Puck Hunt by brent

Eric Gradman, Tyler Bushnell, and I have been collaborating on a platform for social gaming that uses a handheld wireless RFID reader and a bunch of RFID tags scattered around a venue. We tested an early prototype at the H+ conference the beginning of December and will bring the next revision to Mindshare this week. My favorite aspect is the flexibility. The number of sensors and outputs we put on the puck allows for a broad array of possible games including various scavenger hunts, puzzles and competitions. A video and more technical breakdown is available here.
Update: We were covered on Makezine, Hackaday and Engadget! [nggallery id=19]

ArtWalk Fall '09 by brent

Wow! What a weekend. The Virsix showroom was alive and packed during the biannual Brewery ArtWalk. We had five of our games available and people ages 5 to 70 competing away! Players tested their cat burgling skills in the Laser Maze, avoided traffic in our foot tracking Frogger-style game, contorted their body for human Tetris, and even flew around the galaxy in a space battle. Thanks to all involved for their help putting this on, especially the guys at H2P for a marvelous job filming. [nggallery id=18]

Modular Truss Solutions by brent

I've been on the hunt for a truss solution that could be easily reconfigured for different applications. It turns out the options are not immediately apparent, but with a little searching there are some gems. Here are the results of my research thus far:

Thanks to Troy, Richard and Eric for suggestions.

The non-phonetic alphabet by brent

There are many different phonetic alphabets out there, for various applications including telecom, military etc. A variety are covered here.
I'm fascinated with what a hodgepodge the English language is and how often the spelling or pronunciation of its words are counter-intuitive. In appreciation, here's a start at the Non-Phonetic Alphabet:
A as in Aoxomoxoa, aurulent C as in Cthulhu E as in eugenics G as in gnostic, gnarly, gnome, gnat H as in honor, hour, herbivore K as in knife, know, knob, knot M as in mnemonic O as in ouroboros P as in psychotic, pneumatic, psalm, pterodactyl S as in seedy T as in tsunami W as in wrestle, wrong, write, whole X as in xylem, xenophobe, xantham
Many thanks to Christine for great contributions.

4 vowel words by brent

There is a small set of English words that have 4 consecutive vowels, such as "sequoia" and "Kauai". After trying in vain to come up with more than a few, I brute forced a solution and enjoyed reviewing the results.
I got a huge English word list from here (I used the Scowl one).
The following command line searched for all words with 4 vowels in a row and cleaned up the output:
egrep "[aeiou]{4}" * | awk -F: '{print $2}' | sort | sed -e "/'/d" | uniq
I was really surprised by how many came up (366)! Add "y" and it goes up to 694.
It's interesting to look up the definitions of the results. So far they've all been real words, albeit really obscure.
A list of the words returned is here.

Party Table by brent

The party table has been a pet project and passion of mine for a few years now. It's a six player game table that consists of a screen (either LCD or projection) surrounded by trackballs and arcade buttons. The device is more of a game platform than just another arcade unit. So far, it has a few simple games including a 6 player ping-pong, a light cycle game similar to Tron, and a game where players race through a maze. A bunch of other games are in the development pipeline including a race car game, a tank defense game and shuffleboard. An important aspect of the unit is that it accommodates 6 players. Six is an interesting number socially. People will usually go out to bars and restaurants in groups of 2-4 so a game that allows 6 players usually means that the players are meeting someone new around the table. Stimulating social interaction and making new friends is a focal point of the table. [nggallery id=14]

uWink spins off tech into Tapcode by brent

We recently completed the process of spinning off the uWink technology into its own company named Tapcode. It's an exciting time as this separation allows us to focus exclusively on the licensing of our self-service and entertainment product suite to third parties. It turns out a "tap code" is a cipher for communicating, similar to morse code. As a word nerd, I can't help but like the double entendre in the new name! Visit the new Tapcode website here.

TimeGraff by brent

For the past few months I've been taking photos of graffiti in and around Los Angeles. There's *a ton* of it in this city and a good portion is really excellent art and unique typography. I don't yet have a camera with a GPS chip so I've been marking waypoints on my Garmin as I've taken the shots. A given graffiti location changes over time, so my plan is a Google map mashup of these photos with their location and an interface that allows navigating the spot over time. The alpha is available here.

Laser Maze by brent

Tyler, Dan, dad and I exhibited our laser maze (for the first time to the public!) last night at the February Mindshare. The object was to traverse the room without breaking any of the beams, ring a bell, and then navigate back to the start. Attendees pretended to be [take your pick of cinema's security-breaching thieves] employing everything from commando crawls to acrobatics to get across. Thanks to Seth Margolin for an excellent filming and editing job on the video!

Laser Maze at the Firehouse from Brent Bushnell on Vimeo.

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BIL Conference by brent

Had a great time at BIL in Long Beach this past weekend. The presentations were on a very broad range of topics... open source architecture to cyborgs, politics to consciousness, a girl even presented on blow jobs. A contingent of Mindshare labs (Dougie, Eric and I) setup an installation in the interactive room and gave a talk Saturday afternoon titled "Interactive Spaces". I highly recommend BIL as an alternative to TED (seriously).

Ergonomics and a chair by brent

After taking ergonomics at work very seriously, I finally got around to fixing my home office. The last missing piece was a good chair. With my Aeron living at work and nothing solid at Staples, I broke down and got another Herman Miller. I wanted something smaller than the Aeron that would act as more of a lab chair and found the perfect solution with the Caper.[singlepic id=32 h=250 w=250]

iPython by brent

This interactive interpreter contains small upgrades to the default python interpreter.   Among others, native tab completion and a more bash like referencing of history commands. Install on OSX 10.5 with two simple commands:

[brent@ronin ~]501$ sudo easy_install ipython ... snip.... [brent@ronin ~]502$ sudo easy_install -f http://ipython.scipy.org/dist/ readline


Pygame on OSX by brent

There are a few options for getting pygame running on OSX, namely, the MacPorts version and the version off of the Pygame site. The MacPort is available here. Note it's named py-game.  It has a huge number of dependencies.    Install this via the command:

sudo port install py-game

If it fails for you like it did for me, use the following:

Download the source ball from here. Follow their OSX instructions here with these caveats: - The MacPort package names are wrong in the instructions, use the following command instead:

sudo port install libsdl-framework libsdl_ttf-framework libsdl_image-framework libsdl_mixer-framework

- If you're running SVN 1.5, it isn't supported by the standard OSX python install of setuptools, meaning that pygame won't install. Run the following to remedy:

svn co http://svn.python.org/projects/sandbox/branches/setuptools-0.6 setuptools cd setuptools sudo python setup.py install

In theory, you're done! Download a good game to verify you've got everything running here (tgz file)

import this by brent

I love python for a lot of reasons, not the least of which are easter egg gems like this:

[brent@ronin ~]501$ python Python 2.5.1 (r251:54863, Jan 17 2008, 19:35:17) [GCC 4.0.1 (Apple Inc. build 5465)] on darwin Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information. >>> import this The Zen of Python, by Tim Peters

Beautiful is better than ugly. Explicit is better than implicit. Simple is better than complex. Complex is better than complicated. Flat is better than nested. Sparse is better than dense. Readability counts. Special cases aren't special enough to break the rules. Although practicality beats purity. Errors should never pass silently. Unless explicitly silenced. In the face of ambiguity, refuse the temptation to guess. There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it. Although that way may not be obvious at first unless you're Dutch. Now is better than never. Although never is often better than *right* now. If the implementation is hard to explain, it's a bad idea. If the implementation is easy to explain, it may be a good idea. Namespaces are one honking great idea -- let's do more of those! >>>

VIM settings for Python by brent

Here are a few VIM settings that have been helpful to me for python. This adds improved syntax highlighting: http://www.vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=790

Add the following to your .vimrc file. This is usually located in your home directory at ~/.vimrc

autocmd BufRead *.py set smartindent cinwords=if,elif,else,for,while,try,except,finally,def,class autocmd BufRead *.py set tabstop=4 autocmd BufRead *.py set shiftwidth=4 autocmd BufRead *.py set smarttab autocmd BufRead *.py set expandtab autocmd BufRead *.py set softtabstop=4 autocmd BufRead *.py set autoindent