Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Loom: Update 6

Okay, I'm still waiting for a space to set my loom up in. And my cat got sick on my laptop, thereby killing it (it's not salvageable apparently) and cutting my access to my max/msp and arduino files thusfar developed. Not a great week.

But I did make some progress, despite that. I re-did my warp, as it wasn't long enough the first time I made it, and it went A LOT faster the second time around (about 2 hours vs, uh, 10 hours last time). So that is now finally complete and attached to my top beam. Other things completed:

- Got the correct bolts in my top beam supports. It's all bolted up to the uprights and ready to go.
_ Got my shed stick cut and bolted to the bottom of the loom (for separating the front and back threads from each other)
- Put together xbee/accelerometer circuits to go on five of the 24 weights hanging from the warp
- Got my shuttle put together with the wireless accelerometer sensor + a lithium battery
- Rewrote my max patch to where it was before

Oh yes, the xbee is an addition, heh. I am combining this final with my Mesh Networking final, and making the weights wireless devices that send their values remotely. I will be keeping a wired version of the code and board handy though, in case some kind of wireless mishap takes place, which seems to always be a danger, and I don't want any of that at showtime.

This next week is just wrapping everything up I guess and well, getting the xbee stuff all working flawlessly as well as tweaking the sound still.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Loom: Update 3-5

Okay, a lot has happened since my last update, but much progress was made. Here's what I've finished over the last three weeks:

- The loom is completely built!

- I decided to white wash it... at first i thought about staining it a dark walnut color, but went the other direction entirely and chose to make it all white.

- I finished making the weights which will be used for maintaining tension in the warp threads. They are 11oz soda cans slipped into black + gold woven fabric pouches I had sewn up over the weekend. 2 yards of fabric yielded about 28 pouches that will fit a soda can snuggly, with 3-4" of extra fabric past the length of the soda can for tying to the warp threads. Even though I got about 28 pouches out of my fabric, I'm only using 24 weights.

- Today I finished making the warp (the vertical threads that hang down from the top beam).

This next week will consist of me setting up my loom in its full glory, and testing it out. There are still a few other tasks to take care of though. Specifically:

- Get a large enough drill bit so i can set the top beam's supports in place better with nuts.
- Sew the warp to the top beam.
- Attach the weights.
- Tie the back threads to the heddle (the bar that I'll be pulling to bring the back threads over the front threads)
- Attach the sensors to the heddle and 5 of the weights.
- Attach the wireless accelerometer to my shuttle. I finally got it in the mail today.
- And practice!

The last few weeks had some pretty frustrating moments. Making the warp was insanely difficult to manage alone. Typically it takes a couple people to get it done, but it was hard to find someone who had time to help me out. I did eventually get it done on my own, after working on it for about 10 hours.

Also, I had to switch materials for use in the warp (the vertical, hanging threads). I was using wool for felting before but switched to a chunky alpaca yarn, as the felt wasn't strong enough to hold the weights; it kept tearing.

I have realised that wood that has been pre-treated for staining and then stained, tends to splinter when you try to drill into it. I should have done all my drilling before painting it. Fortunately, this splintering only happened on my uprights while attaching the supports for the top beam, so it won't be too visible.

The project is coming along really well though; I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. From Thanksgiving on out, I should be able to use any time I have for rehearsal and max patch tweaking.

word charts/automatic diary

I've always wanted to have the diligence and lack of self-consciousness that would allow me to keep a diary (or a personal blog, for that matter). I would love to be able to reflect back on my days from last month, a year ago or 15 years ago. However much I've tried since childhood to keep a daily diary, I've never succeeded because I've always felt so self-conscious writing down my thoughts. That feeling plus a little bit of inherent laziness made it so that all of my attempts lasted no longer than 30 minutes for every five years.

I propose to develop a system that keeps a kind of unconscious diary, by capturing everything I type while on my computer (where I spend a large part of my day thinking and communicating), and performing a word analysis at the end of every day. From the analysis, I want to compile a top 10 daily word list, to keep record of the most frequent words used, and then a top 100 daily word list, to hopefully glean what kinds of general feelings or issues I had been dealing with throughout the day. Last.fm inspired me with their running charts, to go a bit further and also keep weekly and overall running word charts, to track how I progressed from certain discussions, events, and perhaps life phases over time.

The data will be written to text files and perhaps uploaded to a blog for keeping public record; this last detail I'm still working out. How much of myself I want to expose to everybody is still up for questioning. Also, whether or not I want to parse out groups of characters, such that would describe passwords and other private and irrelevant data is another consideration on my mind.