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Member since: Sat Mar 29, 2008, 09:11 PM
Number of posts: 45,851

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American Scientist: Computational Photography

An interesting look at where digital photography may be headed..


The digital camera has brought a revolutionary shift in the nature of photography, sweeping aside more than 150 years of technology based on the weird and wonderful photochemistry of silver halide crystals. Curiously, though, the camera itself has come through this transformation with remarkably little change. A digital camera has a silicon sensor where the film used to go, and there's a new display screen on the back, but the lens and shutter and the rest of the optical system work just as they always have, and so do most of the controls. The images that come out of the camera also look much the same—at least until you examine them microscopically.

But further changes in the art and science of photography may be coming soon. Imaging laboratories are experimenting with cameras that don't merely digitize an image but also perform extensive computations on the image data. Some of the experiments seek to improve or augment current photographic practices, for example by boosting the dynamic range of an image (preserving detail in both the brightest and dimmest areas) or by increasing the depth of field (so that both near and far objects remain in focus). Other innovations would give the photographer control over factors such as motion blur. And the wildest ideas challenge the very notion of the photograph as a realistic representation. Future cameras might allow a photographer to record a scene and then alter the lighting or shift the point of view, or even insert fictitious objects. Or a camera might have a setting that would cause it to render images in the style of watercolors or pen-and-ink drawings.


For some purposes a hand-rendered illustration can be clearer and more informative than a photograph, but creating such artwork requires much labor, not to mention talent. Raskar's camera attempts to automate the process by detecting and emphasizing the features that give a scene its basic three-dimensional structure, most notably the edges of objects. Detecting edges is not always easy. Changes in color or texture can be mistaken for physical boundaries; to the computer, a wallpaper pattern can look like a hole in the wall. To resolve this visual ambiguity Raskar et al. exploit the fact that only physical edges cast shadows. They have equipped a camera with four flash units surrounding the lens. The flash units are fired sequentially, producing four images in which shadows delineate changes in contour. Software then accentuates these features, while other areas of the image are flattened and smoothed to suppress distracting detail. The result is reminiscent of a watercolor painting or a drawing with ink and wash.

Cloudy Dipper, Android Sunrise

Sony NEX C3 on a tripod, basic kit lens at 18mm & F3.5 2 sec at ISO 6400, my first shot as clouds rolled in right after I got set up after the clouds rolled out..

Anyhow the clouds enhanced the Big Dipper nicely and gave it a bit more character perhaps.

The second one is a Samsung Exhibit Android smartphone with an app on it called A Better Camera and it really is, this was handheld in HDR mode.

Privilege or not?


Fraternities breed leaders. That, at least, is what most any chapter website will tell you, in not so many words—and the message certainly makes for a compelling rationale for joining the Greek system. It seems, too, to be borne out by the hard numbers. While only eight and a half percent of American male college students is a member of a fraternity, University of Kentucky professor of communication Alan DeSantis points out in his 2007 book, Inside Greek U: Fraternities, Sororities, and the Pursuit of Pleasure, those who are tend to cluster in one particular sweet spot of society: the top.
Fraternity Debate
An Atlantic Special Report
Read More

Citing data from the Center for the Study of College Fraternity, DeSantis charts some impressive figures. Fraternity men make up 85 percent of U.S. Supreme Court justices since 1910, 63 percent of all U.S. presidential cabinet members since 1900, and, historically, 76 percent of U.S. Senators, 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives,and 71 percent of the men in “Who’s Who in America.” And that’s not counting the 18 ex-frat U.S. presidents since 1877 (that’s 69 percent) and the 120 Forbes 500 CEOs (24 percent) from the 2003 list, including 10—or one-third—of the top 30. In the 113th Congress alone, 38 of the hundred Senate members come from fraternity (and, now, sorority) backgrounds, as does a full quarter of the House. Is there something inherent in the fraternity culture that sends its members to the country’s top echelons?

I learned a frugal trick this cold and wet winter, double spinning my clothes before drying

I've cut the time needed to dry my clothes in the dryer by nearly twenty percent by running the final spin cycle on my washer a second time.

It's been far too wet and cold to hang laundry out much this winter so I've been using the dryer more than usual. Had some problems with the timer mechanism on my washing machine and ended up final spinning the clothes a second time by accident a couple of times and realized it wasn't taking as long in the dryer as otherwise. I'm not sure of the overall energy savings but my washer runs on 115V and doesn't draw a lot of power while my dryer runs on 230V and does draw quite a bit for the heating elements.

One of these days I'm going to weigh a washer load after the first spin cycle and then put them back in and spin again then reweigh just to see how much extra water it gets out.. My old top load washer really doesn't pick up full speed spin until about half way through the spin cycle on the first time, the second time it comes up to speed much faster without all the water in the basket dragging it down. Even near the end of the second final spin some water still comes dribbling out of the drain hose into my utility room slop sink where it dumps.

Here is a working hypothesis about Hillary's email that makes her look very good indeed

With one insignificant private email account and one little server tucked ever so securely away in her bungalow Hillary has managed to unite the Democratic party in the cause of supporting the human right of individuals to have their personal communications kept private from government intrusion.

It is a fierce advocate who will take on the sort of fire and brimstone coming out of the Republican party on the behalf of all Americans who would like to think that they are entitled to privacy in their communications with their family, friends and associates.

We will hear every possible argument against personal privacy and probably a few impossible ones too come out of the Republican party and we will hear the Democrats forcefully respond that personal privacy is a critical component of general human rights.

When this brouhaha is done we will know incontrovertibly that the Democratic party and more importantly the presumptive 2016 Democratic nominee is pro privacy, this is the sort of thing that will engage the disaffected to come and vote for Democrats, bold moves that speak to values of liberty and justice.

When a old timer makes an obvious rookie mistake it makes me wonder just what exactly is going on

I mean no one could possibly have predicted that using private email with your own private server for official SoS business would raise a few Republican eyebrows if a Democrat were to be found using such a system.

Red meat in front of a pack of starving wolves, why would the human being who should know this above all others save possibly one not understand this, especially when they have the one who best understands it right at hand so to speak? Hillary has been angling towards the Presidency for more than half her life now and she is about as far from a stupid rookie as it's possible to get.

I remain unconvinced this is not some sort of ruse, it would be interesting if we had a heavy downpour of shoes.

Prepaid card and Wifi calling app for Samsung phone?

I have recently acquired a Samsung SGH T599N and I'd like to put a Wifi calling app on it and also I'd like to get a prepaid minutes card only for calling out of range of wifi.

This my first actual smartphone, I've had a couple of Blackberries and so on but the Samsung is still a bit of a mystery, any recommendations would be welcome.

Whoever is driving the Republican party so far so fast to the right is using it like explosives

Political parties are just tools to be used in pursuit of an agenda, we tend to think of tools as things you use carefully in order to preserve them for later use but not all tools are like that.

Explosives for instance are a powerful form of tool that is used once destructively and then is unavailable to be reused. If you need more of that tool you go and buy more. Whoever is driving the Republican party is using it more like explosives than what we normally think of as tools such as pliers, a wrench or a screwdriver. Clearly someone who would use a tool in such a manner believes that they can buy more of the tool once the Republican party is blown to pieces.

Social justice in the crab bucket

For those possible few of us who may not know how crabs in a bucket act, any crab that manages to get a little bit up on the way out of the bucket gets grabbed by one or more other crabs who are also trying to climb out, the result is that the crab that has somehow made it a little way up gets pulled back into the frantic, squirming melee at the bottom of the bucket.

The point of the title is that social justice is something in remarkably short supply at the bottom of the crab bucket, it's every crustacean for itself.

Advanced technologies today are wiping out traditional jobs, for instance it won't be all that long before driving jobs become more scarce due to robotic vehicles. Once it's shown statistically that robot drivers are safer than human ones it's only a matter of time until the insurance companies if nothing else make sure that robot drivers are preferred over human ones. Humans are already as good as they are going to get at driving while robots will only get better at it. The same sort of advances are happening in every facet of life, human intelligence and ability to manipulate the environment is going to become ever less needed while it becomes more readily available as there are more and more humans.

The crab bucket is already here, as the wealthy absorb ever more of the world economic output and the number of people needed to keep the wheels of industry turning becomes ever fewer the sides of the crab bucket get gradually higher and more slippery and the crabs at the bottom of the bucket ever more desperate and frantic to climb up each other to escape. From my point of view I can't see how that type of environment engenders justice of any sort besides that of chitin and claw.

Underestimating your enemy is one of the worst mistakes it's possible to make in war..

"War is a merely the continuation of politics by other means" -Carl von Clausewitz

I constantly see statements on DU about how stupid Republicans are.. If Republicans are so damn stupid how have they been handing the supposed smart people their asses for decades?

National level Republican politicians say a lot of things that sound stupid to us but I don't for a minute think that remotely implies that they are stupid. I really wish we could drop the "Republicans are stupid" meme because it leads to greatly underestimating their long proven ability to get their "stupid" ideas enacted into policy.

Stupid is as stupid does Forrest Gump remarked, Republicans now control both houses of Congress and could well end up taking the Presidency in 2016, that isn't the result of stupidity, rather it is the result of guile, cunning and a great deal of political and social insight into the segment of the population that votes for Republicans.
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