Down by the Lake

New MATC logo

Last week, Apple unveiled two new education-related products: iBooks textbooks and the new iTunes U courses. While both interest me, I was particularly fascinated by the new iTunes U courses and how they bundle information together. I converted my existing Advanced iPhone Development iTunes U class into a full course (which you can subscribe to for free) a few days ago. I wanted to write about what I learned in the process of doing this.

Read on for more about my experience with the iTunes U Course Manager.

Molecules icon

Yet another update for Molecules is now live on the App Store, this time version 2.02. The focus of this update is performance, and the new version greatly improves the speed of the new rendering engine. The 3-D models are now rendered at 3-6 times the speed that they were in the previous version, which should make previously choppy framerates on the iPad 1 much smoother. If you're interested in how this significant optimization was achieved, check out my question about it on Stack Overflow. Thanks go out to Tommy and Pivot for pointing me in the right direction on this.

Molecules icon

A minor update to Molecules, version 2.01, is now on the App Store. This new version fixes some slight bugs with the new rendering engine in 2.0, including a case where the ambient occlusion shading for a model would sometimes appear too dark, as well as some odd glitches when using pinch zooming on a model.

I've also reenabled panning across the model using two fingers, which wasn't working well for 2.0 so I had left it out of the initial release. The way that the panning works has also been tweaked to have zooming and rotation always occur from the center of the screen.

Finally, rendering performance on the iPad 2 has been slightly improved.

Molecules icon

The 2.0 version of Molecules brings with it a brand new rendering engine that utilizes OpenGL ES 2.0 to deliver realistic 3-D representations of molecular structures. This is a long way from the original OpenGL ES 1.1 renderer that I first wrote about here, so I want to describe in detail how this new version works. The source code for Molecules is available under the BSD license, so you are free to download the project from the main application page and follow along as I walk through the process.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of the new Molecules renderer.

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