Posts tagged ‘Software’

December 24, 2011

Word Lens

word lens

google translate

Word Lens is an augmented reality translation application for the iPhone from Quest Visual. It uses the built-in phone camera to identify text, such as a sign or a menu, in one language and have the words shown translated into another language. The words are displayed in the original context, on the original background, without connection to the internet. When it was released in 2010 only English and Spanish were supported. Word Lens is best used on clearly printed text and was not designed to translate handwritten or stylized fonts.

This application was created to help tourists understand signs and menus. The application was not designed to read books, but journalist Ben Rooney managed to understand a page from ‘Harry Potter y el Prisionero de Azkaban.’ The Google Goggles application for Android and iPhone also has the capability to translate text or identify objects in an image, but it requires users to take a picture with their phones, and an active internet connection. Word Lens does it on the fly, meaning it’s interpreting frames in video, almost in real time.

November 24, 2011


Software bloat is a process whereby successive versions of a computer program include an increasing proportion of unnecessary features that are not used by end users, or generally use more system resources than necessary, while offering little or no benefit to its users.

Software developers in the 1970s had severe limitations on disk space and memory. Every byte and clock cycle counted, and much work went into fitting the programs into available resources. Achieving this efficiency was one of the highest values of computer programmers, and the best programs were often called ‘elegant’; —seen as a form of high art.

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November 24, 2011



Shovelware is a derogatory computer jargon term that refers to software noted more for the quantity of what is included than for the quality or usefulness. The term is also used to refer to software that is ported from one computer platform or storage medium to another with little thought given to adapting it for use on the destination platform or medium, resulting in poor quality. The metaphor implies that the creators showed little care for the original software, as if the new compilation or version had been indiscriminately created / ported with a shovel, without any care shown for the condition of the software on the newly created product. The term ‘shovelware’ is coined with semantic analogy to phrases like shareware and freeware, which describe methods of software distribution.

Shovelware was often used to refer to conversions in the manner floppy disc collections were aggregated onto CD-ROMs. Today there is potential for similar shovelware in converting PC websites into mobile websites with little thought to optimizing for the new platform or the conversion of console games to PC games. The practice of shovelware has largely decreased due to the wide availability of high speed networking and software downloading and the limited capacity of removable media in modern computers compared to the growing massive file sizes of newer software packages. It continues in some cases with bundled or pre-installed software, where many extra programs of dubious quality and usefulness are included with a piece of hardware, often called derisively ‘crapware.’

October 19, 2011

After Dark

flying toaster by Sam Lu

After Dark is a series of computer screensaver software introduced in 1989 by Berkeley Systems for the Macintosh, and later for Windows. Following the original, new editions were introduced including ‘More After Dark’ and ‘Before Dark,’ as well as editions themed around licensed properties such as ‘Star Trek,’ ‘The Simpsons,’ and Disney. The screensaver modules were often noted for their intertextuality, such as the flying toasters appearing in the Fish screensaver, and the cat from Boris screensaver appearing in the Bad Dog screensaver.

Of the screensaver modules included, the most famous is the iconic Flying Toasters which featured 1940s-style chrome toasters sporting bird-like wings, flying across the screen with pieces of toast. A slider enabled users to adjust the toast’s darkness and an updated Flying Toasters Pro module added a choice of music: Richard Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ or a flying toaster anthem with optional karaoke lyrics. Yet another version called ‘Flying Toasters!’ added bagels and pastries, baby toasters, and more elaborate toaster animation.

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July 8, 2011



Max is a visual programming language for music and multimedia developed and maintained by San Francisco-based software company Cycling ’74. During its 20-year history, it has been widely used by composers, performers, software designers, researchers, and artists for creating innovative recordings, performances, and installations.

The Max program itself is highly modular, with most routines existing in the form of shared libraries. As a result, Max has a large userbase of programmers not affiliated with Cycling ’74 who enhance the software with commercial and non-commercial extensions to the program.

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March 17, 2011



The term foobar is used as a placeholder name in computer programming. It is used to name entities such as variables, functions, and commands whose purpose is unimportant and serve only to demonstrate a concept. The words themselves have no meaning in this usage. Foobar is sometimes used alone; ‘foo,’ ‘bar,’ and ‘baz’ are sometimes used in that order, when multiple entities are needed.

The origins of the terms are not known with certainty, and several anecdotal theories have been advanced to identify them. Foobar may have derived from the military acronym FUBAR (fucked up beyond all recognition) and gained popularity because it is pronounced the same. In this meaning it also can derive from the German word ‘furchtbar,’ which means awful and terrible and described the circumstances of the Second World War.

March 14, 2011


pokerbot by Tim Enthoven

pokerbot by João Fazenda

Computer poker players are computer programs designed to play the game of poker against human opponents or other computer opponents. They are commonly referred to as pokerbots or just simply bots.

These bots or computer programs are used often in online poker situations as either legitimate opponents for humans players or a form of cheating. Cardrooms forbid the use of bots although the level of enforcement from site operators varies considerably.

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March 14, 2011


Polaris is a 2007 Texas hold ’em poker playing program developed by the computer poker research group at the University of Alberta. The program requires little computational power at match time, so it is run on an Apple MacBook Pro during competitions. It currently plays only heads-up (two player) Limit Texas hold’em. The University of Alberta has been developing ‘pokerbots’ since 1997.

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March 1, 2011



Ubuntu [ooh-boon-too] is a free operating system that uses the Linux kernel (the central component of most computer operating systems). The word ‘ubuntu’ is an old African word meaning ‘humanity.’ With an estimated global usage of more than 12 million users, Ubuntu is designed primarily for desktop use, although netbook and server editions exist as well. Web statistics suggest that Ubuntu’s share of Linux desktop usage is about 50%, and indicate upward-trending usage as a web server.

Ubuntu is sponsored by the UK-based company Canonical Ltd., owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth. Canonical generates revenue by selling technical support and services tied to Ubuntu, while the operating system itself is entirely free of charge.

November 4, 2010


Reason is a music software program developed by Swedish software developers Propellerhead Software. It emulates a rack of hardware synthesizers, samplers, signal processors, sequencers and mixers, all of which can be freely interconnected in an arbitrary manner. Reason can be used either as a complete virtual music studio, or as a collection of virtual instruments to be played live or used with other sequencing software. As of August 2010 Reason was at version 5.0, version 1.0 was released in November 2000.

September 20, 2010



aohell phisher

AOHell was a program that modified early versions of America Online. It included a fake account generator, social engineering (or phishing) tools, and email, IM, and chatroom automation. Released in 1994 by a hacker known as ‘Da Chronic,’ AOHell provided a number of utilities which ran on top of the America Online client software. Upon loading, the program played a short clip from Dr. Dre’s 1993 song ‘Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang.’ It was the first program of its kind, and spawned a large number of copycats. Over a period of 10 years, more than 1000 programs would be released for various versions of AOL.

In the manual, the creator of AOHell claims that he created the program because the AOL administrators would frequently shut down hacker and pirate chatrooms for violation of AOL’s terms of service while refusing to shut down the pedophilia chat rooms which regularly traded child pornography. Da Chronic claimed when he confronted AOL about it, he was met with an account deletion. His goal was,'[To have] 20,000+ idiots using AOHell to knock people offline, steal passwords and credit card information, and to basically annoy the hell out of everyone.’