Archive for February 2010

Computer generated lines on football broadcasts

I’ve often marvelled at the computer generated lines they draw across the fields in the football game broadcasts. Though not really expecting an answer, I’ve asked aloud during several broadcasts, “How do they do that? How do they draw those lines on the field.”

Inevitably, the answer comes back, simply, “With computers.”

Image from HowStuffWorks.com

“I know that, but how do they do it. Look! The lines don’t even cross over the players, it actually appears underneath them as if it were actually on the field.”

“I don’t know.”

That’s been the typical conversation  all these years, and I’ve come no closer to getting an answer. (Strangely, I’ve never Googled to find an answer.) Until today.

I learned that the first time this was done was during a game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinatti Bengals back in Sept. 27, 1998. (Bengals lost.) That is a long time to be wondering about this without ever investigating. I should probably be embarrassed.

Turns out Matt Lake of the New York Times published an article about this 10 years ago. The article is titled, “When the Game’s on the Line, the Line’s on the Screen”. In summary, this is how it’s done according to Matt Lake’s report:

  1. Surveying equipment is used to help create a 3-dimensional computer model of the football field. Each field being broadcast from needs it own model. A standard, generic model isn’t used.
  2. The video cameras used to broadcast the game have sensors that detect the cameras position and angle of view of the field including their zoom and focus settings.
  3. The raw video feed is received by a one of several computer graphics companies that specialize in handling the computer work for the broadcasts. They receive the feed just a few seconds before they broadcast goes over the air.
  4. The camera view information is matched against the computer generated model of the stadium. Then the field marker information is entered into the computer.
  5. The computer image is then overlaid over the video feed, but the computer work doesn’t end there. The grass color and lighting, adjusted for weather, needs to be matched so the computer image looks natural, but the computer needs to be informed of the teams colors so the image doesn’t cover the players. (That’s the part I always wondered about.)

So that, in a nutshell, is how it’s done.  Amazingly, all this is done in about 3 seconds. The same technology is used to enter those little ads, which seem to be getting bigger, in the corners of the TV screens.

You can read Matt Lake’s New York Times article for the full story. There’s another article at HowStuffWorks.com, too.

Yahoo Email and Upgrading from Vista to Windows 7

I read this question online recently:

I am upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7. How do I back up my Yahoo! emails and do I need to do it?

If you have a free Yahoo! email account then there is no need to back up your emails because the emails are stored on Yahoo!’s servers and not your computer.

If you have a paid Yahoo! email account, called Yahoo! Mail Plus, which costs $19.99 per year, then it is possible that you could be downloading email messages to your computer with a program such as Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Eudora, or some other program or email client.

Generally, when you are upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7 there is no need to erase your hard drive. When the hard drive is erased it is usually referred to as a “clean install”. While it’s always good idea to do a backup before an upgrade, it isn’t necessary. When upgrading from XP to Windows 7 the hard drive must be erased, so this is a case where it would be a good idea to have a backup of some sort.

Still, if you want to take the precaution of doing a backup, go to a computer store and get yourself an external USB drive such as a MyPassport from Western Digital and use the Windows Easy Transfer wizard to copy important files to the external drive. For more info on Windows Easy Transfer go here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/features/easy-transfer.aspx

For more info on upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 go here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/help/upgrading-from-windows-vista-to-windows-7

Everyone and the Johnsons file federal taxes for free

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of eSmart Tax. All opinions are 100% mine.

I received an interesting email today. eSmart tax is letting everyone in the U S of A to file for free online this year. No catch. No strings attached. This is the digital age, folks. Free lunches are becoming commonplace in the new economy.

And that’s not even the interesting part.

Is your name “Johnson”? Not only do Johnsons file free, but they get extras courtesy of eSmart’s new spokesperson, Daryl Johnson. Thanks to Daryl, you Johnsons get these bonuses:

The eSmart Refund Maximizer service: eSmart will review your return and look for additional tax reductions for greater refunds. They just might find items you never knew would qualify you for a larger refund.

Then there’s their CPA Audit Assistance. If you get audited by the IRS a Liberty Tax CPA audit specialist will be assigned to your case to support you throughout the process. Granted, this is service no one wants to call on, but it’s great to have in reserve.

Do you often ask “What if I did it this way?” Then you’ll appreciate the Compare “What If” Scenarios feature. You can consider the effects of that house you bought, or your new marital status, or those kids of yours who went to college. See how these situations change your tax liability, and see how you can get the best possible return.

So no matter who you are, check out eSmart and file for free. Even if you’re not a Johnson.

I wonder what they’ll do for the Smiths? The Joneses?

Visit my sponsor: eSmartTax.com

eBooks: Barnes and Noble Nook

After my last post regarding the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader, one of my Facebook friends asked:

“Isnt there a thing called the Nook or something that downloads books from the library?”

The answer is a big “Yes” and a little “No”.

Yes, there is a thing called the Nook, and its the ebook reader from Barnes and Noble, but the only library it downloads from is from Barnes and Noble’s catalog of books. Though if you think “free” when you think “library” then you could say “yes” because the Nook has over 500,000 free ebooks available to it, while the Amazon Kindle doesn’t. The nook retails at Barnes and Noble for $259.

Lending

One interesting feature of the Nook is its ability to allow you to lend select ebooks to friends for free for 14 days. They don’t even need a Nook themselves. All they need is an app they can install on their PC or Mac or their iPhone. Soon they’ll also be able to loan their books to Blackberry, Android, and Windows Mobile smartphones, too.

(I do find it strange that there is no Android app yet because the Nook runs on the Android operating system. Is it possible Barnes and Noble will forge some sort of alliance with Google, the provider of the Android OS?)

Expandable Memory

Another plus for the Nook is its expandable memory using MicroSD or MicroSD HC cards. The Kindle only has internal memory, and you can’t swap memory chips with books on them as you can with the Nook.

Color Nav Screen and WiFi

The Nook also has a separate color touchscreen for navigation, unlike the Kindle with its pure grayscale screen. It also has WiFi and 3G wireless, while the Kindle only has 3G. The plus here is you can access WiFi in the Barnes and Noble stores, and elsewhere, and browse and download content in your local bookstore. I suppose if you can access WiFi elsewhere, the you can probably download content there as well.

ebooks: Amazon’s Kindle or Sony Reader

Today, I am starting a series on ebooks and the digital readers. Maybe you didn’t notice, but there was a big jump in the e-book market last month.

Though e-book “readers” have been around for over 5 years already, they didn’t start to click with the public until the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle entered the scene.


Sony Pocket

Kindle (6 inch)

There’s no doubt the Kindle is well known, but the Sony Reader is far and away my favorite. The latest and least expensive reader from Amazon is the Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6″ Display and Global Wireless) for $259. While the Sony Digital Reader Pocket Edition (PRS300SC) goes for $175 (at Amazon.com, no less).

Amazon only has one other Kindle to choose, and that’s the Kindle DX (with a 9.4 inch display) for $489.

Sony has two other models to choose from: The Sony Reader Touch Edition (PRS600RC), $273, and the new Sony Reader Daily Edition (PRS-900BC) for $499. While the Pocket Edition uses buttons for navigation, the Touch Edition has a touchscreen. Another nice feature for the Touch is a stylus for writing notes on the screen, and the expandable memory with memory chips like you find in a digital camera or smartphone.

The Sony Daily Edition is the only Sony model that has wireless capability like either Amazon Kindle device.

While wireless capability in either device is convenient for the sake of downloading books on the go, and there is no need to worry about the added expense of paying for 3G wireless service from AT&T since Amazon foots the bill for you. The device comes preconfigured.

Both the Sony and Amazon devices allow you to download ebooks from a PC or Mac with a USB cable.

The pros and cons come in with your choice of sources for getting books for your reader. The Amazon Kindle only works with Amazon, while the Sony Readers can get books from any of a dozen or more ebook sites such as www.ebooks.com, www.kobobooks.com (partnered with Borders Books), www.gutenberg.org, Sony’s Ebookstore, and the Google Library, to name a few, not to mention several free ebook sources, too.

I’ll have more information on the ebook readers and ebooks in the days ahead.