Tag Archives: Technology

The Invisible Future: The Seamless Integration of Technology Into Everyday Life

An elite group of industry leaders from an assortment of technology-related fields gather together here to speculate about the implications of the technology for business, entertainment, science, engineering and education after 2020, when computers will be everywhere and almost completely invisible, These futurists focus on exploring how information technology will be reshaping our world. What will business and society be like when technology has completely saturated the events of everyday life? The relationship between man and machine, man and information, and information and machine is going to have radical consequences (both positive and negative) on future generations. This title consists of essays by 11 visionaries, derived from the March 2001 Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) conference. The book offers strategic direction on the future of our world saturated with computers and networks.

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Seamless R and C++ Integration with Rcpp (Use R!)

Rcpp is the glue that binds the power and versatility of R with the speed and efficiency of C++.  With Rcpp, the transfer of data between R and C++ is nearly seamless, and high-performance statistical computing is finally accessible to most R users.  Rcpp should be part of every statistician’s toolbox.  — Michael Braun, MIT Sloan School of Management

“Seamless R and C++ integration with Rcpp” is simply a wonderful book.  For anyone who uses C/C++ and R, it is an indispensable resource.  The writing is outstanding.  A huge bonus is the section on applications. This section covers the matrix packages Armadillo and Eigen and the GNU Scientific Library as well as RInside which enables you to use R inside C++. These applications are what most of us need to know to really do scientific programming with R and C++. I love this book. — Robert McCulloch, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Rcpp is now considered an essential package for anybody doing serious computational research using R. Dirk’s book is an excellent companion and takes the reader from a gentle introduction to more advanced applications via numerous examples and efficiency enhancing gems. The book is packed with all you might have ever wanted to know about Rcpp, its cousins (RcppArmadillo, RcppEigen .etc.), modules, package development and sugar. Overall, this book is a must-have on your shelf. — Sanjog Misra, UCLA Anderson School of Management

The Rcpp package represents a major leap forward for scientific computations with R. With very few lines of C++ code, one has R’s data structures readily at hand for further computations in C++. Hence, high-level numerical programming can be made in C++ almost as easily as in R, but often with a substantial speed gain. Dirk is a crucial person in these developments, and his book takes the reader from the first fragile steps on to using the full Rcpp machinery. A very recommended book! — Søren Højsgaard, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Aalborg University, Denmark

“Seamless R and C ++ Integration with Rcpp” provides the first comprehensive introduction to Rcpp. Rcpp has become the most widely-used language extension for R, and is deployed by over one-hundred different CRAN and BioConductor packages. Rcpp permits users to pass scalars, vectors, matrices, list or entire R objects back and forth between R and C++ with ease. This brings the depth of the R analysis framework together with the power, speed, and efficiency of C++.

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How Technology Will Make Everyone A Great Photographer

Instagram Photojournalist
Paul Lachine

At the end of May, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off all its staff photographers. The paper would instead use newswires, freelancers, and reporters armed with iPhones. It was not the first time traditional media turned to untrained photojournalists—consider the Instagram photos NBC published after the Boston Marathon bombing or CNN’s iReport—but it was the first time any outlet made a policy of doing so. 

As one might expect, the Sun-Times’ decision has met with criticism. It’s been called “shortsighted” and “idiotic.” There’s even a Tumblr of head-to-head comparisons between the Sun-Times and the still-photo-staffed Chicago Tribune. But the change does have its logic. First, it’s cheap. And, in theory, it will give the Sun-Times even more reach, by leveraging the cameras already in place at news events. 

For the strategy to pay off, however, cameraphone technology needs to support it in ways it currently doesn’t. Cameraphones have improved dramatically in the last few years—the Nokia PureView sensor has 41 megapixels, and HTC’s newest sensor has larger pixels that grab more light—but they still suffer from one great shortfall: inadequate lenses. 

About a year ago, engineers began to address the issue by putting cellular radios inside cameras, rather than attempting to cram cameras inside phones. The 16.3-megapixel Samsung Galaxy Camera has a 4G radio and a 21-times zoom lens. And the newer 20.3-megapixel Galaxy NX has an interchangeable lens mount. The Sony QX100, the newest offering in the lot, is the most extreme example. The device is just a lens, sensor, and image processor, and users attach their smartphone as a viewfinder. 

Editors will need software that selects the best images—not just the ones from the right place at the right time. Connected cameras may improve the overall quality of crowdsourced images, but they will do little for the editors whose job it is to sort through them. Current services provide a temporary solution. With Scoopshot, a Helsinki software start-up, publishers can send photo assignments to the service’s network of 300,000-plus mobile users. Stringwire, which NBC acquired in August, lets video producers request an uplink from anyone who has tweeted near an event of interest. But to assure quality, editors will need software that automatically selects the best images—not just the ones taken in the right place at the right time. That type of computer vision already exists on a small scale. A recent update to Google+ analyzes groups of pictures for blurriness, aesthetics, landmarks, and exposure to pick out the most shareable ones. The Sun-Times to benefit from that type of machine vision, the software will need to process larger image batches from multiple sources. In time, those pieces may come together, proving that the Sun-Times decision wasn’t foolish—it was just a bit before its time. 

This article originally appeared in the November 2013 issue of Popular Science.