Email and Forum Profiles in IT: Karlheinz Brandenburg DARPA Urban Challenge Results My Experience with Ubuntu Voting Machines Audio CAPTCHAs for Visually Impaired CAPTCHAs are not the only solution ESP Game for Image Tagging Free Software I Like
Email from Tom: Dear Dr. Shurtz, Just wanted to send you an e-mail message and let you know I listen to your radio program every Saturday on WWWB 820 in Frederick. I live in Harrisburg Pennsylvania and the station comes in quite well. I can also hear WWWT 1500 but not as well as WWWB. A few years ago I used to listen to, I think it was you, on WMAL 630. I found it interesting that you talked about the way spammers discovered how to get around using the CAPTCHA verification. I am a blind computer user and one of our biggest recent problems has been using websites where a CAPTCHA is used. Our screen readers can not read the text in the image box and therefore we are not able to access anything where they are used. Leave it up to the spammers to figure out a way to get around them. Blindness advocacy groups have been protesting this method of verification for a long time but so far there has not been a resolution to the problem.
Tech Talk Responds: audio CAPTCHAs are available, Akismet may be of use
Profiles in IT: Karlheinz Brandenburg
Karlheinz Brandenburg is frequently called the ?father of MP3.?
He worked with Professor Dieter Seitzer, University of Erlangen, who was interested in the transfer of music over a phone line.
Their work was based the MP3 on an audio compression technique could not be perceived by a human. They used quiet tracks such as Susan Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner’ as their test bed. Therefore Vega can claim to be the first artist of MP3.
The word MP3 stands for Moving Picture Expert Group Level 3 Compression.
Part of the MPEG (Motion Picture Expert Group) Compression Standard
The audio is MPEG Audio Layer 3?..hence MP3
It can reduce a CD sound file by a factor of 12.
It has become second only to ‘sex on the world’s most popular search engines
Brandenburg was born June 20, 1954, in Erlangen, Germany.
He attended Erlangen University and received a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1980 and in Mathematics from in 1982.
He received a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in 1989. His dissertation dealt digital audio coding and perceptual measurement techniques.
From 1989 to 1990 he worked with AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, U.S. on MPEG-1 Layer 3.
In 1990, he returned to the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.
In 1993, he became head of the Audio/Multimedia department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlangen.
The Frauenhofer Institute is one of Germany’s most prestigious research facilities. Equivalent of MIT Media Labs.
FI now licenses the patent rights to the audio compression technology.
German patent issued April 1989
US Patent "digital encoding process" issued November 1996
First portable MP3 player appeared in 1999
Brandenburg is head of the AES Standards Committee working group SC-06-04 Internet Audio Delivery Systems.
He has been granted 27 US patents as a co-inventor; all patents have multiple inventors.
Brandenburg claims that he is satisfied with his work and has not personally profited from the fortune that has since been spun around the standard.
He claims that he owns not one share in any Internet company or any other firm involved in the MP3 standard.
He draws his entire salary from the state for his work at FI and at the University.
DARPA Urban Challenge Results
Darpa Urban Challenge field down to 11. It started with 35.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) Urban Challenge is down to just 11 finalists. It started with 35 entrants.
According to Dr Tony Tether, DARPA Director,
"Finalists were selected based on performance in the tests as measured by data collected and evaluated by trained scorers in the testing areas.
"The trials tested the vehicles’ ability to merge into traffic, navigate four-way intersections, respond to blocked roads, pass oncoming cars on narrow roads, and keep up with traffic on two-lane and four-lane roads."
The course has also had to be slightly redesigned to allow one of the teams, TerraMax, to use its chosen vehicle, a 15-ton dump truck. So far the truck has outperformed other vehicles in some tests.
Today’s Urban Challenge Final Event will be the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, California.
The teams competed for $3.5m in prize money for running a robot-controlled car around a series of tests in an urban landscape.
Carnegie Mellon’s Tartan Racing Team won first ($2 million).
Stanford University’s Stanford Racing team came won second ($1 million)
Virginia Tech’s Victor Tango team won the third ($500,000)
Tether said that ?Tartan came in as a clear winner, with Stanford finishing about 20 minutes later, and Victor Tango coming in about 20 minutes after that, after taking into account the teams’ different start times and the race’s off-the-clock pauses.?
Team VictorTango is the outgrowth of a longstanding research and educational program in autonomous vehicle systems at Virginia Tech.
Tether concluded, One "We really never finish anything. All we really do is show that it can be done. We take the technical excuse off the table, to the point where other people can no longer say ‘Hey this is a very interesting idea, but you know that you can’t do it.’ I think that we’re close to that point, that it’s time for this technology to [be furthered] by somebody else."
Ubuntu is a distribution of Linux that is designed to be easy to use and accessible for the novice.
Ubuntu, pronounced /ùbúntú/, is an ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other. The word has its origin in the Bantu languages of Southern Africa.
?A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others,? Archbishop Desmond Tutu
I downloaded the distribution from Ubuntu and then created a CD using ISO Recorder 2 (another free program).
So far two installations have failed
New laptop HP Pavilion 9000 could not recognize the display and locate the correct driver.
Old Laptop Toshiba Satellite could not load the wireless device driver for the 802.11 Broadcom Chip set.
Will report on progress in getting drivers. This is a classic open source problem because proprietary drivers cannot be distributed with the program.
Last Tuesday was election
Another test for voting machines
How did they fair in Maryland, DC, and Virginia?
Elections in Maryland went quite well compared to the first time that the new machines were used. Not many complaints in the press.
Fairfax had brand new voting machines, so I expected to see complaints
?The Advanced Voting Solutions, WINvote? system, a touch screen machine about the size of a large lap top computer, replaced the aging Shouptronic-1242 voting machines, which the county had used since 1988.
The Winvote? system is equipped with an audio headset that enables voters with visual disabilities to cast their votes unassisted. This light-weight machine may be carried outside for curbside voters. This system also has the capability to transmit election returns electronically.
The WINvote? system was tested at three of the County’s polling locations for the November 2002 General Election. The results of voter surveys taken at these precincts were overwhelmingly positive.? Fairfax County Website
1000 new voting machines cost Fairfax County $3.5 million.
Democrats in Fairfax County joined Republicans yesterday in criticizing the performance of the county’s costly new high-tech voting system, saying that it may have disenfranchised voters in the Nov. 4 election.
The Democrat-led board of supervisors scolded the county board of elections for minimizing problems with the touch-screen machines and asked County Executive Anthony H. Griffin to investigate what went wrong before the machines are pressed into service again in February for the Democratic presidential primary.
At-large School Board member Rita S. Thompson, who narrowly lost reelection, said she is considering a challenge because of problems with voting machines. Voters in three precincts said in interviews that when they attempted to vote for her, the machines initially displayed an "x" next to her name but then, after a few seconds, the "x" disappeared.
County election officials tried one of the machines in question and discovered that the glitch occurred about "one out of a hundred tries," Luca said. She added that she would take Thompson’s request "under serious consideration."
Ten machines failed during the election and were sent for repairs and then put back in service. Republicans say this was a violation of voting procedures.
Fairfax election officials had confidently promised that their machinery would work better than Montgomery County’s had, citing a battery of tests conducted before the elections. They also said the system would greatly speed the reporting of results. Instead, it produced one of the slowest vote tallies in memory.
I support electronic voting machines, if:
Officials receive proper training, software is certified, and machines are secured.
Paper backup essential for recounts.
Voting Machines Standards are an important first step.
New standards were just released by the Election Assistance Commission
The term CAPTCHA (for Completely Automated Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) was coined in 2000 by Luis von Ahn, Manuel Blum, Nicholas Hopper and John Langford of Carnegie Mellon University. At the time, they developed the first CAPTCHA to be used by Yahoo.
Akismet is a contraction of Automattic Kismet. Our favorite definition of kismet is "Kismet (principle), the magnetic attractive force that actualizes the playing out of karma; often used in the positive sense."
When a new comment, trackback, or pingback comes to a blog it is submitted to the Akismet web service which runs hundreds of tests on the comment and returns a thumbs up or thumbs down.
When it catches something as spam it saves it in the database for 15 days in case you want to check it out manually and then automattically deletes it.
In the unlikely event something gets incorrectly identified as spam you can correct it and it submits the "false positive" back to Akismet for analysis and improvement of our system.
If a spam comment happens to get through and you mark it as spam within WordPress, it does the same thing.
Akismet becomes more effective the more you use it.
ESP Game for Image Tagging
Unused human computation potential is available on the Web
Solitaire used 9 Billion human hours in 2003
Empire State Building took 7 million human hours (6.8 hours of Solitaire)
Panama Canal took 20 million human hours (less than 1 day of Solitarie)
Use excess human computation capacity to solve image labeling problem