Navigate videos - are emotions the next thing?

It really depends on a task we perform. Let's consider three tasks:

1. Find a movie of Sean Connery (either seen or not seen before by the user)

This is basically searching by attributes. An example is IMDB but some more interesting visualizations are used in e.g. FilmFinder which uses dynamic queries and a starfield display.

2. Find a video excerpt with a lion and a blond girl in it (either seen or not seen before by the user)

This task is a bit more complicated.

Christel and Martin (Information Visualization within a Digital Video Library) wrote:

Through the use of speech recognition (transcripts of speech), image processing (key frames of each camera shots), and natural language processing (headline generation), the digital video can be:

  • segmented into smaller pieces; each segment consists of a contiguous range of video and/or audio (or an extent of text such as a paragraph or chapter) that is deemed conceptually similar
  • analyzed to derive additional data (metadata) for creating alternate representations of the video
  • augmented with indices for fast searching and retrieval of segments

Several of these ideas are used in today's products. Key frames are used in e.g. iMovie. You tube has allowed users to add tags to videos which allows social tagging of videos.

Another interesting idea is to navigate videos by emotions. The idea is to record one's emotions via facial expressions and then let navigate that video by simply by remembering a feeling. Which opens new ideas to automatically gathered SOCIAL TAGS of FEELINGS. Imagine You Tube (or TV) record emotions of users (anonymously of course) and store these emotions in a database. People wouldn't even have to tag Now I want to see the top 10 movies in which people cried a lot. I want to see only funniest excepts of another movie. I want to ....

For several other possibilities read the Future applications in FAQ.

Personal information in hands of others - how safe it is?

There are 4 groups of personal information (PIM, Jones & Teevan, 2007):

  • Information a person keeps directly or indirectly for personal use. This is information used to complete tasks (documents, email, etc.), to  use for pleasure (music, videos, books, etc.), study ...
  • Information about a person but managed under the control of others. This group includes health records, police records, ISP's log files, tax agencies' records, libraries' logs, banks, etc.
  • Information experienced by a person but not under person's control. This might be a borrowed book, DVD or similar items form a friend, a library or from internet; but in a broader sense it's all information out there we come across.
  • Information directed to a person. This are received emails, software alerts, push ads on the web, RSS news, etc. Information from this group can fall into the first group after its acquisition.

The second group of personal information is the most troublesome for most of us. In most cases is probably better to leave our sensitive information with professionals and agencies that have several security measures to prevent such information to be disclosed to third parties. But we hear about how credit card's numbers leak to the internet and similar horrifying stories.

The soon-to-be-released study by CDW shows that people in USA trust their doctors to store their physical health records, but fear that in electronic format, this records would bee exposed to greater risks. It also showed that a third of doctors don't have basic security tools on their computers, such as antivirus software!!

The conclusion is, that having documents and records in digital form brigs a lot of advantages and sadly, disadvantages. The only thing we can do about this second group of personal information, is to HOPE that whoever has to deal with our information, considers the security and privacy very seriously and uses expected tools to prevent leaks of such information to unauthorized users! And believe me,  our health, tax and other records fly around from one office to the other, insurance companies, etc. So there's a lot of hands who handle our personal information.

Are some languages harder to learn than others?

An unusual post. But since my children are exposed in a completely new environment where (no one speaks their mother-tongue language and) they had to adopt quickly to be able to interact (and is surprising how flexible they are and how they do it), I decided to write this post.

I'm glad to speak (a so called complicated) language named Slovenian or Slovene (we even have two English words to describe something of Slovenia). To make a point with a silly example: we can e.g. travel the world, comment it in our own language and 99,9999% of people would not understand the meaning of our conversation. We now even have our own small (OK, really small) country. Still, our first manuscript dates before the year 1000, we had our first published book Abecedarium in 1550 and we are the 12th nation in the world which had translated the Bible (1584). Not many minority language speakers (we used to be a minority most of the time throughout the history) are so lucky. And many languages were sadly extinct in Europe in the last 200 years. 

The other day, a few British teenagers were guessing what language do we speak (me and my children). And they came  to the conclusion that it must be Australian. Beat me, how they figured it out (since they colonized Australia a few hundreds years back).

But I do agree that Slovenian in not easy to understand, nonetheless learn or speak. Take for example this story by Victor Irving:

Slovenian is one of the most complicated languages on earth.



Take this joke from students who were struggling with the language:

- Let's order two coffee.
- All right, coffee is kava and two is dva, so dva kava?
- No, it's dva kavo - 4th case because it's the object of the sentence: (I'd like) dva kavo.
- But hey, adjective and noun should match, so shouldn't it be: dvo kavo?
- Not really, because with two it's an exception: dve kavo
- All right, the dualism…
- Oh yeah, two has a separate ending! Ena kava, dve kavi, tri kave.
- So it should be Dve kavi, prosim,
- Don't forget it's still the 4th case.
- Same as the 1st for dual, female gender words.
- But I'd like my coffee with whipped cream: z smetan.
- That's the instrumental case. Z smetano.
- No, I think it's s smetano because of the pronunciation.
- Screw this: 'Two beer please.'


Another situation: Guys sees a girl walk by and wants to invite her for a coffee.

He is about to say: Zdravo! Gremo na kava?

Then he remembers: Oh wait, we're going somewhere, so fourth case: gremo na kavo. No wait, with 'gremo' she'll think it's for three or more persons, so: greva na kavo? Then he realises it's more polite to ask if she would like to go: Bi rad da greva na kavo? But since he's talking to a girl he has to say: Bi rada da greva na kavo?

- Zdravo! Bi ra…

The girl has passed by a minute ago.


Even more interesting is the way Slovenian bends city-names. The city is called Ljubljana, but you are from Ljubljane. The a changes into an e, however, if a city-name does not end with an a you add one. For instance, I am from Amsterdama. But if you go to the city, it becomes Ljubljano. And if you say you live there, you say in Ljubljani, or in case there is no a to change into an i, you say you live in Londonu.


The same with names: You are at Victorju (Victor's), the belch came out of Victorja and you're crying about an impossible grammatical system with Victorjem and you know about Victorjevega cat and haven't understood Victorjevega text.


Let's take a moment now to fully appreciate that six cases, three genders and singular, dual and plural endings lead to 54 options, and with adjectives that may differ from nouns, about 108 options. For newcomers, creating a sentence may take some time.


Most interesting, however, is that there are a few words that are the same in every case. Roza (pink) never changes, and neither does a name like Karen. Great. How about something similar for all words in Slovenian? People may still be able to understand each other; in English or Dutch coffee is coffee whether you drink it, see it, don't have it, order it or throw with it. Moreover, these days national identity is no longer dependant on a language's complexity. Slovenia is a real country, so the language can develop as all other languages: get easier. Maybe then foreigners can devote some brain capacity to what they want to say instead of how they have to say it.


Victor Irving lives in Ljubljani and is desperately trying to learn Slovensko.


Even though I see his point of view, I have no idea why he thinks we should make it less complicated. Our language evolved like every other language (reading old Slovene to me is like reading old English to native English speakers). We have had (even violent) influence of other languages as well and have several Italian and German words, and words from other Slavic languages in it. To change the language for foreigners, so they can easily learn it, does really not make any sense. I, for example, am sometimes struggling with English. Why the plural of ox is oxen, but the plural of fox is foxes? Does it make sense? No. Our kids now learn English alphabet and it seams odd to them that e.g. the letter E has five different sounds (egg, evening, resume, enemy, axe ...). Does it make sense? Not to us who "Write as we speak and read as it is written".  It's the oddity of the language development and beauty of its exceptions.

I like languages. It's what makes us rich and diverse. I actually live in an area where Italian language (besides at least English) is thought in schools and spoken in administration, where many people watch also Italian, German and Croatian TV, and radio stations play music of at least 5 different nations. We are not forcing our language on foreigners and most people in Slovenia speak at least a bit of two other languages (Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, German, English, Italian ...). Our language will keep changing like any other live language.

How the wrong field on a website can cost money - Expedia's optional company field

A few months old but nonetheless interesting. Expedia's web form looked like this:

Credit card number*:

Some costumers, instead of leaving the optional field (which was Company) empty, they entered their bank name and continued with the bank address instead of theirs. And the transaction could not be completed as the address did not match the card holder's address.

Apparently this cost them $12m in loss.

The personal details form and the billing form are now separated and divided in two steps.

1. The first form (passenger's info):

2. The second form (credit card and billing address info):

Information visualization

A really really interesting video about information visualization in journalism, industry and research (50 mins long but worth every minute).

Journalism in the Age of Data from geoff mcghee on Vimeo.