Friday, September 30, 2005

Desperately Seeking Alfred E. Neuman?

A site with all the MAD covers...


Advanced Imaging Pro

I don't if it's new or if I somehow missed it for a long time, but this Advanced Imaging site contains a lot of news, press releases and information related to advanced imaging, machine vision, imaging science, visualization, etc. The site also includes an extensive collection of RSS feeds.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Robinson Crusoe Treasure: $10B

Interesting. Using a robot, a Chilean group finds underwater stash claimed to incude 600 barrels of Incan gold and jewels.

New Scientist


Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Originally uploaded by metamerist.

Parallel isdigit( )

This is a C/C++ topic, dear reader, so if that's not your thing, you may want to ditch now. (I really need to move to MoveableType or TypePad and/or Blogger needs to get category support).

I've been playing around with some parsing in my free time. I'm not sure what's going on, but I've found Microsoft's string-to-float conversions (atof, strtod, fscanf, etc) abysmally slow--at least on my system with my version of their C++ compiler.

In the process of investigation, the thought crossed my mind of creating my own implementation of isdigit( ). I decided to do a little more work than isdigit( ) with a function I titled CharToDec( ). It returns the values 0-9 for ASCII chars '0'-'9' and 0xFF otherwise.

The numeric value for ASCII '0' is 0x30, '1' is 0x31, '2' is 0x32 and so on.

Here's my approach...

1. Check (char AND 0xF0) for a match with 0x30. If no match, return 0xFF.
2. AND char with 0x0F. At this point, the possible values are 0-15.
3. Check ((char+6) AND 0xf0) to see if number is greater than 15. If so, return 0xFF.
4. Return char.

int CharToDec(int ch)
if ((ch & 0xf0)!=0x30) return 0xff;

ch &= 0x0f;

if ((ch+6) & 0xf0) return 0xff;

return ch;

That should seem like a roundabout way of doing it, since all one really needs to do is check if the value is in the range 0x30 - 0x39 and subtract 0x30. The thing is, this one can be easily parallelized to do multiple chars at once. For example, here's a version that can do 8 chars at a time and should work nicely on 64-bit systems. A 32-bit version should be straightforward. I'm not sure if I'll find much use for it, but it could come in handy parsing strictly formatted text files.

unsigned _int64 CharToDec8X(const char* sz)
unsigned _int64 u = *((unsigned _int64 *) sz);

if ((u & 0xf0f0f0f0f0f0f0f0L) != 0x3030303030303030L) return 0xffffffffffffffffL;

u &= 0x0f0f0f0f0f0f0f0fL;

if ((u + 0x0606060606060606L) & 0xf0f0f0f0f0f0f0f0L) return 0xffffffffffffffffL;

return u;

Standard disclaimers apply. No guarantees this code is good for anything. Also, I don't normally format my code as listed, but I am having trouble getting Blogger to indent properly.

Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge

"Nine entries, each telling a scientific story with a careful balance of accuracy and beauty, have won the 2005 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored jointly by the National Science Foundation and the journal Science, published by the nonprofit science society, AAAS."

Science link
NSF link

(source: PhotoshopNews)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

States, Firms and the Internet

Henry Farrell concurs with David Kopel on Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft and China.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

'Bride Stripped Bare

"Johnathan Lucas Unveils his Editing Secrets on 'Corpse Bride'..."


Fake or Foto?

Quiz by Alias: Is it Fake or Foto?


Flying Mobulas

Cool photography. Flying mobulas in the Sea of Cortez by Michael Albert Photography.


(ht:big picture)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Deep Thoughts

"The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw."

SNL's Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy can still make me laugh.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

High Speed, Super Slomo Video

A page I haven't seen (but apparently widely linked via Colorado State Mechanical Engineering professor David G. Alciatore's page titled "Interesting High-Speed Video Clips."

"The video clips below were filmed with a special high-speed camera.The super slow-motion playback lets you visualize effectsthat cannot be seen with the naked eye or with a standard video camera."

The page links to all sorts of super slomo clips of things breaking, plopping and flitting. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Santa Monica

Originally uploaded by metamerist.

Computational Photography

Texture synthesizer extraordinaire Alexei Efros is teaching an undergraduate course (CS463) at CMU on Computational Photography:

"Computational Photography is an emerging new field created by the convergence of computer graphics, computer vision and photography. Its role is to overcome the limitations of the traditional camera by using computational techniques to produce a richer, more vivid, perhaps more perceptually meaningful representation of our visual world."

The course page serves as a nice gateway to Computational Photography information, as it includes lines to similar courses at other universities.


perceptual science group @ m.i.t.

I found this Munker-White Illusion on the web page of the Perceptual Science Group at M.I.T. All of the blues are the same blue (aside from minor JPEG compression artifacts). Check out the full-sized image on their page.


Monday, September 19, 2005

OCR for Digital Phones

via BoingBoing:

"NEC has developed software that lets you wave your cameraphone at a page of text for 3-5 seconds and produce a scan that includes optical-character-recognition-extracted text as well as any images and a graphic of the page itself. "


If it works, this is indeed very cool.

A while back I was thinking that it would be pretty slick to have a standard for graphically encoding information on paper so that it could be easily captured, interpreted and routed via camera phone. For example, if the system was put together the way I am thinking, one could gather information via forms and tell participants to take a snapshot of the form when they're done. If everything worked properly, the cell phone would decipher a destination email address that was encoded on the form and forward the a digital photograph of the form to the intended recipient. Done well, it could be a nice one-click solution that would replace a lot of hassles arising with faxing and snail mail.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Originally uploaded by metamerist.
A beautiful night in Varenna (2004). The town is on Lake Como, about an hour and a half North of Milan by train. The path along the lake offers a wonderful evening stroll--the twinkling lights of Bellagio off in the distance, illuminated gelato shops, little restaurants.

Symposium on Computational Photography

Following is a link to a web page for "Symposium on Computational Photography" held at M.I.T. May 23-25, 2005. Slides and papers are available on the Posters page. If you're interested in the future of digital photography, you'll probably find something worth perusing.



Leogeo, another site with interesting Flash applets...


(via ComputerGraphica)

p.s. check out "Beautiful Minds" at 11 o'clock

Saturday, September 17, 2005

BusinessWeek covers Microsoft Exits

The current issue of BusinessWeek focuses on recent exits of key talent at Microsoft. Included is an interview with Microsoft's rankled undercover blogger Mini-Microsoft.


Originally uploaded by metamerist.

A Better Screw

If you're interested in the evolution of technology (Basalla, Petroski, et al), you'll probably also be interested in this Forbes story about Kenneth LeVey and his improvement on the screw, an ancient device that has changed very little in centuries.



What's Up, He Man?

A couple of guys calling themselves SLACKCiRCUS had the patience required to convert clips from the old He Man cartoon into a video of the 4 Non Blondes tune What's Up?

And it rocks!


(ht: drawn!)

Seu Jorge

Yesterday's paper noted an 8 o'clock concert with Brazil's Seu Jorge at a small venue in Minneapolis. On a bit of a whim, we decided to chance it, and although the show eventually sold out, we were lucky enough to get tickets.

Familiarity with Jorge stems from Wes Anderson's Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou which contained a number of David Bowie songs very well done in Portuguese by Jorge. If you want to hear excellent Portuguese renditions of Rebel, Rebel or Life on Mars?, the soundtrack is highly recommended.

High energy rhythms from his new disc, Cru, dominated the performance. The first encore brought the best acoustic Bowie from Life Aquatic. It was a great concert at a venue small enough for me to shake his hand as we walked off the stage. I can't recall the last time I found a performer so likeable. Cheers for Jorge!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bill Gates vs Napoleon Dynamite

Okay, I've gotta give credit where credit is due. The Bill Gates vs. Napoleon Dynamite short is pretty funny. Unfortunately, I can't find an original clip. Microsoft really should put it up somewhere. I found the following iFilm link, but it's a film of a film made by an audience member.


Thursday, September 15, 2005


Originally uploaded by metamerist.

Google Desktop 2.0

I finally got around to playing around with Google Desktop 2.0, and I was very pleased to find the two features I wanted most are now available: support for PDF files and support for a network drive. Excellent!


Closed Captions

When I left Bellevue, WA in 1991, my brother and I entered a caption contest in the local Eastside paper. For two years we watched the contests and for two years we kept saying we could do better. Our one and only entry won first place. Since then, I've carefully avoided any such contests and enjoyed my perfect batting average. That is, until recently. I've been unable to resist many of the New Yorker's caption contests. My batting average is falling precipitiously, but I'm still having fun. The competition is much tougher, and there are many entries (according the New Yorker, 6000 per week).

Flick Off

I am often fascinated by the social dynamics of online communities. Many Flickr members, for example, have been distrustful and unhappy since the sale of Flickr to Yahoo! Lately, there's been a good deal of unrest related to the question of Yahoo! requiring Yahoo! membership of Flickr members. This has led to the organization of the +1300 member "Flick Off" group on Flickr threatening to cancel and Flickr's founders doing their best to calm the unrest.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Car Fish War Update

Dried cranberries

Dried cranberries
Originally uploaded by metamerist.


If you've lost your digital camera and you need to take a picture, as a last resort you might try a bright light, a geranium and a bottle of tincture of iodine.


(ht: brainwagon)

Monday, September 12, 2005


The success of Nintendogs is interesting not only from a computer graphics perspective but also from a psychological one. Examples maybe seen on Nintendo's Nintendogs site.


Sunday, September 11, 2005


While perusing my copy of the M.I.T. Technology Review. I noticed Flickr's Stewart Butterfield made this year's TR35.



The Intelligent Shoe

As far as I can tell, the Adidas Intelligent Shoe hasn't been Boing-Boing-ed yet.

"It's the world's first intelligent shoe. It comes to life when you turn it on, senses your every step and understands that your needs change with the pace and terrain. It continually adapts to give you your perfect level of cushioning at all times."


Credit goes to Jon Meyer's Cybergrain.

Super Mario implemented in JavaScript

Super Mario implemented in JavaScript.


(ht: boingboing)

Quark Logo Gaff

Quark has a new logo

Here's the Scottish Arts Council logo



Friday, September 09, 2005


Originally uploaded by metamerist.

The Dukes of Stratosphear

I stumbled onto the Dukes of Stratosphear anthology on Y! Unlimited: Chips from the Chocolate Fireball. If you're uninitiated, the Dukes were the psychedelic alter ego of the band XTC. There's a good explanation here. A friend in college introduced me to the album Psonic Psunspot, and it's been a long time since I've heard many of the songs. Braniac's Daughter, a tribute to McCartney circa Yellow Submarine is my fave.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Uli Meyer

Cool blog by animator Uli Meyer.


(ht: Drawn!)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Paint Shop Pro X

PC Mag reviews PSP X.

Adventures in Digital Music

Given the skyrocketing price of gasoline, I traded my Isuzu Rodeo for a Toyota Corolla. My favorite music is on CD in mp3 form, which won't jibe with the factory CD player in my new Corolla, so an upgrade is a must for me. This is leading to a familiar cascade of technology.

I've been quite happy with Yahoo's Y! Unlimited subscription music service. It supports transfer to portable devices. That left me thinking that if I had a portable device and a car stereo with an aux input, I could listen to music from Y! Unlimited in my car.

Enter Creative Zen Micro.

I picked it up last night at Best Buy. Overall, I have to say I'm quite pleased with this little device. It offers a nice user experience. As a developer of software, I've found that I have a lower frustration tolerance for bad user interfaces than the average person. The only possible regret I might have is not going for something with a bigger hard drive. I got a 5 gig player.

To get the Zen Micro to work with Y! Unlimited, I had to do a firmware upgrade which amounted to fairly painless download and installation from Creative's site. While downloading music I've run into a what appear to be a few glitches with the DRM, but I'm not sure if the problem is at the Yahoo end or the Creative end of the transfer. For the time being, I have been focusing on downloading entire CDs.

The last piece of the puzzle is the new car stereo. Given the phenomenal success of the iPod, I am really surprised by how few car stereo manufacturers have front-side auxilliary inputs. Should be a "Duh!" by now, no?

Pioneer got it. Another little company whose name I can't remember got it. Sony supports aux audio through the rear. This doesn't seem to make sense to me for an in-dash player. I don't want to run an adapter from the rear to some spot under my dash. At this point, I'm still surveying my options.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans

My heart goes out to the poor people of the Gulf Coast. Please do what you can to support them.

There are many strange assertions being made regarding this disaster. I hope they are better addressed in the mainstream media. Many government agencies seem so surprised and caught off guard. This 2001 Scientific American article is being cited a lot in the blogosphere.

Here's some more information from an LSU Research page from Winter 2004 noting the threat posed by even a Category 3 hurricane:

"An opinion survey recently conducted by a new LSU center indicates that 30 percent of New Orleans' residents would not evacuate, even if a major hurricane were about to hit.

Forty percent of Louisiana is coastal zone in which 70 percent of the population resides. Ninety percent of the coastal zone is near or below sea level. Densely populated areas, such as New Orleans, rank among the highest in the nation with respect to potential mortality and economic impacts.

The study of public health impacts include trauma, fires, disease, and chemical, sewage, and corpse contamination of air and water. Recent research has revealed that even a slow moving Category 3 hurricane could cause levee overflow and severe flooding. The resultant mix of sewage, corpses and chemicals in standing floodwaters could set the stage for massive disease outbreaks and prolonged chemical exposure."