You've been to podcamp. You've watched the videos, but you just can't get enough? Want to take it home on your 'pod?
Here are the audio tracks from my Perth Podcamp 2007 videos. Each file is encoded as MP3, 22Khz, 64Kbps. There are often comments and questions from people in the room, so I've made them stereo to help you localise the speaker.
Click on the "+" widget to listen on-line, or use the Download link to save the MP3 files (right-click and "Save Link As..").
My impressions of the day are a little coloured a little by the fact that my attention was split between the sessions, the video camera, and playing dad to Mr5 and Mr9. Podcamp was a bit like Barcamp, with a little less focus on detail and a little more on "big pictures". At times there were up to 4 sessions happening at once, which means that you're bound to miss much of what's going on. Hopefully, the videos here will help fill in some of the gaps. Given the number of contributors it might have been better to spread the sessions over two days. I liked the informal feel, though many of the presentations were pre-prepared which is not strictly "unconference" style. Most of them managed to include the audience in the discussion which is great.
Here are my videos from the day. I've put them on Viddler because it supports long videos and has some nifty tagging and commenting features. Feel free to be social : if you see something fun or interesting just click on the green "+" button and add a comment. That way, if people don't have time to watch the whole thing at least we can check out the highlights. If you see the word "PROGRESSIVE" in the bottom left, click on it to switch to STREAMING mode. You can skip to any point in the movie by clicking in the seek bar, or on a comment point.
Podcasting in/as Education with Tama Leaver and Sue Waters: Exploring the role of podcasting in education, not just the 'record and spread existing content' but also how we can engage students by getting them podcasting, too! Sue likes to walk around, so she's not always on camera.
Its the time of year I've been dreading. Daylight savings in Western Australia starts today. In its wisdom, the state government decided to trial daylight savings from three years. Previously, daylight savings had been resoundingly rejected by the people in a referendum. But obviously, we don't know whats good for us so a little daylight savings therapy will help us make the right decision next time.
Last year daylight savings created all manner of problems for us. In order to manage an increasingly complex schedule with work and family commitments my co-pilot and I have been using iPAQ rx1950 PDAs to maintain appointments for work and home. By syncing with the same PC, its possible to keep the devices more-or-less up to date with each other.
With the introduction of daylight savings we had to put the clock forward one hour at the end of October. You would think that you could just adjust the PC clock by 1 hour. Unfortunately this does not work - it keeps resetting to the "correct" (not) time. OK, well maybe we can just change the timezone to GMT+9. Bzzzt! Wrong again. If you do this all of the appointments in the diary are now wrong by 1 hour. I guess they are stored in some absolute time format, rather than being in local time. Eventually, Microsoft released an operating system update to fix the clock under Windows. But no fix was available for PocketPC, so the calendar on the mobile devices were still out of sync by one hour. Depending on where an appointment was entered it may or may not have the correct time in the Outlook database. Eventually, we had no confidence in the appointment time and resorted to writing the time in the appointment description.
Youtube is the undisputed leader of the video-sharing game with world-wide market share of 66%. Everyone wants a piece of that market, and there are lots of new players entering the business. To attract users they have to offer something different, something compelling.
I was hoping to catch a glimpse of last night's total lunar eclipse, but unfortunately the rain and thick cloud made it pretty much a "no show". For those of us in the Western Australia, the promise was for a "blood moon" rising. Rising moons are often red due to differential scattering of light in the atmosphere, but with the eclipse we were expecting a "copper" moon. This great photo was taken on the night in Newcastle. The kids and I did manage to catch a couple of fleeting glimpses through the clouds so it wasn't a complete disappointment.
I was interested to hear a recent talk by Johnaton Nally about the eclipse. Johnathon relates the story of Christopher Columbus who, while stranded in Jamaica, used foreknowledge of a coming eclipse to his advantage. The natives initially helped Columbus and his crew, but they eventually tired of the treatment they received from the sailors and stopped supplying them with food. Columbus announced the the Almighty was unhappy and would show his displeasure by making the moon disappear. Of course, when the moon actually did disappear the natives were terrified and quickly changed their tune.
Whether or not this is true, its an interesting story and one that is repeated in other places in literature. In Mark Twain's 1889 novel "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court", Hank Morgan is sentenced to death by King Arthur's court but manages to save himself by predicting the coming eclipse at the precise moment he is about to be burnt at the stake. Fortunately, the events at the court coincided exactly with the historical solar eclipse of AD 528:
the monk raised his hands above my head, and his eyes toward the blue sky, and began some words in Latin; in this attitude he droned on and on, a little while, and then stopped. I waited two or three moments; then looked up; he was standing there petrified. With a common impulse the multitude rose slowly up and stared into the sky. I followed their eyes, as sure as guns, there was my eclipse beginning!
The life went boiling through my veins; I was a new man! The rim of black spread slowly into the sun's disk, my heart beat higher and higher, and still the assemblage and the priest stared into the sky, motionless. I knew that this gaze would be turned upon me, next. When it was, l was ready. I was in one of the most grand attitudes I ever struck, with my arm stretched up pointing to the sun. It was a noble effect.
A remarkably similar storyline is found in Herge's "Prisoners of the Sun". Tintin and Captain Haddock are captured by an "Inca" cult and sentenced to death for trespassing in a sacred temple. Fortunately, they are allowed to choose the time of their death. Even more fortunately, Tintin discovers a scrap of newspaper which reports on an upcoming expedition to study a solar eclipse. So in the end they manage to escape in the classic style as the eclipse saves the day.
Herge (1949), "Prisoners of the Sun", Mammoth Edition (2002) p58.
Last week saw the 25th anniversary the compact disc. The first commercially released CD was made by Philips on August 17, 1982.
That disc was "The Visitors", the eighth and final studio album of Swedish pop group ABBA. Probably the best known of the included tracks are "One Of Us", and (appropriately) "When All Is Said And Done", which was the lead single. Later ABBA recorded a number of singles which were included in a reissue of the album in 2001. These included the epic "The Day Before You Came", complete with a day of triviality and a majestic classical synth-orchestral chorus.
While 1982 saw the first commercially released disc, CDs had been under development for several years. Philips started researching digital audio laser discs in 1977. Then in 1979 Philips and Sony joined forces, each contributing innovations that became part of the "Red Book" compact disc standard. The manufacturing process was based on the LaserDisc (remember those big guys?) which Philips developed in 1969, and publically demonstrated in 1972.
Now a confession: I bought my first CD player in 2002, which I guess means I missed about 20 years of CD opportunity. I still have stacks of cassettes from those "lost years", but have never really been a big music collector. I've bought a dozen or so tracks from iTunes, but must admit that I was not impressed with the quality of the sound. To my ear AAC at 128Kbps sounds noticably distorted, particularly at the top end of the spectrum (eg. sibilant lyrics, and percussive sounds like cymbals). Perhaps when someone comes up with a DRM-free MP3s at a reasonable bit-rate I'll give it another go, but for the moment its back to the good old CD.
"The Silence" is a new orchestral work by Iain Grandage : a narrated story with libretto by Humphrey Bower. Its designed specifically as an introduction to the orchestra for children in upper primary / lower secondary school.
The story tells of a boy who wakes up to find that he is the only person left in the world. The theme obviously allows for the exploration of a range of emotions and situations.
I was immediately reminded of two things. The first was Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf", the classic childrens orchestral story that I remember from my own childhood. The second was "The Quiet Earth", a strange and beautiful film in which a man wakes up to find himself alone in the world. Its a powerful theme, and makes us question how much our own identity depends on those around us.
Heard recently on Into the Music. The audio may be there for a few weeks. Its great to hear some of the kids reactions to the piece. I hope we see this performed in Perth soon.
Perth's first Webjam is just over and I'm already looking forward to the next one. Last night, 15 presenters and an audience of around 100 gathered at the Velvet Lounge, Mt Lawley for a fast-paced evening of geek fun.
Webjam gives each presenter 3 minutes to strut their stuff. The audience votes on their favourite presentations via SMS, and there are prizes awarded at the end of the night for the winners. Meanwhile, everyone enjoys the camaraderie, the drinks, and the chance to network. Webjam is hosted by Lachlan Hardy, ably supported by Lisa Herrod and Tim Lucas, all from Sydney.
First prize on the night went to Richard and Simon from Scouta for a dazzling visualisation of Scouta's social network. Second prize went to Nick Cowie's blistering "sledgefest" on web-sites that don't work on mobile web browsers. Third prize went to Gary Barber's "Web 3.0" redesign of his own web site.
Unfortunately, the lighting is not good, and I didn't have the opportunity to pan the camera so the display on the screen is often "washed out" with the extreme contrast. However, it does capture the spirit of the presentations and some of the vibe of the night. Apologies to those presenters who I've omitted. Some of the presentations were not very clear on video, especially those with bright backgrounds on the slides.
The cassette tape is rapidly becoming a "vintage" audio technology, but some of us who have a reasonable amount of material in this format. And part of my collection is a box of damaged and disembowelled cassettes waiting to be repaired. For at least a few of these patients, the wait is over. Continue reading ‘Cassette Surgery’ »
Autostitch uses a key-point detector known as SIFT (Scale Invariant Feature Transform) to locate interesting features in images. By finding the correspondence between key-points in different images, Autostitch can tell how the images are arranged with respect to each other, allowing them to be rendered into a seamless panorama. Scale invariance means that the features still look the same under scaling (rotation, translation, zoom, etc) which makes them robust to typical camera motion.
Click on the following images for a detailed version:
Autostitch is clever, but its also fun! After playing with it a bit I got thinking. If you can build a panorama automatically, then you can "embed" any image taken from the same position into the panorama. This could be quite interesting as a creative tool, but also has applications in tools like media browsers where the relationships between images could be useful for organising and navigating media.
Check these posts for some ideas about how to use this: