More Digital Junk Please!

GeekCon 2009 took place last weekend, and was – as usual – tons of fun. There were so many cool projects this year – from the personal Kong-fu sound effects generator, to the amazing physical Tron game, the 3D Lunar Lander, the low-cost Matrix-like bullet-time studio,  the wheelchair arcade game, and so many others. (Get the never-up-to-date not-even-nearly-full list on the never-up-to-date GeekCon projects page).

I love taking photos in unconferences like this, there are always so many interesting things happening. But the thing is that being behind the lens has the effect of somewhat disconnecting you from the actual happening.

So this year,  I thought I’ll build a replacement for myself as my GeekCon project. Initially I called it the *ConAutoDoc, but shortly after we activated it for the first time I came to the conclusion that "The Rabid Digital Junk Photos Generator" would be a much better name.


Yes. Rabid:

The idea was to create an autonomous robot that will tour the conference area on its own, and will continuously take pictures of whatever is happening around it, and share them in real time with the unsuspecting web at large.

The "continuously" part turned out to be somewhat limited by battery life, the "autonomous" bit turned out to be mostly-autonomous-but-with-suicidal-tendencies, and the pictures… well, the pictures turned out to be exceptionally bad:

Or, as my wife who watched the whole thing from afar aptly put it:

@yanivg way to go! Now try to make it take interesting pics :)

The sharing bit worked out great though :) the little rabid machine, built from a laptop mounted on an old Roomba (thanks Eden!), connected to a webcam (mounted on the weirdest bit of construction – thanks Avichay!) and to a 3G USB stick (because WiFi never works in conferences) happily shared the digital junk pictures it produced with Flickr, Facebook, FriendFeed and AIM Lifestream.

The "sharing" bit was written in Python, which was my first ever "production" Python code with orchestration code in C# (because I  didn’t feel like figuring out how to wait for countdown video to finish playing in Python).

This wonderfully useless rabid digital junk photos generator was co-created with the following team: Amit Knaani, Orit Hashay and Avichay Nissenbaum. Amit also created a website for the project (using the amazing Wix), which, like everything else related to GeekCon, is of course already out of date :)

As for me, I couldn’t really help myself and still took a lot of pics. 162 of them actually, only 72 less than the rabid digital junk photos generator. What does that make me?