Thursday, September 19, 2013

Beauty is (usually) fragile

While updating my father's iPhone 5 to the latest iOS 7, I can't help but pause and admire the beauty of the phone itself, all the while waiting for the iOS 7 to download. The beautiful, aluminium chamfered edge is just a sight to behold. The phone is light, yet feels solid in your hands. The phone is thin, yet is packed with power. It's unbelievable.

But this is no Apple advertisement. I'm here to tell you that, simply speaking, it all doesn't matter.


Let me explain.

You see, having not own any Apple products now, you might think that I'm unqualified to make this conclusion. But I do. You see, I used to have an MacBook Pro Retina. Until I can't stand it and sold it. My brother had an iPad 2, and my father had Mac mini and iPhone 5. And you know what's my biggest gripe with Apple products so far? It's not that they are not pretty and/or refined. They are. Very much so. The problem is, every time you used it, you just feel like you wanna take a moment and admire its beauty. And I think there are something fundamentally wrong with that. You don't buy a phone to admire its beauty. You buy it because you want to used it to call/sms or whatever. It is just a means to an end. End of story.

I remember back when I had the MacBook Pro Retina, it is simply gorgeous. Plus, it works well as a computer. The only major problem I had with it was that, every time when I try to take it out of a bag to use it, I'm so worried about scratching it. As you know, aluminium is soft and can dent easily. And if you are not careful, you might accidentally scratch it or scuff it. This is just ridiculous. For years using a laptop, I never have that problem. Accidentally dented your laptop? Who cares? It cost maybe RM3-4k and you are gonna buy a new laptop 3 years later anyway. And thus, in the end, people buy cases for their MacBooks and iPhones. I have simply never heard of people buying a case for their laptop. Period.

And thus here lies the fundamental problem with most Apple products. They are just too beautifully made, too fragile to withstand everyday abuse, and too expensive to just get a new one, or to repair whatever damage you have done to it. And in the end, I think it's just sad that people buys a phone as beautiful phone as the iPhone 5, admire it for a few seconds, and then pop that into a case thereafter - hiding its beauty because you feel you had the obligation to preserve that beauty.

It's a tool. Not an art piece. And it should stay that way. Perhaps.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Table of results for NORB dataset

This is a table documenting some of the best results some paper obtained in NORB dataset.
  1. An Analysis of Single-Layer Networks in Unsupervised Feature Learning (AISTATS 2012)
    Cited 161 times.  
  2. Regularization of Neural Networks using DropConnect (ICML 2013)
    Cited 0 times. 96.77%
    Link to project page (Contains source code etc)
    Link to Supplementary Material
    Link to slides

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Table of results for STL-10 dataset

This is a table documenting some of the best results some paper obtained in STL-10 dataset.
  1. Pooling-Invariant Image Feature Learning (ARXIV 2012)
    Cited 0 times.  58.28%
    Additional info: 1600 codes, learnt using 2x PDL
  2. Deep Learning of Invariant Features via Simulated Fixations in Video (2012)
    Cited 0 times. 56.5%Additional info: Trained also with video (unrelated to STL-10) obtained 61%

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Caltech-101 Table of results is updated.

It has been more than 3 years since I last posted up a table of results for Caltech-101 dataset. I have been updated regularly ever since. But today, it has been updated in full. All the citation counts and fixed a couple of mistakes.

Also, we have a new entry. A paper titled "Spatially Local Coding for Object Recognition" which obtained 81% accuracy, making it near the top of the list.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The irrational hate

Granted that people likes to hate. Sometimes it is justifiable. Often times, it is not. Take for example this post:

The claim was that, the new Apple's iPod Nano sometimes has stolen some design cues from Nokia Lumia.

The new iPod Nano looked like this:

Nokia Lumia 800 looked like this:
Wow. It seems to be true then. Apple is copying Nokia. Until you looked further. Nokia Lumia's design actually came from Nokia N9, which had a similar design. The Nokia N9 looked like this:
Nokia N9, on the other hand was released on September 2011.

This is how the previous generation of Apple's iPod Nano (which was released on September 2010) looked like:

Eh, this is difficult, I wonder who is copying who?

Now, I would hate to be engaged in anymore hate fest. I love my android, and I don't think I will be buying any Apple products anytime soon, but this irrational hate fest makes me wanna just go out and buy some Apple products, just so I can screw with those egoistic Apple hater.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Steve Jobs's opinion of Microsoft and my take on it

In watching "Steve Jobs - The lost interview" (an interview with Steve Jobs made in the year 1995), there was a moment where Steve Jobs talk about what he thinks of Microsoft. Here's a quote:

"Microsoft's orbit was made possible by a Saturn 5 booster called IBM. And I know Bill would get upset with me for saying this, but of course it was true. And much to Bill and Microsoft's credit they used that fantastic opportunity to create more opportunities for themselves. Most people don't remember but until 1984 with the Mac, Microsoft was not in the application business. It was dominated by Lotus. And Microsoft took a big gamble, to write for the Mac. And they came out with applications that were terrible. But they kept at it and make them better. And eventually, they dominated the Macintosh application market. And then used a spring board of Windows to get into the PC market with the same applications. And now they dominated the application business in the PC space too. So they have 2 characteristic. I think they are very strong opportunists. And I don't meant that in a bad way. And 2, they are like the japanese. They just keep on coming. And now, they were able to do that because of the revenue stream from the IBM deal. But nonetheless they made the most of it and I gave them a lot of credit for that. The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste, and what that means is... I don't mean that in a small way, I meant that in a big way in the sense that they don't think of original ideas. And they don't bring much culture into their products. And you say why is it important, well, proportionally spaced font came from typesetting and beautiful books. That's where one gets the idea. If it weren' for the Mac they would never have that in their products. And, so I guess, I'm saddened not by Microsoft's success. I have no problem with their success. They've earned their success, for the most part. I have the problem with the fact that they just make really third-rate products. Their products have no spirit to them. Their products have no... sort of spirit of enlightenment about them. They are very pedestrian. And the sad part is most customers don't have a lot of that spirit either. But they way we are going to ratch it up... our species, is to take the best, and to spread it to everybody so that everyone grows up with better things, and start to understand the subtleties of these better things. And Microsoft is just.. McDonalds. And that's what saddened me. Not that they have won, but that Microsoft products don't displayed more insight and more creativity."

Basically, to sum it up, in Steve Jobs's opinion, Microsoft was a very opportunistic company. They almost always able to identify new emerging markets and they made lousy products but at the same time, Microsoft has this strong sense of self-preservation and perseverance that they will listen to the customer and they will improve their products as time goes (albeit in an incremental sort of way, mostly). That being said, Microsoft products are boring, uninspiring, unradical but nonetheless mostly practical and would certainly get the job done.

And, truth be told, fast forward to present time, Microsoft doesn't seems to be of any different, for the most part anyway. Microsoft products still wasn't cool. Windows 7 certainly wasn't cool. And yes most of us are using it to do pretty useful things. And yes most of us do gaming on the Windows platform. And although Mac OS was indeed gaining ground at the expense of Windows, Windows was still basically the de facto OS. It is which things that we take for granted. For most things, Microsoft was basically a follower, but no one would deny that Microsoft could take the existing things and make it better. One thing that has always held back Microsoft was the unwillingness to break rules. Microsoft was afraid to do something truly radical, something truly different, truly new. Microsoft, in a way they are very much like Google. It is a company run by none other than engineers and marketing people. This is in contrast with Apple, in which designer, thinker and people with passion and vision for the future was dictating the company's future.

The real question is that, should Microsoft be more like Apple? My answer for that would be - no. Microsoft doesn't have to be more like Apple. What Microsoft really have to do though, is to do better at what they are already good at. Microsoft should move quicker, listen to their customer more, make software more secure, cheaper and more user-friendly to the users. And that, would be the end.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why I would buy an iPhone 4S (Or any Apple products)

As a gadget lover, I started using smartphone since the days of Windows Mobile with a Sony Ericcson XPERIA X1. It was certainly a very capable smartphone and it is largely usable (well, of course it does). Needless to say, I was utterly blown away when I first gave Android a try. The fact that you can do away with desktop sync, the way you can do away with worrying about needing to copy your old contacts information from old phone to new phone manually is simply magnificent. At that time, I thought no other phones came close, not even the mighty iPhone.

However, one might ask, why is Android the way it is? People who follows the history of iPhone and Android will tell you that they are both introduced on the same year (2007). Well, to be precise, iPhone is first introduced on January 2007, while Android is announced on the same year somewhere in November. If you wanted to know how Android look at that time (2007), this link would shed some light. Now, you would say it doesn't look much like anything like the Android we are used to nowadays. But that was how Android look at that time.

Naturally, the question of whether Android copied iOS or the reverse is debatable. The reality is that both copies stuff from one another. An example of iPhone (as in iOS) copies Android would be the notification center in iOS 5 (the favorite example by Android loyalist). However somewhere in the year 2008/9, Android makes a radical change, abandoning most of the UI before that and fully embrace touch screen, well, just like iOS. By now, I guess it is fair to say that Android borrows quite a lot of concept from iOS. Without iOS, Android *might* have looked different from what it is today.

That is not to say that Android is just like iOS. In fact, Android quite differ from iOS in many ways. For one, the Android provides more flexibility (thus, more fragmented), which many argued that iOS is basically a walled garden system (for better or worse). Apple did this to control the quality of the apps and prevent vendor/telcos from fragmenting the platform by implementing their own UI spin (think HTC Sense UI, etc). Without going into the whole Android vs iOS debate, I guess most readers would recognize their differences and came to the conclusion that comparing them is like comparing Apples and Oranges (Even though both of them are basically fruits and they are very good for you).

However, I have a confession to made. I have respect for people who chooses Android. After all, I did it myself by going with Samsung Galaxy S. The problem is that there is a faction of die-hard Android loyalist that chooses Android because it made them look geekier/nerdier or the fact that it might make them appear smarter than the rest of iPhone-rs (which is most of the people you saw on the streets). While it might be true that they are sort of smarter (or financially poorer, depending on how you look), I believe there is a faction of people who chooses Apple because they appreciate it for what it is. It may be that they are a designer themselves and therefore have better taste, or they knows how to appreciate good UI/UX, or it may be that they just wanted a really good phone. This is something Android loyalist just can't understand. They think that it only attributes to Steve Jobs's reality distortion field or the fact that he's a really good sales man (Even though, that is undoubtedly true).

Personally, as a designer/coder, I have always thought that I had some good design sense. I can appreciate good UI/UX (User eXperience) when I see one. And I strive to design good UI/UX as much as I can. From my experience with using Android and iOS, iOS has slightly better overall UX than Android. Even though both are better than Windows Mobile (I reserved my judgement on Windows Phone 7 until I have used it myself). As such, I certainly can envision myself using both iPhone and Android - most people nowadays carry 2 phones anyway.

In conclusion, there will always be people buying an Apple products just because they wanted to look cool or they simply wanted to brag about it (read: people on Facebook who tells everyone about his cool new phone). However, I have no more respect for people who wanted an Android to look smarter. In the end, the smartest people buys and use whichever phones/gadgets that does what they wanted. There is no need to compare whose balls are bigger - they are all balls.

TL/DR: It's just a fucking phone. Get over it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Table of results for COIL-100 dataset

This is a table documenting some of the best results some paper obtained in COIL-100 dataset.

COIL-100 is a dataset containing images of 100 objects, each with 72 views. Here's a link to the official web site for COIL-100.
  1. Nearest Prime Simplicial Complex for Object Recognition (2011)
    Cited 0 times. 97.19%
  2. Multiple-View Object Recognition in Smart Camera Networks (2011)
    Cited 0 times. 95%
  3. Deep Learning from Temporal Coherence in Video (2009)
    Cited 30 times. 92.5%
  4. Deep Learning of Invariant Features via Simulated Fixations in Video (2012)
    Cited 0 times. 82%
    Additional info: Trained also with 
    van Hataren videos (unrelated to COIL-100) obtained 87%

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Internet is its biggest enemy

We lived in a new, unprecedented era. An era where Internet is considered by some the most powerful weapon against an oppressive regime. Like Wael Ghonim said, "If you want to free a society, just give them Internet access". If you wanted examples of this, you need only to look at what happened in Egypt, Libya and Syria. But why, you ask. After all, the Internet is merely a communication tool. We've had communication tools for centuries. True. However, you have to remember that communication in the olden days are slow and unreliable. Today we communicate almost at the speed of light and while traditional media like newspaper, magazines and news program can be censored, on the Internet, the more you try to censor something, the more it could backfire, provided the situation is right. This phenomenon is otherwise known as the "streisand effect".

Today, many scandals are being exposed because of Internet. And as companies like Sony, Apple and Microsoft knows all too well, once a bad story turns up on the Internet, there is no going back. You can't take something down on the Internet. Took down one web page and a thousand sprung up. Once an image is tainted, it is really difficult to repair. Of course, this is mostly good for consumers.

In this day and age, it is getting harder to keep secrets. Especially so for secrets that has a profound impact for citizens of a country or consumers. The rise of whistleblower sites like wikileaks would not have been possible without the Internet and an anonymous communication tool such as Tor that allows you to surf the Internet anonymously. Additionally tool like Tor disable an oppressive regime's ability to censor anything on the Internet, not unless the Internet is shut down completely. Even so, the U.S. is working on what they call "Internet in a box" as a way to counter that.

Hence, by now, you must be tempted to think that this is a great era. A great era for freedom. A great era for society that wants to be just and fair for all. However, as great and wonderful the Internet is, it turns out to be its own biggest enemy. Because of availability of anonymity on the Internet, the Internet is filled with rumors, lies and propaganda propagated by irresponsible parties. It is becoming more and more difficult to believe something you read on the Internet and harder still to separate the truths from the half-truths. It is for this reason that most people (older generation perhaps) these days tend to believe what they read on newspaper and/or TV rather than something being forwarded by E-mail, for example.

To give an example, if a particular news that negatively portrays the leader of a particular country has surfaced on the Internet, even if it's the truth, could be rendered (mostly) useless if the people was made to believe that the it was artificially made up by the opposition with ill intentions. The situation is made more futile if no one claims responsibility for spreading the news in the first place. When there is anonymity, there would be no accountability. And the truth is there are people out there that would do all sorts of crazy/illegal things if total anonymity is guaranteed - that is, he/she would not be able to be held accountable, for whatever he/she did. However, in this case, anonymity is the reason the news surfaced at all, because if you know something that could potentially threaten some very powerful people, it is very likely that you would preferred to be anonymous for obvious reasons.

Henceforth we are faced with a difficult situation: we can keep the Internet anonymous and lose accountability, or destroy anonymity of the Internet and lose freedom on the Internet. It would seems that we just can't have it all.