Holly, Hex, and Psychedelic Leaves

I’ll happily discard the blow-by-blow account this week in favor of talking about my ongoing projects:

Psychedelic Leaves is my Coursera Processing project; it’s a meditative interactive art animation.  Of course I haven’t had much time to work on this project given Summer Academy, and the web page and instructions, particularly, are a bit basic. I have until July 29 to perhaps revise…If I get a chance I might smarten up the presentation a bit, but chances are I’ll focus on Summer Academy stuff. A screenshot:


For this course we are encouraged to develop projects that extend the work done in class, exploring code demonstrated by the lecturers, so I riffed off an algorithm that was introduced as “one of the earliest computer graphics algorithms … used by John Whitney, Sr to produce a range of really famous abstract animated pieces.” (Mick Grierson). The algorithm in one of the forms it was presented to us can be tried here (I googled a line or two of the code and found that a copy was put up on openprocessing.org recently, I imagine by someone associated with this class). It creates an animation of rainbow colored circles that change as the user moves the mouse around the window:


My version has been modified extensively to use custom “leaf” inspired filled shapes rather than simple circles; to use a complex and pleasing set of colors rather than a simple set of rainbow hues; to exploit the possibilities of transparency; to allow the possibility of experimenting with layered in photos; to be accompanied by music (a choice of a Triphop inspired loop that was one of my first Logic Pro practice compositions, and one of my Bartok inspired pieces); and to allow much user interactivity via mouse and keyboard.

Note that sound may take several seconds to work after the animation is first loaded in its website presentation, as the sound files take quite a bit of time to load. Also: one must click the mouse at least once in the image window before the keyboard key controls work.

Of the two Rails projects I am developing with my husband, Ahmed Omran, Holly is more his baby. We’ve worked together on the concept/design/CSS/Ruby-logic parts, but the lion’s share of the Rails/Javascript/jQuery coding was done by him. “Holly” is a homage/reference to the “peculiar” AI computer from the show “Red Dwarf”. Holly can answer word problem math questions like “What is 70 plus 3 multiplied by 10?” and take voice input and speak the answer as well. Next we are planning to have Holly answer questions about Ruby and Rails…

The second project is Hex, an educative game app to develop fluency in naming colors by their hex codes — a color is shown, and the user has to guess its hex value; the app tells you, in a percentage score, how well you did. The next steps I plan are: a more attractive UI; the possibility to select color sets of varying difficulties; for the user to input a set of colors (via hex codes) that she would like to practice; to have a photo mode. This one is, so far, more my baby — the code resides on my computer and was typed by me, although most of the “How do you do that in Rails?” was figured out in pair programming sessions with Ahmed.


Meanwhile my florified follow-the-book-shopping-cart is coming along bit by bit, somewhat painfully, definitely with less enthusiasm than engendered by the above projects, but useful in that I am being exposed to (though hardly mastering) Rails in much more depth and breadth.