Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Admin: MacBook replaces lemon Windows notebook

I won't bore everyone with details about the last rites on my old notebook, but suffice it to say that the manufacturer agreed to fully refund the purchase price of the notebook and I am back to blogging again.

What may not be so boring is that I replaced that Windows notebook with a MacBook.  The MacBook has a dual core Intel processor and is running both Apple's OS-X and Microsoft's Windows XP Pro.  The Windows operating system is running in virtualization mode using a program called Parallels (note: I had to purchase a copy of Windows and Parallels separately, but they were fairly inexpensive).

As far as audio and video processing goes, I have been able to load and run Acoustica, Audacity, Audition, Clarifying Technologies, and Signalscape on the MacBook and all have worked in real-time for the types of files I tested with.  Due to work commitments, I have not been able to take enough time to "make friends" with the native Mac sound and video applications, but hope to do that slowly over the next few months. I'll report back my on observations.  If anyone has a preference as to a specific application for audio or video forensics they would like me to give priority to, just let me know in the comments or off-line.

In the meantime, Brian Dipert (Senior Technical Editor over at EDN) has also been transitioning over to a MacBook and has blogged about his experiences in several posts, this one being the latest as of this writing.

Image Recognition: License plate scanners

The technology manufacturing cycle is at work with license plate (tag) scanners - decreasing prices lead to more sales and deployments, which lead to further cost decreases and so on.  We've all seen it with personal computers, cell/mobile phones, DVD players, flat screen displays, and a multitude of other devices.  Now this market force is at work with license plate scanners , which are now being deployed on police cars.  The scanners are automating what was before a completely manual process - namely running stolen tag numbers and such - and doing it much faster.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Human Auditory System: Mobile/Cell Phones Can Harm Hearing

I have not tracked down the conference paper on this yet, but the results do go hand in hand wiht what I have noticed with my own hearing - talking on a cell/mobile phone for over an hour a day can harm your hearing.  The research was conducted by Dr. Naresh Panda (an ear, nose, and throat specialist in India).

Some time ago, I began noticing the feeling of my ear warming up - as was described in the article - and I associated it with a decrease in my sensitivity of hearing.  At first, I just made a point of switching the phone to the other ear every few minutes.  Over time, I switched to speaker phone mode when possible and ear buds when not.  That is how I still behave today. Of course, I try to be overly protective of my hearing anyway - for example, when using ear plugs on airplanes and when operating lawn mowers and blowers.  Better safe than sorry, as the saying goes....and in this study, it seems that I may have erred on the correct side.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Human Auditory System: Ability to listen to two things at once is inherited

Researchers at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) have found evidence that the ability to listen to listen to and comprehend two things at once was mostly an inherited skill.  

On a personal level, I have known for a long time that my wife can do this while I can not, and assumed that there might be a gender-based component to the cause.  Hmm... Might be time for a re-think of that hypothesis.

Aero-Acoustics: Making airplanes quieter

Here is an article in the Deccan Herald on redesigning aircraft engines, engine placement, and landing approach procedures to reduce noise levels on the ground by up to 25 dB (a very significant decrease if achieved).  The article is very readable.  Enjoy!