Monday, November 19, 2012

Culture Crawl

Thanks to everyone who came out to say hi and see the wackiness at this year's Eastside Culture Crawl! This is easily one of my favourite events in Vancouver, but it's the first time I've ever participated as an artist.

Photo c/o Katrin

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I came across one of these in a local thrift store for $8:

Thrift stores are dangerous places to go; my powers of self-discipline can only be tested so far. Unlike the cabinet stereos that have troubled my past, this was fortunately small, cheap and clearly awesome. It begged to be adopted.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Midi Drum Keyboard

Aside from my daytime superhero duties, I'm also the drummer for The Elixxxirs. I've been playing the drums since I was 18 but frankly I'm pretty lazy about it -- practicing always seems to fall off the end of the list, so improvement is slow.

One thing I have no trouble with is typing. Fast. I've been variously laughed at and asked to stop noisily mashing the keys by people who didn't believe I was actually typing coherently in the process. And I couldn't help but think -- what if I could apply the dexterity I get by spending my days typing to simultaneously improving my drumming?

All it takes is a digital drum set, a midi to USB adapter, and a little bit of code...

Let's just pretend I'm being serious for a moment. One of the things you try to do when you're practicing the drums is break associations and habits. It's so easy to stick to a rock beat, but if that's all you play, you'll be hard-wiring your brain to hit the bass drum and hats on the 1 and the snare and the hats on the 3, end of story. Adding some practice that's totally random from a musical standpoint might actually be a good idea.

And look at the flip side -- you can hide secret messages in your music. Most of the words they don't allow on the radio would suit 4/4 time perfectly.

(It hasn't escaped my notice that I probably would've been better off spending this time actually practicing the drums instead of tinkering.)

(This is the second-to-last hack I'll be posting before the East Side Culture Crawl happens here in Vancouver in November. I'll be showing many of the things I've documented on this blog; if you're in the area, and not inclined to wreck anything I'm displaying, drop by and say hi. Watch out for one last hack to be posted in the next few weeks; it's one of my favourites and almost complete.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Free Geek 2012 AGM Results

I'd like to (belatedly) welcome the directors who were elected on July 19th:
  • Board facilitator lead: Scott Nelson
  • Assistant board facilitator lead: Nigel Cornwall
  • Treasurer: Nigel Cornwall
  • Secretary: Chris Hooper
  • HR lead: Sarah White
  • Anti-harassment lead: Sarah White
  • Marketing lead: Anne Der
  • Recycling lead: Mike McManus
  • Legal and bylaw lead: Chris Hooper
  • Volunteer recruitment and management: Sarah White
That's 6 directors divided up amongst 10 roles.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ill-Advised Video Game: How & Why

Following up on the Ill Advised Video Game post, I wanted to describe some of the technical details and address some of the issues that came up on Hack a Day.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ill-Advised Arcade Game

Disclaimer: I know this project is a little insensitive. However, once I had the idea I couldn't get it out of my head. All pre-emptive apologies willingly tendered here.

Let's start this project off as though I was going to build a MAME cabinet, OK? I don't want a MAME cabinet and I don't play arcade games, but I'll explain that later.

After a short search, I got my hands on an old cocktail arcade cabinet courtesy of long-time friends of Free Geek Vancouver, The Hackery. (They're just up the street from Free Geek; if you haven't been in, check them out sometime.) Here's how it looked:

This is Space Zap, circa 1980 or so, from Midway. If you're curious about this game, there's a pretty thorough video on Youtube featuring a working example.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Free Geek Vancouver 2012 AGM

Hi all,

I'm working on another project that I'm eager to describe -- but in the meantime, I've fallen behind in more or less everything else. To wit: the Free Geek Vancouver 2012 AGM is coming up on Thursday July 19th. Full details here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Hiatus! I'm in Paraguay for a couple of months, enjoying the methadone of Internet connections thanks to an abysmal ADSL line from the government telecom ex-monopoly.

Posting will resume when I return to Vancouver, unless something nerdy catches my eye here.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Computer Math Jokes

Yeah, I'm not going to get a lot of new readers with a title like that. But anyway.

I was thinking about an old joke:
There are 10 kinds of people: those who understand binary and those who don't.
...and a number of examples of number-formatting trivia came to mind.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Powerbook Slaughter

A couple of Powerbooks were kicking around so without further ado I slaughtered them. I suppose that means this is snuff photography:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Addendum to Bucky TV: the source code

I've had a couple of requests to post the source code for the Dymaxion Auto-Matic Buckminster Fuller, so here's a quick follow-up. Hey, it's probably the most effective backup mechanism I've used recently.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dymaxion Auto-Matic Buckminster Fuller

This ought to lay to rest the persistent ugly rumours that everything I make is somehow useful.

Presenting the Dymaxion Auto-Matic Buckminster Fuller. It's a retro-futuristic black and white screen mounted into a 1950s (or so) radio chassis, which generates and displays text that American luminary R. Buckminster Fuller might have said if he were a piece of software.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Toshiba Libretto

Happy new year (about 6 weeks late)!

After an extended break from Free Geek for the holidays and a jaunt down to South America, it's great to be back at the laptop station. Nothing seems to have exploded or grown mold in my absence -- a slight disappointment to my ego, which likes to claim indispensability. In fact, the place is generally looking good and I was happy to see all the regulars.

Free Geek has accumulated several interesting portables since I was last in. The first one I got my hands on was a Toshiba Libretto:

Looks pretty boring until you put something in there for scale.