High Profile Application of Seam Carving

I was half tempted to skip over Adrianne Jeffries story at ReadWriteWeb about Google’s new algorithm for hopefully better handling scaling between the wider range of screen sizes that have become prevalent with the rise of popularity in mobile computing. That is until I realized that the technique in question is one I read about some time ago, seam carving.

The technique was originally developed at Georgia Tech and the fact it is being explored by Google is a pretty compelling endorsement of its capabilities. In short, it takes into account the content of the images, or in this case video frames, to push the sort of degradation incurred by re-sizing into the areas where the viewer is less interested.

“Think of salient content as actors, faces, or structured objects, where the viewer anticipates specific, important details to perceive it as being correct and unaltered. We cannot change this content beyond uniform scaling without it being noticeable. On the other hand, non-salient content, such as sky, water or a blurry out-of-focus background can be squished or stretched without changing the overall appearance or the viewer noticing a dramatic change,” Google researchers said.

There is a video demonstrating Google’s application of the algorithm to some video samples. In the cases where the re-targeted video is pushed harder, going from widescreen to standard, it is still pretty easy to spot defects. However, given how obtrusive blackbars are when changing aspect ratios, it may be an acceptable trade off to any number of viewers. The video also includes some illustrates of how the technique is applied, especially to video, so serves as a decent update to the original story.

Note that Google is still only experimenting. There is no schedule for integrating any of this work into YouTube though the eventual possibilities are tantalizing.

Google Research Carves Space-Time to Optimize Video for Any Size Screen, ReadWriteWeb

feeds | grep links > Faster JavaScript for Firefox 4, Details of Google’s New Search Index, Leaked EU Surveillance Plan, and More

feeds | grep links > Digital Census in Brazil, Ads that Stalk Surfers, Cyanogen Supports FroYo, and More

feeds | grep links > Still More on P and NP, Google Responds to Oracle’s Java Suit, Touch is Coming to Ubuntu, and More

  • Eight signs a claimed P != NP proof is wrong
  • P vs. NP for dummies
    I don’t always follow Scott Aaronson’s explanations of quantum computation and classical mathematics and computer science but not for want of clarity and accessibility in his posts. If you’ve been swimming in deep water following the proposed P != NP proof, his lay explanation of the underlying concepts and problem are required reading.
  • World’s first voice call with a free GSM stack
    The project in question, OsmocomBB, not surprisingly has been targeting the now defunct OpenMoko phone as well as a limited number of Motorola phones. Slashdot links to a mailing list message marking this critical milestone. The cellularl modems have been a pretty consistent holdout even for phones, like those under the OpenMoko project, designed to be as open as possible.
  • Google responds to Oracle’s Java lawsuit
    As the H describes it, there isn’t much to their comments other than accusing the claims of being baseless and promising to “strongly defend open-source standards”. The H quotes some of the other responses to the suit from around the web, including James Gosling, one of Java’s inventors, and outspoken software patent critic, Florian Mueller.
  • Google chief suggests future norms may include name change privilege on reach adulthood
  • Linux distribution Debian turns 17
  • Next Ubuntu to include software stack for touch, gesture interfaces
  • Tab Candy to become standard feature in Firefox
    I had already just assumed this would be the case, but Wired’s WebMonkey confirms it. Chris Blizzard tweeted just the other day that both Tab Candy and Sync, formerly an extension but already on the road map for conversion to a proper feature, had landed in the nightly builds. We may see both show up as soon as the next beta. I intentionally don’t use a lot of tabs in Firefox, I think having a lot open is a symptom of poor focus. I may have to re-think that view after some time with this new way to organize tabs, even saving groups of them for later work or switching between groups to pursue different tasks.

feeds | grep links > Stop the Mathness, Efficient Spintronics, New Book on Net Policy and Innovation, and More

Still recovering from jet lag and flight + commute from hell this morning. At least the post is back to my usual window for blogging. Hopefully my batteries will be recharged enough tomorrow to drag forth some useful commentary along with the days links.

Oh, and the sky just turned ominous as I prepare to post this.  Making use of the electromo juice while it holds out in the face of nature’s unremitting hatred of our electrical grid.

feeds | grep links > More on P != NP Proof, Firefox 4 Beta 3 Released, and More

I didn’t think I’d get Wednesday’s post up until a proper hour in the AM. Cruising at just above 35,000 feet, I guessing technically I am still just a wee bit past midnight being somewhere over Nevada. I’ve already reset all my computing devices to my home time zone, however, and shifted to thinking about how the horrid two hour delay is going to make my drive home from the air port a nightmare. I am scheduled to land smack dab in the middle of rush hour.

I am not predicting a very productive Thursday as in order to get any rest before working from home I’ll have to abbreviate my work day considerably, just to essential tasks. I’m glad to get this taken care of before succumbing to exhaustion and jet lag, sleeping away the rest of the flight home.

Charles Thacker Wins the Turing Award

Named for one of the greatest early contributors to computer science, Alan Turing, the Turing Award is often considered the Nobel Prize for computer science. Past winners truly represent some of the most brilliant thinkers in the field–Barbara Liskov, Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, Alan Kay, Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adelman just to name a few I recognize from the most recent handful of years.

This year’s winner is no less than George Thacker whose work in particular on the Alto at Xerox PARC had a profound impact on the personal computer even as we see and use them today. The New York Times Bits blog has an excellent summary of Thacker’s career and solicits some of his thoughts on the history of the personal computer and its possible future.

Congratulations, Mr. Thacker!