Category Archives: Uncategorized

Security is a Warm Blog

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unsuccessful attempts to help you in the boudouir

unsuccessful attempts to help you in the boudouir

For those of you who found the various links to erectile dysfunction medication sprinkled around my site helpful, sorry to say that I have removed them.

Like so many of us, I have largely moved on from blogging. My attentions tend to go to my youngest son (almost six!), my day job, and my amazing wife Jill. (Plus some recreational hacking with React and machine learning.)

Imagine my irritation to find some site hackery had dropped the aforementioned links on most of my posts.

I have some hope that this was fixed by a system upgrade at my provider, but if it recurs, I’ll be (grudgingly) doing some work to update all this to a more secure solution, which I will of course blog about.

Got Creativity?

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In 1993, Bill Clinton had been President for one year. Justin Bieber had not yet been born, and Steve Jobs had just been bounced out of Apple Computer by a hostile board.

Oh yes, and the “Got Milk” ad campaign was first launched.

This was a memorable campaign and by all accounts quite successful at reminding consumers to pick up another half gallon the next time they found themselves in a grocery store.

However, the “Got Milk” campaign has left a horrible legacy on the world — hundreds, perhaps thousands, of imitators.

Next time somebody proposes that your school, company, club, political organization use the phrase “Got XXX?” as a promotion, you might seriously consider SCREAMING at them to dig deep into their minds and come up with an original idea.

Got it?

Google Photo Space

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(This was a cross-post from Google Plus. You should circle me!.)

As Thomas Kang describes in his post, we launched the Google PhotoSpace project at last night’s opening of the new Los Angeles Google Office. (Tom took some terrific photos of the event as well, you should go check ’em out)

Because I did a lot of lighting in film school (way before I became a software developer), I was largely responsible for the physical setup and lighting of the stage area. This turned out to be an interesting problem. We wanted the “white limbo” look for the photos, and we wanted to photograph as many guests as possible the night of the party (hundreds in just a few hours). Rather than cycling a strobe system all night, and because I’m most familiar with them, we decided to use “hot” movie lights.

We did a number of tests of both green and white screen solutions and ultimately settled on a white screen plus a luma key extraction that Ken Arthur tweaked to perfection minutes before the guests arrived.

To make the luma key work as well as it did, we needed a fairly broad exposure differential between the background and the subject. I broke out the light meter I bought in high school and decided that 2 stops would be a good split, with the subject on the underexposed end of things so that the luma keying wouldn’t eat into the subject highlights too badly. Ken and Tom did a lot of work on this; Tom behind the camera and Ken turning the many dials on his image processing code.

We needed very even light on the background. I used two open-faced 1K tungsten units with half double scrims (scrimmed edge closest to the backing) and a tough frost diffusion tented. These were the main background lights and were up high. Since they fell off towards the bottom of the screen I added two 650w fresnels lower down at about one meter off the ground, no scrim, also diffused.

While there was a lot of lovely white spill curling around the sides of the subjects, I also added a high 350w diffused kicker behind the subject.

A 1K open face with a Chimera softbox and the full silk added a nice fill for the subject’s face.

The last piece I added to the stage was a pair of 18×24″ flags on C-stands, hanging down near the sides of the units illuminating the backing. These cut down on side spill enough that we could correctly underexpose our visitors and pull them away from the backing.

Keith Kiyohara instigated the entire mad project and wrote the kiosk software driving the camera and feeding the image processing pipeline. He also wrote a native application to display the panorama on a triptych of 70″ monitors mounted vertically. (stunning!).

Reuben Sterling wrote the webapp version of the panorama, so you can see it too.

Thanks, everyone, for a fantastic and Googley 20% project! I even got to shake the mayor’s hand!

Gavin Doughtie
Photos Team

P.S. If anybody reading this knows interesting things about LED lighting please say so in the comments. We’d like to make this installation permanent and the movie lights pull close to 50 amps. That’s just not the energy-efficient way we roll at Google.

Ground Up Learning

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As opposed to “groundup coffee beans”.

Work your way all the way through:
The Elements of Computing Systems
The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

And you’ll be ahead of 99% of all the guys out there selling themselves as “Enterprise Software Architectects” when it comes to surfing the next wave of computer innovation.

Plus, it’ll be fun.

Have a happy new year!



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At a successful wine bar visit (Noir) after a failed attempt at seeing a Bollywood film in Pasadena, our friend Joel, a math professor, began to explain optimal grid packing in terms of how a grocer stacks oranges. If you have an infinite number of oranges, stacking them as a grocer would is, apparently, optimal.

Jill: “But nobody has an infinite number of oranges!”
Joel: “Nobody except a mathematician!”

Between Times

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A friend’s startup started layoffs this week. He was working on the servers until 3:00am the day before his Last Big Meeting. It got me thinking.

We worry a lot when things crash. When I took this picture, my thought was “Whew! I’m out of that dangerous dotcom phase of my career.” In retrospect, this would have been the perfect time to start a scrappy Web 2.0 business with a couple of my buddies.

We’re in one of those between-times now. In a few years, I suspect we’ll either be doing the new-new thing that’s germinating right now, or wishing that we had. There’s at least 1500 web-savvy folks about to come on the job market this year. Who knows what they’ll cook up?

The last time I drove by this building, the sign had been replaced, but the www and .com remained. There was something new going on between them, though.