Monday, April 30, 2007

One of my biggest pet peeves answered!

Take a look at the cityscape below:

And take a look at this streetscene:

How is this possible ? It can be done using Lunar-Resonant Streetlights, the design of a San Francisco-based design collective called Civil Twilight who have won the grand prize from Metropolis Magazine competition for emerging designers.

The Lunar-Resonant Streetlights can "sense and respond to ambient moonlight, dimming and brightening each month as the moon cycles through its phases." The bulbs used in the lights would also be replaced and instead it would use LEDs and photosensors which dynamically determine the current ambient light levels and vary its illumation accordingly. One of my personal peeves is that of light pollution as I can no longer enjoy the night's sky in its full glory. This solution reduces light pollution by working with the current moonlight rather than trying to overpower it. The possibilities are wonderful as this product is an outstanding high-tech design which can easily help in bringing back the stars to a urban neighbour skyspace near you.

Mega hat tip to the WorldChanging article about these streetlights.

Interactive Media Workshop - Arduino

My presentation to the Interactive Media Master's class is available here as a pdf.

Topics covered included:

  • An introduction to the Arduino - programming, capabilities, etc

  • Digital / Analog

  • Sensors and Actuators

  • A couple of simple Arduino sketches

  • Linking to Flash and to PD

  • Examples of Interactive Objects / Displays including a Spooky Skull by Tod E. Kurt, the e-textile construction kit by Leah Buechley, Wanderlust by Hector Ouilhet and my work on creating an Ambient Auditory Group Presence Display.
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    Sunday, April 29, 2007

    Election Musings

    "And Caesar's spirit ranging for revenge, With Ate by his side come hot from hell, Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war; That this foul deed shall smell above the earth, With carrion men groaning for buriel."
    Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

    "This is something different, you'll like how this feels. No time for asking questions, no time for wondering. We've had enough of you now, we've heard everything.

    We're gonna play a new game, you put on this blindfold you do what we tell you, You do as you're told used to be the leader, but now come the time to serve maybe we'll show some mercy, maybe you get what you deserve.

    Come down to the end, gonna make it go faster why the frown, my friend? This is your disaster countdown to the end, only make it go faster come on down, my friend, it's time to meet your master.

    You've left quite a mess here under your stewardship. You thought you figured it out but you'll find your place in this. You think it's so convincing, don't you see the truth?
    Meet Your Master by The Nine Inch Nails

    If you haven't sorted out your Postal Vote, do it before Tuesday or you'll be out of luck. The campaign for weekend voting is dead for this election but its arguments will live on and mark my words , they will be show in the polls come May 24th.

    But for now, its down to the biggest media blitz this country will have seen, Game On!

    Friday, April 27, 2007

    Human-Computer Interaction in Ireland Workshop

    Here is a little bit on next week's workshop.

    The University of Limerick's Interaction Design Centre is hosting a 1-Day Workshop on the topic of Human-Computer Interaction in Ireland (iHCI07) on May 2nd, 2007. The purpose of this Workshop, which we hope will become an annual event, is to promote networking and collaboration among academics and practitioners is the broad area of people interacting with technology. This is a wide area with topics ranging from areas including but not limited to, usability studies, interface design and evaluation, accessibility issues, cognitive ergonomics, human factors in computer systems, computer supported cooperative work, human computer interaction, multimedia and interaction design. As an interdisciplinary topic with many disciplines such as, software engineering, psychology, sociology, art and design, communication studies, information science, engineering, we hope to attract a wide number of researchers to what will be a very interesting and productive workshop.

    The intent of this Workshop is to bring together researchers, practitioners and teachers interested in the field, to document past and current activities, and to setup a database of information in this area on an all-Ireland basis. The Human-Computer Interaction community in Ireland is still quite small and as such the focus of the workshop is aimed at increasing the awareness of the range and depth of issues being studied in Ireland, rather than on the presentation of research papers.

    The result of this Workshop aims to provide a better profile for individuals and groups involved in the HCI area in Ireland, as currently, despite the size of our software industry, Ireland has not yet developed as significant international leader in this important area in the software field. This is something, that through collaboration and networking we can work towards changing. Liam will give a talk on the IDC itself and Mikael has a few bits and pieces including a short bit on our involvement in the new COST action on Sonic Interaction Design.

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    Thursday, April 26, 2007

    Visual Confusion or Deliberate Design?

    It seems in FF's hurry to get some vague campaign website up and running that they've missed out on hiring some competent designer for their new "Next Steps" campaign site. The resulting image is shown here:

    The site, as it now stands, has a confusing visual effect occuring on the main page which does not seem to serve any design rationale. I would love to understand why such a distracting effect was added or if it was just a typical blunder by the party of blunders. This website has more information on the Hermann-grid illusion.

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    Saturday, April 21, 2007

    Tips for Biz

    A suggestion I've recommended to a number of clients and colleagues is to look at using VOIP foreign phone numbers to help 'internationalise' your business presence. A nice Rails cart for products is Shopify (review). Trying to organise a seating plan, look no further than From Lifehacker, check out the article on "How to assign a domain name to your home web server". To finish, a really nice review of some tasty selections of web 2.0 tools / sites / services available for web developers. Don't forget to also check out swf Image Replacement.

    And for a bit of a laugh, make your own "Hi, I’m a web2.0 designr" card.

    Finally, take a look at the Airbag Department of Security and its Blog Advisory System.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Sorting, Writing and Hacking

    Bit of a mixed week with bits and pieces up in the air as I'm trying to get some listening tests done, which as ever means things are a bit crazy given deadlines and the fact I'm off with Mikael for a COST meeting to Brussels next week.

    A couple of nice Ruby articles worth a read are SVD recommendation system in Ruby and Decision Tree Learning in Ruby.

    There are a couple of interesting political posts on PDF, "Le Internet campaign" and "YouTube: Who Gets It?". The people and parties who do understand the Internet will be easy to spot and to be fair we are already prepared to showcase them and to offer awards so I'd expect to see some parties making the effort for the forthcoming election.

    Worldchanging throws up the usual interesting mix from commerical Rooftop Wind Turbines to some Earth Day Voices commentaries by

    William McDonough (Cradle2Grave - "To move from improvement to revolutionary transformation, we need 5% of the human population committed to cradle to cradle flows—clean healthy materials in closed cycles seen as nutrients, clean energy, clean water, and social fairness.")

    and by

    John Thackara (Doors of Perception - "The problem is that our collective knowledge footprint is still tiny in a global context, and is growing far too slowly relative to the time available for us to to turn things around. This is why we have to crack the distribution question: How do we ensure that knowledge about sustainable practices is available where and when it needed? As scavenger-innovators, our first response to the question should be to ask another: who has cracked a similar distribution question in the past? How might we learn from, or piggyback on, their success?").

    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    Random bits

    Had a great week starting with a trip to Dublin. Got a chance to see Bare Naked Ladies in concert ! Yes, they were brillant, actually ended up in nearly the same spot as three years ago too! Meet Steve for lunch in the Hive / Plex that is Google and was truly impressed. If only the ID or HCI jobs were in Ireland, I'd be banging on their door for a job! Free good food and soooo many toys...... Not to mind interesting work, well at least Steve has more than definitely landed on his feet.

    Bits from the Ether include:
    12 Breeds of Client and How to Work with Them, "Pilfering ravens, Corvus corax, adjust their behaviour to social context and identity of competitors" (but its probably easier to read the article in this month's Scientific American). The greater Boston area are deploying a wireless-sensor network to report pollution and traffic, the ESA are tracking farmers for compliance via satellite imagery.

    A definite watch for any QuickSilver OS X junkie is Hack Attack: The Quicksilver video extravaganza which has more QuickSilver tips and tricks that are just top notch. On a tools notes, I've started using iGTD which is another tool in the GTD vein but with its sweet QuickSilver links and nice touches is definitely one to watch. iGTD has nice iCal links which suits as the group are seriously into using GCal but you can use this post to ensure iCal and GCal play nice.

    Wednesday, April 04, 2007

    How do you look as a tagcloud ?

    Here's a nice diversion for a couple of minutes, which allows you to submit an image and tag list and view the result as a tag cloud.

    Here is the pre tag cloud version of me:

    Here is the tag cloud version of me:

    According to the textorizer website, its can take a raster image in a format such as png, jpeg or gif, perform edge detection using Sobel convolution filtering and then replace these edges with the supplied lines of text. Check here, for more about it, including source. More examples can be seen on Flickr.