This was my roommates first experience with “VR”. We discussed how Theta isn’t necessarily VR in class and I agree. I do however find it is capable for brief periods of time really capturing the “immersion” concept in this excercise. You are completely (visually) immersed. My little experience with my roommate was trying to further immerse her by creating a “meta” situation. She’s viewing a theta photo in the exact spot the photo was taken in. She could just lift the goggles and actually see exactly what shes looking at in exactly the same place as the experience.

That said I was more concerned with the limit of the Theta. It reminds me of the Mitch Hedburg bit about above ground pools – “I saw a commercial for an above-ground pool, it was 30 seconds long. Because that’s the maximum amount of time you can picture yourself having fun in an above-ground pool. If it was 31 seconds, the actor would say “The water is only up to here? What do I do now? Throw the ball back to Jimmy? Or put some goggles on and look at his feet?”

Theta is the Above Ground Pool of Immersion/Presence.


Privacy Implications of Google’s Public WiFi

“Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass riot.”

This sentence was texted to everyone in the vicinity of protests in Kiev, Ukraine during periods of government upheaval and revolution in January 2014. This sentence is a glimpse into what could be a very likely scenario due to the installation of Google’s public wifi. As of January 5th, 2016 Google began rolling out 7500 individual public wifi kiosks throughout the 5 boroughs. Each kiosk has USB ports for charging phones. Google has immediate plans for New York City, but dreams of providing the entire world with free public wifi. Edward Snowden is rolling over in his izba (traditional Russian countryside dwelling). I am specifically thinking of the scene in Citizenfour when he unplugs a hotel landline from the wall because the phone didn’t have to be in use to be activated as a surveillance tool.

Snowden exposed in his giant leak that the Canadian government has already exploited public wifi at airports – CSEC (Canada’s NSA) used airport terminal public wifi to “track the wireless devices of thousands of ordinary airline passengers for days after they left the terminal.” You read that correctly: ordinary passengers – for days. I will remind you that Obama defended the actions of the NSA , condemned Snowden and halfheartedly promised a pitiful reform. Ronald Deibert, author of Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace writes: “Rightly or wrongly, those planes smashing into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania were viewed as a failure of cyber intelligence, of authorities not monitoring Internet communications and activities closely enough. At the same time, the prevailing view for most of those connected was that the Internet could not be controlled by governments.” This inflated sense of dropping the ball over 9/11 has lead to this climate of extreme invasion of privacy for the every day innocent citizen, for you or for me. In our country, in this day and age of homeland security, the patriot act and the war on terror, the government can and will find a way to invade the privacy of innocent Americans whenever and however they can get away with it. We are particularly vulnerable with new technology that the public has yet to understand or experience. Bear in mind that as the Guardian and The New York Times reported “ the NSA spends $250 million a year to work with technology companies to make commercial software—including encryption software—more “exploitable.” Insecure by design, this software is passed on to business and the public sector.” The more commonplace public, city wide, city government maintained public wifi is, the more commonplace NSA spying and citizen tracking will be. These actions, if you ask the government, are necessary.

According to Snowden, the NSA already has the infrastructure in place: “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.” The implications of a citywide network of public wfi in the hands of the NSA would create a world where extreme suspicionless surveillance would be universal. He was also quoted claiming that “The NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America.” Which is quite troubling especially in light of recent investigations and clashing between Apple and the FBI over Apple not allowing the FBI to override a password to one the San Bernadino killers’ iPhones. These times are critical for a precedence to be set with how much companies (and citizens) will allow the government to invade on their customers’ privacy when it comes to the internet and “smart” data collecting (especially location tracking) devices as they become ubiquitous. Evidence has shown that without laws (and even with them) companies decisions in regard to privacy when confronted with the law may have a price tag. Everyone was quick to applaud Apples’ Tim Cook for standing up to the FBI’s request to unlock the phone but equally quick to forget that Apple was one of the first companies accused of participation in the NSA’s PRISM data mining program.

You may be saying something echoed by people who don’t really understand what the cost of nationwide suspicionless surveillance would be – the “I don’t have anything to hide why would I care” crowd. The price of allowing our government such reach is intellectual freedom to explore and create, or as demonstrated in Kiev, to gather in protest. As our patron saint of internet privacy said in Citizenfour: “We all have a stake in this, this is our country and the balance of power between the citizenry and the government is becoming that of the ruling and the ruled as opposed to actually, you know, the elected and the electorate.” This is not what I want my United States to turn into. What is unsettling about the texting in Kiev is that major corporations, the equivalent of AT&T and Verizon in Ukraine denied disclosing any of their customers information – someone is at fault there. The same lack of accountability would absolutely occur if a similar situation was exposed over Google’s public wifi. When I asked my dad, who has been a software engineer and IT specialist for over 30 years he said it would be simple to figure out locations of and track say, a group of protesters, using cookies and mac addresses from being logged into to public wifi, from accepting the terms to such use, or I’m thinking, by simply plugging into the public usb ports to charge your phone. To think that a free country with free wifi would use this information against protesters exercising their right to free speech and track them, even keeping a list of who was there seems excessively 1984. You can imagine how this information could be misused by likes of potential President Don Trump and a more dystopian future where there is no safety or privacy in the net. You shouldn’t think you have much privacy on the internet anyways I guess. I don’t especially after researching this topic and falling into a Snowden leak rabbithole.

This all feels inevitable to me, part of the learning curve that comes with a new technology and (to be nice I’ll call it) a hypervigilant government. “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it,” as John Gilmore,founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, once famously quipped. I was not so sanguine.” Neither was Snowden, who found himself working for the NSA and “building the biggest weapon for oppression in the history of mankind.” This false sense of security, and lack of user knowledge about back end security and just how open and accessible everything you do on the internet is, along with post 9/11 paranoia bred the perfect storm for government abuse of citizens privacy in the guise of national security.
Now, this is a very bleak picture for the future of Google’s dream of worldwide public wifi. The benefits are tremendous and I am in fact very “pro” this endeavor, but I do think something somewhat impossible needs to occur: the government needs to trust its citizens. The citizens need to be educated about what is going on and how to protect themselves (against any cyber threats to privacy and security). Google needs to be transparent about its relationship with the government. I think we have a long way to go before we catch up with the vast openness of the internet. I enjoy thinking of the internet as a metaphor for the universe – always expanding, it contains everything and its limits cannot be known. As large and exciting as the depths of the internet are, our weakness is in not understanding just how our severely our privacy is compromised in the current climate of our country. My research has led me to believe that the U.S government isn’t mature enough to have public wifi. It would seriously abuse the inherent rights of its tax paying, law abiding, internet enjoying citizens. Like a child being offered free, bottomless, public candy – they wouldn’t know when to stop.





Secret Life of Plants – Singing Plant

The Singing Plant1)I set out to create the Singing Plant from HERE. was born out of a love and curiosity in plants. In 2013 on a road trip from New Mexico to New York, a friend lent me the book “The Secret Life of Plants”. From that point on, to quote Cleve Backster “my life just hasn’t been the same.”

Using a custom capacitive touch sensor, Arduino and Processing, the Touché Shield for Arduino developed by Disney Research Labs, with just a single wire stuck in the dirt the plant turns in to a fully functional multi gestural singing theremin, inducing bond between human and flora. Meant to stimulate an interest and foster a scientific curiosity and love for all kinds of plants and our underlying connection to everything living and breathing on the planet, the Singing Plant is a simple device that can be applied to any type of plant in any type of soil or water.

Here is a link to and some notes on the code:



References   [ + ]

1. I set out to create the Singing Plant from HERE.
Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 5.18.19 PM

API & Data



I’m suspicious about the code actually working but it appears to, today at least 🙂



var phase = 0;
var full;
var first;
var last;
var wanc;
var wang;
var waxc;
var waxg;

function preload() {
full = loadImage('full.png');
first = loadImage('firstquarter.png');
last = loadImage('lastquarter.png');
wanc = loadImage('waningcrescent.png');
waxc = loadImage('waxingcrescent.png');
wang = loadImage('waninggibbous.png');
waxg = loadImage('waxinggibbous.png');
function setup() {
createCanvas(800, 500);
var url = "http://api.wunderground.com/api/df817825c97d2a85/astronomy/q/NY/NewYork.json";
loadJSON(url, gotData);
function gotData(data) {
var phase = data.moon_phase.percentIlluminated;
}function draw(){
if (phase = 100){
image(full, 0,0,500,500);
text("The moon is full.", 500,250);
// else (phase = 0){
// stroke(255);
// ellipse(0,0,500,500);
// text("It is a new moon.", 500,250);
// }
// or else (1>phase<10){
// image(wanc, 0,0,500,500);
// text("The moon is waning crescent", 500,250);
// }
// else (10>phase<20){
// image(first, 0,0,500,500);
// text("The moon is in it's first quarter.", 500,250);
// }
// if (40>phase<60){
// image(wang, 0,0,500,500);
// text("The moon is waning gibbous.", 500,250);
// }
// if (60>phase<80){
// image(last, 0,0,500,500);
// text("The moon is in it's last quarter", 500,250);
// }
// if (80>phase<100){
// image(waxc, 0,0,500,500);
// text("The moon is waxing crescent.", 500,250);
// }