January 18th, 2007

The lappy has BlueTooth, and I have a Razr. Ergo, you now have pictures.

The Bean in downtown Chicago in December 2005 (my sister graduated from Northwestern then).
Snow on the Bean

This is one of the two Rabbit Ears from the top of Rabbit Ears peak near Steamboat Springs, CO. It’s a fantastic hike up to the top of this.
Top of Rabbit Ears

It’s a giant concrete and bronze octopus at a pool. Clearly.
Giant Pool Octopus

A life size lego T Rex from out front of the Lego store at Disney in Orlando.
Lego Dinosaur

The octopus muny from the Muny art show at ÜberBot (ÜberBot Rocks)
Tentacled Muny

A lovely drip and bucket sand castle from Fort DeSoto county park (extreme south end of St. Petersburg).

ZOMG I got my MacBookPro

January 18th, 2007

The FedEx guy woke me up to give my my 15″ MacBookPro this morning. New Computer Face

This makes me happy.

And is also unsurprisingly distracting. I have quals in two days and I’ve done about an hour of studying so far today and its 11 oclock already.

HOWTO: Convert Sun rasterfiles to an .avi movie

December 15th, 2006

For my research in optic flow I am working with the Yosemite sequence used in Barron, Fleet, and Beauchemin’s optic flow algorithm comparison “Performance of Optic Flow Techniques” (Link to Technical Report version). They were kind enough to publish the all of their code and the image sequences on their FTP site, but the images they provide are Sun rasterfiles, and the algorithms I need to work with all take .avi. Until I started work on this project I had never heard of rasterfiles, and indeed it is a pretty obscure file format.

After much search this is the best way I was able to come up with to convert a series of .ras rasterfiles to an avi.

Step 1: Convert the ras files to jpgs.

An excellent tool for this is XnView which is an image viewer/converter available for Windows/OS X/Linux/and many others… It reads more image formats than I knew existed, outputs to all the ones I would ever need (jpg, png, tiff, plus more…), and more importantly for this task, is capable of batch conversions.

Step 2: Convert the series of jpgs to an avi

Far and away the best way to do this is with mencoder / ffmpeg. Two links explain all you need about this step, the first is the documentation page from the MPlayer site (mencoder is the encoding and video creation sibling of MPlayer): Link to Mencoder doc and the second link is some additional comments and instructions from a grad student at MIT: Link 2 He also has some nifty things about embedding video in a pdf using LaTeX (bottom of the page). You can also do this step with pngs instead of jpgs if you prefer (XnView can output these as well). The install of mencoder I was using didn’t have the png libraries installed, so I didn’t bother with it, but they are available and there is plenty of documentation available to get this set up correctly.

Step 3: Enjoy your .avi

Here is the yosemite.avi I created for my project: Yosemite.avi optic flow video sequence

In as much as it’s in my power to do so I put that file in the public domain; please, use it. You’ll have to verify any additional requirements stipulated by the original FTP files.

And also a link to the optic flow library I was using for this project. It is part of the OpenCV library (Open source Computer Vision), and is pleasantly direct to work with and makes for very fast development times. OpenCV was also used heavily by the Stanford team, lead by Sebastian Thrun, which won the 2005 Grand Challenge. An excellent tutorial on using the pyramidal Lucas-Kande implementation in the library is written by David Stavens (a member of the Stanford team) and is available here: Link to Staven’s OpenCV OF tutorial

Mention on BoingBoing

October 6th, 2006

Apparently Xeni thinks my research group has a long name

BoingBoing reader Kevin Pratt of the University of South Florida’s Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue Institute for Safety, Security, & Rescue Technology (holy hell that’s a mouthful) says,

BoingBoing: HowTo: Drop Bombs

And, yes, I am an WW II airplane geek (my senior project in highschool was on the design and use of the B-17 in the air war in Europe during the Second World War).

Overview of Requirements for Semi-Autonomous Flight in Miniature UAVs

September 3rd, 2006

Here are the paper and the presentation for my first published paper, “Overview of Requirements for Semi-Autonomous Flight in Miniature UAVs”

Here is the paper (pdf link):

PDF of “Overview of Requirements for Semi-Autonomous Flight in Miniature UAVs”
and a zip file of the presentation with the included videos (45MB zip):

Zip of ppt and videos from my presentation at AUVSI 2006

and finally here is a pdf of the presentation (5MB pdf):

PDF of Semi-Autonomy Requirements (Presented at AUVSI 2006)

Also, here are the video segments individually:CNN clip about the Biloxi research , Flight obstacles short clip , Site Access short clip

Coverage of Robot Demo in St. Petersburg, FL

April 26th, 2006

On Monday and Tuesday our lab held our bi-annual demo/research update over in St. Petersburg. Tuesday was the outdoor robot demos, and a news crew from Fox 13 showed up, did some shooting, and we were on the 6:00 news. Here are two copies of the piece they ran (one is 32MB the other 10MB).

Fox 13 St Pete

Fox 13 St Pete 10MB

Me and my Nerd Suit on CNN

December 9th, 2005

We were on CNN Thursday morning (Dec. 8th). View the piece here: CNN video segment (2 minutes and ~38M)

And yes, about 15 seconds in, thats me in my full up nerd suit with video eye-piece, clipped-on video camera, and back-pack with video-downlink antenna

(posted wicked late, as I’m emptying half-done posts while waiting for my 0245 LAS-HNL)

Pre-Deployment Katrina/Biloxi press

December 6th, 2005

Hey, neato, I’m in the news! Well, actually the robot helicopters that I work with were in the news, and I got a mention because I was the grad student sherpa, but I suppose you have to start somewhere.

Allegedly we were on Biloxi Sun-Herald on Saturday under sci/tech, and thats what I was looking for, but I couldn’t find the cnn article. I did find this article instead: Linux Electrons Article It looks like a reprint of this press release, but still, pretty neat.

And if I find the cnn article later, I’ll edit it in…. And a full post about the trip later (hopefully)

Turns out it was the Biloxi Sun-Herald that had the initial article….looks like their site is subscription only, so I don’t have a copy of the article…. maybe later.

Godzilla Warning label

November 19th, 2005

From comes Pick your favorite nuclear, biohazard, or acid burning fingers danger emblem, add some appropriate text, and you end up with choice beauties like this one.

Godzilla Warning Label movie feed

October 16th, 2005

From Lifehacker and Going along with all the video iPod hullaballoo, an easy way to grab any .mov files that come through and suck them down as a podcast. I’ve still got my lovely 20G gen3 iPod, so I don’t have the video iPod (nor am I really sure I need one….), but you can watch these movies right in your podcatcher (assuming it does video). I’m currently using iTunes right now, but others may be capable as well.

Anyways, Step 1: go to and copy the link for the orange RSS button at the bottom. Step 2: subscribe to that link as a podcast. Step 3: profit!…. or watching the best videos the internets have to offer.

This trick also works with any file type you so desire….mp3, mpg, avi or whatever you like. Just change the filetype at the end. (I’ve used it for mp3 before, and a whole heck of a lot of mp3s get linked, so I ended up with _way_ more than I could keep up with, so I had to unsubscribe after a while (and by unsubscribe I mean my computer crashed, and I didn’t re-up).

So, there you, quick way to grab nifty movies, and here are a few good ones I’ve seen so far:

Dueling heavy metal viking longships, with a Transformers/mech finale….. really, how can you go wrong with that:

These made the rounds a few weeks ago, but they really are quite good, check them out if you haven’t already. Recut movie trailers for genre-switch goodness:
The Shining as Romantic Comedy
Titanic as a Horror movie
And West Side Story as Zombie horror goodness
Subway parasite media movie from Berlin. Very cool idea, and a nice hack for the box too


Funny remix of ’70s kid show about pi… beginning is kinda corny, but once you get the chanting LARPers and the PI-bot, it gets pretty funny

So fire that up as a podcast and see what goodness you discover