brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell


An Inexpensive Very High Resolution Scan Camera System

While doing an unrelated search, I browsed into Publications by Wolfgang Heidrich and started reading his paper entitled The Design of an Inexpensive Very High Resolution Scan Camera System. It's a very interesting idea: they modify an inexpensive Canon scanner to use as the back for a large format camera. Ultimately they are able to construct images with over 122 million pixels. Pretty damned nifty. I've even got one of these scanners on my shelf... Hmmm.

Addendum: The paper above cites research by Yang of MIT on a similar project which used a flat bed scanner as the imaging component in a camera to acquire light field images.


Gutenberg Gems: Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Project Gutenberg now has some awfully interesting stuff, and to help promote it, I think that from time to time I'll post links to particular material which I think others might have fun reading. I'll be archiving these under the category "Gutenberg Gems", which you'll be able to get by my category menus on the right.

The first of these is the author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Le Fanu is the author of what I consider to be the second great vampire story, Carmilla, as well as many other classic ghostly stories which are well represented in the Project Gutenberg archives. While I don't know if Stoker's Dracula was influenced by Le Fanu's work, the similarities in narrative style are quite striking. In some ways, Le Fanu's Carmilla, with its subtle undertone of lesbian sexuality surpasses Dracula in terms of character development if not actual story telling. Give him a read.


Big Songs For Little Attention Spans

World of Stuart has a nifty download: Big Songs For Little Attention Spans. It's a 95 megabyte download of 99 (he says 100, but I think he can't count) short songs which fit on a single 80 minute CD. It's an eclectic mix, but somehow hangs together. Consider it music for the attention deficit crowd.


Exterminate Excessive Copyright Terms!

Daleks!The BBC is reporting that there will be no Daleks in the latest incarnation of the Dr. Who franchise. It appears that talks between the BBC and the estate of Terry Nation have broken down.

At least here in the United States, copyrights and patents were intended as incentives for individuals to create and extend the useful arts and sciences. Unfortunately, excessive terms (approaching infinite in the case of copyrights) have eroded this idea. As far as I know, Terry Nation will never write another Dalek script. He can't. He's dead. No incentives are likely to change this fact in a significant way.

For the past 40 years, Terry Nation and his estate have exercised editorial control over exactly how the Daleks are portrayed in film. That's my entire lifetime. Is it too much to ask for them to think up some new pony, and cede control of these characters to the public that originally made them popular in the first place?

I know, I know, I'm not talking about what's legal. I'm trying to talk about restoring the ideal behind the power granted to the government by our Constitution. It was never intended to establish a ceaseless monopoly for authors, artists or inventors. Excessive copyrights have a chilling effect on artistic expression. We all borrow from our collective experiences and cultural icons, and when we are denied access to a large part of our collective experience, ultimately we miss out on experiencing it. Instead, we get to experience only the narrow slivers that IP owners decide to give us. No work which was written in my lifetime or even my mother's lifetime will enter the public domain for decades, if ever, given the Supreme Court decision to give carte blanche to Congress to indefinitely extend copyright terms.