Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter

I write this fast post just to wish you a Happy Easter!
In these holidays I am testing very much ArcheOS 5, hoping that we will be able to release it soon (I'll do a new post connected with the first report I wrote in the mailing list). 
BTW, considering the occasion, I thought it was a good idea to check which of the many old easter eggs are still present in the next version of the system and here is what I found:

The traditional Mozilla easter eggs are still working. Try to type about:mozilla in the address bar and you can read some sentences from the Book of Mozilla.

Try out this command: apt-get moo

But my favorites are still these:

aptitude moo
aptitude -v moo
aptitude -vv moo
aptitude -vvv moo
aptitude -vvvv moo
aptitude -vvvvv moo
aptitude -vvvvvv moo

If you do not understand the joke, than maybe you have to read "The Little Prince" of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

That's all I found. The other easter eggs I knew (Star War in OpenOffice and the fish of Gnome) seems to missing in ArcheOS 5 (I guess due to the migration to LibreOffice and to Gnome 3). However, this post is nothing serious, so I hope you will forgive me if I do not investigate further about the matter :)... But before to leave, I want to let you a little easter present: in order to record some new videotutorial (they are on my long "good intentions" list), I reused the nice artwork Cicero Moraes did for ArcheOS Theodoric and created a wallpaper (this is optimize for my screen: 3823x2154 pixel, but you can download it and adapt it to your needs). I hope you like it :).

Again Happy Easter!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

ArcheoFOSS IX edition, deadline extended

Just a fast service communication,
for who is interested, the deadline of the 9th edition of the ArcheoFOSS has been extended till April 25. Here is the official report (from +piergiovanna grossi):

"IX Workshop Free / Libre and Open Source Software and Open Format in the archaeological research processes.
From survey to data sharing. Technologies , methodologies and languages ​​of open archeology. 

Verona , 19-20 June 2014 (IT)

To encourage the submission of proposals, the deadline has been extended till April 25. The organizing committee's aim is to support the broadest participation in the joint construction of a workshop of increasing quality, hoping that new proposals can be submitted by scholars, researchers, students, professionals, archaeological companies and associations, working in the field of Cultural Heritage and the FLOSS application.For proposal submission, please refer to the Call for proposals page.For more informations on the workshop, you can visit the page of ArcheoFOSS 2014."

The Arena of Verona (CC-BY-SA 3.0, author: Lo Scaligero)

Friday, 18 April 2014

How to take pictures for photomosaics in narrow conditions: A clever solution for a common archaeological fieldwork problem.

Everyone who works on archaeological excavations knows situations like this:

A narrow and deep trench or a wall near to the limit of the excavation area.

If subsequently we have to make a photomosaic of the profile or facade, it means:

  • either photographing from the top, hazarding the consequences like distorsion:

  • or splitting the photomosaik in numerous single tiles, and that means a lot of work!

A very simple and clever solution for this problem can be the use of a mirror:

Putting it down in an inclined position on the ground and positioning yourself on the opposite side (watch the illustration beneath and heed me kneeing outside of the trench), it allows you to take a shot of the reflection of your facade in the mirror.

Of course the picture will show the object mirror-inverted, but don't worry:
The rectification software will fix it again...

Thanks a lot to Granma for borrowing us her wonderful kitsch bedroom-mirror!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Raw data to WKT: a point

Hi all,
I go on in recording basic videotutorial about FLOSS in archeology. This time I show how to turn raw data (from the total station) into WKT, starting with the simplest shape (a point). 
Like always I will upload this material on the DADP wiki, udpdating the old tutorial (I am using a preview version of ArcheOS Theodoric).

Here is the video, I hope it will be useful!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

QGIS, oriental archaeology (basic tutorial 1)

Hi all,
today I start a new series of basic tutorial regarding the use of FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) in archeology (oriental archeology, to be exact). One of the most difficult thing in doing tutorial is to understand what people needs (especially when the necessities are simple). For this reason, following what the software developers call the KISS principle, I'll take the occasion to record the videotutorial I am doing to help some friends in organizing a project in which we should participate.
The mission regards an archaeological expedition in the Hrazdan river valley (Kotayk region, Armenia) and it is a collaboration between the IsMEO (it: Istituto Italiano per il Medio e l'Estremo Oriente; en: Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East) and the ISMA-CNR (it: Istituto di Studi sul Mediterraneo Antico; en: Institute of Studies on Ancient Mediterranean See). The project is leaded by the Italian archaeologists Manuel Castelluccia, Roberto Dan, Riccardo La Farina e Mattia Raccidi.
I will record these tutorial answering the questions I receive day by day from the Italian team in order to meet their basic needs. The first problem regards how to create simple maps to illustrate the project using a GIS (instead of closed raster and vector image software). Obviously the series of tutorial will be inspired by the FLOSS philosophy, so, as I wrote, just this kind of tools will be used (in particular the operating system you see in the video is my testing version of ArcheOS 5, not yet released...), but this means also that will be used just open data. For example one of the first task to face will be to find open geographic data to trace our maps: normally it is not a good idea to present our works using Google Maps or Google Earth, due to the restrictions on this material, which I suggest to read carefully (quote from the Google Permission guidelines: "You may not use Google Maps or Google Earth as the basis for tracing your own maps or other geographic content").
For these reasons, the first videoturial shows how to use a simple GIS (Quantum GIS) to set up a fast project. Initially we will install the plugin OpenLayers to allow us to use open geographic data (like OpenCycleMap from OpenStreetMap) to trace our maps (in the Projected Coordinate System WGS84/Pseudo-Mercator). Than we will add a new vector layer (by now we will use a shapefile, but later, when a real database will be defined, we will introduce the SpatiaLite format), using some open data from the Innsbruck University projects in oriental archeology (Aramus and Khovle Gora, leaded by Walter Kuntner and Sandra Heinsch) and setting a very simple database schema. After we will fill the attributes of our two example sites and choose some graphic parameters (using for this purpose the same attributes). Finally we will do a very simple layout (the one you can see in the image below).

Just an example of a very basic layout

Like always I uploaded the videotutorial on the wiki of the DADP project, but you can see it also here:

I hope it can be useful!

Friday, 28 March 2014

FACCE, a crowsourcing campaign to build a real open source exhibition

Hi all,
like I wrote in this post, we are working to organize an open source exhibition in Padua for October 2014. In our intentions the concept "open" will be applied to different aspects of the event:

  1.  The scientific work will be performed using just Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) and, when possible, the exhibition will be staged with open hardware devices
  2. All the produced material (3D models, images, software, hardware) will be released with open licenses (CC-BY)
  3. When necessary, part of the budget will be collected with specific crowdfunding campaigns, connected with minor projects
  4. We will try to obtian some material for the exhibition with crowdsourcing campaigns, asking people to release the material with open licenses
Today I'd like to explain the 4th point and start one of this crowd-sourcing campaign, which will be also a social experiment to see the potentiality of this medium for cultural aims.
One of the session of the exhibition will be dedicated to pareidolia, which is a "... psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant..." (quote Wikipedia). Obviously we are interested in this matter as it is also related with faces, being this figure one of the most common subject which people sees in different contexts. In this regard Leonardo da Vinci, thinking to pareidolia a device for painters, wrote: "if you look at any walls spotted with various stains or with a mixture of different kinds of stones, if you are about to invent some scene you will be able to see in it a resemblance to various different landscapes adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys, and various groups of hills. You will also be able to see divers combats and figures in quick movement, and strange expressions of faces, and outlandish costumes, and an infinite number of things which you can then reduce into separate and well conceived forms" (1). Of curse pareidolia in not only a matter for artists and also normal people are able to see "beyond the image" (from greek παρά είδωλον). Here below you can see one of the most famous picture in this sense, the "Face on Mars" which the NASA spacecraft Viking I took on the red planet surface.

Photo from the Viking I spacecraft (Public Domain)

As you see pareidolia is a phenomenon which involves different aspect of human life, form art, in which is often used intentionally like in the paints of Giuseppe Arcimboldo...

L'ortolano o Ortaggi in una ciotola G. Arcimboldo (Public Domain)

 ... to psychology, where some of the images of the Rorschach test are perceived by patients as human faces (2)

the seventh blot of the Rorschach inkblot test (Public Domain)

... to  religion, like in this XIX century picture, in which some people sees the face of Jesus...

Swedish anonymous XIX century (Public Domain)

... and here we are to the meaning of this post: we need your help to collect pictures of different subjects in which is possible to see faces. In other words, with this post we want to start a crowdsourcing campaign on this topic to set up a special session of the exhibition in which we plan to show your contributes with a digital installation. To help us you can upload your picture on the exhibition FaceBook page (soon we will open also other channels). Do not forget to give your work the credits (that will be presented with the picture):

YOUR NAME (necessary)
THE LICENSE (necessary)

We suggest you to use a Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC-BY 4.0), but also other form of open license are accepted. Here is the official CC website to choose a license.

As an example, below you can see my personal contribute: the dashboard of my car.

Dashboard (Luca Bezzi, CC-BY 4.0)

We count on your help! Have a nice day and thanks in advance!


(1) Da Vinci, Leonardo (1923). John, R; Don Read, J, eds. "Note-Books Arranged And Rendered Into English". Empire State Book Co.

(2) Alvin G. Burstein, Sandra Loucks (1989). Rorschach's test: scoring and interpretation. New York: Hemisphere Pub. Corp. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-89116-780-8.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Digital facial reconstruction - blind tests and practical application of the protocol

Learning how to model a face on the computer is not an easy task. In the world there are over six billion people and no faces are alike. Even the artist study a lot, he will never be able to model every possible way, he will never be able to master the nuances of complexity that we have in this region of the body so notorious.

Still speaking of these distinct features, I confess I had not realized this thing until I started working with facial reconstruction. In this case the artist or scientist who will rebuild almost always have no idea what will present itself before his eyes until he finish the work. Once he reconstructs and compares the data with the individual's appearance in life, the more he sees that he can not stop studying.

There are professionals in this area are excellent rebuilders of Caucasian, Negroid, or Malays. Hardly an artist/scientist is good at all ancestries. The reason? Simple. Besides the complexity of the face shape, we yet have the details differ one ancestry from another . Could you describe what differs a native Japanese from a Brazilian aboriginal? Besides describing, you could draw? In addition to drawing, you could create in 3D? It really is not easy. Even when we speak of close people, like relatives or friends, it is difficult to mentally reconstruct every detail of their faces. Imagine having to model all this with only a skull as a base!

General Remarks 

Over those two years of studies I had the opportunity to rebuild faces in blind tests, where I received only the skull, estimated data on sex, age and ancestry. With this information in hand I applied the concepts studied and modeled step by step an approximation based on statistical and anatomical data.

Unfortunately I can not show all cases, because some of them I don't have the license of use the images, but overall were successful experiences. Although the result did not get 100% loyalty, the data gathered from the comparison show that meshes volumes created digitally not differ much from those modeled from scientific parameters.

There are many difficulties related to this heterogeneous reality of the shape of the human face. Because of this it is important  always have a help of professionals related with the areas of forensic dentistry, forensic anthropology and medicine. Having access to books and articles on plastic surgery can help a lot, because aside from having a different approach of classical anatomy textbooks, also offers a vast literature on human ancestry.

Still need to have expertise regarding the modeling of some parts of the face. A classic problem involving facial reconstruction is the area above the craniometric points supra and sub M2 (referring to the location of the second molars), or "the cheek".

The nose is another part of difficult approach when we talk of volumetric accuracy. Even so, when crossing the most popular protocols available in publications, at least we has a projection very close to real.

The passing years also influence a reconstruction, because the human skin becomes more lax with the change of collagen fibers over time. In the elderly, for example, there is a tendency of slightly nose-down, influencing the projections based on the scientific literature.

After some studies, I developed a protocol for facial reconstructions using open software. This was done with Dr. Paulo Miamoto and Dr. Rodolfo Melani, both Forensic Dentists from Forensic Odontology and Anthropology Laboratory at Faculty of Dentistry of University of São Paulo (OFLAB-FOUSP). One of the main aspects of the protocol is that once the user undergoes basic training on the softwares that are used, one may take his/her first steps, as the software functions are specified in the manuscript. Another important information is that the protocol features from digitization of the skull from CT scans/digital photographs until the finishing of the reconstruction. This article can be found here:

Studies, partnerships and experience, this is the holy trinity of a good facial reconstruction strongly committed to impartiality.

How work the tests 

The vast majority of studies presented here were carried out in partnership with Dr. Paul Miamoto (FO-USP). 

1) Initially I send him a 3D skull extracted from a CT-scan.

2) Dr. Miamoto analyze the material and inform me, within the limitations of 3D models, he estimate parameters that comprise the biological profile of the individual, such as gender, age and ancestry. In addition, other relevant information, such as ante-mortem injuries, diseases and other dentocraniofacials changes that can cause changes in facial appearance are also pointed out.

3) With the data in hand I start the process of facial reconstruction, carving the major muscles of the face and other structures, as well as the nose and lips from tissues depths tables.

4) As soon as I finish the basic modeling I send the result to Dr. Miamoto. After preliminary analysis to review the anatomical, anthropological and odontoforensic parameters, the job is routed to completion.

5) For comparison with the true face of the individual, the viewer program tomographic images, the individual's skin is exported as a 3D model. This model of the "real" skin and carved skin are open in a mesh comparison program. The results are shown in a color map with a graph that quantitatively represents the difference in depth between the two. The more the color inclines to green, the more the difference approaches 0 mm.


Despite the great satisfaction with the results I and my research partners are cautious. As explained above, perform well modeling a group or an ancestry does not mean that the technique is mastered. Does not mean that success will be our constant companion. We will only have a broader sure if we study more, and even we study for the rest of life, hard, all the days we still have, surely we know very little before all the possibilities that this world facial heterogeneity offer us.


To Dr. Marcos Machado Paulo Salles, for the opportunities related to forensic facial reconstruction studies. To Dr. Adriana Dal'Acqua by research material and valuable information related to facial geometry.
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