28 July, 2005

Free Web Hosting a Fount of Malware -ZDNet:

Web sites offering free hosting services are increasingly being used by hackers to store and distribute malware such as keyloggers, Trojan horse downloaders and spyware. These fraudulent, free personal Web sites have an average lifespan of two to four days, making them difficult to trace. One of the sites included music that accompanied a greeting-card message which runs while your computer is being infected.

26 July, 2005

Turn video into an animated cartoon -Amit Agarwal

Microsoft Research has invented a way to turn digital video into an animated cartoon. They've also developed techniques to combine animation with a still picture.

To define more meaningful regions, the user outlines the shapes on keyframes in the video, such as the pants on the girl swinging. He does this on several keyframes. "We rely on the user to circle things like the girl's pants. There's different shading on the pants, and some stripes. We can't group them automatically," said Cohen. The system can then interpolate between the keyframes, maintaining smooth trajectories along the time dimension, without jerky transitions or the need to draw on each frame.

The more complex the movements, the more keyframes the program needs to make the transition smooth. However, even the 300 frame video of the girl swinging on the monkey bars only needs a keyframe every 10 or 15 frames. By blending in the original pixels, the cartoon ends up being mixed - a real girl swinging through a cartoon landscape, or a cartoon girl swinging through a real landscape. The possibilities are endless.

In the future, the team would like to improve the user interface and make it possible to create other animation styles. They'd also like the program to work better with hand-held cameras. Unfortunately, it won't be on your computer store shelf anytime soon, though the researchers would like this eventually.

05 July, 2005

Structured Blogging -Rajesh Jain:
'Aggregation' in its current form means bringing a bunch of posts together from different places and showing them in a convenient way - usually either on one page, with three panes or two panes. Structured blogging is about letting the aggregator understand what you are talking about, and present things more intelligently. For example if you blog an event notification - maybe you're talking about a concert next week - it might be shown on a calendar along with everyone else's events.

03 July, 2005

Never underestimate the power of a good night's rest -Rajesh Jain:

SKIMPING on sleep does awful things to your brain. Planning, problem-solving, learning, concentration,working memory and alertness all take a hit. IQ scores tumble. If you have been awake for 21 hours straight, your abilities are equivalent to someone who is legally drunk.

Luckily, it's reversible - and more. If you let someone who isn't sleep-deprived have an extra hour or two of shut-eye, they perform much better than normal on tasks requiring sustained attention, such taking an exam. And being able to concentrate harder has knock-on benefits for overall mental performance. Attention is the base of a mental pyramid, if you boost that, you can't help boosting everything above it.