It’s not a bird, a plane, much less the Superman

It’s been a long time since my last post! I’ve had fabulous vacation days in my hometown in Northeastern Brazil: Recife. But there was something strange in one of the pictures that I took at Cinco Pontas Fort (formerly known as Frederick Henrich Fort by the Dutch Colonizers who build it in 1630). I just wanted to photograph the Recife’s flag and I saw that elliptical thing on the top of the picture.

UFO Recife

Since nobody knows how to explain what it is (at least so far)… it can be considered an UFO. It doesn’t look like a bird, a plane, much less the Superman. I am not such an extraterrestrials believer and not a photography expert neither. So, if you know what it could be, please leave a comment.

Mashing up the MATLAB Central Blogs

Although there are many sites, blogs and other resources about MATLAB on the web, one is worth be the frequently accessed by users: MATLAB Central, an official exchange area for users community. Inside, there are 4 blogs I like:

  • Loren on the Art of MATLAB: Loren Shure works on design of the MATLAB language at The MathWorks. She writes here about once a week on MATLAB programming and related topics.
  • Doug’s Pick of the Week: Doug is an Application Engineer at The MathWorks. A MATLAB user since 1994, he gets paid to live, eat, and breathe MATLAB! Each week, he highlights a submission from the File Exchange that he finds useful or interesting.
  • Steve on Image Processing: Steve Eddins manages the Image & Geospatial development team at The MathWorks and coauthored Digital Image Processing Using MATLAB. He writes here about image processing concepts, algorithm implementations, and MATLAB.
  • Inside the MATLAB Desktop: The MATLAB Desktop team, comprised of eight developers, builds the main user interface for MATLAB, including the Command Window, the Editor, and the Current Directory browser.

Using pipes again, I decided to join the four feeds (what also includes some podcasts) into one:

MATLAB Blogs Pipe
http://pipes.yahoo.com/dilsonlira/matlab_central_blogs

If you use Netvibes, add it to your page:

Add to netvibes

To get this feed into your mobile phone, I also created a WidSets widget:

Add to my Widsets

Mobilizing the feeds with WidSets

I’ve been following the developments of Nokia Beta Labs very closely. I do that not only as a customer, but as an enthusiast of mobile computing and mobile communications. There are many interesting applications I’ve tested on my phone, some of them I continue using and some I don’t think they are so useful. So far, my preferred is WidSets: a Java application that aggregates feeds, simple games, web search tools and other widgets in a custom dashboard that can be managed on a PC. It’s a kind of Netvibes on a mobile phone.

Dashboard

 Widgets, aggregators, social bookmarking and all these web 2.0 stuff make our lives much easier when we are using a PC. Certainly, they are much more valuable on a device full of limitations: a keyboard is hard to type, limited memory and (in many cases) charged usage. It’s such a calvary to open up a mobile browser, type a url and, only for that point on, start surfing on the web. At least for me, 70% of internet time is spent accessing the same few sources, most of them could be (and really are) bookmarked and the updates read by rss feeds, not the website itself. So, in a mobile phone, much more than any other device, the content should be easily accessible. Considering this, WidSets fits very well.

It’s interesting to know that it’s not only compatible with Nokia phones, it’s free and there are thousands of available widgets and if you want, create your own. Supported by a growing developer community and a well documented API, you can download the SDK and start coding. But, if you are not a geek or simply don’t have time for that (including myself), it’s really easy to create a new feed widget with just a few clicks. After that, you can keep it private or publish to other users also enjoy.

I have already published some feed widgets (most in portuguese language) in my WidSets page, including this blog’s feeds. So, if you like to read my feeds on your mobile phone, become a WidSets user put Manoel Lira’s Blog widget on your dashboard.

IEEE Communications Digest Mashup

I believe that some facilities brought by so called Web 2.0 should not be ignored. Who usually reads news in different sources has reasons enough to become a mashup user. My favorite mashup tool is still a beta release but works fine so far: Yahoo! Pipes – there I can mix different feed sources into one or exactly the opposite: split one source into many other subfeeds. More sophisticated ideas (like geocode a feed into a map, filter and even translate the feeds) can also be implemented. Everything is done graphically, in a very intuitive way, connecting blocks and pipes – that’s why the name.

Certainly this short description of Pipes can be useful, but it’s not the main idea of this post: one of the first pipes I’ve created is a IEEE Communications Digest (for those who are not familiarized with, IEEE means Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and is the biggest technical professional organization in the world). This mashup is a short compilation of some IEEE publications feeds in Communications area. It aggregates:

If you are interested, check it out: http://pipes.yahoo.com/dilsonlira/ieee_communications_digest. To have access to the texts pointed by the feeds, an IEEE member login is required. Otherwise, only the feed titles can be read.

A Nyquist–Shannon Sampling Theorem misunderstanding

The Nyquist-Shannon Sampling Theorem estabilishes that a sampling process of a continuous-time x(t) signal is perfectally reversible if the sampling frequency is at least the Nyquist rate (the double of the sampled signal bandwidth). However, I’ve been realizing some really experienced engineers have a lightly distorced interpretation of the theorem: to believe that the quality of a reconstructed signal increases with the sampling frequency and the frequencies much higher than Nyquist rate are needed to perform a satisfatory reconstruction.

A strongly possible reason to this erroneous understanding is the thought that the signal reconstruction is made by a linear interpolation of the samples. From that perspective, a higher rate sampling really makes the reconstructed signal closer to its original shape. But, the point is that the signal is not simply reconstructed by an interpolation. Instead, the process is compose by two stages:

  • A train of impulses is generated, which one multiplicated by it respective sample value;

x_i(t)=\sum\limits_{n=-\infty}^{\infty}x[n]\delta(t-nT)

  • Then, the resulting signal passes into a low-pass filter to discard all frequencies above the original signal bandwidth.

It is important to know that in practical terms, the reconstruction is not perfect because the theorem is only valid for bandlimited signals – requiring the signal to be prefiltered what makes a distortion on it and the low-pass filter is unrealizable because it’s response is not causal. So, although the mathematical behavior of the theorem is not achived phisically, the constraint is not the sampling rate, since the Nyquist rate be respected.

Getting started

Yes, this is my first post! I think I should had started blogging before, but… it’s never late.

I definitely have no big expectations about this blog. I just want to share some ideas I have and discuss some issues of my interest. This blog also will not be necessarily thematic, although most of posts probably will be somehow related to my professional and/or academic interests.

Certainly, some of my brazilian colleagues and friends question the reason of my blog is written in english, instead of my native and preferred language, portuguese. For those, I just have to say that, in my opinion, portuguese is and always will be the most beautiful language I ever knew (though, I don’t know so many others), but no other language could have a bigger audience than english, primarily when talking about technical issues. I do hate when results of my queries on the internet are in languages that I don’t understand, so that is my counterpart for all non-portuguese language readers. I only ask the ones who speaks english to apologize any eventual (or frequent) english mistake. Ok?

So, let’s get started. My (real) first post will be published soon.