For my final project for Comm Lab: Web, I’d like to create an online version of the game MASH. It’s a pen & paper game that determines who the player will marry and how many children they’ll have.
The paper format is as follows:
Write MASH at the top of the page. MASH stands for mansion, apartment, shack or house.
The player provides four potential spouses; these are recorded by the other player/fortune teller.
The player then provides four numbers representing the number of children they will have and also four vehicle types the player likes.
Once all responses are recorded, the fortune teller starts to draw a spiral. At any point in the drawing, the player is allowed to say “stop!” The fortune teller then counts the number of rings from the center. The number of rings is used to eliminate responses until there’s only one option left in each category.
For an online version, the game would start in a similar way. The user will provide potential spouses (real people, celebrities, fictional characters etc),numbers for children, types of vehicles, occupation, and states/countries of residence in a form. After the form is submitted, sinatra would randomly chose a value from each category to display as the fortune. The fortune would then be displayed as a string, “You will marry Brad Pitt, drive a monster truck, work as a(n) electrician and live in a shack with 3 children in Estonia.”
What I have left to do:
- Write Sinatra code that will chose one input from the user in each category and display in string.
In the gallery, I’ve displayed:
- The first page
- After the user presses submit, an image of Miss Cleo would hover in the middle of the screen until the result page loads.
- The result page
For my ICM midterm, I decided to design a “heart factory.” I envisioned a factory floor background with a conveyor belt in the foreground; a large spout (like a sewage pipe) placed either on the side or at the top of the sketch and hearts being pumped out from the spout. The hearts would cascade onto the moving conveyor belt one by one and eventually leave the sketch screen.
My first task was how to make the conveyor belt. How would I create the illusion of movement? How would I create depth so it didn’t appear so flat? If I created an array of dotted lines that moved along the x-axis, that might work. I could have cogs rotating on either end of the conveyor belt as an additional visual aid. I ended up getting some (a lot) of help from another classmate doing a similar project.
Once the conveyor belt was up and running, the next step was to create the hearts. I immediately thought of the candy hearts so popular on Valentine’s Day. Could I draw the heart? Or load an image? If I decided to draw the heart, I would also want to include text. Every year, the text printed on these little hearts just keeps getting better! “Txt Me,” “UR A QT,” “LETS READ,” are just a few examples. They’re really keeping up with the times here – got their finger on the pulse. Anyway, I digress, so ideally I would create an array of hearts with various texts that would either fall in a group out of the spout or individually and onto the conveyor belt. It seemed easier to guide an individual heart as it fell from the spout, onto the belt, and then off screen. As the heart falls down the y-axis, once it hits a certain Y point then there would be a momentary stop before it started moving along the x-axis. So my next task was defining the parameters for this l-shaped movement.
My next steps:
- If I decide to use images for the hearts, create an array of hearts & make the move.
- If I decide to go with the heart shape I drew, create an array of heart shapes & make the move.
- Secondly, for the heart shapes incorporate the text as a random array so that there’s some variation with the hearts. I was able create an array of strings for text but I haven’t been able to match the object to the string.
Worlds collide! Processing + Arduino = MAGIC.
Before I had the good fortune to move to Brooklyn, I commuted daily from Bronxville to New York on Metro North. I don’t miss jockeying for a seat when finally (finally!) the car doors open onto the platform or elbowing for space when attempting to read the newspaper. I entertained myself mostly by doing the crossword but also observing the other passengers and their habits during each interval of the commute. These intervals (pre-train, train, and post-train) have their own set of rules & behaviors (like the most efficient way to pitch your paper when exiting the train or how to successfully traverse Grand Central Station in order to reach the subway or an exit). As a commuter, it’s easy to pick up the predominant behaviors and follow suit. It’s not easy though when you’re unfamiliar with the system.
The most difficult part of using the Metro North system, and the most frustrating to observe, is ticket purchase. The vending machines for tickets look exactly like the Metrocard machines. However, if you’ve used a Metrocard machine you would be none the wiser when trying to buy a Metro North ticket. The series of screens and prompts are radically different. Each user must answer at least four questions before they can purchase: one way or round trip? to or from Grand Central? other station combinations?? which station? peak or off-peak? This transaction is old hat to me, I can make my purchase in less than 30 seconds. (Maybe better… I should time myself next time.) Observing others try to make a ticket purchase is as I already mentioned, very frustrating. I had to try very hard to restrain myself from stepping in to speed up the process.
Some of my observations:
1. Even though here are several language options available, foreign tourists (that I either identified by the language I heard spoken or stereotyped by apparel choice) still had a difficult time as they went screen by screen, especially when they had to find the station that they were going to. Non-foreigners as well had a hard time finding their destination station.
2. Another hiccup in the process is answering the question, peak or off-peak? In the bottom left corner there’s a definition of peak and off-peak hours but its pretty verbose. Considering that most people that are purchasing tickets plan to board a train immediately, why can’t the system answer that question itself? Or ask the question in another way like, do you plan to travel now (within a certain timeframe that would also be defined by the system) or later (also predefined by the system)? Maybe list the next three departures for their destination and let the user choose? That might add too much information and slow down the process more.
3. There’s a lot of finger wagging. I saw a number of people using their pointer fingers to visually guide them through the text. Some fingers turned circles or figure eights as the user tried to decipher the screen and answer each prompt. The fact that the choices on each screen weren’t in the same location each time also disoriented the user. They expected to answer the next prompt in the same location on the screen and when they couldn’t, they had to mentally step back and assess the entire screen.
4. When there was a long line of users, it felt like each user made more mistakes. I don’t know if they felt pressure to move through the process quickly or if I’m reading into it too much — maybe it was just more likely that there was a line of users very unfamiliar with the system.
5. Many users, not using cash, exhibited privacy concerns. There’s no shield or way to prevent the person behind you from seeing you punch in your debit card pin number.
6. When the user is successful in completing a purchase, they then have to wait for change and or a receipt and the ticket(s) to print out. These actions don’t happen simultaneously so most users have to stick their hand in the dispensary more than once. Some even check the dispensary one more time, just to be sure they received everything.
I’m sure that they did extensive user research to build the most efficient and intuitive interface but maybe using the same format of the Metrocard machine was not the best idea. In terms of visibility, yes, if a user sees that machine they will quickly identify that as a place to purchase tickets. But I’ve seen people try to buy Metro North tickets from Metrocard machines and walk away very confused. I definitely wouldn’t recommend the MTA get rid of the information booths OR the ticket agents just yet.
I find the word “modularity” a little awkward. It doesn’t roll off my tongue and I need to visually map all of the syllables as I say it (which isn’t a particularly desirable effect). The concept of modularity itself, fortunately, is much easier for me to understand. Simply put, it’s a set or system of interchangeable parts. And it manifests across a number of disciplines and industries including computer programming, math, architecture, and product design. Legos is a great example. A standard set of Lego blocks provides a seemingly limitless set of combinations to the user. I like to make Space Invaders shapes with my Legos but obviously I’m not limited to just that. One of my classmates shared the work of a phenomenal artist that works in Legos, Nathan Sawaya.
I also think that widgets and plug-ins fit the “modular” bill. Aidan Feldman created mustachify.me, a widget that uses the face.com API to place a moustache on any image (as shown above). Just add your image URL to the end of the address “http://mustachify.me/?src=YOUR_IMAGE_URL” and voila!
My favorite hours of the day are right before dawn.
I’ve always been an early riser. I relish the spare minutes of calm and quiet before the rest of my world catches up. The phone buzzes, email pings, the crowded streets, the noise.
Last year, I volunteered for the Transportation Alternatives NYC Century ride. I had to wake up at 5am to bike from my apartment in Williamsburg to Central Park. I can’t say much about the century ride itself; after a hundred miles I was tired. What left the most significant impression was my ride before the century.
The streets barely occupied as I headed towards Greenpoint, I became hyper-aware of my surroundings. My field of vision saturated by the diffused reds and greens of the traffic lamps, the mechanical clicking of the pedestrian walk sign, the overwhelming odor of bread baking in the factory nearby.
I crossed the Pulaski Bridge and navigated my way quickly through an eerily empty version of Long Island City to the Queensboro Bridge. The desolated state felt menacing so I was relieved when I reached the bridge ramp. As I ascended, the lightness of morning began to appear on the horizon. The bridge offered a break taking view of the city. So still.
This is the type of quiet I seek; setting my mind at ease, I can explore what exists in these silences / absences. Wonderment, inspiration, an idea, many ideas, a flood. I move beyond prior constraints, see more possibilities and revel in this amorphous space.
This year, I tried to replicate the ride to Central Park. Many of the variables shifted. I didn’t wake up as early. I shared my ride with more people on the street, in cars, or on bikes. When I reached the Queensboro bridge morning broke. I felt slightly disappointed that I didn’t see the sunrise. But then a moment of discovery: I saw the Roosevelt Island tram hurdling its way across the East River. I’ve never been on the tram before, let alone seen it, which is a terrible thing to say as a native New Yorker. I dismounted my bike and just watched. It was lovely stumbling upon something so mundane that it was poetic – the mechanical exactitude of the tram; its almost soundless motion, the people inside watching the city recede, me watching them. What I enjoy so much about traveling and exploring a place (even my home) is digesting the interactions around you, trying to discern relationships, connections, and motivations. It boils down to: what compels the situation that we all find ourselves in? Those are the circumstances I want to understand, to replicate and play with, and possibly create something new.
My second discovery occurred when I reached Central Park. On the bicycle path, I was startled to find a mountain lion perched on a rock amid a thicket to the right of me. It took only a second to realize it was a statue but under other circumstances, like night, I might be more concerned. (The statue is called “Still Hunt” by Edward Kerneys)