Find, Replace, Mark/Highlight – have a friend, Swap!

I am writing code for (yet another) control structure in Tcl. I realize that Find/Replace/Mark in notepad++ isn’t enough.

When you are writing test cases, you vary one parameter at a time. That means a set of tests modify parameter ‘a’. Yet very similar tests modify parameter ‘b’. All we need is to swap string for ‘a’ with string for ‘b’ in scripting.

I know swap is nothing but three replacements a->c, b->a, c->b. However, swap has very crisp and clear definition and machines do that much better than three cycles of replacements initiated by a human being.

Just like in replacement, the destination string can’t be a regular expression, ignoring cases may not make sense etc. Because swap is nothing but replacement both ways, both the fields have to ignore such modifiers.

Ah! Only if I could change code editors and word processors of the world!

Why will Ostendo’s holographic display on mobiles fail?

I am generally a tech-enthusiast. It is rare to find me criticizing a technology so early in the hype cycle.

However, Ostendo’s new technology of holographic display on mobiles is heading towards failure in my view.

The reasons are fairly clear.

  • Content availability in 3D has always been a spoiler. Something as expensive as a 3D viewer doesn’t have World Cup Football (Soccer) being streamed? Not worth it!
  • Counter argument to content availability is starting with socials and chats and *generating* content. The trouble will be, how would the cameras be placed geometrically during chatting? Avatars may work but novelty will soon fizzle out. Mobility isn’t about setting up speakers and home-theater. How do you think setting up 3D, heck, Holographic 3D cameras would suite a casual chat setup? Just look at poor selfies! Getting decent angles in selfies has been a problem
  • Alone 3D projection isn’t going to be enough. It has to accompany camera on the other side and protocols in-between. There are too many players in these three spaces. Too many cooks have spoiled the broth too many times
  • Last, but not the least, it appears that the projection is likely to be perpendicular to the display. That means, if I could see what is being projected, so would the person sitting next to me. That kills privacy

What do you say?

Can the camera revolution check corruption in India?

Until recently cameras were toys of the rich. Along with many other industries like wrist watches, cell phones changed camera industry also.

Recently India was awash with scams. People were in the street protesting against corruption.

I realized that everyone has a phone – and a camera. Why can’t such a formidable presence of evidence-catching machines be turned against the corrupt?

Finally a corrupt person is going to spend all that cash somewhere. Why can’t the mass turn into paparazzi and catch every possible movement of someone on the black list?

Later, the pictures may be circulated by some means – from MMS to Facebook or Tumblr. Such images can be used to estimate the person’s (or his familiy’s) spending habits and can be questioned for consumption disproportionate to the income.

Laptops, tablets and cell phones – a crucial feature is missing

I know that YouTube has turned into almost a university, paralleled only by Wikipedia. I am a Wikipedia rat. However, I am a VERY reluctant user of YouTube. Why?

Because YouTube involves sound. Unlike vision, sound can’t be restricted with default Laptop interface. One needs headphones to keep nicety and privacy.

Carrying around headphones is a pain. Big headphones can’t fit into a pocket. Small ones get torn off or jumbled. Bluetooth ones are quite expensive. It is quite a hassle carrying them. And it is so easy to displace them! They aren’t simply there when you need them!

There is a simple solution!

Just provide headphone fixing slot in the case of laptops and tablets – and cell phones! Because there is a handy, logical, neat, stylish place to keep small headphones, they will REMAIN there.

The other way to see the idea is:

Display : Head phones = Projectors : Loudspeakers (= Keyboard+Mouse: Microphones)

I bet with this simple change, audio interface itself will see huge surge in popularity.

Audio zoom – step 2

As I posted earlier, audio zoom is pretty intriguing.

However, I wasn’t sure how it could be practical. Come on, having fixed 300 microphones in a stadium? Is it practical?

Then, I think we can have a crude but practical “spy gadget” that can audio zoom by using three cell phones – P1, P2 and P3.

All the three can record all the sounds. Say signals S1, S2 and S3.

Now, say the target T of spying is at (approximate) distances R1, R2 and R3 respectively from P1, P2 and P3.

That means if we scale S1, S2 and S3 by distances R1, R2 and R3 and find the common part, that is like eliminating sound emerging from T.

Then take remaining signals and subtract them again from S1, S2 and S3, all remaining is scaled sound from T as heard by P1, P2 and P3. Reconstructing T from these should be easy.

The idea is quite like stereo recording – with noise cancellation. In some sense, it is triangulation inverse to GPS (3 received signals being triangulated to recreate the source).

I don’t know (rather, have forgotten) necessary DSP math for this. I am sure it must be much easier for those in close touch of the math.

I am not sure whether P1, P2 and P3 need to know their relative positions. If it is needed, RFID based sensing can be added. Robotics has enough research to detect geometry.

***

Where is this useful? Spying and journalism!

Imagine a VIP or a celebrity is traveling in a Rajdhani Express or an airplane. Three journalists (or paparazzi) may travel in adjacent compartments with the software loaded. They just need to add approximate relative distance to the target. Bingo!

***

What can be achieved next?

Adding fourth microphone will make it a 3D capture.

When the paparazzi or the target walks around, we should be able to sense the distance traveled and dynamically calculating the signal. This could be achieved by taking Doppler shift in to account.

I am not sure whether it is possible to link deduction of distance with camera focus.  If it is, it is one of the most natural interfaces to Audio Zoom possible!

… and suddenly no talk will be “between you and me only”!

A camera to see around the corner

This man, Ramesh Raskar, is a camera genius, I think. He was also involved with that “very fast laser pulse through a coke bottle” experiment.

Now we are getting a camera from his team. This camera can kind of see around the corner – by interpreting reflections on a common wall.

Genius!