Tag Archive: technology

March 21 2010

Avatar and the future of 3D (Part 2)

For a few years now, 3D has been making a slow comeback. In the past, it’s been little more than a gimmick, and was hindered by issues such as poor image quality and clunky glasses for the audience to wear. But with Avatar, 3D proved itself to Hollywood as a great way to make money. But has 3D finally moved into the mainstream, or is it still too soon?

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June 8 2009

Damn you, Twitter!

I’m a Twitter-hater. I admit it.

I just haven’t been able to figure out why Twitter is so popular, or what use it is to anyone who doesn’t already have e-mail, text messaging, Facebook, RSS newsfeeds, blogs, and message boards. I’ve read about it plenty, I’ve heard people gushing about how great it is, and in the past month or two, I’ve noticed that nearly every person on the internet whose opinions I care about (podcasters, bloggers, reporters) has been pimping friggin’ Twitter. Gah.

So, I give up. I’m tired of fighting it. I’ll give this fad a try. I thought the blogosphere was stupid (even though I’ve been blogging since before the term “blog” existed”) and it obviously grew on me – I now have 4 blogs and have set up numerous others for other people. I thought text messaging was stupid, but I’ve found that it’s often quite useful. I thought podcasting was absurd, and now I’m subscribed to like 30 podcasts. I thought MySpace was for teenagers starving for attention, and I was right. But, I thought similar things about Facebook, and now it’s the site i use the most. E-mail was something I grew up with, so no problem there.

So maybe I’ll be wrong about Twitter. I’m willing to find out.

If you want to follow me on the goddamn Twitter, I’m @dubiosity. I think that’s how it’s written. I also added a box on the right.

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May 14 2009

Recommended Podcasts

I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts while at my computer (especially while playing WoW) and also on my MP3 player in the car, and when out for a walk, and whenever I have the time. I listen to a LOT of podcasts, and I’m always looking for more. Here are my favorites, and if you know of any others that I’d probably like, please post a link.

What the hell is a podcast?

It’s like radio, but on a computer. Most podcasts are published via an RSS feed that links to the files on the podcaster’s server. You can just download them manually if you want, but there are programs out there that will let you subscribe to the podcast feed and automatically download new episodes when they become available. The program I use is MediaMonkey, which is probably the greatest audio program ever. Other people use iTunes, though I don’t know why. I think WinAmp can handle podcasts too, and I’m sure there are others. Anyway, on with the show.

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April 19 2008

Playing with the Liquid Resizer image program

Update: This program was eventually bought by Adobe, and it’s now a part of Photoshop, from CS4 onward, as the Content-Aware Scale tool.

Some of you may have seen a few YouTube videos where a guy showed off a really cool new image-resizing program that actually shrunk/enlarged elements of the picture, rather than just the whole picture, thus creating a more or less realistic image without unsightly stretching.

Well, a few days ago, they released this program as a beta to the public (eventually they’ll be selling it as a Photoshop plugin), and you can find it here. I’ve been playing with it a bit, and here are some of the cool things I’ve been able to do with it.

This is the shot I started out with. Dan in the snow taking pictures. I decided to try resizing it so the picture was square. The original dimensions were 800×600, and I changed them to 600×600.

In Liquid Resize, I selected the area of the picture that I DIDN’T want resized (Dan and his tripod), and let the program do the rest. As you can see, it created an almost perfect "scrunch job" of the image. Most of the image loss came from the path on the left, and from the trees. The large tree in the upper-right corner was scrunched a bit too much for my taste the first time, so I protected it too. The rest of the trees are mostly narrower, but you can’t tell unless you’re looking at the original.

In this image, I thought it’d be fun to try to take Dan out of the picture completely and see what happened. In LR, you can either choose to "protect" or "delete" an element of the picture. Protecting an area will cause the program to completely ignore the protected area when it’s looking for elements to scrunch/stretch. Setting an area to "delete" will cause the area to be favored for deletion, so it’ll scrunch into the deletion area as much as possible.

The result is pretty good, though you can definitely see some seams, and the big tree in the foreground has seen better days. Oh well; this isn’t really what it’s supposed to be used for.

Here’s another fun shot. This is Kev, Dan, and Tim (and myself behind the camera) out golfing before Dan’s wedding.

…and here’s the square version. This one turned out really well. LR closed the gap between Kev and the other two, and brought in the left side. Remember that it’s not cropping out ANYTHING; it’s resizing the different elements so they all fit within the specified dimensions. The houses in the back do seem a little narrower, and of course the pond is a bit smaller, but you’d never notice that if you hadn’t seen the original.

There is one minor issue though: Kev seems like he’s a lot taller now, due to the change in perspective.

Hmm…why is Dan in every one of these pictures so far?

Anyway, this is Dan & Jenni after the wedding, when we were driving around on the bus through Stillwater. We stopped by an outdoor biker hangout and somebody let them pose for pictures on their bike.

Again, I had LR change it to be square. This one was tricky. I protected Dan, Jenni, and their motorcycle of course, and also Shelly on the right. I also protected the two motorcycles in the back, because they were too distorted the first time I tried this. I also had it delete the lady on the left. I may have protected the car in the back too; I don’t remember.

As you can see, it brought the two bikes in the back (and Shelly) closer together. Some problems, which I could probably fix if I wasn’t so lazy, are that the house in the back is kinda scrunched, as is the bike on the far left.

Now, let’s play with a vertical picture, at 600×800. Here’s a shot of some ducks on a frozen pond.

This time, rather than having the program scrunch the image down to a 600×600, I had it stretch it to 800×800. I didn’t bother to have it protect any elements, and just decided to see what it would do.

Mostly, it just stretched the less-detailed area on the left. It also separated the ducks a little bit. Good solution.

This one is pretty funny, actually. I went back to the original image, and resized it down to 600×600. LR chose to shrink most of the background lake element, and as a result the ducks look gigantic. I definitely wouldn’t have been chasing them with a stick that day if they were all 5 feet tall.

The horizon on the far right looks a little goofy too. It scrunched the skyline and treeline to make room for the branch.

Overall, I think this program/plugin is going to be a valuable tool in any photo manipulator’s arsenal. Obviously it’s not perfect for every situation, but it’s very easy to use, and usually pulls off some impressive feats.

Here are a few more images I created. The first one is the original in each pair.



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June 22 2007

Music from Lightning


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It’s not an understatement for me to say that this is the most amazing thing I’ve seen in a long time. This is a Tesla coil (like one of those big metal balls that makes your hair stick up) that is being manipulated to produce crackling lightning at different pitches, resulting in actual music.

This first video is the most impressive light show, and features a few familiar songs. The second is TWO coils, doing an impressive rendition of the 1812 Overture.

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May 17 2007

Chatbot A, meet Chatbot B

Ever try out one of those online chatbot things? They’re complex computers programmed to hold a real conversation with you. They’re pretty clever actually, although they frequently change subjects like an overcaffeinated, ADD-riddled teenager. So they’re very lifelike if you’re in highschool.

Anyway, somebody had the brilliant idea to get two of them to chat with each other. Their names are Jabberwocky and Alice. The results are actually very interesting, especially since Jabb seems to be a bit of a jackass. And is it just me, or does Alice hit on Jabb once or twice?

http://discovermagazine.com/2007/brain/i-chat-therefore-i-am/

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