Mel's Picks


Online Vision Tutorial


1. Banner Engineering maintains a lovely set of sensor tutorials online. This month I'm highlighting their machine vision tutorial. If you aren't familiar with the topic and you need to understand what a machine vision system consists of and why, then check the Vision portion of the iKnow tutorials. It's basic, but it'll explain how machine vision systems work, what to pay attention to, and what the various technical terms involved mean.


Job Search Site


2. My thanks to Mike Parker for pointing out, a job search site that aggregates job postings from multiple sources. It's got a clean, Google-ish interface, and lets you sort by job title, location, company, job type, and whether the listing is from an employer or recruiter. Should you ever find yourself looking for a new job, you might want to add this site to your battery of resources.


Personalized Ringtones


3. The relationship between music and mathematics is very well established, but now, courtesy of Wolfram Research, there's a new twist. WolframTones are ringtones generated from simple computational programs, music theory, and some algorithms to convert them into music. Visit the site and learn how the tunes are generated. It's fascinating stuff.

How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion
Author: Daniel H. Wilson
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 1-58234-592-9

In case you didn't pick this up from its title, this book is a slight departure from my normal review fodder. The author, who has a PhD in robotics and data mining, went around and asked actual robotics researchers to explain the current state-of-the-art in robots in the context of an upcoming robotic rebellion.


While this 176-page book is classified as humor (and is, indeed, very funny), it also serves as a nice overview of what robots can (and cannot) do. There are five sections: Briefing (the introduction), Know Your Enemy (which reviews the many types of robots and artificial intelligences out there, including smart houses and cars and includes several sections detailing the types of sensors used by robots), Fight Back (which, as you might imagine, includes such pearls of wisdom as how to recognize a rebellious servant robot, how to treat a laser wound, and how to enhance yourself with cybernetic implants), Surviving a Robot Uprising (wherein you will find tips on establishing a hidden base in robot territory, how to recruit human allies, and a list of last-ditch robot eradication methods), and Debriefing (a last cautionary note).

It's small, it's glossy, and each section starts with a famous robot-related quotation. Sure, you'll laugh, but you'll also learn a surprising amount.

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