Facebook News Feeds

Recently, Facebook, a social networking site for students added a feature that showed brief happenings around facebook occuring with your friends. Many people are against this for privacy reasons. People do not seem to realize that this information is already available. Even if it is not available on Facebook, information can be obtained from different resources and put together. For example, I once needed to find somebody’s home phone number. That person did not have their home phone number on Facebook, but they had their address. I then looked up the person’s last name in the phone book. I did not know the person’s parent’s name, but I knew the address. I simply matched the Facebook address with the phone book addresses and found the right number. The world is networked people. Get used to it. The only way to keep information unavailable to other people is to not give it out. You can’t trust giving information to companies since they sell that information for whatever reason.
Additionally, if privacy is such a big deal on Facebook, then why do you have a grocery store card. All that happens there is that the grocery store pays you in discounts to collect information about your shopping patterns.

Eating boy scouts

This weekend, I went with a friend to spend some time fishing and hanging out around a fire. A few other friends and a large portion of his family and his fiance came as well. Being an eagle scout, I was rather confused when his mom said we were eating boy scouts. That turned out to be what I would call a hobo meal or a foil meal. Anyhow the meal was pretty good. We had some foil meals with some beef, potatos, carrots, and onions. We also had some fruit, cake, and ice cream as well. Later in the night, we had some smores before coming back to school.

Raped Apes

A rather strange phrase was brought up in class today, "raped apes." It was in reference to a reading for rhetoric of science. The engineers described were build a computer system that needed to be faster than something. It seems they chose "raped apes" as something that is fast for comparison. I wouldn’t want to know how those engineers know how fast a raped ape is. Anyhow, I though it would be an amusing blog entry title.

First Day

Yesterday was the first day of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology school year. It is my fourth year, though I will not be graduating this year. So far things are going well. I have all of my homework done with plenty of time to spare. I am taking courses in linear algebra, Web-based information systems, and rhetoric of science. It was nice to be surprised by some friends being in those classes as well. Rhetoric of science will definitely be heavy on reading. Linear algebra will be heavy on daily assignments. Web-based information systems will be heavy on project-type work.

Web History Center Member

Two years ago, I helped my school organize a World Wide Web conference entitled WWW@10: The Dream and the Reality. During that conference, I met several Web pioneers including Robert Caillau, Ted Nelson, and more. While that experience was great, more would come. Robert Caillau, Professor Pickett, and I were walking across campus from Hatfield Hall and I mentioned that we should create a center for Web history with the resources that had been unearthed in planning the conference. Little did I know that it would become a reality. Anyhow, Caillau mentioned that somebody had already gone around to most of the Web pioneers and interviewed them exhaustively and had subsequently disappeared. Consequently, Professor Pickett tracked down the person who had done these interviews and talked to him about making use of what had already been gathered. That person who had disappeared was Marc Webber, who ran webhistory.org. Last year, Professor Pickett got approval to begin a center for Web history at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and we have been looking for groups with which to partner since then. Even with the help in organizing the conference and the initial suggestion to have a center for Web history, I was never officially connected with the project; that is, until now. A few days ago, Professor Pickett extended membership to me with the work I had done and interest shown in finding other project partners and general interest in Web history. Check out the revived Web history project.

Bugs in OpenCV

The work I do right now at Rose-Hulman Ventures for Elastic Image involves the use of OpenCV, an open source computer vision library. Earlier this summer we updated from OpenCV 0.9.5 to OpenCV 0.9.7. However, portions of our software quit working after the update. We recently downgraded to 0.9.5 again until we can figure out what the problem is in 0.9.7. Some theories were that internal formats of OpenCV changed and we were relying on certain internals of OpenCV. However, I was invesigating it today and found that there is a problem with 0.9.7’s implementation on cvSetIdentity. That function is supposed to set the diagonal of a matrix to a given number and everything else to zero. The problem is that the same test case code shows that 0.9.7 is only setting position 0, 0 to the value and not the entire diagonal. This is confirmed in three ways. Looking at the internals of the matrix confirms shows this issue as does cvTrace which tells the sum of the diagonal and cvmGetAt which retrieves the element at a given position in the matrix. Hopefully, the issue will get sorted out and we can update to 0.9.7 or later again. That version has a newer chess board detection algorithm that works better when lighting conditions are not ideal.

Memory Leaks bite the dust

In my work for the summer, the software simultaneously captures three images of an object with a grid printed on it. The three images are used to build a three-dimensional model of the object. There is information added to this as well, but it is related to the process that is unique to the company so I can’t say what it specifically is. However, we put new cameras into the system this summer. The new cameras are 22208×3000 resolution. With the larger image sizes the program leaks memory like never before and is incredibly slow with all of the data in memory being processed.
To tackle these issues, I have been using Valgrind. Initially, the software used so much RAM that even with a 4GB swap file, memory would run out with the extra memory used by Valgrind. I then contacted other Valgrind users and they suggested I try a newer version that had less memory overhead. It worked. I have since discovered the following  leaks: memory was not released from several structures. The user interface was never freed. There were some miscellaneous unclosed file descriptors. Anyhow, these are mostly fixed. I would, however, like to make the user interface lazily initialized so that the memory intensive portions can be freed when not displayed.
There are definitely other issues remaining, but they are being tackled each day.