Blathr Wayne Lorentz

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Blathring in April, 2010

Be careful where you stick that thing

Friday, April 2nd, 2010 Alive 14,220 days

A clip from Rendering Fake Soft Shadows with Smoothies by the M.I.T. Laboratory for Computer Science video, found on the thumb drive

I found a thumb drive today.

It was laying on the pavers beneath a park bench outside of the weird little multi-level shoulda-been-a-strip-mall downtown. I suspect at one time this was a pretty hopping little corner of Bellevue. But thereʼs a bunch of empty storefronts in it now, probably from the real estate recession. Hopefully it comes back to life some day.

Iʼm not going to introduce a random USB drive found on a random slice of concrete under a random bench in a random city on a randomly nice day to my computer. At least not my main computer. But I do have my wifeʼs old banger Linux machine that I can re-image from ROM to pave over anything that might crawl out of this drive. The drive is, after all, lime green.

A slide from a Microsoft GameFest 2008 PowerPoint on the found thumb drive

Looking at the files on the drive reveals… code. Not nuclear missile launch codes, but computer code for what looks like a video game. I learned ray tracing in C back in college, so I recognize a good chunk of whatʼs going on; but clearly C has evolved quite a bit since the days when I used to have to reserve time on a machine in the university computer lab in order to compile my homework. What I can figure out is this:

  • Itʼs a childrenʼs game called iPlayDough.
  • It seems to be about building objects, and having those objects interact with other objects using real-world physics.
  • The game was written for Microsoft Windows using CryENGINE 2, and versions were under development for OS X and for iPhones.
  • The game was written on a Windows machine using Microsoft Visual Studio Code.
  • This thumb drive was lost by someone named Aleks.

I surmise that Aleks lost this thumb drive late last year, as the newest timestamp is October 9, 2009. Aleks seems to be involved in the gameʼs graphics. His TODO list is brief:

  • Edit with vertex normals
  • Render with face normals
  • Smooth tool

Aleks has been to a number of graphics-related tech conferences around the West Coast, and keeps videos, audio recordings, and slideshows from those conferences on the thumb drive next to his game code for reference.

A slide from the March, 2004 Valve presentation Half-Life 2/Valve Source Shading found on the thumb drive

Iʼm not sure how I would track down Aleks to return this drive to him. I thought about giving it to the police department. When I was a little kid I turned in a wallet I found to the local cops, and they reunited it with the owner, who rewarded me with five bucks (which was pretty lame, since the wallet had a couple of hundred in it). But Bellevue tells me that unless the item has a minimum value of $50, itʼs not interested.

I suppose I could just knock on the doors of the various game companies in town. But there are a lot of game companies in Bellevue, and I donʼt want to turn the drive over to a competitor. So I guess itʼs better to just let this drive remain “lost” forever. The drive was probably a backup of files from his desktop machine, so no harm done. Itʼs not like people build code on a thumb drive.

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