Archive for January, 2007

Tiny Search Api

Friday, January 26th, 2007

[Update: the tiny icon factory has moved from to]

search (this broke when I upgraded wordpress. I will fix it eventually)

This an example search form using json, that retrieves the first 252 or less icons matching a given term from the Tiny Icon Factory. I am using Brent's new REST style search API for the Tiny framework. It is very simple to use, you just have to query the server with a URL that looks like this:[term].[format]

where term stands for what you're searching for, and format can be html, xml, or json (term.js in this case), with html as the default. When using json, you can optionally provide a name for a callback function:

You can visit the Tiny Search Documentation page for more detailed information on how to use this API. These are a few examples using html:

It is interesting what you get when you search for love:
You get contradiction.

Here are links to the icons named with the 13 first positive integers:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. Weird.

Other fun things to try: any letter from the alphabet (a, t, or any other), no,
, joe, play, martini, jesus ... or anything else (almost).

Tiny Widget for Mac OS X

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

by Luis Blackaller and Brent Fitzgerald

You can download it here. Brent claims that the experience of drawing icons in the Dashboard is much more intimate than in the browser. I agree.

Brent has published links to a couple of cool cocoa applications written by Florian Jenett that grab the Tiny RSS feed and place icons in the apple dock or in the menubar:


Sheep Art

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

The herd will follow the shepherd

An interesting thing to consider in OpenStudio is that some of its members are not a person in the physical sense. Every OpenStudio member can play the roles of artist, collector, curator, critic, dealer and fanboy, and the same person can be multiple members, or the same single member can be shared by a group of people. Some of OpenStudio’s members don’t actually seem to represent anybody. I think Edna, for example, must have been created by Annie to play a test role in the system’s early stages of development. Edna shows no trace of activity. No art, no trade, no tags. And yet, out of the 1028 current members of OpenStudio, she owns more drawings than anyone else, 1844 total. Did she make all of them? Are they all sitting in her private inventory? Does she not need to share, show, sell? Would her art be interesting? The next bigger collector after Edna owns 299 drawings, far less than 1844. I only own 182, and it took me months of drawing, giving away and trading to get to that point. Only 161 OpenStudio members own more than 10 drawings, and two thirds of them own at most 3. Edna can’t be real. She’d better not be real.

Until now, physical and virtual reality have been conceived as separate places. Things don’t have a presence in both places at the same time. Or that is what we think. Walking down to South Station as I do every morning, looking at the red brick old buildings and the graffiti, I recently noticed a street art theme that somehow seemed very familiar to me: sheep. There were graffiti sheep tags and sheep shaped stickers everywhere around the neighborhood. It took me a while to recall where the familiarity with these sheepish doodles was coming from.


OpenStudio member The Shepherd has not been active for a while. He never got to sell much back in the day, but he managed to summon a productive force still unparalleled in open studio. The only one that owns more art than the shepherd is Edna, and Edna doesn’t count. The shepherd would ask other people to draw sheep for him, perhaps on a quest to find the universal sheep through visual representation. I wonder if his work found its way out of the virtual limits of OpenStudio to spawn sheep into the unconstrained realm of street art. Is the same shepherd that has not submitted a new sheep to OpenStudio since last spring responsible for the parade of spray-painted wool in Fort Point, Boston?



I couldn’t stop myself. I logged on to OpenStudio and bought my own original (flea looking) sheep from The Shepherd himself.

Tiny PLWidget

Friday, January 19th, 2007

This is what happens when you don’t sleep. Tiny PLWidget, finally running, and soon to be unleashed.


I spent almost a week trying to figure out how to stop the widget from being dragged across the screen when the mouse was down and traveling through the drawing canvas. Conjectures and advice pointed me to look for some javascript event logic error, potentially caused by a conflict between the DOM event implementation, and the Apple Dashblard event implementation. However, after 33.27 (base 60) hours of not sleeping and working with the PLW Cannibals on our one night project for the Media Lab prototype-a-thon competition, I figured out I just needed to define one CSS parameter called -apple-dashboard-region on the div ID I didn’t want to have dragged. The code on the CSS would look like this:

#canvas {
	width: 13em;
	height: 13em;
	margin-left: 1em;
	position: relative;
	border-width: 1px;
	border-style: solid;
	border-color: rgb(204, 204, 204);
	margin-bottom: 1.4em;
	-apple-dashboard-region: dashboard-region(control rectangle);

This defines a rectangular region where the widget will not be dragged across the dashboard, letting you concentrate on making drawings, or other things.

Eat your media

Friday, January 19th, 2007

…before your media eats you.


Cannibal Boy was created as the mascot for the PLW Cannibals. The PLW Cannibals are Kate, Kyle, guest cannibal Meg from the real world, and me. We teamed up to participate in a 24 hour build-a-prototype competition called prototype-a-thon that takes place every year during january in the Media Lab. The theme this time was about media and food. After a long night of think, design and code, we came up with eyeTaste, a computer vision augmented set of glasses that keeps track of what you eat, tries to control your habits by sending messages to an embedded display on the surface of the glasses, and loads data to a log of what you eat in a social networking web application, where you can examine your stats and correlate them with those of your friends. It’s Just another example of intrusive technology. During the competition, we were only beat by Brent’s team with their foodstckr project, and Takashi’s and Amber’s team with WeCook. Overall, PLW dominated the prototype-a-thon.

The website:

Callibrating the vision system:


Snapshot of Kate using the prototype glasses on an apple during the competiton:


Run Lalo Run

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

RunLog is Takashi’s contribution to a healthier lifestyle. It also supports OpenID authentication, an interesting alternative for your digital identity that might one day make the password nightmare of today come to an end. Long live to anything secure enough that will manage all my logins with a single password!

What are you waiting for? Get your OpenID, try the RunLog out, and get in shape once and for all. Oh, and remember, if you cheat by making up any results, the first person you are lying to is yourself.


Airports, Airplanes, and the Future.

Friday, January 5th, 2007

I wonder if the transition to the new year makes people more aware of the passage of time. Last week, when it still was last year, several friends of mine expressed their disappointment at what has become the future they once envisioned. One of them was comparing the present with 2001 A Space Odyssey, and another one with The Jetsons cartoons. “Where is my trip to the moon, where is my flying car?” It seemed to them that something was missing from what was promised to them, like the promise was not kept. Even though I am very skeptic about predictions of the future, I would question them on why would they choose The Jetsons instead of Blade Runner, where I can find pointers to several things that are already happening. Maybe they were longing for an optimistic, safe and hygienic version of the future, discarding any possible catastrophic or apocalyptic vision. I personally don’t remember very well the time when I used to dream about the future. I can’t recall if I had my own idea of the future, or if I was borrowing my expectations from somewhere else like my friends seemed to do, but I know now that I don’t put much effort in giving a shape to the future anymore, perhaps because it always turns out to become something else, and I’d rather wonder with surprise than frustrate myself when confronting my failed expectations, and I’d rather put my energy towards working on a better today.

When I think about it, there is a difference between the prediction of something that can possibly happen, and the prediction of how things can be. The former one doesn’t really need much imagination. To speculate about if there is going to rain tomorrow or even if a pandemic disease is going to devastate humanity 17 years from now is very different from pretending to guess (or estimate) how humanity is going to be living 50 years from now. Not only what problems will be faced but what changes need to be made, and how much progress in what direction is to be expected. How things should be.

After comparing the experience of commercial air transportation between what is shown in Kubrick’s Space Odyssey movie, and what actually happens when you go to the airport and fly on a plane, I can’t help it but sympathize with my friend’s frustration. Forget about going to the moon, and forget that 2007 is 6 years after 2001 (I can’t see much progress from then to now). Just look at the difference in service. The only four things I have seen changing in air travel since I was a child are that people can’t smoke in a plane anymore (what were they thinking?), the quality of service has decreased substantially, and the volume of humans has increased at the same pace, together with absurd security measures. Maybe too much has been spent in liquid detectors and there is no money left to fix those holes in the ceiling? Not only there are who-knows-how-many times more people swarming all airport terminals, but all of them have to take off their shoes, throw away their mascara, and take out their laptops. The transition to the new year is also a good excuse for long distance travel to a lot of people, and a fantastic opportunity to experience the subtle changes of social behavior in our fast paced, technology driven civilization. I remember the year 2000, when laptops were something not everyone would have, how normal it would be for me to browse around the airport terminals, find a comfy spot, connect my laptop to a nearby power outlet, and enjoy countless hours of digital activity and cappucinos waiting for my flight without having to drain my battery. Some years later, I noticed how the power outlets started to become scarce in some airports. Today, people hunt for the remaining outlet that some maintenance electrician forgot to shut down, and sit in the floor by the bathroom door and the hallway as they check their emails or stare at their spreadsheets. Not me, I have decided to go back to books… no need for batteries, and tons of fun.