Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Analyzing the Flickr location tags...

I just ran across this article in New Scientist, but have been thinking a lot about the use of geotagged photos and some possible expansions to it. With just location, it's interesting to view a set of photos, just what are people taking pictures of at the Apple Store in Manhattan? It's the fifth most photographed (and geotagged) place on Earth. Is it the facade? Inside? Most of the GPS-based automatic image tagging devices wouldn't work inside the store. And although there's a lot of interesting data here, it can't really be used for an immersive experience since there's no pointing information at all. Let's think of the Washington Monument, some photos are outside, classic tourist shots of the monument, some are facing away from it, catching other aspects of DC, and some are from the top looking around. Image if each image had orientation data associated with it, a fluxgate compass as well as the GPS location, then you could tie a large number of images into, say, Google Maps, and move around in a collage of photos. Okay, this still doesn't work inside too well, but for outside it would pretty spectacular. You could walk 42nd Street in photos at Christmas-time last year, or watch the parade go by.

The next step after that would either be computer detection of the horizon-line in the image (I didn't bother to Google the efforts that must be going on in that direction) or tilt sensors in the camera. With focal length data, position, pointing, and tip/tilt, each photograph would be a capture of a well-defined piece of the world at that time. A 3-D immersive virtual reality of collected photos, might be a nifty thing?

So, hardware-wise, what does this look like? Well, GPS, 3-axis magnetometer, and 2 absolute angle sensors are just a couple of chips and some MEMS. Might be able to add in a low-power inertial navigation unit using fiber optic gyroscopes in version two. That should keep the position information good within a walk through a building letting you get your tagged full-orientation photos of the inside of the Sistine Chapel and the Louvre.

Friday, April 24, 2009

China Mieville's new book, The City & The City

I just posted a review for it on amazon. The book will be out late in May, and it's pretty darned good. The City & The City. I've become a big fan after reading Perdido Street Station a few years back, and returning to it last year and then devouring his other books. China Mieville books on Amazon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Cosmic Ray Deflection Society

I just noticed the news on Slashdot that Yahoo is closing down Geocities. Yeah, I know that means the end of many horribly structured websites, many of them contenders in the bad design competitions, but it also means that the Cosmic Ray Deflection Society will need to move its website. Maybe they know that, but aren't completely transitioned yet. My research was in cosmic rays (and neutrinos) and I was proud to feature photos from the CRDS (as I acronymed them, used to acronyming many things for NASA TLA purposes).

Any local Minneapolis people out there? Interested in a cosmic-ray-deflecting-hat making party? Maybe in time for the May Day parade?

The greatest drinking game

"Bunnies" from Tiki Bar TV.

Speaking of Amazon...

I have a good number of online lists, mostly of weird items. My Amazon lists. Though there are always new and interesting amazon oddities that I have missed.

My cosmic ray research monograph is still in print it appears

It was a rushed business, and one that I'm not completely happy with. And the publisher isn't so good about royalties...

Everyone watch out for GAY BANDS!

Yep, the folks at Love God's Way are giving us a fair warning. There are Gay Bands out there and they're recruiting children via internet mp3 piracy. Oh the horror of it all!

We have such gems as: Ted Nugent (loincloth), George Michael (texan), and the brilliant pairing of Michael Jackson with the Boredoms. (Brilliant and loud Japanese noise musicians for the philistines out there.)

My favorite part is where they call for parents to burn the CDs in front of their impressionable off-spring. Which would what? Teach children about toxic gases emitted from burning plastics?

If you're up for it, their listing of safe bands is nearly as funny. Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, and the Dresden Dolls?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NPR on the history of the Ghetto Blaster

It's time for monster bunny rabbits

To save the starving North Koreans no less.

Harvestore silo challenge

Okay, here's a pesky question that shows up whenever driving through farm country. So you know the bright blue Harvestore (oxygen-limiting) silos that are relatively common. Some of them have large US flag decals up near the tops of them. In the Jane Smiley novel A Thousand Acres, it's mentioned that the Harvestore dealer puts that flag up on the silo when it's paid off. I've heard that version elsewhere as well, but there does not seem to be any justification for that story on the web.

Normally I have the Google-Fu but on this one, no luck in my searches. So here's the challenge, can you find if that story is true using only the Internet. (Sure, you could call Jane Smiley or the local Harvestore dealer, but let's stay online for this one.)

It's also interesting to note that lots of farmers are selling off their silos and the Harvestores are mostly headed to Scandanavia.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Interconnects for Dr. DuVernois's online life

My web pages are up and running at duvernois.org. This blog is in addition to my ramblings on Facebook (current) and Myspace (previous) as well as my professional personae on LinkedIn. Oi! It's complicated.

TG in the States

It may no longer be 1980, but Throbbing Gristle has returned. Do attend one of the American tour dates if possible.

Christ Carter has also posted some tour photos on flickr.

Monday, April 20, 2009

xkcd coming to dead trees near you

Romance, sarcasm, language, and math.

RIP: J. G. Ballard

Probably the best obituary for one of the greatest writers of the 20th century (no need for the science fiction adjective in there, especially as it's assumed to be a pejorative) is simply the pairing of his Assassination of JFK Considered as a Downhill Motor Race with its progenitor, Jerry's Crucifixion tale. Okay, and you need to read The Voices of Time if you haven't previously.

If you need a more traditional obit, let me recommend the rapidly updated Wikipedia article.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Amazon: amazonfail

Well, probably everyone has heard about Amazon's big PR disaster from the weekend. Bunches of feminist, LGBT, and other books lost their book ranking (and hence would not show up near the top of searches) due to being labeled as "adult" material. Plenty of other materials that were obviously adult in nature escaped the purge.

You know, there's just no way this was anything other than a screwup. This is Amazon, big book (and everything else) seller to men, women, gay, and straight. There's no way that they're going to censor (see the next paragraph for a discussion of whether this is censorship) such work. As one of my colleagues pointed out, things are either a conspiracy or a cockup. I'm going for the latter on this one unless some evidence that a crack squad of hackers working for Jerry Falwell's crowd hacked Amazon.

Aha! Censorship in the age of distributed knowledge. Is it censorship to push items down the search results? It's not exactly the same as the closed stacks, the books hidden away, but it's mighty close. How do we look for things? With google of course. And with amazon if we're talking about books. If it's not in the first page, it only sort of exists. Ten thousand entries down? Long tail or not, it's hidden away.

Blog import

Well, I got all sorts of errors with the blog import. Gave up on it for the time being. I have the Movable Type export converted to Blogger .xml format (thanks to the Google app tools), but the uploads kept failing. Will try again some other time when I can dedicate more mental energy to it.