Drilling holes

I have a feeling that one of the national pass times for men in Taiwan is drilling holes in concrete. Here I am sitting in my office on a sunny Saturday trying to focus on completing some tasks with the room full of the sounds of drilling. It’s likely being carried down from 4 or 5 stories up and with out a doubt they are completing work absolutely essential to the success of this organisation (sarcasm). My place of employ is famous for these weekend ands sometimes weekday intrusions. The first question I always ask before coming in on the weekend is whether they are — waxing floors (toxic), spraying for bugs (toxic), building furniture (to use up budget), fooling with the air system (dusty), working on the walls (noise- like now), or fooling with the electricity (no power = no work). These all happen with incredible regularity.
Drilling is limited to work though. Spend anytime in an apartment building and you will soon here the weekly hole drilling work. It’s a wonder the buildings are still standing. I can understand, I just bought a Bosch drill, I ruined a borrowed one, and am using it to put up some frames on my strangely thin concrete walls. Now that the work is done I still feel compelled to drill holes. It’s about the only handyman thing i can accomplish in a rented house made of brick and concrete.
Taiwan is likely the noisiest culture I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Ambient Intelligence: Changing Forms of Human-Computer Interaction and their Social Implications

“Ambient intelligence appears poised to cause remarkable changes in the way people live. With digital information, the ease of interaction between humans and computers can be greatly increased by broadening the interface media available and allowing for mobile and portable communication free of inhibiting wires and stationary units. Additionally, some forms of ambient intelligence allow computers to adapt to their user’s preferences. The result of ambient intelligence is ultimately a more empowered computer with the benefits of added convenience, time and cost savings, and possibilities for increased safety, security, and entertainment.”
Read the full paper

What a wonderful … life.

Louis Armstrong’s song made famous by “Good Morning Vietnam” is now stuck in my head but Seth Godins article “Time to take action” offers some common sense inspiration. The following quote strikes a chord:

The thing is, we still live in a world that’s filled with opportunity. In fact, we have more than an opportunity — we have an obligation. An obligation to spend our time doing great things. To find ideas that matter and to share them. To push ourselves and the people around us to demonstrate gratitude, insight, and inspiration. To take risks and to make the world better by being amazing. (found via Good Experience)

Read the article

The twelve days of ubi-Christmas

Pasted directly from Fredshouse and found courtesy of a Feedster news alert.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my research lab gave to me…
Twelve active badges
Eleven sensor networks
Ten wireless beacons
Nine memory prosthetics
Eight tangible interfaces
Seven smart home testbeds
Six virtual street games
Five ambient displays
Four healthcare monitors
Three museum guides
Two smart fabrics
and an RFID tag in a tree!
fredshouse.net: the twelve days of ubi-christmas

Thunderbird email

Everyone is asleep and I am taking an evening off so I decided to check out the release version of Mozilla’s Thunderbird e-mail client. Certainly not an exciting evening but I have always been game to try new software. Off to the Thunderbird product page I go to download this Apple Mail competitor. The only problem is there is no download link on their product page. Nowhere is the keyword “download” to be found. We have Thunderbird FAQ and help, knowledge base, support and development forums, get extensions, get themes rounding out many of the other possible tasks visitors to this page might have. No download link though.
Not sure how the most obvious of tasks could have been omitted from the most viewed page on their site.
I have the feeling that I am babbling on about nothing (I know I am) and the download link was removed on purpose. Likely it will reappear shortly.

Egg Drum Machine

Contact mics hooked up to eggs with an antique Mac LC with custom circuitry and software doing most of the work while the eggs sit around doing nothing but resonating.
egg.jpg“a distributed network of precarious egg-tapping robots. each unit, individually amplified, features a select unconventional egg. calculated sequences emerge, conducted by beautifully rendered software on a resurrected mainframe (a sweet mac LC3).”
“we seek and impart knowledge, addressing alarming practices and trends in the egg industry. by promoting social consciousness we can live better through decentralization.” (uhuh)
Egg Drum Machine

The 6 Myths Of Creativity

“Amabile and her team are still combing through the results. But this groundbreaking study is already overturning some long-held beliefs about innovation in the workplace. In an interview with Fast Company , she busted six cherished myths about creativity. (If you want to quash creativity in your organization, just continue to embrace them.) Here they are, in her own words.”
Read the article

Pew Internet & American Life Project – Artists, Musicians and the Internet

“The first large-scale surveys of the internet’s impact on artists and musicians reveal that they are embracing the Web as a tool to improve how they make, market, and sell their creative works. They eagerly welcome new opportunities that are provided by digital technology and the internet.
At the same time, they believe that unauthorized online file sharing is wrong and that current copyright laws are appropriate, though there are some major divisions among them about what constitutes appropriate copying and sharing of digital files. Their overall judgment is that unauthorized online file-sharing does not pose a major threat to creative industries: Two-thirds of artists say peer-to-peer file sharing poses a minor threat or no threat at all to them.
Across the board, among those who are both successful and struggling, the artists and musicians we surveyed are more likely to say that the internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their art than they are to say it has made it harder to protect their work from piracy or unlawful use.”
Read the Research Report

A decade of good website design

The web looks very different today than it did 10 years ago.
Back in 1994, Yahoo had only just launched, most websites were text-based and Amazon, Google and eBay had yet to appear.
But, says usability guru Dr Jakob Nielsen, some things have stayed constant in that decade, namely the principles of what makes a site easy to use.
Dr Nielsen has looked back at a decade of work on usability and considered whether the 34 core guidelines drawn up back then are relevant to the web of today.
“Roughly 80% of the things we found 10 years ago are still an issue today,” he said.
“Some have gone away because users have changed and 10% have changed because technology has changed.”
Read the article


scanjam.jpg“Scanjam is a music performance system consisting of two scanners and a computer. We took advantage of the time-based nature of the scan head and mapped each scanner to one bar of music. The music is composed in two bar “modules”. Objects placed on the scanner are read and depending on their color, shape, and vertical placement, trigger sounds when the scan head passes them by. When one scanner reaches its end the next scanner begins. While the second scanner is scanning, the first scanner is “rewinding”.”
project page

Burton / R.E.D. Audio HiFi Helmet

I recently purchased a new helmet for riding my Taiwan harley. I was long overdue for some serious protection for my head when riding in the Hsinchu commute chaos. I have a rather large head and have never been able to find a helmet here to fit. Luckily a local shop (everything is local here) carried a number of “xl” sized helmets and now I look even more like an alien than I did before.
hifihelmet.jpgUnfortunately the helmet is not iPod compatible. I have this insane habit of riding my bike and listening to music at the same time. If you rode here you would realise just how insane that is and just how much it might not matter.
What I wish I could have purchased was something like this very cool Burton HiFi Helmet. Burton claims audio excellence and the overall features seem just right; removable speakers, adjustable volume, a quick release chord and an easy access mute button.
Looks cool too.

How I Drew One Of My Pictures

The concept of value, as bestowed by authenticity is only inherent when a work is unique and (mostly) irreproducible in it’s native medium. Think of a famous painting: only the original canvas can demand such high prices.
In a new, digital medium, the final work is generally not valued in the same way. A stretch of video art can be copied infinitely [2] – how can one place a value onto it? Instead, the process becomes valued. We consider the process of creation and creativity to be valued in the place of authenticity.
We might consider net.art to be valuable, only because we can appreciate the value of the process that went into making it.
So it would be a logical conclusion that the complexity or “authenticity” of the process bestows value upon the resulting work. The process must be artistically rigorous and intricate.
How I Drew One Of My Pictures

Wireless iPod patent

wifi-ipod.jpgFrom Apple Insider comes the news that a patent was published on Thursday that talks about a wirelessly-enabled handheld player that can beam music and information to multiple other media devices, a docking station for communicating with other devices, and something about wirelessly transmitting

Manifesto of Futurist Musicians

“I, who repudiate the title of Maestro as a stigma of mediocrity and ignorance, hereby confirm my enthusiastic adhesion to Futurism, offering to the young, the bold and the reckless these my irrevocable conclusions:

  1. To convince young composers to desert schools, conservatories and musical academies, and to consider free study as the only means of regeneration.
  2. To combat the venal and ignorant critics with assiduous contempt, liberating the public from the pernicious effects of their writings.
  3. To found with this aim in view a musical review that will be independent and resolutely opposed to the criteria of conservatory professors and to those of the debased public.
  4. To abstain from participating in any competition with the customary closed envelopes and related admission charges, denouncing all mystifications publicly, and unmasking the incompetence of juries, which are generally composed of fools and impotents.
  5. To keep at a distance from commercial or academic circles, despising them, and preferring a modest life to bountiful earnings acquired by selling art.
  6. The liberation of individual musical sensibility from all imitation or influence of the past, feeling and singing with the spirit open to the future, drawing inspiration and aesthetics from nature, through all the human and extra-human phenomena present in it. Exalting the man-symbol everlastingly renewed by the varied aspects of modern life and its infinity of intimate relationships with nature.
  7. To destroy the prejudice for

The House of Wigs

Funny and true. I’m adding this site to my daily reads.
“When the boss from the company that’s taking over our company came in and gave the “Hello I Am Friendly!!”? speech which I’ve heard on several occasions before (seeing as every company I’ve ever worked for has been bought out by somebody), he described himself as an “insecure overachiever

IC Radio Interview

I have no idea why I was chosen – if you follow the link you will find smart people doing cool research. I think my ideas are interesting and fun but the other interviewee’s are kings among kings. Anyway, interviews never turn out the way you hope and this one was no exception. Here is a text copy of my recent interview with IC radio. The links to the radio version are in Windows media format – I might put them up here as more acceptable mp3’s in the future but I doubt there will be much demand.

工業技術研究院-新聞-「工研院地球村」系列報導(2) (Interview text in Chinese).
Audio part 1 and part 2.

Historical result for the wrong reasons

I would have bet money years ago that Bush would remain in power. This conviction came not because he is a great leader or possesses a brilliant mind but simply because the people who brought him to power completely control the framework of debate. These people could bring anyone to power. Bush has been derided for his lack of intelligence and experience from the beginning. His language, geared towards those with less than high school education, was deliberate – not only superficial and easy to understand – it’s almost comforting in it’s simplicity. It among other things, outside of the issues, obviously struck a chord with the American populace.
This election is an absolutely amazing phenomena. Such almost religious conviction surrounding a political party. This man can do no wrong. It’s hard to say exactly what this says about the majority of Americans. Does this mean that Americans support mobilising a gigantic war machine to invade a country at their leaders whim? Anyone who would give the war a moments thought would realise that the reasons for invading Iraq all proved wrong and many were outright lies. Is that ok for the American people? It’s all rather astounding.
Even if the world survives another four years of George Bush I’m afraid that the precedents started with him now will have an irrevocable effect on their country and the world for years to come. The lines separating corporate, theocratic, and political government has blurred and bleed. The decline of a great country may well have begun.

Use of Narrative in Interactive Design (BA)

“By making a conscious effort to integrate narrative into our work, we are better able to support creative learning, problem solving, and task completion by the people who use the things we build. At the very least, the experiences we create will be more engaging, both for the project team creating the experience and for the end users.
Seeing the narrative potential in interactive design is nothing new

Culture of fear and blindness

I’ll be saying a little prayer tonight that Americans have abandoned their political zealotry, done some thinking, and decided that the last four years were a mockery of their country.
I wanted to record my thoughts about this event but somehow now words escape me. The US isn’t my country and yet no country or person can escape the effects of this election. How a man such as this could have such popular support and can get away with such obvious lies is a mystery. One must just open their eyes and see. Perhaps that is one of the gifts of the power base that surrounds him. The ability to frame all thinking around the context of their choosing. They must be the most masterful of propagandists.
Bush once said something to the effect that he will be remembered in history, let’s hope he is remembered as a hiccup, a mistake, and not a representative of what America believes. I had a feeling from the beginning that he would be a two term president, I hope that I was wrong, for the sake of America and the world.

Electron Luv tube amps

Electron Luv tube amps are a work of art. Wonderful craft and art. But at 190lbs it’s not something i will have shipped to Taiwan any time soon.
tube.jpg “Josh’s Design Philosophy to seek out the ultimate aesthetic/musical quality in audio. In the pursuit of the best reproduction of recorded music, the audio world is populated with many outstanding products. What could be different, better? Why not use the BEST sounding tubes, components, and circuits possible? Why not build the most creative and cool looking chassis’ possible? Why not use tubes that look as good (and cool) as they sound, and present them prominently and artfully? If it sounds better, use it. tube2.jpg
A ‘no compromises’ approach to the circuit design and parts, together with a completely fresh and creative way to house them is the basic design goal. These amps are designed and built from a standpoint of extensive listening… what does this sound like, what does that tube, choke or rectifier sound like. This results in an understanding of the sonic consequences of each and every part in the circuit, and the contribution that each component makes to the resulting tonal and musical reproduction. As with thoughtful, experienced gourmet cooking, this results in a wonderful, delicious feast of audio delights.”
electronluv tube amps

Protect the family jewels!!

There is never a dull moment here in Hsinchu, Taiwan. It may be hard to believe since Hsinchu’s claim to fame is primarily a science park full of high tech. factories and work hour traffic congestion. Yesterday’s slice of excitement helped provide the kind of wake up kick that coffee can’t come close to providing.
The shower in my house has trouble from time to time. Having only one water pump the water pressure tends to slack off as you reach the top floors. The result is almost always water that is too hot. Here in Taiwan (and many other places I am sure) we heat our water with a gas heater situated near the shower. This one is outside a window by the shower head allowing quick death if it ever explodes. Yesterday in yet another attempt to regulate the water temperature I opened the window to adjust the heater when what dropped in on my naked body was a bat. Quickly I covered my private parts in case it’s one of those ‘penis chomping vampire bats’ and yelled some expletives. Bats falling on me during my shower is not an experience I generally think of in the shower.
Luckily for me and ultimately unlucky for him the bat was not quite as alert as I. I proceeded to cover him/her/it with a plastic trash can and continue with my shower. After I showered and got dressed I grabbed some gloves and tongs with the intention of grabbing him/her/it to return to the ‘wild’. Unfortunately the bat had started to be more alert this time and was threatening to do unspeakable things like fly around my house and shit over everything. Well I assume bats are not to be taken too lightly as God knows what happens after a bite so I couldn’t let him/her/it escape and in the process I killed it. I’m a bit soft and felt pretty bad about it.
A rather traumatic start to my day but yet another in a long line of offbeat experiences that form my life in Taiwan.

Digitimes Interview

My apologises if the text is garbled below. It’s the opening paragraph for a recent interview I had with the Digitimes here in Hsinchu. I have been doing a number of interviews lately and have used the opportunity to promote the projects I am on. I’ll post a radio interview I did in the coming days as well. Once I get over my atypical shyness I become chatty it seems.

在工研院工作五年多,加拿大籍的克拉克·麥克勞(Clark Macleod),因為陪著一歲女兒玩玩具,觸發設計音樂椅的想法。在工研院創意中心的支持下,很快地,這張坐上去就能參與音樂演奏的椅子,即將跟大家見面。

Read the interview (Chinese)

Kitundu, Sound Artist

“Kitundu is a, sound/visual artist, graphic designer, composer and instrument builder. He uses an interdisciplinary approach to develop compositions-installations-instruments that blur the boundaries between media. He has constructed elemental turntables that rely on wood, water, fire and earthquakes for their power and pitch. Kitundu is the creator of a family of Phonoharps, beautifully crafted multi-stringed instruments made from record players. He strives to reconnect the technology of new music to fundamental principles drawn from the natural world.”
The great sounds of Kitundu, Sound Artist.