First-Person Hyperlapse Videos

At this year’s SIGGRAPH conference, Microsoft Research presented their First-Person Hyperlapse Videos. These videos are compiled of rendered hybrid frames from shaky head-cam footage turned into amazing time-lapse videos that flow smoothly. The dramatic improvement between the before and after is astounding.

We present a method for converting first-person videos, for example, captured with a helmet camera during activities such as rock climbing or bicycling, into hyperlapse videos: time-lapse videos with a smoothly moving camera.

They say they are working hard on making their Hyperlapse algorithm available as a Windows app.

Awesome.

Ok Cupid Is Not Facebook

In a blog post published yesterday, OkCupid revealed it’s been lying to some of its users just to see how manipulating their experience could make the site better at matchmaking.

The public’s reaction to OK Cupid’s admission of the kind of A/B testing that Facebook caught hell for has been much more muted. It turns out, treating your users like guinea pigs is ok as long as people already like your website (nobody really likes Facebook — they’re just trapped by the network effect).

So what exactly did they do? From the blog post:

The ultimate question at OkCupid is, does this thing even work? By all our internal measures, the “match percentage” we calculate for users is very good at predicting relationships. It correlates with message success, conversation length, whether people actually exchange contact information, and so on. But in the back of our minds, there’s always been the possibility: maybe it works just because we tell people it does. Maybe people just like each other because they think they’re supposed to? Like how Jay-Z still sells albums?

To test this, we took pairs of bad matches (actual 30% match) and told them they were exceptionally good for each other (displaying a 90% match.)† Not surprisingly, the users sent more first messages when we said they were compatible. After all, that’s what the site teaches you to do.

† Once the experiment was concluded, the users were notified of the correct match percentage.

The Bad Review Revue

Rage: “If you are going to make a B-grade exploitation piece you need to go for excess and insanity. Tokarev commits the ultimate movie sin: it makes a Nicolas Cage revenge thriller simply boring.” — Richard Haridy, Quickflix

A Long Way Down: “Four characters meet while planning to commit suicide and decide to annoy one another instead in this tacky Nick Hornby adaptation.” — Peter Debruge, Variety

Transformers: Age of Extinction: “Preferable to syphilis.” — Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

Tammy: “Here, the jokes hit with the accuracy of bullets in a Michael Bay movie.” — Dann Gire, Daily Herald (IL)

Deliver Us from Evil: “A pretty routine and occasionally silly demonic-possession flick, which distinguishes itself by making us wait so long for the exorcism that heads may be spinning in the audience as well.” — Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

Earth to Echo: “It does not reveal too much to say that road leads to something otherworldly, and that the something otherworldly is kind of cute. But considering the whole story rests on it, it’s also not all that much to phone home about.” — Carla Meyer, Sacramento Bee

Think Like a Man Too: “You want eye-rolling moments? This movie will detach your corneas.” — Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com

Words Men and Women Recognize

It turns out gender matters in our ability to recognize certain types of words. I found it rang true for me; what the heck is “taffeta”? Before today, I probably wouldn’t even have identified as a real word.

The Center for Reading Research (a research group connected to the Department of Experimental Psychology of Ghent University) believes that to figure out how our brains are wired when it comes to reading, one must first look at our ability to identify real words. One result of their experiment is a list of words with the strongest identification disparity between men and women:

We listed the words with the biggest recognition gap between gender below, along with numbers in parenthesis showing the percentage of men who knew the word followed by the percentage of women.

Here are the words that men were most likely to recognize over women:

codec (88, 48)
solenoid (87, 54)
golem (89, 56)
mach (93, 63)
humvee (88, 58)
claymore (87, 58)
scimitar (86, 58)
kevlar (93, 65)
paladin (93, 66)
bolshevism (85, 60)
biped (86, 61)
dreadnought (90, 66)

Here are the words women are most likely to recognize over men:
taffeta (48, 87)
tresses (61, 93)
bottlebrush (58, 89)
flouncy (55, 86)
mascarpone (60, 90)
decoupage (56, 86)
progesterone (63, 92)
wisteria (61, 89)
taupe (66, 93)
flouncing (67, 94)
peony (70, 96)
bodice (71, 96)

The male words tend to center on transportation, weapons, and science, while the female words mostly relate to fashion, art, and flowers.

Read more at Business Insider.

Taffeta, by the way, is a crisp, smooth, plain woven fabric made from silk or cuprammonium rayons. The word is Persian in origin and means “twisted woven.”

Which list holds the majority of the words you recognize?

(Via)

Weekend in Waterton

A couple of weeks ago I called my parents and asked if they wanted to spend the day in Waterton — to my delight they immediately took me up on the offer and arrived only a couple hours later.

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Many great memories flooded my mind as we checked off the list of essential Waterton activities and attractions.

Photos by the Prince of Wales Hotel… check.

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Climbing up Bears Hump for photos of the Waterton town-site… check.

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Lunch at Zums followed by photos in front of Cameron Falls… check and check.

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It was a great day for it too, even though the skies threatened a storm, we only got a little drizzle of rain followed by sunshine and ice-cream cones. Ice-cream tastes better in National Parks.

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The take home message really is that it’s well worth it to take advantage of our close proximity to a world class national park — one can basically drop their camera and come away with some great photos.

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Pattern Rule for 5, 10, 15, 30, 45, 50

While teaching sixth grade math yesterday, I came across this tricky question in the “Pearson Math Makes Sense” textbook. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for things to NOT make sense.

The book shows the following input / output table.

Input Output
5 0
10 2
15 3
30 7
45 8
50 11

It notes that some of the outputs were intentionally incorrect and asks students to identify and correct the mistakes. That was easy enough but it then asks students to “Write the pattern for the input.”

This is where I became lost.
Continue reading “Pattern Rule for 5, 10, 15, 30, 45, 50”

The Bad Review Revue

Blended: “Most of ‘Blended’ has the look and pacing of a three-camera sitcom filmed by a bunch of eighth graders and conceived by their less bright classmates.” — A.O. Scott, New York Times

The Love Punch: “A romantic comedy as painfully unfunny as a sock in the jaw.” — Claudia Puig, USA Today

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn: “Every scene between two people comes off like drunkenly shot video of a play rehearsal gone horribly wrong.” — Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

The Amazing Spider-Man: “Despite the efforts of Electro, the franchise is running shockingly low on juice.” — Anthony Lane, New Yorker

The Other Woman: “This film, on the other hand, seems so desperate for laughs that you can practically see the flop sweat appear on its performers as they flail from one obnoxiously, uncomfortable scene to the next.” — Jeff Vice, Cinephiled

Heaven Is for Real: “The earnest performances aren’t enough to elevate the vanilla narrative from a faith-based film that will only preach to the choir.” — David Blaustein, ABC News Radio

California 2014 – Day 13

We spent our last full day in Palm Springs riding our bikes and visiting a few more sites and restaurants in the area before we headed out the next day.

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We stopped at the outdoor mall, The River, for a quick Starbucks run. I don’t drink coffee  myself, so I had a smoothie, but Andrea loves the caffeine imbibing experience (so long as it’s in a reusable / recyclable cup). Starbucks, it should be noted, will happily provide you with a ceramic mug if you just ask.

My favourite stop of the day was The Jackalope Ranch restaurant.

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Because Jackalopes have become so rare these days,  the restaurant provided some helpful wildlife information, and as the story goes:

jackalopes

The elusive Jackalope is a cross between a rabbit and the now extinct pygmy-antelope and is occasionally seen in the less populated areas of the American West. The Jackalope is an aggressive species, willing to use its antlers to fight. It is also the only species where male and female both have antlers. Thus it is sometimes also called the “warrior rabbit”.

Jackalopes possess the amazing ability to mimic human sounds. In the Old West, when cowboys would gather by their camp-fires to sing at night, Jackalopes would frequently be heard signing back, mimicking the voices of the cowboys.

When chased, the Jackalope will use its vocal abilities to elude capture. For instance, when chased by people it will call out phrases such as, “He went that way,” in order to throw pursuers off its track. The most effective way to catch a Jackalope is lure it with tequila, preferably a premium brand, as they have a particular fondness for this nectar. Once intoxicated, the animal becomes slower and easier to hunt. Jackologists, those who study the rare animal, state that the antlered creature becomes
especially vocal during a thunderstorm, because they supposedly mate only when lightning flashes.

Jackalopes are illegal to eat in the United States however the meat is thought to taste like chicken. It is believed that Jackalopes can live to be over a hundred years old. But that belief is hard to prove because they never seem to age. That is why the Jackalope is highly prized for its milk, which is believed to contain a potent ingredient that”turns back the clock” and keeps people looking young and healthy. However, it can be incredibly dangerous to milk a Jackalope, and any attempt to do so is ill advised.

We tried the nachos and diet cokes and enjoyed the setting thoroughly. However,  we only saw one live Jackalope — it’s hard to see in the photo below but if you click through to the larger version, I’m sure you’ll find it.

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The other noteworthy point about The Jackalope Ranch is their handy rifles used as legs for the tables near the bar and that amazing life-sized wooden motorcycle at the door. Much like the Jackalope itself, this motorbike is something you have to see to believe.

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California 2014 – Day 12

Today Andrea’s dad and I toured the Palm Springs Air Museum. Although small in size, CNN rated it as the 14th best air museum in the world! It did not disappoint us.

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Home to one of the world’s largest collections of flyable second world war aircraft, the Palm Springs Air Museum provided tremendously interesting artefacts and information about American conflicts in the Atlantic and Pacific arenas (mostly WWII). One of the best things about the museum was that they had a “no rope” policy allowing guests to board and interact with the planes. Not all of the planes are still flyable but any plane with an oil can underneath meant it was being kept up and ready for flight.

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A time-line of the second world war written on one of the hangar walls kept me engaged for quite some time.  Reading about the build up, saber-rattling, and political manoeuvring that happened before war actually broke out in Europe captivated my attention almost as much as the aircraft.

The display on Pearl Harbour was also extremely interesting. One of the pacific island maps the Japanese used to plan the attack shows the calculations made for the bomb run to be successful.

All in all, I loved seeing the planes and reading about second world war history and would recommend the museum to anyone interested in that sort of thing.

The rest of the afternoon led us to the Classic Club for drinks and to enjoy the view (the view at the Classic Cub is phenomenal).

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Then we headed home for another wonderful meal of BBQ kabobs and many games of Sequence.

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