aldexa product release

Our project for applications, Nov 28.


pcom: small pivots + future prep

This week, time spent playing with dissected webcam…

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 1.41.00 PM.png

…and trying to embed it in a cardboard box. It didn’t work too great:

  • Confirmed a 1-foot throw distance, which felt unwieldy.
  • Underneath lighting is too dark for computer eyes
  • Lighting reflects off the plastic.

So instead, a pivot from under-neath camera to overhead one:

Suspending with a braided wire works ok, but the camera is subject to rotating in space. Danny suggests a clamp-able rod.

I need to tweak the code so that the virtual grid aligns better with the lego grid.


I sketched out an idea for a “recording” interface I liked. Here’s my to-do list for next week, which includes building that and creating a nice wood enclosure for the whole thing:

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 1.49.23 PM.png

icm final ✨✨

The last two weeks have been tough for me on many levels. I decided to pivot my final project from sandwiches. I got some great feedback on that project, but just not enough time to flesh it out the way I want.

For this week (our last week), I instead built out a virtual version of my pcomp project, which is a lego music sequencer. Some of the functional code I had already written last week.

Here’s the working prototype (which is sure to keep changing!)

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 11.20.37 AM.png

I was at first avoiding merging ICM + pcomp for a long time, because I don’t feel like this project, as a browser game, totally stands on its own as a satisfying interaction. Still, this was actually one of the most challenging things I’ve coded so far in ICM. I feel pretty proud, and I learned so much from the experience.

I was up for at least 8 hours in Bobst, where it’s climate-controlled to keep you AWAKE. M2M chocolate and tea kept me going through the wee hours…

The process really pushed me to be very deliberate, detailed, and creative with my debugging. I was working with several layers of storing information…

  • built-in 1D pixel color array ([r,g,b,a])
  • analyzing a 2D brickArray (based on x,y coordinates, incremented out per brick width and height)
  • asking the 2D brickArray if each index item was more red, green, yellow, or blue based on a ratio of [r] vs [g] vs [b]
  • based on color, storing values “R” “Y” “B” “G” as strings into a 2D “songArray”
  • interpreting strings and playing corresponding sounds
  • stepping through a column of sound at a time, based on frameCount% intervals

Some stills from that late night:

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 7.58.12 PM.png

Setting up an array of brick colors… why is it not working?? Ah, because I used “push()” incorrectly.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 8.32.18 PM.png

Finally, console is telling me where each brick is on the grid. Took a while to make sure “x,” “y,” columns and rows were aligned and not reflecting on the wrong axis.


If the sound was successfully stored, it would tell me in the console. (see: “BLUE, beatbox @ x2, y6”)

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 8.32.20 PM.png

When experimenting with p5 pixels, I wrote a function to draw a rectangle for each unit to make sure the computer was seeing the image.


Here I was experimenting with pixels, to see if p5 could read the blue lego image as “on top of” the white grid image.”

When we tested it in class, my tester got the premise of it pretty easily. People liked the idea. Here were the questions I posed:

  • What do you think a physical experience offers that this one doesn’t? and vice versa?
  • Imagine you can record your own sounds. How long do you think you would play with this before getting bored?
  • What kind of sounds would you like to hear?

The “found sounds” aspect really appealed to people. Mimi asked me to consider if “playing with legos” is the main interaction, or “building music.” Someone suggested screaming lego people…


sandwich side note:

Here’s some of the feedback I got from user-testing my sandwich prototype. I would love to continue this sometime, maybe during J-term? I have too many ideas!

  • “professionalism” section really made people think about their personal definitions
  • people chuckled when they were defining “sandwiches” 
  • introduction felt a little long/text-heavy (for some, not all)
  • because it’s modeled after a work test, you want to just get it over with (for some)
  • the ending was confusing. needed resolution. more frustrating than communicating a lack of agency (“I would think your code was broken”)
  • user-testing prototype worked really well!


💥💥 cybernetics, etc 💥💥

Some messy thoughts quoted from + inspired by the cybernetics hangout yesterday.
(It was amazing!!!)

Public optimism
Private sadness

Getting in touch with inner monologue
Looking for freedom
And then I look at Twitter and it’s gone again

Paiks moving dot
Text editor as a game?
Find edges of “designer” intention

User as a passive role
Designer as an elite role

What do users do? So they just use? How do they verb?
There’s a fluidity here between how people contribute and also consume. why is compartmentalizing useful here?

What do I do other than use? What are alternative roles with more agency, more nuance?
Nouns and verbing, both.
Continue reading

lego + webcam + p5 magic

pcom final project boss battle
week 1 —-> week 2 —> week 3 👾

I’ve got a working prototype! (turn on sound)

playing with light

The transparent baseboards came in:

lego magic.gif

I bought a web cam, a logitech C270 that records at 720dpi.
Needs more throw depth right now. Maybe like 1 foot.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 8.43.22 PM.png

There could be opportunities for playing with mirrors to help solve this problem.


computer vision magic

Meanwhile, experimenting with p5.js this week in the lemony glow of my home:


I got a grid of colors to show:

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 12.58.12 AM.png

Then I wrote a function that ONLY will display what is a brick, and is NOT a white background.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 1.30.06 AM.png

The blue has been the hardest to pick up consistently. Sometimes it blends in with the shadows.

audio inspiration

I recorded some sounds with my phone. They’re kinda crude, and I like them that way. I’ve been really into the idea of low-polish, found sounds, and inspired by this video:


❤ 🎵🎶🎵

basic analog circuits: vol. 1

Taking a circuits class with no breadboarding or solder experience has been a huge push away from comfort for me this semester.

It’s been that feeling of wondering, “Jeez, am I the last person in this class to get this?”

it me

Slowly, more than I realize, I’m gaining confidence with reading schematics, designing a breadboard, also debugging.

I wanted to share some of the lab projects from the semester. Some circuits took me weeks just to get right. None of them worked perfectly on the first try. I think that’s really important!

The class emphasizes making things over knowing perfect knowledge, so I don’t know how many of them work in detail. Some black boxes will remain black boxes.

1 – variable voltage divider

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This is a power supply. It takes in AC current and using a transformer unit, transforms that current into DC.

The AC is first directed through the big transformer, which I soldered to the AC wire (and almost electrocuted myself, whoops)


A bridge rectifier made up of diodes forces the current to be (+) instead of fluctuating between (+), ground, and (-).

There’s a massive capacitor storing the charge. I can turn the potentiometer and I can control how much electricity comes out the top two pins.


I use this one as a power supply when testing circuits now. Really satisfying that it works.
Continue reading

sandwich storyboard

ICM final project boss battle
week 1 —-> week 2 👾

is a storyboard a sandwich?

This week I wrote copy text and gathered imgs for my sandwich game.

J gave me the idea to model it after CAPTCHA image testing, which distinguishes bots from humans.


As I started putting it together, the copy text naturally materialized as some sort of weird AI job application procedure….

Here are some simple gifs of “gameplay.”


Applicants are first questioned on their sandwich identification skills…


…then proceeds onto bigger questions. What is professionalism? How do we define it? (It can be a euphemism sometimes.)

Though as a simple AI perhaps you are just looking for straightforward cultural symbols of what it is. Parsing for white men at computers…

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 2.51.50 PM.png

By part 3 in the game, the user doesn’t have any control over which images are chosen.

The user might click on a mother nursing her kid as a “leader,” but all of their choices become ultimately zapped…

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The whole world turns to sandwiches.