24 June 2005

Nerdcore: Computer Science Gangsta' Rap

Turn up your speakers, aiight?

I read this in Wired online - possees of computer science grad students at Purdue and Stanford are engaging in hard-core verbal warfare around topics as contentious in the streetz as quantum cryptography and C++.

Check out MC Plus+ and the Empty Set, for example.

My personal favorite, Monzy, left me laughing out loud with lines like, "I may not have a label but I rap like a star; I'm an unsigned long int and you're an 8-bit char." Check out Monzy at his website. (note! listen to the MP3 before jumping ahead and reading the lyrics.)


21 June 2005

Good News in Inner-City School

Dorchester school's seniors all accepted to college
In large, urban public high schools, it is rare for 100 percent of a graduating class to go to college, let alone four-year schools. But Codman, which has only 100 students in grades 9 through 12, and several other charter high schools in the state have been able to get all of their students into four-year colleges.
I am proud to say that J-Fav was doing consulting work at Codman Academy. Read about it in The Boston Globe online.

14 June 2005

G-Fav Can't Dance, and Blogs

It might be old news, but... No matter how many times I see this kid breakdancing (er... "popping"), I go slack-jawed in amazement. The first kid is good - the second kid is just absolutely amazing. This is the link to the .WMV. (This is Kraftwerk?) Read an interview with him here.

Linked to photo from Music Thing.

Blogging Blahs
Technology Review's Jason Pontin has an interesting article in this month's TR magazine. He compares today's blogging craze (of hyperlinks & commentary) to the folks of yesteryear who made scrapbooks of snippets from newspapers and other ephemera along with occasional comments. I guess it would be ironic if I were to hyperlink to that article. Good thing I can't find it online.

12 June 2005

Heat, Blogs, and Art (?)

Hi -

I'm left to my own devices for a week and a half because "J-Fav" is away on a cross-country trip. This is Night 4. [Intense action, relatively speaking: Eddie is meowing at small bug crawling up yellow dining room wall.] On Friday night, I visited my folks in Connecticut, including a tour of the amazing work they've done in the garden. On Saturday afternoon I returned to home base and, after (insert boring, precious-only-to-me story about Eddie acting weird in the heat), B. and I went out to Kripsy Kreme. They are open until 3am tonight. Who are the people going to Krispy Kreme at 3am?

It's hot. Really hot. People in Arlington, in Cambridge, in Somerville, everywhere: they're out in the streets, wandering, having ice cream cones, drinking ice coffees, filling up the Diesel Cafe. I thought maybe they'd hide in air-conditioning with WiFi updating their blogs, but it looks like blogdom is slow today.

I had a random and incompletely-considered idea about art appreciation. Coming from an electrical engineer, this will sound as ill-informed as you can get.

For the purposes of this paragraph, successful means "resulting in an emotional response." An aspect of "successful" art implicitly communicates information about the limitations of its medium to the viewer/reader, listener, or user in a way that results in heightening the effect of the art. For example, one reason I like the pixelized art of eBoy is because I am impressed with the kind of pictures they can impose on a strict grid. One (necessary but not sufficient?) reason i like the art of Jenny Holzer is that I know she limits herself to brief phrases. One reason I like graphic design - and a lot of the work of John Maeda - is because of the limited collection of visual objects (text, lines, colors) the artist has at his/her disposal. Maybe that's why I like some of the "retro" watches from Diesel.

Link from Zakros.com

Link from Diesel.com

In contrast, I don't like most art which has a strong "Photoshop" feel to it, since Photoshop has a multitude of artistic software tools associated with it, and it is unclear which part of the expression is due to the artist's technical skill, and which was served up by a menu item gone awry.

There's an associated observation here, which is that early compositions using new musical instruments seem to rely more on rhythmic than tonal composition - for example, I'm a drummer, and when someone hands me a guitar I'm more comfortable slapping my palm on the guitar than playing a tune. I think some of today's electronica (IDM) is still "too" rhythmic, that is, software packages offer so many thousands of options to the user that although expressiveness is not limited, I think the communication of expression is limited because it is unclear to the listener what the boundaries of the electronic "instrument" are.

You could argue that I'm only arguing that the observer's knowledge of a medium's easy and difficult points allows the observer to have a greater (or lesser?) appreciation of what an artist does in that medium. The observer's emotional response shouldn't change at all. So maybe it's a weak argument. Ah, well.

Here's to tomorrow not being so freakishly hot. Looking forward to reading more Stuart Kauffman at the Deisel with B. and "Professor B".


09 June 2005

Brainstorming: False Rule Generation

(notes to self...)

False Rules Technique for Advanced Brainstorming Training
Inifinite Innovations Ltd. suggests a technique called "False Rules." In their words,

To generate new ideas using this method you apply rules to your own probortunity which have already been applied to a different subject but which have not yet been applied to your own. You are taking a rule, quote, idea or suggestion from somewhere else and applying it to your own situation. It is known as a "false" rule because the rule has not been considered as valid before. By getting a false rule and forcing yourself to use it, you find yourself thinking about doing things in a different way than you would normally.
I enjoyed their free interactive demonstration of their random false-rule generator. The last two results I got were: "Acceptable for a vegetarian diet." and "Soak for twenty minutes before rinsing."

Reminiscent of Eno's and IDEO's strategies.

08 June 2005

I Shall Wear My Trousers Rolled

I am getting old:

Next-Generation MP3 Players Will be WLAN-Enabled
Samsung' s new "Yepp" MP3 players will stream audio and video from the web. Like, little tiny wireless movie things. Look at all these things! What's next, a 3-D image floating in front of your cellphone? Oh, wait, that exists too.

Image linked from story on MobileMag

The Man Near Me At Starbucks
The man near me at Starbucks is talking VERY LOUD. He's an old man, speaking at 80 dB to a young guy who's helping him program a computer. For some reason he refuses to believe that the program operates in a certain way.

Ok, sorry for that interruption. In real news:

The Unfortunate Bachelor Pad, or: My Wife's Cross-Country Trek
(Hopefully without Brad Pitt.) Friends: you probably got J-Fav's email; she is joining the author of Squirrel Be My Guide in a wild and crazy cross-country trip from LA through Memphis and Atlanta, and ending in DC, followed by a miraculous hyperspace back to Boston. Their trek will be pictorially documented online. Yes, it will become progressively un-blank. (Augh, that's it. Fie on you, old man! I'm switching tables.) (Boy, am I a yuppie-in-training.) (I apologize.) (Actually, I'd be more of a yuppie if I were drinking an iced venti caramel machiatto; but I am sipping plain-ol' hot coffee, admittedly a bad 9.00pm habit, but so what, it helps me think. That sentence made me feel like Italo Calvino. "Not quite," I hear you say. Well, fie on you!)

This One is for La Lecturess
This article is about making your own 1920s-style bluetooth handset. Personally, I prefer this cell phone adapter for later-era handsets from Hulger.

Image link from story in Sync.

CVS to Sell Disposable Digital Video Cameras

According to Slashdot and this USA TODAY story, a firm called "Pure Digital Technologies" has developed a disposable (reusable?) digital video camera. It stores 20 minutes of footage (wow, what a legacy term.... "footage...") which customers can pay CVS to burn into a DVD.

Image link to USA TODAY story

05 June 2005

"Red Light," Zen, and Bono (Africa relief)

Back from NYC
We are back from New York, where we went to a big fun Greek wedding and got to hang out with La Lecturess amidst her impressive trove of literature and art deco adornments. Thanks, La Lecturess! We had a wonderful time!

Difting, Scientifically
Along literary lines, here is a passage from Chapter 11 of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

At first the truths Phaedrus began to pursue were lateral truths; no longer the frontal truths of science, those toward which the discipline pointed, but the kind of truth you see laterally, out of the corner of your eye. In a laboratory situation, when your whole procedure goes haywire, when everything goes wrong or is indeterminate or is so screwed up by unexpected results you can't make head or tail out of anything, you start looking laterally. That's a word he later used to describe a growth of knowledge that doesn't move forward like an arrow in flight, but expands sideways, like an arrow enlarging in flight, or like the archer, discovering that although he has hit the bull's-eye and won the prize, his head is on a pillow and the sun is coming in the window. Lateral knowledge is knowledge that's from a wholly unexpected direction, from a direction that's not even understood as a direction unti lthe knowledge forces itself upon one. Lateral truths point to the falseness of axioms and postulates underlying one's existing system of getting at truth.

To all appearances he was just drifting. In actuality he was just drifting. Drifting is what one does when looking at lateral truth. He couldn't follow any known method of procedure to uncover its cause because it was these methods and procedures that were all screwed up in the first place. So he drifted. That was all he could do.

It is curious that Amazon informs shoppers that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance provides 14,300 words/dollar and 10,808 words/ounce.

Frankly, a Moving Speech from Bono
I really like - although (or perhaps because) I am not invited to - TED, an annual design / science / music / technology conference in Monterey, California. Speakers range from Jane Goodall to Herbie Hancock to the founders of Google. (See a brief video about it here. Click "Taste of Ted.") Or, better yet, click "HIGHLIGHTS" and watch a few videos from what seems to be the topmost slice of intelligentia. Two years ago I was lucky enough to be in the audience when several of those speeches were given. I still remember Vic Muniz's.

The new annual TED Prize grants Three Wishes, costing up to $100,000, to three winners. I think the value of the cash is overshadowed by the audience granted to the winners, which is the Billionaire's Club of conference-goers. Bono was a winner. He gave an eloquent plea for aid to Africa. You can read and watch his acceptance address here.

03 June 2005

Rock videos you discover through blogs

"Winners" by 7 Seconds of Love - Animation frame from Joel Veitch.

Remember when people actually used the word "cyberspace" or the phrase "information superhighway"? I wonder how soon the word "blogosphere" will sound as tired.

In any case, it sure is distracting. But if it weren't for blogs, I wouldn't have come across the music video work of this person. Got that broadband connection? Speakers on?

First, in particular tribute to my friend B. B.:
An extraordinarily happy song, the basis of which is just being happy, augmented by a happy, sprinting kitten, here. Yes, grab your cooler, hop into the open-top Jeep, and switch on the Dave Matthews.

Next, in particular tribute to my friend C. K.:
An extraordinarily angry song by The Datsuns, the basis of which is just being angry, augmented by a very angry group of chincillas, here.

Okay, fine, I know you want more, more, more. Joel Veitch brings it to you.

Insert Clever Transitional Sentence Here Regarding Intelligent Lyrics, Rock Accordian, and Musicians with Blue Hair
Hey, you. You, there. You, surfing the web. Have you heard The Animators? You can hear samples of their latest songs, such as "Nice Guy" and "Medicine," at this web site. If you instantly become a die-hard fan, which I suspect you will, you can learn more about them.

G'day from the temporarily warm East Coast.

ps I confess to enjoying the music of Dave Matthews. It helps that he has one of the two best drummers in today's pop scene, Carter Beauford. (The other, of course, is Manu Katche, who you have heard playing with Peter Gariel.)

01 June 2005

Perspecta Spatial 3-D Display for cancer treatment; and, article in New Scientist

Perspecta Spatial 3-D Display - news coverage
Hooray: we got some nice coverage in the popular scientific press. This is an article in New Scientist magazine about my firm's new product, Perspecta 1.9.

New: Yikes, someone posted a link about Perspecta on Slashdot. Yes, folks, it runs at 30 Hz, not 15 Hz, the images really are three-dimensional, and you can indeed look down from the top. Here is a link to one of the patents that explains how it works.

Photograph of a non-holographic image floating in the Perspecta Spatial 3-D Display. It is being used by radiation oncologists to review cancer treatment plans in "Spatial" 3-D. (Photo courtesy Rush University Medical Center.) Posted by Hello

Neural Networks / Self-Organizing Maps

from AI Junkie

Note to self... remember to review these sites about

AI Junkie
Friendly introductions to Kohonen's self-organizing feature maps, neural networks, and genetic algorithms.

Williamette University (Jenny Orr's) introduction to neural networks with plenty of equations and graphs - and many links to interactive simulations... such as this site of free Java applets.

Cornell CCSL: Golem robot, evolutionary computation...

My Cat, Edison: Thanks, Sua Sponte, that's my cat! Now he will get into trouble all over the Blogosphere. Hee...