2014 Holiday Gift Guide

IEEE Spectrum's annual roundup of gifts for techies

3 min read
2014 Holiday Gift Guide
Photo: Digital Bolex
  1. DigitalBolex2Photo: Digital Bolex

    Digital Bolex D16

    Many filmmakers and documentarians of the last century relied on Bolex film cameras—relatively rugged, lightweight, and powered by a hand-wound spring, they were ideal for shooting in the field. Now, 21st-century cinematographers can shoot with a digital version of the Bolex, the D16, which goes for US $3,300 or $3,600 (depending on the size of its internal solid-state drive). The camera is designed to be compatible with vintage Super 16 and 16-mm lenses, and instead of a more typical CMOS image sensor, it uses a charge-­coupled-device (CCD) sensor, which the makers claim gives videos a more filmlike feel. —Stephen Cass

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
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Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush
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Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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