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raindropper

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Category Archives: Web

Underestimated

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When we consider the world around us, with all its images, sounds and concepts, traditional programming languages seem terribly limited. Look around you, and see how far from reality manipulating information like this is:

a = a + 1;

if (a > 23) then a = 0;

Of course, the programming languages reflect the architecture of the machine they are executed on.

What I’m looking is for a way of programming which enables systems have characteristics like these:

– Creativity. Show the system a chair and a human being sitting on it. The system generates and presents thousands of alternative versions of a chair. All in 3D, of course. Real world is 3D so no reason to aim any lower than that.

– Curiosity. The system wants to learn more.

– Photographic memory. WYSIWYP, what you see is what you process. Visual information provided to the system stays in its memory and it can manipulate it at will.

– Shades of gray. Things are not only black or white, true or false, 1 or 0, they can be something in between.

Actually, this seems not to be so about programming languages. This is about artificial intelligence.

[ to be continued & revised ]

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, Wolfram|Alpha – the computational knowledge engine – is up and running. Granted, I’ve seen three different versions of “site is currently under heavy load”. Do remember that there’s a large amount of on the fly computation and algorithm crunching behind each result. 

These are the queries I tested it with:

Where are you? gives a good result.

Where am I? gives the correct answer.

Who am I? gives the same answer.

sin(n/10) * 100 draws a nice chart.

What are you doing? is the first computed tweet. 🙂

What time is it? surprisingly gives nothing.

green, redminimum result.

BMW presents stock information.

Weather in Lahti Wow!

Weather in Lahti June 2003 Double-Wow!

Neuron is not that interesting for Wolfram to have knowledge about.

Are you OK? opens a “Human Discourse” functionality which is under development. What will it be?

All in all, Wolfram|Alpha provides an interesting approach and implementation. It’s certainly one to follow and use.

However, I do get “everything is a number or a taxonomy” feel from the data it contains. It mostly answers with numbers; even Madonna boils down to a straight line between two dates.

So, Wolfram|Alpha is the engine Douglas Adams wrote about

Google left, Wolfram|Alpha right.

Google left, Wolfram|Alpha right.

I do not know why, but the system creates an impression of an autistic Rain Man recalling phone book numbers and curated minutia with precision. Whereas Google is the outgoing guy with all the fun; its bots gathering data from the web carelessly, and giving noisy, vague answers at times.

Those who follow have noticed daily changes on The Book of W. I took the final step and overhauled the navigation on that tumblr based site.

The site is now a good mixture of a blog and a book. The starting page displays recent updates like in a blog, and navigation at the top opens pages like in a book.

Main thing was to add page tags to each post. Now I can control which blog post belongs to which book page. In a way, this is a misuse of tags but…

With tags, users can link and refer to a certain page easily and intuitively, like in a book. As you probably know, blog pages are something one can not link to because they change dynamically.

I removed timestamp of the posts: books don’t have dates under their chapter titles. I like to think the contents are not glued to a certain time period, they are valid also in years to come.

Some things to prepare for are:

  • Sooner or later, as the page count increases, I will notice that the page numbering at the top will need some changes.
  • The cover page contains a water related photo from Flickr;  for some reason it doesn’t load 100% of the time and displays only some white space. Then it doesn’t look that good. Anyway, it’s great to have a dynamic cover page. Although, sometimes, the photo is not that close to the subject matter.
  • One of the worries is that users find themselves lost caused by the duplicate page concept: there are book page numbers and blog page numbers. This is something that needs to be addressed.

I’m pretty satisfied with the end result. Next task is to fill the blog book with top content.

At our Deomo booth on OLO.MUOTO trade fair here in Finland – I took several pictures with the Canon Ixus 950 camera, and photosynthed them:

http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=29a44f5f-e48b-488a-8cf0-c87aee0491b6&i=0:2:0&z=467.0787043003208&g=2&p=-2.50427e-014:6.92928e-014&m=false&c=-0.664613:-0.656377:-0.145462&d=-1.56066:1.1653:0.877044

Deomo, modern furniture

Do remember to set the Photosynth viewer to full-screen mode (icon on the bottom right), it’s much better that way.

Regarding the Photosynth tech, I learned the lesson that one needs to change the camera angle and position only a slight amount between pictures. Otherwise, the end result is too jumpy as the Photosynth algorithm leaves too many images without context.

And yes, I’m bloody proud of the booth we did with my wife, Nina. 🙂

As you have probably noticed, I’ve partially moved my act to thebookofw.tumblr.com.

On that site, I’ll create an experience which takes all the good parts of books and blogging. Furthermore, the site should be readable with mobile devices also.

One of the simple, minor, mundane things that bug me is how the pages are numbered. In blogs, the most recent page is the page number 1, by default. In books, page number 1 is the beginning. In my view, the best solution would be to number the oldest (i.e. first) blog post with the page number 1, and increase from there on. I haven’t yet found a way to accomplish this feature with Tumblr technology without relatively heavy scripting, or manual tagging (using tags like “page1”, “page2”). Yeah, I could code it using Tumblr API, but we’ll see.

Anyway, The Book of W is an interesting experiment. You wouldn’t believe how much, how long, how dearly I kept the contents and the subject hidden. Only my wife knew something about the unpublished, unprinted, unagented book. My face blushed and hands started to shake on those rare moments when the discussion reared it. And now, I’m on the other extreme as I publish the chapters to the web for you all to read.

When I was younger, I hided all my creative works (music, writings, …) from others. The rationale – if you can call it that – was that the works felt too personal, they gave out too much of me and made me vulnerable. Now I’ve learned that life’s too short for that. So, if you have something to present, just pour it out. Thanks for the web, it’s easy, fast, inexpensive and leads to an uncharted territory…

It’s quite natural for a guy nicknamed raindropper to create a book covering all aspects of water, don’t you think?

So, point your browser to The Book of W and start exploring. There will chapters and postings about science, business, arts, cultures and religions – all of course water-related.

The Book of W

It looks like a mish-mash of blog postings and book chapters. But there’s a simple, common theme underlining all of those – and it’s clear as water. 😉