Incredible Content-Aware Image “Seam Carving”

This video, from a presentation at SIGGRAPH, shows a demo of a technology that can dynamically edit the content of an image so that it can be resized and still look “correct,” regardless of dimensions. It seeks out and removes areas of an image that have the least amount of a given “energy” in them (say the gradient magnitude function). The process is known as “seam carving” and looks quite extraordinary. At the end of the demo, the authors show how these techniques could be applied in a photo editing program.

The SIGGRAPH paper explaining this image tech can be found here [PDF]

Thanks, Ron!


What’s in YOUR Go Bag?

I have a perhaps unhealthy interest in other people’s stuff. I love going into someone’s home and scanning the books on their bookshelves, looking at the mags in their magazine rack, their stacks of CDs, hell I’d go through their snail mail if that didn’t cross over into creepizoid territory. No, I don’t care to see what bills they have or their personal letters– that doesn’t interest me — I want to see what catalogs they get, what kind of junk mail, what subscriptions they get. I think you can tell a lot about someone, what big and little ideas they trade in, by standing in the path of their media feeds. So I’m (also perhaps unhealthily) attracted to all of the “show us your stuff” type photo sets on Flickr and elsewhere. On Lifehacker, they have another of their “Show Us Your Go Bag” gallery pieces. It’s amazing to me how much crap people carry around. One guy had 52 items in his bag. I thought I carried a lot, in my pockets, belt-clipped, and shoulder-bagged, but I’m a lightweight in comparison.


More Easy-build CNC machine

A few days ago, I blogged an Instructable on MAKE about a (relatively) easy to build 3-Axis CNC milling machine. Folks (on Instructables and MAKE) thought it was cool n’ all, but they wanted to know a lot more, like how to control the steppers, details of the software used, etc. The builder has answered, with a new Instructable that covers the steeper motors and driver circuits and the software he uses. There have been a number of calls to do a CNC machine project in MAKE and it’s probably something we should consider. These machines really have reached a point of being (relatively) cheap and easy enough to make that lots of people might want to give it a try.


Restaurant Replaces Waiters with Robots

“Oh, waiter, there’s a bolt in my soup.” According to a piece on Spiegel Online, a Munich restaurant has gotten rid of a waitstaff (in a country known for its crappy service) and replaced it with an automated food delivery system. Patrons order by computers at their tables and a rail system that works on gravity (the kitchen is above the restaurant) sends meals directly to the tables. No word on what you do when your food is cold, or you get the wrong item, or have other complaints. I’m guessing ejection seats are involved.

[Via Wired Gadgets]


Backup Battery Kit for the iPhone

Like all battery ratings, the iPhone’s alleged (up to) 8 hours of talk, 6 hours of Internet, etc. is bullshit. On my new phone, I’m getting maybe 3 hours and change of talk, Web, and other use, AVERAGE use. I haven’t timed it, but I had a two-hour-plus doctor’s procedure the other day. I’d used the phone a bit in the morning before it, but not much, used it throughout the procedure (phone, EDGE web, video and music) and there wasn’t much of a charge left by the time I was done. I can’t imagine this thing lasting from one end of the country to the other if you were actually using your iPhone as Gopod intended during the flight.

Which brings me to the Minty Boost, USB charger kit, created by Lady Ada and sold at the Maker Store. I’ve been wanting to get one, but never really had the need for it. She reports on her site, and PT confirms on MAKE, that it does work with the latest iPhone software update.Maybe with this in my laptop bag, I’ll feel confident about using my phone on the plane and still having enough juice left to call people when I reach the other coast. Of course, with this thing in my bag, given my history with TSA, I might never make it off the ground.

I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences with traveling with the iPhone on long flights and other situs where other phones hold out. Our Comment system is still turned off, thanks to Russian porn spammers. Please email me at: garethbranwynATmacDOTcom.


Temporarily Turn Your PC Into a Home Theater

From Lifehacker:

Windows/Mac/Linux: Temporarily turn your computer into a home theater with the GeeXboX live CD. All you need to do is drop the GeeXbox CD into your drive and restart. When you are done with GeeXbox, remove the CD, restart your computer and you will return to your existing operating system. Originally created just to play DivX videos, GeeXboX can now play virtually any file format you throw at it. GeeXbox has extremely low requirements and can be used to turn an old computer into a media center. Linux users who don’t have the libdvdcss2 codec installed can boot into GeeXboX and watch DVDs without any setup. GeeXboX is a free download for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Get GeeXboX here.


Iomega’s New Home Network Drives

I wouldn’t want to be a drive manufacturer these days. With drive prices at all-time lows, low-cost or free remote storage caches available to users, it must be tough to make a buck. Iomega is attempting to reclaim some drive space with the introduction of their Home Network Drive line, affordable drives designed to sit on your home net, serving the computers on it. It offers Ethernet connectivity at a price competitive with USB-only external drives. A 320GB drive is available for $150, a 500GB drive for $200.

While this is a good concept in theory, and the prices aren’t half bad, the success of this line likely rests on the software. To work, it should be *very* plug n’ play and work with everything (these drives allegedly work with PC, Mac, and Linux). I’ve never been very happy with Iomega’s ease of use software overall. I think the whole area of backup software sucks. Even Apple makes backup software that befuddles the average user. If Iomega (or anyone) could make backup and share tools that are truly easy to use and hardware that talks to everything (e.g. my TiVo’s on my home network, why can’t I use my Home Network Drive to stash TV programming there?), they might have something.

Read details of the 500GB drive here.


Gareth “Sits” for Ben Rollman RoboPortrait

Ben Rollman, the robot portraitist we covered earlier, is quick! He’s already done my pic and posted it, with video of him drawing it to follow soon ((Update: Here’s the video). Nice job!

I love how he turned the tables from the original image I sent, a Matt Billings pic of me from Dorkbot DC (seen here) where I’m holding one of MY robot minions. In Ben’s illo, CyborGar toys with a puny human minion. I like the blue borg lenses used to suggest my glasses. Very Molly Millions.

Thanks, Ben!


Gaping void discovered…

From AP Wire:

Astronomers have stumbled upon a tremendous hole in the universe. That’s got them scratching their heads about what’s just not there. The cosmic blank spot has no stray stars, no galaxies, no sucking black holes, not even mysterious dark matter. It is 1 billion light years across of nothing. That’s an expanse of nearly 6 billion trillion miles of emptiness, a University of Minnesota team announced Thursday.

Read the rest of the piece here.

Thanks, Ron!


Learning MS Office 2007: the Box

Joel, of Joel on Software, has a satisfying, spleeny rant about how difficult it is just opening the box of MS Office Pro 2007 (and Vista, which uses the same package design). He vents:

“It’s a hard plastic case, sealed in two different places by plastic stickies. It represents a complete failure of industrial design; an utter F in the school of Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Things. To be technical about it, it has no true affordances and actually has some false affordances: visual clues as to how to open it that turn out to be wrong.”


“Wasting five minutes trying to get the goddamned box open is just the first of many ways that Office 2007 and Vista’s gratuitous redesign of things that worked perfectly well shows utter disregard for all the time you spent learning the previous versions.”

Read the rest here.