Art Arcs, Alexa Meade's new awesome project!

Alexa Meade has been working really hard at bringing a new creativity toy to life.

ArtArc color tiles are tiles that when arranged together can form beautiful geometric artistic art (or arctistic art :-)). Super fun to play with and totally habit forming, creativity can be expressed in ways not usually considered.

Alexa is known for making art that requires one to think when they look at it, and her newest project makes you spatially smarter as you play with it.

Follow the ArtArc Instagram to see more amazing geometric shapes.

 

Welcome to the plant

Yep, you're probably here because you are interested in what I am doing. Well, it's still kind of under wraps but suffice it to say, we're building the experiences of tomorrow today. If you would like to throw money at me, I'd like to give you a hi-5 for being a clever man or woman, but I'm not a stripper and I've discovered that pocket change really hurts when it hits your skin.

Oh, you wanted to invest? Oh, well yes, we should talk because while I am self funding this operation right now, I would love to have more leverage.

So email me and we can setup a time to talk - christopher.hughes@gmail.com

7 weeks in Sweden - A mini rebootcamp for life.

In military circles BCT or basic combat training is the first 10 weeks of an american soldiers life. Depending on military branch of service, (ooohrah you marines) it goes a bit longer. But nevertheless, there is a set period for a time when for that young soldier, nothing in his or her world will make any sense, life will be dictated to them, to instill in them the lessons needed for the upcoming tasks at hand. Generally, they've made this decision voluntarily (Sweden stopped compulsory military service in 2010) but for many that is one of the last free decisions they will make for a period of time.

7 weeks was the time I spent on an engineering mission while I also took the time to regather some persecutive. Choice is a funny thing, too much choice and you're left stuck in indecision; too little, you're angry. Life seems to run best in a state of balance. When I am in a space of that sort, I find it best to get lost in solving a problem.

That decision to go to Sweden changed me.

The big news is that I am putting the engineering team of my new company in Malmö and accelerating the life plan of spending half the year stateside, and the other half in Sweden. Being a multi-continent citizen is something I have wanted as a part of my life for quite sometime, rather than continuing to have it as some distant dream. I might as well flex my "do muscle" and make a go of it. Historically, these sorts of scenarios have worked out very well for me. While my first trip back will be longer than 6 months, I have to get a house, start the Swedish company, open bank accounts, but first I must get permitted to work there. All of these are surmountable goals. I've already began the process of cultivating a strong network of supporters and possible colleagues, started to connect with the entrepreneurial and software engineering groups, and slowly but surly things are falling into place. The current task at hand is to show some of the advancements that were made while I was in Malmö, raise some capital, and go back. The plan is to return to Malmö by years end.

The only constant is change. 

I did not go to Sweden with this plan in mind, but an awesome plan was forged out of being open to the changes that were present. So the current mission is to cleanup the nascent things that I have remaining here in the states and get back to building this new chapter in a distant land. The growing I've found myself into has been wonderful, really awesome to be in a place where you can actually feel the un-comfortability of unfamiliar processes and scenarios. My brain is actually thinking again, it's forced to, and that is wonderful.

 

Jantelagen - Trying to be exceptional in a country with a rule against it.

So someone should've told me this lesson way before I had to learn it on my own, having been in the country of Sweden for a few weeks I began to wonder why the locals were mildly turned off by me, being me. Then a polite Swede named Bella, pulled me aside and told me of the "Law of Jante". HOLY EFFING SHIT. It might as well have been the "Chris can't be Chris Law". Read the wiki page on this but I'll just include them below.

  1. You're not to think you are anything special.
  2. You're not to think you are as good as us.
  3. You're not to think you are smarter than us.
  4. You're not to convince yourself that you are better than us.
  5. You're not to think you know more than us.
  6. You're not to think you are more important than us.
  7. You're not to think you are good at anything.
  8. You're not to laugh at us.
  9. You're not to think anyone cares about you.
  10. You're not to think you can teach us anything.

But, but, what am I supposed to... wait, what? THIS CANNOT. WTF? I can't, wait what? 

That's what my brain did in an attempt to process this bit of information.

Hmm, well isn't this gonna be a fun challenge. A lot of the self identification that I do is based on my semi-high perception of self and yet, I have to try and build a startup where that is generally frowned upon.  Startup culture is a fun one, it's about the birth of ideas, the making of real things, and the cycle of taking something from conception to execution.  Speaking executions... I KILL IT BRO (or MAM.. this is an egalitarian culture). Oh wait, I can't say that here. Shit.

So, what is a loud mouthed, semi-self centered, American to do?

Apparently, fail miserably in this country.

But to me failure isn't an option, so I just have to adapt. Being a data minded geek, clearly this is something that other entrepreneurs have had to deal with in this country, clearly the process of pitching, raising capital, or taking products to market has been a process that someone else has managed to figure out. So I went about collecting data on how other people have done it. One of the more successful companies in Sweden is TAT.se. They sold to RIM and the founders are local heroes. So I've meet with the founders for a fika (swedish for a coffee break).

TAT is short for THE ASTONISHING TRIBE.... wait, you called yourself astonishing! That's a violation of rule 1, 3, and 5. Ah, but you also made it an acronym. Well done riding the line of Jante there! That's just one example of the hoops one must hop through.

This forced humility is an interesting one for me. As I've grown more comfortable with Swedish culture, I've started to preface my conversations and actually soften my tone a bit. This has been a VERY interesting process for me. Balancing american my swagger with the intrinsic empathy required is HARD AS HECK. Growing up in Los Angeles, a city where almost everyone goes there to try and be someone else or run away from who they were, the city is just a stage for people to try on their new "character".

Being a LA native, I never thought it strange, it was my normal. Coming to Malmö the new "normal" is very not normal for me.  I've actually heard people here ask me to try and be "less american", what the heck does that even mean? But being an adaptable creature I am figuring it out. The plan is to spend 6 months of the year in Sweden, the other 6 in the states. It's fun as heck to consider that I am going to be building stuff in such a interesting climate. One thing is certain, I'm back to learning how to do things. Wish me luck, but I'm working at it.

 

The harder you practice, the luckier you get.
— Gary Player

Being a narcissistic asshole. (AKA Being a disruptive technology adopter)

Hey you, look at me when I am talking to you. I'm what's important, well not just me, but the also the amazing words that are coming out of my mouth (or in this case keyboard). They are amazing not only because I am saying/writing them, but also because once you process them, you'll agree I was right!

In doing some googling for this note, I found much like it's definition of literally, google also dropped the ball on the word narcissism.

So, I read this thing this morning about how CEOs of companies who have more narcissistic traits are more adept to embrace disruptive technologies, eschewing the perception of the risks and moving forward in spite of them. The article goes on to outline the following traits as present among the sample set of CEOs.

  • a "strong sense of superiority"
  • a drive to “dominate their environments”
  • a “high degree of restlessness”
  • a “lack [of] empathy”
  • a “strong need for attention and applause” 

I'd like to take a moment and touch on each one, because I don't look at all of these traits and think them wrong, in fact I see some of them as essential... but then again, I'm probably narcissistic CEO. 

A strong sense of superiority. 

This one is interesting, because we're talking about the Chief Executive Officer of a company. Literally (not in google's whackass way of defining it) the CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER , the title if read literally means that this executive is the chief or principle decision maker, sure, there are checks and balances in place (boards, shareholders, employee representatives) but ultimately, the decisions are made by one person. How is it possible that this person would not have a sense of "superiority"? He or She's been assigned (maybe self so) the title of Chief.  Do we want the chief to do a good job? Do we want him or her to waffle on their thought? Do we want this person to not have a clear sense of the direction of the company? So, then why are we maligning this trait, the one that has been kinda bestowed as part of the job?

 

A drive to dominate their environments.

Because the business landscape should be one where everyone should get to sell the same amount of cars, or computers, or phones. Perhaps we should keep a running tally of each product shipped, and tell our competitors that we've made 10 innovations today and are going to hold up until they catch up. Because we should be fair, this is a sandbox where everyone should play for the same amount of time with each of the toys. Yep....

 

A high degree of restlessness. 

... 

A lack of empathy. 

This one is hard. This is something that I think is a big problem. I hate that CEOs probably get a disproportionate amount of the blame for this, but, I can understand how and why. There is no explaining this one away. This is just bad behavior and a lot of people in positions of power abuse their positions. This is something that should be looked at critically and honestly, because this is something that needs to be fixed.

I can speak to my issues with respect to empathy, and more specifically to not being empathetic with my words or with my actions. This is something that I have really been working on, to try and make my words as literal as possible so that they aren't misinterpreted by the listener. This is an attempt at empathy. In my opinion, words are just handles to ideas and the words you use create thoughts in the minds of other people. Here's a silly example of misinterpretation. 

 

hey, this girl back home wrecked my head
— me

Someone with an understanding of my flair of language will know that I'm talking about something that does not involve taking a 2x4 (for the europeans) to the back of the head. This is an important concept to grasp and in my time in working on it, the interactions with other minds in the world have gone a lot smoother. This is further accentuated by my recent time in Sweden, not every american colloquialism is known to every swede, so the blank stares I get sometimes in my idle conversations have forced me to attempt to speak more clearly and thus more empathetically.

 

A strong need for attention and applause.

OK, ya got me there! Anything a person pays attention to they think is important. Having people think we're important is kind of a cool feeling. It's nice, sure it should probably be a fleeting experience so as to not completely delude us into terrible creatures. It is still something, like any decadent feeling, a nice one to have. Now, if we're good at delivering value, consistently, than I see no problem with the support and praise we get from others.

I'm a person who only recently understood the value of flowers. Flowers are awesome, they are beautiful, they are honest, and they make the world a more amazing place. When given to people, they're generally seen as thoughtful. They can be arranged, allowing the giver to express their creativity and the use of their time to show that they are thinking about the receiver. They are a display of beauty as old as time really and the simple pleasure of getting or giving them changes the world.

Up until recently, this was an understanding I was completely devoid of and one I mourn I did not understand earlier.  This need for attention and specifically and attention to detail is just a form of caring. Being cared about feels great. The feeling of caring for others is really great too. But to not get addicted to that feeling or to supply that addiction is hard. So I think just being mindful is the best approach here. It's okay to want to be attended to, but to expect it is too much.

 

Closing Thoughts. 

There is a huge difference between being an entrepreneur and the traditional view of what a CEO does. Yet, many entrepreneurs become or self assign the title of CEO. In my career, I've only recently started to consider wearing the Chief hat. Most of the time, I've been that founding technical talent, the workhorse that gets the company from the idea to the minimum viable product and the first hire or two. Now through, either through growth or insanity, I sit at the precipice of a new venture and am likely appointing myself CEO. This is a strange feeling because my yet to be found co-founders will probably have the role I'm most used to and I can foresee that this can be a point of contention. But growth isn't always easy and one should always choose growing when you can. I'm looking forward to seeing how my traits will evolve as I go through this new phase of growth. In my last venture I got a number of valuable lessons from my partners, namely the value in listening and being a bit more patient. While I didn't agree with every decision (and yelled sometimes till I understood I probably wasn't going to get my way) I learned that not every successful idea has to be mine, even the technical ones.

The song and dances of dog and pony show. (AKA Being an entrepreneur)

Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now.
— PT Barnum

That's a nice bit of advice from a guy who ran a novelty sideshow. It's that "hair on fire" sort of urgency that creates the most amount of growth in ones life, cause if your hair is on fire you'll do what you need to to put it out. It's something that my parents instilled in me, a desire to get up and just get it done. To never be afraid of hard work, cause hard work is what men and women are made of. But to also know that we are known by what we do, that it's our body of works that define us. We may be known for being good at a number of things, but we are generally respected for the thing we focus on and hone. An artist is defined by the art they create, a hacker by they hacks performed, a carpenter by the woodwork he does. Speaking of carpenters.

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
— A good carpenter

For those of you who know me well, you'll know that I am the product of two parents who are ministers, but they've never taken a salary for their work in that, it's for their view of the betterment of society to give and in theory have it given back to them. No, they've opted to always work at a small business that they've ran together for the better part of 30 years. This was the environment that I grew up in, one of hopeful entrepreneurship.

It's a nice model to grow up in really, many say that entrepreneurs are delusional, and they are right. We must be. We must be deluded enough to get up every day and believe that the rest of the world is going to accept our version of reality and hopefully, adopt it as their own. That our gizmo is so amazing they are going to want one for themselves, that our app is so awesome clearly the populace is going to see it's value and part with their dollar. It's that unbridled delusional passion that keeps a person at this task, day in and day out.

Often times the ones that are successful have to love what they did, so they could persevere when it got really tough, and the ones that didn’t love it, quit, ‘cause they’re sane! Right??! Who would want to put up with this stuff if you didn’t love it? It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of worrying, constantly, so if you don’t love it, you’re going to fail. So ya gotta love it, you’ve gotta have passion. That’s the higher order bit
— Steve Jobs

But one of the recurring themes in all of this is that the person who is doing the big ideas also has to be great at communicating them. Being empathetic enough to the hearer so that they might also understand the value of the idea being conveyed. But also being bold enough to say, "Hey, this is great, you should have this in your life! Aren't you glad I told you about it!".

You've got to be your own pitchman (or woman), you have to be willing to tell random strangers about the good news you have to bring.  That this idea is the best thing since sliced bread, that you have something that is worth having. Because a great idea is just that, an idea, but a great execution is the only thing that matters. Literally, the same fantastic ideas are had by disparate people all the time, and then it's effectively a race, a race to the execution. But to the entrepreneurs who keep their light under a bushel (about 32 liters for you europeans), guarded, kept secret, and slowly developed. Their idea once out of oxygen, burns out.

That's why if you have an idea that you want to spread like wildfire you better stoke the flame and work tirelessly collecting kindle till you've got something worth noticing. Yell it from the rooftops, be audacious, because you are your only mouthpiece at the start.

The best things happen from loss. (at least for me they do)

Loss. Losing your person. Losing your things.  Losing yourself.

Sounds bad, doesn't it? It certainly feels bad... for a while. But with enough time and enough shift in perspective, the help from friends, and the understanding that loss is just an opportunity to win again, one can really work wonders with what they no longer have.

Loss is an opportunity to find and finding something new or just deepening the understanding of yourself is one of the most wonderful parts about growing. I look at my own life and it's fun to consider what the setbacks have really given me. 

I'm going to take a moment to tell you one of my favorite stories about losing something. It's a story that still years later plays a part in my daily life. This is a story of how loss is just an opportunity to win. 

November 2009 - Malmö Sweden

I was a speaker at the Öredev conference in Malmö, I was here to talk about some of the jailbreak stuff that I'd done on the original iPhone. My talk's went well, I met a ton of awesome developers, made new friends, and drank WAY too much. One of the new folks I met was a gentleman named Michael Tiberg and at the time he was the organizer of the conference. Not you're typical swede in any sense, he was super open to strangers, way outgoing, I mean really open, and an all around good guy. He invited me over to his house for dinner after the conference was over and after dinner we went out for drinks. The spot we chose was a little cuban inspired place, mojitos were the drink of the night and while they were expensive as hell, I didn't really mind. The night before I'd cleaned up at the local casino playing hold'em against a drunk group of Danish guys and I was free-rolling with respect to booze! Funny thing about poker chips, is that if you sit down at a table, you shouldn't think of the chips as money, and with the further abstraction of an exchange rate... I was betting stacks of orange or pinks... no idea what their true value was. Nevertheless, I cleaned house. 

Back to our 5th mojito. Ok it was time to settle up from the last round and I went for my passport wallet, as that's what I'd been carrying around. Not in my back pocket, not in either of my fronts, mmm... Maybe the bathroom! Nope. The passport, creditcards, and cash were all gone. GONE.

Gutted, I realized how MEGASCREWED I was. How the eff am I supposed to get back to the states? How do I get another passport? How am I going to pay for this? A myriad of questions were tumbling in my alcoholic-ly foggy brain.

 

Chris, don’t worry about it, we’ll figure it out in the morning, crash at my place, we’ll sort it out when we’re in better shape
— Michael Tiberg

The following morning, more than a tad hungover, I awoke to Michael making Americanos for both of us. A typical swedish sandwich was also had for breakfast.

Hey my man, here’s my debit card, and the pin code, go to Copenhagen to the embassy and get your passport sorted, here’s my mobile number as well, and if you run into trouble just call.
— Michael Tiberg

So that was my mission, get to CPH and get my passport sorted, I went to the embassy, they told me to come back with some photos, I went and withdrew the requisite cash from Michaels bank... still unbelieving that I had his pin code... and came back to the embassy, lousy photos in hand in the hopes they would get the passport done before my return flight.  The embassy official told me that it wouldn't be a problem, within 24 hours come back and pickup my passport. I went back to Michael's place, buying a return ticket to Malmö with his money and rendezvoused with him for dinner. He was gracious enough to let me stay another night at his house and it was over duty free bourbon that an amazing plan was hatched.

Michael, you’ve done me such a solid. I haven’t seen this sort of giving since I last burned on the playa. (Michael’s look of confusion) You don’t know what burning man is? Bro, we are gonna fix that right now.
— Me

Over drinks that night a plan was hatched, one to get Michael down to LA and then out to the Black Rock dessert for an experience to change our lives. This plan was set in motion on a cold ass winter night in malmo.

Ten months later, Michael was on a plane from CPH to LAX to meet me for packing and preparation for our "burn".

Michael and I went to Burning Man that year, and suffice it to say, our world was changed. We're the closest of friends now and I'm the Entrepreneur in Residence at his new company FooCafe (foocafe.org). He's one of my closest friends and I am grateful to have met him. 

Better still, I'm glad to have lost my passport. The entirety of my life was changed by a single event.  Loss can be awesome, you just have to embrace what comes next.

Life is precious, no matter it's duration life is profound.

I have a very dear friend and she is truly special. We've calmed each-others fears, we know each-others mannerisms, we've and said it was going to be okay when hearing the other hold back tears. The dynamic between us is an amazing one, backed with a pretty amazing story, but that is a post for another day.

Yesterday, we heard the terrible news of the loss of a mutual friends child. The situation completely leveled me, of all the people, a child! Tragic and nothing that can be done about it we both wept for the pain our friends are feeling. That pain must be immeasurable. A pain reserved for the deepest of sorrows. Sadly enough it's a pain my family knows but that isn't the point of this post.

This is an post about the importance of embracing the moments we have and share, being grateful for their provision, and always trying to ensure we're making the best use of them.

Time is an amazing thing, a soother of the worst of feelings, one of the most precious things we have, yet paradoxically, we always have less of.  Time changes people, their perspectives, their hearing, their understandings, their beauty, their lives. Time rules us all.

Being healthy or maybe better said, how our bodies experience time also is important. Health is something that has become very important to me, my body has changed drastically over the course of my 20s. I love the body I have now, it's the healthiest I've ever been. At my peak I was almost 60 lbs. heavier (27 kilos for you europeans or coke dealers), but something changed, I can't really describe it, but it was a total shift in my cognition and I got my act together. I can even do a stupid human trick! A one legged squat (#likeabawse)!

It's odd really, I mean, I've come as close to death as one should ever be allowed. Not many know this, but I take rat poison EVERY DAY. Warfarin as it's called is a drug that battles blood clots, of which my asshole of a body makes well due to a rare medical abnormality. Still, I have to check my blood much like a diabetic does and I have to ensure that my diet is pretty regular with respect to the consumption of dark leafy greens. This is one of those things that out of the blue, just happened. A month in the hospital and a terrible education in the american medical system later; you'd think that it would've been the thing to snap me out of my bad behaviors. Nope, it only served to kick me when I was down.

I didn't get back to appreciating time until a long time later.

Fast forward to now. Now is pretty sweet. That's something I want to say for a long time and I only hope the same for you.

If you're a parent, go home and hug really hard. If you're a kid, call mom, she worries about you, dad too. If you don't have your folks, remember how great they could be. If you didn't have great folks, go hug your friends. If you don't have friends, go start now, time's a wastin'.

 

Making better software by hacking others.

This is a case for reverse-engineering. An excuse to peek under the covers of other peoples software and dig into the logic or sometimes lack there of to improve how you make software. 

Life, like software, is a game of incomplete information. Poker has taught me to appreciate that, that one can really never know the state of all of the variables, so it's best to make your decisions with the data that you have. But what if you could have more data? Be more informed? Be better equipped to make decisions?

But how?

Cheat? No, I'm not advising breaking into someones github and cloning their projects. Stealing their source code and making copy-pasta. That is wholly unethical. 

But in poker there is the concept of "The Angle" 

 

Angle (verb): An action that isn’t against the rules, but still incorporates unfair tactics. A maneuver, usually on the border between legality and illegality (but usually clearly unethical), to take unfair advantage of another player.
— Poker News

In poker it's tricking a human into doing something that gives you an unfair advantage, that is a bullshit move. I've fallen for the traps laid out by unethical poker players and it feels really poopy. Again, I'm not arguing with doing something that compromises the ethics of a human, but I'll be damned if I don't love tricking computers.  And that is what I am advocating for.

How does one "shoot an angle" in software? Well there are a couple ways, but the easiest is to attempt to peek at what others are doing, trick the computer into doing stuff it's not meant to, or placing a trap of logic to ensnare a bit of functionality.

Reverse engineers are great at it, and we love playing tricks on our devices. So first you must be comfortable with the concept that you're doing something the original developer didn't mean for you to do. If that bugs you, then this isn't the article for you, but, I must reiterate, software is a game of information, those with the most are most likely to succeed. Know that you are inherently limiting yourself. 

I've been rooting and jailbreaking mobile devices for as long as that has been a possibility, I've made a name for myself on that fact, it's awesome, it's advanced my career, permitted me to speak at great conferences, figure out secrets about devices that aren't even shipped yet, and allowed me to further develop my understanding of this so called "computer science". 

But that is my path, and I can understand the umbrage taken at people who upset that hierarchy. But I argue that if I buy something, it's mine to do with it as i please, to take it apart, solder it, hack it, break it, fix it, or make it into something else.

So, I'm not going to go into the full explanations on how to hack, that is too long a post to even begin to start, but I am going to ask you to try these thought experiments. They are based on the assumption that you have FULL control of your property, without restriction (meaning you've at least jailbroken, rooted, or have admin access).

  • Does this thing talk to the outside world somehow?
  • Do I know what this thing does when I press [insert action here]?
  • What happens if I halt a process mid-way though? 
  • Can I see how this thing talks to the outside?
  • Can I create unexpected behavior? 

A fun combination of the these methods can lead to interesting results. The learnings that come from these experiments will make you a better developer, even if you are just looking to thwart someone like me.

WTF is wrong with [insert nationality here]

See, I live in [insert country here] and I'm going to take a few moments and maybe even build a clever graphic that indicates how much [insert other place] is better. You see, [those guys] have got this problem that [these guys] do not.  Exploring that problem on a surface level is going to be is the subject of this rant!

[Those guys] over there are silly, you see we solved the problem that they are facing many many years ago. Our solution is the right solution and we're flabbergasted that [those guys] over there don't get it! Crazy people from [insert nation]!

Yeah, see the problem, if they just bothered to look around at the rest of the world would seem wildly obvious to any reasonable person, why can't their elected leaders see that? But that's what's wrong with those guys from [insert country here] they elect their [insert leadership title here] based on fears, distributed though [insert media outlet] and their populace just laps it up, goes to the voting booths and perpetuates the cycle.

See, we've better than that I mean afterall we're [insert descriptive national title]!

So, right now, I'm going to cherry pick some interesting facts that lay out the case for why we're better.

In 2010 [insert nation] spent [insert big number] on [insert stupid idea] alone!

[Those guys] did this [insert other thing] that really ran afoul of [these guys]!

[Insert nation] has systemically always been behind [other nation] in [insert sport or school of thought] 

We're not that stupid, remember, we're [insert nation] ! 

But [those guys] aren't all bad, after all they did give us [insert nice thing those guys make]

All that noise aside, I am so glad I can say that  [insert nation] is the best damn place in the whole wide world! Glad to call myself an [insert national title]!

Inspiration 

 

#nbd, just inventing the future

Hacking isn't what I do, it's who I am, and when you get to be honest about who and what you are, you can really get into the business of making really interesting things. 

I've been in Sweden for a few weeks doing what I think I do best, sharing my passion for building things in a land of people who are good at it. It's a wonderful dynamic really, Sweden is an amazing country filled with really well educated people and their focus on the continuous development of their people is commendable. Especially to an American. 

I've spent the last few days hacking in makerspaces here in the country, for the uninitiated, a makerspace is where geeks get together and build interesting things. This is a paradise for someone like me, someone who rarely understands constraints and someone who can actually turn my ideas into real things.

So we decided that the google glass needed to be much more usable to people who have glasses. So we fixed that.

By we, I mean I got some help from an amazing maker (@kristofffffer) Kristoffer Engdal a brilliant hacker, designer, and maker who works with one of the inventors of the Arudino.

The plan was to make a custom receiver for a normal pair of glasses. That was the plan at least. 

 

I love it when a plan comes together
— Hannibal (A-Team)

But it didn't start off like that, no infact, I didn't go there with the intention to do any Glass hacking at all, but instead to use the lasercutter in their facility to make an etching on something. But when I got there I noticed that they were 3D printing parts for a class that they are running on building actual 3D printers. 

I just setup my notebook and went to pecking on some other problem I was working on, Kristoffer looked over at my screen and saw that I was doing some engineering and then asked if I could help him with something that was bugging him.

NATURALLY! I love helping! 

So his problem was one where he needed to change a 3D design of a printer extruder to make it more failsafe, we walked through the OpenSCAD code and made the right modifications, with a favor banked, I went back to what I was doing. 

I had no Idea that I would be able to call it in and get so much further with it than I'd planned. 

Hey bro, think I could print something on your printer?
— Me

What we did next was awesome, over the course of the next hour or so, we made 2 prints of actual parts that allow a normal pair of glasses to be used with google glass!

Here's what the finals look like!  (it's a gallery, so just click on the left and right below)

Keep raising the bar.

We have yet to see a ceiling, we just top what we top, Cause the bars don’t struggle and the struggle don’t stop
— Jay Z

It's easy as shit to become complacent, to stay within the areas of comfort, to get to a level of your game where you don't push yourself to the point where you are in the neighborhood of uncertainty. But sometimes it takes getting lost to find something awesome, because when we are in a place of the unknown our brain actually has to turn back on.

The human brain is a pattern recognizer and an amazingly brilliant one at that, think of cognition as a heuristic algorithm that does not stop working. Processing data from the senses, prioritizing our eyes over the other senses allowing us to see what we believe (thus our fascination with magic, a trick is just that a game played with human perception and the fundamental bending bending of the rules).

This is a pattern that plays out over the course of our lives, as we learn and become more comfortable with our patterns, we rely on them, we have to. Think about the pattern of driving, you get into your automobile with the understanding that everyone else is going to play by the same rules and when they don't it's disastrous.

But when it comes to our careers, or what we want in our lives it's important as any good scientist should to question ALL assumptions, it's one of the fundamental rules of science, one of the core tenants of software, one of the basic rules for debugging. 

A fun example here recently for me personally involved ripping content from my pair of google glass.

 

➜  platform-tools  ./adb devices
List of devices attached
(wtf... there should be a google glass listed here!!!)

Having moved from Lion to Mountain Lion, I assumed something was jankey with my setup, the upgrade broke my brew setup, my X-Code developer profile, and other apps that just didn't play well without having upgraded them. System Profiler noticed the device but only intermittently and would charge it.

So I hit the Google hard, searching for solutions coming across interesting stackoverflow solutions:

  • Replacements of the USB driver
  • running adb via VMWare and trying windows (what the fucking fuck??)
  • Using a usb powered hub (this seemed credible)

So, I go to a Malmö computer store and pick one up, bring it home, try a powered hub and sure enough!! 

BIG ASS BAG OF FAIL 

What the hell? Ok I'm an engineer, this is clearly something dumb, but having to install a full android development toolchain on my buddies computer seemed like a reasonable idea, ok my machine is borked, let's go do that. So I grab my buddies Swedish Macbook Pro and begin the process of installing the toolchain. 45 mins later, I'm plugging my glass into his computer and getting....

BIG ASS BAG OF FAIL

Ok, what the nuts??? 

Maybe I should try a different micro usb cable. 

BIG ASS BAG OF WIN

I'm now reminded of the trite american colloquialism of how when we assume we make an ass out of you and me. Assume less, test more, and always keep raising the bar.

This problem was enough to drive me to spend the afternoon drinking 11 dollar swedish beers and thus their bars don't struggle, but it's important to always remember that the struggle never stops ;-)

#likeabawse

And so it begins, this is the first of what should be many. 

 The idea was simple, be the first guy to put a video recorded from a pair of google glass onto instagram! But with no api, no native app, not being an engineer at either google nor facebook one is left to take matters into their own hands. This idea had come to me a bit ago, wouldn't it be nice to make an instaglass moment!

To do this I had to figure out how instagram deals with video, what is actually going on behind the scenes and see if maybe, it would be possible to replicate it somehow. Turns out I found out how.

The process was going to be a 5 step process and it would consist of man-in-the-middling the instagram upload. So first I needed to get the video into the right format, cropped square and ready for action, and then create the scenario to hand that video to instagram.

Sitting down to actually start the hack, at this point everything was still theoretical. Here is a photo of me starting the process.

 

The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.
— James Brown

Taking the wisdom of the Godfather of Soul, I then selected one of my silly glass videos, a dance number had between a lovely swedish woman. So, I took that video and having dumped it from glass ran it through iMovie to cut it to the time size and added some intro titles and exit titles, added some silly tunes and BAM I was ready to start the next process. Spoofing the upload to instagram.

Techwise, it consisted of replacing the device temporary files that were cashed to disk and re-kicking off the upload. I wrote a friendly daemon that does this. But since I've packet inspected the traffic and am making a more native solution, still though I need to have the device do it.

 

And what does winning on the internet look like?  #this