Well, I didn't get invited to any parties for Halloween night (boo), so I decided to throw my own! (at work).  It was pretty good.

Here's me as Darth Vader vs. Igor's son Peter as Luke Skywalker:

Darth Vader

Special thanks to Erin for taking the pic!

Posted on October 31, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments

Monome Apps

Here's a video (below) of a few of the more interesting monome apps I've made so far (see this post for an explanation of what a monome is).

  • "Grid" game: I haven't thought of a better name, but this game is sort of like Othello or Go. Players play as "light" or "dark" and try to capture the opponent's territory by toggling his/her pieces and then capturing any surrounded squares. It's interesting to play at first, but after playing several people without finishing a game, we determined that it's probably not actually winnable as long as both players always make intelligent moves. But, interestingly enough, a "greedy" AI that plays against itself will often end up winning (and losing), as long as it doesn't get stuck in an infinite loop.
  • "Raindrop": this is a raindrop ripple simulator. You can create ripples by pushing buttons - the more you push, the bigger the ripples. It's pretty cool.
  • Pong: the classic. The resolution (8x8) is a little low, but it actually works pretty well since the computer simulates the board at higher resolution. The main problem I see with Pong is that each player has only 2 inputs (up and down), so it's not using the full power of the 64 buttons, which it seems like good monome apps should.

Here's the YouTube video:

Posted on October 30, 2006

The End of False Religion is Near!

Some Jehovah's Witnesses rang my doorbell this morning and woke me up, apparently just to let me know that "The end of false religion is near!". If nothing else, they demonstrated firsthand the power that false religions still hold over people, even today. The irony was clearly lost on them..

Them: (standard blah blah blah..)
Me: Why do you believe that?
Them: See, here are the Bible scriptures that prove it, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Ezekiel 18:4, blah blah blah
Me: So it's true because the Bible says so?
Them: Yes
Me: Why?
Them: Because the Bible is the infallible word of God
Me: How do you know?
Them: Because it says it is
Me: The Koran says it's the infallible word of God, too
Them: Well obviously it's not
Me: Why is that obvious?
Them: Our church says so
Me: So you believe what your church tradition and teachers tell you to believe?
Them: Well, yes..
Me: But here in your booklet it says that one of the hallmarks of "false religions" is that they rely on "traditions and commands of men as doctrines"? Isn't that what you just -
Them: You're obviously going to Hell, we're going to the next house
Me: Huh?

The End of False Religion is Here!

[Edit 11/04: Disabling comments on this post since JW's keep finding this page through Google and leaving insulting comments for me and I'm tired of clicking 'Delete Comment' :). Since when is harassing and insulting people a good way to convert them to your religion?]

Posted on October 28, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments

Monome 40h

I recently got a Monome 40h, which you might recognize from Engadget or Maker Faire. It's a USB grid of 64 backlit buttons (40h, 64, get it? ..is it sad that I do?).

The best part is that it doesn't come with any software in the box, no CD or even a slip of paper with a download URL on it. You have to write your own software from scratch to use it. How awesome is that? It pops up as a USB serial port when you plug it in and it uses a dead-simple 2-byte protocol so it's pretty easy.

So what does it do? It doesn't do anything ... in particular. It does whatever you make it do. It seems that most of the apps people have written so far deal with using it as a sort of MIDI sequencer (see this video for an example).

I have a ton of ideas for cool little games for it, but I'm not yet sure how well they'll work. The main problem I see is that there are only 2 states for the LEDs: on or off. So even a simple 8x8 game like checkers wouldn't work, since you need at least 3 states (5 with kings). "Blinking" could be used as a third state for those kind of games, but I think it would get kind of distracting.

I'm going to start off by making an Othello/Go-type game and a Pong game and go from there.

If I played WoW it could be useful as a gigantic macro pad or something like that, but I don't (fortunately?).

Monome 40h

Posted on October 18, 2006

Magic LED Box

On Sunday I was bored, so I built a box with some LEDs and mirrors inside of it:

Box Pic 1

It has blinking LEDs on the ceiling and a couple of convex mirrors on the bottom which reflect the LEDs and make it look like there are more than there really are.

Since it's dark inside the box, the blinking LEDs distract you from noticing the water nozzle in the middle hooked up to a squeeze-ball behind the box. When I activate the squeeze-ball it squirts you in the face:

Box Pic 2

I brought it to work and had moderate success showing it to co-workers. Many were initially suspicious of the weird-looking box, but I was eventually able to prank everybody that came by (except one guy who recently had an eye operation that I decided not to squirt).

It turned into a sort of a social experiment in how to get people to stick their faces into a box. I had some interesting observations:

  • People were much more suspicious if I said "hey, come look into my magic box" "what's in it?" "oh, you'll see.."
  • Instead, if I waited until they walked by and asked about the box they were much more gullible, especially if I said something like "oh, do you want to see the LED light show too? ok, let me turn it on..."
  • Everybody was expecting to get an electric shock when they looked in (probably because of the circuits and LEDs on the top). Nobody guessed that it would squirt water
  • It's probably a good idea to ask people if they wear contacts before squirting them in the face with water (of course that would ruin the surprise in this case..)

Here's a video clip with some highlights. I got a bunch of other people too but forgot to turn on the webcam in time:

Posted on October 7, 2006

Cereal Bugs

Don't you hate it when you find out that your cereal is full of dead bugs only when you're halfway through the last bowl of the box?

Bug in cereal

Posted on October 7, 2006
Filed under: General, Random Comments



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