Sunday, May 27, 2007
I decided to move my blog so I could take advantage of the new Blogger customizable templates and web objects. It also gives me the freedom to link to products or books I would like to recommend without getting in trouble from the university's legal department.
Monday, May 21, 2007
In preparation for my trip to
Not to be derailed from my goal, I went down the list of vendors to the third lowest vendor, http://www.stop4camera.com/, who offered the camera for $248. Once more I called them and explained that I wanted just the camera. I also noticed background noise that sounded like the person answering the phone was at home. I asked about it and the “salesman” said some guys behind him were just talking. He claimed he could sell me just the camera – no problem – but he would need to call me back in ten minutes - ???? Of course, no call back ever came.
All of these vendors are listed through a web portal, http://www.lowpricedigital.com/ prominently advertised as a sponsored link at the top of the Google results page. This afternoon, I see that both The Digital Nerds and Wisetronics have upped their price for the Panasonic to $299 (A price available from Amazon and just about everybody else.) Now the third dealer on the list, http://www.digitalsuperdeals.com/, is offering the camera for $229 (and the auxiliary high-capacity battery is offered for $149.99! This web portal and all of its so-called merchant links appears to be a huge scam operation attempting to lure people in with low camera prices so they can fleece them for exorbitantly priced accessories.
Finally, I noticed a Google sidebar sponsored link for B&H Professional Photography Supply had the camera listed for $269. Their spare batteries were only $27 and I got a couple of 2 Gb SD Memory Cards for only $26 each. Their shipping was only $6.95 (Everyone else was quoting from $15 - $20 for 5- 7 day shipping) I requested 3 – 5 day shipping for only $5 more. They were thoroughly professional and even spent quite a bit of time answering my questions about shooting in raw format, Panasonic vs. Canon, Super Zoom vs. DSLR, noise reduction strategies, etc. I got great service and still a good buy without getting taken to the cleaners for the extras.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I was doing some research on an image of a "killed" Greek helmet that I photographed at the Walters Art Museum several years ago and came across this article about a relatively new non-destructive technique for analyzing artifacts to see if they are a true antiquity or have been "tampered with".
"Neutron diffraction, an established diagnostic tool for materials analysis and non-destructive testing of engineering components, can also be used to characterise archaeological artefacts and museum objects. The phase and microstructural information obtained – without damaging an object of value – can help answer questions of authenticity, as recent investigations of 16th-century silver/copper coins and an obviously repaired 7th-century BC Greek bronze helmet show.
Neutron diffraction is a rather new diagnostic tool for studying archaeological materials. Neutrons easily penetrate through thick coatings or corrosion layers and provide information from the bulk rather than from surface areas; sampling techniques such as coring or even powdering for analysis some portion of a museum object can therefore be avoided. The large neutron beams generally used illuminate a considerable volume portion of the object and, as a result, average and representative structural information is obtained – the problems associated with the si0ngle-spot analysis of many conventional archaeometric techniques are therefore avoided. Neutron diffraction provides information on the mineral and metal phase compositions or corrosion products in objects, on the crystal structures of the constituent phases and on the microstructures. In the material sciences it is widely used for volume
texture analysis, i.e. determination of the orientations of the crystallites in polycrystalline material. Many
processes such as primary crystallisation or plastic deformations impose a characteristic texture on the
material which means that, for example, details of the production method may be imprinted in the
microstructure. Mapping grain orientation distributions – a technique called texture analysis –
reveals the creation and deformation history of an object. The crystallite distribution can be displayed
via ‘pole figures’, 2D projections of the spatial orientation distribution function that are obtained by
recording diffraction patterns for a multitude of sample orientations. The structure and texture
information can therefore provide clues on the type of material and the manufacturing techniques used
by the ancient craftsmen. " - Genuine or fake? Neutron diffraction for non-destructive testing of museum objects , Isis 2003 Science Highlights.
As for the helmet they analyzed, they discovered the nose piece had been replaced and, like the helmet I photographed at the Walters, had been ritually "killed".
"It was the custom for victorious Greek cities to dedicate tropaia, ‘trophies’ of armour from the defeated, in the sanctuary of one of the gods. When the trophy collapsed from age or when the sanctuary became too full the armour was buried, but first it was ‘killed’ as part of the process of offering it to the gods: the cheekpieces were bent
back and the noseguard turned up to render the helmet useless in this world. The finder of the helmet – probably in the 19th century and in order to sell it – straightened out the cheekpieces, which cracked at the edges and left a clear fold-line running across each of them. It is also clear that the noseguard had come off altogether, probably during
similar cosmetic straightening by the finder, for there is a clear overlapping join at the bridge of the nose."
I wonder if the Romans had any special rituals for disposing of war trophies?
Monday, May 14, 2007
"ABC and the four other big broadcast networks are working on methods to hold the attention of TV viewers throughout the commercial breaks that interrupt the shows they want to see.
That is becoming increasingly important for two reasons. One is that more viewers are watching shows delayed rather than live, using TiVo and other DVRs. Research indicates those viewers are more likely to fast-forward through spots than those who watch live TV.
The other reason the networks need viewers to keep watching ads is that Nielsen Media Research, the ratings arbiter, intends soon to begin measuring viewership of commercials as well as programs.
One way that many networks hope to engage viewers during commercial breaks is by wedging original content into the blocks of advertising time, so that viewers will anticipate seeing something fun if they sit through a few ads.
Fox Broadcasting, for instance, tried out a series of clips for two weeks last month about an animated character named Oleg, a New York cab driver, who popped up in eight-second vignettes during commercial breaks in series like “24.” CW has been running “content wraps,” which mix sponsor products into program snippets.
Some experiments involve the cast of the shows in which the commercials appear, serving as hosts for the breaks. That is a throwback to an era when “cast commercials” proliferated with the stars of series like “I Love Lucy,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” and even “The Flintstones.”
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Kevin Rivoli for the Xerox Corporation
To the human eye, that flower in the photo is reddish orange, that sky is light blue, that sun shines brilliant yellow.
But when software tells a printer to reproduce that image, it uses a long, unwieldy set of numbers and letters to describe those colors — and a totally different set of characters to describe shades that are a tad lighter, or a bit darker, or a whole lot brighter. The upshot is that most laymen would have to attend the computer equivalent of Berlitz to learn how to get the shades they want.
But if Xerox has its way, that will not be true much longer. This week the company introduced the software equivalent of a translator that can turn plain color speech into fluent computerese. Type the command, “Make the sun a brighter yellow,” and the printer will read, “Go with color CIELAB[88, -3, 64].”
“You shouldn’t have to be a color expert to make the sky a deeper blue or add a bit of yellow to a sunset,” said Geoffrey Woolfe, a principal scientist in the Xerox Innovation Group, who is based in Webster, N.Y., near Rochester. “So we’re providing that middle layer that turns plain speech into mathematical code.”
Color experts are already impressed. “They’ve taken common words and modifiers and transformed them into mathematical directions,” said Roy S. Berns, a professor of color science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, which has just inaugurated a doctoral program in color science.
There are still problems to be ironed out, of course. For now, the software does not differentiate between colors in different parts of an image — in other words, it can tell the printer to make all the blues darker, but it cannot yet tell it to darken the sky but lighten the ocean and leave the blue dress alone. And it is still working on a lexicon of languages — after all, a “brighter” color to one person is a “crisper” color to another and a “sharper” color to a third.
“To understand what someone means when he says the pinks need to be brighter, the software must know what pink means and what brighter means.” Professor Berns said. “And there are individual, cultural and regional differences in the way people use those words.”Mr. Woolfe readily acknowledges the problems, and he concedes that the product is a couple of years away from commercialization. He envisions the final version as having the capability to learn. Say particular users keep typing, “no, darker” when they ask for chartreuse. “The machine will respond with a color chart that shows what it views as chartreuse, and then will let the user show what he means by the word,” Mr. Woolfe said. If it turns out the user thinks chartreuse is forest green, the software will act accordingly from then on..."