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Things That Fit Together

This week we learned new tools for constructing 3D objects. Our assignment is to use what we learned to build something with two parts that fit together.

My idea for this assignment was to build a phillips-head screw. I had a real screw that I used to model my Rhino screw. I began by making careful observations of the screw with a magnifying glass because I wanted the threads, curvature, and proportions to be as realistic as possible. I used digital calipers to take measurements that I incorporated into my design sketch.

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It took a lot of experimentation to figure out how to do this. I settled on an approach using Rhino's Taper and Helix commands. After tapering a helix shaped line, I can then use that line with the Sweep1 command to make the threads. It is important to taper before adding the threads because the Taper command distorts the threads in an unrealistic way.

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Signage and Information Systems

This week's topic is signage and information systems. Our assignment was to find examples of well designed signage and analyze what it is that makes it effective, and to find examples of poorly designed signage.

My first thought of poor signage is in Brooklyn Bridge Park. I live in the area and do volunteering there on a regular basis. In the park there is a path running through the entire area that is open to bicycles and pedestrians. Here is an example:

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There is a mixture of people and bicycles everywhere. It's hard to notice the tiny blue sign in the middle that instructs bicyclists to stay on one side of the path and pedestrians on the other side. There are only a couple of signs like this anywhere along this mile-long path. This is an accident waiting to happen.

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First Electronics Lab and Weekly Readings

Electronics Lab

Our assignment was to create something using switches. My goal was to use 3 switches and a 3 color LED to make a circuit that can produce any color.

First I wired a circuit with a 3 color LED, 3 1K Ω resistors, and 3 buttons, like so:

/images/itp/pcomp/week2/three_buttons_equal_resistance.jpg

I am using my Arduino to power the board. Each button can be on or off, so this can produce 8 different colors. In the picture below I am activating the blue and red colors, making magenta.

/images/itp/pcomp/week2/three_buttons_equal_resistance_on.jpg

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Introduction to Rhino

For our first class, we were introduced to the Rhino modeling program. Our assignment was to build something that fits in a 3 inch cube using the commands we learned about in the lecture.

My goal was to make a standard rook chess piece. To begin, I created a new workspace with millimeter settings (as instructed by Xuedi) and turned on the grid snap. Using the Polyline command, I drew a rough outline of the contour. My intention was to later use the Revolve command.

/images/itp/3d_printing/week1/rook1.jpg

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Basic Design Principles

Our first assignment is to choose a design we like and analyze its adherence to the principles of design. We needed to look at the grid system, color system, and the fonts.

I picked the movie poster for the movie The Grey. I find the imagery to be visually striking in a way that is consistent with Liam Neeson's character in this movie.

The most primary feature of this poster are Neeson's eyes. His eyes are the most noticeable and are the only blue thing illustrated on the poster. After his eyes, the prominent features are the movie's title and the redness of his mouth and the cut on his face.

/images/itp/visual_language/week1/the_grey_poster.jpg

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Sound Walk and Week 1 Readings

The Gaits: A High Line Soundwalk

A Soundwalk is a directed walk with a focus on listening to sounds instead of viewing sights. I went on The Gaits Soundwalk, a soundwalk commissioned by the High Line park in NYC. This is an above-ground park built on raised railway tracks abandoned years ago.

The Gaits Soundwalk is experienced with a phone app that only functions when the user's phone is actually on the High Line. I actually thought the app was broken when I arrived at the beginning of the High Line on Gansevoort St. It began making bell noises when I started to ascend the stairs.

For the first five minutes or so the Soundwalk consisted of only intermittent bell noises that would slow down or stop when I stopped walking. As I moved along, the walk got more interesting. The bells sped up, and then an organ was added. I heard water churning at several locations, and while at sections of the walk with seating for viewing parades or other city activity, I heard applause. There were also birds chirping in the section of the walk with a lot of trees. Unfortunately there was construction and scaffolding covering everything so there were no actual birds to be seen. Still, I do appreciate the synchronicity to the environment.

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What is Interaction?

The Art of Interactive Design

In Chris Crawford’s book, The Art of Interactive Design, Crawford defines interactivity in terms of a conversation. Specifically, interactivity is a cyclical process of two actors taking turns listening, thinking, and speaking.

Unfortunately, the word "Interactive" is often explained or defined poorly, and as a result is poorly understood by our culture. The term gets added to products as a buzzword to make them sound better, but often the objects don’t really "interact" in a way as described by Crawford’s definition. There is no "conversation" or cyclical process.

A literal conversation between two people fits this definition literally, but when the interaction is between a human and an electronic device, the steps become input, process, and output. Key point though is that there are two actors, not one. Each actor is some kind of "purposeful creature," so a wall or a rug cannot be interactive.

It isn’t always clear if something is interactive or not. Rather than being a boolean thing, there are different degrees of interactivity. We can evaluate high or low levels of interactivity by evaluating the quality of the listening, thinking, and speaking steps. Excelling in one area does not compensate for failures in another. A common design error when building interactive products is to fail to appreciate this idea.

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