Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Gigapixel of Irony

I've got quite a bit coming regarding Steve's Keynote. However, since this was a small, self-contained post, I thought I'd get it online now.

[Update: My second article is up. Among other things, it talks about the iPhone as a competitor to the Blackberry.]

[Update: My third article is up. Among other things, it proposes a new "I'm a Mac" ad to highlight what Steve called the Finder's "famous column view".]


The gigapixel image of the Library of Congress image used in the 64-bit demo was referenced in the legal boilerplate at the beginning of the webcast.

Gigapixel image provided courtesy of Max Lyons

This seemed kind of odd to me, since I don't recall any previous Keynote featuring an image (or video, for that matter) credit in that particular location.

But, more to the point, it means that we can look up the creator of the image, Max Lyons. Google points us to his personal site, and to a site for his company, TawbaWare, which sells shareware digital photography applications. Both have links to several galleries of images, which are all quite stunning. All of the images are created through a process known as "stitching", which involves taking a series of overlapping pictures of a scene and combining them together to form a single image.

The Library of Congress image that Steve used appears to be one of Mr. Lyons' favorite pictures. It's on the front page of his personal site, and different views of it appear on his Technical and Bio pages as well.

But here's the funny part. Although Mr. Lyons does not discuss the computer hardware he uses, it is quite clear that all of his work is done on Windows.

The actual stitching is performed using an Open Source package called Panorama Tools, which is available for all three major platforms (Mac, Windows, and Linux). However, Mr. Lyons also uses some of his own software, including a helper tool called PTAssembler. All of this software is Windows only. In fact, PTAssembler is written in Visual Basic 6.

It seems a wee bit ironic to me that the image used to show off the power of 64-bit Macs wasn't actually created on one.


Bart: [chuckles] Lisa's in trouble. Ha! The ironing is delicious.

Lisa: The word is "irony".

Bart: Huh? 1


Anonymous said...

I don't find it ironic at all that the image Steve Jobs used was touched up/re-created on a Windows machine. What's so ironic about it? Steve's demonstration was to illustrate that with an image (coming from any source) when applying a colour correction filter to it, the process runs faster on 64-bit Leopard than a 32-bit Leopard. It doesn't matter what the source of the data file comes from. There's nothing ironic about it at all. What you're describing isn't "irony".

Would it be ironic if the pre-stitched images were taken from a Canon Camera instead of an Apple QuickTake camera?


Jonathan Deber said...

@ C.H.

I appreciate your point, but I'm not sure that the QuickTake analogy is quite valid, since the QuickTake never competed at the high end of the camera market. In this case, Apple does in fact manufacture hardware and software that compete directly against what was used to create the image in question. I think a better analogy might be finding out that one of Bill Gates' keynotes was put together with Keynote, rather than with PowerPoint.

I think that Mr. Lyons' outstanding photograph was an excellent choice for a very impressive demo. It's neither good nor bad that the image was created on Windows. I just thought it was a bit funny.

Anyway, thanks for the thoughts.


(As an asside, thanks for reminding me about the QuickTake - that takes me back! I remember playing with a QuickTake when they first came out (on a Quadra, if memory serves). It was the first digital camera I ever used.

For anyone who's curious, the QuickTake was a digital camera produced by Apple in the early 90's, and was one of the first consumer models available. The first model looked like a pair of binoculars. A quick trip to Google Image Search turns up a photo of one.)