‘Making’ again

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Just started playing around with Cinder. It’s along the lines of Processing and openFrameworks. These platforms, if you will, really helps with the creation of graphic and event-based applications. I’ve worked with Processing (taught a class), dabbled in openFrameworks (created a music exploration/visualization environment) and am now trying Cinder.

For Spring 2003, I created a class called Dynamic Bodies at ITP. The class helped students to create algorithmically controlled/animated objects using vector math and physics. It was a class I created out of a labor of love and inspired by folks coming out of the, then John Maeda led, Aesthetic Computing Group. Some of the things that I’ve taught in that class have now been made easier with the introduction of libraries for vector math, physics engine and algorithmic behaviors (such as for boids). Many of these libraries are available for the three platforms above; one of the more notable is the feature rich toxilibs by Karsten “toxi” Schmidt for the Processing platform.

I missed those days of making things so I’m taking this opportunity to get back on it! One other reason for this step towards ‘making’ is that both openFrameworks and Cinder can be used to build iOS apps. I have an iOS project ‘in the works’ with a friend.

Trying to write my first iOS app

Friday, October 7th, 2011

MY friend Jenna and I have been brainstorming about a kids’ iOS app and I’m finally excited about making what we’ve schemed up happen. It’s going to be an iOS app that needs a physics engine.

It turns out that cocos2D for iphone is a sprite based game engine. It now includes integration with the Box2D physics engine. Both cocos2d and Box2d are free to use and distribute with your app.

This should be really helpful for our idea…stay tuned.

e-commerce project

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

We’re finally moving ahead with an e-commerce project. It’ll be very exciting with lots of new things to deal with…like Merchant Accounts and Payment Gateways. There are so many out there. We’re using BigCommerce, a cloud ecommerce offering, which integrates with many payment gateways so I won’t have to code anything…but it’s not making it any easier to select one.

This is a good “how it works” diagram of payment gateways and merchant accounts.

Our client is a brick and mortar store that current swipes physical cards at credit card terminals and they also take phone orders. So I’m trying to figure out what merchant account(s) they need and what payment gateways(s) they need…and decide which providers would allow for the most flexible configuration. Another thing that I needed to consider is that they’re currently shopping around for a new merchant account but our ecommerce store won’t be launching for at least a few months. So, the providers should allow us to grow the business and add the ecommerce store later.

 

Merchant Accounts

Depending on the merchant account provider, you’ll have to sign up for at least one, if not many, merchant account based on how you will be receiving payment. The company that our client is looking at, Elavon, requires a merchant account for retail (physical card swipes), MOTO (mail order/telephone order), and ecommerce. Needless to say, each account costs money…for setup, per transaction, has monthly fees, etc.

Payment Gateway

In order for you to process and connect to your merchant account(s), you will need at least one payment gateway, if not more, to connect to each of your merchant accounts. So you may need a retail payment gateway to process and connect to your retail merchant account, or you may need an ecommerce payment gateway to process and connect to your ecommerce merchant account.

 

One of the gateways on the BigCommerce list of partners they integrate with is PayLeap. They actually have a plan called “Brick and Click” which essentially allows you to process transactions originating from retail, MOTO, and ecocmmerce, under ONE merchant account and ONE payment gateway. Also their fee structure seems really reasonable. So, as of now, I’m recommending this to our client.

My Portfolio Site

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Have had to revisit my work experience since moving to L.A. Needed a place to present my portfolio so I put something together (the majority of the design is from a pre-made theme but it includes minor tweaks by me).

Portfolio site: http://labs.2-bit-toys.com

Finally moved everything to WebFaction

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

I’ve been slowly moving all of my domains to be served from WebFaction. I was on Dreamhost and things were kind of slow. I opened up an account at WebFaction and was using Alertfox to test load speeds between the two hosts (I had setup similar software on both sites). WebFaction was probably ~20% faster than Dreamhost. Dreamhost load times for my WordPress blog ranged from 700 – 1100 ms. WebFaction load times were 500 – 800 ms. So, generally faster.

I’ve finally moved this blog, the last bits to transfer, to WebFaction. The performance of my WordPress blog is faster, but it’s still not instant. I guess that’s to be expected from shared hosting.

Anyhow, Dreamhost was good to me, but I thought it was time for a change. I’ve also been looking at things such as Slicehost and Linode for VPS hosting. I might try those out just to play around with the administration of virtual servers. I want to give WebFaction a go for a year.

Printing from Google laptop cr-48 using Cloud printing

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Rachel just used the Google laptop to buy tickets online for “True Grit” and needed to print a confirmation. She discovered that we had to use cloud printing to print from the Google laptop to a Windows laptop connected to a printer.

Here’s what we did…following these instructions:

  1. Because I don’t have a PC, I started Parallels on my mac. I then setup my HP printer on my XP virtual machine.
  2. Install the Chrome browser in XP (I installed 8.0.552.224).
  3. Go to Settings (the wrench icon) -> Options -> Under The Hood tab.
  4. The instructions said that I should see a Google Cloud Print section on the bottom.  I didn’t. After some searching, I found this post in the Chrome forum and the key is to enable this option first by entering “about:flags” in the browser address bar!
  5. Type “about:flags” in the address bar…you’ll see a list of flags/features that you can enable.  Enable the Cloud Print Proxy flag. Then click on the button at the button of the page to restart Chrome.
  6. Once the Chrome browser has restarted, you should see the Cloud Printing option under Options -> Under The Hood.
  7. Configure the rest by following the steps from the instructions page.  Basically you need to sign in to your Google account so that when the Google notebook sends a print request to the cloud, the Chrome browser running in XP can pull it down from the cloud and then print to the printer attached to that machine.
  8. Print a test page…and voila!

For me it’s not ideal because I have to launch the XP virtual machin in Parallels on my Mac, but I have a way to print from my Google laptop.  Yay!

UPDATE

I just found out that if you install the Developer version of Chrome all of this would be easier.  I didn’t try it but I suspect that the Cloud Printing flag would have already been setup.

http://www.google.com/chrome/intl/en/p/cloudprint.html

Google cr-48 laptop

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

I got a nice surprise on Monday night after I got home from our work holiday party. My neighbor dropped off a package that he signed for me. It felt pretty substantial. It was approximately the size of two pizza boxes stacked on top of each other.

When I opened up the outer box the inner box had an exploded view illustration of a mouse driven contraption. It took me a few seconds and then it clicked…it was the Google laptop that I had applied for as a beta tester!!! I was totally excited.

Its case is designed similar to the black Macbook. The finish is also similar…a bit rubbery. I really like the feel. I powered it up and started to play with it. The trackpad was the first thing that I noticed…because it didn’t work that well. I’m still trying to get use to it. I think the setting is too sensitive and there’s not a lot of configuration that can be adjusted in the settings. As part of the beta testing program you’re suppose to submit comments, bugs, etc. So, I think this was one of the first comment that I submitted.

All in all it’s pretty cool. This is Google’s foray into hardware that ties to their apps in the cloud infrastructure. I’m excited to be one of the first users/testers of this concept. I’ll be posting more…stay tuned.

Specs:
12.1″ screen (1280×800)
16 GB Drive (SSD)
2GB memory
VGA port
1 USB port
1 headphone jack
webcam
SD card slot

Details from here:
Processor: Intel Atom Processor N455 1.66GHz 512K Cache
Chipset: Intel CG82NM10 PCH
Motherboard: Tripod Motherboard MARIO – 6050A240910 – MB – A03
Ram: Hynix 2GB DDR3 1Rx8 PC3 – 10600S Ram

Read Only Memory: ITE IT8500E Flash ROM
SSD Drive: SanDisk sdsa4dh-016G 16GB SATA SSD
Wireless Wan: Qualcomm Gobi2000 PCI Express Mini Card
3g Adapter: AzureWave 802.11 a/b/g/n PCI-E Half MiniCard
Bluetooth: Atheros AR5BBU12 Bluetooth V2.1 EDR

Learning Python

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Just had drinks with Justin and Scott last night at the Brooklyn Inn. We geeked out and now I’m going to try to learn python again. Found this article, by Red Sweater, about learning python using the mac. They made a little app that contains a web browser in one pane and a terminal in the other. The web browser points to the python tutorial page written by Guido van Rossum (the author of Python).
The article mentions Nodebox…a Processing like environment which uses Python as the language. Cool!

Pressure Cooker

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Used a pressure cooker for the first time today.
Made a Chinese “Red Bean Soup”.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C of adzuki beans (red beans)
  • 6 TBSP of brown sugar
  • 8 C of water
  • 1 TBSP of small tapioca pearls (they’re about 1-2 mm in diameter)
  • 1 TBSP of vegetable oil (i think that this reduces the amount of foam in the pot…if it foams too much it can clog the vent pipe…and there would be no pressure release and you would have a dangerous situation on your hands!)

Steps:

  1. Add all ingredients into the pressure cooker.
  2. Place lid on pressure cooker and lock into place. For my pot I place the lid on and rotate until the handles match…that seals it. (warning: follow directions for your pressure cooker. I’m listing the steps that I used for mine)
  3. Place the pressure regulator on top of the vent pipe at the center of the lid.
  4. Heat until the pressure regulator starts to rock. (On my pot, there’s a lock valve that lifts up when the pressure builds up in the pot.) Turn the heat down a bit, but make sure the regulator still rocks.
  5. Cook for about 5 – 6 minutes. (I followed the directions in the pressure cooker cookbook and cooked for 3 minutes and the beans were al dente. For the soup, it needs to be a lot softer.
  6. Turn the heat off
  7. Let the pot cool down by itself on the stove. When the lock valve drops back down, that means there’s no more pressure in the pot. You can now safely open the lid buy rotating the lid. (warning: again, follow the directions for your pressure cooker)

Designer as problem solver

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

I came across this in Don Koberg & Jim Bagnall’s book “The Universal Traveller”…

A creative problem-solver is a “designer”; a person intending to improve what exists or to find clear paths through dilemmas or challenging situations and arrive at satisfying solutions

I think this is one of the best descriptions of a designer that I’ve seen. This can be applied to any field, whether it’s industrial design, interface design, experience design, etc.

Keep this in mind when you try to explain what you, a designer, do at the next holiday cocktail party!