Vincent Cheung

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Hong Kong, China, and Australia

Bye! See you in 2009!

Talk amongst yourselves.

Random observations 2

  • There are *way* more asians in Winnipeg then there used to be. It used to be that you'd go to a bar and you could literally count the number of non-white people on one hand. I don't know where all these people came from. It seems that the generation just a few years younger than mine is a lot more multicultural, even in Winnipeg.

  • Girls definitely dress a lot skankier here than in Toronto. Even with a windchill of -40, girls wear super short skirts and dresses. Girls in Toronto seem to dress rather conservative in comparison.

  • Tonight it'll warm up to -18 with a windchill of -28. I think we've finally seen the end of this cold snap! (This is *not* a sarcastic statement, this is the actual view of people over here)

Oh, and here are some amusing photos showing how cold it is:

Oh wait, these aren't actually pictures from Winnipeg where we've seen windchills as low as -49 in the last few days and there's permanently 2 feet of snow on the ground. My friend in Seattle took these and it was -3 outside and it had snowed a little overnight.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No more orthodontist!

I got my braces back in Grade 6... 1992! My orthodontist is in the Medical Arts Building on the 15th floor and I clearly remember the elevator being a novelty because it was the only time that I would ride the elevator. Nowadays, I ride the elevator every day in my apartment, but my elevator manners have Winnipeg roots.

I got my braces off after maybe a year and a half, but ever since then, I've still been going to my orthodontist every 6 or 12 months just for him to check on my teeth and how my retainer fits, which takes a whole 2 minutes. He tells me to just pop it in overnight once every few months or so just to make sure things stay where they are. The only reason I keep going to see him is that I haven't had to pay for the visits for the past 14 years! I don't know anyone that still wears their retainer, let alone still visits their childhood orthodontist!

I just went today and he told me that he's letting me go! After 16 years, I no longer have to go to my orthodontist!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Random observations

Actual flight path and door-to-door transportation as recorded by my GPS device
(This is just a screenshot b/c Google Maps couldn't handle that big of a file)

  • The taxi driver was giving me career advice. He thought that I should learn Mandarin.

  • Cabbie was talking to me in Cantonese. I hadn't heard that much Chinese for a long time.

  • It's still harrowing walking through the airport metal detector carrying a cat without a leash or anything.

  • Tiki didn't move or make a sound the entire flight. I don't think the woman on the aisle seat knew she was even there.

  • During the initial announcement, the flight attendant tried to make a reference to the commercial where the guy thinks he's on a flight to Hawaii, but is actually on a flight to Winnipeg and goes "...going to Winnipeg..." No one laughed.

  • When asked who was from Winnipeg, the entire flight went in an uproar. No one goes to Winnipeg at this time of the year unless they are from there.

  • The games on the Zune are actually pretty fun.

  • Upon arrival, the flight attendant neglected to notify us of the local time (one hour behind)

  • When it was announced that the current temperature in Winnipeg was -27, it wasn't a big deal or Earth shattering news.

  • While waiting for my luggage, I saw a woman drinking a slurpee. This is why Winnipeg is the slurpee capital of the world.

  • I miss the feeling of the cold fresh air in your lungs.

  • When driving here, if it's not a big road, you actually drive on top of snow since the roads aren't cleared right to the asphalt and salt doesn't work b/c it's too cold.

  • There are 3 cats within arm's reach of me right now as I am sitting on my bed.

  • Mi-Mi has reclaimed her spot on my bed and refuses to budge. Tiki is confused. Tiggy is indifferent.

  • The fish is big now.

  • The dog is big now.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Shape Collage

Some collages of Tiki made using Shape Collage

Shape Collage is the latest side project that I've been working on. It is an automatic photo collage making program that can make collages in different shapes. Just look at the collages above and at the end of the post to see what it can do. There are a lot more examples on the Shape Collage web page.

It's really easy to make a collage. You can make one with just 2 mouse clicks and in as little as a couple seconds! It's quite customizable as well, as you can change the shape to really, anything you want. You can even draw your own shape! You can also customize the border, background, etc.

Arranging photos into a collage

The photos are automatically placed in the desired shape of the collage using a machine learning algorithm that I came up with that is simple, but fast and effective. Basically what it does is put the photos on a page and jiggle them around so they are arranged nicely. This is a much harder problem than you may think. My readers with some knowledge of computer science will be familiar with NP problems. My algorithm isn't perfect, but it does a pretty good job most of the time. If you're really anal about it, you can save the collage as a Photoshop PSD and edit the collage in Photoshop if you don't like the automatic placement of the photos.

I started working on this project b/c I read a paper that automatically created a photo collage and thought that it was really cool, especially since it took me so long to make my Californian photo collage. Since they didn't actually release a program or their source code, I decided to just implement their approach, but it was overly complicated and rather slow - it took several minutes to create a collage with just 30 photos. So, I tried something simpler that was much faster - my program can easily create a collage with thousands of photos. Then I realized that my algorithm didn't have to only create rectangular collages and could also create collages in different shapes, something that I had never seen before, and so Shape Collage was created!

Anyways, check it out and let me know what you think! It's available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and anything that supports Java.

Snowboarding snowman collage

Volleyball collage

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