October 31, 2005

Sound and Technology

In Frog Design Mind this week, Claudia Bernett has some reminders about the importance of sound in product design (and the scant attention being paid to sonic experience by many current designers).

We continually communicate with the devices in our lives, processing direct and ambient sounds in order to glean important information about the world. My mouse and I communicate, for example. Containing a Piezo speaker, Apple’s Mighty Mouse emits subtle ticks and clicks when it is squeezed or pressed; these sounds augment the tactility of the mouse itself, and my interaction with it. They also integrate with and further define the product identity.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndanseven at 04:16 PM

October 30, 2005

Search Engine Referrer Logs 7

24 Oct, Mon, 19:42:55 MSN Search: kelly Clarkson and geography

28 Oct, Fri, 00:52:05 Google: starbucks animated gif

29 Oct, Sat, 13:09:33 Yahoo: tiny animated star

Posted by johndanseven at 01:14 AM

October 29, 2005

Tarantino and Plato, Together Again

"Republic Dogs": Plato's Republic (very loosely) staged as the final scene from Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (with leakage from other Tarantino). (Originally published in the Subgenius Digest in 1995.) Here's the opening:

[Thrasymachus is tied up in a chair. Socrates is brandishing a gun in his face]

Thrasymachus: Don't kill me, man!

Socrates: Are you finished, fucker?

Thrasymachus: Look, look, man, you can have my ten yoke of oxen. My virgin daughters? My pomegranite orchard?

Socrates: You like pomegranites? Shit, motherfucker, I hear they've got a fuckin' all-you-can-eat special going on on pomegranites where you're headed.

Thrasymachus: Don't do it, Socrates. Be fair.

Socrates: [Suddenly contemplative] Fair?

Thrasymachus: [Sees an opportunity for survival] Yeah, fair... think about my wife and children --

Socrates: Would you say that to be fair is the same thing as to be just?

Thrasymachus: What?

Socrates: Well, I'm just a dull, wandering street philosopher, so I don't understand quite where you're headed with this particular line of reasoning. Perhaps [motions with gun] you could further elucidate your theory of justice.

Thrasymachus: My theory? Of justice?

Socrates: Yes. You do... have a theory of justice, don't you?

Thrasymachus: Uh...

Socrates: Or perhaps you'd like to hear my theory.

Thrasymachus: Oh, yes, yes, yes, of course, your theory. You have a theory?

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndanseven at 04:45 PM

October 27, 2005

Billboard, Phone Home


Passersby (and apparently anyone else) can text message a 144-character story to the Variable Message Sign in Cardiff, part of the Cardiff Festival of Creative Technology.

Storyboard will provide an opportunity for members of the public to post messages to a mobile Variable Message Sign using a mobile phone. The sign will be located on Hayes Island, adjacent to the Old Library and will be active between 10am and 11pm on 28th, 29th and 30th October.

To post a message send a text to: 07929 461727

Messages are limited to 144 characters in length.

The intention for the project is to encourage members of the public to find a new use for these signs, which usually carry mundane but important traffic and road safety information. Instead the VMS will carry text messages, which by their nature are often deeply personal.

[via information aesthetics]

Posted by johndanseven at 08:40 PM

October 26, 2005

And Then The Snow


Underdog and I spent an hour cutting up downed (and severely bent) trees this morning before we could get our vehicles out to the road. It's going to be a long winter.

Posted by johndanseven at 04:45 PM

October 25, 2005

The End of Autumn

As I worked on getting the last of the firewood moved from our drive and into our basement and stacked, large, wet snowflakes landed all around me, and on me. The National Weather Service, typically vague, predicts between 3 and 10 inches of snow.

Posted by johndanseven at 10:59 PM

October 24, 2005

Blast from the Past

Bedazzled ("Music, Movies, Microcode & High-Speed Pizza Delivery") hosts a Paul Revere and the Raiders TV Commercial for Pontiac's GTO Judge.

Obviously, this has absolutely nothing to do with Datacloud, but I really wanted one of these (the Judge, not Paul Revere & The Raiders) when I was a kid, but I had to settle for a '70 Pontiac LeMans. After throwing several thousand dollars of repairs and high-performance parts (and Bondo) into it, I ripped the transmission apart racing and ended up trading it for a motorcycle.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndanseven at 03:57 PM

October 22, 2005

Lo-Tek Star Wars

A 168k, tiny animated gif of Star Wars highlights [direct link to gif].

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndanseven at 04:58 PM

October 20, 2005

Petty (but Gratifying) Actions

Damn, I need this book:

For some of us, it’s the automated voice that answers the phone when we’d rather talk to a real person. For others, it’s the fact that Starbucks insists on calling its smallest sized coffee “tall.” Or perhaps it’s those pesky subscription cards that fall out of magazines. Whatever it is, each of us finds some aspect of everyday life to be particularly maddening, and we often long to lash out at these stubborn irritants of modern life.

In Lifes’s Little Annoyances, Ian Urbina chronicles the lengths to which some people will go when they have endured their pet peeves long enough and are not going to take it any more.

The website (actually, a full-blown weblog) includes tips on dealing with annoyances, links to related material, and an animated gif of a guy hammering a railroad spike into the keyboard of his laptop.

[via boing boing]

Posted by johndanseven at 11:30 PM

October 18, 2005

Near-Future Innovation Conversation

Time has an conversation on near-future innovation with Mark Derry, Tim O'Reilly, Malcolm Gladwell, Clay Shirky, Esther Dyson, and Moby. Apart from predictions, they have some useful reviews of where futurists predicted we'd be today.

[Derry:] I'm fascinated by this idea that JetBlue could be transformative. Weren't we supposed to be celebrating the death of geography right about now? According to the last wave of techno-hype, in the newtopian '90s, we were supposed to be swirling clouds of data bits, teleporting from one point to another through fiber-optic cables.

[via boing boing]

Posted by johndanseven at 12:42 PM

October 16, 2005



I'm sure there's a logical ergonomic or HCI reason for it, and granted I'm terminally clumsy, but am I the only one who's annoyed that the command-key sequences for commonly used Macintosh actions tend to reside on the left side of the keyboard? And that several of them have conflicting, relatively dramatic effects on my work processes?

Command-X (cut) is right next to command-C (copy), for example, which is itself right next to command-V (paste).

Logically speaking, these commands are somewhat related, in that they usually manipulate on-screen objects and the system clipboard. But that same logic means that during cut-and-paste operations, if I command-C an object to copy it, then attempt to paste it but slip slightly from V to the C right next to it, I've replaced what I have on the clipboard and have to start over again. (At least command-z is just a little further to the left....)

Don't get me started on the number of times I've tried to close an application window (command-W) and hit the key sequence for quit instead (command-Q, just to the left). Command-z doesn't solve that one.

Maybe I've started to notice these things in the last five or so years, as I've transitioned away from using a mouse to using the trackpad on a laptop. I suppose if I was using a mouse with my right hand, it'd be helpful to have the major command-key sequences available under my left hand.

[image from clarita1000 at morguefile.com]

Posted by johndanseven at 10:35 PM

October 12, 2005

Aesthetics of Videogames

David Hayward explores the roles (and limited general appreciation of) aesthetics in videogames.

The industry and the market are bewitched by the idea of more pixels and polys. Higher visual quality is fair enough, but why is it equated with better stabs at photo-realism? What's the point of aesthetics at all? If they don't matter, how come E3 can sucker-smack a "wow" or two out of so many gamers each year? Why, after gushing over how good stuff looks, do we hypocritically trot out that almost apologetic load of bollocks about gameplay moments later?

Hayward provides some useful examples of exceptions to the rule.

[via Kotaku]

Posted by johndanseven at 08:09 PM

October 10, 2005

DM Review's Datavis Competition Winner

DM Review Magazine publishes the winner (and first runner up) of their dataviz competition. The winning submission was Tableau Software's visualization of the "advertising strategies of video game companies."

This analysis involves the simultaneous visualization of five variables: 1) video game brand, 2) time the ad ran, 3) ad length (15, 30 or 60 seconds), 4) type of television broadcast (network, cable or satellite) and 5) ad cost ($0 to $200,000). Each of these variables was encoded in a different manner, consisting of the following visual attributes: 1) vertical 2-D location, 2) horizontal 2-D location, 3) symbol shape, 4) color and 5) symbol size. The size of an object usually doesn't display quantitative values effectively because it is difficult to compare their 2-D areas to one another with any degree of accuracy. However, in this case, precise comparisons of ad costs weren't necessary, only a rough sense of relative size. Visualized in this way, the insight that Jock reports in his description jumps out quite clearly. You don't have to be a genius or have a degree in statistics to make sense of this visualization. Despite the concurrent presentation of five variables, this solution is simple and clear - it communicates! Chances are you would have difficulty visualizing multivariate data in this way unless you have Tableau's software.

[via information aesthetics]

Posted by johndanseven at 08:48 PM

Beyond Bullet Points

Either Howard Rheingold or Kevin Kelly, I can't tell which one for sure, recommends Beyond Bullet Points [amazon], a book on understanding PowerPoint presentations as stories. Which is good, because most people understand PowerPoint as a powerful muscle relaxant. The book includes, among other things, the good advice to storyboard your presentations. I haven't read the book (I think I still fall into the "muscle relaxant" crowd), but Kelly offers some short exerpts that suggest the book might be very useful.

[via Cool Tools]

Posted by johndanseven at 04:15 PM

Bucky Fuller's Synergetics online

Buckminster Fuller's Synergetics has been converted into an online, web-based book (complete with hyperlinks among sections).

[via Future Feeder]

Posted by johndanseven at 03:59 PM

October 09, 2005



Chapter from Loss of Filter.

Posted by johndanseven at 02:11 PM

Elliot Sharp: Experimental Music

Elliot Sharp combines a keen interest in math, musical genius, and not a small number of handsaws and other tools in his search for elusive sounds. In an interview at The Morning News, Sharp ranges over an immense range of topics, including politics, cyberpunk literature, and technology in music

And then when cyberpunk happened—Gibson’s first writing, Lucius Shepard, Pat Cadigan, and Jack Womack—I became associated with the cyberpunk movement because I was one of the first to use computers in performance, in an improvisational context, in 1986, with my Atari ST when I was doing a project called “Virtual Stance.” And then I switched to laptops in ‘91. I had the first PowerBook laptop—the PowerBook 100—and started doing concerts with that, using it to control various samplers and software devices. And that put me automatically in the cyberpunk vein. And a lot of my titles and concepts were informed by Philip K. Dick and things from cyberpunk, the things that Gibson talked about.

Toward the end, Sharp edges into philosophy. Sharp (and the interviewer) are, on the whole, not fond of postmodernism:

[Interviewer]: A couple of years ago some academic postmodernists assembled at the University of Chicago and declared themselves irrelevant.

[Sharp}: That’s very good. I hope they all committed suicide afterward.

Posted by johndanseven at 12:06 AM

October 06, 2005

The VJ Book

Boing-boing points to a new book by Paul Spinrad, The VJ Book: Inspirations and Practical Advice for Live Visuals Performance. The inclusion of interviews and a history of VJ culture make it interesting even if you're not planning on breaking out Grid Pro for your next rave. Includes DVD with software and clips. The website above include links to text video clips and text excerpts. Here's a cool snip from an interview with Kathleen Forde on research and development as performance:

If you look at the development of the software that live visual artists use from a time-line perspective, you can see a real influence of what came before and what after, a clear evolution. Research and design and programming and software are their own art form… We're getting to a point where the research and the process of creating tools that enable more artwork to be made is, to me, almost an extension of Performance as Object-- sometimes that's as much of an artistic moment as many of the objects, performances, and scores, that come out of it.
[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndanseven at 08:03 PM

October 05, 2005

Expanded Version of "Raiding the 20th Century"

Ubuweb hosts an expanded version of "Raiding the 20th Century," Strictly Kev/DJ Food's history of cut-up music. The new version brings in Paul Morley (who coined the phrase "Raiding the 20th Century"). (The actual DJ Food page on the project is here, but apparently it's been overloaded; the ubuweb link above seems to be working.)

On January 18th 2004, Strictly Kev premiered the original 'Raiding The 20th Century' on XFM's 'The Remix' show in London. It was a 40 minute attempt to catalogue the history of cut up music - be it avant garde tape manipulation, turntable megamixes or bastard pop mash ups. It rapidly spread throughout the web and managed to cause a full scale server crash on boomselection.info when they hosted it due to the volume of net traffic.

Shortly afterwards he read Paul Morley's recently published book 'Words & Music' and was amazed that certain chapters mirrored parts of his mix. Apart from the fact that the title, 'Raiding the 20th Century' was coined by Morley 20 years before for a future Art of Noise project, he also featured Alvin Lucier, who - purely by chance - was sampled on the opening track of the mix.

Kev decided to expand his idea to make the defnitive document on cut up music including many other parts, omitted by the constraints of the original radio session. After months of further research he tracked Morley down and they recorded passages from 'Words & Music' specially for this mix in an attempt tomarry the two and finish something that neither of them actually started. A year to the day of the original airing, the newly expanded version is ready.

The ubuweb site also reprints the massive source list for the samples. Here's a small fragment:

John Cage - Imaginary Landscape No.1 (Hungeroton CD)
William Burroughs - Origin and Theory of the Tape Cut-Ups (Sub Rosa CD)
Coldcut (Let Us Play LP outro) (Ninja Tune LP)
James Tenney - Collage no.1 (Blue Suede) (New World Records CD)
Marshall McLuhan - The Medium Is The Massage (Columbia LP)
Steve Reich - It's Gonna Rain (Odyssey/Music of Our Time LP)
The Monkees - Head Opening Ceremony (Rhino LP)
Frank Zappa - Lumpy Gravy (Verve LP)
John Rydgren - Christmas Montage (Silhouette Segments LP)
Holger Czukay & Rolf Dammers - Boat - Woman - Song (Spoon LP)
Radiophonic Workshop - Major Bloodnock's Stomach (BBC Records LP)
The Beatles - Revolution No.9 (Capitol LP)
Radiophonic Workshop - Talk Out (BBC Records LP)
Kenny Everett Musical Works - (acetate / mp3)

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndanseven at 09:47 PM

October 04, 2005

The Complete Monty Python Scripts

As a favor to college students everywhere who may have missed out on memorizing one or two obscure skits, "Just the Words" provides scripts for every episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. (Unfortunately, the Terry Gilliam animations aren't covered, for obvious reasons.)

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndanseven at 12:42 PM

October 03, 2005

Visualizing c|net

The new beta version of c|net includes "The Big Picture," an interactive ontology viewer that provides treemap diagrams of connections among topics covered at the site (including views highlighting recent and most-read stories tagged by color and size), among other things.

[via information aesthetics]

Posted by johndanseven at 11:14 PM

October 01, 2005

ArchiKluge : Machine Genetics and Architecture

ArchiKluge is a Java program that uses genetic algorithms to explore architectural design possibilities. The math involved is pretty heavy--I kept hearing the phrase, "It's Eflin Magic!" in my head while reading the description--but the combination of automated generation, selection, and recombination in search of useful solutions was interesting. I'm assuming the technology could be tweaked for use as a brainstorming tool in other areas--website design, large hypertexts, music, etc.

[via Future Feeder]

Posted by johndanseven at 11:02 PM