The Math Trick Behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpson’s Face

The Math Trick Behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpson’s Face

An excellent explanation of the Fournier Transform by Aatish Bhatiya.

Nine years ago, I was sitting in a college math physics course and my professor spelt out an idea that kind of blew my mind. I think it isn’t a stretch to say that this is one of the most widely applicable mathematical discoveries, with applications ranging from optics to quantum physics, radio astronomy, MP3 and JPEG compression, X-ray crystallography, voice recognition, and PET or MRI scans. This mathematical tool—named the Fourier transform, after 18th-century French physicist and mathematician Joseph Fourier—was even used by James Watson and Francis Crick to decode the double helix structure of DNA from the X-ray patterns produced by Rosalind Franklin. 

It’s fascinating to see the technology implemented in so many things. 

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Android 4.4 KitKat on the Nexus 4 (direct port)

I own a Nexus 4. KitKat was released, and I was grateful that I wouldn’t have to wait very long to receive my OTA update.

Then I found out that an Android 4.4 release for the Nexus 4 wasn’t due “for a few weeks” according to Google. How could I possibly survive that torturous waiting time, while being tantalized by Nexus 5 reviews on my Feedly pages?

I’m not good at waiting. There was no way I was going to. So, sacrificing a (teeny) bit of sleep and homework time, I decided to go ahead and get a taste of KitKat myself.

I was initially going to use an AOSP version of the ROM, released by Paranoid Android. Then I read something in the comments about there being a direct port. After a quick Google search, I found a page on XDA about installing a fully functional version of KitKat ported from the Nexus 5. I decided to use that instead.

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KitKat: Android Refined and Redefined

Android-logo

Google teamed up with Nestle to brand the latest version of Android with a popular snack

One can no longer dismiss Android as being “cluttered”.

Android 4.4 KitKat barely managed an October release with a Halloween launch. While it was not a complete visual overhaul, the features and UI tweaks that were added certainly had a positive impact on the user experience.

One of most prominent changes was a cleaner user interface. There is a new “immersive mode”, a feature which Google describes as “automatically hid[ing] everything except what you really want to see” on its official KitKat site. In addition to this, the software buttons are transparent, and many of the system colors and status bar icons have shifted from the iconic holo blue to white. This makes it so that the color of the OS does not clash with the theme of each individual app. By shifting to a subtler (yet still readable) color, The user can focus on the app’s contents without being distracted by the system.  Overall, these minor implementations do not detract from the full functionality that is unique to Android, but arranges the features in a simpler, cleaner way that gets rid of the obtrusiveness that had existed in earlier versions of the OS.

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Death of the iPod Classic?

Remember back in 2001, when 5GB of storage for $399 was a huge deal? Well, that was the 1st generation iPod Classic, the very first one that started the whole iPod product line. Now, the Classic offers 160GB for $249. A lot has changed.

But the Classic hasn’t had an upgrade since 2009. While 160GB is still quite a lot, Apple could offer much more storage for the same price with today’s technology.

What got me worried was that Apple didn’t release an update to the Classic during their keynote last fall. They introduced the Lightning connector as the new standard for charging by swiftly replacing old 30-pin connectors on the iPod Touch, Nano, and iPad. The iPod Classic was left out of the party. If Apple had more plans for the Classic, they would have at least updated the cable, even if they were happy with the current model.

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