Speed Noise Movement

Specifying Colors

I wanted to share a cheap trick I use when I am specifying colors. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not immediately obvious either, and with any luck, it’ll save you some hassle, a few seconds at a time.

Colors specified in hexadecimal (aka, the pre-RGBA web way) are easy to remember. For example, I first used #ed145b way back in the day for enemy bullets in Vetica and it’s been my go-to ever since. #ed145b is burned in my brain, but 237, 20, 91 (the 8-bit RGB version), not so much. Converting hex to decimal is pretty trivial, but at least for me, doing the arithmetic can break my flow.

Here’s the thing: unless you do a lot of bit twiddling, you may have forgotten that most programming languages really don’t mind if you talk to them in hex. So, as far as (for example) Processing is concerned this:

color(237, 20, 91)

is just as good as

color(0xed, 0x14, 0x5b)

That is, the three pairs of digits in #ed145b separated and prefixed with 0x, meaning that what follows is in hexadecimal.

If you need floats from 0.0 to 1.0 instead of 8-bit integers, just divide by 255.f. For example, to specify a UIColor in Objective-C, just write:

[UIColor colorWithRed:0xed/255.f green:0x14/255.f blue:0x5b/255.f alpha:1.f];

You can use similar transformations if you have some other strange format. And if you still need a go-to color, I can recommend the criminally underused #bada55.

Whenever I find myself thinking what “X” used to be — “X” used to be more fun, “Y” used to be better in the days of my youth — I check my pulse for conservatism

Tying up loose ends

Two (and a half) things:

My host got a DMCA notice (read it here) for the Interactive Interaction of Color, and for a variety of reasons I’ve chosen not to contest it. That means, of course, that it’s no longer available. Sorry! A lot of people really liked the color picker, so I did what I’ve been meaning to for a while and threw it up on Github. It’s a little bit hacky, but I realized that if I kept procrastinating cleaning it up, it would never be released. In fact, I’m starting to realize that procrastinating on old projects is, for me, one of the biggest barriers to moving on to new, more exciting ones. That brings me to this:

I’ve put the Vetica soundtrack on Soundcloud1 under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. To save some space in the binary (the limit for over-the-air installs was 20 mb when I was making Vetica), most of the tracks are in mono, though I made stereo mixes of two tracks for use in the trailer and gameplay video. Most tracks come in two versions: a beatless one for the body of the level, and a slightly tweaked one with drums for the boss fight.

The Attribution Share-Alike license means that you can (and I encourage you to) use/remix/sample/destroy these tracks as you see fit provided you: 1) credit me, and 2) use the same license for the resulting work.

Download it here

  1. I was going to use Bandcamp until I realized that your free downloads are capped per-month on there. I guess it was naive to have thought otherwise. 

Twitter for Mac’s hidden API console

I recently learned about a really useful easter-egg/hidden feature in Twitter for Mac: a full-featured API console. Here’s how to enable it:

  1. Open up preferences.
  2. Switch to the Developer tab

  3. Check the checkbox

  4. (Optional) Follow the directions and go the Twitter site to register an app. You only need this if you need to use authenticated methods, though.

  5. Note the new “Develop” menu in the menu bar. The only option is console, and that’s what you want.

  6. Make some calls! You can see select a method from the list on the sidebar and fill out parameters in the little inspector below. Making the call itself is kind of fiddly (sometimes it does nothing, sometimes it opens Safari?), but in the end there will be a nice glob of JSON for you to do whatever horrible thing you’re going to do to Twitter.

So what horrible things am I going to do to Twitter? Stay tuned.

I still to this day can’t cut a straight line, but I can program one. I eventually came to terms with all this and quite enjoyed inducing technophobia in a world concerned with returning to craft, nature and brogues.

Plummer Fernandez, getting at the heart of what I think a lot of people are finding empowering about the New Aesthetic.

Seven on Seven livetweets

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend Rhizome's annual Seven on Seven Conference at the New Museum. Seven on Seven pairs artists with “technologists”1 and gives them 24 hours to conceive and maybe start to implement a project from scratch.

I’m still in the process of synthesizing and writing up my thoughts, but in the meantime, I’ve created a Storify of my livetweets from the event.

  1. This is a problematic term, I think: as I was explaining the concept to someone, they threw out an incredulous “Isn’t anyone who uses tools a technologist?” I guess I’m particularly interested in this because whatever they’re getting at, that’s what I’d like to call myself, rather than hemming and hawing and then admitting that my job title is “Engineer.” 

New Aesthetic roundup

CV Dazzle
Adam Harvey’s “CV Dazzle”

This past week, the corners of the Internet that I frequent have been unable to shut up about the “New Aesthetic”, and I’ve been reading it all with great interest. Maybe you’ve seen the term pop up in your Twitter stream recently and are now thinking: “Fantastic, someone’s finally going to define this for me!” No such luck1, but instead I can point you towards about an hour (give or take) worth of reading that will have you well beyond up-to-date at the water cooler tomorrow.

First things first: the New Aesthetic as a concept was coined by a guy named James Bridle, who first started talking about it last May and runs a Tumblr that serves as a crude definition if you prefer Gestalts of images to strings of words for your definitions. James gave a talk called "Waving at the Machines" at Webdirections South (that link is video, transcript here) that expanded on some of the ideas.

The beginning of the ongoing flurry began with a SXSW panel, which Bridle wrote about, as did the rest of the participants (Joanne McNeil, Ben Terrett, Aaron Strauss Cope, Russel Davies). This prompted a really long, meandering piece from Bruce Sterling in Wired which is really the centerpiece of this whole conversation and should be the one thing you read if you are not really reading all of these. A lot of people didn’t really follow Bruce 100% of the way (disclosure: some of those people were me), but there’s a lot of meat on those bones, which everyone proceeded to pick at immediately.

Among these:

Pugh Prism
Gareth Pugh’s Pugh Prism via the New Aesthetic fashion Pinterest board.

And there’s a lot more kicking around that you will inevitably discover while reading the rest of these.

While a lot of the rhetoric here is distressingly sprinkled with Continental “theory” and many points, especially those having to do with AI2, are off-base in a major way, I’m thrilled that we’re finally having this conversation, which has been bubbling under the surface for years, as Bridle is quick to admit.

  1. I know I said I wouldn’t give a definition, but I think this is one of the better attempts, via Diablevert on Metafilter

    Our interdependence with computers is shaping human culture in radical ways. Up to now, the “hip” attitude to this was rejection, seeking to preserve or recover the analog world, an obsession with authenticity: Vintage, retro, crafting, foodway
    The New Aesthetic folks say fuck that, we should embrace and explore this change; they’re making a lot of art which attempts to do so, to make real and physical the invisible unreal Net and the machine intelligence it contains: An actual standpipe which leaks a pixilated “splash” of blue cubes, for example.

  2. I sort of can’t stop tittering at Jonathan Minard’s breathless “As Nietzsche declared “God is Dead,” Sterling will be one the first voices of our era to refute the existence of A.I.” 

Keyboard shortcuts everywhere

I went to an iOS developer meetup the other day. One of the speakers was Stamped’s Andy Bonventre, who gave a quick talk about debugging. He had a tip that’s useful for everyone who does a lot of work on the Mac, not just iOS devs, and it’s saved me a ton of time already. Here it is:

You can add a keyboard shortcut for any menu item in any Mac program!

To do it, go to System Preferences > Keyboard and pick the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab. In the box on the left, choose “Application Shortcuts.” Press the “+” icon, and select the app you want. If your app isn’t in the Applications folder, you can choose “Other…” and get a file picker.1 Type in the exact name of the menu item (mercifully, three periods works as an ellipsis), then choose your shortcut.

A bonus tip via my colleague Orta Therox, this time, in picture form:

  1. If you have no idea where your app, say the iOS simulator, is located, someone else at the meetup pointed out that you can right click on the Dock icon and “Show in Finder.” 

Always strive for perfection. For instance, try to draw a perfect circle; and since you can’t draw a perfect circle, the involuntary flaw will reveal your personality. But if you want to reveal your personality by drawing an imperfect circle—your circle—you will bungle the whole thing.

—Picasso as quoted by Rudolf Arnheim

Artist and Computer

"Oscillion 45" - Ben F. Laposky

One of my favorite things about the Internet in 2012 is how easy it makes to crate-dig. I mean crate-digging in the general sense here, not necessarily only records, but the act that in Real Life involves colonizing the back of a thrift shop (or suburban yard sale, or obscure flea market) for too many hours and emerging, covered in dust and holding a gem.

There are some well-trod paths here (Ubuweb or Tumblr for that matter), and some not so well-trod. One of my favorites, I tracked down a while back from a mention on Tom Moody’s blog of “the Sievers Syllabus.”

The Sievers Syllabus turned out to be Beau Sievers's syllabus for a class he taught several years back called "Irony and Utopia: History of Computer Art". This was the gift that kept on giving: aside from an approximate ton of primary source PDFs, there was a link to Edward Zajec’s artist statement, originally published in a 1976 book called Artist and Computer and there for the reading.

Editor Ruth Leavitt asked a good-sized selection of contemporary artists whose work involved computers to answer some questions, including “How/why did you become involved with the computer (in producing art)?”, “What role does the computer play for you…simulation, tool, etc.? What is your role?” and “Could your work be done without the aid of a computer? If yes, why use the computer?” Some answered the questions, most didn’t. A lot of the themes seem archaic now, others almost too relevant to the current state of generative aesthetics, software abstraction, creative code or whatever it is that you want to call the work being done now that is descended from the work in “Artist and Computer.”

Some images:

“Claustrophobia” - Aldo Giorgini and W.C. Chen

Vicky Chaet

"HE7 gc/gf" - Jacques Palumbo

Manfred Mohr