Thinking Out Loud: Audio

July 9, 2007

An astronomy friend told me that there is software (no links, sorry) that combines several pictures, each slightly different, to produce a better picture than any of the inputs.

Then I was watching the Photosynth demo yesterday.

Then Boing Boing had this post about REM’s Dubiln concert and they were encouraging everyone to record the audio.

Is it possible to take several crappy audio recordings and get some software to process it into higher quality audio? This is kind of what the Very Large Array does but as I understand it they know the precise location of each receiver to calculate the differential between the data streams. I’m thinking that the concert input would be from various unknown locations (possibly moving) in the concert hall and would not have a time registration. Has this been done already?

Older TED Talks

July 8, 2007

Older TED videos are being put on-line. Here’s one by David Kelley (IDEO) on design. While his presentation is mostly about physical design, web designers can get inspired by it too.

The TED registration process (not required to watch the videos) asks what languages I speak. I was bummed that the form didn’t let me put Ruby. After all it is a language, although specialized, to communicate. But it is OK because it prohibited other made up languages like Esperanto.

Thanks to BMW for sponsoring the TED videos.

Rating Web Development Frameworks

July 3, 2007

At the recent Silverlight meeting, there was a short presentation by Anthony Park, Ed Buksoki and Todd Ellermann evaluating various web development frameworks. This academic research project attempts to compare the frameworks using many metrics. The presentation was interesting because each metric had a slider to assign a relative weight which adjusted the overall score for each framework.
I hope they soon release the results at Better Web App with a description of the evaluation process and scoring. It is sure to create a dust storm of partisan bickering when each person’s favorite doesn’t end up where they think it should be.

Review of Everything is Miscellaneous

July 2, 2007

David Weinberger proposes 3 orders of information in his new book Everything is Miscellaneous. In the first order are physical things which he calls atoms. The nature of physical things is that they can only be in one place and this causes difficulty when organizing physical things. A book recounting the scientific achievements of Nikola Tesla can be shelved in only one place, so should it be in Science, History or Biography?
The second order can be represented by the card catalog, listing the book in several subjects and by title and author. This second order improves our ability to find information but it is still limited because the cards in the card catalog are physical things. We can’t use it to find 19th Century Serbians that later gained American citizenship for example.
The third order of information is digital and not constrained by the categorization of atoms. Weinberger says since the world doesn’t fit neatly into a single ontology, we shouldn’t try to shoehorn it in. But we can use power of meta-data to find, re-find, lump, split and list information the way we want to use it.
He leads us on an interesting history of the organization of information. From alphabetization* to Melvin Dewey to tagging, the semantic web and social sites like Flickr and Wikipedia and how these affect the third order.
One of the minor themes throughout the book is that in the first and second order, those that control the categories have power. While he doesn’t advocate doing away with Linnaeus and the like, the consequences of the miscellaneous turn the authority’s control over the categories into only one of the ways of looking at information.
I recently heard from a couple of friends that, like me, they never finished Battelle’s The Search. In my case, once he described how cool the zeitgeist was, there was no new insight to be gained. Everything is Miscellaneous keeps developing interesting ideas throughout. This isn’t a book about libraries or tagging but if you’re interested in those you’ll want to read this book.

* The order of an alphabet is so closely linked to its existance I’d never thought of it as a separate concept. In fact, there were opponents to an alphabetical ordering of early encyclopedias because it was contrary to “God’s” ordering of the topics! You may not find this interesting but I did.

Carbon Offsets?

June 17, 2007

Can I get a carbon offset for not having any children? Even delaying having a child for a year should be worth something. Shouldn’t it?

RSS Feeds for Forums

June 17, 2007

Is there a reason for forums not to provide RSS feeds for new posts? Especially when the forum has a low rate of posting and advertising revenue doesn’t factor in? For examle, Perceptual Edge. The site has a ‘New Posts’ feature, but it still takes me going to the site to find out if anything is new. Why should I do something manually when my feed reader can do it for me?

When your site’s down

June 11, 2007

LibraryThing occasionally runs contests where LTers send in pictures of their books related to a theme. Here’s one for cooking.
But LT is down for maintenance right now so they are running an impromptu bookpile contest using Flickr. What a great way to keep the community involved and occupied during the down time! By giving the users something to do they reduce the frustration of not being able to what they wanted. Bravo! It is this kind of thoughtfulness that makes LT users friendly and supportive of the site.

Boo Who?

June 6, 2007

James says that boo.com is doomed. I’m inclined to agree.

boo2.png
Type Phoenix into the big search box and hit return. Nothing. Sante Fe, nothing. Las Vegas, nothing. Huh? Try Phoenix again and click the magnifying glass next to the search box. Ahh, a selection list with Phoenix AZ, Phoenix OR and Phoenixville PA. OK, pick AZ. There’s basically no user content, OK, so say they’re new. But the weather?
boo.png

Weather.com has it as mostly cloudy and 78F, although it’s the wispy high clouds that just keep it from being a scorcher (I looked), not really cloudy and certainly no showers.
weather.png

A Shopping Experience?

June 6, 2007

Suppose you’re walking in the mall and you come to a store. It seems they’re offering some printing services but it is not exactly clear what. Before stepping through the door to find out more they want your email address.
smc1.png
Well. There’s not even a promise not to spam, so maybe you enter a fake email and poke your head inside the door for a look. After you give them the email you still don’t get to look at the products, they want more information.
smc2.png
At this point, I think you’re likely to say that your time and personal information is too valuable and walk on down the mall. There’s no privacy statement to say what they will or won’t do with your information. Without the web site demo to Refresh Phoenix last night I would have concluded this was an email harvester and been thankful it was a fake email they got. Only after all this information is entered does it become clear that they do business and promotional cards with the common themes from the free blogging sites.
A thorough review from a usability standpoint is in order. Involving a usability expert at the beginning would have saved time, money and generated more business.

Predict the future?

June 2, 2007

Would you have believed the current popularity of the Macinsosh, Ruby and Javascript in 2000? Now do you think you can predict 2013? Here’s how.