let AI convert videos to comic strips for you

Artificial Intelligence is used more and more to achieve tasks only humans could do before. Especially in the areas that need a certain technique to be mastered AI goes above and beyond what humans would be able to do.

In this case a team has implemented something that takes video inputs and generates a comic strip from this input. Imagine it to look like this:

Input
Output

In this paper, we propose a solution to transform a video into a comics. We approach this task using a
neural style algorithm based on Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs).

Paper
click to read the paper

They even made a nice website you can try it yourself with any YouTube Video you want:

Video Game History

Have you ever asked yourself what those generations coming after us will know about what was part of our culture when we grew up? As much as computers are a part of my story a bit of gaming also is.

From games on tape to games on floppy disks to CDs to no-media game streaming it has been quite a couple of decades. And with the demise of physical media access to the actual games will become harder for those games never delivered outside of online platforms. Those platforms will die. None of them will remain forever.

Hardware platforms follow the same logic: Today it’s the new hype. Tomorrow the software from yesterday won’t be supported by hardware and/or operating systems. Everything is in constant flux.

Emulation is a great tool for many use-cases. But it probably won’t solve all challenges. Preserving access to software and the knowledge around the required dependencies is the mission of the Video Game History Foundation.

Video game preservation matters because video games matter. Games are deeply ingrained in our culture, and they’re here to stay. They generated an unprecedented $91 billion dollars in revenue in 2016. They’re being collected by the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Library of Congress. They’ve inspired dozens of feature films and even more books. They’re used as a medium of personal expression, as the means for raising money for charity, as educational tools, and in therapy.
And yet, despite all this, video game history is disappearing. The majority of games that have been created throughout history are no longer easily accessible to study and play. And even when we can play games, that playable code is only a part of the story.

Video Game History Foundation

Digital Daily Routine as an Experiment – “Digitaler Alltag als Experiment”

Last week we were approached by Prof. Dr. Nicole Zillien from Justus-Liebig-University in Gießen/Germany. She explained to us that she currently is working on a book.

In this book an empirical analysis is carried out on “quantified-self” approaches to real life problems.

With the lot of information and data we had posted on our personal website(s) like this blog and the “loosing weight” webpage apparently we qualified for being mentioned. We were asked if it would be okay to be named in the book or if we wanted to be pseudonymized.

Since everything we have posted online and which is publicly accessible right now can and should be quoted we were happy to give a go-ahead. We’re publishing things because we want it to spur further thoughts.

It will be out at the end of 2019 / beginning of 2020. As soon as it is out we hope to have a review copy to talk about it in this blog once again.

We do not know what exactly is being written and linked to us – we might as well end up as the worst example of all time. But well, then there’s something to learn in that as well.

Digital assistant language teacher

Since a couple of months we are trying harder to learn a foreign language.

And as we excepted it is very hard to get a proper grasp on speaking the language. Especially since it is a very different language to our mother tongue.

And while comfortably interacting with digital assistants around the house every day in english and german the thought came up: why don’t these digital assistants help with foreign language listening and speaking training?

I mean Google Assistant answers questions in the language you have asked them. Siri and Alexa need to know upfront in which language you are going to ask questions. But at least Alexa can translate between languages…

But with all seriousness: Why do we not already have the obvious killer feature delivered? Everyone could already have a personal language training partner…

a virtual network inside your machine

Did you ever start a horde of virtual machines and a complicated vm-only network set-up just to simulate a medium complex network and the interaction of nodes in that network? Well that’s a tiresome, error-prone and labour intensive process. Fear no more, there’s a tool to the rescue.

“Mininet creates a realistic virtual network, running real kernel, switch and application code, on a single machine (VM, cloud or native), in seconds, with a single command:”

frontpage_diagram

“Because you can easily interact with your network using the Mininet CLI (and API), customize it, share it with others, or deploy it on real hardware, Mininet is useful for development, teaching, and research. Mininet is also a great way to develop, share, and experiment with OpenFlow and Software-Defined Networking systems.

Mininet is actively developed and supported, and is released under a permissive BSD Open Source license. We encourage contribution of code, bug reports/fixes, documentation, and anything else that can improve the system!”

Source: http://mininet.github.com/

Security Engineering — The Book

The second edition of the book “Security Engineering” by Ross Anderson is available as a full download. It’s quite a reference and a must-read for anybody with an interest in security (which for example all developers should have).

“When I wrote the first edition, we put the chapters online free after four years and found that this boosted sales of the paper edition. People would find a useful chapter online and then buy the book to have it as a reference. Wiley and I agreed to do the same with the second edition, and now, four years after publication, I am putting all the chapters online for free. Enjoy them – and I hope you’ll buy the paper version to have as a conveient shelf reference.”
book2coversmall

Source 1: http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/book.html

know your numbers!

Wikipedia describes latency this way:

“Latency is a measure of time delay experienced in a system, the precise definition of which depends on the system and the time being measured. In communications, the lower limit of latency is determined by the medium being used for communications. In reliable two-way communication systems, latency limits the maximum rate that information can be transmitted, as there is often a limit on the amount of information that is “in-flight” at any one moment. In the field of human-machine interaction, perceptible latency has a strong effect on user satisfaction and usability.” (Wikipedia)

Given that it’s quite important for any developer to know his numbers. Since latency has a huge impact on how software should be architected it’s important to keep that in mind:

 

Bildschirmfoto 2012-12-25 um 21.28.20

 

Source: http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~rcs/research/interactive_latency.html

Build a Brain – SPAUN

SPAUN or Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network is a promising next step in the pursuit to simulate a human brain. Built upon the Nengo Neural Simulator scientists at the University in Waterloo/Ontario were able to report on their first break-through results.

In 2013 there will be a book from Oxford University press called ‘How to build a brain’ which will describe in depth what made the astonishing results possible.

But what are the results?

Well that looks like number recognition. In fact that’s what it is. SPAUN – that’s how the scientists refer to their frankenstein-brain – is capable of solving 8 different tasks now. One of them is number recognition. There are videos of all 8 tasks being performed.

The Semantic Pointers are named after the pointers usually common in computer science:

“Higher-level cognitive functions in biological systems are made possible by semantic pointers. Semantic pointers are neural representations that carry partial semantic content and are composable into the representational structures necessary to support complex cognition.

The term ‘semantic pointer’ was chosen because the representations in the architecture are like ‘pointers’ in computer science (insofar as they can be ‘dereferenced’ to access large amounts of information which they do not directly carry). However, they are ‘semantic’ (unlike pointers in computer science) because these representations capture relations in a semantic vector space in virtue of their distances to one another, as typically envisaged by connectionists. “

Source 1: http://nengo.ca/build-a-brain
Source 2: http://nengo.ca/build-a-brain/spaunvideos/

 

practical filesystem design

In November 1998 there was a book released about file system design taking the Be File System as the central example.

“This is the new guide to the design and implementation of file systems in general, and the Be File System (BFS) in particular. This book covers all topics related to file systems, going into considerable depth where traditional operating systems books often stop. Advanced topics are covered in detail such as journaling, attributes, indexing and query processing. Built from scratch as a modern 64 bit, journaled file system, BFS is the primary file system for the Be Operating System (BeOS), which was designed for high performance multimedia applications.

You do not have to be a kernel architect or file system engineer to use Practical File System Design. Neither do you have to be a BeOS developer or user. Only basic knowledge of C is required. If you have ever wondered about how file systems work, how to implement one, or want to learn more about the Be File System, this book is all you will need.”

If you’re interested in the matter I definitely recommend reading it – it’s available for free in PDF format and will help to understand what those file system patterns are all about – even in terms of things we still haven’t gotten from our ‘modern filesystems’ today.

Source 1: http://www.nobius.org/~dbg/

second Tokyo Trip 2012 – Rakuten Technology Conference 2012

This October I had the pleasure to fly to Tokyo for the second time in 2012.

The development unit of Rakuten Japan was hosting the 7th Rakuten Technology Conference in Rakuten Tower 1 in Tokyo.

The schedule was packed with up to 6 tracks in parallel. From research to grass-roots-development a lot of interesting topics.

Source 1: http://tech.rakuten.co.jp/rtc2012/
Source 2: Recorded Lectures

open source audio codecs getting better

Some weeks ago I heard about a new audio codec which is being developed as open source – very similar to vorbis – the previous open source approach to audio codecs.

This time it seems that they’ve got some standardization into the play so it might be more successful than vorbis was.

“Opus is a totally open, royalty-free, highly versatile audio codec. Opus is unmatched for interactive speech and music transmission over the Internet, but also intended for storage and streaming applications. It is standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as RFC 6716 which incorporated technology from Skype’s SILK codec and Xiph.Org’s CELT codec.”

Source 1: http://www.opus-codec.org/
Source 2: http://auphonic.com/blog/2012/09/26/opus-revolutionary-open-audio-codec-podcasts-and-internet-audio/
Source 3: http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6716

Photosynth now mobile…

It’s been some months years since the once Microsoft Research Project got public and Microsoft started offering it’s great Photosynth service to the public.

I’ve been using the Microsoft panoramic and Photosynth tools for years now and I tend to say that they are the best tools one can get to create fast, easy and high-quality panoramic images.

There is photosynth.net to store all those panoramic pictures like this one from 2008:

The photosynth technology itself contains several other interesting technologies like SeaDragon which allows high quality image zooming on current internet connection speeds.

This awesome technology is as of now available on the iPhone (3GS and upwards) and it’s better than all the other panoramic tools I’ve used on a phone.

the process of taking the images

after the pictures are taken additional stitching is needed

after the stitching completed a fairly impressive panoramic images is the result

Source 1: Photosynth articles from the past
Source 2: Photosynth in Wikipedia
Source 3: Photosynth on iPhone App Store

benchmarking the sones GraphDB (on Mono (sgen) and .NET)

Since we’re at it – we not only took the new Mono garbage collector through it’s paces regarding linear scaling but we also made some interesting measurements when it comes to query performance on the two .NET platform alternatives.

The same data was used as in the last article about the Mono GC. It’s basically a set of 200.000 nodes which hold between 15 to 25 edges to instances of another type of nodes. One INSERT operation means that the starting node and all edges + connected nodes are inserted at once.

We did not use any bulk loading optimizations – we just fed the sones GraphDB with the INSERT queries. We tested on two platforms – on Windows x64 we used the Microsoft .NET Framework and on Linux x64 we used a current Mono 2.7 build which soon will be replaced by the 2.8 release.

After the import was done we started the benchmarking runs. Every run was given a specified time to complete it’s job. The number of queries that were executed within this time window was logged. Each run utilized 10 simultaneously querying clients. Each client executed randomly generated queries with pre-specified complexity.

The Import

Not surprisingly both platforms are almost head-to-head in average import times. While Mono starts way faster than .NET the .NET platform is faster at the end with a larger dataset. We also measured the ram consumption on each platform and it turns out that while Mono takes 17 kbyte per complex insert operation on average the Microsoft .NET Framework only seems to take 11 kbyte per complex insert operation.

The Benchmark

Let the charts speak for themselves first:

mononet

click to enlarge

benchmark-mono-sgen
click on the picture to enlarge

benchmark-dotnet
click on the picture to enlarge

As you can see on both platforms the sones GraphDB is able to work through more than 2.000 queries per second on average. For the longest running benchmark (1800 seconds) with all the data imported .NET allows us to answer 2.339 queries per second while Mono allows us to answer 1.980 queries per second.

The Conclusion

With the new generational garbage collector Mono surely made a great leap forward. It’s impressive to see the progress the Mono team was able to make in the last months regarding performance and memory consumption. We’re already considering Mono an important part of our platform strategy – this new garbage collector and benchmark results are showing us that it’s the right thing to do!

UPDATE: There was a mishap in the “import objects per second” row of the above table.

137 years of Popular Science is available now

That’s great news for everyone interested in science and history. As it turns out Google and PopSci just made their entire 137-year archive available online… good times!

“We’ve partnered with Google to offer our entire 137-year archive for free browsing. Each issue appears just as it did at its original time of publication, complete with period advertisements. It’s an amazing resource that beautifully encapsulates our ongoing fascination with the future, and science and technology’s incredible potential to improve our lives. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.”

137years

Source: http://www.popsci.com/archives

sones GraphDB Visualization Tool

We want to show you something today: Not everybody has an idea what to think and do with a graph data structure. Not even talking about a whole graph database management system. In fact what everybody needs is something to get “in touch” with those kinds of data representations.

To make the graphs you are creating with the sones GraphDB that much more touchable we give you a sneak peak at our newest addition of the sone GraphDB toolset: the VisualGraph tool.

This tool connects to a running database and allows you to run queries on that database. The result of those queries is then presented to you in a much more natural and intuitive way, compared to the usual JSON and XML outputs. Even more: you can play with your queries and your data and see and feel what it’s like to work with a graph.

Expect this tool to be released in the next 1-2 months as open source. Everyone can use it, Everyone can benefit from it.

Oh. Almost forgot the video:

 

(Watch it in full screen if you can)

So what exactly is Microsoft Research doing?

I am proud to anounce that there’s a video publicly available which shows parts and projects Microsoft Research is working on currently. It’s great to see theses projects, concepts and ideas become publicly available one by one:

“Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer of Microsoft, presents “Rethinking Computing,” a look a how software and information technology can help solve the most pressing global challenges we face today. Part of UW’s Computer Science and Engineering’s Distinguished Lecture Series, Mundie demonstrates a number of current and future-looking technologies that show how computer science is changing scientific exploration and discovery in exciting ways. He discusses the role of new science in solving the global energy crisis, and answer questions from the audience.”

uwtv

Source: http://www.uwtv.org/programs/displayevent.aspx?rID=30363&fID=6021

want some more expresso?

Almost three years ago I wrote about this nice little Regular Expression Tool which provides not only a RegEx-Builder but also a clean and nice interface to test and play.

It was a CodeProject sample project in that time and as it turns out it became a full blown version 3!

Obviously the user interface was revamped completely:

expresso3 So you now not only get the Testing and playing but also a Regular Expression Library, a cool How-To, a more useable design mode and you can even output your final regular expressions to C#, VB.NET or managed C++!

Great stuff! Even better is the fact that it does not come at any costs. Despite the fact that there’s a registration you can just get your free license on their website.

Source 1: http://www.ultrapico.com/Expresso.htm
Source 2: want some espresso?

Hail Eris! All Hail Discordia!

pope

I was in desperate need for an DDate equivalent running on Windows. DDate is an unix implementaion of date accoridng to the erisian calendar described in the principia discordia.

I only found some C Implementations. And since it’s fun to do I ported the original Discordian Date C code to C#.

You can download the C# sourcecode, licensed under CC-BY-NC here.

I also created a web page which displays the current discordian date and offers you to convert any gregorian date into discordian date representation.

This page can be accesses here. You can call another page with parameters and you only will get the ddate output back:

for example: http://ddate.schrankmonster.de/DiscordianDate.aspx?year=2009&month=6&day=9

Source 1: http://ddate.schrankmonster.de/
Source 2: http://dropbox.schrankmonster.de/dropped/SharpDDateLib.zip

farewell Songbird

sonb

After not less than 3 and a half hour Songbird finished with importing the iTunes library I am using for about 6 years.

The first impression is: Cool, it’s got plugins!

The second impression is: Booh, it wants to restart (while stopping the music) to install!

It’s not faster than iTunes. And this is a sad thing, because the only thing I hoped it would be was faster. It’s not – the UI it’s as fast and responsive as iTunes’ UI – at best. With just a few clicks the whole songbird window went into sleep mode and the well known beachball came into the play.

Even worse: for some strange reason Songbird consumes considerably more CPU time while just sitting there and playing an MP3 than iTunes does:

songbirdcpu

18,7% CPU load used by songbird just by playing an mp3 (no filtering, no visualisation, no nothing)

itunescpu

2,3% CPU load for iTunes while doing exactly the same. Even the same mp3 was played.

iTunes even takes less memory… oh dear: A long way to go for the Songbird team.

Google Copy-Wave

Oh dear. Another hyped protocol/platform from Google… oh wait. It’s not from Google. It’ all started in Xerox PARC…

There are several papers that describe what Google now claims to have developed…

copywave
left: Xerox PARC Paper; right: Google Wave

Conclusion: Go and read old Papers. As it turns out almost all newly hyped things have been described in papers from years ago.

Source 1: http://www.waveprotocol.org/whitepapers/operational-transform
Source 2: http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/215585.215706

Society for Geek Advancement

“”Being a geek means being so interested in something that you don’t care whether or not it’s cool.”

THE SOCIETY FOR GEEK ADVANCEMENT was founded upon the principles that we should all embrace our inner and outer geek and have fun while doing it. As individuals who love learning, innovating and believe in possibility as well as change, the second step of responsibility is to “be the geek that keeps on giving”. As a member of SGA, we work together as a global community to provide the tools and help others realize their true potential too!”

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Source: http://geekadvancement.com/

sones portiert sein Speichersystem auf das Speichermedium der Zukunft!

Aufgrund neuester Entwicklungen im Speichermedien-Segment wird ab dem nächsten Release des sones Speichersystems auch das angesagteste Speichermedium der Stunde unterstützt: die Speichergurke.

Durch die sensationelle Speicherdichte und unerreichte Zuverlässigkeit ist die Speichergurke das perfekte Speichermedium für den Datenhunger von gestern, heute und morgen.

Source 1: http://www.sones.de
Source 2: http://www.speichergurke.de

SpaceX’ Falcon 1 reaches orbit

On September 28th the Falcon 1 rocketship reached orbit:

orbital2

“In an era when most technology based products follow a path of ever-increasing capability and
reliability while simultaneously reducing costs, launch vehicles today are little changed from those of
40 years ago. SpaceX aims to change this paradigm by developing a family of launch vehicles and
spacecraft which will ultimately increase the reliability and reduce the cost of space access by a factor
of ten. Coupled with the emerging market for private and commercial space transport, this new model
will re-ignite humanity’s efforts to explore and develop space.”

faclon1

Source: http://www.spacex.com/webcast.php

create panoramic images with a free tool

There was the Digital Image Suite and several other tools like Hugin and Cool360 which I used over the last years to create panoramic images. Now there’s a new tool available in 32 and 64 bit (for really really huge images!) from Microsoft Research. It’s free at this point and if you’re on Windows it’s definitely worth the try.

msice

“Microsoft Image Composite Editor is an advanced panoramic image stitcher. You shoot a set of overlapping photographs of a scene from a single location, and Image Composite Editor creates a high-resolution panorama incorporating all your images at full resolution. Then save your stitched panorama in a wide variety of formats, from common formats like JPEG and TIFF to multi-resolution tiled formats like HD View and Silverlight Deep Zoom.”

Source: http://research.microsoft.com/ivm/ice.html

Spacetime Math tools

If you searching a tool for Windows, Linux, OSX and your windows mobile device…you may want to take a look at this:

“SpaceTime 3.0 by SpaceTime Mathematics is a revolution in mathematics software with 2D, 3D, and time graphing with MobileCAS® for algebra and calculus. With features only available in Mathematica and MATLAB, SpaceTime is the most powerful cross-platform mathematics software ever developed for computers and mobile devices.

spacetime

Source: http://www.spacetime.us/

futuristic user interfaces…

This is a very impressive overview of new user interface ideas. It’s a fact that we need new userinterfaces for all kinds of use cases – and as it turns out there are unbelievable cool things going on in the UI research.

Good user interfaces are crucial for good user experience. It doesn’t matter how good a technology is — if we, designers, don’t manage to make user interface as intuitive and attractive as possible, the technology will hardly reach a breakthrough. To gain the interest in a new product or technology, users need to understand its advantages or find themselves impressed or involved.

And here is where creative ideas and unusual interface approaches become important. Innovative doesn’t mean usable and usable hardly means innovative. As usual, it’s necessary to find an optimal trade-off. And some user interfaces manage to achieve just that.”

1

Source: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/08/17/10-futuristic-user-interfaces/

how to create your own photosynth

Photosynth is publicly available and it’s time to give it a try and play with the technology. Before starting you should be aware of some facts about the public photosynth technology-preview:

  1. all synths are uploaded and only available online (broadband needed)
  2. all synths are public, everyone can access them
  3. the synther tool runs only on Windows
  4. you’ll need a Live ID

When everything is checked you can go and upload up to 20 Gbytes of image data – my test synth takes up 200 Mbytes of the available space – so you have plenty of space to play with.

To start just install the photosynth application to view – and click “create” on the website. After the obligatory login you immediately can upload your pictures. Give it a name, ssome tags and a license and select your pictures.

createsynth_step2

Your pictures should show the same scene from different perspectives – photosynth is all about matching perspectives. After clicking on “Synth” the process starts.

createsynth_step3

And after a surprisingly short period of time your synth is done. Click on “View Synth” and you’re taken back to the website and you can browse your synth. That’s it – easy!

createsynth_step5

Source 1: my first photosynth
Source 2: Photosynth is open for the public
Source 3: create a synth

Photosynth is open for the public

Believe it or not – it’s been 2 years since I first wrote about Photosynth technology. Today Microsoft made it available to the public. It’s not a tool (yet) – like I wanted – right now but it’s built into this website – so you have to upload your pictures, they are processed and then you can browse on this website… well it’s a start for a really great technology.

“We’re pleased to announce the first full release of Photosynth, available now at photosynth.com. Photosynth takes a collection of regular photographs and reconstructs the scene or object in a 3-D environment. For those of you who have seen the videos or tried our tech preview, you could experience synths that we made in the lab and get a feel for what Photosynth is and how it works. But now, for the first time ever you can create synths from your own pictures and share them with your friends. Explore great synths from others or create a few of your own.”

halo3photosynth

It’s not going to work on anything different than Windows. So stick to the movies if you’re on anything else. But as far as I know it’ll run o

Source 1: http://photosynth.net/Default.aspx
Source 2: http://www.schrankmonster.de/PermaLink,guid,fdc3d1fb-4966-418b-83ea-1e0c12aae833.aspx

littleBits – modular electronics that sticks together

It’s like lego for electronic circuits:

“littleBits is an opensource library of discrete electronic components pre-assembled in tiny circuit boards. Just as Legos allow you to create complex structures with very little engineering knowledge, littleBits are simple, intuitive, space-sensitive blocks that make prototyping with sophisticated electronics a matter of snapping small magnets together. With a growing number of available modules, littleBits aims to move electronics from late stages of the design process to its earliest ones, and from the hands of experts, to those of artists, makers and designers.”

Source: http://www.ayahbdeir.com/littleBits/

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