March 13, 2020

Notes from UCSF BioHub Panel on COVID-19. A predictable resurgence come Autumn is alarming, I know a number of events that have kicked the can down the road 'til then.
I am blessed with a pretty kickin' WFH setup. Coworkers expressed envy over my office chair. Got a personal laptop ready for Social Media and music, my gallery of peeps, a nice old large format photo rescued from JP Library, my dad's antique typewriter, etc...

You know everything in the world is going to shit when the day is almost over and not one person has acknowledged that it's Friday the 13th

Not sure what the more befuddling "COVID-19: We're on the case" email is: Smoothie King (I have no recollection of going to a Smoothie King) or my web domain registrar Network Solutions +

playful vr

March 13, 2019
This is a note I wrote to the group Boston Tech Poetics (formerly Boston Creative Coders)

Thanks to Adam and everyone who helped set up some great talks the other week!

I was so glad I shook off an urge to lose myself in my kindle until the "real" talks began - we have a nugget of this great little community doing really cool work here, and I'd love to see more - both what people are doing (like in the other thread) and also stuff, obscure or well-known, old or recent, that they think other Tech Poets should be aware of.

Zach Lieberman's work reminded me of two other artists I wish more people knew of: Some of his overhead projector / shadow stuff reminded me of Myron Krueger - he was working on amazing interactive stuff, most often w/ realtime silhouette / shadow data, and he started doing that when, like, "Pong" was the new hotness - but with a fervent dedication to keeping things real time. You can see a decent overview of some of his stuff here:

(Zach showing us Chris Sugrue's "Delicate Boundaries" was such a lovely extension of some of those ideas)

I like to see where ideas like these, either descendents or parallel thoughts, get commercialized. Way back in the PS2 era, "EyeToy" had some elements of that, of using simple webcam data to let you, say, fight off a big group of tiny ninjas leaping on you Maybe too this is all on my mind because I just got one of those PS4 VR setups, and some of the mini worlds play with some similar ideas...

At some point Zach was showing clips from software where people would draw something in a space, and that drawing would take on some kind of life - this reminded me of Takeo Igarashi's work.
He came up with this concept he called T.E.D.D.Y for making 2D sculptures by extrapolating from simple 2D doodles -

This got put into AMAZING commercial life with a game called "Magic Pengel". This was a PS2 joint project with Studio Ghibli (!!) and you didn't just draw static things, but fighting critters - as you drew, you indicated if this was a leg, or a wing, or a tail, or what, and then some super clever code animated what you drew and put it dancing and weaving in 3D space. Quite amazing! Unfortunately, the combat was just Pokemon-like Rock/Scissors/Papers turn-based battles. (A sequel, "Graffiti Kingdom", tried to make the creation system less loose and more engineer-y, I don't think it was an improvement.) Here is a Lets Play:

And while that video has loose, clay-lump drawings, apparently the sky was the limit in the hands of a skillful, determined artist:

I'm just blown away by this stuff. Going back to 2D, there was that "Crayon Physics" type games, and I see some more recent "2D physics from doodles" - but this 3D stuff was totally next level, and I'd love to see it in more applications - T.E.D.D.Y really bridged a gap from 2D inputs to 3D sculpture, and I don't even know what kind of black magic and animation genius about joints and physics Magic Pengel employed - I'd love to see a "Smash Bros" type physical combat with this idea (but I'm nowhere near smart enough to make it)

So what have you seen, either in the artists studio or gallery or on the store shelf (virtual or otherwise) that inspires you? What stuff based on Ollllld technology still inspires that "damn, how'd they do THAT?" And where would you like to try and put it in your own work?

March 13, 2018

I love that our President, this brilliant dealmaker, not only fires the Secretary of State via twitter, but the account he does it from isn't even simply his name, he had to get the version prefixed with "Real".

just a man and his norse

March 13, 2017
Selections from Neil Gaiman's "Norse Mythology":
Loki makes the world more interesting but less safe.
Thor said nothing. He strapped on his belt of power, Megingjord, which doubled his enormous strength.
"Loki," he said. "Loki has done this."
"Why do you say that ?" said Sif, touching her bald head frantically, as if the fluttering touch of her fingers would make her hair return.
"Because," said Thor, "when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki's fault. It saves a lot of time."
In their huge bedroom that night, Tyr said to Thor, "I hope you know what you are doing."
"Of course I do," said Thor. But he didn't. He was just doing whatever he felt like doing. That was what Thor did best.
Nothing there is that does not love the sun.
"I can see further than you can, Loki. I can see all the way to the world - tree," Heimdall will tell him with his last breath. "Surtr's fire cannot touch the world - tree, and two people have hidden themselves safely in the trunk of Yggdrasil. The woman is called Life, the man is called Life's Yearning. Their descendants will populate the earth. It is not the end. There is no end. It is simply the end of the old times, Loki, and the beginning of the new times. Rebirth always follows death. You have failed."

March 13, 2016

The Force Awakens had some rad concept art

Full set at ILM

March 13, 2015

Faiths, of course, do get along . But they get along because of the hammering they have taken at the hands of science, material development and better education. They get along because of wise people within them who recognise the commonality of humanity. Where there are too few wise people, you get Northern Ireland. If you are lucky.
Pratchett et al, "The Globe: The Science of Discworld II".
I think there are some exceptions to this but there's too much faith and not enough compassion.

tufte speaks

March 13, 2014
That left brain/right brain stuff is total bullshit.
Edward Tufte

March 13, 2013

There are no happy endings.
Endings are the saddest part,
So just give me a happy middle
And a very happy start.
Shel Silverstein

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.
James Baldwin

Boston folks, Another plug for -- bailing me out of my saltslush rustwreck of a bike chain, in my own driveway!

March 13, 2012

"The Internet" is a really big answer to a question few knew how to ask.

from josh

March 13, 2011

Thank you to everyone who wrote emails asking about us.

It took me 10 and 1/2 hours to do a 2 hour trip, but I finally got home.

Erin and Tomomi are fine.

Our town does not yet have water and gas stations are not open. Our building had minor structural damage, but nothing serious. Earthquakes and tremors are continuous. One nuclear power plant exploded about 75 miles from here and another near it will probably explode. The one that did released radioactive gas and water into the environment. The other will most likely be worse.

The tsumanis were worse than the Indian Ocean one. Japanese TV is showing video of them from the surevilance cameras. They also show bodies being stacked up after recovery. Death officially at this point are around 2000 but estimates indicate 10,000 or more.

I have more to write, especially about the experience returning home. But I am still tired and the small tremors make me feel a little seasick. Plus we are expecting power outages soon so I have things to do around here.

I will write throughout the day and the next few if time and electricity permit.

Thank you all for your emails and prayers.

Josh is a dear friend of mine and Aunt Susan's, and my host when I visited Japan a few years back. Ugh.

always wanted one of these!? well we've got two - you can have 'em both!

March 13, 2010

--Man, I gotta get my TV huckster voice going.

timish: a watch for literate time

March 13, 2009
it's around...
--This is a working mockup of a watch I might actually wear. It tells time more or less like a human looking at an analog clock would... (Thanks Miller for help on the CSS vertical alignment.)

Hmm, maybe that needs an accent mark to show it's "Time-ish" not "Tim-ish".

A descending shadow is commonly used for a psychological state of mind (like a feeling of revulsion, depression, or impending doom). Use a ballpoint pen. - Slate explores the universality of "M-F'er" type insults. Believe it or don't I didn't quite realize the term is meant to imply incest!
Damnation. My "3 stars or better" list just started not fitting in an 8gig iPod nano.
My default response to "bright and early" is always "well, early, anyway" -- FUNNY EVERY TIME.
For grins running roulette "Martingale" sims. If you want to lose an average of $12/day (but still winning $200 most days) come talk to me.

hello japan! (backlog flush #64)

March 13, 2008
Off to Japan! But in my OCD need to keep the site updated, I'm going through OLD backlog -- like, late 2004/early 2005.

what to believe

March 13, 2007
Tonight's the monthly meeting of my UU "Covenant Group". (I jokingly call it a 12 step program, but without the 12 steps... just a spiritually-focused form of a discussion and support group.) One time we were talking about the nebulous nature of UU belief... how there is no one supernatural concept you can point to that every UU is expected to believe. I think John put it well...
"You don't have to have a particular belief to attend the UU church.."
"Well what do you believe in, then?"
"Well, we believe in going to church."
Of course, I haven't been to Sunday service in a while, but I do appreciate the centering the Covenant Group has provided for the last few years.

Link of the Moment had The Enlightened Bracketologist, tools to help you figure out the best "Where Were You Moment", "Film Death", "Marital Argument", and/or "Ad Slogan". It's an ad for a book, but also a fun little toy.

Quote of the Moment
Little boy: Mom, how did the dinosaurs cook their meat?
Mother: They didn't, they ate it raw.
Little boy: Oh. [Long pause.] Are Japanese people dinosaurs?
OK, it's just another precocious kid but still, it made me grin. That site has just branched out to amusing celebrity quotes,

ventrella ahoy

March 13, 2006
Links of the Moment
Nick B's enthusiasm for Will "The Sims" Wright's demo of the upcoming game "Spore" made me think of some somewhat similar, if less ornate, work by Jeffrey Ventrella. I took a class on Artificial Life he taught one semester at Tufts' Experimental College.

I previously kisrael'd his work in terms of Gene Pool (very reminiscent ofthe early stages of Spore) Cellular Automata breeding and Fluid Dynamics but he's added some more cool stuff in the last few years (in beween his work with the virtual world, I'd imagine)

Some of his more recent cool stuff is physics-based creature generation... (much like some of the middle levels of Spore, actually.) Bird is one of the most detailed, a small Windows download. (Warning...keep away from Vice Presidential PCs) You can click and toss in some seeds. The guy shown here is the somewhat phallic Peanut Boy, available as a Windows .exe or a Java applet. You can also generate your own spring-based animal critters, with 'Toon, Spring, and Box rendering. (I couldn't get the sound version to be much different) All of these other critters pay attention to and are draggable with the mouse...

Finally, his playable prototype of Gravity Tetris is really cool...blocks tumble and fall and can be dragged and spun in a very intuitive way with the mouse before they solidify into place. In terms of gameplay it's maybe a bit too forgiving, but still...this would be an awesome game on the Nintendo DS, which has the touchscreen for it...

So obviously there's a ton more on his site, things fun, intellectual, and both. If you have some time, check it out!

Overall, his site makes me intensely jealous that I might not have the imagination, stamina, or programming cajones to make my toys page nearly as cool as his.

Quote of the Moment
"The only mathematical ideas that human beings can have are ideas that the human brain allows."

the way things went

March 13, 2005
Videos of the Moment
Remember that Honda Ad with the Rube Goldberg contraption? Some guys at the University opf Cambridge have done it for real. (I heard the Honda ad had a few moments of computer generation, though it is a little more cleanly laid out.)

Supposedly both are derivative of the video The Way Things Go, which looks like it should be a constant half hour, but you can see some cuts they have, using closeups of smoke to mask the transitions. Back when I was trying an odd ipod-based frankenstereo setup for a party, I had to put in some video to the tv so it wouldn't auto shutoff (taking the sound with it) and also to have "video wallpaper"...I put in that video, which immediately became the hit of the party and no dancing happened 'til the video was done.

if love is a white dress

March 13, 2004
Yeesh of the Moment
So last night I pick up a message on my answering machine.

I don't know what the right word is for's not quite irony, I'm wondering if there's some general term for this salt-in-the-wound concept... but the long-term storage preperation for Mo's wedding dress is now complete, and the dress can be picked up.

(Of course, this ignores the apparent insanity of taking over a year to clean up a frickin' dress, but still.)


Toy of the Moment
Virtual Lite-Brite. I guess it deals with the main problem of the original, which was that once you poked holes through that black background paper, you were stuck either using just those holes, or having bright white light peaking through the background of your creation.

end of the zoners

March 13, 2003
Interview of the Moment
GMR: Finally, can you tell us about any deeply hidden secrets in the game? Kind of how like Metal Gear Solid has a Policenauts poster on the wall.
MURATA: There is a minigame in which you control "that particular mech" (Vic Viper) that appears in the main game. You'll also get to see "those statues" you find on Easter Island.
GMR: We'll keep an eye out. Do you guys ever sleep?
SHINKAWA: Yes, absolutely.
Ending of Electronic Boutique's GMR magazine interview with the creators of the new game "Zone of the Enders".
I just love that final question and response.

Techhead of the Moment
Put here more for my future reference than general interest, here's a decent article on differences between SQL Server and Oracle. Good for people who know how to do stuff in one but need to do it in the other.

Minigame of the Moment
I like the look of this cute little Flash game.

News of the Moment
More murmurings of folks in Iraq's military who would like to "pre-surrender". Woo hoo, at this rate this should be finshed by the end of Q1! And there's simply no chance there's gonna be any terrorism back home. And the easter bunny's gonna be here to welcome back our boys.

you're on a mission, kid

March 13, 2002
I've been thinking lately about how aware we are these days of people's agendas. Suspicious, even. I think we're on the hunt for "well what's in it for you" in a way we weren't a few decades ago. For instance, I think management of a focus group must be a lot tougher, because people are less capable of giving you their "natural" responses; they're trying to think ahead to why you're asking about whether pictures of puppies or of playgrounds remind you more of childhood, if you're trying to sell them cereal or whatever, rather than giving a simple answer. Same with people who come up to you on the street smiling...if they start talking, asking how your day is going, you know they're after something, generally your precious attention.

Same thing happened during the "Clinton Scandals". His "Approval" rating was soaring during that time, since the pollsters weren't asking "do you think the impeachment is fair", and the Approval Rating was the main outlet the people had to send a message against the way the case was proceeding.

I got to thinking about this during a conversation about this "Insanity Test", where the way it's setup influenced the naturalness of my reaction, even before the thing started...

Link of the Moment
Would your day be better with a Bear That Poops Prime Numbers? Of course it would.


March 13, 2001
Man, all of the news seems so bad these days. The economy getting set for a long haul bout of fear and loathing, George W. pimping for a tax cut nobody really wants and a star wars plan nobody will really benefit from save for the military companies trying to build it, though it ticks off friend and foe alike to no end. Foot & Mouth in Europe, West Nile here. School shootings, a military dropping bombs on itself. More bad weather. The Red Sox getting creamed in the preseason-- and I don't even care that much about the Red Sox. Who woulda thought that the 2000s, such a beacon of promise for the future, would start out so damn bleak?

Ah well, at least I have my health, according to the Doctor yesterday. And Mo found new work. And I've come to terms with life in all its shortness and longness.

Poetry of the Moment

Why I Hate Snow

Because it moves in like a bad love affair
Drifting down in ardent white sighs
Smoothing over the entire world
Only to crust overnight
And turn to dirty slush
At the first sign of day

Because it brings unreasonable joy
To dogs and small children
And causes both to leap cutely
As if the rest of us were missing the point entirely
When, in fact, we still have to go to work

Because it brings out our worst human pettiness
Sparks brawls over parking spaces
Causes minor politicians to die stupidly
Collects in our cuffs
And leaps into our boots
And turns our toes to prunes

Because, finally, Snow becomes our disappointment
in God
What begins in ornate flakes
Inimitable, divine
Ends in wet socks and pratfalls
In human grumbling over why there is mud on the carpet
And who will shovel the walk

This was really starting to get disgusting. A friend suggested that I do a search under appliances. (Naughty girl.) So I did. I searched under "blender," where I found the "Love Blender Romance Homepage," which sounded awful, but turned out to be a poetry site.

Whew, in the clear.
-- Karen Epstein , Tufts Daily
java program: CyberSisyphus
(maybe Prometheus Bound as well)