Humans in image recognition

It looks like humans aren’t all that useless when it comes to technology.  There are still a few areas that we do better than machines.  Image recognition is one of them.  TechCrunch runs the story about one company that seems to be using humans in image recognition process.  Comments to that story also mention Google doing the same.

To me it feels like a problem with timing.  There is a need to tag and search a whole lot of images.  But there is no good automated solution available.  So we are falling back on humans.  It’s easy to come up with a few other areas, in which there is a need today for solutions which won’t even be here tomorrow.  Technology needs help, I guess.

The art of the argument

Paul Graham wrote yet another excellent essey – “How to Disagree“.

The web is turning writing into a conversation. Twenty years ago, writers wrote and readers read. The web lets readers respond, and increasingly they do—in comment threads, on forums, and in their own blog posts.
Many who respond to something disagree with it. That’s to be expected. Agreeing tends to motivate people less than disagreeing. And when you agree there’s less to say. You could expand on something the author said, but he has probably already explored the most interesting implications. When you disagree you’re entering territory he may not have explored.

He then proceeds with identifying a hierarchy of disagreements.  In his view, the forms of disagreement are:

  • DH0: Name-calling.
  • DH1: Ad Hominem.
  • DH2: Responding to Tone.
  • DH3: Contradiction.
  • DH4: Counterargument.
  • DH5: Refutation.
  • DH6: Refuting the Central Point.

Paul’s post reminded me of something – a course of formal logic back in college.  One of the things that course covered was a list of fallacies, which are often used in arguments either intentionally or not.  Of course, the complete list of fallacies is much longer and will take more time to memorize and understand.  But, if you wish to win and rule online (and offline) arguments, you should at least get familiar with those.

Paul organizes hist list of disagreement forms into a hierarchy. He says:

Indeed, the disagreement hierarchy forms a kind of pyramid, in the sense that the higher you go the fewer instances you find.

It would be nice to see a similar, hierarchy organization for the longer list of fallacies.   Which ones are the most frequent in online discussions?  Which ones are easier to create and why?  How to recognize and respond to them?

The Hitcher

The Hitcher

Recently I watched “The Hitcher“.  This film had some potential, but it totally blew it.  It was interesting to see it now, because it reminded me so much of “Death Proof” which I saw just a few days ago, and which has a somewhat similar theme to it.

I think that Sean Bean did very well as a maniac.  He was exactly the type of the killer I like seeing in this type of films.  Sophia Bush provided quality female part.  And the rest of the guys weren’t all that bad.  However, the person who did blood control for this film was completely out of touch.  There was too much blood in a places where none was needed, and there wasn’t enough where it was needed the most.  A huge minus here, which sorts of ruins the movie, considering that it was mostly supposed to be about blood.  It was also supposed to be about roads, and it did have a few car chases and crashes.  Nothing special here though.

Overall, a 6 out of 10.  Watch it on a boring Saturday, if you have nothing else to do.

Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power

Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power

The other day I watched “Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power“. I was hoping it would be at least in some way comparable to the “Carlito’s Way“, but it was not. It is not a bad movie, but it ain’t a good one. It promotes some good values (friendship, loyalty) as well as some bad ones (crime, violence, drugs). It mixes things in such a way that made me wonder if the film makers have their priorities in order.

As to the technical part of the film, I haven’t seen any huge holes or mistakes, but I haven’t seen anything special either. A simple story, average acting, average soundtrack, average photography, although I have to say there were a few attempts of improving that last bit.

Overall, an average movie – 6 out of 10. Watch it only if you feel an uncontrollable urge to see every crime movie out there. Otherwise, you can easily avoid it and spend your time and money on something more worthy.

WordPress 2.5 up and running

I have just upgraded this blog’s WordPress version to recently released 2.5. I waited for this moment for a long time. WordPerss 2.5 brings quite a few improvements such as better administration (new interface, tag management, easier uploads, improved post editor), speed improvements, security enhancements (prepared SQL queries, password strength indicator, better hashing for passwords), and more.

But, as always, I was a bit worried about the upgrade path. My blog uses a heavily customized theme, plenty of plugins, and resides on a web host to which I have very limited access. It also contains more than 4,000 posts and numerous comments and attachments, which makes bakups and restores a lengthy process.

Now that I’m done with the upgrade and everything seems to work just fine, I have to say that this was the easiest upgrade so far. I didn’t need to fix one single thing. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Everything just went through OK and simply worked.

Oh, and the new WordPress is every bit as good as it was promised and expected, and even better than that. I love the new administration. The Dashboard is much more useful now and makes more sense even out of the box, not to mention all those plugins which will appear in the next few days. I like the way the post editing has been modified (although I am still waiting for a better date picker). Especially nice to see how easy permalinks editing has become (forget the old slugs, now you have the full URL in front of you). Media management (uploads) is indeed much improved with some extra functionality, such as progress reports, multiple file uploads, thumbnail management, galleries, etc. Also, there is a way now to manage tags, which were getting out of control. In short, it’s great!

A big thank you is due to everyone who made this release possible, so – Thank You. And, for those of you who are waiting for something to upgrade, wait no longer!

Syriana

Syriana

I rented “Syriana” when I saw George Clooney and Matt Damon on the cover. Not that they are a guarantee of a good film, but they are a pretty good sign of one.  And indeed they both did a nice job in this film, however it wasn’t enough for me.

This time though, my criticism (critinism?) is not of the film itself, but of that particular DVD that I rented.  It didn’t have English sub-titles (although I don’t know if it didn’t have them originally, or if this DVD was a pirated copy).  Half of the movie takes place in Middle East and there is a lot of non-English talk happening.   I couldn’t make much sense out of it, except for the general dramatic mood and some people over there not being very happy with some people over here and vice versa.

Other than that, the film looked to be very nice – it has a certain mood, there is some good photography, and there is also a lot of human appreciation, which is something I like seeing in the movies.  That is when people appreciate other people for just being people.  There aren’t enough films out there promoting appreciation.  It was nice to see this one did.

I’d rate it as a 6 out of 10, with reserving a lot of space on either end of this rating due to not understanding half of what was said.

Used Cars

Used cars

There are a few sure receipts to make a nice movie.  One of them is mix lots of cars with some boobs and a cool guy.  Of course, there are some film makers who will still be able to screw it up, but Robert Zemeckis is definitely one of them.  I just watched “Used Cars“, the movie he directed back in 1980, with Kurt Russel playing the main role, and this movie is still as good as it was back then. That’s a sign of good entertainment!

6 out of 10.

Planet Terror

Planet Terror

Today I watched an excellent movie “Planet Terror“.   It’s packed with action, zombies, quotes, comedy, and romance.  It has lots of special effects, great photography, and music.  If you ever watched more than three zombie movies which were released in late 1980s or early 1990s, you’ll love this film.

It is Robert Rodriguez’ re-incarnation of “Army of Darkness” in the perspective of bio-chemical accident with military personell involvement and a taste of Desperado.  That’s the best description I can come up with.  But really, you should better see this one.

7 out of 10.