Saturday, April 30, 2005


Originally uploaded by metamerist.

Mirror neurons

This Yahoo! News article describes mirror neurons which appear to play a significant role in the existence of empathy.


Thursday, April 28, 2005


"Buzztracker is software that visualizes frequencies and relationships between locations in the Google world news directory." -- Chin Music Press

via Design Observer

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Computer graphics discussion site. link


Yesterday, I spent some time reviewing the SIGGRAPH 2005 site. I hoped for more in terms of image processing papers. On first glance, the papers on texture synthesis and the GPGPU course interest me most. And there's always a nice collection of curiosities in Emerging Technologies. George Lucas is doing the keynote. Personal and professional scheduling issues have been making it very difficult for me to attend, but at the very least I'll be watching from a distance. Hopefully, there will be some good blog coverage.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Originally uploaded by ciro@tokyo.

One spam over the line...

A Guardian article, Emails pose threat to IQ, has generated a good deal of blogospheric buzz saying the effects of perpetual email interruptions on the brain are comparable with the effects of cannabis:

"The distractions of constant emails, text and phone messages are a greater threat to IQ and concentration than taking cannabis, according to a survey of befuddled volunteers... Doziness, lethargy and an increasing inability to focus reached 'startling' levels in the trials by 1,100 people, who also demonstrated that emails in particular have an addictive, drug-like grip."

There's plenty of room for skepticism with the study (or just the notion of IQ alone), but I have no trouble believing there may be a real problem in there somewhere.

Some interesting commentary on the subject of workplace interruptions can be found in Demarco and Lister's book Peopleware: Product Projects and Teams. In it they discuss the psychological state referred to as "flow," a meditative state required for mentally challenging work, and how it is affected by perpetual interruptions:

"Unfortunately, you can't turn on flow like a switch. It takes a slow descent into the subject, requiring fifteen minutes or more of concentration before the state is locked in. During this immersion period, you are particularly sensitive to noise and interruption. A disruptive environment can make it difficult or impossible to attain flow."

Oh no, not again.

This 2004 story of an exploding Taiwanese sperm whale has resurfaced. I hadn't seen it before, and I immediately found myself wondering how the bowl of petunias fared. Before making the joke, I checked Google to find many others have wondered the same.

"Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was 'Oh no, not again.' Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now."

The Open Company

In spite of faults I see, I have to give Microsoft some credit to the extent that it has the culture of a miniature open society and that Robert Scoble and Steve Ballmer can publicly disagree over Microsoft's experience with an anti-discrimination bill in the Washington State legislature.

This has spawned a debate over corporate citizenship and social responsibility. Some seem to take the perspective of Milton Friedman who once argued that the social responsibility of public corporations is to increase profits for shareholders--period--while others agree with Scoble in believing that public corporations should be involved in political issues.

It's an interesting debate.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sorry, man. 'sokay. Carry on!

I'm surprised Dana found me and made a comment, but I''m glad he did. Evan Williams posted a response: "The Difference between blogging and journalism lies in how mistakes are dealt with."

Dana, in these days of Powerline and Rathergate, I hope I didn't cause you any harm. We all blunder from time to time. That's life. Carry on!

Rainy drive

Rainy drive
Originally uploaded by Arlette.

American Prometheus

The Star Tribune published an interesting review of American Prometheus, a new bio on J. Robert Oppenheimer. May have to add it to my burgeoning backlogged reading list. Strange and fascinating genius, to be sure:

"...The Army so distrusted Oppenheimer that they bugged, tailed and harrassed him before, during and after the Manhattan Project -- for which he received his security clearance only after the project was well underway. After the bomb was developed and the war won, Oppenheimer became dispensible to the establishment at a time he felt most like contributing..."



Also, biologist and alphablogger PZ Meyers had an editorial published in yesterday's Star Tribune. It's republished on his blog here. Also noted at is the Strib's request for email on the subject:

An invitation to readers on ID/evolution.We're interested in your thoughts on intelligent design, evolution, and their proper places in school curricula. Write us an e-mail of no more than 150 words and send it to, with the word "evolution" in the subject line. Be sure to include your name, address and telephone number so we can contact you if we decide to publish your response. Please reply by Monday, May 2.

Mosquitos, mites, ticks, tapeworms...

Forgent Networks continues its quest for fresh, green hemoglobin. Now Microsoft's on the list. (Here's a chance for Microsoft to do some good.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Suppose you pioneer a new medium, a big corporation buys you out, you leave and six months later an industry pundit complains the about course things have taken and says you're clueless and that you're the problem because you're not running things right--when you left last October?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Beautiful day

beautiful day
Originally uploaded by ilikechai.

Get the picture?

The USC-SIPI (Signal and Image Processing Institute) image database is where to go for classic image processing images (Lenna, baboon/mandrill, etc.). link

Robert Strzodka

Some interesting links and work related to image processing and GPUs. link

Music du jour

Many bloggers I read post their playlists... A sampling of what I've been listening to lately...

De Usuahia A La Quiaca by Gustavo Santaolalla. Tarnation* by Max Avery Lichtenstein, Me and Mia* by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. She saw the World by the Blue Nile, Djangology by Django Rheinhardt, I've got a Cat from Hôtel Costes: Quatre, Don't Give up on Me by Graham Coulton, Party Ben's mashup: Boulevard of Broken Songs*, Worn Me Down by Rachael Yamagata, Let Go & Breathe by Frou Frou...

*Starred items are download links

Monday, April 18, 2005

Flickr is cheapr

"Going forward, Pro accounts will be priced at $24.95 a year -- more than half of what we had planned on offering when we were just Flickr: A Wee Company Going It Alone (F:AWCGIA). Also, Pro accounts now get 2 GB a month in uploads, up from a mere 1 GB previously. This of course applies to existing Pro accounts too..." link

Cathedral of St. Paul

Cathedral of St. Paul
Originally uploaded by metamerist.

Floating-point hacks, tricks, etc.

I've seen a couple of these bookmarked on, so I think I'll post a list of some of my favorite links related to IEEE 754 floating-point hacks, tricks, etc.

1. What every computer scientist should know about Floating-Point Arithmetic by Steve Goldberg
2. Faster Math Functions by Robin Green
3. Know your FPU by Michael Herf
4. Let's get to the (Floating) Point by Chris Hecker
5. Computer Math 101 by Ben Weiss
6. Bit Twiddling Hacks by Sean Eron Anderson
7. IEEE-754 References by Christopher Vickery

Adobe buys Macromedia

Old news at this time of day. Obligatory note.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Yuan, Yawn?

Yesterday, I queried Google about the Marburg Virus and landed on a web site from a Chinese news source reporting "Britney is pregnant." Sigh. It's really disheartening to see how just how far and fast prattle travels and how little press serious issues receive. The state of the U.S. dollar in the hands of the those who allegedly oppose big government is and should be a concern to everyone--nothing to yawn about.

This link via The Financial Times (and Brad DeLong):

China's leaders are preparing their people for an end to the policy of pegging the renminbi at Rmb8.28 to the US dollar, the bedrock of economic policy for a decade. Changing the currency regime would have big implications for China's economic management and, some in Beijing think, forits development strategy predicated on foreign direct investment inflows and export-led growth. China's exchange rate is also central to the growing debate over whether the current imbalances in the global economy - whereby the US has a large current account deficit while other countries accumulate dollar assets - can be sustained (see chart below). Pressure on China to alter its exchange rate is particularly strong from Washington...

And this New Yorker link via Kottke and Boing Boing:

Of course, the Chinese and the Japanese could decide that the costs of the falling dollar are too great, and suddenly stop (or, at least, cut back sharply) their lending to the United States. This would lead to a so-called "hard landing" for the U.S. economy: high inflation, punitive interest rates, collapsing stock prices and housing prices. It would also lead to bedlam for China and Japan. Their best customers would effectively be unable to afford their wares. To paraphrase John Paul Getty: If you owe the bank a hundred dollars, you've got a problem. If you owe the bank three trillion dollars, the bank's got a problem.

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool
Originally uploaded by metamerist.


Last December, Joel Spolsky wrote a great piece on the differences between "rosh katan" (little head) and "rosh godol" (big head). The theme isn't new, but it was done so well that it's become a personal point of reference.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A site for playing with colors. Color schemes. Color schemes generated from images. link

Django Convergence

Lately, I've experienced a convergence of things Django Reinhardt. First, this iFilm clip of Rheinhardt was a great find that inspired me to pick up a copy of the CD Quintette du Hot Club de France (incidentally reviewed on Amazon by Harvey Pekar of American Splendor fame). Finally, the other night after dinner we wandered into The Times Bar and Cafe and stumbled onto a wonderful jazz manouche performance by the Twin Cities Hot Club, a gypsy jazz ensemble consisting of Robert Bell, Reynold Philipsek Gary Shulte and Matt Senjem.


Ask Edward Tufte...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Blue bench

Blue bench
Originally uploaded by olympic.


Photoblog. link

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Flight 404

Interesting visualizations in Flash... link

Friday, April 08, 2005

Grotesque geometry

Andrew Crompton's tiling and tessellation images. link

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Doorways of Puerto Rico

Originally uploaded by Eliacin.
Eliacin posts excellent shots from Puerto Rico. His most colorful ones are among my favorites.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

An uncountable number of philosophical commitments

In the preface to his book Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction, Paul Dourish writes:

"Every piece of software reflects an uncountable number of philosophical commitments and perspectives without which it could never be created. Software depends inevitably on our ideas about representation and reality."

This is, in my humble opinion, an important insight that's all too often forgotten or overlooked.

The best way to search blogs?

In spite of all of the blog indexing sites, I still seem to get the best blog search results via Google. If there's a more direct way to tell Google to search the contents blogs, I've missed it. My strategy is to add "(permalink | trackback)" to my search, since these are words that tend to be exclusive to blogs, but I'm sure there must be a better way to do this.

Principles of Graphic Design

A little Flash applet from Mundi Design Studios.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

1E5 free pictures == 1E8 words

Robin Good's piece titled Where To Find Great Free Photographs And Visuals For Your Own Online Articles is a great survey of online sites for free stock photos. One nice site highlighted:

Standing on the Beach

Originally uploaded by kwc.

KWC's overexposed beach photos, pretty cool!


Taking not standing for standing up sitting down

"Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota is stepping down after pageant officials stripped the same title from her sister in Wisconsin. Janeal Lee does not qualify to compete because she can stand, they said." link

Lone Tree

Lone Tree
Originally uploaded by metamerist.
So far, this has been my most popular photo on Flickr.

A Groundbreaking Idea of Staggering Genius

Answer: Computer games for kids that actually work in XP under limited accounts!

Why would parents have limited accounts for their kids?
I dunno.
Maybe things like this and this and this.

I feel like Einstein, 1905.