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.