Afternoon Links

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

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39 Responses to “Afternoon Links”

  1. #1 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @ dumb idea:

    actually the practical application is in something called “augmented reality” (yes, thats a thing) where the textual info appears on a display (say as text displayed on the inside of goggles. The whole world becomes like watching tv with text popping in all over the pictures. If the camera (or goggles or whatever) have a good GPS then the device really can beam information in from the central server and tell you just what you are looking at and where the bathrooms are and where the nearest gas station is and what species of tree you are looking at or whether George Washington slept in the area and so on.

    Some people probably DON’T want to be bombarded by all that information as they walk around the Vanderbilt campus or the Apalachin Trail or the pier at Santa Monica or wherever. There is a name for those people, which is “Not-Me” (BK, RIP). Me, I’ll take the extraneous info and lots of it. It could feed my inner Burgers, who has such a thirst for useless knowledge.

    I think the camera with the thermal printer is a cute anachronism meant to get the rest of all, y’alls, acclimated to the idea of augmented reality gently and with humor.

  2. #2 |  Mario | 

    Regarding New Mexico, wasn’t there an Arnold Swarchenegger movie that took place on Mars where the authorities would cut off your oxygen if you crossed them? I suppose the denizens of New Mexico should be glad it isn’t worse!

  3. #3 |  Thom | 

    Regarding the hand sanitizer scare, I actually am worried about what will happen when teenagers finally figure out how to dump yeast into grape juice. It might just end up being the final nail in the coffin for freely available sugar products.

  4. #4 |  omar | 

    @ dumb idea

    This is just hardware hacker-porn. Building it is meant to show who (computer vs person) can be done with the information available in an image. The camera is not meant to be taken seriously on its own, but the ideas it explores are inspirational for other engineers to do something actually useful.

    To me, this object highlights how much data is invisible to the user (metadata) but easy for the computer to read, at the same time, comparing it to all the data that is easily processable by a human (the image) but is totally incomprehensible to the computer.

    It’s cool!

  5. #5 |  CSD | 

    If Mugabe ever bites it can we finally take pennies out of circulation here and just send them all to Zimbabwe to help smooth relations.

  6. #6 |  omar | 

    @#3 | Thom

    If I had known how to brew beer in college, I would have done so on the regular. Homebrew is as good as commercial and as cheap as bum juice.

    If a teenager is willing to go to all the effort of learning to brew, mashing, cooking, waiting for weeks, and bottling, then that teenager is old enough to drink beer.

  7. #7 |  mdb | 

    Descriptive Camera meet Google images, thank you for a billion

  8. #8 |  Tom | 

    @ dumb idea:

    This is fantastic. While reading the descriptions of the photos are so poor that the particular example is of negligible current value, the idea is innovative.

  9. #9 |  Thom | 

    @#6 -Omar

    Agreed. Once I started homebrewing, I remember thinking, “why didn’t I just do this in college and high school?”

  10. #10 |  omar | 

    @ dumb idea

    One more thing for those who are not in the know. The camera uses “the mechanical turk api” to figure out what’s in the image. This is another way of saying “a human being is doing this seemingly difficult task for a computer.”

    The mechanical turk api is a service where you can pay a small amount of money for a human being to perform a very simply task. Amazon built this service to cheaply allow humans to do simple things that humans are very good at but computers can’t do yet. The “mechanical turks” are usually folks from poorer countries who get paid relatively well (for their circumstances in the world) for doing something fairly easy. Hooray for globalization!

  11. #11 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “•Stellar week for TSA: Agents harass a 7-year-old disabled girl, then scare the hell out of a four-year-old for the crime of hugging her grandmother. Somehow, I’ll bet the Koch brothers put those kids up to this.”

    I bet superbureaucrat/flake Joe Pistole investigates thoroughly and concludes the officers were acting responsibly and according to protocol. Just a hunch.

  12. #12 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Am I the only one whose reaction to the “Teens drinking hand sanitizer” story was “April Fool’s Day was a while back”?

  13. #13 |  MassHole | 

    My buddy told me he was carded this past week at a Tractor Supply in order to purchase Flea/Tick stuff for his dog and cat. When he inquired why, the cashier stated that kids were huffing it. Back in my day, we just drank a shitload of Robitussin DM and got freaky. Kids these days!

  14. #14 |  BBCC | 

    The local nightly news here in L.A. had a story about the kids using the hand-sanitizer, and of course, in ominous tones, talked about this “new, dangerous trend among teens.”

  15. #15 |  Cyto | 

    The “Today Show” had the hand sanitizer scare story this morning. They did manage to include the caveat that only 411 people over the age of 5 were seen by hospitals for ingesting hand sanitizer last year – so no real epidemic. But that’s ok, we should all be worried about it anyway.

    Even more silly – the video they had was of a young teen snorting hand sanitizer. Yes, actually snorting it. At that point I was pretty sure the kids were goofing the reporters for a laugh. He snorked up a quarter teaspoon of the stuff and proceeded to roll back and loll his head about as if getting a major stoner rush. Implausible is a kind way of putting it. But the reporter went with it as straight news.

  16. #16 |  Bob | 

    I can’t figure out if this is a gag or just a really, really dumb idea.

    Yay! Now people with degrees they can’t use can get jobs in the “Mechanical Turk” system! On a side note: Quick! Someone get the Internet to Tennessee!

  17. #17 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 


    Remember Roland Hedley Jr., from back when Doonesbury was still funny? When Zonker sold him a complete like of Hogwash and the ‘story’ ended up on the cover of Time (in the strip)?

  18. #18 |  Henry Bowman | 

    To clarify, it is not the state of New Mexico that threatens to shut off utilities for those not paying their red-light photo fines. It is the city of Las Cruces, NM.

  19. #19 |  Onlooker | 

    The TSA gropes poor little girl: Another maddening and disgusting story of mindless bureaucrats at work. I really don’t know how I’d get through that kind of incident without getting arrested for assault.

  20. #20 |  Dave Reed | 

    Dumb Idea

    I don’t think that was intended to replace the camera in your pocket. It is to highlight the data we DON’T have on the pictures we do have.

    I don’t know about you, but I have a huge pile of photos in my computer, most of them have little more data attached to them than date and time. Some have location. That makes it hard to search for “that one picture with Aunt Mabel and Billy and the goose.”

    Mechanical Turk is not gonna work for all of us (even at MT’s rates my photos would cost a small fortune to update) but an automated method of attaching searchable text to my photos would be wonderful.

    So… Dumb idea? nope. Art. or maybe just the spark of an idea. But not dumb.

    (ok, not useful either, but still not dumb.)

  21. #21 |  EH | 

    Stellar week for TSA: Agents harass a 7-year-old disabled girl, then scare the hell out of a four-year-old for the crime of hugging her grandmother. Somehow, I’ll bet the Koch brothers put those kids up to this.

    By now I’m convinced that the TSA and banking policies are what we get when the Kochs and Soroses agree on something.

  22. #22 |  Jerryskids | 

    @Dumb idea – the first telephone was a dumb idea but it led to a second phone, which was not quite so dumb. The Annals of Improbable Research is full of these sorts of things that make you think about the possibility of making a silly idea a lucrative reality.

    @Los Cruces shutting off utilities – What are the laws on one agency of government enforcing the determinations of another agency? I know you can lose your driver license for varying offenses having nothing to do with the DMV and there are plenty of different agencies that will punish you for failure to make child support payments, but in general are there not some legal or Constitutional questions about vesting police powers in other than the police?

    @TSA story – I really lost a little bit of my soul reading that story before on the woman who stood there and watched animals pawing her baby and didn’t rip their throats out with her bare teeth. Now you know how the Jews could shuffle into the cattle cars when they were ordered to. Something is very wrong that we say we are “outraged” by this story but we do nothing about it.

  23. #23 |  BamBam | 

    Water is the #1 requirement for life. The State only knows how to kill people, by definition. Therefore pay The State their extortion money or they will kill you. Even more efficient than a cop shooting you and then getting paid vacation while The State investigates itself.

  24. #24 |  Bob Mc | 

    Using the force of Gov’t to collect on debts to private company is disgusting. (And a foreign company too!)

    “Las Cruces, New Mexico announced it would shut off the utilities of city residents who refused to pay Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company that owns and operates the cameras”.

    Is it even legal? These people aren’t even “in debt to the city”, they owe a private company that in turn owes the city a kickback.

    “”The city may decline, fail or cease to furnish utility service to any person who may be in debt to the city for any reason, except ad valorem taxes and special assessments,” city code Section 28-10 states”.

  25. #25 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Checking my big-ass bottle of sanitizer….isopropanol….damn.

  26. #26 |  el coronado | 

    @#24 –

    Wondering if a governmental entity (especially one in New Mexico)(and Illinois)(& Louisiana)(& Joizey)(etc.) can exercise a power and asking “is that even legal?”….

    I don’t think they’re even trying to hide the fact they frankly, don’t give a damn anymore, my Dear.

  27. #27 |  Matt | 

    Jerryskids: “I really lost a little bit of my soul reading that story before on the woman who stood there and watched animals pawing her baby and didn’t rip their throats out with her bare teeth. Now you know how the Jews could shuffle into the cattle cars when they were ordered to. Something is very wrong that we say we are “outraged” by this story but we do nothing about it.”

    Don’t fly on commercial airlines. Hit ’em in the fiduciary sac.

  28. #28 |  elcid1390 | 

    @ 2:

    It was called Total Recall. And it was awesome.

  29. #29 |  Bill Poser | 

    The fools who drink hand sanitizer to get drunk will find some way no matter what we do, but I am a little surprised that the manufacturers don’t just use isopropanol instead of ethanol. It’s also a good disinfectant (some hand sanitizers do use it) and makes you sick rather than high, yet is not nearly as toxic as methanol.

  30. #30 |  albatross | 


    Easy, you just wear a TSA uniform.

  31. #31 |  Bill Poser | 

    It sounds like some charity should rent a small freighter and send all our coffee cans full of pennies to Zimbabwe.

  32. #32 |  croaker | 

    I have the perfect place to station a TSA Airport Security Screener (TSA-ASS): Hanging from a lamp post in the white zone.

  33. #33 |  croaker | 

    The first thing that will happen is a nationwide ban on hand sanitizer.

  34. #34 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    If you don’t let kids drink hand sanitized, then those stupid kids will grow up to be TSA agents.

  35. #35 |  poop | 

    Regarding tsa and the four year old girl. This is not as bad as it sounds; blogger Bob explained that all protical was followed. He also explained this was necessary because he saw a movie that indicated that it would have been possible for the grandmother to have passed a weapon to the young girl during the interaction. no worries about that one.

  36. #36 |  Max | 

    I will add hand sanitizer to my list of things to panic over but it is already a huge list so don’t know when I will be able to panic over it.

  37. #37 |  M. Zinnen | 

    I don’t know if anyone else read the German “Shitstorm” article beyond the headline, but if so, was anyone else concerned in the slightest about the fact that the German chancellor was asked (by the moderator in a sort of townhall discussion) whether a “driving license” for the internet ought to be taken into consideration? For me, at least, the article could be read as laying out the case for why the government needs to have more control of what is said on the net, by whom, and how it is said.

    Basically, the poor sensitive politicians say something others don’t like (or it is taken out of context), some people go over the top in their responses, a shitstorm ensues, and that’s bad, m’kay. Because now some of these gentle souls (the politicians) might not fully recover from this and be cowed by the virtual egg-throwing crowd.

    To be fair, neither the article or the chancellor comes out and demands more internet control to save democracy, but I don’t like the fact that the “solution” to the perceived problem is that the government should consider licensing internet users.

  38. #38 |  Bad Medicine | 

    From the TSA article on the disabled child:

    “They need to be more sensitive,” he said. “They claim they try, but they’re not.”

    Oh yes, they are. The TSA is, indeed, *very* trying…

  39. #39 |  Sean L. | 

    The next story will be about how teenage girls are dipping their tampons into hand sanitizer.

    They’re not drunk, but they have the cleanest vaginas you’ve ever seen!