I ran across a program the other day called FaceLook that after thinking about it is really kind of creepy. It let’s you take a picture of someone’s face and then the program goes on to mine all the pictures of Facebook with tags to identify the person.
Think about that for a second. There are currently over 800 million users of Facebook and they’re predicted to hit one billion by August 2012. That’s an awful lot of people out there that a $1.99 app can look through. If you haven’t done so you might want to think about changing your privacy settings of your photos so that only friends can see them unless you want people to find out who you are and possibly start stalking you.
If you own a Mac and have iPhoto installed that has facial recognition built in that gets better the more you use it, but that’s different because you keep those photos to yourself [until the entrance of iCloud]. Now I don’t know this for sure, but [time for the tin foil hat] what if someone hacked into Apple’s iCloud or the government is allowed access to it?
iOS and Android devices just keep getting better and better as time goes on and the software people are writing for them is as well. We’ve got 8 megapixel cameras going into these little phones now and they shoot 720p video as well. I’ve been amazed at the quality of the video I’ve shot with my iPhone. Especially when I’m in a good position to hold it still enough.
They’ve already got an app called Action Movie that adds wickedly cool effects into movies shot on the iPhone or iPad that look very realistic [Car Smash and Missle Attack are my favorites]. So you never know what’s possible. Man was sent to the moon using a room full of computers that were slower and dumber than a smartphone. Now we throw birds at pigs. What will be possible in the future my scare you more than what’s out there to scare you today.
I was on the Muni metro the other day and happened to run out of things to do with my iPhone while traveling to my destination. I happened to remember that I had a decibel meter on my iPhone and decided to run it because the street car seemed a bit loud. I was pretty surprised at what it told me. It peaked at 105db and averaged between 90-95db. What does this all mean? Read on and find out.
A normal conversation takes place at about 70db. A loud rock concert can be at 110-120db. Anything over 85db is bad for your hearing in long bursts. Once you pass 85db you’ll start to develop hearing damage after 30 minutes. Pass 100db and in five minutes you’ll start to develop damage.
I luckily have a set of earplugs that reduce the noise by 60db and they’re reusable. I used to be the guy at rock concerts that was uncool because I wore earplugs. When I was managing the band Warfare D.C. we used to sell earplugs so that the people coming to the show and the musicians in the bands didn’t have to go deaf when performing.
I remember getting jeered at in the beginning, but some of the people didn’t like leaving the clubs with their ears ringing and started to purchase the earplugs. They were a foam type that you could throw away afterwards and selling them gave us a bit of an edge because it was one of the few ways to make extra money by selling everyone a disposable item for under a buck.
I never thought that the street cars would be so loud and now I might set up shop outside West Portal station or perhaps down at Embarcadero or Montgomery stations selling the ear plugs. Our transit system shouldn’t be so noisy, but it is. While I had thought about noise at concerts I never thought about noise in every day life and it’s pretty astounding.
If you go to work everyday on the streetcars like most people do, you’re exposing yourself to noise pollution of a high magnitude. When I was in a band and rehearsing we used to get the local police knocking on the door telling us that we were emitting greater than 75db from my house where we rehearsed and had to stop. I never thought about that, but essentially they were saying we were having a loud conversation that other people could hear. We weren’t necessarily endangering people’s ears outside the house, but the law is the law. I’m sure we were putting out more than 75db from the house, but the law is also sometimes leaning toward the neighbors of a nice quiet neighborhood. I suppose that’s why most rehearsal studios tend to be in industrial not residential areas.
I’m hoping that some of the San Francisco Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee will read this and think about it. We don’t want a large majority of San Franciscans saying, what was that you said when they hit their 40’s. I’ve been so good with my protecting my ears from a young age that I can’t have my cell phone more than halfway up when I have the ringtone turned on because it seems too loud. My wife is taking a shower right behind me with a wall separating us and it seems loud to me yet only registers at about 55db. I hear the humming of the fans and electronic equipment like our refrigerator that most people never hear. When we get hit with the occasional black out everyone I know says it sounds weird and that’s because they can’t hear the 60hz hum of the power lines like I can.
I have become what people in the recording industry refer to as a GEB [golden eared bastard] because I can hear things other people can’t. It’s a bit of a blessing and curse at the same time, but I highly suggest if you work downtown or have to take public transportation on a regular basis that you try wearing earplugs for a month and see if you don’t start to hear better. Better yet, if you have a smart phone download a decibel meter app. I got mine for 99¢ test it everywhere. Trust me you’ll be surprised.