Pavol Rusnak #cypherpunk #hacker #openhw #privacy #bitcoin #newmediaart

Idea Factory - Facebook Random Comics

This post is a part of Idea Factory series.

Recently my friend sent me a link to this great random comic generator at Pandyland. My idea is to create a similar application but instead of the drawn figures it would use your friends photos from Facebook. One could check which of his/hers friends should appear in the comic (or leave it to a random chance), select the layout of the comic strip (e.g. 3x1 frames, 2x2 frames, etc.) and click the generate button. The application then calls the Facebook API which returns reasonable photos together with their metadata (such as who is in the picture and at what pixel position, the API already includes that kind of info in the results). Next step is to add speech bubbles filled in with either random sentences or leaving the bubbles empty so one can add his/hers own replicas. Lastly, a nice frames and a title are added, so the result could be shared back to Facebook or any other webiste as one image.

Idea Factory - Coin Counter

This post is a part of Idea Factory series.

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The idea is simple: create a mobile phone application that is able to count coins (and their values) from the photo. You pour coins from your wallet on the table, make sure they don’t overlap by spreading them, take a photo and voila the phone will tell you exactly how much money in coins you have. User can select what currency is she using (dollars/cents, euros/cents, etc., to make the recognition easier). Using OpenCV or some other computer vision library should make this task pretty easy.

Special points awarded if the application is using realtime augmented reality, but for this particular case it is not necessary.

Idea Factory

From time to time I come up with the “ultimate idea”, but because I don’t have usually time to implement it right away I put it in my backlog. Unfortunately, the backlog is growing bigger and bigger and I started to realize there are some ideas on the list to which I’ll never return, but still they would be nice to have. There are lots of bright minds out there, so I decided to start publishing the ideas from the backlog list. Maybe someone will find them interesting enough and implement them. Heck, maybe someone will be able to build a successful startup around some of them. For that case I put the donate section in the sidebar, so you can do me a favor once you are a millionaire. :-)

But, enough talking, here are the ideas! I’ll keep adding links to this list in the future:

  1. Coin Counter
  2. Github Semantic Patches
  3. Pack My Stuff
  4. Mycelium Animated Photos
  5. Facebook Random Comics

Ars Electronica Festival 2012

Last week I attended Ars Electronica Festival with an additional title “The Big Picture”. This was quite a new experience for me, because I usually visit technical conferences, while this one was more about art (but tech was of course present as well!).

The first evening in Linz I decided to spend with folks from hackerspace Linz called DevLoL. Technically, it’s not a hackerspace yet, because they are still waiting for their premises, but once they get them, it’s gonna be great! They are promised around 1000 square meters of space in a former tobacco factory, now a culture centrum called Tabakfabrik. Hopefully they’ll be able to do some amazing projects there soon. We had a great discussion about stuff we do at brmlab and I got some valuable input as well. It’s always nice to see more and more hackerspaces to appear in new places.

The other days were mostly about Ars Electronica. I attended quite a lot of expositions, talks and events. If you’ve never been to Ars Electronica Center, go there, their main exposition is amazing and the tickets are quite cheap (8 EUR full price).

During the festival these two projects caught my eye: CogniToo and BioBookCover. The first one is basically a tattoo of your fMRI scan. The times when people were tattoing the names of their loved ones are past, the future is having a fMRI scan of your brain while thinking about your love. :-) The second one is an attempt to create biodegradable (starch based) plastic, which can be made in amateur environment (like a kitchen) and will dissolve in few days (in contrast to few centuries) in nature if thrown away.

From the talks I mostly enjoyed the talk from Golan Levin. He started with the following image:

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I think it’s really a good way how to describe current efforts in technology. He didn’t said that explicitly, but my opinion is that artists are leaning towards interesting-beautiful side and hackers towards useful-interesting side of things. There are also other groups like for example designers, which are positioned somewhere else in the triangle. Golan showed us some examples of interesting-beautiful projects like: Most Wanted and Least Wanted Paintings by Komar Melamid, Every Playboy Centerfold by Jason Salavon or The Secret Lives of Numbers by himself.

Other nice talks I attended were about about Free Universal Construction Kit and Apertus, an open source camera. It’s nice to see that an idea of open-source hardware is advancing in these more-or-less artistic fields as well.

But undoubtedly, the main attraction of the festival were so called Klangwolke (Sound clouds). This is a tradition that happens on the bank of Danube river every year and this time there were around 90000 participating people. Around one thousand of them used an opportunity to make a big blinking letter during the festival and these were connected via network during the performance. The letters were not the only things blinking, we also had a chance to see buildings with projections and 50 quadcopters flying changing colour and flying in nice formations. See the video for yourself:

I’d like to thank all people I hanged out with (especially Prokop who made the trip possible and Szara who kindly sheltered me) and I hope I’ll be able to visit the event next year as well!

Convert PyQt4 Applications to PySide

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I just noticed (little bit late, but better later than never :-)) that PySide has become an official part of the Qt Project.

Thus I decided to rewrite all my PyQt4 applications to PySide. There are couple of options how to make your code to work with both PyQt4 and PySide, but in my opinion this adds a lot of cruft to the source code and there’s no reason to stay with PyQt4 so most of the systems will migrate to PySide in the near future. If you want to learn about these options anyway, consult the Supporting Both APIs section of the Differences Between PySide and PyQt at Qt wiki.

This document has also been a very helpful source of information for my simple script that converts your code from PyQt4 API to PySide. Please note that it’s not a 100% fully automated conversion, just a bunch of simple replacements and a scanner for problematic API usage like using QString, QVariant or the return value of QFileDialog methods. I am releasing it because I still do think it’s quite helpful and covers most of the cases.

Grab the source on github and of course you are welcome to send your patches/pull requests. :-)