of times. Basically this means that we give our children, and the children of our children a future. The moment we conclude that our civilization is not sustainable, it inherently means that everything that we do is meaningless (for the simple reason that we will become extinct).

I believe our focus as a society should be: sustainability.

Politics and sustainability

The good news is that the topic of sustainability gets more and more traction in the world. We know we’re currently not living in a sustainable world, and recognized that it’s a huge problem. There are also some initiatives to reduce CO2 levels, including rules, regulations and economic sanctions.

And there’s more good news. I believe that we currently have the technological know-how to create a world that can sustain itself for a long, long time.

The bad news is that there are ways to bend the rules and instead of aiming at solving the problem at its core. To give a concrete example: in the Netherlands, instead of reducing CO2 levels, the governing political party does not reduce CO2 levels and attempts to fight the resulting economic sanctions in court.

A sustainable environment

Aiming at sustainability is often confused for environmentalism. They’re completely different things. Sustainability aims at making the world habitable for people, but does so regardless of environmental consequences. However, as it turns out, we currently don’t have the technological know-how to do that without a sustainable habitat, which means that we need to sustain our environment. And even though environmentalism is a logical conclusion of sustainability, it is not necessarily the most important thing on our list.

Take for example nuclear power. Most environmentalists will tell that nuclear power is bad, because it pollutes the environment in the long run. While that is true, using nuclear power might also prevent melting ice caps in the short term, therefore improving our chances of survival.

OK, I want a sustainable society, what’s next?

A lot… so more on that later.

Pov-ray 3.7 stereographic camera

Basics of the patch

This patch adds a stereographic camera to pov-ray that allows a user to create side-by-side images, rendered directly on a second (non-primary) screen. Images are rendered as side-by-side images, you you don’t need extra post-processing.

This patch is licensed as AGPL3, the same way as pov-ray 3.7 itself is licensed. You need Visual Studio 2013 for this to work.

You can download the patch and everything you need here on github.

Before compiling the source code

I have a pretty new computer, and my CPU supports AVX2. You can look that up at ark.intel.com .

If your CPU supports AVX or AVX2, it’s best to update the properties of the C++ projects of the release configuration (set build target to the correct capabilities) and update those settings. This simple change can really make a difference in rendering speed.

Second screen

I usually put my code on one screen and enable my 3d second screen. Set the render resolution to the 3D screen resolution and render away; the results will be shown on your second screen.

If you just want to work with one screen that’s fine. If you have one screen attached, it’ll just work like it used to work. You can view the results in 3D with my other tools.

Where did my blocked preview window go?

It’s gone. For good I hope.

Looking at uniformly distributed blocks on a stereographic display as-if it was a side-by-side image, will definitely give you a strong headache that’s going to last for days.

How it works

Apart from the obvious changes in the tokenizer, render window, and all the other plumbing, the main change is in the camera.

Basically you define the distance between two eyes and the distance to the screen. The renderer will then render both pictures as side-by-side image. It’s pretty simple to implement, really.

Test scene

Any scene from pov-ray will do; you just need to modify the camera. I’ve constructed a small test scene with a sphere in front of the screen:

#local VP = <0,0,1>;
camera {
   stereoscopic                // New camera type
   zeroparallax 2.5
   eyeoffset -0.5*1/30

   location VP*0.8
   up y
   right image_width*x/image_height
   angle 60
   sky <0,0,1>
   look_at 0
}
                  
text {
    ttf "arial.ttf" "Some text here"
    0.2, 0
    translate x*-3
    rotate z*180
    rotate y*110
    translate z*-2
    translate y*0.2
    texture {pigment {color rgb <0.5,0.5,1> } } 
    }

plane { <0,1,0>, 0.3
texture {pigment {color rgb <0,1,1> } } }

sphere { <0,0,0>, 0.2
texture {pigment {color rgb <1,0,0> } } }
 
 light_source {
 <-1,0,1>
 color rgb 1
 }                                      

The result: