Testing how DALL-E layers on to prior art

DALL-E is quite impressive and it’s been fun to see all the different images it has been conjuring up.

I am still on the waitlist but a few friends have access to it. One of them helped run a couple of queries on my behalf and it was quite interesting to see the result.

So the first query was “a public swimming pool inside a nuclear reactor”. That one got rejected due to violating the content policy. So we revised it to “a public swimming pool inside an energy reactor”

“a public swimming pool inside an energy reactor” – Dall-E

That was super impressive! But in my mind I had also imagined people in it. So my friend graciously ran another query “people swimming in a public pool inside a nuclear reactor”. And here’s what we got.

“people swimming in a public swimming pool inside an energy reactor” – Dall-E

Pretty neat right? It was interesting to see how the images changed when it layered on people to the previous set.

It’s interesting to realize that today I’m writing a blog post about just a couple of images generated this way. But in a few years this will probably be so common and taken for granted by many.

Using a mirror effect on drone footage

I was out on a hike recently with my folks and took some drone footage of the area. I decided to try out a mirror effect on the drone footage and it came out rather nice.

This is a first rough cut at it on a low resolution version of the footage. The entire thing is a single shot with no cuts.

What do you think?

The terrain reminded me of this other video I had shot many years ago in Tanzania, also a single shot with no cuts.

Experiencing Macchu Picchu in National Geographic’s VR

So I have been to Macchu Picchu in person, doing the whole 4 day Inca Trail hike. But I just revisited it via VR using National Geographic’s experience and it felt more intimate. Maybe the fact that it was just me and no one else there. And that I was able to experience a digital reconstruction overlaid onto the buildings.

And I had a virtual digital camera with me inside the experience. I used that to take this picture. It was quite meta (now I understand better why they chose that name)!

I have a referral link from Oculus for a $30 credit if you decide to get one.

Theory: Musk interest in Twitter is about crypto

Update 28th Apr 2022: Balaji also sees this angle and here’s his suggestion to Elon to do a coin drop to all users

Musk is one of the smartest people alive. His ability to see long term and execute towards it is inspiring.

Which is why I have been baffled by his interest in Twitter for “protecting free speech.” Watching him speak at Ted last week, it became quite obvious he actually hasn’t put a lot of thought into that aspect of his interest. “Bring the edit button” and “make the algorithm more transparent” etc are just not the kind of game changing, bold things Musk usually spends time on. Anyone watching would notice his brilliance and passion for what he is doing at Tesla and SpaceX, and relative cluelessness of the problems & opportunities at Twitter.

So I have a theory now on what this might be about: Musk has been focusing a lot more on influence building. His appearance on SNL was part of that strategy. He probably realizes that we live in a post-factual world and that any reality we want can be created by consensus. Memes and social media are the infrastructure on which reality is now built. He has had mixed results on this. He has added volatility to Tesla’s stock price using Twitter and it worked out though he has gotten into trouble due to it. He tried to pump up Dogecoin using Twitter and SNL but failed.

For crypto to take off, the core ingredient is community. That’s why every crypto project invests so much in their communities on Discord etc. If you don’t have critical mass your project won’t go anywhere. Former Twitter CEO and current Block overseer Jack Dorsey and Musk have a new joint venture: constructing a Bitcoin mine in Texas powered entirely by renewable energy.

Jack left Twitter not in the best way. His vision was to be all in on crypto. And right now Jack is supportive of Musks bid. Putting this all together, what Musk is likely really after is the social graph. Owning unfettered access to a large social graph where new realities can be fabricated is the ultimate power play. We may recall that Facebook already tried that and failed (Libra/Diem) due to regulatory concerns getting in the way. Twitter as a private company may be able to get away with it.

What do folks think?

image source: shetcoin

Drone pics of beyond grid solar from the early days of SunFunder

Top to bottom: Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, India

While spring cleaning, found these picture from the SunFunder early days! These were all shot with a drone (or a series of drones 😂) to document the beyond grid solar opportunity. The one on the top-left was used by the Associated Press and also made it into a USAID calendar. SunFunder

Flying a drone from a moving truck on the Oregon Coast

I’d never flown a drone from a moving car. So when we were on the Oregon coast a few months ago, Jenna was driving slowly while I was standing on the bed of the truck trying to fly the drone. We did a few takes, driving forward and backwards. Here’s a cut from the footage.

Comparing iPhone OS camera vs Lightroom app camera for HDR

The top two HDR photos were taken using the iPhone’s camera app. The left one is the default and for the one on the right I tapped on the bright sky and reduced the exposure a little to get more of the color in.

The bottom two HDR photos were taken using Lightroom’s camera on the same iPhone. The left one is the default and the right one has the exposure reduced a little before capture.

Which one do you think came out best?

Startrails over a Community Observatory in California

So I have been taking night sky photos for a few years. Just as a hobby. Never seriously. Have only read some blogs and watched some videos and a lot of experimentation with the goal of just having fun. I know that star trails is yet another way to process those images but in all these years I had never once tried it. Just tried it on the images I took on New Year’s Day. These are 200 images (15s exposures) blended together to reveal the movement of the stars over an hour. The center of the apparent circle is the polar north, which is why all other stars appear to move around it.What do you think?

The blended image
One of the single captures

Thanksgiving at site of Native American petroglyphs where settlers entered California

Donner Pass: this is where the first European settlers entered into present-day California. They tried using a new route and it led to a horrible tragedy, if you have ever read about the Donner Party, this pass is named after them.

At the Donner summit are archeological petroglyphs – carvings on the rocks – made by the Native Americans called the Matis tribe who used to live here between 2000 BC to 500 AD and had already moved somewhere else by the time the Donner Party got here.