The disaster is still a graphic design problem

This past couple of days I’ve been telling people that my GradEx setup is a disaster. When it comes to 3D spaces I’m still a graphic designer, not an artist. I didn’t have time to finish my layout so I had to improvise, and I just can’t do it. Or at least that’s what I thought.

When I was walking to the subway station today (basically after giving up for the day, not after finishing any significant amount of work) I suddenly realized something: The disaster that it is is still a graphic design problem—not an art problem, not an architecture problem, not even necessarily an environmental design problem. All that’s changed is that the shelves are now in place and their place is fixed, but this doesn’t make it not a graphic design problem; this just changed the problem so that it now has an additional constraint.

Which means it’s not a problem I can’t solve. In fact, if anything, the problem should now be easier to solve because it’s now better defined. I’m not sure if I can solve it in time but this is definitely still within my area…

MCA 140 has been repainted

Yesterday when I tried to get into MCA 140 to check the ceiling (because I forgot to photograph it the last time I was there) it was locked. I figure since crits aren’t officially finished until today the room probably would be unlocked today.

Sure enough, when I tried to check the room today it was unlocked. But what stuck out was the smell: the smell of fresh paint. The room has been repainted.

But why bother to repaint it now if most students doing GradEx are going to repaint their rooms anyway? I’m not saying we’re going to (I really want to if I can figure out how to deal with the air vents and ducts—and of course if I can convince everyone else in my program), but I’m genuinely curious.

New era at OCADU re-announced: New students will no longer be able to join Facebook’s “OCAD” network.

Just got this in my student email:

This is a message to all students: The following service will be decommissioned on APRIL 30, 2015 at 9:00 AM: REDIRECT SERVICE FOR THE STUDENT.OCAD.CA DOMAIN. When student email was migrated to Gmail in 2012, the email domain was changed from @student.ocad.ca to @student.ocadu.ca.  To facilitate the transition and avoid service interruption, a server was set up to redirect all email from the old domain to the new domain.  That service is now scheduled to be decommissioned. What does this mean for you? If you have subscribed to any services (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) using your email address with the old domain (student.ocad.ca), you will need to update your email address for each of those services.  A communication was sent out in 2012 to alert students, so it is very likely that those affected would have updated their various accounts at that time. If in doubt, check which email address you used to subscribe to various online services and ensure that your student email address is the current @student.ocadu.ca. Contact the IT Help Desk at ithelp@ocadu.ca or x277 for more information.

This isn’t new; according to them the last time this was considered was two years ago. I mentioned on Facebook that this would mean new students would not be able to join the “OCAD” network. They pulled the decommission. Two years later they are announcing the decommission again.

So what changed? Maybe they forgot. Or they thought joining a Facebook network isn’t something they should care about. Or maybe something else. I don’t know.

Sure, Facebook networks do hardly a thing any more; but it’s still a show of affiliation. April 30, 2015 will still be a milestone in OCAD’s history: Officially denying new students the possibility of showing their sense of belonging to the school by joining a network on Facebook.

Preliminary plan

For the record, this was essentially what I sent to our program’s coordinator yesterday. I fixed one typo but other than that this is identical to what I sent her.

Earth Hour is evil

So I’m here at Robarts, trying to do my volunteer assignment.

When what I should really be doing is busily prepping for Grad Ex.

Which I cannot do because OCAD’s campus is closed for Earth “Hour,” and it’s not going to reopen until tomorrow noon.

This is a serious problem. Since I still have not received any official instructions for GradEx for my program, I still don’t know if what I’m trying to prep is even worthwhile (even though if it is I will need to make a fabrication deadline in three days, and if I had not started prepping three weeks ago I would have no chance prepping anything), but since we’re supposed to be in extended hours and OCAD is supposed to be 24 hours this semester, we have lost anywhere from 5 to a whopping 19 hours depending on what your schedule is like and what kind of facilities you need. For thesis students doing fabrication (fabrication studios are not on a 24-hour schedule) this represents a major loss of usable shop hours.

I’m not doing my thesis this year, and I know people doing thesis who don’t mind being forced to work on their papers, but OCAD still should show some consideration towards students doing their thesis who require fabrication facilities (read: grad students). Studios are preparing for end-of-semester shutdown, and students don’t have a lot of time left. To shut down the school for 19 hours for Earth Hour is—could I be blunt here?—just irresponsible.

Yes, shutting down for Earth Hour is a gesture to show we’re for sustainability, but can it just be a gesture, please? We don’t have to shut down all our systems, and surely U of T is not shutting down for Earth Hour—at least not at 6pm, let alone 5pm. There’s no reason OCAD should shut down at 5pm and have its thesis students go through this frustration.

Getting lost at York University

I was meaning to get to York University for a talk this morning. My being late aside (I missed almost the entire talk and only caught some concluding remarks and the Q&A at the end), when I finally got to York, I spent who-knows-how-much-time on finding the correct building.

Which, clearly, was not something I expected. Somehow, I thought OCAD’s wayfinding system was bad, and all the other schools’ systems are better. This is clearly not true, since this is the second time in three weeks I got completely lost in a university campus that is not OCAD U.

This probably shows a couple of things: First, the existence of campus maps outside buildings is not enough; the placement of maps are also important. (U of T has an entire section devoid of campus maps; at York it took me more than 15 minutes after getting off the bus to finally find a map.) Of course, at OCAD campus maps do not even exist except inside buildings, so their existence is still a problem that needs to be solved.

Also, the wayfinding system at York shows that directional signs without an accompanying map are useless unless you are already fairly familiar with the place. A signpost wouldn’t show you where to get to all building (unless, perhaps, we are talking about a small campus like OCAD’s), so directional signs need to be complemented by campus maps.

Curious elevator button

While I was getting out of the Lassonde building I took a closer look at the elevator buttons and saw this:

Photograph of elevator buttons found in the Lassounde building at York University. The embossed type on button for the ground floor (upper right) says ☆G but the braille says “main”.

What caught my attention was the braille. I’ve seen buttons with star signs before, and what I’d been seeing had been having the star sign “translated” to the letter S—odd to me, but if this is an actual convention then actual blind people probably aren’t going to get confused. However, the first letter for the “ground floor” button was clearly not an S.

So what is it? I took some time trying to decipher it and found that it read “main”. So to a blind person, the building doesn’t have a “ground floor,” but a “main floor.”

I don’t know how others feel, but I think this is an inconsistency.

Muji

I finally went into Muji yesterday to take a look. My first impression: Things aren’t so cheap, in general anyway, but no one would be mistaken that a store in The Atrium on Bay should be able to price things low.

But I did notice something: A few stacks of small bowls in crackled glazes, priced at $25 each. I looked at them and somehow they looked thrown. Then I went to the other side and found more bowls, priced at about $7 or thereabouts; they were white and smooth, obviously slipcast.

This is important context.

The Supercollider kickdrum sound in timbre.js

So it looks like while timbre.js has some documentation, the documentation is really much sparser than I’d like it to be. But at least the examples work so it’s possible to figure things out.

The first example I tried to translate was the kickdrum sound from Rumble-san’s Drum Sounds in SuperCollider (Part 1). Basing off an example in timbre.js’s documentation on T("env"), I managed to come up with this translation (which is almost identical to one of the examples for T("env")):

T("env", {table:[1, [0, 1000]]}, T("sin", {freq:60})).on("ended", function() {
    this.pause();
}).bang().play();

There are some obvious questions here: Why is env used this way? What exactly is the syntax for the table parameter? What exactly is the purpose of the bang() message? We can sort of deduce the syntax of the table paramter from the code, but the existing documentation does not seem to provide any answers.

tuna.js

While I was trying to figure out how to use timbre.js I ran into Tuna. It looked like a much simpler library that might solve some immediate problems, so I spent some time trying to get it to work.

The odd thing is that even though people have been talking about the library, there is practically no documentation. I couldn’t figure out how to use it.

So back to timbre.js. I’ve also found the Git repository for subcollider.js (a library related to and tightly coupled with timbre.js) that looks like it will be immensely useful.

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