Adam Weiss on Bostons museum of science podcast recently interviewed Luis von Ahn one of the people behind CAPTCHAs those squiggly lines and puzzles that you solve every time you sign onto a website or post a comment to your blog to prove that you are a human.
They are basically designed so that computers cannot easily decript the message whereas the human brain can.
Yesterday at the Berkman thursday blog group meeting Adam spoke about how Luis Von Ahn and others have a new take on using CAPTCHAs called reCAPTCHAs. Apparently, the amount of time spent in solving these puzzles amounts to about 150,000 hours daily . So Von Ahn and his group at Carnegie Mellon figured a good way to put all this time to good use was to help the digital library project. What reCAPTCHA basically does is to collect all the words that fail to be recognized by the optical character recognition ( basically the computer algorithms that convert an image to text) from the digital library project and use them to authenticate users.
So now you are presented with two words, one that CAPTCHA knows the answer for and the other that is part of the reCAPTCHA database. So thanks to your being human you solve both words correctly and contribute one more word to the digital library projects book digitization effort.
Adams Podcast interview
CAPTCHA on Wikipedia
Adam Weiss helps you get podcasting
The above image is a link to the reCAPTCHA website
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Yesterday at the Berkman Thursday blog group meeting. Adam Weis from Bostons museum of science gave a talk about “all the cool and amazing things he does” and his experiences with podcasting, blogging, and other things web and digital.
Adam hosts and produces Boston’s museum of science podcasts and also his own Boston behind the scenes podcast. A veteran podcaster ( his science podcast is almost 100 episodes old) he also serves as a podcast consultant. Adam brought along all his podcasting gear and played us some of the samples from his website.
The session was a big eye-opener , I was amazed at how simple his equipment was, and impressed at the very professional results it produced. Also I was gladdened by his evangelical zeal and desire to make podcasting more accessible. I recommend his podcast consultant site for anyone looking to get started with podcasting.
The image above is a link from Adam Weiss’s equipment guide to podcasting and features the iRiver iFP-799 equipped with a $15 Giant Squid Audio Lab Mini Gold-Plated Omni Mic which is what he uses for most of his interviews.
As a a graduate student I had worked on a project where I used single particle imaging techniques to image the structure of a small viral protein. The protein particle fortunately has some symmetry, and using single particle image reconstruction techniques I could obtain a three-dimensional model of the particle from two dimensional projection images taken on an electron microscope.
After deepak got me hooked on to the TED talks , I caught a talk by Blaise Aguera Y Arcas on Microsofts new application called photosynth.
In the talk Blaise Arcas describes how they were able to put together a very high resolution almost three dimensional composite of the Notre Dame Cathedral assembled from tagged images on flickr.
Their software was able to accurately find the register for thousands of images from this tagged set and assemble it into the final composite. Check out the video above to get an appreciation of the complexity of the application. While I am hardly an expert in image processing, the algorithmic complexity of the application boggles my mind. Particularly impressive are the sections in the video where he talks about photosynth finding the register of images in the actual assembled composite despite them having people , hands and other obstacles obscuring the view of the cathedral.
I also caught some of the discussion on microsofts channel 9 on the technology. I sure would like to know the concepts they used to put-together such an amazing app. I also wonder of any of these concepts can help improve image reconstruction techniques in use in the single particle bio-imaging field.