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There’s lots of interesting things that will be showing at Siggraph this year, the annual conference for computer graphics research. Even if many of these technologies might seem far away from being practical, one thing I like to keep in mind is that a majority of the research is funded by universities and thus the formulas are made available for open source software which occasionally shows up in commercial and open source software packages like Blender, Photoshop, or Renderman about a year or two later.

Check out the list of presentations and the videos below.


technical paper

Some of my all time computer graphics research heroes include Paul Debevec, Takeo Igarashi, and Mark Carlson.

This guy does on a 30-minute angry rant about technology and stuff, and it’s just pure genius. I wonder why on earth it’s on a crap site like G4. Oh well. It’s worth watching.

Let Me Google That For You
This site is great. It’s for when people ask you dumb questions. Oh, you don’t know what the web address is? Well, let me google that for you…

Aardvark
Recently purchased by Google this week, Aardvark is a search engine that uses other people to answer your question.

  • Wray Bowling: How long does it usually take before someone answers a question?
  • (From Karen U./33/F/Lowell,MA, Re: **meta**) It depends on the question. If aardvark can find someone who can answer it, it could be right away, if it has a harder time, it could be hours.
  • Wray Bowling: Karen: what’s the average?
  • (From Karen) In this paper: http://vark.com/aardvarkFinalWWW2010.pdf they say the median answering time was 6 minutes and 37 seconds
  • Wray Bowling: Karen: we searched the same info on google and it took… 3 seconds lol but thank you
  • (From Karen) If you read the paper on aardvark you’ll see that they say google is faster for factual questions. Aardvark is designed for subjective questions that can be harder to find an answer to using traditional search.

So when I asked

  • Wray Bowling: Is it good to try and date someone with a completely different perspective on things, or is it better to find someone like-minded?

I got a lot of real heady answers. Try it!

Ok – Im hooked.

My friend Stephanie told me about this site the other night called chatroulette.com. What this website actually does is connect you to a network of people that you can chat with via webcam, audio, or text. Essentially, youre meeting random strangers from anywhere in the globe.

WARNING!

this site is not for the weak minded

Yess, by the very nature of this website you can be sure to expect a lot of penis and other material that will be offensive to your eyeballs.  If youre one likely to be scarred from this – i wouldnt recommend visiting it.

However, if you can handle it, what this site enables you to do is amazing.  You are seeing and talking with random people all around the globe.  You can bet on getting a lot of middle fingers among other things.  But every once in awhile you will get a fairly normal person that will talk to you.  Here are some of my encounters:

me and this guy were excited to see each other

...but we never really understood eachother

these brits decided they would make fun of me till i cried, then asked to see my boobs

my new internet crush named ashley, however i was freaked out by our normal conversation and disconnected

i thought this mate was rolling a doobie - but he informed me it was a spliff

i told this fellow that he was a very ugly man - he then got his friend to moon me

One of more my more funnier experiences was with a duke fan.  Our time was spent flicking each other off and showing off our gear.  Also, sometimes you get random video – for instance, I even connected to someone who was showing avatar.. i watched it for a bit.

I ended up talking to this random french girl for a bit nicknamed “pow”.  It was really interesting to be able to talk to people around the world openly about anything.  I had to explain to her what poop meant, and she explained to me what it was like trying to find jobs on that side of the world.

It just blows my mind that we are even able to do this.  To connect to random strangers and talk to them all around the world.  What people do or say really fascinate me as I get a small glimpse of who they are and what they are like.

I do what I can not to write about myself because it makes me feel vain and pompous, but this time I’m proud of myself. The presentation I gave in Amsterdam last month is finally online for everyone to see. Enjoy it!

you’ll have to skip ahead to roughly the middle.

The browser wars are far from over. Technologies like Java applets, Quicktime, and Flash long dominated the media side of web. Originally, writing web pages was a lot more about being able to copy source code from others, and grow. As of this week, the World Wide Web Consortium’s newest toy has full support by all four of your favourite browsers.  Safari 4.0, Firefox 3.5, Chrome 3.0 (not yet released), & Opera 9.6 partnered with Open Source initiatives are all about to drop a bomb on proprietary media solutions. Welcome to your miniature guide to html5 Way back when the web was young, HTML4 was like the zenith of easy to learnweb page lingo. While XHTML was a stricter variant on HTML that was designed to put pressure on browser developers, it didn’t offer many new features. Companies like Macromedia & Sun flourished in the nonsense that has been the browser wars, and indeed many people still use Internet Explorer as their primary browser. Nevertheless, let’s look at the differences between HTML4 and HTML5 and what it will mean for the future of web page design.

Added Features (in order of awesomeness)

  • <canvas> : like a Processing sketch that allows 2D graphics drawing. With enough effort, you can pull off full flash-like animation without any plugin whatsoever. Links: Cheatsheet \ Examples
  • <video> : no more embeds or objects! Looks just like an <img> and allows parameters for differenct sizes when zoomed and not zoomed. Youtube is already trying it!
  • <audio> : no more making a flash movie just to play an mp3. works just like the video tag and supports ogg vorbis.
  • Note: Both the audio and video tags are being held back for their ogg support due to Apple & Nokia apposing the file format. Link
  • <header> <nav> <article> <section> <aside> <footer> : the new building blocks for pages meant to save you on div tags with complex alignment css. Links: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/previewofhtml5
  • <a> : pinging was added in the attributes so that a server can be notified when you access a link. Kind of creepy…
  • <time> : Finally browsers might start to automagically switch times that are out of your time zone so that you can read them properly if this tag is used with some extra zazz. Can be used for dates too.
  • tabindex : an attribute that can be added now to anything for ease of tabbing through elements
  • hidden : another attribute usable on anything that saves you from using style=”visibility:hidden;”
  • Drag & Drop API : meaning web applications will feel more like real applications while uploading & downloading.
  • Offline Storage Database : better than cookies
  • Document Editing : not sure what that means, but it sounds good, and has to do with the contenteditable attribute

Removed Features (in order of sadness)

  • <center> : sometimes I just don’t know any other way to force things to center-align. Oh well, stylesheets will just have to do. *tear*
  • <font> : Oh font tag, what times we had in olden days and you filled my code as if you were blades of grass in a field of summer time.
  • <strike> : I’m not sure anyone uses that stupid tag anymore. Seems about as useful as blink.

To sum up, web browsing is getting a lot more streamlined. Firefox & Chrome are using a new engine for running javascript that’s nearly 100 times faster than the previous method, which is what is allowing for crazy things like the canvas tag. Take a look at Processing.js, &  Chrome Experiments for more canvas goodies.

Chrome Experiments

As a brief preface, Paul Debevec is my hero, and if I make it to Siggraph this year I want to fulfill a long awaited dream to shake his hand. Alas, this isn’t a computer graphics research blog, nor is it a Paul Debevec fan club. Today though, it is. I think he’s really outdone himself this time. Not only is this just an intriguing leap towards science fiction video holograms (this uses no hologram), but Debevec is moving more towards projects that help regular people, are slightly lower tech (compared to the light stage) for home/business installation ease. Even though the projector was hacked to run at 5,000 frames per second (that’s not a typo), the process of overclocking projectors he’s said is pretty simple as long as you don’t mind doing away with color, and the remarks in the FAQ suggest that DLP projectors could restore color.

I could go on… just watch the video, and after you’re finished pooping your pants write something in the comments.

3d_conference_13d_conference_23d_conference_33d_conference_4

Photosynth, seen at TED 2007, is in a new phase of development where anyone can upload photos and see them made in to a “synth”ed 3-dimensional space. Any photos you submit will be made public, much like youtube, but for the experience, it’s weel worth looking in to. What’s more, there’s even a photosynth app for iPhones just released last week.

Video: Photosynth: How to Make Your Own Synth

MD5-wormRecently, a number of students have received strange e-mails coming from the unca.edu domain. You might have been notified that your e-mail account was hijacked, or maybe you’re having trouble logging in this week (like I am). OnePort is down for everyone, so it’s not just you. However, I thought this would be a perfect time to make everyone aware of the following…

As of this January, MD5, the most popular form of web security, has been cracked. What does this mean for you? Well, some sites, like paypal.com for example show in the address bar some sort of verification of proper security in the address bar. The certificate verified that the website you were at was actually what it said it was. This is pertinent if you are taken to a seemingly scammy webpage that asks you to update your information (called phishing). Usually you could look at the little pad lock icon, green highlight, or whatever, click it, and see that you were in fact on a web page owned by paypal (for example). With MD5 cracked, any savvy malicious jerk could (in theory) decrypt paypal’s certificate and put it on their own webpage so that even the most secure of web browsers and operating systems will trust that thief.

The above scenario is unlikely as Paypal’s administrator’s password is likely very complicated and impossible for a password guesser to guess. However, your own personal passwords are likely made to be more memorable, and therefore are more predictable. MD5 cracking has unfortunately spread to a public forefront. The bottom line is simple, update your password to use uppercase, lowercase, numbers, symbols, non-dictionary words, and outright gibberish. If not for your unca e-mail account, at least for your more important accounts. Hopefully, OnePort’s downtime has nothing to do with all this mess.

Let’s start with the basics. Nearly every non-Windows operating system on the planet uses UNIX. One of the things UNIX does is keep track of the computer’s clock. The clock inside of every unix-based machine (including all of our Apple computers) is measuring the time you see in “Seconds since January 1st 1970.” The particular  point of epoch, a silly-looking 1,234,567,890 seconds since the year 1970 began, is today at precisely 3:31pm PST, 4:31MST, 5:31 CST, 6:31 EST (us being the latter.) In celebration, I’ll be in the lab tutoring some people Processing. If you want to show up and show you can count to ten, then do so; otherwise, good luck to you, and have a good weekend.

Here’s a related cnet article, and an official 1234567890 Day website complete with a count-down! If you’re thinking about participating might I recommend counting up from one to nine until you overflow back to zero?

SLOrk is a fairly unconventional name for an orchestra, but then again so is the orchestra in question. The Stanford Laptop Orchestra does exactly what the extended name implies; a fair amount of people making sound with one laptop per person and a conductor. The resulting sound isn’t as mysterious as the notion, but the group was hip enough to steal a feature spot on Apple.com, so they’re definitely worth a minute of your holiday break.

slork

So there I was, in front of the antique shop next to Salsa’s. A couple of guys I recognize stop me to chat for a minute. The talking isn’t all that interesting, but then I catch a VW Beetle driving by with some metal strapped to the top. “What on earth is that? WAITAMINUTE! That’s a Street View Car!” I yell. The other two guys didn’t understand.

As of November, Google has redesigned Maps with a new interface, putting Street View in the spotlight. And it’s no surprise that there are more cities to cruise through. One of them I’ve been waiting for was Asheville. not because I get lost, but because I wanted to see my picture!

Wray View

Hey! That's me! Woooooooooooooooooo!

So, where were you immediately after midterms? Downtown? Go see if you can find yourself! And even if you can’t find yourself, take a look at Street With A View. Think about it, if you knew when a streetview car was coming, you could cash in on its arrival. Once all the streets are photographed, I think the opportunity is over.

Some people get crazy creative for their Street View debut