The Remains of The Famous Jennicam Activity Meter

As you may have guessed by now the meter is no longer operating, the main reason is that JANET now charges academic institutions for use of the transatlantic link - to run the analysis my script would need to download every image. This would cost about 150 pounds a year, so I've decided to call it a day.

After all... it was originally intended as a joke

Just for all you newbies to the Jennicam culture.. This web site used to produce graphs of how much was happening on the camera, the graphs would show what had happened in the last hour and in the last 24 hours. It was possible to tell from this when Jennifer had got out of bed, when she'd been in the room and when she was working at the computer.

The System would download every image as they were produced by the site, 24 hours a day, this used a dedicated shell script and Netcat  to  talk to the http daemon on Jennifer's server. The actual processing was done using a programme which I wrote specifically for the task, this is probably the most complex part of the whole operation. All sorts of esoteric mathematics were put to use to ascertain the 'interesting' parts of the image and how much they were moving about. It wasn't anything as simple as just subtracting the old image from the new image - that would have run into all sorts of noise which would make it impossible to extract a usable signal from the data. For example - the variation in light levels in the room would generate the biggest signal in a simple subtraction scheme, and if a normalizing filter was used then the noise in a dark room would obliterate any interesting signal.

In the end the system used a combination of region identification, a minimal spanning tree constructed from edge detection (My MSc thesis was on image information content analysis using MSTs), some frequency analysis. All of these were thrown together with just enough of a neural network to extract the things that people though were interesting. This only took a fraction of a second on any reasonably powerful machine (when this started I was using a 266MHz Alpha running linux - my web browser was lynx), I'm sure that an expert on the subject could manage something altogether more impressive. It was just hacked together over a weekend and proved surprisingly durable.

I might manage to recreate some 'classic' moments from  the meter... but probably not - that would be really sad.

There - wasn't that better than a 404 error

Why don't you look at the home page of the nutter behind this - featuring it's own live images - images from raytraced animation and numerical simulations of scientific processes - The Original GenesisCam  - without all that gratuitous nudity that makes the other one so boring.

Scott Manley