Category Archives: General

Maker Faire – 2013

This coming weekend, I’ll be showing a project with my collaborator, Eleas – artist extraordinaire.

Bay Area Maker Faire Web Badge

Below is some initial documentation for the project. And here’s the Project Space on Eleas’ site.

To get a sense of what the sculptures are looking like, here are some photos of what we’re working on (check out Flickr for more photos)

Woohoo! #makerfaire project in progress cc @makerfaire #arduino #xbee

So – what does our project “do” ?

Well – as of now, it’s a interactive wood.metal network of sculptures. As you approach any one of the sculptures, the lights on the sculpture change.

Here’s a quick video on what things are looking like so far

We’ve made an effort to document things as we go, so below is some documentation on how the electronics part of things work.


To start, we are working with Arduino’s, some LED strip lights, a PING Sensor, and some XBEE’s.

To get going, we downloaded the latest versions of Processing ( and Arduino (

Once I had the latest versions running on my computer, I was able to get hacking and coding. I pulled down some test code just to try getting code from my computer to by Arduino board. For the Arduino side of things, I’m using the Arduino Duemilanove.

Initially, I had some issues getting the very basic step of getting code onto my Arduino going. I typed in the error message I got when I compiled code into Google and came across many resources. This particular resource was the best :

It turns out that I had an old version of Processing and Arduino already running. So I had to make some changes.

From the page :

Make sure you have the right item selected in the Tools > Board menu. If you have an Arduino Uno, you’ll need to choose it. Also, newer Arduino Duemilanove boards come with an ATmega328, while older ones have an ATmega168. To check, read the text on the microcontroller (the larger chip) on your Arduino board.

Once I updated my software, and made the changes above, I was able to get coding.

PING))) Ultrasonic Distance Sensor – to detect distance

I tried to pull the code up from the Parallax site, but it just didn’t work quite right :

So then I found this code, which DID work (thanks to Tom Igoe)

I’ve since written lots of code.

And I also started collecting Local Resources :
Currently, I’m based in the Bay Area, so I wanted to compile some useful links to Bay Area hackers and hacker spaces -

While working on things, I started looking for other people working with the LED strip we’re working with. I found this fun video, and it showcases the Radioshack LED Strips we’re using :

I’ll definitely be posting more resources as we go – if you’ve got any questions or curiosities, post them below!

Hurricane Sandy – Roundup

Last night, I posted Hurricane Sandy resources here :

While compiling resources, I’ve also been following all the socialMedia’s online – below is a roundup of links, photos, and videos I found particularly interesting during and after the storm.

Hurricane Sandy – Social Media Roundup

Below is a collection of links I compiled re: Hurricane Sandy.

Storified by · Thu, Nov 01 2012 17:41:40

As shown on Buzzfeed’s temporary tumblr site (their site was down due to the hurricane) – Hurricane Sandy was the largest hurricane to form in the Atlantic Basic (based on Diameter)
Wow, Hurricane Sandy was the largest hurricane to…buzzfeedandrew
For the purposes of scale, here’s a view of Hurricane Sandy from outerspace (from NASA’s flickr page)
Content from Hurricane SandyNASA satellite images of Hurricane Sandy. For the latest info from NASA on Hurricane Sandy go to: Credit: NASA NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics.
And below is a more “earthly” shot - from Jane’s carousel (in DUMBO) – it’s one of the more haunting images I saw on the night the hurricane.
Jane’s carousel is basically an island now. Poor horses.andjelicaaa
During the storm, people were tweeting very useful information. But there were quite a bit of fake photos going around. And fake news. Most notably, @comfortablysmug tweeted out that the NYSE was flooded – this was not true and was quickly refuted – but not before CNN broadcast it. Here’s a summary from @gigaom - 
Tweeting fake news in a crisis — illegal or just immoral?When Hurricane Sandy battered their city on Monday night, New Yorkers looked after each with courage and generosity. Unfortunately, a few…
This photo also came in through the twitterz and I just couldn’t believe it – was this also a fake? Alas – it was real.
Hoboken is REAL!!!ap973
As so much information was coming in, and power was going out all over NYC, I started looking for official channels to follow – some of these included @ConEd @GovCuomo @MTAInsider and @NYCMayorsOffice for the latest – this link below is a map of outages :
Con Edison Storm CenterReport Electric Service Problem/Check Status |Help
I was also following things via Instagram and was shocked to see the East Village under so much water :
The water came up to my knees when I joined my neighbors on the front stoop.megetz
It wasn’t long before the power went out completely and the transformer on 14th Street and Avenue C went out :
Hurricane Sandy HUGE Con Ed transformer Explosion (ORIGINAL FOOTAGE) alternate anglesycolor
Here’s what NYC looked like from the internetz shortly after the explosion
The view east across darkened Manhattan toward a still-lit Brooklyn #sandyjcn
I was following the storm from afar (currently based out of San Francisco), and I simply didn’t have a full sense of the devastation on the ground. But there was no lack of destructoporn. The @nytimes @TheAtlantic @gothamist @Curbed and many others did a fantastic job of rounding up these images, but the first hand accounts were simply unmatched. I’ve included a few others as well (including @hyperallergic which I regularly read) :
Images from Inside Hurricane SandyThe first news images I ever see nowadays all come via social media channels. They provide pics, news, and corrections faster than public…
Hurricane Sandy in PhotosHurricane Sandy, which has already claimed over 50 lives in the Caribbean, has traveled north. It will soon bring heavy winds and floodwa…
Here’s What It Looks Like Around New York City Right NowClick here to view the full photogallery. Hurricane Sandy has officially descended on New York City. There’s flooding on 14th Street, par…
Atlantic City Flooded, Police and Fire Struggle To Evacuate ResidentsAs Hurricane Sandy battered coastal New Jersey on Monday morning, Atlantic City felt some of its worst effects, with floodwaters surging …
Watch: Sandy ravages Breezy Point with both flood and fireFor me, Superstorm Sandy has proven to be a massive inconvenience of the most disheartening kind: my longtime neighborhood of Red Hook, B…
As I was updating my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I learned about this building – which generates its own power – while loads of New Yorkers lost their power, this building had nothing to worry about : 
Penn South Makes Power, And Heat Is a Byproduct – New York TimesTo the Editor:Q. Does Con Ed supply electricity for every building in New York City, or are there still a few holdouts generating their o…
Mayor Bloomberg did a great job in updating folks – Bloomberg’s sign language interpreter soon became an internet favorite : 
All told, the storm is already having an incredible impact. Nonetheless, I’m seeing an incredible amount of coordination from folks in NYC – it’s fantastic. I’m inspired by all the heartiness, resourcefulness, and cooperation I’ve witnessed so far. Go NYC!

Radiohead the King of Limbs Feral (Polyamori) music video

This evening, I’ll be broadcasting Misnomer Dance’s 2011 season from the Joyce Soho. As I write this, there’s not a whole lot of performance being streamed to the web – it’s just not the norm (yet). I expect that will soon change and become the norm.

Even more exciting, during the intermission of the show, we’ll be featuring videos by other media artists, such as the one below by Brian Gibbs (among others).

I hope you’ll be able to join us tonight, at 7:30pm NYC time!

I love Silk Soymilk even though it might kill me

In 2009, the Park Slope Food Coop stopped selling the 1/2 gallon size Soymilk. I was like, WTF? I still decided to drink it, even though it may have killed me. In fact, I did many other things that may have killed me. But since the Coop’s decision to stop selling this stuff, I’ve seriously cut down on my Silk ways since discovering just how bad the Silk Brand is. And I thought other people should know too.

The Food Coop’s reasons were simple – or as simple as the Food Coop can be (I copied the text below directly from the Coop’s blog [link])

1. In January 2009, Silk – whose soy products were formerly 100% organic — reformulated their product line by converting almost all their products to conventional soybeans. They did this quietly, without telling retailers or changing the UPC code numbers on the products. Many retailers, including the Coop, didn’t find out about the change until consumers noticed and complained. The non-organic soymilks are labeled “Natural.” When we questioned Silk representatives about the change, we were told “there is a shortage of organic soybeans in North America.” However, it has been argued that Dean Foods (which owns Silk) “helped create these shortages by opting for cheaper organic imports instead of supporting domestic farmers with sustainable prices.1” (For the full report, please read the Cornucopia Institute’s Soy Report & Scorecard)

2. Silk does not guarantee that all of their soybeans are free from GMO contamination. Organic Valley’s organic soybeans are ‘Identity Preserved‘ – meaning each batch is tested to ensure there is no GMO contamination.

3. Silk is unwilling to share their sourcing information with consumers. Dean Foods “refused to transparently participate in the [Cornucopia Institute’s] study—depriving their customers of an independently verified review of their practices.” This stands in contrast to many other prominent soy food brands around the country that are fully transparent In their sourcing and production practices.

4. Silk brand is owned by Dean Foods - an agribusiness giant that owns over 50 milk labels around the country including Horizon Organic, a brand that heavily depends on factory farms each milking thousands of cows. Organic Valley is owned by CROPP Cooperative, a cooperative of organic family farmers. The Coop supports other cooperatives, wherever possible, and we try also to avoid companies that source from factory farms.

So – dear readers – do you do anything that might someday kill you? Have you been able to kick your Silk Soymilk habit? I’d love to know how you’re able to resist the smooth silky soymilk that goes oh so well with frozen strawberries and peanut butter sandwiches. I’m still struggling.


Outsourcing Design and Spec Work

I’ve played around with the idea of outsourcing before. And I’m still up in the air about it. I mean it’s great for getting work done cheap. And if you have very repetitive tasks (like data entry), outsourcing is great. But can you really outsource creativity? Well, the 99Designs folks are betting on it.

I recently put together a contest on 99Designs to have my company logo designed (you can vote for your favorites below)

The entire process was actually really helpful in helping me articulate what I was looking for. Over the course of 1 week, I ended up getting 95 designs from over 24 designers. As a business owner, I loved seeing the variety of designs coming in for such a low price ($250). I also loved being able to interact with the designers directly. Most of them were very responsive, professional, and great to work with. However, only 1 of them will end up getting paid. While it’s great for me to get so many concepts and revisions, I don’t feel good about it. Spec Work (work done for free with the hope of getting paid, for the client’s speculation) is simply not a viable long term business practice, but it definitely has its advantages.

Below is a really interesting debate about Spec Work – watch it

Many people are under the belief that no self respecting designer would do spec work, or participate on sites like 99designs or Crowdspring. That’s bullshit – and it’s an arrogant perspective. Personally, I’ve participated in spec work. It’s called interning. But more to the point, I’m pretty happy with the concepts I’ve received so far. One of the designers I received concepts from had worked for Discovery Channel. People who say that you can’t find pros on these kinds of sites are mistaken. Could I have done better if I paid more money? Maybe. But I wouldn’t have gotten 95 designs in 1 week for $250. Then again, the American mantra of more is better does not always apply in the creative field.

There are alternatives. If you don’t want to participate in the industry of spec work, don’t participate in the machine of capitalism. For those looking for less drastic measures, check out Brandstack. You can read a bit more about Brandstack here :

For more on Spec Work, check out these Links :

Would you participate in Spec Work (either as a creative or as a client)? Is Spec Work Evil? Let us know what you think!

New Directors New Films New Website

For the past while, I’ve been working on a new WordPress site for the New Directors / New Films festival. Basically – this film festival is freakin’ awesome. Films like Clerks, Pi, and You can read a bit about the project on my work site. But this post is not about the site or even the festival, but about the promo video that was made for the festival.

Below is the teaser video (made by theLab) – who did a full rebranding of Comedy Central – produced a super slick and interesting video which gives a glimpse of what the festival’s all about.

A Few Quick Observations About This Video

1. There is no melodic score. Instead, the piece is scored by sounds of cinema and digital-life.

2. Bleeps. Cuts. Scratch. Static.

3. There is no actual video of the films. They are all stills.

4. It’s awesome.

What do you think about the video?

New Directors/New Films introduces New York audiences to the work of emerging or not-yet-established filmmakers from around the world. Presented jointly by The Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, this renowned festival in past years has uncovered talents like Pedro Almodovar, Darren Aronofsky, Nicole Holofcener, Courtney Hunt, Spike Lee, Kelly Reichardt, and Steven Spielberg.

Related Links :

Dreamhost employs Superheros

My wordpress blog crashed. Dreamhost saved it. This is the chat transcript.

Jaki: Hi – i was upgrading my wordpress plugins, and now my site is totally gone. wtf??
Jaki: it says “Briefly unavailable for scheduled maintenance. Check back in a minute.”
ChrisL: Have you tried disabling plugins?
Jaki: i can’t access my site at all
ChrisL: I already tried disabling, and restoring to default theme, but neither have worked.  One moment…
Jaki: ok
ChrisL: there was a .maintenance file in the domain’s directory
ChrisL: Removed that, and the site loaded
ChrisL: You’ll have to restore the theme, but you should be set.
Jaki: interesting….
ChrisL: So, you should be set
ChrisL: Have a great day!
Jaki: wow – thats it, eh?
Jaki: well
Jaki: thank you
Jaki: i really appreciate it
Jaki: i was kinda freaking out
ChrisL: No worries
ChrisL: :)
Jaki: i mean i was freaking out
Jaki: you’re a superhero
ChrisL: Well, no need anymore
ChrisL: Don’t tell anyone
ChrisL: ;)
ChrisL: Bye!
Jaki: good night
Jaki: batman