29 May 2006

Optics Got Me on the Wiki Bandwagon

What else does one do in 80-degree weather on a holiday weekend than write and edit online scientific articles?

Ironically, I'm a laggard when it comes to learning some new technologies, such as editing Wikis (you know, publicly-editable online documents like encyclopedias). It's a stretch to call the markup code a "technology," but hey, it's new. Newish. Ok, I'm a laggard, but at least I finally got with it.

The kind people over at the Holography Forum BBS asked me to contribute an article on 3-D perception (why me? I don't know! But it was good for my ego.) on their new holography-centric Wiki - HoloWiki - with introductory articles on holograms, optical science, and 3-D perception. HoloWiki article on 3-D perception.

And that's not all...

To my surprise, there was already a nascent article about volumetric 3-D displays on Wikipedia.org. After scratching my head, I spent a few hours - uh... - recontextualizing - the existing content and adding some of my own.

So there you have it.


27 May 2006

Cleanup Crew

Ok, I'm breaking with tradition here and posting a photo of little T.

A particularly thoughtful board member gave T-Fav a series of extraordinarily high-quality spit cloths - some monogrammed, others in the spirit of:

Toby and I had a fun day together; we went out for sushi, played at home, and then went to Starbucks to read about optics for two whole hours! I would've gone home earlier, but he was really curious about raytracing techniques, so I had to stay.

Toby rocks.


ps By the way, I want to report (to "food review sites" that might actually be read, soon) that Toraya is IMHO the best sushi in Arlington and Cambridge, certainly beating out Mr. Sushi and Cafe Sushi, and perhaps equivalent to Bluefin for "price / quality" mix. In particular, Toraya's lunchtime sashimi bento is unreal. In a meticulously arranged box, I got something like 14 pieces of sashimi, a wonderful array of side dishes (potato ball, many Japanese pickles, pickled mushroom, egg, daikon, fried chicken (!)), a fine green salad with a "real" salad dressing (not the orange stuff), miso soup, and a finely-shaped large helping of rice. Honest, run to Toraya on Mass Ave in Arlington, near Arlington High School.

Can you hear your TV?, and... ANTS!

This is a clever story about schoolchildren who use a high-frequency cellphone ringtone - which their (grown-up) teachers can't hear - to get around their school no-cellphone law.

With links to MP3s of the ringtones. (I imagine that by the time the ringtone is downloaded, converted to MP3, and played through your computer's DAC, it could sound very different; but still.)

Sort of like how when you're younger you can tell if the TV is on, but muted, in another room.


Holy cow. FSU's Walter R. Tschinkel writes in "The nest architecture of the Florida harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius" (in Journal of Insect Science, of course) made amazing casts (?) of ant nests. Seriously, check this out.

Here's one particular cast that Mr. Tschinkel is standing next to. [link: futurefeeder]

Watching the sunrise after helping Toby out with his 5am bottle,

23 May 2006

Mind Performance Hacks

O'Reilly published a book filled with "mind performance hacks," tricks to improve your efficiency, creativity, memory, arithmetic skills, and other stuff. I could've spent hours with this book.

You can buy it here [Amazon], but here is a Wiki filled with all of the hacks in the book, like:

  • Use the Number Shape System
  • Use The Dominic System
  • Map Your Mind
  • Contemplate Po
  • Scamper for Ideas
  • Play Mind Music
  • Estimate Square Roots
  • Learn an Artificial Language
Also, O'Reilly lets you access the whole book, supposedly for free, for 14 days.

(Not to be confused with "mind hacks," which is designed to show you how your brain functions.)


22 May 2006


I have emerged from a lengthy work project & am back to the post-10pm blog.

Apple Store (yeah, I know, but...)
On the Edge site, Woz, Dvorak, Lanier, and others comment on the NYC Apple store. No, this certainly isn't required reading.

Recent Marketing Bits from Seth Godin's Blog
Re:the awful NYC Department of Transportation website. About the marketing genius of Trader Joe's (this piece, I didn't like so much, but what do I know.) Good suggestions about designing your trade show presence.

Katamari Damacy
In case you're living underground, this video game entails rolling around a giant ball of junk. Word to Norvin.

Anyone know what's new with the Tenori-On LED matrix portable personal musical instrument?

Guy Kawasaki: Now That You've Got the Money...
Here is a list of issues (what if sales suck? what if you have to demote the founder?) and Guy's suggestions for startups that may face once they've raised money.

That sentence was awful. Linguist friends, help.



17 May 2006

Passing of Extraordinary Holographer

It is with sadness that I share the news of the death of Yuri Denisyuk, one of the world's most important and innovative holographers.

One of his inventions shares his name, the easy-to-make "Denisyuk hologram," (in-line reflection hologram) which was J-Fav's and my first hologram.

(The late) Steve Benton's MIT lecture notes [PDF] on the topic.


16 May 2006


Over the past few days I've been trying to understand [embarassing basic thing in optics] from this cool book I found in a used book store: Engineering Optics (Springer Verlag) by Keigo Iizuka. Poking around on the web in search of help, I found:

Lecture notes for MIT 2.71 (Fall 2004) - Optics - Prof. Barbastathis
I ran across the complete lecture notes, exams, and reading list for MIT's Optics course online - free - from MIT's OpenCourseWare. It appears to be really excellent. Unfortunately many illustrations were removed "for copyright reasons," including significant parts of the holography lecture. But I'm looking forward to reading through this. They covered quite a bit of material per class period... Problem Set 1 [PDF] covers "why is the sky blue?" Hey, it's reputed that Feynman got that wrong on his PhD defense.

Okay, fess up
Who took my copy of Goodman's Introduction to Fourier Optics?

Let's Hear it for Professional Development
University of Rochester has a series of summer courses on optics. I'll be there for one of those...

Optical Neural Net Paper
Okay, it's from 1994, but looks interesting because it's "adaptive." The site has a PDF link to the paper. Hey, look, lots of papers like that.

Realizing that maybe only three optics-folk actually read this blog,

ps What is it with Blogger & Mac Safari lately? For the last few months, when I try to enter a hyperlink, a little hyperlink logo appears in the body of the post, along with quite a bit of HTML gobbledygook. Just wondering.

14 May 2006


Enough misanthropy, huh? I liked it better before I had cable, too.

Back to our regularly-scheduled techno-linking:

Rainy Day Experiments
As Prof. B wondered, no, I doubt it'll stop raining in New England any time soon. I think Wunderground proclaimed at least seven straight days of rain. Here is a site with videos and music worth watching to pass the time:

The Graffiti Research Lab made "LED Throwies," hundreds of tiny, magnetic, glowing, battery-included motes which their electro/artist/vandals hurled onto the sides of buildings. Check the movie. (That's the same song in the Sony home-electronics commercial in which hundreds of thousands of bouncy balls darted down a San Francisco street. It's also the same song played in my local Starbucks tonight, which is "Heartbeats" by Jose Gonzalez.)

Information Visualization
Check out infosthetics.com for "data visualization & visual culture - information aesthetics."


12 May 2006

Rachael Ray: "Yay" or "Nay"?

Look, I'm sorry, I usually use this webspace as a tourist information center for scientific and artsy web surfing. But now that J-Fav and I have cable - and TiVo - I have been infected with awareness of one "Rachael Ray" and her $40 a Day traveling-eatery TV show.


I cannot stand Ms. Ray's hyperebullience. Her manic hand-waving. Her thoughtfully selecting the most pedestrain of foods at outdoor stands and exclaiming, "Wow! This MUFFIN! It's got tart CRANBERRIES!"

Don't get me wrong - I enjoy the premise of the show, and I value good meal deals as much as the next guy. But her upstate NY wholesomeness has been overrun by what comes off as a phony, Hollywood, condescending...


Please, please, let me know if your blood curdles at the sight of her. I am worried that my sensitivity or snobbishness is turned up to 11. After all, the dear J-Fav seems to be immune, and she - well, actually, she has a much greater tolerance for such things. Bad example.

There are even websites fueled by this: the Rachael Ray Sucks Community, heck even the Food Network's Rachael Ray message board is overrun by Ray-antagonists. And if Jofish and Jim proclaim their disdain, then maybe I'm on the right track. But she's so successful. And evidently so focused; she's on Oprah, she has multiple TV shows, she has cookbooks. It takes talent to pull that off, right?

What do you think?

Lurkers, friends, unite.


10 May 2006

Escape from Cubicle Nation

This great blog from Pamela Slim, Get a Life Blog, has insightful and right-to-the-point essays about making corporate life more bearable for employees.

Check out the beginning of her post, "Open Letter to [CxO]s..."
I am writing to you as a newly minted rebel. My main purpose in life is to take your best, your brightest, most creative, hard-working and passionate employees and sneak them out the hallways of your large corporation so that they are free of the yoke of lethargy, oppression and resentment.

It hasn't always been this way. I tried for many years as a consultant to YOU to explain the importance of treating your employees with dignity and respect. I encouraged you to speak clearly and to the point, to avoid endless hours of PowerPoint, buzzwords and meaningless jargon like "our employees are our most valuable asset." I was sincere in my efforts as I coached your managers and explained the importance of providing objective, developmental feedback to employees that was based on observable behavior, not personal generalizations. I encouraged you to be open with your business strategy so that your employees could contribute ideas to grow your company.
She then provides a top 10 list of suggestions to CEOs, CTOs, COOs, etc. on how to retain employees. Read her article here.

And remember to come back to her main page to check out "Open letter to employees across the corporate world."

Thanks, yet again, to Guy Kawasaki's blog for the pointer.


ps Are you reading Seth Godin's blog on marketing yet?

06 May 2006

3-D Conference: CALL FOR PAPERS


As you know, each year the SPIE/IS&T's "Electronic Imaging" symposium, with its Stereoscopic Displays and Applications conference, draws hundreds of top 3-D researchers from around the world. Focusing on the architecture and application of 3-D displays, topics include:

  • Novel 3-D display architectures and related innovations (volumetric, lenticular, parallax-barrier, electro-holographic, quasi-holographic, etc.)
  • Low-level and "O/S" software for 3-D visualization systems
  • Application software
  • Applications of 3-D displays, e.g. medical imaging, "virtual reality," 3-D GUIs, etc.
The conference includes a popular and informative demonstration session of new 3-D displays and, traditionally, a several-hour extravaganza of stereo movies.

Stereoscopic Displays and Applications XVIII (2007) is now accepting abstracts for next year's January conference in San Jose, Calif.

Please see the call for papers. Abstracts due 27 July 2006.

Co-located with Stereoscopic Displays & Applications are quite a few high-quality conferences relating to 2-D and 3-D imaging, processing, and display. See the list here.


05 May 2006

Toby Mood State Space / Links

Baby State Space
Blame the engineer in me, but after three weeks, Toby has settled into a comfortable set of mood transitions, as illustrated here with this handy state space diagram:

(Click to zoom; darned JPEG quality!)

Humor from McSweeney's
I never tire of this stuff. "Thirteen Writing Prompts" by Dan Wiencek and "Rejected Spots for the Army's Current Ad Campaign, 'Strength for Now, Strength for Later." by The Bros. Farhang.

Typographic Smackdown: Arial vs. Helvetica
Thanks to Kawasaki's blog for pointing out "The Scourge of Arial" at ms-studio.com.