Archive for April, 2007

possible attacks?

Electricity was off for a few hours, starting some time after 1AM. I also heard two strange sounding explosions that did not seem to be fireworks (What I heard sounded like 2 very low frequency ‘blasts’ followed by deep vibrations/hums.)

Google has some info..

Looks like we may soon need air raid sirens..

Add comment April 28th, 2007

The case against Vista

Microsoft claims Vista was a success (or do they?).

True, millions of copies sold, but, most of these copies turn out to have been preinstalled on new PC’s.

So, the average consumer is quite clearly not really interested in Vista. In fact, many consumers still request Wicrosoft Windows XP, INSTEAD of Vista. Microsoft has reacted to this in predictable fashion: by announcing that XP will no longer be available via OEM channels by 2008

So, what’s really wrong with Vista, and how will it affect you?

Extreme hardware requirements..
Windows XP is a stable reliable OS, with modest requirements: 128MB ram and 1-2 GB hard disk space (As little as a 500MB install when tweaked). Vista needs nearly 10 times XP’s requirements, i.e. 1GB ram and 10GB hard disk space. If this trend continues, we can expect Vista’s successor to require 10GB ram and 100GB hard disk space. Does this seem absurd? So did 1GB of ram seem, just a few years ago.

…few benefits
Aside from it’s Aero interface, most of the benefits in Vista were already available in Windows XP SP2. 10X hardware requirements does not translate to 10X improved performance.

Vista includes various digital rights management features built in. Microsoft argues these features are necessary, for example, to legally play HD DVD’s.

DRM is bad for consumers because it requires an additional resource overhead in terms of wasted disk space, memory, and processing cycles. It also increases hardware cost, and represents a security threat to users: Vista’s DRM features have the ability to (in theory) disable certain hardware components (or put them into reduced functionaly mode)

Lastly, integrating DRM features into hardware would mean more expense for the manufacturer: A cost invaribly passed onto the consumer. when you buy a graphics card, you would end up paying for Hardware/Software DRM features and licencing. This cost would be incurred by you even if you do NOT intend to intend to use watch HD-DVD’s with Vista, or even use Vista at all.

The general philisophy behind Microsoft’s DRM is that “This software and hardware is ours. You merely licence it - if you do something that seems even slightly suspicious to us, we can shut down or disable parts of your PC”. As a consumer, I find this philosophy disturbing, to say the least.

The end of the traditional PC as we know it? Disturbing manufacturer tie ups:
More and more manufacturers are being convinced by Microsoft to make Vista only or Vista enhanced hardware. This could be as ‘harmless’ as ensuring that enhanced featurers only work with Vista, or as extreme as Pheonix recently releasing a Vista only Bios [edit: this may not be the case]

For the consumer, this is terrible news. Making hardware OS specific would effectively cripple other operating systems (and increase cost).

Vista’s biggest challenge:
As strange as it may seem, Vista’s biggest challenge is Windows XP itself. XP works on old and new hardware, it’s fast, reliable, and perfectly compatible with Windows software.

Microsoft is reacting to this unusual scenario by slowly and quietly killing off XP. First by stopping OEM sales, then by (eventually) stopping official support.

True, some may argue that this is what Microsoft usually does when it releases a new software package, but this might be the first time that the replacement OS is worse than the existing OS.

So, what could the future hold?

  1. More Vista only hardware: more and more hardware will be Vista only, or function in a reduced/crippled mode with other OS’s. In time, manufacturers may split product lines, with one line for Vista only products. This will mean increased costs and a lack of choice for consumers
  2. . Eventually, Microsoft’s goal appears to be to make the PC a closed architecture, like a MAC (and kill off all other operating systems).

  3. Forced obsolescence: Whereas XP could comfortably be used on a PII400, Vista requires the latest hardware. This would be OK if people could still buy XP (and obtain support) but it appears that this may not be the case for long. When XP is removed off the market, people would have no choice but to use Vista, if they are looking for a supported Microsoft OS. This would mean purchasing new hardware, and disposing of old hardware.

18 comments April 19th, 2007

Barefoot HDR Photos 2

The problem with conventional camera’s (digital or analog) is that they can only capture one level of exposure, and are not as sensitive to variance in lighting, compared to the human eye.

This means that when one is photographing outdoor scenes for example, it’s impossible to get the right level of exposure for both bright and dark areas of the photo.

Consider the following photographs: All three show the same scene, at different levels of exposure (the shutter was open for different amounts of time):

(Click each image to view a larger version)

Fastest shutter speed
In this image, the building (top right) is correctly exposed, but the rest of the photo is quite dark.

Medium shutter speed
Medium speed
Here, the foreground is reasonably exposed but the building in the background is overexposed.

Slowest shutter speed
Slowest shutter

At this setting, the darkest areas of the photo are clear but all brightly lit areas are overexposed.

So, what if you could combine the best of the photos?

Well, you’d get something like this:

HDR Elephant

This photo is (somewhat) close to what you would see with your eyes. Well, except for the extremely oversaturated colors!

Add a little bit of (insane) tone mapping, and you get this:
Insane tone mapping

And that is a very simplified overview of the concept of HDRI (High dynamic range imaging).

Here are a few more photos from Barefoot. Some have been processed using HDR technology as well as tone mapping:

(click each photo to view a larger version)

Tone mapping gone wild!!


People 1

People 2


Alternate version of above photo, with some extreme tone mapping.


Another version of above photo: can you spot the difference? Believe it or not this HDR is made using a single image with different gamma settings!!

PS: Thanks Naz!

Add comment April 18th, 2007

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