Adobe Super Resolution Timelapse (Crystal Growth)

Adobe Super Resolution Timelapse (Crystal Growth)

This is the third batch of crystals from our National Geographic Mega Crystal Growing Lab kit (see the previous two).

I have been meaning to experiment with Adobe's Super Resolution technology and this seemed like a good project for it. The video below has the same timelapse sequence repeated three times. If you're not bored of crystals growing yet you soon will be (don't worry, this is the last for now). The first version is a 2x digital zoom - a 960x540 crop of the original GoPro footage. The second version uses Super Resolution to scale up to full 1920x1080 HD. Finally I added both side by side so you can try to tell the difference.

Super Resolution generates a lot of data. I tried to use it once before for a longer sequence and realized that I didn't have enough hard drive space to process all the frames. In this case I upscaled the 960x540 JPEGs which went from 500K to 13MB, quite a jump. I don't see a huge difference in the side by side video though and wouldn't go through the extra steps based on these results. It's possible that going to JPEG before applying super resolution didn't help with quality. It's also possible that Adobe doesn't train its AI on a large array of crystal growth photos so I can imagine it might work better for a more traditional landscape timelapse. I'll test both these hypotheses together the next time I 10x my storage.

(More Timelapses)

Home of the Whatevers

Home of the Whatevers

We have tried Common Core, Race to the Top, Charter Schools and No Child Left Behind. The US ranks #37 in math according to PISA, behind China, Russia, and Estonia. And we're not making any progress:

"Test scores on the federally funded National Assessment of Educational Progress—known as “the Nation’s Report Card—have been stagnant for the past decade. The scores of the lowest-ranked students declined."

Of course poverty, ideology and unions all play a role here. But none of these challenges are unique to the US. I think the problem is sports.

Something that has always bothered me as I travel around America is that most schools primarily identify themselves by their sports team. Home of the Tigers! Or whatever. What must that do to the majority of non-Tigers turning up for school every day. Nice work on the math test but the only thing we're actually proud of is the football team.

Sports are important of course, to build teamwork and for exercise and as a future career for a tiny minority of students. Nearly everything else the school does is far more impactful.

An important and easy (although likely unpopular) Federal education reform would be to force schools to promote all extracurricular activities equally. Schools could choose to promote nothing and just be a school (like the vast majority of the rest of the world). Or they could give each activity, club and society an equal share of their jumbotron to represent the full diversity of the student body.

(All Politics Posts)

Catfood WebCamSaver

Catfood WebCamSaver

Catfood WebCamSaver is a Windows screen saver that streams live views from random webcams around the world. Download for Windows. You can choose to display 1, 4 or 16 webcams at the same time, and WebCamSaver fully supports multiple monitors. Catfood WebCamSaver was first released in 2004.

Download Catfood WebCamSaver

Catfood WebCamSaver Settings

When you install Catfood WebCamSaver a shortcut is created to Screen Saver Settings. You can search for Catfood WebCamSaver Settings and run the shortcut, or open Screen Saver Settings directly (on Windows 10, Start -> Settings -> Personalization -> Lock screen -> Screen saver settings). From Screen Saver Settings make sure that Catfood WebCamSaver is selected and then click Settings. On the Windows settings dialog you can also choose how many minutes to wait before starting the selected screen saver and if the login screen should be displayed when the screen saver exits.

Catfood WebCamSaver Settings has three tabs:

General

Under Description choose if the description of the webcam and the local time if available should be displayed. Click Font to pick the font, color, and optional outline color to use for the description and time.

Under Display choose the number of webcams to show at the same time (1, 4 or 16), how often to switch to a new webcam and how often to refresh the webcam image.

Under Offline Display you can choose a fallback screensaver to start if the Internet is not available.

Webcams

Please note that recent releases of WebCamSaver will delete and recreate the webcam list on install. This means you will lose any customization of the list on upgrade. See the import and export instructions below to back up any changes you have made.

The Webcams list shows the current library of webcams. Click the column headers to sort (and click again to sort in the opposite direction). You can enable to disable a specific cam using the checkbox in the list.

Click Add to enter details for a new webcam.

When a webcam in the list is selected click Open to launch the web page associated with the webcam, Edit to update details or Delete to remove it from the list entirely.

Click Delete All to remove all webcams from the list.

Click Enable All or Disable All to toggle the checkboxes for all webcams in the list.

You can save your customized list by clicking Export and restore it by clicking Import.

Advanced

If you prefer day (or night) scenes you can set a local time range here. If this option is enabled webcams where the time zone is unknown will never be displayed.

Click Proxy Settings to configure a proxy server.

Catfood WebCam Browser

Catfood WebCam Browser is a companion application installed with WebCamSaver. When you open WebCam Browser it will start showing a random webcam from the library.

Pick Cam opens a window where you can select a webcam to view from the full list. You can sort the list (click any column header, click again to sort the opposite direction). There is also a filter that only shows webcams matching text that you enter.

Random Cam will select a new webcam at random from the list and start streaming images.

Control Cam launches a URL where you can control the currently selected webcam (if available).

About shows the version and copyright information for the application.

Installation and Support for Catfood WebCamSaver

Catfood WebCamSaver requires version 3.5 of the .NET Framework. On Windows 10 you need to go to Programs and Features and then Turn Windows features on or off, find .NET 3.5 and enable it. The installer for Catfood WebCamSaver is not currently digitally signed. You may get a warning when downloading and again when installing which you will need to ignore to proceed. I plan to fix both of these installation limitations at some point in the future.

For support please visit this post, check to see if your issue has already been addressed and if not leave a new comment.

Customer Reviews

Updates

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.25

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.25

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.25 is available for download. This release includes the latest webcam list.

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.24

3.24

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.24 is available for download. This release includes an update to the default list of webcams.

(Previously: Catfood WebCamSaver 3.21)

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.21

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.21 is available for download.

This update fixes a screensaver install issue on recent versions of Windows 10 and has the latest webcam list.

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.20

Catfood WebCamBrowser

Catfood WebCamSaver 3.20 is available for download.

WebCamSaver is a Windows screensaver that shows you a feed from open web cameras around the world. It also includes WebCamBrowser which allows you to explore the directory and launch a URL where you can control each cam.

Version 3.20 includes an updated list of working webcams - if you are an existing user this will replace any current list the first time you run the updated version.

(Previously)

(All Code Posts)

Links for September 2021

Updated on Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Snap Out of It, America: Give Kids the Right to Vote

So I disagree with this but it's interesting and well argued. A better idea is my life expectancy weighted voting plan.

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The ease of mail-in voting may increase turnout in California’s recall election.

NYT finally twigs.

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A woman is suing S.F. for $50 million over a parking ticket, saying tire chalk is unconstitutional

In one of the cases, filed Sept. 4, plaintiff Maria Infante seeks $50 million and class-action status after a San Francisco parking enforcement officer wielding chalk on a residential street gave her a $95 ticket.
The second case, filed the same day against San Leandro, demands $5 million for class members whose tires were chalked to financially benefit the city.

Civilization continues to collapse. I had my tongue in my cheek for this proposed constitutional amendment but I'm not so sure any more...

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How to Call Customer Service and Actually Get What You Want

Wired has this generic article on getting support with some insights that might have been cutting age a decade ago. I'm still waiting for CAPTGUAs.

(All Etc Posts)

Book reviews for August 2021

The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Stewart Johnson

The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Stewart Johnson

4/5

 

Mind Games (Gordon Pope Thrillers, #2) by B.B. Griffith

Mind Games (Gordon Pope Thrillers, #2) by B.B. Griffith

3/5

 

The Sleepwalkers (Gordon Pope Thrillers, #1) by B.B. Griffith

The Sleepwalkers (Gordon Pope Thrillers, #1) by B.B. Griffith

3/5

 

Shards of Earth (The Final Architects Trilogy, #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Shards of Earth (The Final Architects Trilogy, #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

4/5

 

The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk

The Invention of Sound by Chuck Palahniuk

3/5

 

(All Book Reviews)

ITHCWY Newsletter for August 2021

West Portal Sunset

ITHCWY voter guide to the 2021 gubernatorial recall. Keep Gavin!

Improving my storage habits with folder insights.

Time lapse of stars over Redding, California.

Adventures growing crystals from a National Geographic kit.

A small WebCamSaver update.

Hikes - around the perimeter road of Angel Island, Teague Hill Preserve, and Echo Lake in Lassen.

ITHCWY interviews every coronavirus expert.

Previously:

Links for August 2021

(All Etc Posts)

Every Coronavirus Article

*

As a public service we interviewed every coronavirus expert from every hospital and public health department to get definitive advice on how to think about COVID-19 and navigating the current state of the pandemic.

ITHCWY: With the rise of the more infectious Delta variant, how should the vaccinated approach returning to bars, restaurants and even the office?

ECE: Great question. I think people should be asking themselves two questions. First, how vulnerable are you to infection? Do you have comorbidities brought on by having been alive for more than a few years? Do your cells accept or reject spike proteins? Second, what is your personal tolerance for badly quantified risks?

ITHCWY: What about families where the parents are vaccinated but there might be younger kids who aren't eligible?

ECE: Families are in a tough spot. As well as considering your own unknown vulnerability and appetite for risk, parents should also consider how likely their children are to get infected and the various articles they have read about unprecedented increases in vanishingly rare side effects that are overwhelming health providers at unconcerning levels.

ITHCWY: Your education and career have prepared you to quantify absolute and relative risks for infectious diseases, correct?

ECE: That's right. Not sure why you'd be interviewing me otherwise.

ITHCWY: Let's move on to outdoor risk. Last year there was a lot of talk of maintaining six feet of separation. Is this still the best advice?

ECE: It was the best advice we had available at the time. It turns out that six feet came from a Japanese marketing campaign in the '60s and has been passed on from public health expert to public health expert until the origins were entirely forgotten. The Japanese character for 6 looks a lot like a man standing to one side while a virus particle lands harmlessly next to him and so it kind of stuck. Cute, but it turns out there is little data to suggest it should be 6 feet rather than 4 or 20.

ITHCWY: So in 2021 what sort of distance should we leave when passing others?

ECE: It's a heavily populated planet. If you're moving further away from one person you're getting close to another. Instead of absolute distance I'd consider if that total stranger is vaccinated, what their hygiene habits are like, do they look like they'd cough into their elbow or directly at your face. That kind of thing. And as always you should consider your likelihood of infection from that specific person as well as the risks you've already taken and may yet take that day.

ITHCWY: More and more businesses are installing carbon dioxide sensors. Do you think this is a helpful trend?

ECE: As we all know ventilation is incredibly important in an indoor environment. It's also important that we use common sense. If you think 400 parts per million is a good level of CO2, good for you. If your spider sense thinks it should be more like 20%, knock yourself out.

ITHCWY: Is there a level of CO2 that would make you, for instance, stand up and leave a restaurant and go somewhere else?

ECE: Yes.

ITHCWY: Thanks for your time today. I'm sure our readers feel that all of their questions have been cleared up.

ECE: You're welcome.

(All Etc Posts)

Folder Insights

Folder Insights

A while back 2TB of storage seemed like plenty. Ooops.

It doesn't help that I'm a digital hoarder. I have everything from email mailboxes from the early 90s to obsolete Android virtual machines that will never run again. I've been forced to do something about it by filling up my backup drive.

My current backup strategy is to send everything to Google Drive. And then send all my pictures to Amazon Photos (free with Prime!). And then backup everything to an external drive (using my VSS tool) every month and stick it in a fire safe because Google and Amazon do not care about my files like I do.

I wrote a little utility to dump some stats to help me accept the problem and then do some tidying. Here's storage over time (imperfect, based on earliest of creation and last write time):

Folder Insights

Some of that is driven by ever better cameras and increased willingness to shoot 4K video. Some of it is crazy projects that I forgot to tidy up after, like making a daily timelapse movie from a nest cam.

Here's a breakdown by file type:

Folder Insights

Mostly media. New resolution, when I take 500 photos of my thumb I should delete all but the very best right after uploading instead of saving them in case I want to make some kind of thumb-animation later.

The most useful thing the utility does is dump out each folder with more than 1GB of files. That found a lot of cruft hiding in unexpected places (bye bye every frame of the 2017 eclipse that I accidentally left in Google Drive instead of my dedicated time lapse disk). I might improve this over time, but all of the above is available now as folder-insights on GitHub.

(All Code Posts)

2021 California Gubernatorial Recall

2021 California Gubernatorial Recall

I just voted no to recalling Gavin Newsom. He probably shouldn't have had that mid-Pandemic party at The French Laundry, but I don't think that rises to the level of getting kicked out of office. I think we can wait for 2022 to pass judgement on his tenure.

The polling seems fairly tight right now, which is a little surprising given the Democratic lean of the state. I was tempted to leave the tedious second question unanswered, or write something stupid in, but it's possible that Newsom loses and we have to pick a new Governer. I backed Kevin Paffrath because he's going to fix homlessness in 60 days and he's the leading Democrat in the polls (and I don't believe he's going to fix homlessness). I don't want Newsom to lose but if he does I'd rather avoid the bear renter or talk radio climate skeptic.

The New York Times says:

"The vote is expected to come down to whether Democrats can mobilize enough of the state’s enormous base to counteract Republican enthusiasm for Gavin Newsom’s ouster."

But everyone is getting a postal vote. You don't even need a stamp. "Mobilize" is a bit of a stretch. If Newsom ends up sacked it's because he partied while the rest of us were bleaching our broccoli.

(All Politics Posts)

Crystal World

Updated on Sunday, September 12, 2021

Crystal World

A timelapse of four containers growing crystals from the National Geographic Mega Crystal Growing Lab. The sequence was shot over two weeks (one frame every four minutes, running at 60 frames per second).

It should have taken less time. They recommend a growing area that is at least 68 degrees. This shouldn't be a problem with most of the country suffering record temperatures under heat domes if not actively burning in record breaking wildfires, but San Francisco is experiencing its coldest summer in more than five decades so two weeks seems like the minimum.

Other than not attempting to grow crystals in San Francisco, the other lesson learned is that you really want to use the two silicone cups included in the kit. We tried a pint glass that just grew fuzz (possibly due to the age and pitted nature of the glass) and a jam jar that grew cute small crystals that then made a decent attempt at escaping down the outside. I think three weeks and it would be a full J. G. Ballard situation.

Updated 2021-09-04 18:54:

Second batch. This time shot from above. It's still cold, so this is three weeks, 5 min interval and 60 frames per second for the timelapse:

Updated 2021-09-12 12:57:

Third batch. We're well into September but San Francisco is still bathed in fog. This is still at 5min per frame, but only took two weeks as I moved the lights closer in. For this timelapse I experimented with Adobe Super Resolution so the video has the same sequence three different ways (I wrote a separate post on the Super Resolution experiment).

(More Timelapses)