Meet Splash! the first interactive fountain

Wow, my journal went empty for four months. I'm sorry about that everyone. I was really busy and with stuff that at the time I couldn't talk about, so it kind of reinforced my posting laziness. Let's see if I can do a quick recap before I write the next 3 or so posts about just the last few weeks of awesomeness.

In May I graduated with my Masters of Entertainment Technology. That means I'm done with school for good! In my job dilemma I decide to try my hand at freelance consulting (more on that later) rather than take the full-time offer I had. For the summer I had a consulting job, along with my designer friend Lenny, working on the worlds first interactive fountain in Atlantic City.

Thinkwell Design and Production was hired to create a fountain show for The Pier at Caesars, a new mall being built on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. They created two seven minute shows that play on the hour combining music, lights, and tons and tons of water (19,000 gallons). It is really spectactular. However, to fill the rest of every hour, they hired Lenny and me from the ETC to make the fountain interactive. It had a library of 3 games that it will attempt to play with unsuspecting guests. For starters, when you walk around the egg shaped fountain, the water will follow you. This project was a lot of fun, had a lot of ups and downs, was a lot of work, and was overall a crazy, busy, exciting, once-in-a-lifetime summer. Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to talk about the project until we were finished, otherwise there would have been all sorts of stories in this space about corrupt New Jersey state employees, annoying mall patrons, trips to Ocean City to play mini-golf, fountain jets named Gustav, the best and worst hotels, and much, much more.

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Keywords:Summer | Jobs
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The Scenic Route

Today Jeremy, Matt, and I decided to work out and experiment with a new way to get to work. First thing in the morning we met up and ran GATech's π mile (3.14 miles). Then instead of our normal drive, we took our bikes on MARTA, Atlanta's train system, and then from the northmost station, North Springs, road our bikes 10.5 miles to office. Needless to say, we also reverse the ride on the way home. There were some tough hills, particullary on the way there, but overall it was a good ride. It wasn't much worth the time it took, but it was fun once. Now my legs are so tired I may never want to walk again.
See the Route )
Keywords:Athletics | Summer
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Heading Back

The summer is almost over. Where'd it all go? I didn't get as much done this summer as I had hoped. I had all these person projects I wanted to work on. My websites and self improvement stuff. I didn't run or work out. There's only 1 website project (on a list of dozens) that got done. I had all these school related projects I wanted to work on. BVW prep, panda stuff, Animateering and Dome improvements. None of it happened. I'll also miss it here. PlayMotion! has been so much fun. I'll miss working on this stuff. I'll miss being productive and busy without being as stressed and overloaded as I will be in the fall. I'll miss games night and the bonds I've made here.

Never-the-less, I'm excited to go back. I'm excited to be out of this mess and back into my house. I'm excited for ABTech, orientation, AEPi, rush, new ETC students, BVW, welding, Alex, and everything back in the burgh. I'm also really psyched for the trip that will get my back there. Just before I came down here, Carly and I had been talking and she said she wanted to come visit. She wants to see my house and my car. We planned it so that she'll fly down here. She can see PlayMotion! Then she'll keep me company as we do a road trip together back to Pittsburgh. Then she's going to hang out with me there for 2 days before flying home. I haven't seen her since the beginning of the summer because she's been on an internship in CA and I won't see here again until winter break because she's studying abroad in the Turks and Caicos.

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Keywords:Travel | Family | Summer
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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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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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More Odds and Ends

Two more weeks have gone by and much has happened. Eek, why can't I update this more. It makes it so much more daunting a task when I do. Then again, if something gets left out or under-discussed, who would care?

Yes, I have been keeping quite busy. Most of that has been time spent at work. I won't bore anyone with the details of my battles with DirectX, HLSL, and OpenGL, but I do want to make a more general point. It is amazing how mysterious, difficult, and impressive things that other people can do seem before you spend even five minutes learning them. Some things which seem like magic that I could never hope to understand can become simple and routine once a small amount of time and mental space is given to them. Oh yeah, and we now have a drink fridge including Yoohoo. :-D

A week and a half ago I went to a Braves game where they won. I also went to another game night where I won my very first game of Settlers of Catan. Despite the way I feel about the CS lounge with which I usually associate the game, it was actually pretty fun. Tigris and Euphrates, on the other hand, was ridiculously complicated.

Last weekend I flew home for Jackie's graduation from Brown. Coincidently I bumped into my friend Gil from CMU and his girlfriend Diana there. I was suprised to see them, but his brother also was graduating. Brown's graduation was a bit strange. They had student speeches instead of the usual commencement speaker, but what was strange was that the speeches took place at a church off campus that only fit the students.

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Keywords:Summer | Jobs
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My Atlantan Adventure

I'm writing this on May 21, but I've been in Atlanta for a week and a half by now. I only now have my website up again so this is my first chance to update my journal again. Since so much has happened, I'm going to break it up into several sections.

The Drive

It all started with the drive. In total it took about 12 hours. I wanted to get there at a reasonable time so that I could get set up, so I woke up early and left at 4:30am. I like driving at night when the roads are empty and you can just set the cruise control and go. But the short sleep and early start backfired. Doing the drive alone was tough and several times I felt like I would fall asleep. Other than that, the drive was good.


When I first got here I was a bit upset about my living situation. I had arranged to stay in the GA Tech AEPi house over the summer, because it would be cheap. When I moved in, I started to have second thoughts. I knew that fraternaties are messy, I lived in one for 3 years. I thought I'd be find with that but I found out that I'd gotten pretty used to not having to deal with it over the past 2 years. And someone else's mess is always more disturbing than your own.

I was going to stay here just until I found a new place which I began looking for right away. I actually had 2 options that I looked into. One option was a friend who graduated from the ETC's place. I would have had it all to myself and it was very nice, but it was expensive and not in a very nice neighborhood.

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Keywords:Summer | Jobs | Movies | Travel
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Leaving it all Behind

I'm just about ready to head out on my long excursion to Atlanta. My car's all packed. (I was actually amazed by how much I could fit in there.) I'm going to be a little sad to not be in Pittsburgh this summer. I've been here for 4 summers in a row. I'll miss hanging out with my friends, the weather, July 4th BBQ and fireworks, dressing casually, and working lazily. Today I played frisbee on the cut with Brian and listened to bagpipers practice. I'll miss that too.

The summer is also a chance to start over. Explore a new city. Meet new people. Reinvent myself. Hopefully this good will outweigh. We shall soon see. I have done too much tonight already. Must get to sleep if I'm going to hit the road very early. Later.
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Summer Plans

It's about time that I speak about what I'm doing this summer, since it officially starts in only a few days. I know previously people heard me whining about my troubles finding a summer internship. My friends were not inclined to hear it since they just assume that I'm awesome and should have no problem getting a job. I won't go into right now some of the problems I think there are that prevent me from doing well at a job search. But those reasons aside, part of the problem was a lack of effort. I started my search a bit late, didn't apply as many places as I should have, and wasn't prepared enough to show all my best work and have it make me look good.

Well, I was lucky enough to land an internship opportunity with one company that I'm pretty excited about. I will be in Atlanta working for a relatively small startup company called PlayMotion. I met the founder of the company at the IAAPA trade show back in November. They work on projection systems that allow people to interact with their whole body creating a fun installation for a museum or other public space.

This will be my first real internship, but also my first summer not living in some place I'd call home (if you don't count my summers at camp when I was younger). The logistics are tricky I'm still working it out. A new city, new people, and a new job. All things that both scare me and make me excited. I am someone who doesn't like change or to do anything different. I've spent the last 4 summers living in Pittsburgh and working for Randy at Stage3.

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Keywords:Summer | Jobs | Projects
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Clearing the Stack

This entry is sort of about everything. I don't write often enough, but the reason I write at all is to release all the things I don't say that get stuck inside my head. If I've got an idea I haven't shared with anything, it is just going to stay there until I do. This can be bad in conversations where I can't keep up because I really want to bring up a subject long past to add something I felt I wanted to say. But my rambling point is that I'm going to clean up my brain from the summer so that I can move on with this new year. (chronological)

I didn't talk at all about my job this summer. I had lots to say. So much that I'm not going to. I came back to Pittsburgh to finish a Stage3 DARPA project just before Stage3 was dissolved. The project was an experiment whose goal was to use people's brain activity to predict when they are busy and use that to mitigate when information is presented to them in order to improve their performance. We were testing for a soldier in VR. It was tough but interesting. The experiment itself wasn't so great and didn't work all that well, but it was a good experience. It's over now. The rememants of Stage3 moved to the ETC and left the name behind.

I've also been preparing for BVW that I'll be TAing this fall. I've been learning Panda, building VR demos, and working with the ETC's new AIBO. His name is Peanut. Unfortunately I did not get a full-time staff position in the fall, so I'll be in serious debt, but I'll live. I did write a whole entry about this.

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Keywords:Summer | ETC | Family
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July 4th

URL: Summer/July 4/
This July 4th was excellent. This was my fourth year in a row barbequing at AEPi and then taking the bus downtown to the point to see the fireworks. It was the third year in a row that I hosted the BBQ. This year we went all out. We went shopping at Restaurant Depot and got a ton of food. A couple people even did some cooking. There were a lot of people there because a lot of people were in town for this summer.

When we went down to the point, there were 12 of us, which I think is a record. I had been more than anyone in the group so I led. I carried a small american flag that I'd wave above my head to keep the group together. I thought of everything including blankets and Set. The show was good. Better than last year when the smoke was blowing in the wrong direction. I got lots of pictures.

The sad part about having a tradition like this is that it can't last forever. But speaking of the past, a friend from middle school IMed me today. That was quite exciting. Ok, I better sleep now. More journal entries from now on, I think. I like writing lots of stuff, I just don't know if I'm comfortable with just simple day-to-day entries that aren't important. Maybe a special keyword for it will filter well enough.
Keywords:Summer | Friends
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Yes I know the title is far to nerdy. Still, I have not written in a while and much has happened. BTW, the title comes from something that happened much earlier this summer. I my house, in the dining area, there are four tables. The normal configuration is two sets of two tables end to end, side by side. In the summer we don't need as many tables and more open space is desirable. Instead we stack two tables on top of each other and push them out of the way, the remaining two are place at angles in the center of the room. One day I realied it hadn't been done yet this summer so I said that we needed to summerize the tables. This caused a bit of confusing and I had to point out the difference between summerized with an E and summarized with an A. Right now I'm summarizing the summer, so...
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Keywords:Summer | Toontown | Rants
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So it Begins...

Well, everyone is back now. It is kind of hard to make the adjustment. Before it was just a few people and it was very relaxed. Now there are all these people and everything is organized and it just makes me feel like a second class citizen of a fascist regime.

Tomorrow morning all the freshman arrive and it all start. First we have to move them in, but that is only the beginning. Then there are lots of Tech events and meeting freshmen and stuff. It is fun because as a senior I'm basically the king of CMU. Carrying heavy stuff and being useful is what I live for, and after that I get to be the old wise man. neato.

Well I better get some sleep so I'll be ready to do some moving. Goodnight.
Keywords:Orientation | AEPi | Summer
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End of Summer

Well, yesterday was officially the end of my summer. When the first few people who weren't part of the summer crew returned to the house I knew it was over. Within the next 5 days almost everyone will be back and then the real work begins.

It has been a good summer, but it will be my last like this. It was great because I was living in my own room, I had all my friends around to do stuff with, and I had a job that was fun but very unrestrictive (hours, attire, etc). Even if I'm still around after I graduate, I will want to get a real internship next year.

I've been finishing up my summer personal projects. This website was one. I still have to finish cleaning my house. Last night I finished cleaning the first, but worst, room. That only took me all summer. Now I have only 2 or 3 days to finish the rest of the house.
Keywords:Summer | Website Projects
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Thought Repository » Summer