I'm really excited about Alfred coming out with Version 2 of their award-winning app. I decided to write a small Extension that allows Mac users to easily switch the contexts of their Function Keys. Starcraft gamers like myself often have to dig deep into System Preferences to toggle Function Keys, only to have to go back to toggle them back to their normal Volume Up/Down states. Alfred to the rescue! By simply typing the keyword fkeys, you will be able to toggle the context of your Function Keys. You will be able to toggle between normal Function Keys, or hardware/media controlled Function Keys.
All you need to do is simply click here to download the Alfred Extension and double-click to import the script in Alfred.
Now, let's play some Starcraft.
I have some really exciting news to tell you. As you may already know, I have always been deeply invested in the theoretical aspect of visual communication. My academic background is in Semiotics, the theory of signs, and how we, as humans, relate to them. It's actually quite fascinating. Well, maybe I'm biased. However, this has given me the capacity to understand user behaviors and user experience in a digital environment. Add code on top of that and you're in for some ride!
Okay, onto the news. To further this knowledge, I decided to apply to the MDes in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University. It was quite the experience! After many drafts, reference letters, and an intense interview that left me sweating buckets, I was notified of my acceptance. I'm in!
Now, you're not the only one... I know you must be wondering, "What on Earth is that?" I'll be happy to explain! The SFI program focuses on the application of foresight and design innovation methods to develop solutions that are transformative and sustainable —economically and environmentally— and that address human needs. The program interweaves design with social science, technology and business while providing the skills and knowledge to identify critical issues, frame problems and develop innovative solutions and implementation plans. You know, you don't really think of it much but human need is imperative for any digital agency to survive. Because we are driving emotion in a digital realm, we need to ensure that human needs are being sought after.
What will I be focusing my research on? It's what I like to call moments of emotional impact. It is my intention to research and analyze how moments of emotional influence create identity. As a collective society, it is inferred upon one that moments of emotional collision could manifest out of major life events. However, as has been seen in the past few decades, identity can also be born by an individual experiencing a material product or occurrence for the first time. Psychologist and scholar Lawrence LeShan explains, “we do not invent or discover reality; we partially invent it and partially discover it. Our task is to learn more about this interaction and to learn how free we can be within it”. A product or experience can allow individuals to reach a deeper sense of freedom. However, it is only when one has found identity within the product that this relationship can be made. The reason why I believe identity can enhance a sense of freedom, rather than have novice effects on an individual, is because I believe identity brings within it a holistic environment of reality. Spatial boundaries, existence, and passion converge to give the individual a metaphysical place in the cognitive world. Through the foresight of these qualities, it is my intention to explore the capacity of affecting impact by implementing innovative ways of generating a meaningful experience.
Another reason why I have chosen to pursue this graduate program is because I strongly believe in the analysis of foresight. It is whereby one can invest true dedication and effort in order to thrust a society forward. I'm excited. Oh, I'm excited.
I recently finished working on another learning project. Instead of focusing on a single user perspective such as motion capture, the Robin Class developed by Dan Zen (robinflash.wordpress.com) focuses on a multiuser approach to interacting with a game or application.
I found Robin quite challenging to get the hang of. However, Dan Zen’s instructions are very straightforward and if you have a background in developing back-end applications, Robin will not be an obstacle for you. The things you can develop with Robin could truly be remarkable. I created a game where users login to the application as drops of water. The goal of the game is to “make it rain”. Simply put, the goal is to move your cursor, which is tied to the water drop as fast as you can. This, in turn, can cause a counter to count up incrementally. What this could be used for is an application that can count how much the user ‘made it rain” and from that number the organization can donate water to developing countries.
Ain’t that a neat idea? I think that users would definitely be interested in this idea, because it involves creating something physical out of the virtual. A multiuser experience is really only seen in videogames and social networking sites at the moment. I believe that if we brought multiuser perspectives to a social cause, as is my idea, society could be able to become immersed in the experience.
I highly suggest you take a look at Dan Zen’s Robin Class. If you put enough idea creativity into it, you are guaranteed to come up with something truly remarkable.
When you are first introduced to motion capture technology, it almost feels surreal. How can a video camera follow your moves? Is it thinking by itself? Will it follow me forever? Is it learning from my actions and thus becoming smarter and more powerful? I think it’s best to leave those impending questions on hold.
Through the Ostrich Class developed by Dan Zen (ostrichflash.wordpress.com), this Class allows you to capture motion in Flash and create creative and interesting games/usability projects with motion. Ostrich can capture motions to trigger roll-overs, for instance. It was a true learning experience developing for motion capture technology. You really must leave the screen behind and focus on the user. Interface Design principles go out the window, if you ask me. That is because one is no longer developing for the web, one is now developing for the future of the web, one that will incorporate the physical realm as much as the virtual one.
It seems like a paradox in nature, doesn’t it? How can the virtual world have so much affect on the physical realm without drastically morphing itself? I believe we have neglected to notice the importance of the portal into the virtual: the webcam. Many of us take it for granted, but the reality is that web cams were built for the future of the web.
Actionscript is a very malleable language to develop motion capture technology. Even though it takes some time to get used to the fact you are not affecting virtual objects but rather physical spaces, Actionscript is able to provide an understandable syntax full of Objects and Sprites. Through the Ostrich Class, I developed a simple interface where the user had to throw a piece of paper in the garbage can. However, the piece of paper followed the user’s moving fingers, and the trash can moved left to right continuously. This interface evolved into an environmental game.
Though simple, I believe that interfaces and games like the latter can provide what the web has been searching for years, the capacity to affect the physical realm in real time. I certainly enjoyed the experience of building an interface that could actually respond to the user’s movements. However, the challenge that this technology faces is right in your pocket. The mobile phone has erupted in popularity with more fervour than Mount Kilauea. Due to the fact that Actionscript is the language of Flash, mobile phones will not bother with it. Houston, we have a problem.
As the web becomes increasingly mobile, powerful applications such as motion capture must find a way to impact change uniformly. Call it an impossible idea, but I think that it would be ideal if Actionscript developers created a version of this language that was readable and natively suitable for the Web without any plug-in.
Am I asking for too much? As the web becomes mobile, so must developing for the web. Creating a natively run programming language could assure that technologies such as motion capture, gesture capture, and shape recognition don’t fall by the wayside. Creating a mobile Actionscript language benefits not just the future of technology, but the future of Actionscript itself.