Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bluetooth tags

There are three Indiegogo campaigns for bluetooth tags going on right now. How do I choose between them?

Bringrr – little tags that connect to your phone; you can get as many as you want; mobile app focuses on helping you find your lost keys by showing arrows on your phone’s screen if you’re close by, or pushing a button on the app to make the tag beep. Has an optional car charger that checks for your phone’s presence and beeps if you don’t have it (so you don’t drive away without your phone). The coolest thing about this one: you can attach tag names to your google calendar events and it’ll alert you if you don’t have the tags near you at that time. Which is actually amazing. This team seems the most interested in integrating with all aspects of your life (calendar; google glass app), which is wacky but cool.

Duet – little tags; up to ten; mobile app focuses on alerting you proactively if the tag leaves proximity of your phone (by beeping both things), also allowing you to set hours for it or turn it off if you’re in the library. Again, you can make the tag beep from your phone. If you leave your phone behind but take your tag with you (if it’s on your keys, say), it’ll make one or both beep. I don’t know if you can use the tag to make your phone ring (to find your phone).

GoKey – usb to lightning or microusb charger AND battery, usb drive (up to 32gigs), bluetooth locator (use your phone to make your GoKey ring, or press a button on your GoKey to make your phone ring). The app for this one doesn’t seem as robust (as the Bringrr) but it’s useful enough. This one is probably the winner since it does so much, but I have an iPhone 4s. Nicky actually mentioned this one yesterday, and I didn’t even know about it!!!!

In terms of what I actually want out of this device, well, I don’t know. Something that rings my keys or rings my phone. I guess I kinda do want to tag a lot of things. And in terms of my values, I guess, I kinda dig how crazy the Bringrr people are (google glass app lol lol lol). So I’m kinda going GoKey > Bringrr > Duet? except I’d only get the GoKey if I gave up and got an iPhone 5.

I mean, at this point, I might as well hold out for a magic device that also counts my steps, calibrates and tracks how steady I can hold my yoga poses, streams music to bluetooth earphones or a jambox, connects to a different device to tell me when my laundry machine stops moving, waters my plants, senses temperature and humidity, controls my LED lightbulbs by turning them on when I’m near, automatically senses if my friends are within a block and are open to meeting up, helps me find friends at concerts, slices bread, alerts me when my favorite constellations are in view, helps me take selfies by being a remote control for my phone, alerts me if I’m walking in an area with public surveillance cameras, can be worn as a fashionable wristwatch, fashionable necklace, or clipped on to my belt loop, and is also a vibrator that your partner can control from their mobile. I mean really.


support OpenHatch!

OpenHatch is running a crowdfunding campaign! Please throw dollars at OH so they can run more Open Source Comes To Campus events and bring skills/knowhow/cookies to people who are interested in contributing to open source but don’t know where to begin. Help them succeed in their mission of increasing diversity in open source!

Clearly, the custom Sufjan drawing is the best perk. BABBY PENGUINS FOR EVERYONE

I have volunteered at just one OpenHatch event, and it was awesome. I rambled about different paths to software and taught a whole lot of people how to submit pull requests on github. My sister has attended one too, in Boston, and brought people and learned a bunch.

Riot’s music video for Jinx

I’m totally fascinated by Riot’s strategies for hyping new content. This is an actual song, with a custom-animated music video, and the vocals are done by Agnete Kjølsrud, who is from a Norwegian rock band ( , and what?

She has wikipedia pages in other languages, but not on the english wikipedia. Her link on the goes to her older band,

I’m fascinated because the LoL community still feels sort of small enough to touch. I kind of love the intersection between different forms of mass media now. Riot is brilliant: they wrote interesting stories, inspired fans to do crazy things, then harnessed the massive creative energy from fans with the Summoner Showcase, and now I feel like it’s gone even further–rather than simply relying on fans to make awesome homages, they’ve incorporated this style as part of their entire marketing strategy. I think they are brilliant.

It TOTALLY WORKED, here, for me. I haven’t played LoL for ages, but I’m looking at now. Plus… I mean come on, she’s a female anarchist marksman. Why does that work? It seems so easy to rope me in. I guess we’re all products of our culture, so our psychology is predictable. Here we are, now; entertain us.

Seriously, though, why does this ‘lightning-blasting anarchist femme unpredictable’ trope on a female character work for me? I didn’t sigh and turn away, because: because what? Because even though she’s in a bikini top, at least she doesn’t have enormous boobs, and that’s actually really noteworthy? Because I’m fascinated by stories about women who are feminine but not? “Do you ever wanna catch me? Can you try a little harder?” she asks, and I guess I’m trying really hard to find something in there about gender/power, though LoL has male characters that have a “catch me if you can” attitude, too. I’m fascinated about what this says about us, and where we’re at in terms of video game culture, and being delighted that kill bill-type female chaos-bringers are in vogue.

dance with me // google glass

Sarah set up her Google Glass yesterday.

Here’s one of my favorite ribbon dance moves as seen by other people:

And here it is as seen by me:

The move that I’m referring to is the sequence that I repeat twice: two circles waving my arms upwards and reaching up while kicking my left leg back, skipping forward, and then two circles waving my arms downwards and skipping backwards, and then one bounce of the ribbons at the bottom, and then ending with a big flourish upward again, holding the ribbons mid-flight so they float for a beat. I love it so much because of the ecstasy of reaching up, like I’m reaching for the sun, like my chest can’t possibly contain my heart, like my ribbons are an expression of everything inside me rushing out to meet the day.

I remember working so hard on that move in dance class. I remember our dance teacher barking at us to reach up higher, to jump higher, to kick back higher. I remember her admonishing us to bend down lower, and when I bent down lower, my sweat would fly off of my forehead and smack on the floor. I remember how good it felt to jump as high as I could, and then hear my teacher’s voice, and then jump higher, somehow, on the next round. I remember flying. I remember the afternoon sunlight spilling across the wooden floor through the door, the warm rhomboid glow reflected in the mirror. I remember when class ended and we were sweaty and red-faced and panting, and it was so hot, the south bay in mid-summer, and our teacher pulled out her giant fan and we got tiny cups of water from the water jug in the tiny hallway and went to the fan and lolled. I remember feeling alive.

Imagine twelve people doing that move in a circle, facing inward. The result is a pulsing amorphous flower that flashes impossibly into existence and scatters apart just as suddenly. It’s a swirling vortex, and it’s a heart beating, and it’s unbridled joy and creation and I remember watching home videos of our performances on VHS, breathless. I know now that I don’t have to wait for instructions from anyone else to make that happen again. Will you make a giant flower with me? Will you dance with me? I can start calling around and seeing if I can order more of these ribbons, or we could figure out how to make more. I think it’s silk, but I’m not sure.


Glass is fun! I know it’s really early, and I know I could achieve the same effect by strapping my phone to my forehead, but it’s still kind of dazzling to try on.

I really want to see first-person views of all kinds of dancing! I want to see 32 fouettés en tournant. Someone please get my favorite ballerina, Maria Kochetkova, a pair of Glass!!! How can we conspire to make this happen?! I love her Instagram posts, so we know she loves social media… maybe we can ask if she’d wear Glass for a day? Has this already happened in the world?? We live in San Francisco, so surely someone has already done this. Right?

Sarah wants to make lip-reading software that subtitles people speaking to you in real time. I want to make all kinds of things, things like twitter handles (or league of legends names!) showing up on top of peoples’ heads (one of the things I miss most about WoW is how easy it is to stay in touch with someone: their name is above their head, and if you danced on the Ironforge bridge together for no reason other than you were both wearing ridiculous outfits, you could just add them).

But I also want to make something that traces peoples’ hands as they wave them around, of course. More ribbons. It won’t be the same unless I find some kind of amazing physics engine and learn about wind and fluid dynamics (since in real life the ribbon doesn’t do exactly what your hand traces–there’s gravity and momentum and flinging the ribbon out to catch in the air and such) … but I should at least start with tracing people’s hands. Maybe lots of Glass apps already do that (many of the early Kinect apps did that).

And maybe waving your arms around to learn to write Chinese, which was always a dream of mine for the Kinect.

There’s a lot.

Also I went to Burning Man. I need to write a lot about it.

I am not the same.


Last weekend, maiki and susan invited me out with emma clover for a walk to the berkeley marina. Even though I’d lived in Berkeley for like nine years, I hadn’t actually walked all the way there from anywhere inside of Berkeley. I’d always taken the bus or gotten a ride in. There’s a bunch of new construction and a pond and it was nice to see the other side (namely, the top side) of the foot bridge that you always see when you drive between the university st exit and the bay bridge.

I brought my props from when I did red ribbon dance ~fifteen years ago. When we did it, we only had red ribbons, so I’m partial to that setup (rather than the pastel ones in the video). Maybe one of these days I’ll find a glorious, glorious recording on vhs buried in a box somewhere in my parents’ house. I loved Chinese dance. I loved the golden hoop dance, which I did in third grade–the golden hoops were cardboard or something, were big enough to reach 3/4 of the way to my elbow when I held them in my hands and twisted them back on my arm, covered in gold fabric, with bells attached at three-inch intervals around the loop; we had a red costume with a knee-length flared red skirt and black leggings with a red ribbon wound up over my calves); I remember the black ribbon edging with small gold marks. I loved shan di wu, which I did with Amy and Cathy when I was in kindergarten or first grade and they were even younger–again with a red costume, again with bells but this time sewn directly onto the costume, lining the hem of my skirt (so you’d have to be REALLY careful when the dance required you to kneel down: kneeling on those bells really hurt!) and several lines of bells going across my torso (no wonder I love the dangly coins in my belly dance costume so much). I remember the yellow contrast edging made from that stuff that was all over fabric stores in the 80s–the sort of wavy edging that you could stitch on to your fabric that looks almost corrugated. And again there were black leggings with red ribbon tied up our calves, starting from our dance shoes and going up. I remember struggling to tie it not too tight, but tight enough so that the top wouldn’t sag down. You’d have to knot it at the top and then tuck the knot in, and do it all at the top of the calf (not the middle, or it would sag), so that the smaller circumference at the top of the calf would be something for the ribbon to hang on to.

But my favorite of all the dances was the red ribbon dance. Like I mentioned, our troupe only used red ribbons, but hilariously in Chinese the dance was referred to as “彩帶 ” — “colored streamer dance”. cai means “variegated colors” but I guess red is a color, and we knew that other troupes that did ribbon dances did them with lots of colors, so I’d always noticed that. But we only used red.

Maybe there’s a reason my favorite color is red. Or maybe I’ve always loved red and that was an added bonus in Chinese dance. Red’s a lucky color in Chinese culture, anyway.

I need to iron my ribbons, and also, my ribbons actually say “Annie” on them, so they’re really my sister’s. I wonder where mine are. Sorry, Annie. Do you want them back?

In retrospect, it might have been nice to give clover a little bit of time to sit quietly with her family on the bench at the marina, but I was excited, so I took my ribbons out right away. I’d never tried playing with them in the wind. It was ridiculous.

Susan got some pretty fantastic pictures:

dancing ribbons

e’s best day

clover watches carefully and learns so fast. The first couple of times we put the handle in her hand, the wind snatched the ribbon away, squiggling along the concrete into the grass. Soon enough clover held on fast, and watched the ribbon stream away from her. She tried to chase it, sort of, and the wind took it away, of course, and we called her back to us. She looked up at us, and I was making a big circle with my arm, holding the ribbon, so she didn’t hesitate at all and made the biggest circle she could too, with her little arm, and away the ribbon went, in tiny circles, rippling in the air.

I do miss chinese dance, but unlike ballet, I feel like I’d be hard-pressed to find a studio where I could do it as an adult. I guess I just have to teach a bunch of friends. xD

life has to be worth living

Here’s an nyt article on nostalgia.

The experimenters induced nostalgia by playing hit songs from the past for some people and letting them read lyrics to their favorite songs. Afterward, these people were more likely than a control group to say that they felt “loved” and that “life is worth living.”

More likely? This means there exist people answering these questionnaires who don’t feel loved and don’t feel like life is worth living. What do you do when you’re a researcher and someone hands your form back to you and it says that they don’t think that life is worth living?

Maybe you couldn’t read the form until after they left, because all you do is collect it. Maybe you don’t even know whose form it is, because everything’s double-blind and anonymized and analyzed only in aggregate. What if you had been walking by when they were filling those forms out at those little circular faux-wood tables like I always imagine are used in rooms for clinical studies, and you happened to see them circling the “life is not worth living” option?

What can you do? Do you give them a hug?

How can we make the world a place where every human believes that life is worth living? How? How?