Illium, the pro version of Lytro's light field system, is, IMHO, a stealth vehicle for video as the tech allows interactive focus to be done on every still shot taken with the camera, something that could be moved into video if there is enough compute power to do the deed, thus transforming video into an art form able to be manipulated in ways impossible to do with todays existing technology. From this perspective, it wouldn't surprise me if Apple bought Lytro because the science behind the tech is really cool and disruptive, notions that would have intrigued Steve Jobs to no end.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Friday, April 25, 2014
Like the Supreme Court in Citizens United and McCutcheon, the FCC also plays favorites after violating it's strongly held beliefs as stated back in 2010.
What are the consequences of this decision? Let's ask the 2010 version of the FCC, led by previous commissioner Julius Genachowski. Here are some relevant quotes from the Open Internet Order. ("Edge providers" are companies that offer services over the Internet, such as Netflix or Skype.)
[I]f permitted to deny access, or charge edge providers for prioritized access to end users, broadband providers may have incentives to allow congestion rather than invest in expanding network capacity.
Broadband providers would be expected to set inefficiently high fees to edge providers because they receive the benefits of those fees but are unlikely to fully account for the detrimental impact on edge providers’ ability and incentive to innovate and invest, including the possibility that some edge providers might exit or decline to enter the market... Moreover, fees for access or prioritized access could trigger an “arms race” within a given edge market segment. If one edge provider pays for access or prioritized access to end users, subscribers may tend to favor that provider’s services, and competing edge providers may feel that they must respond by paying, too.
Systematically, the principles of this once great nation are being hijacked by the oligarchs via the courts and congress while the middle class is being crushed out of existence. Everywhere around us, we see our environment being destroyed, our food compromised by GMOs, college education priced out of existence, our civil rights being violated 24/7 and healthcare devolving into a ridiculously expensive and inefficient system increasingly unable to meet the needs of the public, conditions that could become the start point of a revolution as seen by an all too relevant quote by Thomas Paine when seeing what is transpiring today in a country called America.
A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Open Source rules, something techies like yours truly have been talking about for quite some time as open source code evolves in concert with how tech and nature evolve, something some really cool people are doing with seeds, where no restriction applies vis a vis patents (Monsanto anyone?) in terms of growing things that benefit us all. :)
Members of the Open Source Seed Initiative this week held a rally and seed giveaway event. The group is concerned over restricting access to seeds through patents. They are stirring up public awareness over their mission to model a new crop system of seed-sharing in the spirit of open source software. On Thursday the OSSI group gathered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to give away a set of seeds that can be used by anyone. The seeds are unrestricted by patents or intellectual property barriers. They released 29 new varieties of crops under an "open source pledge" for farmers, gardeners and plant breeders. The new varieties involved broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains released under their novel Pledge, to be printed on all OSSI seed packets.
It's a 10 without question!
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Anomalies, anomalies, the more the merrier as they are prime drivers in showing that GW's alive and well, particularly when considering just how hot the world's going to get, thanks to a monster Kelvin Wave coming our way this summer, AKA El Nino.
(Kevin Wave continues to strengthen and propagate across the Pacific Ocean. Image source: NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.)
Record global temperatures, extraordinarily severe storms for the US West Coast and telegraphing on through the Central and Eastern US, a disruption of the Asian Monsoon and various regional growing seasons, record heat and drought in Northern Australia, severe drought and fires in the Amazon, the same throughout Eurasia and into the Siberian Arctic, another potential blow to Arctic sea ice. These and further extreme impacts are what could unfold if the extraordinarily powerful Kelvin Wave now racing toward the Pacific Ocean surface continues to disgorge its heat.
The most recent update from NOAA shows that the monster Kelvin Wave we reported on last week has continued to grow and intensify even as it shows no sign of slowing its rather ominous emergence from waters off the west coast of South America.
The pool of 4-6+ degree Celsius above average temperatures continues to widen and lengthen, now covering 85 degrees of longitude from 170 East to 105 West. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that the zone of extreme 6+ C temperature anomalies has both widened and extended, covering about 50 degrees of longitude and swelling to a relative depth of about 30-40 meters. This is an extraordinarily intense temperature extreme that well exceeds those observed during the ramp-up to the record 1997-98 El Nino event.
The collapse of the Antarctic Bottom Water anyone?
Phase Transitions, as BRT readers know, are a big deal on this blog as they are exponential and, when the transition is ready to go, just a little push, makes it real. In the case of the Petrodollar and the Ukraine, the push has just happened and, So It Begins.
The existence of "petrodollars" is one of the pillars of America's economic might because it creates a significant external demand for American currency, allowing the US to accumulate enormous debts without defaulting. If a Japanese buyer wants to buy a barrel of Saudi oil, he has to pay in dollars even if no American oil company ever touches the said barrel. Dollar has held a dominant position in global trading for such a long time that even Gazprom's natural gas contracts for Europe are priced and paid for in US dollars. Until recently, a significant part of EU-China trade had been priced in dollars.
Lately, China has led the BRICS efforts to dislodge the dollar from its position as the main global currency, but the "sanctions war" between Washington and Moscow gave an impetus to the long-awaited scheme to launch the petroruble and switch all Russian energy exports away from the US currency .
It gets better.
Russia’s trade in hydrocarbons amounts to about a trillion dollars per year. Other countries, especially the BRICS and BRCIS-associates (BRICSA) may soon follow suit and join forces with Russia, abandoning the ‘petro-dollar’ as trading unit for oil and gas. This could amount to tens of trillions in loss for demand of petro-dollars per year (US GDP about 17 trillion dollars – December 2013) – leaving an important dent in the US economy would be an understatement.
Added to this is the declaration today by Russia’s Press TV – China will re-open the old Silk Road as a new trading route linking Germany, Russia and China, allowing to connect and develop new markets along the road, especially in Central Asia, where this new project will bring economic and political stability, and in Western China provinces,where “New Areas” of development will be created. The first one will be the Lanzhou New Area in China’s Northwestern Gansu Province, one of China’s poorest regions.
Let's see if the mainline press covers this.
When it comes to religion, BRT doesn't have any save that everyone has the right to believe in anything they want as long as said belief doesn't interfere with the rights of people possessing beliefs, or lack thereof, different from their own. With this in mind, consider Saudi Arabia's doubling down on what defines terrorism, interesting to say the least. Paragraph 3 kind of says it all. - BRT
Saudi Arabia has introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists, according to a report from Human Rights Watch.
In a string of royal decrees and an overarching new piece of legislation to deal with terrorism generally, the Saudi King Abdullah has clamped down on all forms of political dissent and protests that could "harm public order".
The new laws have largely been brought in to combat the growing number of Saudis travelling to take part in the civil war in Syria, who have previously returned with newfound training and ideas about overthrowing the monarchy.
Article one of the new provisions defines terrorism as "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based".
Monday, April 07, 2014
Yates-Johnson, along with Francesco Tacchini and Julinka Ebhardt, created the sphere, which they refer to as Space Replay as an experiment in manipulating the sounds found in spaces like stairwells, hallways and elevators. These transitional areas of our buildings are full of unobserved sounds. “In these spaces you have these really brief, powerful moments of sound,” Yates-Johnson explains. “The ball is essentially a tool to capture them.”
Kind of evokes the hallway scenes in The Shining, if you ask me. :)
The profit motive, in the case of Apple, is OK. Build really good hardware, charge a righteous price for it and see if people buy, especially if you can deliver the goods in a timely and efficient manner, something Apple does in spades. The other part of the Apple equation is the fact you have a choice. You can buy other hardware to do the same work. It might not be as nice as Apple in look and feel but no big deal because digital is digital and Windows' apps are every bit as good as Apple's when it comes to getting the job done, but what does one do when one has no choice, where the price point is determined by little or no competition and where obfuscation is the rule, rather then the exception as seen in the incendiary NY Times article titled Even Small Medical Advances Can Mean Big Jumps in Bills.
“From a guy on the front lines, the improvements have been miraculous,” he said. “But the acquisition cost is very high, and the pricing dictates what treatment you get.”
Complication rates from diabetes in the United States are generally higher than in other developed countries. That is true even though the United States spends more per patient and per capita treating diabetes than elsewhere, said Ping Zhang, an economist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The high costs are taking their toll on public coffers, since 62 percent of that treatment money comes from government insurers. The cumulative outlays for treating Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes reached nearly $200 billion in 2012, or about 7 percent of America’s health care bill.
Expenditures could well double by 2030, according to estimates by the C.D.C., in large part because the number of Americans found to have diabetes has been increasing more than 50 percent every 10 years.
The reason for this price gouging abuse is, IMHO, the lack of transparency and real competition in medical, where closed, proprietary systems rule, where price points for office visits, hospital stays and surgery procedures are never disclosed beforehand and where patients, in many cases, are considered nothing but profit centers, able to be hosed price-wise when it comes to treating chronic illnesses like Type 1 diabetes.
Change is coming, as seen in the BRT blurb titled Healthcare - Days of Future Past, because people will demand it, just as people demanded transparency and competition in tech when the web became real circa 1997.
"And the beat goes on." - Robert E.
Saturday, April 05, 2014
Tiny Planet Photography, a 360 degree panorama technique, formally just a stills format, has now gone into the video space. Pretty awesome I must say.
Using six GoPro cameras in a 3D printed mount, artist/photographer/filmmaker/journalist Jonas Ginter made this fantastic 360 degree spherical panorama video. While people have been making spherical panorama photos (commonly referred to as Tiny Planets) for years, this is the I’ve seen in video form.
Friday, April 04, 2014
Phase transitions, fractals, feedback loops and blow back, notions all too familiar when discussing chaos and non-linear systems, is now being applied to the potentially lethal impact of GMOs in a provactive Nicholas Taleb paper titled The Precautionary Principle. BRT talked about this regarding Monsanto in a blurb titled Nature finds a way, always.
Top-down modifications to the system (through GMOs) are categorically and statistically different from bottom up ones (regular farming, progressive tinkering with crops, etc.) There is no comparison between the tinkering of selective breeding and the top-down engineering of arbitrarily taking a gene from an organism and putting it into another. Saying that such a product is natural misses the statistical process by which things become ”natural”. [i.e. evolving over thousands of years in a natural ecosystem, or at least breeding over several generations.]
What people miss is that the modification of crops impacts everyone and exports the error from the local to the global. I do not wish to pay—or have my descendants pay—for errors by executives of Monsanto. We should exert the precautionary principle there—our non-naive version—simply because we would only discover errors after considerable and irreversible environmental damage.
Needless to say, his logic is sound as reality works from the bottom up, not top down, something the Monsanto's of the world, along with the uninformed, will never understand.
Addendum: Click Whether Prometheus to read BRT's take on the ultimate in GMO tinkering via Craig Venter's top down approach to modifying life at the ultimate level in order to produce super bugs, something most disquieting to say the least from this writer's perspective.
As loyal readers know, BRT does not delve into politics very often unless the actions taken by a given entity, i.e. the Supreme Court, are so egregiously bad that commentary must be made. With this in mind, consider that McCutcheon and Citizens United, (corporations are, in effect, persons vis a vis voting rights & campaign funding) have destroyed the notion of campaign reform forever, thus creating a plutocracy where unlimited funding of campaigns rule, something the Supreme Court, as per the Founding Fathers, was designed to prevent as the final arbiters of law as the SC justices were tenured for life and well provided for, conditions the FFs thought would free them from outside pressures, thus enabling them to rule in the national interest and not their own, something not happening with the Roberts court circa 2014.
In many ways, "it's the cushiest job in the world," said Supreme Court historian and University of Texas law professor Lucas "Scot" Powe.
Court members get lifetime employment, steady $200,000 salaries, ample vacation and comprehensive health benefits.
"There's also not that much required work, and they've made it less over time," said Powe, who clerked for Justice William O. Douglas in the early 1970s.
Clerks themselves do much of the administrative legwork for the justices, sorting through the thousands of petitions the court receives and summarizing them in short memos. They also help the justices craft their written opinions on selected cases.
Thirty years ago, the court issued roughly 120 decisions in a given term. It issued 83 in the 2008-2009 session.
The court's nine-month term also means abundant free time during the summer, when justices don't hear oral arguments or meet to decide cases.
So... why is the logic used by Roberts so tortured to explain the "validity" of McCutcheon while Justice Stephen Breyer's dissent devastates it with elegance and power.
Roberts: "Ingratiation and access ... are not corruption" To unlimited amounts of $$ - BRT, right?
Breyer: "creates huge loopholes in the law...and undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform."
George Carlin said it best as Citizens United and McCutcheon merely codify what has been reality for a very long time.