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Saturday, October 11, 2003


If I don't know Flash very well now, I will by the end of this month. My project for Studio is a series of Flash movies. My project for Interface class is a Flash piece. And in Computing in Design, we are starting to get deeper and deeper into Actionscipt, building up to an art project at the end of the month.

It's good for me, I guess. But for now, I wrestle with keyframes, onEnterFrame, and alpha properties.

posted at 04:24 PM in software | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Thursday, October 9, 2003

Robot Readings

A bunch of readings related to our robot walker interface project.

  • "Origin and Evolution of the Walkerette," by Leo Dobrin
  • "Assistive Devices, Robots, and Quality of Life in the Frail Elderly," by Geoff Fernie from The Concepts and Measurement of Life in the Frail Elderly
  • "A Robotically-Augmented Walker for Older Adults," by a lot of people and Sebastian Thrun
  • "An Analysis of Problems with Walkers Encountered by Elderly Persons," by William Mann, Dianne Hurren, Machiko Tomita, and Barbara Charvat in Phys. and Occ. Therapy in Geriatrics 13
  • "Designing devices that are acceptable to the frail elderly: a new understanding based upon how older people perceive a walker," by Ken Pippin and Geoff Fernie in Technology and Disability 7

posted at 11:27 PM in readings | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Social Robotic Walker Interface

Our new project for interface class involves creating a touch-screen interface for a robotic walker to help the elderly get around. Yes, a robot. Pretty cool.

CMU is known for its robots and the robotics institute, so it is neat we get to work with this one. Although the pictures in the pdf on that page aren't current. It looks a lot more like this now, only with a bunch of sensing equipment, a powerbook, and a battery in the basket, a bicycle chain running around one back wheel, and a handheld device strapped to the top frame. (It's a prototype after all.)

The robot knows where you are and can guide you to various destinations you've entered into it. (Good for Alzheimer's patients.) It can also be sent away and recalled (for when you don't need it, like while eating or sleeping.)

The interface needs some refinement, which is where we come in.

posted at 10:40 PM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Petty Cash

Design school isn't like regular school. It's more like preschool, supplies-wise.

  • Money spent on books: $0.00
  • Fonts: $21.00
  • Blue pencils: $5.00
  • Misc. Art Supplies: $50.00
  • Blank CDs and covers: $19.00
  • Supply case to hold this stuff: $17.00
  • Portfolio case: $12.00

It does add up. Slowly.

posted at 10:22 PM in money | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Aristotelian Design

Dick Buchanan:

"Design has changed in recent years. Design, in the early part of the 20th century, was about form and function. And while design is still very much concerned with function, the driving theme is now form and content. Designers now control the content of experiences as well as the form. And if we are taking more responsibility for content, we need to understand what that means. There is a lot at stake when shaping content."

Aristotle's "Poetics" is about the art of poetics. Or, in other words, about how to create emotionally-satisfying experiences.

The essence of tragedy is an action (interaction). Tragedy only comes to life in the form of action, not in narrative. It is only through (inter)action that all parts of the whole are brought together for the purpose of evoking emotions for catharsis. Catharsis is not in the audience: it is in the Tragedy itself. Bringing it to design, catharsis is contained and expressed in the object itself. The audience is aware of this, and views it as beauty. It doesn't force emotions upon the audience; the qualities of the object contain those emotions.

For me at least, it's a very different way of looking at design.

posted at 07:42 PM in design theory | comments (1) | trackback (0) | link


Socrates and the City

Readings for Seminar:

  • Phaedrus by Plato
  • "The City as Environment," by Kevin Lynch from City Sense and City Design

posted at 04:49 PM in readings | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Aural Interface Pop Quiz

Showed up at interface yesterday to discover a pop quiz: design a "revolutionary" aural interface for a system similar to moviefone's phone system, but just for one art house movie theatre. Do it in an hour and a half, then present it.

It was a team quiz, so I paired with Jeff Howard and Jordan Kanarek to come up with this taskflow (pdf 27k) that describes how the system works. It's in no way revolutionary, but it might flow better than moviefone. It's hard to do in a short time, as you might guess, and aural interfaces are hard because it is nearly impossible to orient yourself, spacially. Things like "Go back" simply have no meaning.

posted at 01:45 PM in interface design | comments (2) | trackback (0) | link


Monday, October 6, 2003

The Nature of Forms

Building off Dewey's thoughts on Having an Experience, we looked at Kenneth Burke's thoughts on form.

Burke is more practical than Dewey; he offers more clear examples and is more tactical in his approach. Form is "an arousing and fulfillment of desires." It springs from the subject matter. There is something in the content that binds it together.

As an essentialist, Burke believes we're shaped by these patterns, both natural and social. He calls it priority of forms. Patterns (or forms) are there to be found and used.

Burke describes five aspects of forms, one of which is the syllogistic progression. In this form, an action occurs and something necessarily has to follow. It is the purest form of Dewey's experience.

We also did another exercise in class where we watched classmate Jennifer Anderson navigate through How Many Bugs in a Box?, a children't CD-ROM from ~10 years ago. We then had to break down the experience using the three interpretations of interaction that we've learned (entitative, existential, essentialist).

posted at 04:37 PM in design theory | comments (1) | trackback (0) | link



Seminar reading: Aristotle's Poetics

posted at 12:42 PM in readings | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Sunday, October 5, 2003

Wined and Dined

The design department threw a soiree for faculty, staff, and graduate students at the James Gallery in Pittsburgh's West End last night. Excellent food and wine. A beautiful space too.

There id definately something to be said for being a grad student at a private university. This sort of thing never would have happened at my undergrad university.

posted at 08:45 AM in extracurricular | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


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All straight lines circle sometimes. - The Weakerthans