Archive - May 2007

Date
  • All
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 25
  • 26
  • 27
  • 28
  • 29
  • 30
  • 31

May 29th

Microsoft commercializes Surface Computing

All this stuff has been around for a while, but MS is taking the bold step to commercialize it. The new product is called Microsoft Surface. Pretty slick:

The videos on the MS Surface homepage are also worth watching, though do have an overzealously awesome attitude.

Note though that none of this is new technology — it’s just that a mainstream software company has decided to convert established ideas into a mainstream product. Here’s a set of videos of other surface computing projects:

The BumpTop Project at UToronto does file management using a surface.

TouchLight by MSR

MultiTouch Displays by Jeff Han, and his spin-off Perceptive Pixel

Frustrated Total Internal Reflection — the technology that powers most of these interfaces

Reactable from Universitat Pompeu Fabra. MS totally stole their “shapes” idea.

And last, but definitely not least, is my entry to this game :)

Last winter I took a class with Prof. Michael Rodemer called “Interactivity and Behaviour”. I tried to build a tabletop that reacts to where you touch it, changing lights and modifying the music that it plays. The video is a little lame, but it was fun to build the damn thing!

May 29th

Privacy issues with Google Street View

Google Street View is a pretty nice implementation of street level maps (originally implemented by A9, which is dead now, sadly). However, check this awesome view of Lombard Street in San Francisco. Notice something? The license plate numbers of the person are clearly visible! It seems that unlike the normal Satellite View which attempts to clean up as many people as possible, the Street View just gives up and shows whatever you see.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Click to zoom in on the number plate

Anuj claims public photographs are public record, so no one should care, but I don’t know… I would have a problem with every single person on the internet knowing that my red Chevy Cobalt numbered 5NEX174 was criss-crossing down the crooked street with someone in the passenger seat on a nice summer day.

Update: More “interesting pictures”:

* Man coming out of strip clubAnother man
* Guy checking out woman
* Reflection of the camera car

|

May 25th

bicycle lift

Bicycle Lift — this should be constructed everywhere!

|

May 16th

Flickr mobs

An interesting story has panned out at Flickr, which involves the stealing of a independent artist’s image by an agency, a flickr comment posted by the artist calling fans to send letters to the agency, the censoring of that comment by Flickr, culminating in the world calling Yahoo! Flickr the biggest known evil dictator censorship company since the prehistoric times. Here’s my view, sent as a letter to the artist:

——
Dear Rebekka,

Here’s something you wrote at the end of your letter:

So i encourage everyone that has been displaying similar landscape photos on flickr to look at their site and see if they see something suspicious.
It would also be pretty cool if as many people as possible would send them angry letters, (address them to info@only-dreemin.com ) but that’s just if you feel like it;)”

The first line is ok. The second line, you are actively calling for a mob to do wrong things. And if you look at reddit.com and digg.com, this is exactly what they are doing. In other words, that last line of yours has spurted a mob of angry people to send death threats to a company. Thousands of blog articles now are talking about how Flickr is a censoring company, how Yahoo sucks. Competitors with similar sounding names are voicing attacks to market their own product. And the funny thing is that most of these articles and opinions are either baseless or are completely false. And they were instigated by you. Using flickr.

Sending death threats to a company is wrong, even if they are caught stealing. The right way is to report them to the police.

However, this is not what your fans did. Furthermore, they did it based on your call for arms. And this sentence of yours was hosted at Flickr. In turn, this means that Flickr supports that sentence, that they are all in favor of harassing and sending angry letters.

While I can see that you are a talented photographer, and that it was very wrong to steal, you seem to have (knowingly or unknowingly) used your fame to fire a mob war. Note that you have used Flickr as your platform, and that they are just as responsible for letting you do this as you are.

Which is wrong — Flickr is a photo sharing site. It is not a union for photographers or a place to launch mob wars. All they did was stand by their own convictions of being a photo hosting site, and not your personal podium for war mongering.

Prior to this, I have NEVER heard of any censorship or willful harm done by Flickr to anybody. You seem to be an odd case, and I think it is in some part, if not all, due to your inciting messages which were taken too seriously by the internet.

I think it would be advisable to think about your actions in conjunction with Flickr’s actions, and then form an opinion on the service.

Also, I think you owe the crowds you have infuriated a message, telling them what you think of flickr, since they are right now burning down a beautiful community.

Regards,
Arnab

Note: I am an infrequent flickr user, and have been a user of their services since Ludicorp’s Game Never Ending times. I have very I am in no way associated or sympathize with any of the parties involved, and only care for the reduction of mob mentality on the internet. Hope you understand me and have read all of my email.
——

|

May 6th

Anti-God Starbucks cup has customer steaming

WorldNetDaily is running an article reporting Ohio customer Michelle Incanno’s problems with her Starbucks cup, which came with the quote:

“Why in moments of crisis do we ask God for strength and help? As cognitive beings, why would we ask something that may well be a figment of our imaginations for guidance? Why not search inside ourselves for the power to overcome? After all, we are strong enough to cause most of the catastrophes we need to endure.”

She says:

“As someone who loves God, I was so offended by that,” Michelle Incanno, a married mother of three who is Catholic, told the Dayton Daily News. “I don’t think there needs to be religious dialogue on it. I just want coffee.”

Haha, religious dialogue? This is philosophy, not religion. Plus, I’m not sure how a note on a cup constitutes a *dia*logue. But let us engage in the dialogue that Mrs Incanno did not want, since that’s what bloggers do. My problem is that Mrs Incanno is implying that God is this separate entity, this thing inside a church that she goes every week to worship. Frankly, viewpoints and protests such as these are exactly the kind of problems that result from blind faith. The unification of the “self” and the “almighty”, as opposed to the recognition of God as an object of worship has existed in many religions. In Vedic Hinduism, one is reminded of “Aham Brahmhasmi”, which loosely translates to “I am almighty”, referring to the same the power inside of us that the Starbucks quote talks of. Why do you have a problem with that, Mrs. Incanno? What of the symbolism behind the consumption of wine and bread? Does that not then represent an attempt to capture some of the magic in our own material body? My understanding is that Christianity in most of its forms forbids idolatry — and it is not the only religion to do so. It is a recurring theme across religions, where the crux of faith lies inside the believer. Then why have a problem with the quote? For all you know, there’s probably some frustrated, depressed suicidal yuppie who will want to have his last Venti Mocha Quadruple Espresso to go wash down that jar full of sleeping pills, who will read this quote and and realize that God Almighty is not going to fly down and hand him a pile of cash, that he needs to get off his ass and get his act together. Given the potential benefits, I think Mrs. Incanno is better off ignoring messages she does not understand.