I’m a sucker for funky cameras

I bought a Lytro back in the day. It spent a week in my bag before it hit the technology graveyard in the corner of my office.

My narrative clip lasted maybe a week. Everyone around me was freaked out. And mostly I just ended up with a lot of pictures of the edge of my desk.

I just got my Pixy. Maybe I am doing it wrong but this thing doesn’t seem to detect squat. Maybe it works great in some super controlled setting but not worth my time.

Of course I had to order a Centr.

I am eternally optimistic. One of these things is going to be useful.

I just ordered my Lytro camera.

Available February/March next year. The “Lytro”:http://www.Lytro.com features a technology they call “light field” — they grab sufficient photon data at capture time to allow refocusing, zooming, etc as a post-capture option. The Lytro is a simple step on the way to a full software-defined lens — I first wondered about such a lens in 2003, should have filed a bunch of patents. Other people are pushing the idea ahead, see for instance “Software Defined Lensing”:http://www.creative-technology.net/CTECH/SDL.html.

As the writeup points out, you can view a traditional glass lens as a kind of quantum computer with a single fixed purpose, established at manufacture time. The lens captures all the incident photons, does some photonic/quantum computation, and spits an answer out on the CCD. But if we can replace the lens with something that has much more dynamic, programmable behaviour, well very cool things could be done — arbitrary refocusing and zooming being just the simplest example. A much broader set of incident radiation could be captured, spectral analysis of the image could be performed, filtering of the image, incredible levels of zoom, etc.

The Lytro is a very modest step in this direction but exciting.

Software Lenses and Lytro

I’ve wished for years that someone would come up with a “software-defined lens”:http://theludwigs.com/2003/07/camera-as-a-data-gathering-device/. A surface that would capture all inbound photons and let me decide later about focus, depth of field, etc.

It looks like “Lytro”:http://www.lytro.com/ has done it or something on the way towards it. Hope it is reality! Put my name down for one.

Recent Software Trials

* “gfxcardstatus”:http://db.tidbits.com/article/11982?rss to let me fiddle with macbook pro graphics hardware. which is proving to be problematic. Why does the browser (Chrome) require the high end power-consumptive nvidia chip? Seems like this feature of the macbook is a waste if the browser is always going to force the power hungry chip on. OK hmm, this might be just a Chrome issue as Safari is staying on the intel chip. gfxcardstatus is great for examining status and dependencies!
* “techdygest”:http://dygest.net/. Might be a little too digested. But worth a try.
* “daytum”:http://www.coolhunting.com/tech/daytum.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ch+%28Cool+Hunting%29. I want to love this but too hard to get going. There needs to be some easier way to populate it with personal data.
* “socialeyes”:http://www.socialeyes.com and “dailybooth”:http://www.dailybooth.com. There is something intriguing about the front-facing camera. I suspect there will be a lot more software written around. What will be the first front-facing camera game? (Ignition is an investor)
* “greplin chrome extension”:https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/bjclhonkhgkidmlkghlkiffhoikhaajg. Search of my content seems super fast, i am intrigued. (Ignition is an investor)

Linksys WVC80N for remote monitoring

Installed a Linksys WVC80N for remote monitoring of a site. Mentioned this to a few folks and they seemed excited about, apparently this is a common need.

The camera hardware itself was easy to set up and the hardware is solid. I did the setup on a Mac and had no problems getting the camera set up and working on the wireless network.

At that point, tho, you have to go offroad. Assuming you want to have remote access to the video, you have a couple paths to try out:

* You can set up motion detection-driven email/ftp alerting. You have to use all the camera admin pages but it seems pretty straightforward. But I didn’t do this. So no idea how well the motion detection work.
* Or you can set up a dynamic dns connection through TZO.COM. The camera web pages claim there is a free trial, but the TZO website did not work for the free trial. Kind of a screw job Cisco, you should do better. The cost for a year of service for TZO was not crazy tho so I just signed up for a year of service. You get a www.yournamehere.myipcamera.com domain which you can connect to from anywhere. And it does work, I am looking at my camera now. But it took a LOT of futzing with firewall rules and port mapping on my dsl modem/router to punch thru. All these devices claim they have some magic UPNP technology to help you do all this but that seems to be baloney. So be prepared to futz or have someone futz for you.
* Once it is set up, it took the TZO.COM dynamic DNS service 24 hours or so to be reliable. Probably takes that long for DNS entry to percolate around.