Saturday, April 29, 2006

Another Cool Image Processing Technique

This one allows you to change the object's material type in your photos. Now you can make your ceramic vase looks dull, translucent, or metallic, etc.

From the paper's description:

Here we present a method for automatically replacing one material with another, completely different material, starting with only a single high dynamic range image as input. Our approach exploits the fact that human vision is surprisingly tolerant of certain (sometimes enormous) physical inaccuracies, while being sensitive to others. By adjusting our simulations to be careful about those aspects to which the human visual system is sensitive, we are for the first time able to demonstrate significant material changes on the basis of a single photograph as input.

Go to the article main page and see the demos.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, ....

..., anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valerate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphrenyl- 2-butanone (10% solution in alcohol), ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, undecalactone, vanillin and solvent are ingredients in the "artificial strawberry flavour" in strawberry milkshakes served in fast food restaurants.

For another interesting article about artificial flavour in fast food, see this, an excerpt from Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Another Sign That The US Is Becoming A Third World Country...

A third-world country with the military power to destroy human civilization, that is.

I read an interesting interview by a former UN weapon inspector (and an alleged spy) about the US-Middle East situation. A few excerpts are shown below with my highlight in red:

On the plan to attack Iran without any good reason:

That’s why when I speak of Iran, I say be careful of falling into the trap of nonproliferation, disarmament, weapons of mass destruction; this is a smokescreen. The Bush administration does not have policy of disarmament vis-a-vis Iran. They do have a policy of regime change. If we had a policy of disarmament, we would have engaged in unilateral or bilateral discussions with the Iranians a long time ago. But we put that off the table because we have no desire to resolve the situation we use to facilitate the military intervention necessary to achieve regime change. It’s the exact replay of the game plan used for Iraq, where we didn’t care what Saddam did, what he said, what the weapons inspectors found. We created the perception of a noncompliant Iraq, and we stuck with that perception, selling that perception until we achieved our ultimate objective, which was invasion that got rid of Saddam. With Iran, we are creating the perception of a noncompliant Iran, a threatening Iran. It doesn’t matter what the facts are. Now that we have successfully created that perception, the Bush administration will move forward aggressively until it achieves its ultimate objective, which is regime change.

On general population ignorance:

What is it about Americans that allows them to get so bent out of shape when you start questioning the government in a time of war?

I’ll say ignorance. How many Americans have read the Constitution and know the Constitution, live the Constitution, breathe the Constitution, define their existence as Americans by the Constitution? Very few. And so what happens is, Americans have no concept of what citizenship is, what it is they’re supposed to serve. Many Americans have become so addicted to a lifestyle that I say they’re better consumers than they are citizens. And it’s these consumers who have wrapped themselves in a cocoon of comfort and who have basically abrogated their responsibilities of citizenship to the government, and as long as the government keeps them waddling down the path to prosperity, they don’t want to rock the boat. And they will go out and attack those who do rock the boat—those who challenge authority.

If you read the Constitution, you’ll be struck by the first words: “We the people of the United States.” And yet it sickens me where Americans will say, in the name of security, they will give up their constitutional rights. Warrantless wiretapping—it’s against the law! This is the sort of issue that should bring Americans streaming into the streets, saying, “Not on my watch.” If your definition of patriotism is blind subservience to governmental authority, then you’ve just defined those Germans who supported Hitler, the Italians who supported Mussolini.

Looking at the bright side, Thailand can catch up with the US if we succeed in firing and jailing crooks that rob our countries like Bush/Blair/Berlusconi rob theirs. China might even be more democratic than the US within this century!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

99 Luftballons/99 Red Balloons

I told my wife about my previous post about Colonel Petrov, and she reminded me that one of my favorite songs that I use to brainwash her is very relevant. The 1984 song is in German and is called "99 Luftballons." It was translated into English as "99 Red Balloons."

You and I in a little toy shop
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got
Set them free at the break of dawn
'till one by one they were gone
Back at base, sparks in the software
Flash the message "something's out there"
Floating in the summer sky
Ninety nine red balloons go by

Ninety nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it's red alert
There's something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
And focusing it on the sky
The ninety nine red balloons go by...

The full lyrics can be found here.

We were not so lucky in the song.

If This Man Believed His Computer, We Would Likely Be Dead By Now

On September 26, 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, who was the Russian officer who oversaw his country's missile attack warning system, refused to believe his computer that told him that the USA had launched several nuclear missiles toward his country.

The computer (with inputs from spy satellites) told him a single missile was coming. He reasoned that if the USA was attacking, there would be more than one missile. A short time later, the computer told him another four missiles were coming.

If he had decided the warning was real, he would have initiated the retaliation response that would launch nuclear missiles toward the USA, which in turn would start a full-scale nuclear exchange, destroying the world civilization.

He decided the warning was a false alarm and advised other people as such. Some time later, his decision was proven right. There was no attack from the US. Homo sapiens avoided its extinction once more.

More info about Colonel Petrov can be found here, here, and here.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Weightlessness & Reconnaissance Training

On Saturday April 1, 2006, Titus and Tatia learned two new lessons from my world-famous crime fighting program. (Goto if you don't see any pictures.)

In the first half the the day, they underwent an introductory lesson in weightlessness, a very useful skill when they need to chase criminals over inter-galactic distance:

In the afternoon, they learned about covert operations. The first thing to learn was about reconnaissance. Tatia learned to use her finger-radio to report her observations to the base while Titus operated microscopic binoculars, aptly disguised as a harmless, small black plastic disk:

The training robot (which participated as the enemy target) spotted Tatia's huge head and tagged her with paralyzing beam, while Titus looked on in amazement:

Considering their young ages, getting tagged by the training robot on the first day is considered normal. They will surely continue to refine their skills in the coming weeks.