Over the course of this week’s labs, I made a simple mechanical linkage out of foam-core, hot glue, and a bit of metal rod which uses a servo to control the angle of a camera in the up-down direction. What I discovered was that mechanical linkages are almost completely foreign to me. Despite that our lives are filled with them, and I can name dozens of applications for mechanical linkages in my daily life, I have very little frame of reference by which to pre-visualize their operational characteristics.
I began this weeks assignment where I begin most visual projects, at the Library of Congress online photos and prints collection. I often look to this resource when I want to emulate some aspect of a graphic style (Works Progress Association posters, turn-of-the-century carnival or theater posters, etc.), but find it generally inspiring for its collection of documentary photos of life in 20th Century America. Among these photos are well known and powerful photos (Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother), as well as many thousands of lesser known (and frankly less interesting) photos commissioned by various government agencies for various documentary reasons.
This week was a challenge to place all of our p5.js sketch’s functionality within functions defined outside of the main draw loop. My sketch (a variation on the bouncing balloon we made in previous weeks) placed all functionality within ball objects created every time the mouse is clicked. In addition to the standard functionality (bouncing, moving, drawing), I attempted to add several other features (some successfully, many not). Please note that the balls are called ‘magnets’ because I originally wanted them to attract and repel based on their N&S poles, but this proved a bit too complicated for this week’s project.
Point of sale interactions – and the systems which facilitate them – are among the most impactful and unfortunately boring interactions we have with technology on a day-to-day basis. They are impactful because we use them for nearly every financial transaction at a store or restaurant and their usability (or lack thereof) affects our impressions of the vendor vis-a-vis trust, competence and ‘coolness.’ They are boring because their ideal state is one of being unnoticed.
For this week’s visual language assignment, we’re attempting to take a notably poor example of typographic design – an airline ticket – and redesign it with clarity in mind. This required an approach which understands and respects a hierarchy of information importance, especially as it can be manifest with typographic tools: varying font weights and grouping like things together. We began with the following: My first step was to suss out which information was most important to the passenger, and which to an airline representative or TSA agent.
Alternating Current Visualizer A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a co-worker and trying to understand a few aspects of the power distribution system in place in our theater. I understood that most power transmission lines carry three phases of alternating current, and that typical household power contains only a single phase of 120V at 60 Hertz, but I didn’t understand how we managed to make usable 240V out of two phases of 120V.
For our second Visual Language class, we looked at signage and wayfinding systems – systems which constitute such an essential and ubiquitous part of our designed world that their effectiveness in conveying information can be considered a public interest. As pedestrians we use and depend upon these visual markers dozens of times within a single commute for directions. And as drivers we look to them to convey essential right-of-way information and rules of the road within seconds.
For week two of Physical Computing, we are doing a lab on basic electronics: soldering and switches. I wanted to find a way to use a mini joystick from the electronics store in this lab. The joystick has three possible movements: forwards / backwards right / left pushbutton click My first task was to discover exactly how each of these movements translated into an electronic signal.
For week two, I had big ambitions, and somewhat less exciting results. My ambitions were twofold: to create an interactive animation that allowed someone to use the mouse to blow up a balloon, then have it float away when released, and (at someone’s very kind suggestion) to have a mouse click make a progressively larger ball, which, on a mouse release, would drop down at a rate in accordance with its size.
A few years ago, I stumbled across a series of reference manuals in my uncle’s (electronics /computer) workshop that had been published by IBM. These manuals (for BASIC, DOS and the like) were housed in small cloth-bound binders which were themselves housed in cloth-bound hard dust-cases. On these outer cases was printed the IBM logo and various bits of information about the version of BASIC, DOS, etc. that it supported: