yosun.me: yosun is me » Diary http://yosun.me a diary. maybe. Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:07:10 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.1 Making DeadDropAR in Battlehack NYC http://yosun.me/2013/08/07/making-deaddropar-in-battlehack-nyc/ http://yosun.me/2013/08/07/making-deaddropar-in-battlehack-nyc/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 09:25:36 +0000 yosun http://yosun.me/?p=282 At PayPal’s Battlehack NYC a few weekends ago, my friend Brian and I hacked together an app called DeadDropAR — it’s an app that lets you put digital money on real objects in real locations — just like how you’d do a dead drop in real life, but now, via your smartphone.

The flow is simple — as shown above:

  • List of Drops: Load a list of “Drops” nearby, select and then scan for it!
  • Create Drop: Create your own “Drop” by going to the location to scan (right photo, map) and specifying the object to scan (left photo, augmented image to track) and specifying the amount.
  • Scanning: When the object is recognized, choose to pick up the amount deposited there (addendum due to popular demand: and see the equivalent virtual 3D dollars and coins in augmented reality!)

DeadDrop AR started as a boring old hackneyed augmented reality scavenger hunt: computer-vision scan objects to get money via paypal. But then, someone had already pitched that idea, and we were mostly just toying with our skills to see if we could make it in limited time, with intentions to go home early without actually pitching or entering the contest.

As usual, I worked with the hackathon junkie handicap of starting everything from scratch. As for hack idea — with me being still stuck in my AR phase, even on hiatus in NYC, the hack had to be something relating to augmented reality. Here are some ingredients from the final recipe that we worked on during the hack before we finally figured out what our hack was actually going to be:

  • an iOS-like GUI framework for Unity, including bounce-scroll!
  • (I wanted to show this off) computer vision-based object recognition with dynamic marker-object creation
  • Google maps and geofencing based on lat lng
  • straight-forward MySQL database on the serverside for logging each drop transaction
  • PHP wrappers for the above transactions
  • Basic ImageMagick image cropping and such for thumbs vs high resolution image recognition bread crumbs
  • CC payments via PayPal sandbox via their new API

Several iterations later, in the dead of night, when such ideas are prone to occur, we pivoted from a marketing platform to a free economy money-trade implementation — what if, instead of just searching for objects, the user could openly leave money on real objects in real locations. Effectively, do a dead drop completely virtually, by “placing” digital currency in the real world.

Basically, give digital currency a real world body.

During the quick QA session we had for our Battlehack pitch, I think someone asked about the element of privacy and anonymity that real cash has that virtual currency inherently cannot have due to the necessary client-server transaction record in depositing the payment. After attending defcon, and taking a deeper look at the workings of distributed systems such as Tor or torrents, I’m convinced that digital transactions could be as anonymous as cash payments. (Also, a quick extension of our hack would be to simply use this system as something better than scan-a-QR-code-to-fetch-your-bitcoin.)

After showing the app to other participants, it seems people wanted to see a gimmicky version where 3D coins and bills are augmented — the third frame above shows the hack.

Funny caveat on digital money – In optimizing some currency textures from Wikipedia for hacking out the virtual version of this, I stumbled upon an odd Photoshop caveat:

This application does not support the editing of banknote images

Photoshop CC: This application does not support the editing of banknote images

I ended up just using Preview to crop and resize these images to powers of 2. Import, orient to pose tensor on recognized surface and presto – 3D augmented reality money sits on that surface. :D

Being handed battleaxes to represent NYC and the US against hackers from other countries in the Global finals, I suppose we did okay with our app for Battlehack — for this app’s next step, we only have to make a few breakthroughs to change how people perceive digital money as real as real world cash can be.

And as for the next round of Battlehack – we’re planning to make something totally new. PayPal is offering to fly us to San Francisco, but did not actually specify from where… I wonder if we’d be able to fly from space!

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Protected: 20120423 http://yosun.me/2012/04/23/20120423/ http://yosun.me/2012/04/23/20120423/#comments Tue, 24 Apr 2012 06:56:28 +0000 yosun http://yosun.me/?p=193

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Life in Fives http://yosun.me/2012/02/22/life-in-fives/ http://yosun.me/2012/02/22/life-in-fives/#comments Wed, 22 Feb 2012 08:21:00 +0000 yosun http://yosun.me/?p=180 My life for the past decade and a half or so seems to be splitting into 5′s.

June 1996 to June 2001 – Age 11: Taught myself BASIC and a few other languages from some old library books. Finally signed on the Internet for the first time in 1997. Henceforward, taught myself web design, discovered (Macromedia) Flash (v3!), nearly failed 8th grade science, grounded and forbidden to use the Internet, won US$10,000 in a teens-only international web dev contest, learned Perl then PHP/MySQL, became a notorious writer of Buffy TVS fan fiction, founded a web design company, monopolized every single issue of the school literary journal, learned Visual Basic 6, C++, then .NET, built a anyone-can-build Flash-websites platform, haunted various code-bases. Became convinced that programming is too ephemeral, but an equation is forever…

June 2001 to June 2006 – Age 16: As a junior in high school, I plunged straight into the subjects I was most horrible at, viz., math and science. It was a cruel self-enforced boot camp disciplining my creative mind that tends to wander – I spent 10+ hours a day studying subjects I disliked, under some silly education theory that I absolutely need to learn this stuff pronto (before I lose all that plasticity of mind and intensity of a teenager). Well, just a wee bit of vanity that I might be able to contribute to the next big physics theory. By 2002, I’d finished all of the lower division math and physics courses. I started my freshman year at UCSD, full ride, senior-standing, with the freedom to take graduate courses and to declare a triple major in Bioengineering, Physics and Philosophy — four years later, founded a garage-based speaker company, finished the core grad courses that a physics grad student takes before spending the rest of her tenure on research, before leaving due to not being able to decide which area I really wanted to focus on.

June 2006 to June 2011 – Too much dreary math/sci from the past 5, not enough literature and philosophy of the profound kind. Let’s begin “my lost years” incognito, with an artist pen name that’s a play on words over an Sketchup-ly urban fantasy web series project I halted at the time. From absolutely nothing, started a literary journal then an arts nonprofit and island-sized art gallery and Shakespearean Theatre company, got thousands of people I don’t know to donate to my cause for the arts. Unfortunately, it was all “out of this world” — set in the modern equivalent of Narnia, complete with deities that play by unknown rules, with power to end your access to Narnia at whim, and destroy all that you’ve created — coupled with the kind of pathos that happens when the deities’ internal communication seem to fail even despite all that magic (cough: cloud infrastructure), and you’ve got plenty exposure to corporate drama, even as a third party. Had a complete nervous breakdown around the time of my TED fellow interview in 2009, learned Esperanto, then took a respite, back into the real world, starting from absolutely nothing again, as a writer for the Examiner.

June 2011 to … – Back to my roots. Computers and the still-infinite potential in webby-mobile startups. Been off the map for too long, so let’s start by being a professional hackathon junkie. Test out my ideas among new people I don’t know. Scored $25,000 (cash + prizes) via closer to 2-dozen hackathons in three months, and now, this story begins…

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Dreamforce Hackathon Diary-in-Hindsight http://yosun.me/2011/09/04/dreamforce-hackathon-diary-in-hindsight/ http://yosun.me/2011/09/04/dreamforce-hackathon-diary-in-hindsight/#comments Mon, 05 Sep 2011 04:12:17 +0000 yosun http://yosun.me/?p=151 So, last week (Mon thru Weds), I spent the better part of each day participating in the Dreamforce Hackathon 2011 #DFHack – the result of three days’ work on creating SocialVoxels was a nice $5000 prize via American Express Gift Cards (which are actually an oddity to use, being not accepted in a number of places I usually shop at). I’m typically the weird one out presenting the app that’s just odd — yet, eerily on-the-mark for the event. A couple of people have asked me how I came up with the idea, and what the whole process was like – so here goes:

Initial Ideas Stage / Sunday

I found out about #DFHack late, so I didn’t start my brainstorming and planning process until Saturday/Sunday. For this initial stage, I typically work in phases, with raw “first blush” ideas, then read-the-rules (and judging criteria), then idea filtering, last-round ideas, then final filtering. This whole process is typically done in parallel, so to speak, as I tackle weekend errands and such – and get inspired by these usually dull events. Checking into Costco on Foursquare, scrolling through the usual bunch of comments, transportation, the works. There are generally tons of tips for every popular venue, just as there are tons of comments for every popular post online. There’s lots of people out there. But, people’s comments get lost in a sea of text. There’s a problem with metadata being analyzed in a totally anonymous or stats-only way. There’s also a problem with people trying to find what they need in this mess of metadata. Good stuff gets lost – and the more social stuff we have, the more stuff goes up there, and the more of that gets lost.

I had two ideas left in “final filtering” –

  1. a graph based “true relevance” search engine:

    Basically, “what you need, when you need it… through the social graph.” People update certain need-to-know status’s such as I need a job, or I have to sell a Burberry scarf, or I need a room, then using the relations-based magic of a graph database, they start knowing who in their circle (and beyond) can “answer” these needs for them. Then scrapping from twitter and craigslist and such, it also expands to beyond just the people in the network. The plus of this is that InfiniteGraph is doing the graph magic… and it runs on Java, and Heroku (one of three choices for cloud tech to use to meet the hackathon requirement) is good for Java. Also, showing a graph-based demo onscreen looks cool! The minus is that I’d have to demo with a small real data set (due to… no reach!), and have to demo using a lot of bull’d data.
  2. a human-readable way to express checkin data:

    Well, this would have to be creative, since omniscience or the ken to perceive-it-all in light of infinite-data is something we mere-humans lack. I like building things in 3d – but then there’s always a limit to how much you can convey on mobile. And then there’s whether your typical user would get it. For the most part, everyone gets Lego block’s, even if they might not totally like them. And user data as consciously contributed by the user is almost always lost in a sea of text – it’s the bane of letting *everyone* post. Human eye’s were not designed for reading, per se – if you believe in evolution, eyes are really just for visual stuff – like, there’s a huge cave there, don’t run smack into it! So, what if, everyone user could contribute a block, tied to their metadata (of course), to create a new virtual “statistic” of a venue. Looking at the Dreamforce agenda, especially that whole iPad Executive thing, it seems that mobile tablet’s are totally in this year, although I could show that awesome self-searching graph from the first idea on the iPad as well.

The first idea was on my mind largely because of InfiniteGraph 2.0, which came out the week before at NoSQL Conference. I thought about the last bit and thought that it’d be neat to be able to display something other than the usual chartsy stuff based on statistics, a data type, that – since conception – is human readable, and not just some shady metadata “collected anonymously for analytics purposes only”. And then, I thought about how I could kill two birds with one stone with the InfiniteGraph Hackathon, too… I was really tempted to do the graph thing, but then I thought back to the whole Semantic Web movement, and how insignificant the graph hack stuff is in light of that (and facebook and linkedin graph’s and such) – and especially since I’d be basically depending too hugely on the db to make the local associations and such. It would have been almost like going to a barrista competition with a “secret sauce” of having Starbucks ready to cater.. Rules…

Always keep the rules – three main criteria in mind…

Originality/Innovation – 25%

The submission creates an innovative and original solution to a known problem or creates a new market opportunity. Innovation isn’t strictly about ideas, the submission also executes on the innovative idea

When you go to a cloud conference, the thing that EVERYONE has is data. Lots of data. Most of it junk or not-easily-made-useful. Much of it ephemeral. Poof, and then it’s no use. And then it’s left for the analytics folks to do magic with Hadoop and such. The point being, most of the data collected was never really meant for human eyes to be able to comprehend, which is why stuff like Hadoop is da bomb (kind of like quantum physics – you need a uber-scope like a SEM to be able to “see” any of it – if you call that seeing).

What if there were a data type (other than photo’s) that was intrinsically conveyed for human eyes? It’s beyond the usual metadata, for sure. Hmm but how could this be useful data… Well, make it fun, at least…

Add in some sound — in-line with my other phase with uber-accessibility and pipedream of letting blind people “see” on eyes-dependent touchscreen smartphone’s. Assign colors to musical note’s, and create an un-changeable – the order of the blocks played according to each note as color.

Effective Use of Cloud Tech – 25%

The submission utilizes all available cloud technology to it’s full potential and avoids using on premise solutions where possible

Lots of data needs cloud storage.

Relevance to the DF11 “Social Enterprise” theme – 25%

The submission is relevant to the Hackathon Social Enterprise theme. It’s Mobile, Social, or Open.

Totally, all three! But, more on the Social Enterprise:

  1. true relevancy via graph – imagine HR being able to instantly recruit that one employee to change the world
  2. lego-ize the world – a new social metric! – “a new social enterprise – imagine the millions of people out there… each contributing a voxel at a venue”

Judges Proclivity – 25%

Is the submission a high quality submission? Would you use this application?

I’ve been lucky enough to attend enough startup pitch’s in front of similar audience type’s to have a good feel for the last one (I’m generally 9/10 in-agreement with the outcome – there’s always the odd one, where the judges end up picking the pansy — whhh-why?).

So, to answer the last one, my answer was – yes, I would *so* love to do Minecraft in the real world! Yes, there was a risk of business-type’s not “getting” what I was doing, wherein .

The Meat of the Hack

The way I do hackathon’s is that I go there with a solid idea, and then, when I’m finally there, I start building it from scratch (with the help of frameworks, libraries, the expected high level programming and scripting languages, and such generica, of course). It’s a purist’s perspective — and it’s also aptly scrappy: if it doesn’t turn out well, you’ve lost the least amount of time. (And, you’ve had another chance to experience the zen in that state of chaos in your head on “the brinks of exhaustion”. Truly, this boundary between consciousness and unconsciousness is an awesome state to milk for ideas that could change the world. Or gem’s that you can use to prove yourself insane to yourself!)

On Monday, I started setting down the foundations of the core engine. This was “architecture in a day.” (And, yes, this explains for why 90% of all hackathon app’s need to be rewritten. Design, in the architecture sense, is the most important element for the long-term stability of an app – and it should take week’s, not hours to do.) Part of the day was LucidChart flowchart’s, UML diagram’s, layout sketches, and Todoist for tasklisting. The other part of the day was actually coding the 3d engine for adding the block’s – which didn’t take long at all, thanks to Unity. At the end of the day, the app was wrapper’d up with data ready to be i/o’ed to cloud storage.

On Tuesday and part of Wednesday, I focused on integrating a bunch of API’s and i/o-ing data from the cloud. I also tested my iPad 2 out a bit, on the sort of GPS. I phased in and out of different Dreamforce session’s, attended the evening events – a few reception’s and parties in the usual SF haunt’s, and also, the Metallica concert!

By Thursday, I was in zombie mode, both for having worked quasi-intensely through most of the day and attending a bunch of evening events (averaging about 3 hours of sleep a night).

And then the part I’d spent most of Thursday preparing for — pitching. I’m not good at public speaking or pitching, but well, I guess, in the worst case scenario, if nothing happens, I get another chance to practice pitching. It went okay, as, I guess, some parts of my point went through. I didn’t get to demo as much of the app as I’d like (it was 2 minutes, strict) — and I didn’t even get to explain the real social enterprise significance.

So, the guy I’m TR-ing an AR book for won first place, and I won second. (No relation — we met for the first time at the event. Apress does everything too remotely, no one knows anyone on the stack.)

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Protected: My BBMNYC Pre-Experience http://yosun.me/2011/08/08/my-bbmnyc-pre-experience/ http://yosun.me/2011/08/08/my-bbmnyc-pre-experience/#comments Tue, 09 Aug 2011 00:00:11 +0000 yosun http://yosun.me/?p=132

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Protected: 20110214 http://yosun.me/2011/02/15/20110214/ http://yosun.me/2011/02/15/20110214/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 08:25:49 +0000 yosun http://yosun.me/?p=24

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Protected: Monday the 17th http://yosun.me/2011/01/18/monday-the-17th/ http://yosun.me/2011/01/18/monday-the-17th/#comments Tue, 18 Jan 2011 09:20:07 +0000 yosun http://yosun.me/?p=17

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Day 1 http://yosun.me/2011/01/01/day-1/ http://yosun.me/2011/01/01/day-1/#comments Sun, 02 Jan 2011 07:23:31 +0000 yosun http://yosun.me/?p=7 Registered a few 010111 bday domains, including yosun.me and yosun.us (the latter of which has a $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] check and REQUEST_URI redirect which *will* let you post comments). Realized Netfirm’s perpetual $4.95 discount code (PROMO495 – use a new credit card each time – use a BofA secure card gen for example) apparently doesn’t work with .me’s.

Launched this silly diary blog using the Platform theme. Designed yet another text logo called yosunisme.

Discovered that tea with cheap cinnamon is one way for me to get an unwarranted headache. (It’s better than MSG though.)

Created ClayAR View Mode basics — multitouch zoom and out (actually scale in/out, since the AR cam does the zoom in and out) and physical rotate (as opposed to AR cam virtual rotate).

Wakefulness: Slept in today… until rather exorbitantly late.

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