September 2000

1 Sep 2000[link to here]

Not long ago, I carelessly went out without wearing my tinfoil cap and I started drinking tea. Paul just brought me some tea, and delivered it with the proud announcement that he "even got [me] milk without any little floaty bits". Bonus!

3 Sep 2000[link to here]

In the SJ Mercury News:

The Internet gives musicians around the world an easily accessible stage, but it's hard to grab the spotlight when there are so many bands competing for attention. ``Ultimately you have a glut, you have white noise,'' [Marc] Geiger [chairman and CEO of ArtistDirect] said. ``It's all about marketing.''

Is community building marketing? Some companies use marketing to try to build a sense of community around their product, without bothering to build the community itself. Phil Greenspun encourages companies to foster communities around themselves by providing ways for to interact online, and some do. That's a good start, but the companies still rely on explicit marketing to draw people together in the first place. We should be trying to design large scale community systems that span across suppliers.

Some people are working on it. HOMR/Ringo/Firefly and Move Critic were all crude early attempts at collaborative filtering. Epinions is both more useful and less sophisticated because of its reliance on text content, but I never use it. I'm not sure why. I don't write for it because their ontology is awful; both times I wanted to post opinions, there was no place to put them. Also, last I looked, their interaction support was weak, which is a great way to cripple a community. Expect more from me on this in several weeks when I have more time to write things that aren't my dissertation.

6 Sep 2000[link to here]

There are lots of things I wish I had time to write about, but I'm working hard to finish my dissertation. This Herculean effort doesn't keep me from reading The Onion though, and I'd be remiss if I didn't point out their fine reporting of the physical laws that help create this site (and everything else): Christian Right Lobbies To Overturn Second Law Of Thermodynamics.

7 Sep 2000[link to here]

In statistics, they use a little ^ symbol over a variable to indicate that it's just an estimate, not the true value. Language people call the symbol a circumflex (because of the bendy inflection it describes), but statisticians call it a hat. (And people say statisticians are no fun!) I like the thought of all those stylish variables running around with hats. My friend Fred wears hats all the time. Is he only an estimate of the true Fred?

9 Sep 2000[link to here]

Song lyrics of the day:

I know what I'm missin'
It's not just your kissin'
No, it's much more than that
I still want to see you
I still want to see you
I still want to see you

The Exboyfriends - I Still Want To See You

According to the calendar, I'm almost done with my dissertation. Like most of my mates here, I've been listening to a lot of music while working. Music is a good distraction and source of energy for each of us, but I get an added boost from it since everything I listen to is directly related to my research just by virtue of being music. I enjoy working on something that's such an intimate and important part of my life, and it's good to be reminded of how much I care about what I'm doing.

The big challenge will be to put it aside for a while when I finish. I haven't ordered pizza with anyone in a year, but I won't be able (or willing) to walk away from music for that long. That's the price of only working on things that are relevant. They don't stop being relevant when you're tired.

11 Sep 2000[link to here]

It's done. Must sleep.

15 Sep 2000[link to here]

Gone Jugglin'.

24 Sep 2000[link to here]

It's time for some animal photos.

26 Sep 2000[link to here]

No matter how much you think you know, there are always surprises. The wonderful thing about living somewhere different from where you grew up is that just about everyone around you will know simple things you don't. Although some things will come up quickly, it takes time and circumstances to stumble across some gems. Because I grew up in a quaint and backward country, I hadn't yet discovered the beauty of the ISO standard paper sizes.

29 Sep 2000[link to here]

I haven't had a chance to look at the demonstrations, but the description of Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab's voice puppets is promising:

The voice puppet allows you to animate any face using just your voice. It uses expressive information in a voice-track to control the entire face, from lips to eyebrows. [..] The animated face can be a 2D cartoon, a 3D model, or even a photo.

This is two things: extracting expression from speech, and representing expression through face animation. The voice puppet application is great, but the input and output components could each be plugged into different things for additional fun and utility. There's been lots of work on extracting expression from people's faces and posture, and even some wackier work like StartleQuake.

In StartleQuake, when a player becomes startled, his or her avatar also becomes startled and jumps back.

For most VR applications, I'd rather use my face than my voice to control an avatar's face, but voice puppetry would be useful when my face wasn't available. If I don't have a camera, or if my face is busy or otherwise invisible, and the person I'm talking to can't hear me (or doesn't understand the language I'm speaking), a machine or person could convert my speech to text (and translate), and the voice puppetry system could display emotive content of my speech that the text didn't capture.

The reverse would also be nice. Someone could type text while a camera watched their expressions, encoded them along with the text stream, and a speech synthesizer on the other end could be guided by the expression clues. This probably wouldn't work as well, since our expressions as we type are probably less useful than the ones we wear when we speak, but it'd be fun to try.

I meant to just jot down the URL and a quote and say "no time to comment", but it's so easy to get caught up in fun things like this.

On a completely unrelated note, I saw Puppetry of the Penis a while back. It was good. Don't try it at home; they are experienced professionals.