some words to not

nature is a fashion victim

since february 2004

"indecision may or may not be my problem."
jimmy buffett



arts-n-crafts, cite

death ray robot

funny commentary on my robot on this gamer site.

Oh god, it gets worse. A lamp that tracks your movements, illuminating the tasks you focus on. Seems fine, right? WRONG. Another mode causes a red glow to appear and an iris to focus the beam. They say it's to help you find things, but it looks awfully like a death-ray to us.

they even made an illustration.

6 comments hide comments

Thu, 15 Nov 2007 16:20

Would be the coolest desktop appliance ever if it ever went to mass production.

I'd buy one.

- Fardad

Sun, 13 Apr 2008 12:45

Cool! I need one of that

- Gothic Culture Forum

Thu, 24 Apr 2008 16:24

Is that thing lasering your pubes!?

- Pubic Hair Removal

Fri, 25 Apr 2008 04:49

Looks like sucking the daylight out of you what a pose Brilliant

- amanda

Wed, 28 May 2008 08:42

Good quality post there 'public hair removal'... at least your name isn't as bad as 'sex toys'.

- Sex Toys

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 04:43

haha - the beam seems to be hatching an alien egg on the book :D

- tez



arts-n-crafts, robots

it's done

that's it. my thesis is printed and signed by my advisor. still hunting for some signatures, but there's no more work to be done, and no changes to be made. i've uploaded the final pdf for your reading pleasure.

please don't point out any typos in the final version. at least not for a while. however, i might re-edit it for a celebratory binding ceremony held later this fall.

compared to the thesis defense, which felt great, this is much more of an anti-climax, not very special. just another night, another printing job. when all is said and done, it's just a pdf, and not a very pretty one to boot. i don't think i changed the face of science. at least i gave it a fair shot.

somehow this pdf doesn't capture the experience quite well.





siggraph gem: ole coordinate system

so far the cutest bit i've spotted here at siggraph: jun fujiki's ole coordinate system, which lets you interactively create m.c.esher-like 2d/3d visual illusions virtually inhabited by little guys obeying the laws of the particular projection you're currently viewing.

here's the movie clip




time bracketing at siggraph

if you're in southern california, check out time bracketing at siggraph 2007's art gallery. view a print of "stata latin" on display, and get a chance to play with the software that was written to generate the images.

i'll also be giving an art talk entitled "distort/rectify: questioning human perception", on thursday morning.



arts-n-crafts, mit, robots

thesis defense tomorrow

in accidental sync with the cuban revolutionary movement day, and after four years of work, my thesis defense is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:30pm in the bartos theater of the media lab (lower level of m.i.t building e15). here comes a date that for years was located "somewhere" in the muddy future, with often a day on which it didn't even seem possible.

for those out of town but who still want to watch, there will be a live webcast (the link becomes active only at the time of the event). 3:30pm boston time is 21:30h in europe and 22:30h in israel.

i'm still negotiating the possibility to have questions come in over skype at the q&a session. email me for my skype id, if you're interested in that.

other than that - see you on the other side.

5 comments hide comments

Wed, 25 Jul 2007 11:07

congratulations and good luck.

- Tommy Kaplan

Wed, 25 Jul 2007 11:54

wünsche dir viel erfolg!

- Bino

Wed, 25 Jul 2007 16:02

good luck guy!!! i'll be watching!!

- ram

Fri, 27 Jul 2007 00:34

Dr. Guy now, I presume...

- jodi

Sun, 29 Jul 2007 23:04

Not quite yet, but soon. Still got some writing to do. Thanks for all your congratulations!

- guy




sad vonnegut quote

from 'a man without a country', after reflecting on the grand visions of "the world of tomorrow" more commonplace in the early decades of the 20th century:

The biggest truth to face now [...] is that I don't think people give a damn whether the planet goes on or not. It seems to me as if everyone is living as members of Alcoholics Anonymous do, day by day. And a few more days will be enough. I know of very few people who are dreaming of a world for their grandchildren.



cite, comments-on

two harper's quotes

two quotes i read this morning in harper's magazine. one inspiring (but hard to live by) and one insightful.

About the scientific approach to environmentalism, from Curtis White's "the idols of environmentalism":

The establishment of those principles by which we might live would begin with three questions. First, what does it mean to be a human being? Second, what is my relation to other human beings? And third, what is my relation to Being as such, the ongoing miracle that there is something rather than nothing? If the answer to these questions is that the purpose of being human is “the pursuit of happiness” (understood as success, which is understood as the accumulation of money); and if our relation to others is a relation to mere things (with nothing to offer but their labor); and if our relation to the world is only to “resources” (that we should exploit for profit); then we should be very comfortable with the world we have. If it goes to perdition at least we can say that we acted in good faith. But if, on the other hand, we answer that there should be a greater sense of self-worth in being a human, more justice in our relation to others, and more reverence for Being, then we must either live in bad faith with capitalism or begin describing a future whose fundamental values and whose daily activities are radically different from what we currently endure.

About the shallowness and fictition of the press, from a 1986 interview with Austrian novelist and playwright Thomas Bernhard:

INTERVIEWER: But when you describe yourself as a "destroyer of stories," that is a theoretical statement.

BERNHARD: Well, people say a lot of things in fifty years of life. If a reporter is sitting in a restaurant somewhere and he hears you say the beef's no good, then he'll always claim you're someone who doesn't like beef, for the rest of your life. You go for a walk in the woods, and someone takes a photo of you, then for the next eighty years you're always walking in the woods. There's nothing you can do about it.


arts-n-crafts, design

flip clock digits

following on my renewed infatuation with the flip clock screensave, i've decided to design my own flip clock digits to use in a video i'm editing.

downloadable in full for your own design pleasure.

3 comments hide comments

Thu, 20 Mar 2008 18:55

that has just saved me an unbelievable amount of hard work and time. thank you :)

- Thomas

Thu, 20 Mar 2008 19:31

oh yeah? what are you using those for?

- guy

Wed, 07 Jan 2009 13:20

Thank you, estaba buscando estos digitos muchas gracias

- Victor




visions of women

continuing to report on my study findings, and as another gender issue, i found it striking that the only really significant gender bias was in the ranking (on a scale of 1-7) of the following sentence: "I was the most important member on the team."




vision of men

last month i ran human subject studies in which people worked with a robot to solve a task. as part of the post-experimental debriefing i asked the subjects whether they felt the robot was male or female.

aur being a lamp with no humanoid features, i expected the answer to be somewhat diverse. instead, all but one thought the robot was male.

this might have to do with a number of things, like the fact that i am male and i 'represent' the robot, or the fact that highly powered motorized tools are considered male, or the fact that i designed its motions and they have a male feeling to them.

however, when asked why they thought the robot was male, i almost only received disparaging explanations: 'it's male because it's lazy', 'because it does what you tell it to do', 'because it's like a dog', 'because it's sort of stupid' etc.

it was particularly curious that subjects would tell me (a male stranger) this without embarassment. maybe there's something in the experimenter-subject relationship that makes people be more honest.

this sort of response was true for both male and female subjects, although more so for female ones.

nice to know that our gender is held in such high esteem in this day and age.

6 comments hide comments

Tue, 10 Jul 2007 18:03

mmm... maybe because aur is male in Hebrew :)

- ram

Tue, 10 Jul 2007 18:10

considering the number of hebrew-speaking subjects in my study was exactly one, i doubt that's the reason...

- guy

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 09:00

About the disparaging explanations, it is simply politically correct.

Try to think which of the following is
more likely to get you in awkward social position:

"I chose male because it is lazy"
"I chose female because it is lazy"

"I chose male because it is efficient"
"I chose female because it is efficient"

- yoad

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 17:26

but i first asked them what the gender is, and they said 'male', and then when asked for an explanation they could have said something neutral, like: it's blue, it's metal, etc.

instead many chose to say something insulting... which i still find surprising.

- guy

Sat, 14 Jul 2007 16:13

I would say that if 90% of them first thought : "I thought it's male because it was so efficient" or "I thought it's male because technical stuff seems male related", no one would say that.

In fact, you would get exactly the results you got. This is of course unprovable.

- yoad

Sun, 24 Feb 2008 17:12

This is most interesting, but not surprising. Women often control the social dialog, and hence it is politically correct to insult men. It is always amazing to me how often late night talk shows make insulting jokes about men, but an insulting joke about women is very rare. Men are always dogs, sex-obsessed monsters, stupid husbands who can't even find the can opener, or violent bullies.

My suspicion is that they all thought your question was silly, so they were giving you the most obvious and common politically correct answer, as the first thing that popped into their heads.

- Vince



mit, arts-n-crafts, robots

aur - robotic desk lamp

probably the most publicly important event of the last few months was the completion of my robotic desk lamp.



tips-n-tricks, flesh

arcos knife

every once in a while you make a good purchase that you're really happy with for many years to come.

one of those for me was a pretty reasonably priced 200mm (8") kitchen knife from arcos, a spanish knife manufacturer. i've had it for about 10 years now, and it's still the best knife in my drawer.

as a german, i'll have to add the obligatory disclaimer that it's no zwilling or wüsthof, but still: it's a great knife for its price.

5 comments hide comments

Mon, 9 Jul 2007 16:39

welcome back guy :)

- ram

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 14:42

These are great, i got some whilest in spain.Any idea where i can get these Arcos knifes from?

- murat maldar

Thu, 20 Sep 2007 15:32

No i couldn't find those anywhere in the states. And their online presence is not very impressive.

- guy

Sun, 11 Nov 2007 10:03

i have managed to source arcos knives in SA,try

- yunus paruk

Sun, 11 Nov 2007 12:29


- guy



america, arts-n-crafts

addition to phrase book

eight (!) new phrases in the american phrase book. thanks to dan, shahar, and mikey.

2 comments hide comments

Sat, 7 Jul 2007 10:23

welcome back.

- Udi

Sun, 8 Jul 2007 07:53

glad you are back

- tatiana



america, travel

rough ride

pretty soon i couldn't see anything. my headlights were reflected off the incoming snowflakes, resulting in a 100x speed version of the old starfield simulation screensaver. turning up the headlights to high beam only made it worse, amplifying the influx, and given the fact that the thick snowfall totally obscured my vision, i actually considered turning off the headlights altogether.


1 comments hide comments

Thu, 5 Apr 2007 21:05

I'll never bitch about rain in Israel again :)

- ram




stevie wonder on sesame street

the way information flows... i overheard a conversation on the subway escalator about this youtube clip: stevie wonder sings 'superstition' on sesame street. funky.

and you gotta love the little girl (or is it a boy - hard to know, it's the 70s) rocking out.

2 comments hide comments

Thu, 3 May 2007 09:59

Hey, I've had almost the same thing last week - I was sitting at the bar and over heard something about mona lisa painted in Microsoft paint brush software - after a short while I've found it - enjoy: Mona Lisa

- ido

Tue, 3 Jul 2007 17:54

hahaha how great... let`s see if it makes it up to holland... stunning hahaha

- eric




the good sides of climate change

people are whispering it in boston, too. 'all this global warming is not too bad, really. at least for us... considering the mild winter we're getting this year.'

der spiegel has an interesting chat with climatologist hans von storch, who thinks that climate change is not all that bad. in the interview he says, among others, stuff like this:

The fear of climatic catastrophes is an ancient one and not unlike our fear of strangers. In the past, people believed that the climate almost always changes for the worse, and only rarely for the better -- God's punishment for sinful behavior. And nowadays it's those hedonistic wastrels who pollute the air so that they can look at some pretty fish in the South Seas. It would be better if we only ever rode bikes. Oh, there's always someone wagging a finger in disapproval.

2 comments hide comments

Fri, 16 Mar 2007 23:30

you're just the king of "everyone's fears are irrational," aren't you.

- ceerock

Wed, 30 May 2007 18:06

I actually never saw what was wrong with climate change in the first place. The worst estimates of sea-level rise put the figure at a couple of centimeters... On the plus side, increased growing seasons in the tropics, milder weather in the temperate regions... The Romans used to grow wine in Britain, a concept that seems laughable in today's climate. Climate change is not new, and largely not our fault.

- sconzey




we wish you success

this one's old, but i'm cleaning out my desktop. check out the cute language on the free wireless login page at kyiv's borispyl airport:

for kicks, here are some more pictures from the airport:

4 comments hide comments

Thu, 15 Mar 2007 20:39

why is that language cute?

- ceerock

Thu, 15 Mar 2007 20:46

we wish you success? in logging in? i thought that was cute.

- guy

Sat, 17 Mar 2007 07:02

wow. you've got a couple of real beauties there. good eye.

- ::

Sat, 5 Jan 2008 15:17

yeeah great! post Thanks but why is that language cute? *G*

- erik




replaced old motd

"Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever."
from an alleged list of analogies and metaphors found
in actual high school essays.



robot-friendly architecture

just came back from the 2nd human-robot interaction conference, and an mit student who works in gehry's extravagant stata center, home of m.i.t's computer science and a.i lab, made a curious comment to me.

while i wondered whether it was a nightmare to run robots in the building's twisted architecture, she said that actually it's almost as if the building was made with robots in mind, because no two views of it look the same, which is great for robot navigation. she is obviously right. robots have limited sensing capabilities and there's nothing more confusing for the little critters than repetitive hallways and identical doorways.

no such problem at the stata center. robots could easily do single-camera memory-based navigation in that beast of crooked lines and tilted walls. the glass walls, though, she admitted - were a bummer for the laser range-finders.

honestly, i doubt that gehry thought about any of that, though.




beverage control

it's not new to my readers that i think america is insane in its attitude towards alcohol.

i was once more reminded of that when i went to a kaiju show at the avalon the other night.

not only did they check i.d at the entrance to give us bright green wristbands identifying us as 21+ years old (which to me are as much a style and buzz killer as the red plastic cups for drinks), but according to "a new law", the bartenders also carded you every time you wanted to get a drink. no matter how old you looked.

and when i say "no matter", i mean they took that very literally - denying my friend's mom who was there with us, and who "used a senior citizen discount for the first time" that week, a drink. when the barman found out that she had a wristband (!), he actually called security to remove the hazard.

if all of that wasn't enough, there was additional alcohol enforcement in form of a burly guy with a bright orange jacket emblazened with the words "beverage control" strolling the crowds to make sure everything is in order.

seriously, sometimes it feels like going out in america is actually just part of a huge prison team-building activity.

4 comments hide comments

Tue, 27 Feb 2007 13:07

i'm mostly just annoyed that it gives you more fuel for your over-exaggerations about america. but anyway, some underage kids in a club got killed (shot) here in d.c. recently and it's having a ripple effect as idiot lawmakers here and elsewhere are starting to decide that the way to prevent that from happening again is to ban underage people from bars and enforce it heavily. cuz people over 21 don't get shot, you know.

- cynthia

Tue, 27 Feb 2007 14:09

first of all, i'm not generalizing, just pointing out evidence for a ridiculous trend. if the local government(s) would stop behaving like this, i won't have any more fuel, right? ;) second, 'over-exaggerations' is redundant phrasing.

- guy

Tue, 27 Feb 2007 14:23

pfft. 'going out in america is like part of a huge prison team-building activity' is an over-exaggeration to me, and no that's not redundant. there are degrees of exaggeration. not all exaggeration is excessive. ;) and here's more about boston's 'new law'.

- cynthia

Wed, 17 Oct 2007 07:25

Well, some sort of line has to be drawn for underage drinking but there are times when common sense needs to prevail (ex. carding a lady who is obviously over the age of 21!).

- Fifth Wheels

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