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The Dawesome Digest

Issue number four brought to you by the word naive.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Take a spare Nespresso machine and attempt to connect it to the Internet so I could use my iPhone to select what type of Espresso I wanted - Lungo, Ristretto etc.  After figuring out what wires I needed to hack using the very scientific process of poking it with a screwdriver I took an Electric Imp and attached some wires. The giant flash followed by an equally large bang resulting in the whole house being fused told me immediately making an Internet connected Espresso machine wasn't as simple as I first thought. Here was yet again another example of something I've always put great stock in - naivety.

Naivety, fuelled by curiosity, always leads to new leanings, even if it can be a little risky. My learning here was I should really find out more about electronics and that making a cup of Espresso probably doesn't require the Internet. At least I'm still alive to survive another day. Now what's this over here... a nail gun? Now that really does need to be connected to the net...

3D Printed Moments from Music

For a long time I've been playing with various forms of audio visualisations, from generating prints to animations. Right now I'm exploring prints of a different kind, namely 3D prints using my Makerbot.

Using some software I've written in Processing I've been looking at different ways to make physical representations of songs. The image above is the point at 2:33 of Daft Punk's Get Lucky. Look closely and you can see Nile Rodgers' infectious guitar lick!
This is still very early days in the process, but I think there's something interesting about holding a moment from a song in your hands, placing it on a shelf or on your coffee table. Have a look at the video of an earlier experiment that uses Brian Eno's Always Returning to create a structure from a starting sphere.

A Box of Tweets

Seeing that you can now download your entire Twitter archive I thought it might be kind of nice to have a box of all those tweets. When I say box I mean a box that I can pick-up, switch on and use to look at the often transient things I've tweeted. 

Using a simple rotary control and a tiny but perfectly formed OLED display it's really easy to turn the dial and be reminded of times gone by. Digital is so often a very transient throwaway medium with data buried inside an all purpose hard drive, but by putting digital things in a dedicated box it makes it easier to bump into these little bits of memories.

Here's a video of the current work in progress.

OFFF Twitter Archive Visualisation

Talking of Twitter and archives, for OFFF Barcelona 2013 I was asked to create a piece for their limited edition book The Poool. The piece, created as an A1 poster, shows the entire Twitter archive of OFFF (some shown as text others shown as vertical bars) with the latest tweets starting at the top and twenty four hours running across the page. You can see when OFFF first got their Twitter account the tweets were quite sparse. That changed during the festival of 2012 where you can clearly see a band of activity in the centre of the image. 

Take a look at the finished image and if you know your way around Processing you can even download the source code to make your own poster using your very own Twitter archive.

Fuzzy Weather Indicator

When I made my original mechanical weather indicator a few years ago I always wanted it to be self-contained and use WiFi rather than having to be tethered to an Ethernet cable not to mention power supply. Now though with the help of the wonderful Electric Imp I've reworked the original idea into a smaller, better and completely self-contained little device.

Every four hours it wakes-up, connects to the Open Weather service, gets the forecast for my local area and then spins the wheel to show the relevant icon. Yes you could get the weather on your phone, or even just look out of the window, but I love this quirky little object. It's driven by fabulous digital technology but feels very analog.

See the little film I made of it in action.

Snap-on Duplo Based Prototyping System

I think I might be slightly obsessed with Duplo bricks; they are after all my 3D printed business card of choice.

The other day I was putting together another electronic project and needed to add a rotary control and switch. Rather than fabricate a box for an unfinished project I created special 3D printed Duplo bricks that allow for the installing of components which can then snap together as needed. It makes for a really cool way to make adhoc controllers!

I've still got more work to do on the idea but once it's done I'll be releasing the designs on Thingiverse for anyone to use.

Upcoming Projects

It's very true that you get what you make; many of the projects I'm currently working on for clients are electronic in nature, many of them Internet of Things related. This has largely come about not through some grand plan but because that's the kind of work that interests me right now and more importantly the work I publish on my site. Many of those things were never perfect, yet they cause interruptions, disruptions and get people to take notice.  

I can't say too much about what these new projects are at this moment in time but I'm really grateful to have the opportunity to explore what I think will be an ever-exciting area within interaction design.


To wrap things up for this issue of The Dawesome Digest here's a list of things that have recently caught my eye...
Great book on Desire Lines by Jan Kirk called Elephant Path, lovely statement on so called Big Data by Jonathan Harris, Harvard uses 3D printing to make tiny batteries, Malcolm McLaren talks about Karaoke Culture, wonderful collection of long image formats by Santiago Ortiz, gorgeous main titles for OFFF Barcelona by From Form.
Thanks for reading this issue of The Dawesome Digest. If you liked it please feel free to hit one of those share buttons below. Until next time, happy making.
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