Cancel Comcast + Apple Tv + Boxee

Well, it’s official. We just canceled Comcast ‘the commie’ Cable and purchased an Apple Tv. My plan is to install Boxee or XMBC as an alt media platform to the default Front Row. This will enable us to stream our cable favorites such as the Daily Show and Colbert free from Hulu rather than paying for it via iTunes. If anyone has information on their preference I’d love to hear some reviews. So far, and it’s only been one day, the choice has proven to be a good one. Streaming our entire music, movie and photo collection through our hdtv is shweet. Also integration with Flickr, youTube and iTunes is seamless.

The money savings should be fairly significant. The 160gb Apple Tv ran us $320. Our Comcast Cable bill is about $80/month. Ipso, it should pay for itself and then some.

So, I call on you all to do the same. À la carte media is what you want, so call Commie and tell them that’s what you’re going to do.

Now if I can only find a way to stream HBO.

Permalink: http://www.christeso.com/index.php/life/cancel-comcast-apple-tv-boxee-booya

Interactive Reactive Experiential Enviro

http://www.flickr.com/apps/video/stewart.swf?v=63881

A year or two ago when I started experimenting with creating applications that provide interactivity outside of a browser, in the environment, I thought it would take years before environmental experiences went to market. I thought there would be no demand by agencies for several years, no clients forward thinking enough to request interactive installations and certainly no companies focusing in on delivering these experiences. I was mistaken.

I’ve been surprised by the amount of buzz generated around interactive installations in the advertising industry. I’ve had thousands of visits to my blog from agencies, developers and the like with keywords such as Flash and Installations, Flash and Motion Detection and Interactive Installation. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked that an industry that is always hot for the latest ‘thing’ would push the medium forward. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see several companies honing in on the niche that has presented itself in Interactive Installation. The fact these companies are specializing in it is a testament to the rising demand. There have also been several agencies that are developing their own internal lab to function as R&D into these areas. I commend these agencies for their forward thinking. Unfortunately, most of these agencies still haven’t figured out how to do traditional interactive profitably and or properly. That’s right, I said it. “Traditional Interactive”. Perhaps in these agencies this new medium will be able to skip over the old agency model of traditional “creatives” holding on to the last bastion of control over an interactive project, but I doubt it. Just as in traditional interactive I see Barbarianesque shops excelling in the Installation arena. We all see clients sidestepping traditional agencies in favor of new media agencies in both project work and AOR. I see no reason that trend would not continue in Reactive Media. After all the best interactive work results when the people designing the piece are also building the piece, concepting the piece, doing analytics on the piece and owning the piece.

All that said, I’ve just finished and launched the Interactive Installation located at 6th and Alder in Portland, Or. This is the second public installation I’ve done. I was shocked to see the amount of attention it has received, and is again a testament to how powerful this medium can be. Yes it helped that the client was/is downtown Portland. It got me on the news several times. But still… the excitement is there over the technology and the potential uses of moving experiences into the environment we all live in. I look forward to doing more.

If you’ll notice I’ve called this ‘thing’ several ‘things’ already. I’ve heard many terms bandied about. Some of these terms include Interactive Installation, Environmental Interactive, Reactive Installation, Interactive Projection, Enviro Interactive and Experiential Installation. To me none of these fully encompass what the medium and industry will be creating in the coming years. While most of my experiments have involved motion detection, there are many other avenues in this ‘thing’ to pursue. Auditory data aggregation, touch screen, sensors, robotics, industrial design melding with technology and interactive design just to name a few. I like the term Enviro Interactive. I think it gets close to encompassing the vast array of potential applications without confusing people with the word spelled out in full, ‘environmental’. On more than one occasion I’ve explained what I’m doing as Environmental Interactive only to get some vague response how nice it is that I’m being green.

So, what would you call it? Are you currently working in the medium? If so, in what capacity?

ps. In the news clip above notice that they captioned me as the ‘cyber snow artist’. From this point forward please address me as such. Anything less would be an insult of epic proportions.

Using Yahoo Pipes to Aggregate Your Life

Chances are you publish content using multiple platforms dissipated across the interweb. For example, you may publish photo’s to Flickr, video’s to Vimeo and blogs to WordPress. While each of these sites provide you with an RSS feed, a viewer would have to subscribe to each to be updated with all that you publish. Luckily Yahoo Pipes has provided an easy solution. Pipes is essentially a tool that enables non coders to visually architect an application. While it provides a toolset to perform many valuable and robust time saving application functions, for this example we’ll only concentrate on it’s XML and RSS data aggregation. The following screenshot demonstrates how easy it is to aggregate all of your separate RSS feeds into one feed that viewers can subscribe to.

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The example above shows the aggregation of all my publishing points including Flickr, Vimeo, WordPress, Google Reader and a custom feed I made that enables me to use WordPress as a CMS. After creating the aggregated feed in Pipes I then use Feedburner to track usage stats. The result is http://feeds.feedburner.com/chrisTeso. Please update your feed and subscribe to http://feeds.feedburner.com/chrisTeso if you’re currently subscribed to an older one.

Interactive Installation Testing Tribulations and Nerdery

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photo by .:9:.
With just a couple days until the launch of the interactive installation in Downtown Portland I’ve been going mad tweaking code and functionality to run motion detection in rain, darkness and direct sunlight, with multiple object motion distractions such as pedestrians, bikers, segways and automobile headlights stopped at the traffic light precariously located directly in front of the installation camera. Simultaneously we’ve been crazy busy setting up the environment. Designing and developing the application for motion detection has kept me busy enough and has been an awesome learning experience using Flash as an interactive installation platform.

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What I’ve underestimated are the challenges and learning curve associated with the industrial design end of the project. The challenges the environment has placed on us have been many. I’ve mentioned the lighting situation and the application challenges of varying weather, lighting and motion objects. There have also been other challenges such as getting the lens and projector right to cover the entire store front window from an elevation, keystoning [ keystonery? keystoningness? ] focal and clarity perspective. Properly aligning the webcam for best motion detection and display results within the application. [ viewers will be video overlayed in the application ].

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Sewing together multiple tarps and hanging them one story above the installation to block out extraneous light that would dull the projection. Major issues with using an AT&T 3G card for connectivity in the absence of any wifi. [ the application takes a snapshot and posts the image to a private flickr account every 10 minutes so I can ensure the app. is up and running ]. Dealing with not being able to use an internal monitor while running the app with the projector. Adhering the specialized light sensitive acrylic pieces properly into each of the six window frames. The list goes on and is still mounting.

All this said, testing is moving along nicely. As you can see from the images below there have been people using the app. in its beta stage already. The feedback has been amazing. Standing on the street corner and watching people interact with the snowflakes and move around the area waving their hands and legs has been great. It’s been especially cool pretending to be an innocent onlooker to overhear the conversations and guessing of how the entire thing may be working. I saw more than a few people physically touching the glass guessing that they could effect the display ala touch screen. Several people danced in front of it. A few people looked semi frightened by the whole scenario. The best quote of the night came from a man who was simply amazed by the display. After carrying on about how cool it was he wrapped up the rant by exclaiming “this is downright amazing… but pfft… they’ve probably had this in Tokyo for the last 10 years”.

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More testing tomorrow… and posting to ensue.

Watch the news report on the installation
Steve’s coverage of the install

Permalink: http://www.christeso.com/index.php/lab/interactive-installation-testing-tribu…

Blogging While Driving

some random thoughts while driving:

1. in the near future, aka now, it will be increasingly important to be able to publish while driving, moving and generally doing anything.
2. reading Gladwells latest, outliers. good book thus far.
3. 40 percent of Canadian pro hockey players are born in jan-march. its not how talented you are, its what month your born in. arbitrary cut off enrollment dates to blame. amazing. thanks gladwell.
4. new Google voice app. is the most amazing app to date. just say what data you want and google delivers. enhanced cyborg intelligence. instant calling of knowledge. soon you’ll just think about it. see? youll just think. we are evolving.
5. just crossed over Or Cali border.

here’s a visual reference:

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iStream

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After much back and forth to the drawing board I’ve come up with an idea for my new site that satisfies several needs. Furthermore, I’ve gone ahead and built it. The two main needs for the site are as follows:

1. Maintain the ability to update the site easily by leveraging the many publishing outlets I already use.
2. Aggregate all of the content I create across multiple platforms into one simple easy to use interface.

The solution for number one was to use Yahoo Pipes to aggregate RSS feeds from the various publishing platforms I already use. These platforms are as follows:

1. WordPress – runs my blog, my portfolio and my flash lab experiments
2. Flickr – my photography
3. Vimeo – my movies
4. Google Reader – what I read

Solution #1
Pipes allowed me to marry each disparate RSS feed into one long feed. This essentially allows me to use each platform as a content management system. I had to write a few ASP scripts to enable wordpress specific posts to be translated into an RSS feed before sending it off to Pipes to be assimilated.

Solution #2
I created a simple flash application that hit the Pipes feed and displayed content in an animation that resembled a stream of data or consciousness. Within flash I had to do some custom String manipulation to identify where the various pieces of content may be originating. Once these were classified it was as simple as building out the classes that would run the content manipulation. It was also nice to get to play around with the new 3D api built into Flash 10.

All and all I’m very pleased with the site. It will allow me to continue to use the publishing platforms I like, the platforms that are best at housing content, and still display the content in one central stream.

Check out the new site here : http://www.christeso.com.

Permalink: http://www.christeso.com/index.php/portfolio/istream-a-flickr-vimeo-wordpress…

Look ma’s, we’re on the news!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2317056&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1
Look ma’s, we’re on the news! from chris teso on Vimeo.
We’re on the news! Wait, I abhor the news and their ratings motivated scare tactics.

Well, anyway, Lis and I were on Portland news Channel 8 last night. Lisa is making her acting debut in some of the commercials for the city of Portland this year, and I was interviewed for an interactive installation I’m developing and installing @ 6th and Alder.

The piece is about North’s work for client The Downtown Marketing Initiative and highlights this years campaign to drag the economically scared shitless consumer out of the suburbs and into the unique beauty that only downtown Portland can offer. I’d say we’ve done a bang up job of it.

Interactive Motion Detection Installation

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2300282&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1
Interactive Motion Detection Installation from chris teso on Vimeo.

Interface and motion design idea for future interactive installation using motion detection.

Words are chosen at random from a random pool of Flickr tags. The words are then broken down into individual characters. These characters are then animated based on the location of user interaction.

Picture this large. Now take that image and double it’s size. Picture it large enough to where you’d have to jump to reach different ‘doors’. That’s how I envision it.

Try it for yourself : Interactive Motion Detection Installation [webcam es necessitous]

Permalink: http://www.christeso.com/index.php/lab/interactive-motion-detection-installat…

Mind Controlled Interfaces

http://www.cbs.com/thunder/swf30can10cbsnews/rcpHolderCbs-3-4×3.swf
Watch CBS Videos Online

It’s work like this that makes my paltry experiments in motion detection interfaces look downright moot. Neuroscientists have gotten as far as to embed a chip inside a monkey’s brain, and figured out what brain activity signals that the monkey is trying to move its arm in what direction. This video shows a man typing out thoughts with his mind. With his freaking mind! I agree with the commentator that this is evolution. Convergence is evolution. Not Darwinian evolution, but evolution nonetheless.

I quit. You win, neuroscientists.

Pdx Fall and Other Gayity

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Coming from New England, I never thought I’d be so into foliage. I think it’s because living in Boston proper we never got to see the colors that the burbs or Vermont had to offer unless you actually left the city to traverse there, and who wants to do that? Well, I’m shamelessly admitting that I am. Into the leafs. I dig fall foliage. There, I said it. I’m a foliphile. Pdx has some redonculous skill when it comes pigment loss. It’s like the entire city is putting on an art show for you.

Anyway, I also sincerely dig staying home with my wife and poochy poochino working in this new yard we have.

So, there it is. I’m soft.