Thursday, August 30, 2012

Scanning Your Home With Kinect Could Improve 3-D Robot Vision

Scanning Your Home With Kinect Could Improve 3-D Robot Vision: Seeking a way to crowdsource better computer vision, roboticists have launched Kinect@Home, a website that allows users to record pieces of their environments in 3-D with a Kinect camera. Should the project catch on, researchers may be on the cusp of an unprecedented way to amass 3-D data to improve navigation and object-recognition algorithms that allow robots to cruise and manipulate indoor environments.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Another Step Closer to Star Trek Replicators

Another Step Closer to Star Trek Replicators:

The Imagine 3D Printer by Essential Dynamics is inching us ever closer to 3D printing as a commercial option for regular households. And this one can print food.
In fact, it can print just about anything. From the site itself:
If you can bring it to a soft form first (using a household blender), you can print with it. The sky is the limit.
Starting to sound like we’re getting closer to Replicators!
Apparently, since this printer uses syringes instead of the regular hot plastic extrusion pieces found on other 3D printers, it can print things at room temperature – such as food! According to an interview with Stevie Green, Essential Dynamics Sales Manager, over at Fabbaloo they’ve tested the printer with chicken, fish, turkey, beef and pork, blending it and then shoving it in the cartridge.
This could mean some very extravagantly designed fine-dining options for chefs, but it also means intricate work can be performed on cakes and other sweet delicacies. Truly edible art is a real possibility with this.
Here’s a video “demonstrating” it, but exactly what it’s making…I have no idea.

The product boasts the “largest build tray in the industry” at 9″ by 9″, is designed to be lightweight and portable and, most importantly, affordable – it only costs $1,995, which is actually more reasonable than I thought it would be. Seems pretty cool, anyone tried one out by any chance?
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17 Of Our Favorite Breakfast Sandwiches in NYC

17 Of Our Favorite Breakfast Sandwiches in NYC:
From Serious Eats: New York


VIEW SLIDESHOW: 17 Of Our Favorite Breakfast Sandwiches in NYC

What is it about breakfast sandwiches? They're always just what you wanted, and they're so much better than just plain breakfast. Whether they feature melted cheese or a runny yolk, they're almost always oozing with warm and gooey yellow deliciousness, all caught in the crumb of two pieces of bread, biscuits, English muffins, and other starchy cradles. In our continued celebration of National Sandwich Month, here are 17 of our favorite breakfast sandwiches, each so good you'll be looking forward to your alarm going off in the morning.

Will Oculus Rift Be Next iPhone-Like Revolution?

Will Oculus Rift Be Next iPhone-Like Revolution?: Will Oculus Rift Be Next iPhone-Like Revolution?Valve talks about what needs to be done to jump-start virtual reality like the iPhone did with the smartphone sector.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Apps Are Not Coffee

Apps Are Not Coffee: Jameson Ahern points us to a fantastic discussion by Josh Lehman, explaining why it's silly to argue that people are irrational for spending $4 or more on a cup of coffee*, but not $0.99 on digital content or apps. As with nearly all cases of seemingly "irrational" behavior in economics, the truth is that you just need to better understand the marginal benefit that people are getting and the true marginal costs, which often go way beyond the dollar amount. Lehman points out a few key examples, with the focus on trust & certainty, as well as the difference in the competitive market.

For the first point, he notes that you know exactly what you're getting with a Starbucks cup of coffee and how much you'll enjoy it:

I know I’ll like my cup of coffee. It will fully meet my expectations. For the $4 I spend I don’t expect it to change my life. I don’t expect it to even last beyond its last drop (and a trip to the bathroom later). It’s an experience I can fully trust will be pretty much the same each time. There’s no gamble here. Ask me if I’d like to drop $4 on a cup of your new “Instant Refresher Juice 1.0″ and there’s a very good chance I’ll pass. Or, maybe I’ll ask for a free sample to see if your $4 Instant Refresher Juice 1.0 is as good as Starbucks Coffee. In short, I know what I’m getting for $4 and I’m getting that same experience every time I hit the drive thru.
What he's really pointing out here is that there's a much bigger cost to your content than just the $0.99 it's being offered for. It's the risk of not getting any actual value out of it. And since people are, quite naturally, loss averse, they're much more hesitant to spend under such circumstances. This is completely rational behavior.

He also points out the general nature of the market, and whether or not there are reasonable "free" alternatives:

When you walk up to the counter of your local coffee shop you are not asked, “would you like a cup of our free coffee, or would you like to select from our paid options?”. If Starbucks gave out free coffee every day there would be mile-long lines at the drive thru. If the free coffee was anywhere close to as good as their paid stuff people would abandon the paid en masse. Some would pay maybe because they felt bad, as a freeloader. Others would pay because they preferred the options available to them in the paid column vs. the free. Now imagine the free selection at starbucks was nearly as large, or larger, than the paid selection: Welcome to the App Store.
In other words, as we've explained for years, the nature of the wider market really matters. In competitive markets, price gets driven down towards marginal cost. There are ways to prevent that -- and one is to build up brand value through things like trust and certainty (see the point above). So while there are cheaper alternatives, or even in many cases "free" alternatives at people's workplaces (contrary to Lehman's suggestion that there are no such alternatives), people still flock to the one they know and trust. But if there are lots and lots and lots of free alternatives, then you have to work much harder to justify the price. In some cases, for some people, you can. But the market situation between coffee and apps is not very close at all.

Lehman makes some other points as well, but the key one is that these are totally different markets with different factors playing on pricing. Comparing them in absolute dollar terms misses the full costs and full benefits associated with the purchase.

* Moreover, despite the "$4 coffee" being an oft-repeated trope about Starbucks, it's not really true. The biggest cup of coffee at Starbucks costs a little over $2. The drinks that are pricier than that are generally about nine-tenths milk, and milk is much more expensive than coffee. Indeed, the drinks that so many people think are a "ripoff" are not where Starbucks makes the majority of its money—they tend to be much lower-margin items than the plain coffee, because milk and whipped cream and fancy syrups are all high-cost and expensive to store. Is Starbucks still "expensive"? Maybe so -- but anyone who opens that discussion by talking about the "$4 cup of coffee" demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how the business functions (and even of what's on the menu).

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crowd Control: Cool Time Lapse Shows How People Gather

Crowd Control: Cool Time Lapse Shows How People Gather: [ By Delana in Art & Photography & Video. ]

Crowd-watching is one of those perennial favorite activities that never seems to get old no matter how often you do it. For the 2011 Vancouver Celebration of Light, a popular annual fireworks show, Dave Delnea Images documented the huge crowd gathering, reveling and then dispersing.
The video produced by the firm shows a vibrant crowd flocking to the beach to watch the light show. From the high vantage point, each of the individuals melds into a part of the larger throng.

The fabric of the crowd weaves itself into a colorful tapestry that writhes and undulates, never sitting still.

This short video is a perfect examination of the energy of city life; the urban landscape is enhanced and defined by the people who inhabit it.

[ By Delana in Art & Photography & Video. ]

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Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5 is RELEASED - Here's 5 minute videos to get you up to speed quick

Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5 is RELEASED - Here's 5 minute videos to get you up to speed quick:
Jason Zander announced today that Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5 is RELEASED to web. The .NET Web Tools Team (the team I'm on) has coverage on their blog as well. I thought I'd showcase some Tiny Happy Features that the team worked on just because it made life better. Some are large some are small, but all are tiny happy features.
I'll continue for a few more Tiny Happy Features over the next few weeks but this last week I took some time and recorded 13 (ya, thirteen, oy) short videos to show you guys these features in action. These are SHORT videos that are at most 4 to 6 minutes. It's hard to watch 60 to 90 minute screencast so I did these little one-take quick shots so you could watch them at lunch.
If you watch all these videos it will take you less than an hour and you'll have a good practical idea of what's new in Web Development and Tools with Visual Studio 2012. This is by no means exhaustive, but it's a lot.
The other concept that's worth pointing out is One ASP.NET. We've pulled the Web Tooling and Templates out into extensions in Visual Studio 2012. This means we can update Web Tools without updating all of Visual Studio. I talked about this in the One ASP.NET keynote at aspConf. We'll be updating the tools - not in major scary ways - but in useful and important ways that make front end web development easier. We'll look at small updates either quarterly or maybe semi-annually so when a new technique comes out you don't have to wait for the next version of Visual Studio.

Download Visual Studio 2012

MSDN Subscribers can download now at the MSDN Subscriber Download Page. For volume licensing customers, Visual Studio 2012 products will be on the Volume Licensing Service Center tomorrow. If you want to download Visual Studio 2012 free trial versions, or to download the free Express versions, head over to the the Visual Studio product website.
Here's the 13 short videos showing each of my favorite features in just a few minutes.

Model Binding

HTML Editor

CSS Editor

JavaScript Editor

Page Inspector

ASP.NET 4.5 Web Forms Strongly Typed Data Controls

Web Publishing Improvements



Bundling and Optimization

SignalR and Web Sockets

Async and Await

OAuth in the Default ASP.NET 4.5 Templates

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