20111230-223938.jpgOnce upon a time, sculpting in a 3d modeling program felt more like playing with an Etch-a-Sketch or Playdoh Fun Factory than modeling real clay. Now Chameleon and its haptic arm put let you get a grip on your virtual object.

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Snap a photo of that Andy Warhol print, and your phone tells you what similar artworks lie in your price range. Tech startup Art.sy is hoping their recommendation system will make the art market more accessible to normal mortals–or at least make them a bunch of money in commissioned sales.

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Now that “The Protester” is Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, should sites like Wikipedia and Google temporarily go dark to protest the controversial “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) currently before the US Congress?

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Wired showcases some stop-motion shorts that break the rules, including Filmmaker Tomas Mankovsky’s “Sorry I’m Late,” which plays with uses a camera on the ceiling pointed at the floor to weave objects near and far into a rambunctious narrative.

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Is that guy in the weight-loss ad really as buff as he looks? How far can you enhance that snapshot for the school newspaper and still have it represent reality? This software tool rates photographs on how far they have been manipulated.

The photographs of celebrities and models in fashion advertisements and magazines are routinely buffed with a helping of digital polish. The retouching can be slight — colors brightened, a stray hair put in place, a pimple healed. Or it can be drastic — shedding 10 or 20 pounds, adding a few inches in height and erasing all wrinkles and blemishes, done using Adobe’s Photoshop software, the photo retoucher’s magic wand.

“Fix one thing, then another and pretty soon you end up with Barbie,” said Hany Farid, a professor of computer science and a digital forensics expert at Dartmouth.

And that is a problem, feminist legislators in France, Britain and Norway say, and they want digitally altered photos to be labeled. In June, the American Medical Association adopted a policy on body image and advertising that urged advertisers and others to “discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.”

Dr. Farid said he became intrigued by the problem after reading about the photo-labeling proposals in Europe. Categorizing photos as either altered or not altered seemed too blunt an approach, he said.

Dr. Farid and Eric Kee, a Ph.D. student in computer science at Dartmouth, are proposing a software tool for measuring how much fashion and beauty photos have been altered, a 1-to-5 scale that distinguishes the infinitesimal from the fantastic. Their research is being published this week in a scholarly journal, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….

From left to right, photographs show the five levels of retouching….The effect, from slight to drastic, may discourage retouching. “Models, for example, might well say, ‘I don’t want to be a 5. I want to be a 1,’ ” he said.

http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=ef370676c5e736ec41a3325885e56f55

Europe’s largest IT company wants to replace email with IM, social networks, and face-to-face meetings. If only 11 percent of 11 to 19 year-olds use email, will it go the way of the dodo?

Of course, replacing email with f2f meetings would mean greater privacy, while relying on Facebook and Twitter would mean significantly less–especially now that JavaScript is making encryption easier for Web-based email:

http://developers.slashdot.org/story/11/11/22/0422223/openpgp-implemented-in-javascript

“Thierry Breton, CEO of Atos, Europe’s Largest IT Company, wants a ‘zero email’ policy to be in place in 18 months, arguing that only 10 per cent of the 200 electronic messages his employees receive per day on average turn out to be useful, and that staff spend between 5-20 hours handling emails every week. ‘The email is no longer the appropriate (communication) tool,’ says Breton. ‘The deluge of information will be one of the most important problems a company will have to face (in the future). It is time to think differently.’ Instead Breton wants staff at Atos to use chat-type collaborative services inspired by social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter as surveys show that the younger generation have already all but scrapped email, with only 11 per cent of 11 to 19 year-olds using it. For his part Breton hasn’t sent a work email in three years. ‘If people want to talk to me, they can come and visit me, call or send me a text message. Emails cannot replace the spoken word.’”

http://slashdot.org/story/11/11/29/0232205/europes-largest-it-company-to-ban-internal-email

Even if you continue to send email, you might find that filing it is a waste of time.

“There are two types of office workers in the world — those who file their emails in folders, and those who use search. Well, it looks like the searchers are smarter. A 354-user study by IBM research found that users who just searched their inbox found emails slightly faster than users who had filed them by folder. Add the time spent filing and the searchers easily come out on top. Apparently the filers are using their inbox as a to-do list rather than wanting to categorize information to find it more easily.”

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/10/10/0043217/Putting-Emails-In-Folders-Is-a-Waste-of-Time-Says-IBM-Study

Ie email goes extinct, what’s next? Maybe files.

“Two recent papers, one from Microsoft Research and one from University of Wisconsin (PDF), are providing a refreshing take on rethinking ‘what a file is.’ This could have major implications for the next-gen file system design, and will probably cause a stir among Slashdotters, given that it will affect the programmatic interface. The first paper has some hints as to what went wrong with the previous WinFS approach. Quoting the first paper: ‘For over 40 years the notion of the file, as devised by pioneers in the field of computing, has proved robust and has remained unchallenged. Yet this concept is not a given, but serves as a boundary object between users and engineers. In the current landscape, this boundary is showing signs of slippage, and we propose the boundary object be reconstituted. New abstractions of file are needed, which reflect what users seek to do with their digital data, and which allow engineers to solve the networking, storage and data management problems that ensue when files move from the PC on to the networked world of today. We suggest that one aspect of this adaptation is to encompass metadata within a file abstraction; another has to do what such a shift would mean for enduring user actions such as “copy” and “delete” applicable to the deriving file types. We finish by arguing that there is an especial need to support the notion of “ownership” that adequately serves both users and engineers as they engage with the world of networked sociality. ‘”

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/11/01/1249224/rethinking-the-nature-of-files

How to get by in lean times with a lean startup–or a lean resume.

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