That TV effect – Wikipedia hacks

I know from my previous work at Wimbledon that when you put a URL on the TV you get a massive influx of activity to a website. It shows how intertwined computer use and TV watching actually is and something that has grown with the use of commentating channels like Twitter. It is not internet connected TVs just zooming you off to the URL but people bothering to type into their device that they have with them whilst they watch TV.
Yesterday we started airing a piece on The Cool Stuff Collective’s wikipedia page and mine and Wikipedia in general.
Cool Stuff Wikipedia
Almost instantly we had updates getting made on the page. we did not even publish the URL on screen. I should have mentioned in the TV piece that whilst anyone can edit, not saying you are when you do edit records your IP address on the log. Clean up bots put back any hacking or vandalism. We got lots of IP addresses logged!
It is an interesting feeling of letting things get on with it. Just as my page went through a noteworthy/not noteworthy discussion and passed. Watching the Cool stuff page get blanked and some offensive remarks added, having some nice, but not factual, comments added to it and even a bit of blatant self promotion from one of the schools featured. All in the matter of a few hours.
This morning though it looked like the bots had got a bit lost, or maybe just given up and the page was half there so I reverted it, under my ID, to one of the more regular ones. I restrained myself from removing any of the odd extra additions such as the school reference because I wanted to stay true to the Wikipedia ideal.
**Update – One of the more experienced editors spotted the “attacks” and took some action “(Protected The Cool Stuff Collective: Persistent vandalism ([edit=autoconfirmed] (expires 17:23, 7 February 2011 (UTC)) [move=autoconfirmed] (expires 17:23, 7 February 2011 (UTC))))” which was interesting. Due to the number of edits, the page also ended up at number 6 for the day on Wikirage which counts and tracks wikipedia activity
This is definitely one of those experiences you have to feel and watch unfold. You have to relinquish control and ego and let it self organise. It is a very different feeling to the one you get publishing to a blog, posting to twitter, making a tv show, delivering software to a customer. They all have a something about them, and they all create a different emotional response in the creator and in the receivers of that content.
Wikipedia is an amazing social and technical experiment that over the past 10 years has flourished through the diligence of all its contributors and editors.

Wikipedia S2Ep2 – Banana, Beret and Toilet

The Cool Stuff Collective show 2 just started airing this week (also now on twitter as @cstuffc). The plot features lots of comic special effects as Monkey has a magic genie in a phone and keeps wishing for bananas.
Sy asks the Genie, “how many wishes does Monkey have?” the reply “9 wishes”, “a bit of an odd number?”, the genie then replies “that’s the right number of wishes for all the jokes in the script” 🙂
In keeping with the madness of the show in general I had a few extra pieces to do over and above future tech. Monkey had too many bananas so we had to find good uses, mine was a screw driver for fixing a PS3.
Banana Screwdriver
We also had a piece on the Wii tablet and pictionary so Monkey and I were busy drawing bananas on note pads.
Drawing with monkey
Sy then sparked up a game of pictionary and drew the clue he was given (which was not fixed just serendipity at work). Monkey keeps guessing bananas and I finally get to guess and have the dubious honour of having shouted out “Toilet” on national television sat next to a beret wearing monkey with a beret of my own. Not something I ever thought I would type.
Shouting Toilet

The main Future Tech piece this week was on wikipedia. Yes it has been around for 10 years but I thought it was important to talk about the principles of the wiki. With all the wikileaks news stories too it was good to get across the difference and the positive benefits of wikis. One of the gags was that every time I said Wikipedia, Sy would stop me and it pans out to Lady Blah Blah scratching a record whilst Sy said Wiki Wiki Wah Wah. As we try and do these a a flowed single take it was both funny and annoying to do but worked 🙂

As part of the explanation we put the Cool Stuff Collective wikipedia page up, and it was interesting to see an instant flurry of sensible edits, hacks, bizarre paragraphs and some self promotion appear on it shortly afterwards. The important edit was the currency of the new series. We shall see how it survives the rest of the week. This though shows the power of the process. Anti spam bots were protecting us as were some individuals.
My page also made it up on screen so no idea what is going to go on there now.
Part of this was to point out Sy Thomas did not have his page and to show the empty edit page so I hope someone takes up the challenge on the biographies needed page and writes him one.
It would be an interesting school project for some enterprising teachers to get their kids involved in the contributory web to have a go at this.

More journeys into 3D

Wednesday was another studio record day for The Cool Stuff Collective. I will talk about what we did when the shows air in a few weeks. These were shows 3 and 4. Show 2 starts its run this Saturday.
This show there were a few more lines to do, only short ones for atmosphere but that is very different from having the control of my tech slot where its pretty much down to me doing an adlib riff on the tech. Sy and I have had more time to prep as it is good to explain what the point of a piece is. Though for one of them it was a piece of kit that I had not had in the run up to the show, luckily it all worked out after a slight power hitch.
What was even more interesting though was another camera crew from the BBC turned up. They were given permission to try out their camera kit whilst we were filming. This was a live production 3D camera, as you looked down the lens even from the set you could see the two giant lenses capturing the separated images.
3D monitors on test
There was a monitor stack (above) set up with some very expensive sony monitors and very light passive glasses. So they panned around us whilst we did the future tech piece and afterwards I got to see some of the other shots live. The baubles and surfaces of our set makes for great 3D. This was not for broadcast it was the production services at the BBC testing and we are an ITV show anyway 🙂
I was tempted to see if we could just do a feature on the camera and kit as a behind the scenes piece but that was all a bit short notice I think. It was great though to have such a cool set of gadgets used to show us talk about such a cool set of gadgets. Very meta!
This week the floor cleared event quicker than last time as people start to get into a routine. The set is broken up in hardly any time at all.
Breaking the set down
It was a always going to a challenging shoot as Producer Matt was not there this week. Losing one person from the production team makes a massive difference, but huge congratulations to him and his wife on the birth of their baby boy. Yes its a Cool Stuff Collective Baby.
The videos clips from last weeks show including the cloud computing and gaming piece we did is up on the official website, it is probably still UK only, and is topped and tailed with the Nerf sponsorship idents. It is of course slightly odd out of context as there are stories for each show and this one was the one we had all forgotten who Sy was, hence calling him Sid and being slightly dismissive. You can still catch the full show on CITV tonight at 5:30pm before the new show runs on Saturday at 9am.
Roll on the next shoot some even more exciting things to come (though probably less picture of the set 🙂 )

Where the magic happens – Behinds the scenes

Last week I shot a quick behind the scenes view of The Cool Stuff Collective studio before the madness of filming started. I think it gives a good impression of the size of the studio and they are fascinating places.

It’s an early return to the studio this week, as we now are filming on a Wednesday not a Friday as we did with the first two.
I am not sure whether we will end up having a massive Nerf fight in here given our sponsors, but that would be a laugh to see!

Cool Stuff Collective returns – S2Ep1 Cloud

The second series of The Cool Stuff Collective hit the screens today, sponsored by Nerf (from Hasbro) which in itself is cool. It’s this Nerf N-Strike Barricade RV-10

The Cool Stuff Collective is now filmed at BBC television centre in Studio 2 which is a much bigger studio than we had for series 1 at MTV Camden.
Where the magic happens
There are Blue Peter signs everywhere which is quite awe inspiring.
The production gallery is up above us as opposed to the side where @marleyman007 directs us from.
Monkey has been reborn too, and has some wonderful googly eyes too.
Monkey reborn
Another new character on set is Lady Blah Blah complete with beard
Sy, Lady Blah Blah and the popcrash grannies
Here is Lady Blah Blah with Sy Thomas and the Popcrach grannies, though I realize this looks odd as Janice has lent back to talk to Victoria.
This is the view we have sat on set (though there are usually more people staring at us 🙂
View form the set
This week the gag was that we had all forgotten Sy and call him Sid as its been a few weeks since the last series. Predlet 2.0 was a bit confused watching the “acting” he asked me if I really had forgotten Sy’s Name 🙂
So the show opened Sy introducing it all and then I come on measuring the TV and feign ignorance.
Calling Sy Sid
My tech part of the show is more back to normal though in a attempt to define cloud computing and cloud gaming in 3 minutes.
I used the basic principle that cloud is really about the break up of the PC and of computer components and moving them away to other places.
I took an old computer and pulled a card out and handed it to Sy by way of a prop to try and explain the distribution of compute resource, storage etc. It was a simplistic explanation but when you boil it down that is what is happening.
I then explained how Onlive works and is coming to the UK with BT very soon and that it is actually good for gaming in that we can play any game on any console, and will not really have to replace any of our old kit as all we need is a screen, network and input controller.
The final extrapolation is a planet wide grid of compute resouurce. I was going to throw in IPv6 but that got too tongue twisty. Any resource anywhere local or remote and combined into massive computing power and storage.
This first show (and next weeks) was great fun to record and the coming shows look awesome too. The team at Archie Productions and Sy Thomas have done a great job and I love being part of that.
I guess that wikipedia article needs updating now for the show? to reflect series 2 and the new record location.
See you all next week same time same place 🙂 (Or any of the many repeats all week)

Cool 3d Christmas

The final episode (13) of The Cool Stuff Collective series 1 is airing this week and its the christmas special. I was lucky enough to be able to give a variety of 3d pieces of tech an outing. A fuji 3d camera, the vuzix eyewear and a Toshiba/Nvidia 3d laptop.
Cover 3d on 2d TV is like doing colour on a black and white screen but I think we did it justice. A screen for each eye with vuzix, showing 2 lenses and a lenticular lens viewer on the camera and side by side images for the laptop.
3d camera
The lenticular lens rippled nicely on screen and the side by side picture illustrated the principle whilst Sy got to see the actual real effects. We did not fake any of it either as it seems important to do these things for real.
3d Specs
The madness of christmas meant we did a 12 presents of christmas line up passing the presents along the line whilst Father Cool did his vicar style duties followed by a christmas rap. Hence the various stances we took.
It was a manic take and we just got told to go for it, the more disorganised the better. Which is what we did. We had to be really careful with some of the toys to not press any of the noisy buttons as we passed them along the line. This was a great finale I thought and probably the most I have laughed at work ever, and thats saying something.
Cool Stuff Collective xmas
In the recording I talked about the aspirations of the 2022 Japan World Cup bid, which of course now we know has gone to Qatar, however the technology future still stands up.

Fingers crossed still for series two. I think I like doing TV you know!

Augmented Reality – Evolution in 3 mins

On The Cool Stuff Collective this week, that just aired. I got to talk a little about AR. Whilst we did not show any of the more traditional camera/marker overlay for various reasons I think we covered a lot of AR ground from marker triggering with fiducial markers and creating magic mirrors all the way to the Vtech kids video camera that acts as a live AR magic lens. Then mentioning the display contact lenses as a future way of delivering information to us in physical world.
Magic cubes
It was particularly cool for me to be able to use the Junaio triggering Royal Mail stamps that kick in a video of Bernard Cribbins.
AR video camera
Its a real bind getting a video feed out of some of these smartphones, this was a Droid, but the Iphone is also very awkward. So whilst we did connect and did trigger the video and it really does work it was better for Archie Productions to edit in the actual video.
I think we may end up with some more AR content down the line though as there are some really good products and demos like the ones we got to see in Finland OEM 2010 using Total immersion D’Fusion.
For the program I had created a Junaio channel for Feeding Edge which you get a floating Cool Stuff text model floating above the Cool Stuff TV logo if you point at it. Its all very doable! Just did not come out on the screen too well without that pesky video feed and screen shots don’t do AR justice.
Also the website going live with some Uk only video did mean I could pop into SL and do some virtual world augmented reality.
lego universe via TV in SL
Epredator getting to see G33K me streaming into a media texture talking about another virtual world the brilliant Ledo Universe Online which goes live in a few days. You have to love the meta loop !
Also great to see the CYGLO tyres running on the TV more on those at

Practicing 3d Scanning

I have borrowed a NextEngine 3d scanner for the Cool Stuff Collective shoot on friday. It belongs to a professional movie animator and puppeteer Craig Crane who lives very near to here. It was amazing to see all his home setup kit and hear about the work he does with larger scanners scanning in entire film set locations and them meshing them up for CGI special effects. He has a personal project too here.
The scanner software is windows only and it seemed safer to bootcamp my Mac Book Pro just to make sure I got the performance. I have VMware and Parallels, bit good but when hardware and intensive gfx are needed direct windows seems better.
The scanner comes with a motor driven turn table. You place the item on that a fixed distance away from the scanner and tell it how many frames to do min is 4. It then scans away, passing the lasers over the item
Scanning a 3d print
As you can see I tried a few things
It is also very clever in the fact it generally stitches all these meshes together, allows you to trim and polish the mesh. If there are some things it could not see like the top of a head you simply turn the object 90 degrees and ask it to scan again then align that mesh to fill in the gap. I did not do too much of that as I need to do a basic scan to show the principle. The tidying and improving that a talented designer with a keen eye does not drop into my coder art remit 🙂
The models are very detailed even on the low res scan. I had some success with the texturing too. It takes 2d photos and then maps them on the object.
A very impressive piece of kit, I am not sure I can justify buying it for myself, though with the new mesh support arriving in Second Life and the ability to drop these meshes into Unity3d (with a bit of decimation first) it would be a very useful tool.

A day at the TV Studio – Cool Stuff Collective

Yesterday I headed up to Camden to the MTV studios bright and early for the filming of the studio parts of episodes 1 and 2 of the Cool Stuff Collective. It was a very interesting and cool experience though being the first 2 shows there was a certain amount of chaos. Archie Productions and the team obviously do lots of work in the industry but piling into the studio is really like starting from fresh again.
It was great to meet Sy Thomas the main presenter, though I got to see him work first from the production desk which is one of the most button laden gadgets you will ever see. It’s like the bridge of the enterprise.
Producer Matt was dashing around doing all sorts of things the level of energy for the whole day that the team had was amazing.
Whilst waiting for my big moment I was in the MTV canteen with the guys from Print-It 3d, Ian and Mike and Anne Marie from Anarkik Angels.
Printit-3d are based in Wales and Anarkik Angels in Edinburgh so everyone had made quite a trek.
Printit-3d had brought along the VFlash Desktop Modeler from 3d Systems they are the authorized suppliers of that and of the new Pro Jet 3d pinter.
The VFlash is amazing in that it is only £10,000 but produces amazingly detailed and complex models. The guys had so many samples that they opened up on the table we drew quite a crowd form lots of other people milling around at MTV.
The system uses liquid plastic but also wax which allows it to print complex moving pars, gears and cogs. The Pro Jet printers much more expensive but the precision and edges it produces on devices feels like machined metal. I have talked about and seen lots of things in 3d printing but I was blown away with how good this stuff has got.
Print-It 3d/3d Systems samples
The Pro Jet sample that got my attention was two plates that were bolted together in four corners, when undo the bottom plates were two blocks that slid together on rails. All of that got printed in one go.
In the picture above you can also see a complete plate of prints in the tope left the build platform on the VFlash is about the size of a small laptop. The guys had a sample of an entire chess set printed in one go. Each chess piece wwas very intricate with hollow areas in the rooks with small spiral twisting staircases inside them.
Whilst I was waiting and checking the script to fill the time and calm any nerves I decided to rehearse the flow in Opensim.
Cool stuff collective script
The flow of the piece went from showing a regular printer on the left, then an intricate chess piece, then the printer, followed by the description of the transition from computer model to printer. The layered planes toward the right of hte picture are for the description of the process. Then a table full of samples. The brick wall was to mention printing houses and finally the big sphere is saying how this changes the world.
A little abstract modelling but as this worked for my other presentation flows it was good to give it a go 🙂
Anne Marie had brought the Falcon Haptic device and AnarkikAngels brilliant Cloud 9 modelling package. Everyone who creates a sphere or block in this and then pushes on it with the force feedback device gets an astounded look on their face. Andy Piper captured some of this back in 2009 when Anne Marie visited Hursley.

At some point in the afternoon I was called into the studio, the Haptic device was up first, which was interesting as I was more mentally prepared for the 3d printer but it made sense to go that way around.
Part of the programme is that Sy Thomas is the disbelieving, confused one across it all. He is the main draw for the show and it was great that he was so cool about me just turning up. I felt pretty much at home, though some uncharacteristic nerves meant I managed to fluff my first line. Sy had a few goes at some of his first as whilst scripted the proof of it is when its done for real so it is adjusted.
This was also a live demo, in I that the plan was not for me to drive the device by for him to do it. That worked brilliantly as he just got on with it and then described the wow experience that we all get using it for the first time. Whilst he can and does act in this case this was the same genuine wow which I thought was very cool indeed.
It was then a quick tshirt change and the 3d printer and all the samples and prints were wheeled in.
Tv t shirt
The Tshirt was one I threw together on cafe press as an example, the production team then went ant got a stack of them made up in different colours. So g33k will be replacing my stripey leather jacket in personal branding stakes if this all works out 🙂 Several people in the foyer at MTV asked what G33K was 🙂 which I guess was the point.
Whilst doing the tshirt change and heading back into the studio I practically bumped into Brandon Flowers who that had said was recording next door. How rock and roll it that ! Years of Wimbledon star spotting though I was nonchalant 🙂
The 3d printer item went pretty well. The VFlash was going to be opened to reveal the chess set but the second take we did of the item seemed to be flowing so well that opening the cupboard door felt like it did not fit.
I hung around after that was a wrap and ended up in the tail item for one of the shows too. I wont spoil the suprise.
Hopefully my little 3 min set called Ian’s world in cool stuff collective will work in the edits on Monday as they programme is put together. In two weeks time we do it all again, but it will be much easier.
Hopefully some of the devices that we are chasing will be a bit more forthcoming once the Cool Stuff Collective airs on 5:00pm Monday 13th September on CITV Sky 621 Freeview 72 Virgin 734 Tiscali 307
You can see the trailer here with Sy doing his thing.