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.
When people think of artificial intelligence, AI, they think of Alexa, Siri, Google Home and self-driving cars.
When an AI dreams of humans it dreams up their faces. No really.
Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN) are a relatively new concept in Machine Learning, introduced for the first time in 2014. Their goal is to synthesize artificial samples, such as images, that are indistinguishable from authentic images. A common example of a GAN application is to generate artificial face images by learning from a dataset of celebrity faces.
This is some highly impressive stuff given that the system does produce fairly believable results without lots of distortions. You can see some distortions if you click on the image below and keep refreshing. Evertime it will generate a new face for you…
If you ever traveled on a train or plane with good active noise cancellation headphones you might agree how much more pleasant the trip was with much less noise reaching your ears.
When I tried active noise cancellation for the first time I had that weird sensation as if the pressure around suddenly changed. Like being in a very fast elevator or going for a quick dive. It felt weird but luckily it went away and the aww of joy replaced it. Quietness. Bliss.
Now there seem to be people for whom that feeling won’t go away. They get headaches and cannot stand the feeling when using active noise cancellation.
I’ve never had any explanation to this phenomena – until now. I ran across an article on SoundStage describing that in fact the feeling is not caused by actual changes of pressure but…
According to the engineer, eardrum suck, while it feels like a quick change in pressure, is psychosomatic. “There’s no actual pressure change. It’s caused by a disruption in the balance of sound you’re used to hearing,” he explained.
Aha! The brain gets confused by signals reaching your ears that naturally would not exists. Those signals make no sense so the brain tries to make sense of it. And voilá something is sucking your ear drum!
The Internet of Things might as well become your Internet of Money. Some feel the future to be with blockchain related things like BitCoin or Ethereum and they might be right. So long there’s also this huge field of personal finances that impacts our lives allday everyday.
And if you get to think about it money has a lot of touch points throughout all situations of our lifes and so it also impacts the smart home.
Lots of sources of information can be accessed today and can help to stay on top of the things going on as well as make concious decisions and plans for the future. To a large extend the information is even available in realtime.
– cost tracking and reporting
– alerting and goal setting
– consumption and resource management
– like fuel oil (get alerted on price changes, …)
– stock monitoring alerting
– and more advanced even automated trading
– bank account monitoring, in- and outbound transactions
– expectations and planning
After all this is about getting away from lock-in applications and freeing your personal financial data and have a all-over dashboard of transactions, plans and status.
We love music. We love it playing loud across the house. And when we did that in the past we missed some things happening around.
Like that delivery guy ringing the front doorbell and us missing an important delivery.
This happened a lot. UNTIL we retrofitted a little PCB to our doorbell circuit to make the house aware of ringing doorbells.
Now everytime the doorbell rings a couple of things can take place.
– push notifications to all devices, screens, watches – that wakes you up even while doing workouts
– pause all audio and video playback in the house
– take a camera shot of who is in front of the door pushing the doorbell
And: It’s easy to wire up things whatever those may be in the future.
Right now there are 27 different missions ongoing to explore our solar system. A high number for something that is not part of our daily news cycle. Those missions currently concentrate on the sun, mars, mercury, venus, the earth moon and some asteriods.
For just shy of 2 years I am a fan of whisky. After I got the hang of the processes, tastes and smells around this spirit I started collecting them – collecting to drink them eventually.
Now there are a number of shops you can buy good quality whisky from anywhere in the world. One of which happens to be located in germany. This shop is not only offering a huge choice but also a cross-sellers dream: tasting and explanation videos beneath many of the whiskys in which a very talented Mr. Horst Lüning tastes and explains all things whisky.
Now this shop hosts all videos on YouTube. Since I am a big fan of podcasting and internet based entertainment it’s a great thing that because if my little tool called “YouTubeFeast” all new episodes and tasting videos get downloaded automatically. Till today this way I’ve got well over 650 whisky tasting and explanation videos downloaded.
As a matter of fact this is a really entertaining and educating series I even would pay to get access to. But that aside every video which got automatically downloaded usually looks like this (german audio):
As you can see there’s a short intro (8 seconds) and an outro (29 seconds) which every single video starts and ends with. Under normal circumstances there are two occasions when I have those videos played.
When I want to look for a particular whisky and get an overview of how it’s going to be like.
For over 12 years I happen to have a “nights playlist” – a playlist of things that are played back during the night – every night. For this it’s important that it’s mainly speech, very normalized audio and of course it needs to be interesting.
So for the second reason it’s important that there are not too many audio bumps and breaks. Unfortunately as much as I like the intro and outro music it’s actually very bass heavy and as such sleep interrupting sometimes… So just like when a good newmake spirit is distilled the start and end run need to be separated by the heart that makes up the spirit.
Every 4-6 months I take all newly added videos and cut them down and add them to the nights playlist folders. The process is like this:
Cut the outro away.
Using a little shell script it’s fairly easy to first get the full length of each video file and then using another tool to substract 29 seconds from each length and cut the heart out until that length is reached.
To get the length the following short line is doing a great job:
ffmpeg -i “$1” 2>&1 |grep Duration | cut -d ‘ ‘ -f 4 | sed s/,//
In order to then cut the video before the outro starts it basically is a another call to ffmpeg:
That way you get just the tasting videos without intro and outro – ready to be enjoyed. For the end of this article I want to stress the fact how awesome I think those whisky videos from Mr. Lüning are. It’s awesome to watch and learn. I hope that those videos will be available for more years to come! Cheers!
Everyone is excited about the Mars Science Laboratory cruising on Mars. NASA/JPL pulled an unbelievable stunt to get that almost-a-ton Rover on that planet. Well done!
Alongside with the landing some source reported that NASA/JPL now has started to provider source code access to some of it’s internal projects. And beside being right this is not the first time they’ve provided source code access. They got a whole page with all their projects open sourced. Some of those are quite huge projects – big like those you would fly to Mars with.
In the last 10+ years I was fiddling with different home automation concepts. Mostly without broad use cases because at that time no one seemed to be interested in having sensors and actors like crazy at home. In fact not that many people seem to care these days.
Having more and more hardware and software around us creates the use cases for a broader audience people like me have for 10+ years. Mainstream is a bitch for nerds
That said I found a nice plastic box I want to use in a winter project. This plastic box is called “EzControl XS1”. It comes with several visible and “invisible” interfaces.
The visible and obvious ones are: power, 100 mbit ethernet, sd card slot. So it takes some power and does something on the network. The not so obvious and therefore “invisible” interfaces are the most interesting ones: the EzControl XS1 comes with the ability to send and receive on 433 Mhz and 868 Mhz.
Yes that are the ranges used by switchable and dimable power sockets, temperature sensor and AMR. The EzControl XS1 is not that cheap (coming at 189 Euros for the base version and additional 65 Euros per upgrade option). I do not own one yet so it’s the plan to acquire at least one and start of with dimable power sockets and add more sensors and actors on the way
One great feature of the EzControl XS1 is the embedded WebServer with which the users application (the one I want to write) can interact using a HTTP/JSON Protocol. Oh dear: Sensor data and Actor control using JSON. How great is that!
There is some example code available (even a proprietary iPad/iPhone client) but since I want to have some custom features I do not currently see to be available in software I am going to write a set of tools which will get and protocol sensor data and run scripts to controls actors. Oh it’ll be all available as open source (license not yet chosen).
P.S.: If some one from Rose+Herleth is reading this and wants to help – send me a test unit
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.”
On September 28th the Falcon 1 rocketship reached orbit:
“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.”
Steffi and I made our own version of earth some years ago using 3D Studio and NASA Images – we even made an animation. But this guy does a way better job – creating a photorealistic earth:
“For some time now, I’ve been studying how to build Earth in Blender. I’ve read quite a few tutorials, studied NASA’s Blue Marble images, and received critique from other Blender enthusiasts. I now have some satisfactory results, which I’d be happy to share.
I’ve put together a 21-page tutorial which explains how I achieved my Earth renders. I know there are already a lot of Earth tutorials out there – but none that I found helped me get quite the effect that I wanted. My tutorial combines what I gleaned from all the other tutorials, with what I learned on my own through hours of experimenting. I’m sure it’s not perfect – but I think it will be helpful for anyone interested in the subject.
The tutorial focuses on three different models of Earth – a photographic-style Earth, a Blue-Marble-style Earth, and a night Earth. It demonstrates how to render details such as proper specular shading and ray-traced cloud shadows.”
There’s a free pdf tutorial available that shows how to create these 3D renderings with blender.
It’s just great to see more and more big archives are getting available online. This time the National Space Agency of America opened it’s picture library:
“NASA Images is a service of Internet Archive ( www.archive.org ), a non-profit library, to offer public access to NASA’s images, videos and audio collections. NASA Images is constantly growing with the addition of current media from NASA as well as newly digitized media from the archives of the NASA Centers. The goal of NASA Images is to increase our understanding of the earth, our solar system and the universe beyond in order to benefit humanity. “
That’s the best news for months!! After TVR being out of business for some time they seem to be back in business now – they even presented the new Sagaris 2008 modell yesterday.
“Announced this morning by TVR Managing Director, David Oxley, at an exclusive preview event held at the new TVR development works in Lancashire, England – TVR Production has resumed!
Upon the momentous occasion, which included invited members of the TVR Car Club, TVR staff presented the TVR Sagaris model year 2008. Exterior design has remained the same except for new 5 spoke wheels, while the interior receives a new center console with satellite navigation.
As promised back in 2006 by TVR owner, Nikolai Smolenski said “My intention is to expand the sales and distribution of TVR cars throughout Europe, the rest of the world and USA markets is a key part of the business strategy of the company.” Built as a left hand drive model, the 2008 Sagaris confirms it will be exported internationally.
Preliminary pricing puts the 2008 TVR Sagaris just below 85.000 Euros.”
So now the only thing I need is the money to buy one of these beasts… I’ll have one in black or white :-)
the re-designed interior included satnav…touchscreen…
…and re-designed exhausts… I actually liked the side-exausts better…
the new bonnet … and the gorgeous speed six…*raaawwr*
The internet makes things possible some people dreamt of for years. One of these things is the possibility to stream live-voice-chat over the internet. Many people used the citizens’ band radio – CB radio – for the last decades:
“Citizens’ Band radio (CB) is, in many countries, a system of short-distance, simplex radio communications between individuals on a selection of 40 channels within the 27 MHz (11 meter) band. The CB radio service should not be confused with FRS, GMRS, MURS, or amateur (“ham”) radio. Similar personal radio services exist in other countries, with varying requirements for licensing and differing technical standards. In many countries, CB does not require a license and, unlike amateur radio, it may be used for business as well as personal communications.”
For several years now there is a group of people from virtually everywhere in germany who connect their CB radios to the internet – they link their “gateways” together using a software normally used by online gamers called “TeamSpeak”. All you have to do to take a look is to read this short how-to and follow the steps.
Here’s a sneak-peak at the current status of the server:
There’s even a livestream available (but sometimes not working):
They landed on the mars again…and they will launch a space shuttle within the next 22 hours if everything works out as planned. So maybe you, just like me, are interested in getting some live-information about that.
There’s NASA TV but on the NASA website you only get low (150kbit) bitrate streams. If you want better quality, just try these links:
You do realise that, despite that fact no mass media is talking about it, there are still robots around and on Mars doing research for the last years? Yeah you’re right: Spirit and Opportunity are still well and alive on Mars. There were several other missions and this newly released 9.9 Tbytes of data (adds up to 16.8 Tbytes) is just fantastic stuff.
See an avalanche on Mars:
“How much data was released? 2422 observations, making up 9.9 terabytes “in over 225,599 standard PDS and extras products” according to our database specialist. This was for data between orbit ranges 4400 and 6999, or between July 05, 2007 and January 23, 2008 (which is a lot of loops around the Red Planet!)
We have now released a total of 16.8 TB worth of data, or nearly 500,000 image products. Please check out the latest images on the HiRISE website on the “March 2008: New HiRISE Images Released to the Planetary Data System” page.”
Since two of my colleagues wrote about their work at Microsoft Research I wanted to write at least something about it…just like Andreas said:
“One reason I recently don’t blog too much is the fact that I am a bit restricted in what I can tell. Being involved in some exciting projects, the confidentiality of these projects does not allow much publicity.”
So really the only thing I can write about is that I am honored to work with these great people and being part of the process of creating great software.
So – for now I am on my way back to Cambridge – the next article will be written from there…
Of course I will write about all the things when I am allowed to do so…
Source 1: Martin Calsyn Source 2: Andreas Heil Source 3: http://research.microsoft.com/ero/
Oh well, there’s this “Current Map of The Solar System” by the Armagh Observatory:
“The image below is an up to date map of the solar system displaying the orbits of the terrestrial planets and the estimated position of thousands of known asteroids. This diagram is missing comets, space probes and, of course, the undiscovered asteroids. Even conservative estimates would suggest that for every asteroid on a dangerous Earth-Approaching orbit there are hundreds more which have yet to be discovered. There are over 300 known objects on Earth-crossing orbits, the majority of which are potentially capable of causing death and destruction on a scale unheard of in human history.”
To make this clear: red and yellow = (possibly) EVIL! ZOMG!
“Small green points mark the location of asteroids which do not approach close to the Earth right now. This does not exclude the possibility that they will do so in the future but generally we can consider the Earth to be safe from these for the near future. Yellow objects (with the exception of the one in the middle which we astronomers call the Sun ;-) are Earth approaching asteroids which are called Amors after the first one discovered. Amors have orbits which come close to the Earth but they don’t cross the Earth’s orbit. However, their orbits are close enough to the Earth that they could potentially be perturbed by the influence of the planets and begin to cross the Earth’s orbit in a short time. There are over 300 known objects on such orbits.
Finally the red boxes mark the location of the Apollo and Aten asteroids. These cross the Earth’s orbit and are the most directly identifiable astronomical threat for the near future.”
It just seems like make is going to get some interesting pictures tomorrow:
“We’re using weather balloons to go up to approximately 100k feet armed with 4 cameras… 20 megapixels of camera! We’ll be taking shots every 7 seconds for two hours and measuring the temperature with the Make: controller and thermistors!
It took 16 people working on this, countless cases of mountain dew, lots of take-out food, and a lot of sleepless nights, and we intend to fly Sunday!
Cloud cover, snow, and mechanical failure may postpone the launch, but we’re ready to give it our best shot this weekend.
In this Make: Video Podcast, you’ll learn all the details of how to put a weather balloon up into space! The weather balloon will make it up to about 100,000 feet. That’s almost 20 miles up and more than twice the height of being in an airplane. It’s high enough that the sky is black and you can see the curvature of the earth.”
“MIRAVI stands for MERISImages RApid VIsualization and it’s a data-driven system for real time image rendering and quality analysis. Those images, though fascinating, are not suitable for scientific use. Scientists usually prefer to work with MERIS data products, which fully exploit the 15 spectral bands of the instrument, and which are generated with sophisticated algorithms.
MIRAVI generates the images directly from the MERIS raw data (i.e. the Level 0 data), usually available within 2 hours from data acquisition, depending whether the raw data have been transmitted directly to ground stations, or first recorded onboard then transmitted to ground stations.
The MIRAVI image processing does not intend to provide a very accurate geolocation or calibration. The high geolocation accuracy is achieved within the standard MERIS data products (less than ½ pixels).
MIRAVI generates the images using the MERIS Full Resolution (FR) mode (resolution about 260 m) which is activated systematically over land and coastal areas of Europe, Africa and Asia, and non-systematically over America. In its Reduced Resolution (RR) mode (resolution about 1200 m), MERIS operates systematically along its orbit illuminated by the sun.”
Do you remember the landing of the two mars exploration vehicles calles Spirit and Opportunity in 2004? Well I think you do. They were built to last 90 days. But it’s now more than 1000 days – more than 10 times the timespan.
Well well, the two sneaky space travellers are kind of tattered – ones wheel isn’t working anymore and the other one had to get his brain “reformated” several times…but all over all they are in good shape for very old fellas.
Everybody will need one of these when the guardians attack zion…
“In 1990, we started to develop a Wearable Power Assist Suit, and in 1991 we fabricated a Powered Arm constructing the master and slave system in one unit by utilizing a rubber tube air actuator and sensing cuff, [ref. 1]. In 1994, we developed a Wearable Powered Suit constructed with powered arms, a powered waist, and powered legs [ref. 2], and finally in 2002, we developed a Stand Alone Type Wearable Power Assist Suit [ref. 3]. This suit was composed of newly developed air bag actuators driven by micro air pumps, newly developed muscle hardness sensors, and an embedded micro computer. The muscle hardness sensor was developed for detecting the muscle force driving joints. The micro computer was for calculation of the necessary joints torques to lift heavy objects. The calculation equations was derived by body mechanics. This suit could run continuously 20 minutes with 12 volts Ni-Cd portable batteries. The latest power assist suit can generate higher assist power, and is composed of compact body, a compact embedded micro computer, small and flat rotary sensors, and has newly designed muscle sensors which are embedded in 3-D mesh [ref. 4].”
I do like two car manufacturers (well, their cars to be precise) more than all the others. One of them is Mercedes-Benz and the other is…TVR. Yes, the brits.
They make great looking powerful sports cars and I hope one day one will be mine ;) They are quite affordable compared to other supercars – for example you can get a brand new TVR Sagaris (4l V6) for 80k EURO…a pre owned 2004 Cerbera (4.5l V8) comes for about 48k EURO…did I mention they do not come below 380 bhp and weigh as much as two packs of chewing gum? (I’ll have to pay royalties to Jeremy Clarkson for that…damn!).
The fact is that the Cerbera has gone out of official production in 2004. But now TVR is auctioning the last made Cerbera on the Internet:
Yes, you can get that brand new, pepper white, 420 bhp supercar…just sign up and bid…well if you have the money (which I don’t)…
Beside the Cerbera I fell in love with the Sagaris…look how gorgeous it is:
I want to share with you a fantastic page where Pascal Buire discusses his investigations on Google Earths tiling and algorithms:
“This is my analyse about how google map works, et specially how the tiles are encoded. Google map uses pre-rendered tiles that can be obtained with a simple url. This article explains how to build the url for a tile from its geo coordinates (latitude/longitude)”