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squirmelia

Skyberries and Voidmelons or Voidberries and Skymelons


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What I did in August 2016

Musical Ballpit Sign

I created a musical ballpit and took it to EMFCamp! This consisted of a paddling pool filled with colourful plastic balls, and a camera watching over it, detecting motion (changes of colour), so that when people moved in particular locations in the ballpit, different sounds would be triggered. Before getting into the ballpit, they also had the opportunity to choose a sound set, by touching an object with a fairy wand: a plastic goat, a whoopee cushion, a floppy disk, a CD, a harmonica, and an angel. For example, if they touched the plastic goat with the fairy wand, when they got into the ballpit, and moved around, different animal sounds would be played when they moved in different locations: a cat miaowing, a cow mooing, etc.

While there are many things I'd do differently if I did it again, people had fun, and I particularly liked seeing adults who had never been in a ballpit before enjoy it. The musical ballpit was a silly idea I had last December, and I never imagined it would be something that would actually happen, but with deathboy's help, it did, so I'm quite proud that we managed to actually do this! Thank you everyone that helped also!

I had an amazing time at Electromagnetic Field (EMFCamp), camping in a field near Guildford. (From the website: "Electromagnetic Field is a non-profit UK camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.") It was very sunny! I caught up with old friends and met some new people, and at one point, there were about five different groups of people I knew in the bar! I watched people playing fire pong, watched a fire show accompanied by Super Mario music, was impressed by the amount of bunting in the Never Too much Bunting / Monochrome BBS village, listened to augeas talking about (and playing) chaotic music: oblique strategies against humanity, and Gavan talking about hobby electronics like a pro, and also went to talks on how to make your own wearable colour organ dress, lightning talks on a variety of subjects, designing and performing future instruments, saving milliseconds and wasting hours: a survey of tool-assisted speedrunning. I also played with the conference badge a bit, which had a microcontroller, LCD screen and wireless connectivity. I also made a UV torch. I am still planning on watching more of the talks that I missed, as a lot of them sounded great. I am very much looking forward to the next EMFCamp in 2018!

For my second exotic holiday of the month, I went to Hammersmith, for the Nine Worlds Geekfest. I listened to talks on: Accessible gaming for the neurodiverse (this was an interesting panel discussion about accessibility in games), Telling stories about technology (subjects such as washing machine interfaces and how to get Soylent out of vests), Players, creators and games (the role and visibility of the creator in games; ergodic literature; "the hand of the designer becomes more present in games when you are being punished or taught"), Creating virtual reality content for the web (This made me want to create some VR! "User interfaces in VR can be exciting - eating a burrito or jumping into a chalk painting." The idea of the exit burrito.), Technology for people (SMS is still useful and relevant; how do people organise bookmarks these days? Do people even still use bookmarks?; Jewellry that tells you when your period is due), How games work (panellists imagined cut scenes of Lemmings, showing clips of their home lives), lessons for academia from games, and short talks on theatre, music and games, I also watched a rather strange video game burlesque show. Pokémon burlesque! And Link from Zelda putting on clothes! And also, Paperboy! I met some excellent people, enjoyed dancing with friends at the disco, watched some of the cabaret, attempted to play at being a ninja in the Haberdashery games session, sang some songs in the Whedon singalong, and watched the guerilla Dr Magnethands (Dr Andy Magnets), which involved a story with strange suggestions from the audience written on bits of paper, and a banana having adventures. I helped jacquic with quests. I saw some excellent costumes. I met (and had my photograph taken with) No Face. I was amused by abigailb's Panel Panel.

After Nine Worlds, I returned home and played a nightclub simulator that had been mentioned in one of the talks.

I didn't manage to make much art for naarmamo (National Art Making Month), but I did make a Poké ball cross-stitch and a collage.

I went to Pub Standards.

I ate sushi with deathboy and strawberry cheesecake mochi.

I got new glasses and the world looked clearer.

I walked around the back streets of Camden, Mornington Crescent and through Hyde Park, at an Ingress meet, one evening, and around Holborn another evening.

I did some missions and completed a London skyline banner and a Birmingham skyline banner.

I walked down (a contender for) the narrowest street in London, Emerald Court.

I watched the Groundhog Day musical with songs by Tim Minchin, with Monika, and outside were cranes that looked like they were holding up the moon.

I went to an augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality workshop. I put on the Hololens and tried making virtual scorpions which were crawling out of the real wall go away by pinching them. I tried the Vive, and petted a virtual robot dog and threw sticks for it which it then fetched, and looked at some mountains. I fired arrows from a bow at invaders who were trying to ransack the castle. I also painted squiggly patterns in the air and attempted to tie a virtual snowman up with glowing lines.

I visited Down Street tube station, which has been closed since 1932, and was used during the Second World War as a bunker by Winston Churchill.

I travelled to Birmingham for the bank holiday weekend, and went to my first Ingress Anomaly. This involved about 850 or so people playing Ingress together in Birmingham, with the two teams battling over specific portals. I remember at one particularly poignant point standing in the rain on one side of the street with other people wearing green, frantically tapping on my phone, while the people on the other side of the street were wearing blue and also frantically tapping on their phones. My team didn't win in the end, but it felt like we had a good game, and afterwards, there was bright green cake!

The day after the Anomaly, I also attended an Ingress Mission Day. This involved walking around set routes in Birmingham, so I got to see quite a lot of Birmingham. I haven't spent much time in Birmingham before, so found it interesting to look around.

August has been such a busy month! My September is looking quite a lot quieter, so I may have time to actually reply to emails and make plans with people, so maybe, just maybe, we can hang out, and do fun things?

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It looks like you did a great job on the ball pit! Nine worlds also looks fun; I think it escaped my radar this year so maybe next year I'll go :)

Nine Worlds was fun! Although I mostly went to games and tech related talks, there were lots of other things going on too.

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Thanks! It was good to see you too!

I remember you said you were feeling ill.. Hope you recovered and got to enjoy Nine Worlds in the end!

While I don't remember the Stories about Technology session that well now, I do remember that it was quite entertaining, but also that there were things that were said that annoyed me as a UX designer, so maybe they would have annoyed you also, so perhaps best you missed it. ;)

The ballpit is such a great thing to have done!

Thanks! I should get around to actually writing it up. I learnt a lot from it that would be useful if I run some kind of installation again in the future.

I've told loads of people about your musical ball pool! I've been in lots of ball pools now, for child-related purposes, and I find them quite soothing.

I'm very very busy until mid-September as I have to visit 21 pubs and write about them all, but maybe see you at the next Tube Walk?

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