Hans' Blog Archive Random

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MyToaster: 10 Best Inanimate Objects on Twitter

Check out the latest top 10 list from Mashable compiled by Matt Petronzio: 10 Best Inanimate Objects on Twitter

Mytoaster boasts an impressive number of followers (almost 1,500) for merely tweeting “Toasting” and “Done Toasting” every morning, and each tweet gets retweeted by at least a handful of followers. For many people, these tweets comprise the best two minutes of the day.

(Just don’t let my toaster hear you say “inanimate” - this is a robophobic slur)

[via Mashable]

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A Kickstarter Christmas: Going Cardboard — a documentary about board games

I am going to share my latest experience with Kickstarter and review Going Cardboard — a documentary about board games. In order to get started, I want to introduce what Kickstarter is all about first. I find myself telling people about Kickstarter as my experience has been phenomenal as a backer. I am becoming an evangelist.

What is Kickstarter?


(the short version)


Kickstarter is a website that allows people with projects to find financial backing by offering the backers rewards.

(the much longer version)


For example, let’s say you a friend that wants to make a music CD and music video for their band. (And, we all have that friend.) Traditionally, they would have to scrape some money together and try to self-finance their project. Kickstarter allows that person to post a project description and video to a central website where people can back their project. They offer backers rewards such as early access to download the CD, wall art, a signed CD, and even creative things like, a chance to hang out back stage or be in the music video. In some cases, you can reach your target audience. In some other cases you find a whole new audience. What I love about Kickstarter is that it forces the people submitting their projects to think through budgets and come up with a strategy. If they say it will take $5,000 to make an album, they need to raise at least $5,000 to get rewarded the money. If not, the funds do not get transferred from the backers, and more importantly, the friend trying to get their music out there found out that the audience may not be as big as they thought. Trust me, I know a lot of musicians with a 1,000 CD’s in the garage. Knowing the size of an audience is important  and Kickstarter provides a clean mechanism to find that information out. If your project fails, you can reevaluate, try again, email more people, find creative rewards to offer potential backers, and try like hell to get outside of your circle of friends.

Going Cardboard


I received my Kickstarter rewards for Going Cardboard today, almost 10 months after backing this project by Lorien Green. The wait was long but so worth it. The thrill of opening the box of items felt like Christmas. Lorien provided great rewards to her backers and raised 3 times the amount of money that she requested. Her film turned out great and so glad that I stumbled into it while browsing Kickstarter for new projects.

Goaing Cardboard Kickstarter Rewards


I backed this project because of my interest in board games. I have a circle of friends that gets larger and larger that loves to play board games. The games we play get increasingly complex, but often I find games that stick. I was introduced to Dominion by Rio Grande Games at one of our annual gatherings called StruebCon. This is a great game and I teach the game to as many people as I can. It’s a great game to introduce to people, they will get hooked and may try other games. Before you know it, you have another gamer friend.

Going Cardboard features interviews from game designers, game publishers, and game players. There is amazing footage of several of the gaming conventions such as Essen in Germany that draws over 150k people each year. In the US, we typically do not celebrate the game designer. This is the person or group of people who created the game. It’s weird to think, but someone “invented” Monopoly. A new class of games called “Designer Games” have the game designer’s name right on the front of the box (these are the games I love). Maybe in a few year’s time, we will celebrate the designers like they do in Germany and Korea. Think of the memories that they have created for us. Game publishers are the folks that take the chance on the game designer and provide the resources to get the game printed, manufactured, and distributed to game stores and via the Internet. Game players are the wonderful people fo the world that keep the eco system of games going. “We” buy games from the publishers that we love, like Rio Grande, Mayfair, and Z-Man, and in turn more games get published from the game designers. It’s a wonderfully small world in most cases you can meet and interact with the entire supply chain at one gaming convention. Thanks to mechanisms like Kickstarter, I am seeing the industry blur the lines a bit as game designers, publishers, and players are all a little more integrated into the whole experience.

This documentary celebrates all angles of the board game industry. Watching the film is like sitting around talking to your friends about board games, telling stories of what you heard about new games, games that didn’t make it the shelves, and new games that you found on BoardGameGeek. Going Cardboard gives you a window of this budding universe of board games. It comes at a perfect time. I believe that board games are hitting a tipping point. All of the evidence is adding up. Even my local electronic game store features a board game night every week where you can unplug and play games like Dominion, Settlers of Catan, Battlestar Galactica, Arkham Horror, Lost Cities, and on and on.

I recommend “Going Cardboard” to anyone that’s interested in games. You should offer the DVD as a gift or hold a screening at your house, invite friends over to watch and let them in on what you have been doing all of these years. You might find a few closet gamers that just needs a little push.

Game on.

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CheerLights: my lights are linked to everyone else’s

If you have been following my projects for the last 12 years, you probably figured out that I must have a master plan. And this plan involves connecting things to the Internet that may or may not turn against us in the future. Way back in 2001, my partners and I released FuzzBox - this technology allowed for artificial intelligence to be distributed to devices via the Web. Our thoughts were if the decision making could be made on the Internet the devices themselves could focus on their task vs. trying to be a super device on their own. This was way early on and the ideas were premature, but it started a series of events and failures that led to even more projects involving devices linked together over the web. I guess this is now called, “The Internet of Things”.

Something that has emerged over the years is social networking. I have been fascinated by the idea of collective intelligence. It’s fun to follow a football game on Twitter or on Facebook’s live stream. You get to see the take other’s have on the same event that you are experiencing. If the Steelers score, you can feel it reverberate through social networks. These networks only work if there is lots of participation by many people. I have heard that people have predicted STD out breaks from Twitter status updates, food poisoning sources, and even where earthquakes have taken place. This is fascinating to me.

The results are two-fold: you can learn from this data and that we are all connected. Enter in, CheerLights — CheerLights is my combination of distributed devices with social networking. This project that involves connecting multicolored lights to other people’s lights and allow Twitter keywords control them all. If someone tweets, “@cheerlights let’s go green” - every light connected to the project would change to green. To me this is a physical representation of a social network trending topic. It’s a way to share a moment in that moment. Just like with social networking, CheerLights requires scale to be very interesting.  If you check out CheerLights.com, you will see how to build a set of lights that are linked together with other people’s lights via Twitter. I have examples using things from ioBridge, Arduino, and Digi. Please let me know if you decide to build something and connect it to CheerLights.

We are all connected. That’s my purpose for building all of this technology. Nothing else matters.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqi28Qcvvdg

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Greencastle Movie Stills

In Greencastle the film I made a cameo, playing the character, Roy Baker. Roy is the District Dean of a correspondence school and gives an inspirational graduation speech to the graduating class of March. The production team released stills, which are photos from the film. Check out Greencastle on Facebook.

Hans Scharler in Greencastle the film still photos

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Internet of Things DCWEEK Workshop during DCWEEK

DCWEEK invited me to host a dedicated workshop for the Internet of Things. We had a session learning about what IoT is all about, some basics of electronics, and then a hands on section. In a matter of minutes, we had things online. A group sent a tweet from a button and others moved a motor from a web page. It was great to see a roomful of adults happy to tinker with some new technology. What a great experience!








[via ioBridge Blog]

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Greencastle, Independent Film on Kickstarter

"Greencastle" is an upcoming independent film that I am fortunate to be a part of. I make a small cameo as District Dean Roy Baker giving a commencement speech for a correspondence school graduation.

Created by my long time comedy writing partner, Koran Dunbar, “Greencastle” is a film about a single father who works at a small-town pet store in Greencastle, PA. Poitier struggles against self-doubt and an unclear life direction while trying to raise his young son. In the midst of his “quarter-life crisis” enters Leslie, an attractive woman running from an ugly past. Fate brings them together, but Poitier discovers that opportunities only come to those who take chances, and he must come to terms with his own past before he can embrace his future with confidence.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzlqCjIiJI8


The crew behind “Greencastle” filmed the movie over the summer of 2011 and the footage turned out great as you can see in the trailer above. They want to take “Greencastle” to a wider audience and looking to use a website called Kickstarter to do so. Have you heard of Kickstarter? Kickstarter is a website where people can post their project and raise funding by offering incentives such as autographed scripts or items related to the output of the project.

"Greencastle" is already submitted to film festivals like SXSW and I would love to see where this project could go with everyone’s help. Check out the Kickstarter for “Greencastle” and see if this is something that you are interested in supporting… Thanks!

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EL Pumpkin is Spanish for Electroluminescent Pumpkin

EL Wire is a flexible wire that glows when you apply electricity to it. I am seeing more and more things trimmed with EL Wire and it makes for interesting effect. If you watched America’s Got Talent you might have seen a finalist called Team iLuminate. The iLuminate team used EL Wire to create animations and lighting effects on top of group dancing.

My nephews and niece were in town for Halloween and I was struck with the idea of adding a little animation to our Halloween Pumpkin. I wanted to make a pumpkin that changed expression. We made a basic smiley face and angry face by carving grooves into the face of the pumpkin. Then, we laced the EL Wire in and out of the grooves. We used red for the mad expression and blue and green for the smile expression. It was pretty easy to do and I had fun sharing my bits knowledge with the kids. It was rewarding to hear them come up with their own ideas — “We could hook an MP3 player up to this and scare people” or, “What if we added motion detection?”. It was also fun to hear my 5-year-old niece Zoey say, “Electroluminescent”.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kc2yjj0oYdo



Parts:



Notes:


I think the Blue EL Wire worked the best and looked the best. The red looks a little orange. The Green EL Wire sometimes didn’t illuminate. You can only illuminate 2 strands of EL Wire at a time with the stuff I had from SparkFun. I need to experiment more with EL Wire and get an EL Wire controller to do some more intricate animations. I will post future projects if I come up with anything interesting.

Always start with sketches when you start your project. It’s important to have a plan to allow yourself to stray knowingly.


[caption id=”attachment_341” align=”aligncenter” width=”424” caption=”EL Pumpkin Sketches”]EL Pumpkin Sketches[/caption]

EL Wire is LED of the future if you ask me…

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Internet of Things Talk at Carnegie Mellon University

Last weekend was the Pittsburgh Perl Workshop hosted by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. I gave a talk on the Internet of Things and building apps using the Perl programming language as the connective tissue between devices and web applications. I covered the basics on how you interface devices to the real-world. I also hosted a Hardware Hackathon and got to discuss hardware, connecting things, and Perl. I introduced everyone to my remixed theory of innovation. Just get out there and copy a well documented project, learn by transforming some part of the project, and combine it with other ideas. This is the only way innovation has ever happened… Thanks for the awesome time at PPW!

Hans Scharler at the 2011 Pittsburgh Perl Workshop

Here are my slides from the 2011 Pittsburgh Perl Workshop:

[slideshare id=9638095&doc=scriptingthings-111010211741-phpapp02]

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Thank You, Steve Jobs

My parents saved up Campbell’s Soup labels and gave them to my school. For whatever rational, the school would get computers from Apple based on the number of soup labels collected. We got a lab of Apple II’s, then came along the IIe, IIgs, and finally the Macintosh. I spent most of my early time on the Apple IIe programming. This was a very significant time for me and planted the seeds for my future career in software. I was inspired to create and can’t think of an existence without his influence. While we mourn the loss of a great one, I wanted to say, “Thank you, Steve Jobs.”

"…the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. Think Different." - Steve Jobs, 1955-2011


httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rwsuXHA7RA



10 PRINT "STEVE JOBS"

20 GOTO 10

(sad face)