John Underkoffler says that “Computers don’t understand real world space” … until now. At 5:20, things start to get pretty crazy. These systems are already deployed, and he thinks we’re just 5 years away from mass consumer access to this.
John Underkoffler was one of the science advisors for Minority Report. After doing that, he helped build a computer with an interface very much like the ones in the movie … you know, where Tom Cruise flings stuff around on a screen with his hands. In this TED talk, Underkoffler demonstrates the system.
Oh man. /Film started my day with this 10-minute documentary from Larry Cuba about how he made the computer graphics for Star Wars, specifically, the Death Star assault video Dodonna plays for the Rebel pilots, and it is so, so awesome. Cuba is obviously so proud when he says he’s moving his Death Star model in real time, and he should be, since back in 1976 that probably needed 400 computers glued together and the blood sacrifice of a white calf. Anyways, it’s fun for Star Wars fans and a neat look back for computer nerds alike.
Imagine the movie industry doing what they do now without the plastic reality offered by oceans of computing power and unbelievable software.
“The biggest potential is to build an ecosystem of data on the Web,” said Alon Halevy, the senior Google engineer who led the Fusion Tables development team. “This means making it easy for the people to upload, to merge data sets, to discuss the data, to create visualizations and then to take these visualizations and put them elsewhere on the Web so that there’s better data on the Web.”
…Fusion Tables, a breakthrough application of online research and communications capacities, goes beyond traditional database systems because it allows users to share and merge data in real time with other contributors wherever they work. It also allows users to apply visualizations, and discuss discrepancies of specific data points. Multiple users can cross-check and discuss individual rows, columns or even cells as easily as right-clicking on the spot.
Users can also display their data through a variety of visualizations: as a timeline, a graph or a map. The “fusion” of the data sets can link dissimilar information from the far corners of the Web to reveal patterns and trends that might be impossible to spot otherwise. This makes Fusion Tables a central hub for data collaboration, as anyone can publish and access files, which were formerly locked away in Excel spreadsheets, PDF reports, and hard-cover textbooks.
I know from scientist friends who I’ve talked with that one of the biggest barriers to collaboration is the fact that Lab A can’t communicate with Lab B … fortunately there’s Google to allow them to speak the same language. Check out the article for more and some created images and watch this interview with Halevy.
“With Google App Engine, developers can write Web applications based on the same building blocks that Google uses,” Kevin Gibbs, Google’s technical lead for the project, wrote in a company blog (link). “Google App Engine packages those building blocks and provides access to scalable infrastructure that we hope will make it easier for developers to scale their applications automatically as they grow.
Translation: Use our blocks, kids. They’re the bestest.
This photo is titled MT Cloudy and it’s part of GoDa;s picks. On the photo post he wrote:
From my balcony the other day,
A mountain of floating skyscrapers appeared,
Imagination took over…
I have no idea if ‘ll ever see the day when imagination takes over, but somedays I think I will…
“Why does flickr go down so much?” I wondered to The Google. None less than net luminary Tim O’Reilly answered my call with a database war story that revealed the tip of the brobdingnagian iceberg that lies under shiny-smooth, folksonomical web apps like flickr and YouTube that sort and sift stuff according what many people say about it.
The photo is Jill Sobule by binkmeisterrick who writes:
While waiting early for the show to start, Jill and her road manager (?)pulled up in a van and came in through the front door. She let me take her picture (bless her heart, I think she had just woken up) and noticed the Holga. “Aren’t they fun?” she said. She didn’t think the flash on the flash models did much, though.
Shortly after taking this picture, the back popped off the Holga. Can you tell? I was so worried that the only two pictures I cared about on this roll were lost. As luck would have it, she and Billy were the only two that really came out.
He says he’s fascinated by photography, particularly black & white.
Dunrie over at Scientific Ink pointed out the very cool Give One Get One program from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). If you order by November 26, you can get a $100 XO laptop and also give one to a child in a developing nation. The XO laptop itself is an engineering marvel: a meticulously engineered device that’s designed to survive in extreme environments with minimal power that at the same time provides a computing environment that’s designed for children who know nothing about computing. Of special interest to me was the social sharing, which uses each laptop’s wireless connection to form what they call “mesh networks” and the software interface that has a range of simple apps that cover pretty much the range of what a kid needs to do on a computer and also leverages the social network. There’s even a button that reveals the code behind certain programs.
A teacher and student say…
Before the laptop, the focus of the school curriculum and evaluation was to show what students don’t know. Now, the focus is in what the student knows, and how this knowledge can be used as a support so they learn even more.
I use my computer very carefully so that it will not spoil. I use it to type, I use it to write, I use it to draw, I use it to play games… I’m using my computer at home to type assignment.
I don’t know anything about t3ngf0ung other than he or she had this cool photo of a classroom full of the $100 laptops.
“The challenge with Facebook Apps today – and don’t get me wrong, we think that they are fantastic – is that there isn’t a lot of space for them to exist. You really only have one little box on a profile page. As a result of this constraint, the apps on Facebook tend to be more playful.”
I think that “playful” is shorthand for “silly” … I also think that the idea that apps (and eventually data) can bounce from platform to platform is yet another speed limit to fall on the Information Superhighway (sorry to get all 1999 on you there). If you want to get your geek on, read Open Social: a new universe of social applications all over the web, where Netscape founder and Ning principal Marc Andresson explores the new Open Social API in depth.
It’s a pretty good read and not too technical. I think he makes some interesting points about programming, especially when he says something to the effect of Standards that standardize standard behavior succeed. It sounds kind of “well DUH” but it’s an important point that is too often overlooked. I was gratified in a silly sort of way to see that Marc calls his blogroll a linkroll. I’d chalk it up to “great minds” but I think that the similarity between our minds begins and ends right about there.
The photo is Reaching out… by carf. It doesn’t appear to have anything at all to do with social networking, but his photos do appear to have very much to do with some very important things – check them out!
If you know me at all, you probably know that I spend a lot of time on the internets* … and by “a lot” I mean “way a lot”. Still, there always seems to be that one more thing that someone else thought of that I can’t live without about 3.5 seconds after I learn about it.
The latest was a relatively simple trick with the Firefox browser that I learned from Jimmy Ruska who is Jimmyrcom on YouTube and can also be found at jimmyr.com. A quick glance through his site tells me he spends “way, way a lot” of time on these internets.
Anyway, Jimmy has a brief video about how to Pimp out your Firefox that (by my calculations) will save me maybe an hour a week. One of my sort of jobs is to wander through a ton of photos that people share with me and the sites I run. I’ve always used the Firefox location bar as Google Jr, but now thanks to Firefox keyword searches I can use that same address bar to search all these groups in seconds to find haunted Michigan, Sleeping bear dunes, Benzie beaches and Leelanau grapes. I’ll stop before the part where I analyze the syntactical structure of the queries and offer suggestions for taxonomy of the abbreviations.
The photo, Beer truck by John Levanen, is one I found on a test search of the Leelanau(dot)com pool for “truck”. John adds so many great photos to the group that I wonder sometimes if he’s on the payroll. Thanks John!
*OK, I just watched that whole video linked from “internets” and there’s a truck reference. Sometimes I wonder…