Ah, June, you so short! My free time is all tied up with secret projects, so not much fun to report there. One is the continuation of the NES AI work, which I'm happy has finally passed Alphabetical Star Wars in views on YouTube so is rightly back on top as my most popular artwork. I really do enjoy working on NES stuff, even though there have been like a hundred hours of slog on this particular boring piece. When it's done, which should be soon, expect several diverse artworks along those lines. I'm excited for that part.
What else? I guess I never mentioned here that my weird art game Entire Screen of One Game was part of an honest-to-goodness modern art show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. (Here's the program for proof!) I happened to be traveling to Paris that week in April for the Marathon already, so I was able to attend the opening. Pompidou is really great; I think my favorite museum that we visited in Paris, and attending for an art show as one of the artists was pretty surreal. Here's my favorite photo:
Everyone agrees that this is art, and this stance affirms that one should not touch art.
Here we have some legitimate art critics and administrators (I think the one in the front is the former secretary general of France) observing my game just dropping rectangles hoping that someone will interact with it. No dice. This was common throughout the night, people contemplating it like I sometimes do when standing at a museum staring at weird art when people are being quiet and serious, but not doing the basic act that allows you to access the game's essence, which is to press the arrow keys. I found that amusing. There were some kids there who knew what to do, and to their credit, a few very well-dressed adults touched it. The curator was nice enough to talk to me for a long time, since he was the only one I knew there, and it was clear that he understood the "joke" (which is to say, the art). The exhibit ("The museum of bugs") itself was actually quite good, with some favorites I recognized (such as Peter Molydeux's excellent tweets) and some new stuff I hadn't seen. Two memorable ones included a live-action video of a technical jumpsuit-clad dude faithfully reenacting what I think was a Tom Clancy Rainbow 6 character moving in third-person through narrow corridors and drawing and holstering his gun, making awkward turns into walls, and making the uncanny valleyness of that kind of 3D game quite funny. I wouldn't have been able to keep a straight face; good job, guy. Another was a video of someone who drove off the road in some 3D racing game, and just kept going and going towards the horizon for ages, eventually driving through distant atmospheric effects and skyboxes, and then finally driving off the face of the earth and falling towards -inf forever. (Spoiler alert: The Earth is rectangular after all!)
More old news! Do you remember this eleven-year-old post? Of course not! Well, eleven years ago the Computer Science Department at CMU, where I was then a grad student, finally decided that they needed a logo. They held a contest and I submitted two designs. One was "Star Wars" which after a short passage of time I decided was ugly and regretted (the idea is not too bad, but the lumpy S is revolting). The other was "University Style," which is far superior:
CMU Computer Science Department logo
This one is austere and has and plenty of CS appeal: You've got the fact that it's rotationally symmetric; it teaches you a very efficient way to pack the letters C, S, and D, which could yield some kind of gang hand sign but you'd have to be careful that when you made it you do it backward from your perspective because despite the rotational symmetry you still want the viewer to be reading it as CSD and not CZD; it's got this interlocking plugs kind of thing, etc. However, when they finally did the voting, they only had the "Star Wars" one on the ballot. And then months passed and a winner was not announced (rightly so, in my opinion). END OF STORY. A LOGO WAS NEVER PICKED.
Just kidding: William and I replaced our paper office door sign that announced its contents with a slightly different one that was official-looking and used the favored CSD logo above. There may have been a few friends that did this too. It was there for about 5 years. Then when the department moved into the new CS building (I had just graduated) there were no signs for people's doors, and so someone (Rob? Michael Ashley-Rollman?) used that logo to make a template for the signs and basically everyone had the logo on their door; it became the official-ish one for another 5+ years. (BTW if you are looking for this logo, please grab the vector version.)
And now, a few months ago, I found out that the logo had been canonized during the process of redesigning the CSD web site, which has finally launched. So now it is basically the department's official logo! HAPPY END!
Portmantout: A portmanteau of every English word
(30 Apr at 22:59)
Oh, wow, that was dumb. I actually have at least three good posts saved up, but for some reason I thought I already posted in April. So I backdated this one. It's really May right this second. But it concerns April work:
This is a video I made for my little hack about "Portmantout". Portmanteau is a stringin'-together of two words (like caviar + armpit = caviarmpit), and Portmantout is when you do that for all of the words in English! I did the work and wrote the paper for SIGBOVIK but the video is part of my slow attempt to make an entertaining Youtube channel. It's a lot of work to put together these videos but I'm happy with how it came out!
As usual for this time of year, I've been hard at work on SIGBOVIK projects. The conference is tomorrow and I'll be emceeing (something I seem to always get asked to do, though I'm also happy to pass this torch soon, since what I really enjoy is making and presenting weird "research"). Speaking of weird research, I have two papers this year; the first one I spent weekends on for a month or two. It's an AI/machine learning joke based on a bad pun which I implemented in a serious way. The second is a wordplay one, which I threw together on the last day when I thought that other one wasn't going to work. I've been putting together a fun tutorial video on the second one for my two-hit-wonder ghost town youtube channel, though since it contains no cultural icons I'm skeptical it will play well with that audience. I thought maybe I'd upload the video tonight, but now it's getting close to the end of the month, so here is a post to satisfy my weird compulsion, and I will post the video and SIGBOVIK works tomorrow.
Next week I'm going to Paris for the marathon and an art show. Costume ideas? Fun things not to miss?
Ah, another month gone by with nothing to report here on El Radar. Probably the most interesting thing this month is that I went on a proper vacation (that is, there was no purpose to this other than to relax in a warm place) for what I think is the first time in my life, to Puerto Rico. It's a pretty good place, though weirdly ensconced in like 1990, at least from my city boy perspective. Like for example we went to a brew pub, the only one on the island as far as I could tell, and the waiter told us this,
Welcome! This is a brewery. So we don't have all the beers. We only have the beers that we make here [gestures to the obvious brewing equipment everywhere]. Let me tell you about the beers. This first beer, light beer. Do you know Medalla [Puerto Rico's pride, Medalla is a corn-syrup based light beer, like any sports beverage, totally devoid of soul, achieving the coveted "1 point" (out of 100!) rating on RateBeer]? Same thing. This beer is a fruit beer [? it's a pale ale or something, says so right on the menu]. Have you ever had Sam Adams? Same thing. [When he says it's the same thing, he makes a horizontal karate chop move with his hand, to indicate "end of story. I totally explained it."] Well, not the same thing, it tastes the same. This beer. DARK BEER. Tastes like coffee. This beer, Heineken. This beer, we don't have. [He's referring to the rotating seasonal slot, not even properly a beer. When we order a sampler, he tells us that they'll replace this one with a mix (!) of two beers.]"
It was like, not only was it hard to find a place that served anything but sports beverage, but even the folks at the brew pub were prepared to be apologetic to the cruise ship patrons that they didn't have sports beverage. (For what it's worth, the beer there was decent, but if you didn't believe me about 1990s, see completely earnest Flash website with Yacht throb soundtrack.) Same went for coffee, too.
The old city was beautiful, though, with lots of semi-wild cats roaming around to enjoy the fish smells and rub their cheeks up against tourists, and the oceanfront fortress was really neat too. From the fortress we could see across the bay to another fortress, and since lying on the beach is not actually really that fun for me, I decided that I'd try to do an adventure run around the bay to the next fortress. Google assured me that there was no route on foot. I was like "nonsense!" and did the old trick of asking for routes between intermediate points to verify that some of the choke points (bridges, etc.) had pedestrian passage. Looked good except for one highway bridge, except that one I could sort of see on the satellite map that it looked like it had a sidewalk. So I went for it. The run got off the rails immediately; that bridge had a sidewalk but I had to go through the brambles to get to it, and it was like peatones prohibito. también bicicletas!!. Then I was running on grass and marsh on the side of this major road and it just kept getting crappier and crappier, like the gravel would turn to piles of discarded mattresses and there were semi trucks parked all along the road, then semi trucks idling with hot semi exhaust blowing onto the mattresses, and then the semi truck drivers are hanging out because I'm in this shipyard and they are like wtf r u doing dood. Google's route wanted me to like climb this fence into the Port Authority of San Juan's Active Shipping Container And Industrial Accidents Zone, which fence btw had razor wire on the top, so I thought maybe that wasn't the right way to go, and backtracked for a while. I found this nice restaurant,
It was only open in July I guess
Speaking of telefonos, I also saw a pay phone with a big sticker on it that said FUNCIONAL, and I tested it and did indeed get a dial tone. But do you think that someone comes around and removes the stickers when the phones stop working??
Still it looked like I might be able to get to the other fortress if I took an alternate route—I had to eyeball it though because Google kept saying "turn around and go to that shipyard!", and I kept getting deeper into territory where I didn't really want to have to go back the way I came. I think after that I was running through a water treatment plant. I got tangled up in some rusty barbed wire, fortunately not cutting myself. But the thing about adventure runs is that you shan't give up! And eventually I made it to the other fortress, and it was nice, and there was a beach but I don't really like being on the beach all that much.
I have been doing a lot of work on projects, despite having nothing to show off yet. Since the SIGBOVIK deadline is coming up, expect some hacks soon!