the valley is behind us

September 27th, 2014

The first realistic rendering of a human in a computer I even laid eyes on got created by Chris Jones in Australia. If Intel would have any sense then they would give him everything he needs so that he can make a super bowl spot.

It is much easier for a director to dial in some emotions on an “Eckman board” rather than trying to coax them out of a drugged up little twat being full of itself. CAA better get their sh*t and required legislation together.

It will take a little while, but this WILL be a big deal: Completely artificial movies that just look like reality.

Media consumption in 2014

February 10th, 2014

4 months after I moved I connected the BluRay player. Turns out it was worth it: “Save the Tiger” is worth watching.

infinite sar display - neat option

May 21st, 2013

wanting watch sar run in a terminal in linux indefinitely one can start it with

sar 1 0

The first number indicates the sampling time in seconds. The second number is usually the number of samples you like ot see.

If this number is 0 then sar will not stop. And as another bonus will look at how large the terminal is and will display a new header

Command line can be user friendly. I really like those little gems that show up in all software: People spending their time to make something better. It is like a little gift to the world. With software the value of even a little detail can potentially be significant. Which is an awesome thing.

For all we know it might very well be that the feature described here will please people in a hundred years from now.

I don’t think that mankind will manage to drop unix at this point. Neither can it give up on the use of steel. Yes there might be new systems, much like there have been new materials.

The new gets all the attention. But in many cases the new will not replace the old entirely. Only journalists tend to think that way. In reality the findings of Mr Newton help Boeing and Airbus today to build tubes with wings that shuttle people around the globe close to the sound of speed.

“Fight Club” in 2013

January 27th, 2013

Watching “Fight Club” again today is a strange and very interesting experience.

So much has changed since the book / film came out. It is clearly set in a different epoch.

Its character ‘Tyler Durden’ says:

God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables;
slaves with white collars.  Advertising has us chasing cars
and clothes, working jobs  we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. 
We've all been raised on television to believe
that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods,
and rock stars. 
But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact.
And we're very, very pissed off.

It seemed fitting at the time. What happened since then?

Many of those jobs are gone. People in that slice of society
make less money today. Sometimes even in absolute dollars.
Certainly corrected for inflation. In the same time the share
of the upper sliver of society on the other end of the wealth
distribution has nothing but exploded.

So why seems the portrayed unrest even further removed
from reality than less than a score years ago?

The answer might lie in the proliferation of computer games and the Internet
during that time.

Both soak up all that extra male testosterone and time that would
otherwise find not much constructive application in the world of 2013.

Oh, and it looked absolutely awesome. I miss movies shot on film.

time to …

February 6th, 2012

It is time that we start taxing sugar. R. Lustig and C. Brindis published a very compelling opinion piece in the current issue of Nature. (Vol 482)

It is ALSO high time that Nature stops paywalling ALL articles. Op pieces like this one SHOULD be public on the net.

Science and Nature are both on this idiot pay-wall trip. They need to get over that.

The should be ways so that they have their content online for all and still give extra for people that pay now for the content.

medical imaging

December 16th, 2011

So glad I found this great introduction and overview of medical imaging.

I liked the article since it gives a great overview of different techniques together with their genesis. Stuff like a PET scanner does not rain down on humanity. Lots of people needed to work hard to realize it. Ideas, Patents and -as it turns out- the Beatles were needed and involved.

I personally found it fascinating how much ample computation power has enabled. Nothing that mattered in the last 40 years would have been conceivable without massive numerical processing. Even 99.999% of computing power is wasted on Facebook and games it is just awesome that we people deviced instruments to compute so cheaply.

It is probably impossible to estimate the impact that technologies like DfMRI will have on our knowledge and picture of ourselves. The microscope changed the world and each of our lives in the most radical ways. Which might only have dawned on people in the 17th century.

Of course the link was found in Wikipedia. After having set up a monthly donation to them and knowing how good it feels now and will do in the future I wonder why I did not do so earlier. Specially learning new things most Wikipedia pages allow a quick overview about the topic. What I personally really love is how detailed yet concise even very specialized topics are being documented. Quiet brilliant.

confusion as a political tool

November 8th, 2011

For some people is bendable. Sadly they will pay the price for their ignorance.

Seeding confusion is one tool deliberately being used to keep peoples away from certain facts.

Another one is ‘astroturf trolling’ - as in the comments for this article.

For me the forces and practices of Fox News & Co are just 1 level up from spammers & scammers.

So far society and people just endure those issues. Hope that changes.

It changed for other ailments like slavery or witch hunts before.


October 15th, 2011

During childhood we build an idea of our surroundings. Kids figure stuff out quiet naturally. It’s what we are wired to do. When are young. Or when we like to learn.

I don’t think that this is a big deal - since people always did adopt to new ways of communicating. Reading and Writing are similar techniques that are ‘no natural’.

I think that it is a big deal - since more and more of our world is made up by glowing rectangles. We are what we watch. And what we watch could be controlled by some few corporations. No need to put people in pods like in ‘the matrix’ and maintaining them. They can do that themselves AND be under tight super vision.

I guess we will find out which one it will be.

David Simon (”The Wire”)

October 8th, 2011

A recent lecture by David Simon

Very much worth seeing. He has his own perceptive that is coherent and thoughtful and based on his first hand experience. For me was able to shed some light on why the USA is the country with the biggest jail population. According to him 7% of inmates are there for violent crimes. Prisons are a profitable and growing business in the US. I don’t agree on his views in terms of labor. Would maybe be nice if the world would still be like he sees it. Small countries like Germany can still work under those premises. But only since they supply the rest of the world with their products. You don’t see many US made cars in Germany. Robots don’t need unions. Things have changed so dramatically in the last 10, 20 years. But the political system and peoples minds and perceptions are stuck in some fairy tale land of the 50s.

Science PR - good luck getting the Manhattan Project going today

September 23rd, 2011

Yesterday two ’science stories’ ‘broke’: “Neutrinos traveling faster than light” and “Computers can read images out of the brain”. I am borderline clueless on matters of physics, so I leave that one alone. The fMRI mashup by Nishimoto et al is borderline in my view. The presentation of their findings makes it way to easy to drum up headlines like “Brain Imaging Reveals What You’re Watching” or “Scientists Reconstruct Brains’ Visions Into Digital Video ”

Only spending little time with the setup it seems that the experiement pretty much reveals that 5,000 hours of youtube video are so stereotypical that even a fMRI of the v1 can match some patterns back. For a given individual, after hours of learning. To suggest that the video shown on the right as ‘coming out’ of the brain is extremely misleading.

Having two of those studies in one day means nothing of course. But one can go off on a tangent and wonder why - I am sure wonderful - people and scientists drop science in exchange for head lines and eyeball. Maybe it is time to decide over the 2012 budget? And I am sure that given realities of today it is much to get money for “we can go back in time” or “we can film your dreams”.

I have doubts that the Manhattan Project would have a chance today. Rewind to 1940: Some professors had drawn some numbers on chalk board. Up this day only very few
people understood what they were talking about. I certainly have no clue. They had no computer simulated films. They had no precedence. The bomb they were talking about
was by multiple magnitudes bigger than anything that had done before. There was nothing in reality to show for. Just scribblings on a chalkboard. And some common consensus among a few people. One could see this happening if they would have asked to disappear into the desert to do a bit of thinking. But they needed a bit more: Factories bigger than anything else that had been built. And 10% of all electricity in the entire US to run them. To make a handful of matter that -according to science- might make one big boom.
All based on science. And politicians and military people did go with it. And they built different models that both worked after five years.

surprisingly insightful

August 25th, 2011

Adweek ventures into cultural history. And - in my opinion - they actually do succeed.

The invisble hand of working stuff.

March 28th, 2011

Switching machines I realized that I had to re-install webmailer. This wonderful preference plane lets you launch any web based mail program whenever your default mail application would be launched.

I have used it for years. Thousands of times. And it always worked.

And I failed to appreciate that. Going through our lives our attention is where we need to act or avoid. The broken and annoying stuff is what we notice.

All the well working things that surround us go naturally under appreciated. And, since people have piled up allot of technology and culture in the last couple of generations there is actually a huge amount of that.

If a thousand items worked and one does not, that one will be all we think about.

747-8 Intercontinental

February 14th, 2011

So, you think you are super cool, since you ordered a gulfstream private jet?

Well, unfortunately there are still a couple of people that 1-up you. By a long shot.

Boeing builts 747s since the late sixties. What meant to be used for cargo, since all long passenger flight would go super sonic soon anyway, became the largest passenger plane. Until recently: Airbus finally trumped those huge 747 jumbos with their dead ugly A380 a few years ago.

One of those 43 sold A380s will actually be converted into a flying palace.

Boeing revealed their new 747-8i yesterday:

Turns out that 7 out of the 28 ordered 787-8i will be sold to “VIP clients” as well. The super rich certainly got allot richer in the last years.

Usually that kind of wealth can afford to remain invisible. Having the worlds largest passenger jet converted to your liking gives a glimpse how a billionaire rolls in 2011.

The end of Nokia

February 11th, 2011

A good summary of what happened to Nokia. Point is that engineers can not run the show. But -of course- all the prettiest design in the world can not safe a project / company if the underlying technology is not up to the task.

past wasted fears

January 19th, 2011

“Strange Maps” is a wonderful read for me. It shows that on the Internet even strange or obscure content will find an audience.

In the recent post pages from Life Magazine in the forties are the subject. I find them highly entertaining. What Life wrote is utter rubbish. Complete fiction. As probable as you having 5 legs.

In 1942 many people in the US took those maps for a likely scenario. What an amount of wasted fear. I personally don’t like to jump to the conclusion that such non sense got produced to manipulate people into a certain direction. For me it is more likely to see the motivation in the fabrication of fictional war global war maps in that Life hoped to increase the circulation.

I think that today’s articles and ‘news items’ often don’t do much better in the area of plausibility. How is that swine flu pandemic going?

The Albinan Army

December 13th, 2010

It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world?

I don’t think so.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes about the future of Netflx according to The Hollywood Reporter

Netflix streaming right now feels indeed like the early Napster: All this content for that kind of price? Amazing. As long the Starz deal runs Netflix will gain momentum.
They will be installed on lots of screens & devices. Maybe they will be able to pay more for content than all the other balkanized wanna be streamers together.

We will see. And watch. And it will be interesting.

5 Beekman

November 21st, 2010

Looking at the picture of 5 Beekman Street I am wondering why there are no equally stunning buildings going up right now. In theory there should be multitudes of money, technology and ideas around compared to the 1880s. Yet, all we seem to be able to accomplish is to find a gem like this and restore it.

It’s the technology, stupid

October 21st, 2010

I like this graph. It is a wonderful example how a theory can be conveyed.

I have trouble following the underlying assumptions though. Plotting the potential output as a straight line going up is a nice illusion. Last time I checked things don’t automatically get better. Thanks to entropy the opposite is true. It takes a certain effort to maintain the status quo and even more energy is needed to improve matters. The past certainly saw advancements in GDP. Over and over again. But assuming that this will therefor continue is equally foolish as to predict the future reign of the Pharaohs in Egypt just because they did so in the last thousands of years.

The Dow is climbing, but unemployment does not decline. It might be that a conventional analysis is under estimating the impact of structural changes that happened in the last two decades. A tempting simplification of what is going on could look like this: Progress in computers and communication technology is creating huge values without creating the jobs as it was usual in previous eras. Facebook employs one engineer per 1.2 Million users.

Quantum leaps in efficiency ( workers vs output ) did happen before. But never as radical and rapid as seems now to be the case. Since this is unprecedented nobody has the faintest idea what this actually means.

For a couple of years the housing bubble masked the effects of this technological revolution on the job market. But eventually we will have to cope with the fact that nobody needs to file TPS reports any longer. That’s done by some computer somewhere.


October 2nd, 2010

There will always be West- and East-Germany. I was convinced of that. All political parties had ‘a unified Germany’ listed on their official agendas. But nobody took that serious.

It was nice to be wrong about this. It was nice to see something change 20 years ago.

The thought that many people were born the GDR and died before their countries ill fated system is a weird one: All these people knew was this version of the world.

Douglas Trumball website

September 8th, 2010

Thanks Mike for tweeting about the website of Douglas Trumbull. Nice to see this being done so well. Great content with great presentation. Can happen on the Internet. There are not many examples of a site like this though.

1 sided communication

August 23rd, 2010

Leo Laporte realized that he was communicating into /dev/null. It is not surprising that nobody noticed it.

In the pre Internet age dentists with a literary ambition not no corresponding talent could ‘publish’ the book themselves. They dropped a nice amount of cash on a couple of palette of dead trees. Now, in the digital age they just can blog, tweet, update their facebook page. The googlebot might care.

Social media always has been a Ponzi scheme. Much like you run out of fresh suckers in the money ‘making’ enterprises you run out of audience. The difference is that the internet is able to give you the illusion of an audience. It seem that things are working. Everybody in the world COULD find that tweet you just made that is so brilliant.

People and companies alike often fail to look clearly at the actual effort and time that they put into the creation of the content and put it into relation of the size of the actual audience. Luckily failed virals have the built in effect that nobody notices them. But they still exist, and so do millions of tweets that nobody cares about.

The signal to noise ratio of the overall Internet keeps collapsing. People complained about the “Summer of AOL” last century. It is a blessing that we had no idea what was coming our way …

not all bugs are bad

August 6th, 2010

Bill Joy wrote allot of software. Allot of what he wrote in the 70s is still in use. Of course not bit by bit. Not even much of his original source code might be left. But -whether you know it or not- BSD Unix, nfs and vi make your life better. Every day. Before his generation computer code was entered via punch cards. Access was very limited. Even on the terminals that Bill used people had to account for the time they used. But:

So the computers of the time at Michigan, you were charged like $3 an hour. It was
interactive, which was cool. It wasn’t just punch cards, but you were charged like $3 an
hour to be on, and you were charged for CPU time, disk IO’s. Every little thing the
computer did, it would keep counts and charge you. So the Anthropology Department
had an account with several thousand dollars so we could get some reasonable computer
time. And we figured out how to get free time very quickly. There was a bug in the
system where you could tell it when you logged in, you’d say you wanted time, and time
equals seven seconds, or time equals five minutes, some limit. You’d sign up for a block
of time. You’d say T equals K, which was not a number, but that would give you free
time, and then we had as much time as we wanted until they plugged that loophole, which
took several years.

from Andreas Bechtolsheim & William Joy, 1999

I am sure that they would have found a different way to get the time they needed. Sometimes
gaming the system is a good thing. But certainly not as often as people think. The spirit of Enron is still out there.

nice read

August 3rd, 2010

Stephen Pigeon posted an interesting blog entry about the history of knowledge in math. The Internet CAN be a nice and inspiring place.

trucks, cars, kitchens and microwaves,

June 14th, 2010

Steve Jobs said at this years D8 conference:

When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because
that’s what you needed on the farms.” Cars became more popular
s cities rose, and things like power steering and automatic
transmission became popular.

“PCs are going to be like trucks,” Jobs said.
“They are still going to be around.” However, he said,
only “one out of x people will need them.”

I agree on the part that iPad like devices will liberate
people from using computers that didn’t want them in
the first place. And there are more than we think.
I think Apple will make a killing by recognizing this with
the iPad.

I like the historical analogy. However I find this one
to be more fitting: Computers are like kitchens, and
iPads are like micro wave ovens. A microwave will
work against your hunger. You are dependent on
pre made things that you have to purchase at a price.
It is easy, but you have not much chance to control
the experience.

A kitchen is more complex to operate than a microwave.
But the food tastes better. It is healthier and cheaper.
And the varieties of experiences is endless.

nice image

April 20th, 2010

It would be tricky to sell this image as a comp.
It would also have been tricky to suggest a couple of weeks ago that Europe could experience a flight outage of 9/11 dimensions.

glowing rectangle

March 28th, 2010

Are we in trouble when the Onion has a point?

facebook login and the madness of crowds

February 14th, 2010

Readwrite web wrote about Facebook login

Which happened to bring them high in the google search results for “facebook login”.

Then facebook did a re design. I didn’t notice much difference. But some people got confused and looked for the “facebook login” on google. And as we all know
clicking on the first result is what one should do (not). Enough people were so convinced that what they actually saw was facebook they got very mad and left comments in this direction.

Two things become apparent:

Everybody has computers now. And I mean everybody.
And many people delegate everything (including their thinking) to google.

No wonder adsense scams are so profitable.

boarding pass

February 11th, 2010

A boarding pass design

I really like this. Also because it gets to show that we take too much junk in the -after all- man made environment around us for granted.

Boarding passes right now have a format that looks like a computer punch card, which came into being in that size since dollar bills in the days of Mr. Hollerith where that big.
So your boarding pass does not fit anywhere because people used to pay with paper money of that size more than 120 years ago …

While we are at it: The airlines could get an image from me, since I am frequent flier. Then they could super impose it over a QR Code and add a check sum.

An optical scan would reveal instantly if that boarding pass would actually BE for me. Quick: Go and patent that. It might be worth your time. I am busy with other
stuff and would just be happy to see better boarding passes. Among a couple of other things.

via Eric Alba, who referenced passfail where Davin Yoon’s design can be found in the bottom of the page.

cool IP, hm, maybe not so

February 3rd, 2010

As we are running slowly out of IP addresses addresses are being used that were deemed to be reserved. This wouldn’t be the internet if this would go smooth. See pollutions in 1/8 for the details (thanks David for the hint).

Turns that out that and and not so awesome choices for an IP. Others thought so before.


February 3rd, 2010

And they keep doing them:
Very nice visualization by the times

going back to 24 frames

November 13th, 2009

Back in the day an electron beam was running across the TV screen. NTSC was running with 30 and PAL with 25 frames a second. If the beam would go line by line the screen would flicker. The solution was, to let it run twice over the screen for each frame: Once for all odd lines (1,3,5 etc) and then again for all the even ones (2,4,6). That looked better. It is called ‘interlaced’. Each of these passes is a ‘field’.

Film cameras liked to run at 24 frames per second. Cinema does not flicker since each frames is shown twice, but that is not the point here.

When you have 24 fps footage and your TV runs at 30fps, what do you do? The solution was to insert a so called 3:2 pulldown to make 30 frames out of 24. This was done based on 60 fields to make it look smooth.

Interlacing is dead. There are no electron beams going over glass tubes to make images to speak of.

If you like to compress an NTSC spot that was shot on film, and that has the 3:2 pulldown in it, then you should go back to the 24fps version first. Since I could not find anything that worked I developed this. In 1998. Then, in 2008, I needed it again, and so I looked again. Much to my surprise, nothing really worked the way it should be. Many tools have the button to do an ‘inverse telecine’. But none detect cuts and deal with changing cadence patterns. So, I wrote it again. This time based on quicktime.

I decided to give it away: 32none is a free tool now.