I see artificial people

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. 

Style-based GANs – Generating and Tuning Realistic Artificial 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…

You definitely will not know this person:

a scientific paper a day

I am long-time subscriber to a service that is delivering a curated choice of scientific papers to your inbox every morning.

And even better: On top of the choice and link of the paper you also get a great summary with additional links and hints on the topic.

The Morning Paper: a short summary every weekday of an important, influential, topical or otherwise interesting paper in the field of computer science.

https://blog.acolyer.org/about/

Depending on your specific interests the papers chosen will give you deep insights into certain topics. Recently a lot of AI related topics show up there.

The papers are delivered by eMail, by RSS feed of by just reading the blog.

active noise cancellation does not suck on your eardrums

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. 

eardrum suck – the mystery solved

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!

“making your home smarter”, use case #11 – money money money

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
– budgetting

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.

“make your home smarter”, use case #7 – hear that doorbell ringing!

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.

How many space missions are exploring our solar system right now?

The number is 27!

20130425_solar-system-missions2013-05_big
CC-BY-SA Olaf Frohn

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.

Source: http://www.raumfahrer.net/news/raumfahrt/01052013213936.shtml

A lot of Whisky videos – and a tutorial how to cut videos on the command line

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.

Bildschirmfoto 2013-03-01 um 20.46.32

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.

  1. When I want to look for a particular whisky and get an overview of how it’s going to be like.
  2. 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:

  1. Rename them: Remove the following things from the filenames
    “Whiskey Verkostung – “, “Whiskey Likör Verkostung “, “Whiskygläser “, “Whisky-Verkostung – “, “Whisky Vorstellung “, “Whisky Verkostung “, “Whisky Verkosten “, “Whisky Tasting – “, “Whisky Tasting “, “Whisky Likör Verkostung “, “Whiskey-Verkostung – “, “Whiskey Verkostung “, “Whiskey Tasting – “, “- ”

    To rename the files I am usually using the freeware tool Rename Master – it’s awesome!

  2. Cut the intro away.
    This best done with a simple ffmpeg command:

    ffmpeg -i $inputfile -ss 00:00:08.0 -acodec copy -vcodec copy $output

  3. 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:

    ffmpeg -i $infile -t $calculatedlength -acodec copy -vcodec copy $output

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!

Source 1: http://www.joejoesoft.com/vcms/108/
Source 2: http://www.whisky.de

International Space Station (ISS) live stream

Ever wondered what earth looks live from orbit? Well there are several cameras in the ISS which stream (when ISS is over daylight-territory) an live image to earth for you to see.

 

Bildschirmfoto 2013-02-24 um 17.49.01

If you want to know where the International Space Station currently is you can always click here.

Source 1: http://www.dlr.de/next/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-7444/12517_read-30741/
Source 2: http://www.lizard-tail.com/isana/tracking/