As Far As I Can Tell

Less than a day

It’s time to start counting in hours — Meredith comes home tomorrow! I’ll be in Michigan this week celebrating my spring break and reuniting for good with Mademoiselle Adams-Smart. No more rushing to make Skype calls before 6p.m., no more waiting for the days to pass.

Hopefully I’ll see lots of people while I’m Kalamazoo. I’ll be splitting my time between there, Gobles, and Sturgis.



It was very nice seeing the both of you. Have a fun time in Pittsburgh WITH Meredith there!

Posted by: emily on March 18, 2006 11:51 AM

yay! i’ve got a few months to wait, still….

Posted by: jim on March 26, 2006 1:59 PM

Drinking as system input

Last semester I was on a project team investigating tangible interface design for music players. In our initial concept generation phase we had a version of the player which took the form of glasses, cups, and mugs. Each type of drinkware could be associated with a different genre of audio so you could, for example, listen to NPR with your morning coffee cup and classic rock with your beer stein. The music would start when you poured the liquid and stop when you were done drinking. The idea grew from of a desire we observed in our research — people like to have music keep them company as they go about everyday activities.

That particular concept didn’t move past the initial idea stage but today I stumbled upon a project at MIT by Jackie Lee and Hyemin Chung that also uses drinking as input. Their project, Lover’s Cups, is about communication between two people at a distance through the action of drinking. Personally I think that “softer” activities like holding or hugging are stronger for remote and ambient intimacy, but it’s interesting to see somebody else using drinking as a tangible interface.



Where are The Books?

I just got back from seeing The Books perform at the Andy Warhol Museum. It was an amazing show in the museum’s theater with lots of live instrumentation and video accompaniment. Seriously, one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. They’re on a pretty large US tour; check them out when they come nearby.



WIFI at the Carnegie Library

Ever since I moved to Pittsburgh I’ve been a champion of the Carnegie Public Library. Maybe it’s because I live down the street from the newly re-designed and re-architected Squirrel Hill branch, or maybe because libraries are some of my favorite places. Today I think a little less of the CPL though because they’ve decided to restrict their wireless internet access.

When I first took my laptop to the library I was happy to find an open wireless network. No fuss — just free, library provided, tax-payer funded internet access. I thought this was a nice touch since they can only provide so many computers and internet access is now a core feature for libraries. Unfortunately they have now implemented a proxy server that all wireless traffic has to route through. This means that instead of booting up and “just working” you have to contact a librarian, get instructions, reconfigure your machine — then change the configuration again when you’re not at the library. While this is clearly a worse experience the larger problem is that it’s only a web proxy, which means that all other internet traffic is blocked. No chat, no email, no FTP, no VNC, nothing.

The list of applications that needs to access the internet besides web browsers is huge and growing. Email programs, dashboard widgets, and RSS readers are essential to me. Plus, for some reason Firefox doesn’t work with their system.

The proxy has been put in place so that wireless patrons can print to the library laser printers and access IP restricted resources. In the process of doing that somebody made a decision that access should be changed to web only. I’m guessing this was more of an IT whim than a well thought out executive decision. In an otherwise almost perfect library experience this is a blemish that makes it harder for me to use the library in the way I need to.



I have seen a lot of changes in the way internet access has “evolved” where I work as well. When I started about 7 years ago, there was a firewall and that took care of porn and worked pretty well, but not completely. These days, you can hardly get to any site, use any utilities, etc. In other words, I feel your pain.

Posted by: Mark on March 6, 2006 8:36 AM

i saw this and was like, “simon NEEDS to see this,” though perhaps you already have: also, i recently bought some prints at the gocco thingie that you list below. small world. i have my own gocco printer now, too…time to stock up on supplies like there’s no tomorrow….

Posted by: jim on March 6, 2006 2:56 PM

That was what greeted me in Japan. Rather than messing around with bypass software or dealing with it, we demanded that the school provide our dorm with a private internet connection. After 6 months we were successful.

Posted by: jake on March 6, 2006 10:19 PM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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