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Processing: TouchOSC

TouchOSC

Today in Processing we’re trying out OSC (Open Sound Control) with TouchOSC.

Jason (@plural) is one of those smart guys that hangs out at the Milwaukee Makerspace, and he’s mentioned OSC a bit before, and I figured it was time to take a look.

I got TouchOSC installed on my iPad and I tested it out as a control surface for Apple’s Logic, which was pretty cool, but then I wanted to test it with Processing. Luckily, Stefan Goodchild, made this simple with his TouchOSCAccel code on GitHub.

In the image above, the red one on the left represents the tilt of the iPad as it’s sending data to Processing. The yellow one on the right is the iPad when it’s upside down. (The iPad connects to Processing running on my Mac via WiFi. Remote Control!)

I haven’t even tried to tweak the code yet, but figured I’d mention this neat little combo, because, you know, there may be times you want to control something in Processing using something besides a potentiometer connected to an Arduino.

Note: You will need the oscP5 library.

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Processing

Processing

I’ve become quite the fan of Processing. When I first started to dig into the Arduino world, I turned to my old friend Perl to deal with Arduino<->Computer communication, but quickly discovered that Processing was an ideal environment for such a thing.

Perl is great (you know, IMHO and all that) but the main appeal for me has always been in Perl’s data processing capabilities, and having CPAN and a module for almost everything. Perl is fun, but it’s not FUN. I’ve dabbled with generating graphics with Perl using GD and SVG modules, but it’s not anywhere near the area known as fun.

Processing, in my mind, is built for fun. So what is Processing?

Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions. Initially developed to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context, Processing also has evolved into a tool for generating finished professional work. Today, there are tens of thousands of students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists who use Processing for learning, prototyping, and production.

Processing sometimes gets called a “multimedia programming language” and is used quite a bit by artists and designers, and probably much less by hardcore software developers. Check out OpenProcessing for some great example sketches.

Drawing

My own sketches are not very impressive yet, but as I said, Processing it a lot of fun. It’s reminiscent of the olden days of graphics on the Apple ][ where you plotted things out in HIRES graphics mode but, you know, way more advanced.

It’s pretty easy to build Processing sketches that respond to sensors connected to a microcontroller like an Arduino (see Accelerometer Art) and that’s something I’ll definitely be exploring more of in the future.

Android

Processing runs on top of Java, or is a subset of Java, or whatever. This is great because you can easily create a Processing sketch that can run on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, and even create a standalone application for each platform. (It’s that promise of Java we had long ago!) But the real excitement is that the latest version of Processing lets you target Android as a platform. Supposedly you can build an app in Processing and get it into the Android Marketplace. (I’m not aiming to get anything into an ‘App Store’ but just want to run my own apps on my own devices, as mentioned in my Android vs. iPhone post.)

And speaking of the iPhone, it looks like iProcessing and Processing.js may be able to get Processing sketches running on iOS… neat! (Processing.js is also on my TO DO list. I’ve toyed with it briefly and it’s pretty amazing.)

One of my complaints about this “new world of Apps” on phones and tablets and non-traditional devices is that there is too much of a barrier to entry to building things that run on them. I’m hoping Processing might help bring that barrier down a bit.

Update: It seems May is Processing Month. I didn’t know! Now I feel compelled to do more.

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Three Apples

Three Apples

Milwaukee-based developer Josh Dean wonders what Apple product he should get?

Well, I’ve got two of the Apple product he’s considering, so I thought I’d share my opinion…

iPad
I’ve only had an iPad about two months now, and for me, it’s a consuming device. I do very little creating with it. That said, it’s an amazing consuming device. I use it for reading, mainly with Google Reader, for which there are many good clients. I also use it around the house as it’s often much more convenient to grab it for quick searches than any full-fledged computer. If you took away my iPad, there would be a hole in the way I access information around the house. That “around the house” bit is key to my usage. I rarely take it out of the house, but that’s just me. I could live without an iPad and still get all of my work done. For me, the iPad is much more about enjoyment and fun than it is about work.

MacBook Pro
I have a MacBook Pro, and before that, I had an iBook, and before that, a PowerBook… A laptop, for me, is a supplemental device to get more work done, or be able to work anywhere. I tend to do probably 80% of my work on desktop machines, but having a laptop lets me take the show on the road, and also lets me do two things at once. As a sidenote, the iPad has filled in much of what I used to use the MacBook Pro for around the house. As for work, the MacBook lets me do (almost) any work I need to do away from the office. It’s got FireWire, USB ports, an SD Card reader, video out, etc… The MacBook Pro is a full-fledged computing device for creating anything I need to create.

MacBook Air
I do not have a MacBook Air, and I don’t think I’d get one. It looks like an awesome netbook (though Apple will never call it that.) I used to use an Asus Eee PC 701, the first real netbook to hit the market. I loved the small size and light weight of the device, but it left a lot to be desired (not running Mac OS X was one thing.) The netbook was limited, but I learned to live within those limitations. I think the MacBook Air would be a little limiting for me, but then, I tend to want to do hardware as well as software stuff, and I need FireWire. If was just a developer writing code and didn’t need to worry about interfacing with certain hardware or having an optical drive available, the MacBook Air would probably be fine. Still, I tend to prefer the extra features a MacBook Pro affords, but again… that’s just me.

I don’t know if this will help Josh, or anyone else, make a decision, but I figured I’d share my opinion.

Here’s a few previous blog posts that may also be helpful:

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Scrabble for iPad

Scrabble

I could probably condense my entire post about Scrabble for the iPad into 3 words:

Scrabble. In. Bed.

But I’m not one to quit after 3 words, so I’ll ramble on for 3 more paragraphs.

The wife and I are Scrabble fans, but two things prevent us from playing this time of year. First, we usually have to sit at the kitchen table to play. The kitchen table is fine for enjoying Chicken Tikka Masala, but I’m not a fan of sitting there to play games. Second, our house is cold… really cold… and in the evening the warmest place is in bed, under the electric blanket, so being able to play Scrabble in the comfort of a nice warm bed is ideal. You play Scrabble on the iPad by taking your turn and then passing the iPad to the other player for their turn.

But Scrabble on the iPad isn’t just limited to playing in bed. You could probably also play on the couch, at the park, in the car, or anywhere else a Scrabble board won’t easily go, like the International Space Station.

When Scrabble for the iPad first came out (which was long before I had an iPad) I joked that I could convince my wife the iPad was the greatest invention ever because you could play Scrabble on it… I’m still working on convincing her, but I think I’m getting closer.

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iPad Needs a Stand

iPad Stand

I’ve already told you that the iPad needs a case, but you should know that the iPad could also use a stand. I like the Macally METROLPAD case, but it didn’t have a built-in stand as many cases do, and as I used the iPad more and more, I realized a stand would be useful.

iPad Stand

Rather than buy one, I figured that making one would be a good idea. I took a piece of wood from the scrap pile, and using the jigsaw cut a notch into it. The one on the left is an early prototype I made before I actually got the case. Once I got the case I had to make a new one with a bigger notch. The prototype was also not that great at keeping the iPad standing, so I moved the notch up towards the front. (The one on the left could probably be turned into a toy car if I added some wheels. :)

iPad Stand

Here it is in action. I should probably make a bunch of these and just leave them around various places in the house so I always have one handy.

iPad Stand

Here’s the rear view. One issue with the stand is that it works fine in landscape mode, but not so much in portrait mode. (It works, but it’s sort of “precariously balanced” to say the least.) If I really want to use the stand with portrait mode, I may work on a new one that works a bit better with both orientations.

iPad Stand

If you’ve got some scrap wood and a saw, make a stand, it’s pretty easy. Note that the stand is also backwards compatible with (many) iPods and iPhones.

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