Sensor Walk

In Sensor Workshop we had to do another Sensor Walk like we did in Physical Computing which is walk around and notice any sensors around you. I didn’t have to go far as I found myself having a sensor right in front of me at work.

It’s the RFID by HID. HID is an enterprise class provider of security ID solutions for large instituitions and in this case NYU. NYU transitioned to the RFID system this year requiring all employees and students to get a new ID. The previous ID method used was the magnetic strip which is still on the current system. I’ve been issued these ID’s before for my parking priveldges at work and access pass for areas at work.

At first people didn’t know what to do with them thus causing wuite a buildup at the entrance of Bobst Library during the initial rollout in the fall of 2011.

These RFIDs are running on proprietary software and hardware which makes them unfriendly to hobbyists or for the normal ITP crowd. These RFIDs are secure in a way that it has to authenticate to a central server in order to get information and decide whether or not to allow access. Each system is customized per client. But the sensor itself can read a variety of systems just as long as the system has been configured to accept it.

The particular one in Bobst Library is located in this Sensor Report at the ITP Sensor Wiki. In short, fellow ITPers don’t bother trying to get information off the RFID. You won’t get it without the key. You’l have better luck with the magnetic strip at the back.

Camera Walk?

I’ve posted it before I think that I always wanted a holodeck. But of course this is nothing like that. So for this project I finally got the network camera working at my place in Queens and uploading the images every 15 minutes. I shot some video from a window at ITP and put the two together.

I knew I was going to use the Kinect and initially began using the depthMap and measuring in inches and using the values there to determine distance. That didn’t work for me. I decided to use the Center of Mass or CoM command to determine the position but then depth would be another problem.

Soooo for the purposes of this project I just adjusted the position of the kinect to be overhead to simplify the position.

Adding a fornt facing camera turned out to be more challenging. For some reason, OpenNI takes over all the cameras of the computer and will only want the kinect. Solution? Add another kinect.

I’d like to expand this further with head tracking such as imitating the look around an area or even creating the illusion of depth without 3D glasses.

The Reapers are finally upon us

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post about videogames so what better way to start than with Mass Effect 3.

This is my most anticipated game since Final Fantasy X came out in 2001. I almost gave up on the first game. It was clunky, pointless, going nowhere and the action was terrible. It was already hard enough pointing and shooting let alone trying to use your biotic powers. Exploration took forever and that just fell off a cliff somewhere never to return.

Mass Effect 2 convinced me that it is the greatest trilogy ever made for videogames. The story and the action blended so well that the final approach tot he Collector’s base made me cringe at the throught of losing one of my crew memebers.

I’ve been playing the demo at least once a day. Whether it was the single player or the multiplayer, there are big changes to the visual aspect and the pace of the storytelling. The previous games were slow buildups to an epic finale. This feels like a rollercoaster ride from the start.

The Reapers arrive on March 6, 2012 for North America.

You probably won’t hear from me until I finish the game.

Cameras midterm

I have no name for this as of yet but over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to recreate what I built five years ago. Sadly through the updates that Apple has made, it is no longer possible with their technology. Streaming video from one place to another seems simple enough and is actually simpler today than it was when I was building it. But getting it to place nice with Java is another thing completely.

I was using both VLC and QuickTime Broadcaster to broadcast video from one place to another without the aid of a server to be imported into a Processing applet and that didn’t turn out too well. Apple has discontinued further development on QuickTime for Java in lieu of AVFoundation. So the Quicktime that we all grew up with no longer exists. the core of AVFoundation is used to run movies in iOS, iMovie and FCPX which is why iMovie runs faster and somewhat better than FCP 7. Oh the pains of 64 bit processing.

The QT Broadcast stream, though encoded in MotionJPEG which Java recognizes, still starts with a QT header. Thus when the stream is imported into the sketch, it will not recognize it as a MotionJPEG file but as a QT streaming file. This would require a decoder to transcode it into MotionJPEG that Java accepts.

Installing a Lion server will not help. I learned that the hard way.

So currently I’m using an application called EvoCam. It’s a standalone software that recognizes practically any camera I plug in and allows a ton of options. From motion capture recording/ streaming video to grabbing stills and sending them through applescript or automator workflow. I’ve been having ftp connectivity issues to the ITP server so I’m uploading this to my personal site. So far it’s been working great save for the times of me getting disconnected on the remote end for some reason or another.

remote still

Refresh the page to get the latest image.

Once the image was finally free on the web it was easy enough to access the code in Processing. I’ve always wanted a holodeck no matter how crude it may be. I think the fact that you are walking through a given space that changes would change on how we would interact with man made images or environments. So this is a very crude version of how I would imagine things. More updates to come.

Cold Beer and Inspiration

I’ve always wanted to get out of the house. I remember waiting in the garage when I was little and would beg to ride in any car that was leaving the house. Whether it was picking up my brother or sister from school, or just to get groceries. My nanny even took me on my first public bus ride. Just anything to get somewhere. That desire for travelling got me on an 8 hour road trip to the province one day and I gave up at the 6th hour.

Road trips have been an integral part of my growing up. My father worked a lot and the one time that we get to spend a lot of time together were either on vacations and most of it included a road trip of some sort. We even went out of town one time without bringing any food or some sort. This was before Starbucks and McDonalds put up rest stops along the highway.

These trips were always exciting. There was a time we could drive from Manila to Baguio (approximately 244 km) in 2 1/2 hours compared to the usual 4. Don’t tell my mom. She wasn’t with us at the time.,+Metro+Manila,+Philippines&daddr=Baguio+City,+Cordillera+Administrative+Region,+Philippines&hl=en&geocode=FVjF3gAdmxI2BymLwx5XA8qXMzEfwWkQddXRaQ%3BFZ1H-gAdJyYwByk_8d55aKGRMzHAdTq-NPXejg&aq=0&oq=baguio&sll=14.599512,120.984219&sspn=0.154158,0.703125&mra=ls&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=15.50093,120.74364&spn=1.80282,0.48132&output=embed

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In these trips I would learn about our family history in some places. My grandmother would tell stories about every town we passed by. Like the moment she first saw my grandfather. She would sweep in front of the house when my grandfather’s bus (he was a bus conductor) would stop every afternoon. She would tell on how My grandfather and his best friend would smuggle rice into the city to trade for medicine during World War II. My father would point at the elementary school and bakery he used to work in. Stories that aren’t written in history books but in the roads and towns that we passed.

My siblings and I learned how to “attack” corners and overtake vehicles during these trips. My brother recieved the most instruction and my sister learned how to drive in winter conditions. I on the other hand learned how to maintain speed through corners in wet and dry conditions and hear the car complain as the traction control set in (Yes Yosemite I’m talking to you).

I’m inspired to make this documentary because this is the first long road trip I’m taking by myself. The United States is one of the few countries that is “safe” enough for me to do this and documenting it is essential. I draw inspiration from the blogs at and Roff Smith’s Cold Beer and Crocodiles . Even though these trips were made on a bicycles, the spirit of adventure is there.

Have you ever felt that moment when you’ve been driving for a long time that the car becomes an extension of your senses?

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There’s something about the car that makes you feel in control of your life. Well at least in my point of view.

Clear day on the I5

Bubbles and trains

train comics

Encapsulate our words in baloons above our head.

The road narrows

In two weeks I’ll be embarking on a journey that will take me across the country. But after taking a breather and exmaining my capabilities, I’ve shortened the journey and changed it.

The cross country train ride would have been amazing since it’s not a road, it is not part of Google Earth Street View. That alone was difficult. Not to mention I mapped the ride to Chicago and it was very long.

I’ve decided to drive up the California coast instead. Specifically the area of California Highway 1 between San Luis Obispo and San Francisco.

I drove there the first time in the spring of 2010 in a Nissan Hybrid with my sister. This time around I’ll be travelling knowing what I’ll need. The difference today is that I’ll be equipping the car I’ll be using with a number of cameras that would almost make it look like a Google Street View car but in simpler terms. I’ve marked the series of stops and places I intend to visit and the entire journey will take me three days.

There’s something to be said about a road trip. This documentary narrates some of the history of the road and will attempt to capture the unique views only visible on this road. One of the driving factors for me on this documentary is the possiblity that this road may no longer exist in it’s current state in the next ten years. Though no fault of man. The Pacific ocean is slowly eating away at the cliffs and eroding the land beneath the it.

The drive is also very special. The trip will take me to a twisting part of the highway where I never bothered to look at the speed limit. The speed limit is a distraction at that point and it’s not posted anyway. I think it would be even better if I can get my hands on a manual transmission car for this, but I doubt I’ll be able to find one.

I have part of the script for the narrative bits and rest would be in the car. This is very exciting.