1shot #226-Sonday

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The thing about kids is that they can look right through you. My main man, Calder White.

DW

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TH&B United art show–Hamilton delivers again

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Hit the TH&B United group art show in The Hammer on Saturday. I liked a lot of the work. I liked the scale. I liked the venue. And what I really like is that Hamilton shows up!

This show at 270 Sherman Ave N was primarily composed of large-scale installations (yeah baby!) and some performance pieces. Sixteen projects from 22 artists. TH&B is the adopted name of the arts collective including Simon Frank, Dave Hind, Ivan Jurakic, and Tor Lukasik-Foss. If you’re kicking yourself for missing this show, you can still get a look during Doors Open Hamilton, May 2/3 10am-6pm or hit the closing gig on May 16 8pm-11pm.

This piece above is by Laura Marotta and is well executed with swinging components and doors and compartments. Shows really well here.

Click through for a completely unreasonable number of photos.

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Talking architecture with André Arsenault and Arden

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Big thanks to André Arsenault (right) for taking time out of his Saturday morning to talk with my daughter Arden about a career in architecture. We got connected through André’s wife Daisy via a recent blog post I did on the Douglas Cardinal talk at KPL.

André, a board member with Grand Valley Society of Architects, noted it was a timely chat given that the Ontario Association of Architects Spring 2015 publication Perspectives (PDF) was focused directly on our exploration and was themed “Dear Aspiring Architect…” Adding fuel to our journey are the words of editor Gordon S. Grice: “Exercising curiosity doesn’t just smarten you up, it gives you the courage to meet challenges.” And with that curiosity, we peppered André with questions and he shared the story of his path to the profession, covering everything from the personal characteristics the study demands, to the phases of design, to the nuts and bolts of exams and certification. It was extremely valuable to us and we appreciate his generosity.

It is, I believe, indicative of the good will of Waterloo Region, that a stranger would go out of their way to reach out and help us. That’s in our DNA here.

From King and Dupont, this is Waterloo.

DW

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Maker-made Event for All in planning

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People make things happen in your community. People like these people. Left to right: Cam Turner (of Maker Club), and from kwartzlab, Christine Van Walraven, Neil Eaton, Agnes Niewiadomski, Matt Bells, Ben Brown, Darcy Casselman, James Bastow, and then from makebright there’s me, Darin White behind the camera.

We met up Friday to get our planning freak on, ‘cause that’s how we party. I’m a few meetings behind, but I catch up fast. We’re working on a community event that is going to celebrate makers of all stripes and the stuff they make. We’re hoping you will support/sponsor/help/volunteer/exhibit/teach and above all, show up. Details are coming soon. I’ll keep you plugged into the meta as usual.

From Charles and Kent, this is Kitchener.

DW

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Reinhart and Hunt at The Boathouse

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I hit The Boathouse last Thursday night after a rather hectic week. Caught a great set of the mellow urban folk sounds of Mr. Michael Reinhart, born and bred in Kitchener and now hailing from Montreal. Opening for Michael was Roberta Hunt, who regular readers may recall brings the irrepressible joie de vivre (and I rarely use that term) of Dixieland jazz.

I caught this shot above of Michael through the window as I was leaving. The tail lights of a taxi on the street were reflected in the window so I did some photographer’s yoga to put that in an interesting place.

More pics…

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Palette’s physical controls of the virtual world

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Last month I stopped by the REAP’s Felt Lab in St Jacobs to see a talk by the folks from Palette. Palette makes configurable, USB-connected physical controls like sliders, buttons, and knobs that allow you to drive your software in ways beyond the usual mouse and keyboard. Above, Palette hand model and Community & Marketing Manager Ryan Van Stralen (rhymes with Van Halen) is hitting a button on the demo rig.

I first heard of Palette in the days before our FLASH photo show back in January. Company founder Calvin Chu reached out to see if there was a fit for his gear with FLASH, but with only two days until the event we were in full execution mode and couldn’t afford the time to explore that. However post-FLASH, I went back to check out this company and product coming out of UW’s Velocity Foundry hardware incubator and was intrigued on two counts. First, I’m a heavy Adobe Lightroom user in my photography and I’m always looking for ways to more efficiently drive my post-processing. The second point of interest takes us all the way back to 2006 when I was building a MAME arcade gaming rig and looking at prior research on connecting DIY electronics to computers via USB.

Back then, I discovered a wicked open source project called CREATE USB Interface (mirror) by a smart fellow named Dan Overholt out of UC Santa Barbara. Dan’s rig based on a Microchip PIC 18F4550 (aka tiny-computer-on-a-single-chip) utilized the integrated USB peripheral to link homebrew electronics to a PC as an HID (Human Interface Device, like a keyboard). I built the circuit he designed and flashed it with my own program to map button presses from my game controls to the game emulator running on a laptop. Pressing a button on my fly-wired board made a ‘j’ appear on the laptop and by that mechanism I was able to drive the whole game emulator. At the time, this amounted to magic. Back then Arduino had just been born, though it still used an RS-232 serial connection rather than the now more familiar USB link. Dan’s goal was to enable artists, electronic-musicians, and mere mortals to hook their rigs to the increasingly dominant USB port.

Fast forward to today when both serial and parallel ports have been dropped from laptops in favour of USB. Virtually every microcontroller vendor now offers chips with integrated USB. The de facto platform for makers everywhere, Arduino, now produces some boards with chips like the ATmega32u4 on the Leonardo that have built-in USB capability.

The point of this digression is to illustrate that it’s still kind of complicated to make USB peripherals, and twice as hard to make them easy to use. Therein lies the magic of Palette. Ok, well for me the magic is that the modules click together with awesome frickin’ magnets and the configuration UI automagically knows how they are arranged. The team has also done a lot of legwork with software vendors to get deep integration with popular packages like Adobe’s Lightroom and that makes all the difference.

I’ve got some more photos for you on the other side, but first a shout out to my friend and REAP workshop shepherd Joy Smith for the invite. You should all go to a Friday REAP jam at some point.

Now more pics…

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1shot #225-abandon shoes!

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Y’all know I’m out on the street a fair bit in WR. Always looking for signs on the trail. Look up. Look down. Where did that come from? Why is it here? Surrendering to a mashup of confirmation bias and humanly-flawed pattern recognition, I am finding abandoned shoes… everywhere. Not the more obvious strain of hanging-by-the-laces-from-power-lines, but rather the ground variety.

It all makes me wonder what set of circumstances led to these shoes being alone in a public place with no obvious owner. It could be good stuff: having the time of my life and kicking off my shoes! It could be dire: totally not doing ok and not having shoes on is the least of the problems. Having never seen the de-shoeing actually in progress, it’s hard to say.

From Victoria and Oak, this is Kitchener.

DW

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Unplug Your Robot with Critical Media Lab

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A couple weeks back, Brohemus and I stopped by a Critical Media Lab gig at the Kitchener Studio Project on Gaukel driven by Professor Marcel O’Gorman. On display and on tap for discussion were student projects from two of Marcel’s very makerly courses from the Department of English at The University of Waterloo. Above, Intro To Digital Studies (ENGL293) student Mike Reitmeier locked eyes with his robot…

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Architect Douglas Cardinal at KPL

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Arden and I are on a bit of an exploration of architect-as-career, as regular readers know. So when I saw that Canadian architect Douglas Cardinal (above) was speaking at the Kitchener Public Library on Tuesday, I signed us both up without really knowing who we were going to see. So it goes when you dive into a new domain. A little pre-outing googling told me that Cardinal had designed the Museum of Civilization (now renamed) in Ottawa that we totally loved during our visit back in 2010.

It was interesting to hear about the inspiration of Cardinal’s curvilinear designs and his grassroots engagement with people using his structures. Cardinal gently lamented our general condition of living in “meager boxes” and described some of the technical challenges that curves pose. In his first commission in 1968 for St. Mary’s Church in Red Deer, there was a computationally formidable set of equations describing the catenary curved roof of cables and concrete draped over the exterior walls. Sufficiently powerful hardware to solve that problem was eventually found in Texas and the roof was built with three inches of concrete and within budget.

Later in his career, it seems that politics, bureaucracy, money and egos proved the more daunting challenges. Cardinal described the urgency with which then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau wanted the Museum of Civilization built and ultimately created a crown corporation answerable only to the PM himself. That mechanism bypassed or at least consolidated the hurdles that would have to be surmounted to complete the site. Cardinal showed a photo of a house built into a hill and wryly observed that while it was called Cardinal Residence, it was in fact his ex-wife’s house now and noted the stresses of the museum project had cost him a 25-year marriage.

Underlying the whole evening for me was the regular delight of engaging a new crowd, a new domain, and a new place and feeling completely at home and welcome. That’s characteristic of Waterloo Region. Shout out to the folks of Grand Valley Society of Architects for putting on the event and to the sponsors for paying for it and to the KPL for hosting.

Click through for a few more pics…

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Soundscape–lake ice

This is the soundtrack of my youth. With my bedroom windows open, I could hear the waves rolling in to the beach when the water was rough. Miss this.

I shot this on Saturday night after dinner at the Boyd’s and learned, or rather re-learned a couple of things: 1. Shooting in anything more than a gentle breeze with my Z30 is going to require a much sturdier tripod mount that holds the whole phone still and 2. Even with radios and notifications off and capturing to device memory, my phone was dropping frames in the most inconvenient places. Might have to drop down to 720 for these soundscapes.

On Lake Huron near Murphy Beach, this is Sarnia.

DW

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