Art of the Can

Last night I went to an art opening for a show called Art of the Can. PlayMotion has done a bunch of work for Red Bull (yes, the energy drink) over the last couple months. They've hired us to run PlayMotion at a number of events and parties they have sponsored. Just last month I completed a PlayMotion game that Red Bull sponsored in the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore where you fly over the Baltimore harbor which we build a virtual version of. It is a simulation of an event they sponsor this month called Flugtag or "Flying Day" which is a competition where people make flying crafts and see how far they can get when pushed off of a ramp in the harbor. Because of this relationship, they are always sending us cases and cases of free Red Bull and they invited our whole office to the private opening party for this art exhibit that has come to Atlanta. Art of the Can is an exhibit of lots of sculptures made out of Red Bull cans. There was some pretty neat stuff there, everything from jewlery and clothes to dragons and guitars. The party was packed and it was a lot of fun. Although only a few other people from work went, I brought a date and we had a great time.
Keywords:Art | PlayMotion!
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NextFest 2006

This post is a little late but better late than never! If you are a regular reader of this space you might remember my post about NextFest last year. Well this year the event was held in New York City September 28-October 1. I went back with PlayMotion again.

It was a trying setup but a personal victory. The week before I had to manage the packing of the equipment since our main hardware and installation guy was already travelling for 5 other installations. Three others set out on Monday morning in a van with the equipment. On Monday Jeremy and I had to get the software ready. The addition of a last minute feature to allow us to run all of our stuff twice as wide (different aspect ratio) that we normally do made the task difficult and I didn't get home until about midnight and still had to do laundry and pack.

When I arrived after only one hour of sleep and met the van, our space was not nearly what we had expected or what we needed. Since there was no one there who was responsable for our previous dealings with NextFest I took charge and began sorting out the mess. It was an incredibly long day. Despite the number of requests I had, all of the show production, event center, and union staff were very helpful. I was extremely pleased that my way of dealing with them, sympathazing and thanking them profusely, worked out quite well. After two days of setup we had all the equipment working.

Quasi the robot, who I worked with a lot at the ETC, was originally invited to apply to exhibit at NextFest but was not accepted.

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Keywords:PlayMotion! | Travel
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Belated New Years Post

Yeah, I know it's been a week, but I've been busy. After a fairly relaxed xmas/hannukah/break with the family, I drove down to NY. Thursday through Sunday I spent in the city, in Times Square.

PlayMotion was doing two interactive ads for AT&T on the Reuters sign there. One involved showing a camera on the sign and letting people call in and control it and take pictures, which could be retreived at a URL text messaged to your phone. The other was a magic 8ball type application where you'd call in and leave a New Years resolution, and it would appear on the sign and the "Orb of Destiny" would come back with a witty response. Coming in, we thought we were pretty much done, but as it turned out, there were a lot of little things (and a couple unexpected big ones) that still needed to be done. All day Thursday and all that night Matt and I worked, and Friday too.

Useless details )

Saturday day, of course, was New Years eve. Jeremy, Matt, and I were locked in the Reuters control room from 2pm to 2am, alternately running our two apps for the last 10 minutes of every hour. I thought it was going to be hard to stay entertained for the other 50 mins out of every hour, but although the programs were ready to run, we had a lot of little details we wanted to improve so for a while we were running new stuff every hour which made things interesting. It was a lot of fun and we had a really great view of all the people in Time Square. Check out my pictures.

We'll be running our apps all though January as well, so if you're near Time Square, check them out.
Keywords:Travel | PlayMotion!
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Thousands of Miles

This winter break I'll be logging lots of miles on my car. Rather than fly home, I decided to drive, for the utmost in flexibility. Good thing too. I was going to leave yesterday, but then I got a call Monday night from some folks at PlayMotion who needed help on an upcoming project, so I stayed an extra day to work on that. Now I'm posting this from my car the parking lot of the place I stopped for lunch on stollen wireless. My mom had to go to Philly for the day, so I altered my route to stop here and pick her up and do the rest of the drive together.

Next week, I'm going down to NYC for New Years Eve. PlayMotion is doing 2 different applications on the Reuters sign in Times Square (the project I was helping out with). In addition to New Years eve, they will be running parts of the day, one for the first two weeks of January, and the othe for the second two weeks. I'll be in NY from the 29th to the 2nd. If anyone is going to be around and wants to do anything, let me know. Also if you have any idea where I should park while I'm down there. I've never done Times Square for NYE before, and although it is not something I would normally want to do (contending with crowds and all), having a good reason like my job, it will be a fun adventure. If you're there and you see people using their cell phones to control a webcam displayed on the sign and take pictures, that's my code controlling the camera.
Keywords:Travel | PlayMotion!
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The Fate Of the Semester

Next hard decision. What to do next semester. Greg has asked me stay at PlayMotion! for a co-op. He wants me to decide by the 15th. I'm having a hard time.

On the one hand, I could use the money. I didn't really make any this summer, so my savings is going to go bye-bye this year if I go back.

On the other hand, the logistics of either still paying for my room at school or finding another person that will be OK with Adam and getting my stuff out of there and either in storage or down here and also finding a place to live down here that I can get for only a couple months (that aren't summer) and then having to find a different place back in Pittsburgh for the Spring, seems like it might invalidate the money savings. Plus I just don't really want to do all this.

Pety issues aside, I'm not sure which I want to do more. On the one hand I really would like to see some of these projects though. PlayMotion! is doing well, and I really like being part of it. We have some stuff coming up and I don't want to be left out.

On the other hand, I'd be leaving in the Spring anyway so I'm going to miss out some either way. I can always decide to go back for the Spring if they'll let me, or when I graduate.

Since I'd be paying for school anyway, I feel that perhaps I should go back there. I've gotten the PlayMotion! experience and if I want more I can do that later. At the ETC I can do some new things. I can also take some classes I really want. I can TA BVW for the last time that I'll have at that experience that I like.

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Keywords:ETC | Jobs | PlayMotion!
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This weekend was one busy time. PlayMotion! was presenting our stuf at NextFest. NextFest is Wired magazine's trade show for upcoming technology. This year it was in Chicago so we packed up our office into a suburban and a u-haul trailor and drove up (well, I flew so I could stop in Boston for my Mom's retirement party). We were setup in this huge hall on Navy Pier.

Alongside us there were a bunch of other really neat technologies (and a few that seemed like they still had a ways to go). I got to see the Moller SkyCar, a flying car that I've been following the progress of since high school. There were a few other games like ours there, or ther artificial reality type games that were neat. Although they weren't supposed to be there, I saw LightSpace, the other company I almost worked for this summer. They were there with BodyMedia, a wearable bio-sensors company, because they wanted a fun system for people to play with as they demoed their sensors. The funny thing was I had been looking for some sensors to do exactly what they do and I had even thought abou them because I had a friend who had used some of their sensors before. He told me they didn't do what I wanted, but I guess that was just the ones he had, because at the show it was exactly what I wanted. GM had some hydrogen powered cars, including a Hummer. Patrick ask if it was a hydrogen guzzler, ha! So much I can't remember. I got a lot of great pictures though.

Then event went great for our company. We were always crowded.

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Keywords:PlayMotion! | Travel | Summer
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Music Midtown Wrapup

Wow, I'm exhausted. I'm forcing myself to write this tonight because it will be the best time to recall it all. Today was the 3rd and final day of Music Midtown. Since we didn't need to show PlayMotion and had packed up most of our stuff last night, most people didn't go to the concerts today. I, however, didn't have much else to do and wanted to take advantage of the free passes to such a cool event. I knew I would regret it if I did not go. I wish I went earlier but I got there around 4. People had apparently been using our tent and some of our stuff was stolen, a chair and some drinks. But today I didn't hang out, I went to concerts. I saw Coheed and Cambria, The Lemonheads, and Kid Rock. It was all great. I also saw this guy on the street drumming on buckets. He was amazing. I bought his CD. This day was the first one that was pretty nice. It was nice in the morning, rained for a bit around noon (before I went out), but was then beautiful the rest of the day. Shortly after the last concert ended and everyone left it started to rain again. I had to stay to strike the screen and the rest of our stuff. Luckily it let up and stopped by the time everyone got there to meet me.

Taking the screen down was scarier than even putting it up. We were afraid to walk it down with people in the middle. We wanted to lower it with ropes (or in our case an extension cord) but were afraid that what we tied to (some plastic zip ties) might snap and send the thing flying down. We weren't sure what effect the rain had on the wood.

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Keywords:Music | PlayMotion! | Summer
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Rain, My Mortal Enemy

Today was the second day of the Music Midtown concerts. We woke up a little later today, but it was still Patrick and I heading over to get set up. We stopped for some snacks and then unloaded me and the gear. While he went to get people I cleaned up our area and set up everything except a few things we wouldn't need until much later.

The weather in the morning was cloudy by good. It was hot out when I was running around fixing fuses in the speakers, shaking old rain out of tarps, and hanging new PlayMotion! banners from our "booth". It only lasted for a little while though. Before long it was raining again. At first it was light and plesant, particularly from our dry tent. As it went on it only got stronger. Other people, friends and friends of friends, started coming by. They were wet from the rain and they brought it in, crowded our little space, and ate our food. I wouldn't normally be so inhospitable, but it was the weather and I wasn't comfortable anymore. When I have no place to go I don't always mind getting wet, but when there's a little bit of shelter the small about of water that finds its way in or the small amount of time I have to spend out starts to really aggitate me. I went out to the Honestly concert, taking the rain head on, but my spirits were down. We came back to the tent where I was soaked, could barely get in underneath the cover, couldn't sit down, and couldn't imagine having to spend 6 more hours out in that foul weather. It was absolutely pouring.

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Keywords:Weather | PlayMotion! | Music
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Music Midtown Day 2

Wow, was it a long day today. Patrick and I left at 8:30am and went to Home Depot to buy a ton of stuff to build the screen. He dropped me off and I started working. I spent all morning in jeans and black t-shirt out in the hot, hot Atlanta sun building wall panels. The screen is HUGE. 20'x16'. We bolted all the panels together and scarily stood it up against the only 10' tall fence. We used a bunch of rope and heavy duty zip ties to secure the screen up. That was about 4pm. Then we set up all our electronics. That takes us to aboult 6:15. Finally we got power. We had to set up software, and then while we were waiting for the dark, I went home quickly to shower and change. When we got back it was already time to get started.

It went great. People really liked it. It was fun to demo it and see people playing it. I love the small company atmosphere where I make a difference. We had out there a couch, table, and cooler with water and other drinks. This was great for our periodic breaks throughout the day (we needed to to keep from passing out in that sun). We definately got wireless internet so it was great being able to to look up the schedule or the weather or just chat with my friends while listening to the Counting Crows. I didn't really leave the booth but I was able to demo PlayMotion and still see some of the concerts that went on right near us.

Although the weather... During the day it was too hot, I didn't realize but I got fairly sunburned (including a very odd white band on my arm where I had my worker wrist band all day).

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Keywords:PlayMotion! | Summer
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Music Midtown Setup

This weekend is Music Midtown. It is a huge three day long music festival in downtown Atlanta. There are six different stages for concerts and a bunch of other stuff going on all over a giant area. One of the things that is going on is that PlayMotion! is setting up and showing our stuff. We rented a big ass 10,000 lumen Christy projector and a truss stand for it, we are building a 20 foot by 15 foot screen, and we bought a PA system for sound. We're setting it all up on a big tennis court. It's a pretty sweet setup. We've got a tent to cover our stuff and bike rack style crowd barriers to surround it. This means that besides the free all area access passes to this concert (where most people paid $45-$75 for less) we also have our own chill little space to call home base for the weekend. We are going to bring in couches and a cooler with drinks. We even found that we can steal wireless internet from some routers in the houses across the street.

Today we were there starting to get set up. We were testing out the rented projector for the first time, we got our new speakers up and running, and we were building our screen. I love doing this kind of stuff because it is something I think I know more than a lot of people about. I'm not that great or anything, but most computer scientist might not have done this, so in addition to being a coder like the other guys at the office I have a background in construction thanks to drama and booth and in sound and lighting thanks to drama and ABTech.

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Keywords:PlayMotion! | Summer | ABTech
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