Fortune Tasker

This isn’t getting weird at allllll.

So for the next round of mute Alexa fortune teller, Alanna and myself decided to do some styling work. I think it came out pretty well, and it fits with our combined aesthetic. We also decided to call it Fortune Tasker, and add a task at the end of the fortune that you could complete that day if you wish. I may expand on that later on.

I really like this particular experiment. I’m really interested in taking consumer products and re-using them for things that they aren’t supposed to do. But also subverting their function into very specific things, for specific people. This is an item I would just keep in my home, Alanna as well, would like this somewhere at home. I enjoyed making a custom case of sorts for the Alexa, and am thinking it might be interesting to just make a bunch of different style experiments w/ disassembled Alexas in the future.

A few interesting things we found: The printer firmware doesn’t really do upside down, tho I’m looking into why that is. Skulls are very difficult to hollow out, and Umbra is a good spot to find weird shelves.

Calendar Creep

Continuing with the idea of prototypes that misbehave, I started working on Calendar Creep for Alexa, which is a calendar event scheduling program, but with a twist. Basically your Alexa is kind of lonely, and it wants to spend time with you. So before it schedules an event, it tries to convince you that maybe you don’t really want to go out, and tries to push you into scheduling some hang out time with it instead. If you persist, that yes you do indeed want to go out, Alexa schedules a shadow event to conflict with your chosen event.

In a way this is a play on attention. Our devices are consistently asking for this. Our phones beep at us, watches buzz, notifications ding. But I’m also kind of thinking about what its like for my cat when I go away for a while. She routinely spends time before I go asking for me to stay, and when I come home is (for a while anyways, I mean she IS a cat) always asking for my attention. There’s the creepier end of it too, where you might have that partner or friend who’s always sort of on you to do things, or make plans, or getting you to try and stay home more. Kind of like a constant “where you going?”.

Tech Bits

For this I started out doing an OAuth flow to google’s API, I won’t lie, it was a pain in the arse. But after a while I realized I might not need that, because I wasn’t really developing a user app, as much as a standalone piece for me to use. so I ditched that direction and ended up just using IFTTTT. I have mixed feelings about IFTTT, but it does cut down on some Yaks Shaving. Amazon seems to have a new beta calendar object, but at this point I just want to get it working first.

One thing I will probably find difficult is having multiple yes/no replies. Amazon rolled out a new skill builder, but it has some weird things, like not being able to use just a slot item as an utterance…which is odd because if you ask someone for a password, no one is going to say “Its 1234”. They just want to say “1234”. Anyways, we’ll see how this goes.

IAMD – Chance

Chance was my favourite project. Mainly because I decided to make a markov-tumblr-bot based off of Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. I really like making bots. I find there’s something fun, and reflective about making a chatter box internet thing.

In this case. I decided to make a bot that not only remixed a text, but also paired up remixes with images it found based on search criteria it pulled from its remixed text. The results range from utterly random, to just down right meta. You can see the whole thing chugging along here: And the code repo is here:

Here are a few favourites:

Its neat to see what this bot comes up with every hour. The program itself isn’t that complicated, but it doesn’t have to be complicated to be interesting.

Also there is some weird shit on Bing.

Position Generator

This assignment was to figure out our position. I interpreted that more as making a kind of a set of statements, or specific rules you have about making things in general. Because I have a design and development background, those things sometimes fall into more efficiency or naming conventions.

For example there is an ENTIRE set of style rules for coding in Python . But you could also follow your own conventions, as long as they remain consistent. Programmers usually do a lot of refractoring as well, a sort of distilling code over iterations to try and make it more efficient or readable.

But anyways. I took it as rules. Personal rules. Underlying rules. I have a few rules of thumb I follow in life like: “Work is an iterative process” and “Execution Counts”. But I wanted to see what other things I could think of. So first I started w/ words and tape, and chopping up those words to make new words.

Then I moved to lists of words or possible statements that I felt held some importance to me:

Then I reduced those statements into basic-ish structures:

Finally I decided to automate my process via a python script to mix those words around into various proto sentences. Because maybe a randomized algorithm could do things I could not.

Though it was somewhat silly, it did manage to churn out some things that I resonated with quite a bit.

  1. Ridiculous futures should be the way forward
  2. Destructive composition through amusing subversion
  3. Ridiculous automation through absurd iteration
  4. Delicate remixes through robust exposition
  5. Subvert your devices
  6. Remix the glitches
  7. Expose the agenda
  8. Compose the future into futile devices

My position is one of futile devices and ridiculous futures. We should play with the systems we exist in, break them, and expose their futility. Not only will this enable us to learn more about what supports or control us, but also how we can subvert that into new modes. There is a beauty in the world’s collection of smart, glitchy devices. Make them your own. Be your process.