Monthly Archives: September 2004

Bush looks tired, whines about “Hard work”

Yahoo! News Message Boards Top Stories

I’m very pleased with myself, in less than 5 minutes, my post to the yahoo message board for their lead story on the debate tonight has racked up 5 reccomendations.

W looks tired, whines about “Hard work”
by: floonist 09/30/04 11:39 pm
Msg: 133891 of 134000
5 recommendations

He kept repeating himself, trying to reinforce his talking points. I’m sure he wanted everyone to think that Kerry is inconsistent (this coming from the guy who was saying “no nation building” even as the members of his future administration were laying plans to invade Iraq).

What really struck me though, is that he kept saying that Iraq and the war on terror were “hard work.” Everytime he said it, he sounded like he was whining. He looked and sounded tired, too.

I think it’s time he and Dick take a break and let someone else do the job.

Set the supressed 60 minutes report free News | The Cowardly Broadcasting System

CBS has scrapped a 60 Minutes segment critical of Bush’s case for invading Iraq, saying that it would be inapporpriate to air so close to the election.

I say they are running scared after giving creedence in a recent report to supposedly new and now discredited documents which casxt even more doubt over Bush’s already extremly dubious National Guard service.

In any case, there are copies of this story floating around outside CBS (Salon has one). It would be really cool if someone encoded it and started spreading it arround P2P networks and BitTorrent.

Silicon substituting for “glass”

I’ve been wondering for a while when silicon (ie computation) is going to start substituting for glass (ie high quality optics) in photography. It seems we may be getting close.

By using special optics that render an image uniformly and predictably blurry, engineers can recover an image with a much greater depth of field than a similar lens system would be capable of without computational enhancement. It’s already finding application in various surveilance scenarios and may come to camera phones.

Of course, what I’d really like is the opposite. The small sensors in digital cameras allow the use of small and less expensive lens systems to acheive high levels of quality when compared to a 35mm camera, but the short focal lengths of the lenses result in excessive depth of field, even with wide open apertures. As a result, it’s difficult to blur the background behind your subject, a common and useful technique. You can certainly do it with Photoshop, but that requires masking the subject separately from the background, which is a pain.

It would be really cool if I could adjust the depth of field virtually on the camera. Even better would be to be able to get the raw blurred sensor data and tweak the effective focal plane and depth of field in Photoshop.

Google Search: “wavefront coding”

Search: The command line reborn

A couple of years ago, I posted about how google was becoming a command line for the internet age.

The great power of the command line is that it can provide access to a nearly infinite amount of functionality and information in a small amount of space. The classical limitation of a command line is that the means to accessing that information is opaque. The user must know before and the proper commands.

This limitation is addressed by the Google example in two ways. First, Google uses what can loosely be termed “natural language processing” to guess at what answers the user is looking for. Then, it uses the space afforded in a web page, and the navigational ease of a point and click interface, to offer those answers to the user.

SI’ve thought about the issue from time to time, considering other implications of the paradigm. One insight is that people are actually a lot more patient with poor AI if 1)it still helps people solve a big problem 2)it’s presented in a way that allows them to quickly discard the bad results and focus on the good ones.

This came up recently because I was reading about a machine learning application with a 20% false positive rate. My initial reaction was “man, that really sucks, not even geeks would use that,” then I realized that search often gives a far lower success rate, and yet it can be useful.

In anycase, I remembered all this because I came across a new utility called AppRocket from candy labs that seems to leverage some of these ideas to provide easy access to all the crap on your computer. I’ve just installed it, so I’m not sure how well it works, but its cool to see attempts to innovate in this area.