The impossible iPhone

Exemplary Work, iPhone

I’m an Apple fanboy from way back.  When I was a kid my parents used to take me to the LO*OP Center, whose founder, Liza Loop, was the lucky recipient of the first Apple I directly from Woz himself.  Soon after we bought an Apple II+ and…

Well, anyway, I’ve been as fascinated as anyone by the iPhone, but have managed to keep any out-and-out technolust to a minimum.  Until today, that is, when I read the most in-depth review of the iPhone I’ve yet seen, from AppleInsider. It’s quite a lengthy piece, but what really caught my eye was the discussion of the user interface on page four:

This device is so full of unnecessary interface embellishments that it appears to be the work of artisan crafters working to impress the world with their witty creative wizardry rather than a corporation scheming to earn money and market share. It simply does not feel possible that the iPhone should exist, but here I am holding it in my hand.

And that’s the sweet spot.  Apple’s really good at telling this particular story (and of course they are scheming to earn money and market share).  It seems like the iPhone shouldn’t exist, but the fact that it does means that you, the user, were right.  All those other phones you had a hard time using?  Well, they were wrong, and you were right.  And this object is the evidence of your rightness.

It’s not just an Apple thing, though. My favorite art, the stuff that really knocks my socks off, always seems to give me that same feeling.


Wiimote type animation: “Swing”

Animation, Experiments, Flash, Wii

Greetings, programs. I’m launching with a first foray into Wiimote-enabled work—a type animation experiment called “Swing.” Swing lets you use the Wiimote to waggle your way through syllables of text. When the syllables are written by Kurt Elling and you put on “Tanya Jean” (Elling’s brilliant riff on Dexter Gordon) in the background, you get…

Swing is made possible by the wonder of WiiFlash, which enables Flash to receive data from up to four Wiimotes simultaneously under Windows.  Unfortunately, getting your PC set up to do this is not as straightforward as one would hope.  If you’re feeling adventurous, though, visit the Swing page for more info (and a mouse-enabled version of the piece for the Wiimote-challenged).

Enterprising folks may be able to find other interesting uses for Swing.  Let me know what you discover—feature requests are welcome.


Wiimote connection tips

Flash, Wii

It’s a testament to the brilliance of Joa Ebert and Thibault Imbert (creators of WiiFlash) that it’s even possible to connect the Wiimote to Flash at all, and I hope they continue their excellent work.  Nevertheless, there are some pitfalls to be aware of—and here they are as I understand them:

Bluetooth hardware. Not all Bluetooth hardware will work with the Wiimote, so check the list of working Bluetooth devices before you buy.

Bluetooth software. The “stack,” or software that manages your Bluetooth connections, is another point of weakness.  Consensus seems to be that the BlueSoleil stack seems to be most reliable (but not all hardware works with BlueSoleil—check the compatibility list above for details).

Server version. The latest beta of the WiiFlash server, 0.3, requires .NET to run.  I’ve installed .NET but have never been able to get the 0.3 server to detect my Wiimotes, so I use version 0.2.

Playback. WiiFlash does not work when a Flash file is embedded in a Web page, only when it’s run in the standalone Flash player or viewed directly in the browser window.

Security. You may need to explicity tell Flash to trust the file you’re trying to run, which you can do using the global security settings panel. Click Edit locations -> Add location and then select the file or folder you want Flash to trust.

Not the end of the world, but not exactly a walk in the park either.  I challenge anybody interested seeing more artistic work using the Wiimote to think about ways we can make this process easier for people.  The Wiimote is a significant cultural artifact, and experimental Wiimote works should be accessible to as many people as possible.

Sample startup sequence. In case it’s helpful, here’s what I do to get things running on my Windows XP system:

  1. Launch BlueSoleil.
  2. Press the 1 and 2 buttons on the Wiimote simultaneously (this makes the Wiimote discoverable).
  3. Choose “My Bluetooth -> Bluetooth Device Discovery” in BlueSoleil (you only need to do this the first time).
  4. When the Wiimote shows up, right-click it and select “Refresh Services”.
  5. The mouse icon should highlight. Click it, and you should see a line connecting the Wiimote to the orange ball indicating an active connection.
  6. Launch WiiFlash Server.
  7. Launch the piece you want to view, either by double-clicking it or dragging it into a browser window.

Good luck! I’ll keep this post updated as new information becomes available.


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