Entries for August 2005

Hardware list for lab and brief update

We're making progress on the construction! The new carpet installation will be finished today and I have to say that I (and others) think that it looks quite cool! In fact the new carpet looks better than that defective carpet that we received (a deeper color and more resistant to dirt, etc.). Some of the special lighting (sconces for over the console stations) should arrive today and hopefully we can deal with the locking issues around the fancy (but beautiful!) new door today as well.

We have delivery of the furniture scheduled for tomorrow! All of the computers, equipment, etc. (apart from the BARCO projector) is waiting in department storage to be put into the lab...just a few days away!!!

Because there's not much to report I thought that I would put together a complete list of all equipment that we're installing for the lab and post that here. I thought that I had done this...but I guess not...

Oh...one thing more...Froggy and I will be hightailing it to Best Buy this afternoon and picking up the consoles, some equipment, and an assortment of games to start. We should have a blast!

OK...here's the complete list (many details have been omitted to keep this a reasonable length...


Hardware in the new Virtual Worlds Lab (by room)


Virtual Reality Room:

Alienware MJ-12® 7550A SYSTEM Graphics Workstations (2)
24” Dell LCD Monitor (2)
iGlasses 3D Head Mounted Displays (2)
Inertial Tracking Devices (3 Degree of Freedom)
Magnetic Tracking Devices (6 Degree of Freedom)
5 DT Data Glove -14 joint
5 DT Data Glove – 5 joint (2)
Phantom Desktop Haptic Interface (1)
Phantom Desktop Omni Interfaces (2)

Music/Audio Room

Computers:
Alienware AREA-51® 5500 SYSTEM PCs (2)
24” Dell LCD Monitor (18)

General:
Midi Solutions Quadra Merge
M-Audio-Delta 1010LT (PCI Midi+Audio In)
Samson C-que 8 headphone amp
M-Audio Studiophile LX4 2.1
M-Audio Studiophile LX4 5.1 expander (surround sound)
Sony-7506 Headphones
Vocal Microphone – Shure PG58-XLR
Microphone stand
Microphone cable
Instrument microphone – Shure Beta 57A
Microphone stand
Microphone cable
Proco Midi Cables

Instruments:
Roland Handsonic Drum: HPD-15
M-Audio Keystation Pro 88 (USB)
Keyboard stand
Keyboard stool/seat
Fender Roland Ready Standard Strat
Guitar stand
Guitar strap
Roland GR-20 Guitar Synthesizer

Console:
Sony VPLHS51 Short Throw DLP Projection Units (4)
Xbox (4)
PS2 (4)
Stereo Speaker Systems (4)

Immersion:
Alienware MJ-12® 7550A SYSTEM Graphics Workstation (1)
24” Dell LCD Monitor (1)
La-z-Boy Matinee Chair (1)
Xbox (1)
PS2 (1)
Yamaha YHT-360 Surround System
Barco 2D/3D DLP Projection System


PC Room:
Alienware AURORA™ 7500 SYSTEM Gaming PCs (18)
24” Dell LCD Monitor (18)

Medical Simulation:
Haptic Interaces
Graphics Workstations (2)
Alienware MJ-12® 5500 SYSTEM Game and File Server
Alienware AREA-51® 5300 SYSTEM PCs for entranceway monitors (2)
24” Dell LCD Monitor (3)


OK...that's about it...we're nearing the point where I'll be comfortable putting up some pictures...likely tomorrow...so stay tuned and enjoy!

Oh...one more thing...I've been talking with ITS people here on campus and have requested getting G4TechTV on campus cable...and we should now have it (channel 95 if I'm not mistaken). You will probably have all kinds of feelings about the channel...but we'll be showing it 24/7 (well during the day at any rate) in the Lab on a large TV!!!

Ok...enjoy and see you soon!

The motivation for the lab..

I've had a few comments...both off-line and on-line about the motivation for and use of the lab. Most have been constructive (some clearly not). So I thought that I would provide some background...

The lab was funded from the University through a Provost Opportunity Grant. This mechanism attempts to support unique and innovative educational opportunities that have the potential to have a significant impact on the educational mission and values of the University. The Virtual Worlds lab was strongly supported by the School of Engineering in going forward to the Provost's office.

While I can't say what was in the minds of the Administration in approving the grant, I can provide a summary of the background of the project (largely excerpted from the original proposal):

Project Overview
The new Virtual Worlds facility is intended to be used as a focal point for a broadly based experiential learning environment, thus it is strongly consistent with the University and School's mission and values! Here, the term “Virtual Worlds” is understood to mean the area of simulation and gaming in its broadest sense. The new facility coupled with an associated educational thrust has the potential to form the basis for extensive positive change in core engineering courses, CSE SAGES seminars, and a large variety of courses in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department and possibly in other CSE departments.

Such a thrust can form a framework to (1) permeate the teaching environment of the School and the EECS department with strongly experiential-based learning opportunities, (2) re-energize existing undergraduate courses, (3) provide the basis of new, relevant, and exciting courses, and (4) serve as the basis of a new interdisciplinary curriculum that will provide diverse, immersive learning opportunities for specific cross-school fields such as art, dentistry, medicine, and music.

Motivation
The general area of simulation and gaming is having a tremendous influence in a large number of disparate commercial, governmental, and educational contexts. While in the regional and national economy, simulation represents a significant component in this framework, the gaming area alone represents an incredibly large market (over $10B/yr) for technology. Providing an education directed at contributing to technology in this area coupled with the use of games and simulations to motivate educational development presents a compelling opportunity for CSE and EECS. While there are a variety of universities that are beginning to explore and implement curricula in this area, Case stands out in being one of the only research and educational institutions that emphasizes fundamental concepts while at the same time proposing to use games and simulations as a major vehicle for educational experiences and as the basis for a new curriculum.

School of Engineering and University Relevance
The lab will also provide the School of Engineering with a cornerstone facility that is of broad potential interest to students, research sponsors, and supporters of the School. Demonstrations and direct experience with the auditory, visual, and tactile experiences involved in virtual simulation and gaming will keep the EECS department at the forefront of technology in this area of direct relevance to our lives.

The EECS Department has one of the largest undergraduate student populations in the university. It is hoped that this facility coupled with the immersion of students in simulation and gaming experiences throughout the existing curriculum and the development of a new curriculum thrust in this area will significantly re-energize the undergraduate teaching and learning engineering experience and provide a mechanism for our students to interact, in a concrete, substantive manner with non-engineering students across Case, the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), and the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM).

In particular this year will see the first offering of EECS 396L - Advanced Game Project which is an interdisciplinary course taken by EECS students, music students, english students, and Cleveland Institute of Art students. This is promising to be an extraordinarily exciting course in which large student teams will conceptualize, realize, and implement games of their own creation, i.e from concept to wrapper.

This year will also see the implementation of EECS 290 - An Introduction to Computer Gaming and Game Design course. This course is an introduction to many aspects of computer game design and programming and is directed at students who have only had ENGR 131 - the freshman Elementary Computer Programming course.

Finally, this year will also see the use of the lab in our more traditional courses: Artificial Intelligence, Networks, Graphics, and Simulation to provide an exciting motivational and instructional framework. I think that it is important to point out that the area of gaming represents a computationally "stressful" application...in that many games use the full range of available computer resources - ranging from requiring specially designed architectures, high processor speeds, advanced graphics capability, and sophisticated programming techniques - all of which indicates that developing capabilities in these gaming related areas should clearly provide the student with the tools to apply these basic ideas in other applications.

Next year an additional course at an intermediate level (presuming a pre-requisite of Data Structures course) will be offered.

In summary the attraction of the lab (and presumably why it was funded) is that it will satisfy several of the important goals noted earlier: allowing for the offering of new and exciting courses in the important application area of gaming, providing a facility to be used as an experientially oriented application framework in our more traditional courses, and as a vehicle for strongly cross-disciplinary courses and projects across the University (and University Circle!).

Wow...that was certainly a long blog entry for me...but I hope that I've been able to address some of the concerns that have been raised. Please do not hesitate to raise others with me...though in a few weeks I will be in the throes of the new semester (teaching EECS 396L - the game project course that I noted earlier and EECS 351 - Introduction to Communication Systems and dealing with the final construction and operation of the lab!) and will likely have little time for blogging!

Thanks and hope that you're enjoying the end of the summer!

Lab update: No pictures yet...but...

A few setbacks have slowed the construction...so I don't have any pictures to post...yet. However it shouldn't be too long before I do. The construction is proceeding into its final stages. At this point the main items that remain to be finished include the installation of some "mood" lights in the console room, some fire alarm wiring, the locking mechanism for the lab door (which is beautiful sight to behold by the way!), and the carpet installation (defective carpet was shipped to us at first and we have been dealing with that situation for a few days now).

A final check/touch-up of some small items and we'll be ready for the furniture that is waiting in local storage to be delivered!

The Alienware computers are expected to arrive shortly afterwards and hopefully the Sony DLP projectors for the XBOX and PS2 consoles and the music/audio equipment will follow and then we'll be in a major equipment setup mode for a a short while.

It appears that we'll be waiting longer (to October perhaps) for the Barco 2D/3D projection unit because of snafus in the ordering process. It should be worth the wait however as it will complete the Immersion room.

Everything is happening quickly now and I hope to have another entry in about a week or so with some pics of the lab (hopefully my photographic skills won't let me down!).

Enjoy!

Computer Specs...

OK...this is it...the specs on all the Alienware computers that we've ordered for the lab!

Oh...by the way...our 24" LCD monitors from Dell just came in (we have 26 of them!!!)...things are starting to happen VERY quickly in the lab!!!


AURORA™ 7500 SYSTEM (Gaming PC's - quantity 18)

Processor: AMD Athlon™ 64 FX-57 Processor with HyperTransport Technology
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional with Service Pack 2
Warranty: 3-Year AlienCare Toll-Free 24/7 Phone Support with Onsite Service
Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling 510 Express 650 Watt peak power
Chassis: Alienware® Full-Tower Case - Space Black
Motherboard: Alienware® nForce™4 SLI™ Chipset Motherboard PCI Express
Graphics Processor: NVIDIA® GeForce™ 7800 GTX PCI Express 256MB DDR3 w/Dual Digital and TV Out
Video Optimizer: AlienAdrenaline: Video Performance Optimizer
Memory: 2GB Low-Latency Dual Channel DDR PC-3200 at 333MHz - 4 x 512MB
System Drive: High Performance - Serial ATA - 74GB Serial ATA 10,000 RPM w/8MB Cache
Storage Drive: Additional Storage Drive - 250GB Serial ATA 7,200 RPM w/8MB Cache
Primary CD ROM/DVD ROM: 16x Dual Layer DVD±R/W Drive
Sound Card: Integrated High-Performance 7.1 Surround Sound with S/PDIF and Coaxial Digital Outputs
Floppy Drive: 3.5" 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive - Black
Network Connection: Integrated High Performance Gigabit Ethernet
Keyboard: Microsoft® Multimedia Keyboard - Saucer Silver
Mouse: Microsoft® IntelliMouse Explorer 4.0 - USB - Saucer Silver


AREA-51® 5300 SYSTEM (Display PCs for the doorway - quantity of 2)

Processor: Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 520 w/ HT Technology 2.8GHz 800MHz FSB 1MB Cache
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition with Service Pack 2
Warranty: 3-Year AlienCare Toll-Free 24/7 Phone Support with Onsite Service
Chassis: Alienware® Area-51 5300 Small Form Factor Chassis - Black
Motherboard: Alienware® Area-51 5300 Motherboard with Intel® 915G Chipset
Graphics Processor: ATI RADEON™ X300 PCI Express 128MB DDR w/Digital and TV Out
Memory: 512MB Single Channel Low-Latency DDR PC-3200 at 400MHz - 1 x 512MB
System Drive: High Performance - Serial ATA - 80GB Serial ATA 7,200 RPM w/8MB Cache
Optical Drive: 52x32x52x CD-RW Drive
Sound Card: Integrated 6-Channel Audio with SPDIF and Composite Out
Removable Storage : 3.5" 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive - Black
Network Connection: Integrated High Performance Gigabit Ethernet
Keyboard: Microsoft® Basic Keyboard Black
Mouse: Microsoft® Basic Optical Mouse Black


AREA-51® 5500 SYSTEM (Audio Production/Synthesis PCs - quantity of 2)

Processor: Intel® Pentium® Processor Extreme Edition 840 w/ HT and Dual Core Technology 3.2GHz 800MHz FSB
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional with Service Pack 2
Warranty: 3-Year AlienCare Toll-Free 24/7 Phone Support with Onsite Service
Power Supply: Alienware® 550 Watt Max Power Supply
Chassis: Alienware® Full-Tower Case - Saucer Silver
Motherboard: Alienware® PCI Express Motherboard with Intel® 955X Chipset
Graphics Processor: NVIDIA® GeForce™ 6600 GT PCI Express 128MB DDR3 w/Digital and S-Video Out
Memory: 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz - 2 x 1024MB
System Drive: High Performance - Serial ATA - 250GB Serial ATA 7,200 RPM w/8MB Cache
Storage Drive: Additional Storage Drive - 250GB Serial ATA 7,200 RPM w/8MB Cache
Primary CD ROM/DVD ROM: 16x DVD-ROM Drive with Software DVD Decoder
Secondary CD ROM/DVD ROM: 16x Dual Layer DVD±R/W Drive
Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster® Audigy® 4 Pro High Definition 7.1 Surround Sound with Dual Firewire (IEEE® 1394)
Floppy Drive: 3.5" 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive - Black
Network Connection: Integrated High Performance Gigabit Ethernet
Keyboard: Microsoft® Basic Keyboard Black
Mouse: Microsoft® Basic Optical Mouse Black


MJ-12® 5500 SYSTEM (Game/File server - quantity of 1)

Warranty: 3-Year AlienCare Toll-Free 24/7 Phone Support with Onsite Service
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional with Service Pack 2
Case: Alienware® Professional Workstation Chassis - Black
Power Supply: Alienware® 550 Watt Max Power Supply
Motherboard: Alienware® PCI Express Motherboard with Intel® 955X Chipset
Processor: Intel® Pentium® Processor 840 w/ Dual Core Technology 3.2GHz 800MHz FSB
Memory: 2GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz - 2 x 1024MB
Graphics Accelerator: NVIDIA® Quadro™ FX 1400 PCI Express 128MB DDR w/Digital and Stereo Out
A/V Work Drives: High Performance with Data Security - Serial ATA RAID 1 - 400GB (400GB x 2) Serial ATA 7,200 RPM w/16MB Cache
System Drive: High Performance - Serial ATA - 74GB Serial ATA 10,000 RPM w/8MB Cache
Hard Drive Bay: SATA Hot-Swap Bay for Workstation Chassis
Removable Storage : 3.5" 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive - Black
Primary Optical Drive: 16x Dual Layer DVD±R/W Drive
Network Connection: Integrated High Performance Gigabit Ethernet
Digital Audio Hardware: Integrated High-Performance 7.1 Surround Sound with S/PDIF and Coaxial Digital Outputs
Keyboard: Microsoft® Basic Keyboard Black
Mouse: Microsoft® IntelliMouse Explorer 4.0 - USB - Saucer Silver


MJ-12® 7550A SYSTEM (Graphics workstations - quantity of 3)

Warranty: 3-Year AlienCare Toll-Free 24/7 Phone Support with Onsite Service
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional with Service Pack 2
Case: Alienware® Professional Workstation Chassis - Black
Power Supply: Enermax EG651P-VE 24P 550 Watt Power Supply
Motherboard: Tyan® Thunder K8WE Motherboard w/ SLI Support
Processor/s: Dual Processor - Dual AMD Opteron™ 250 2.4 GHz 64-Bit
Memory: 4GB Dual Channel DDR Registered ECC SDRAM at 400MHz
Graphics Accelerator: NVIDIA® Quadro™ FX 3400 PCI Express 256MB GDDR3 w/Digital and Stereo Out
System Drive: High Performance - Serial ATA - 74GB Serial ATA 10,000 RPM w/8MB Cache
Storage Drive: Extreme Performance - Serial ATA non-RAID - 800GB (400GB x 2) Serial ATA 7,200 RPM w/16MB Cache Hard Drive Bay: SATA Hot-Swap Bay for Workstation Chassis
Floppy Drive: 3.5" 1.44 MB Floppy Disk Drive - Black
Primary Optical Drive: 16x Dual Layer DVD±R/W Drive
Network Connection: Dual Integrated High Performance Gigabit Ethernet
Digital Audio Hardware: Integrated 5.1 Onboard Audio
Keyboard: Microsoft® Basic Keyboard Black
Mouse: Microsoft® IntelliMouse Explorer 4.0 - USB - Saucer Silver

Comments??? I don't know about you...but I'm drooling just writing this blog entry!

Later...