A1.3: Reflection

Week 1

I don’t have much of a relationship with self-tracking. I tend to stay away from tools and applications used for tracking activity. I guess I’m uncomfortable with the amount of information accessible and readily available online. My Facebook account has been inactive for almost 3 years and I try to limit the amount of information I share on other social media platforms. However, I’m not against the quantified self movement and encourage people to use the tools available to increase self-awareness and make constructive life adjustments.

I have a completely open mind for this course and I’m willing to test some self-tracking tools with limitations. I’m interested in emotion tracking, specifically how music impacts my mood and concentration. I’d like to know what music makes me happy/sad, how my mood evolves throughout the duration of a particular song, what part of the song triggers emotions, my productivity levels while listening to music, and how the data could be used for better decisions. At this point, I’m not entirely sure how I plan to track the variables of interest and I expect to face challenges with consistency.

Other topics to discover:

Pain management and food consumption: How my body reacts to certain foods . Why does my X hurt on X day? What foods trigger symptoms?

Sleep patterns and mood

Relationships – my connections with family and friends

I got a Fitbit as a birthday gift a few years ago and it collected dust after only a few weeks. The data was always inaccurate  and I was discouraged after a few bad readings. I’d like to take a different approach with activity tracking this time around and have patience for possible glitches and data inaccuracies.

A1.2: Self-Tracking Projects Review

Week 1

Review of a few projects relating to self-tracking and the quantified self

Rocio Chongtay: “Quantified Brain and Music for Self-Tuning”

Description: While studying for a Masters in Artificial Intelligence, Rocio Chongtay noticed she had trouble concentrating with background noise , total silence or music with lyrics or catchy beats playing. She also realized specific music helped her focus and cancelled out background distraction. Chongtay experimented different types of music while quantifying her levels of concentration and relaxation using  a BCI (brain computer interface) visualizer by Neurosky.  The EEG (electroencephalography) sensor  monitors 8 different brain waves and integrates with iTunes to measure brain electrical activity while listening to different music. After quantifying her own brain, Chongtay was able to identify high productivity levels and create an ideal playlist based on self-tuning.

Source for graphic: Vimeo 1:00

Broader Significance: Music can be used as a tool for motivation and inspiration. Research suggests that pleasurable music releases dopamine in the brain.  Playlist could be  created and used specifically for depression and productivity.

Why it’s interesting to me: Music is a huge part of my life and I usually try to integrate it into everything I do.  I also have concentration issues based on the type of music playing, similar to Rocio Chongtay. “Self-tuning” would be a great tool to find and monitor motivators while listening to different music.

Peter Torelli: “The Quickening. Narratives Hidden in 20 Years of Personal Financial Data”

Description: Peter Torelli tracked his financial data for 20 years, starting with manually logging transactions in Quattro Pro spreadsheets and  saving the data on floppy disks to data residing on Quicken servers. Torelli’s spending trends revealed more than his financial transactions; the data also displayed visceral memories and pivotal moments in his life.

Source for graphic: hidden-stories-20-years-financial-data

Source for graphic: Vimeo 4:48

Broader Significance: Collecting financial data is a representation of spending habits but data also has the potential to show specific patterns and highlight changes in habits caused by life events. This could be helpful for making decisions indirectly related to spending.

Why it’s interesting to me: In a perfect world, I would track my spending, monitor my habits and make better decisions based on data available. Torelli ‘s story is instructive and motivates me to become more conscious of my spending decisions.

Steven Jonas: Spaced Listening

Description: Steven Jonas has a short attention span for listening to albums the first time around. He believes his brain rejects unfamiliar music and prevents him from listening a second time. Jonas developed a “spaced listening” system using a tool called Anki to remind him to play new music and google forms to track his listening experience. The tools helped him appreciate new music and overcome rejection of novelty.


Source for graphic: Steven Jonas: Spaced Listening

Broader Significance: Opens up a listeners ability to experience and appreciate  different genres of music.

Why it’s interesting to me: I love late 90’s hip hop so naturally I tend to listen to music from that era the most. Jonas provides great suggestions and ways to broaden my musical palette.


Project Promt

Honestly, I haven’t really thought much about a  project. I have so many ideas, but I’d like the core of my project to produce some sort of data output. It took me a long time to call myself an artist, particularly because I’ve had writers block for some time now — a few years (more than I’d like to admit). But  I AM an artist  and if I were active, I’d personally find a device that could potentially break writers block extremely useful. A system/tool enabling an artist to input  lyrics and receive returned rhyming output would be pretty amazing.

I completed an excellent Python programming class (Reading and Writing Electronic Text) with Allison Parrish a few semesters ago. We had a session dedicated to sound symbolism and pronouncing. I was really interested in the  rhymes function. I’d like to possibly integrate this function into my project – if possible.

Make America Great [Again]- Spider Bae

Quick note: This isn’t an attack on Kanye West, I appreciate and admire him as a human and artist. One of the things I love most about him is the passion and love he puts into his work and what he believes in. He doesn’t conform and I highly respect that. However, he needs to understand the power of his platform; it’s impactful and people are listening, particularly children. Kanye’s recent rants in the media makes my head feel like it could literally explode. Honestly, I’m returning the favor.


Midterm and process below:


Here’s the code:

I used a JPEG image online and converted it to .PNG (thanks FenFen).  I also modified a few sound files in Adobe Premier to use as background audio in the web editor. Initially, I ran into trouble getting the potentiometer to communicate with P5. Danny and Ari also helped me figure out a few coding errors.  There are still minor issues but its pretty functional for the most part.


Things I would change:

  • Find a way to make spider bae more interactive. The potentiometer was a great tool for P5 and Arduino connectivity but user interaction was limited after the explosion.
  • Functional in full screen mode – I had issues rendering the P5 sketch in full mode.

No auto save. Gaming in the 90’s


I was a hard-core gamer once. I had every popular game as a kid and would play well into the morning on weekends (of course) until completion. I’m talking about the hard-core gamer here –  blow into the system and game cartridge gamer. No auto save, you only have two options: game paused or game over gamer. Yeah, hard-core.

I’m not bragging here, I actually can’t believe there wasn’t an option to save console games until The Legend of Zelda in 1987. The cartridge had an internal battery that powered a RAM chip which allowed players to save their progress. The NES was a good console but I have to say, the SNES changed my LIFE.

I get nostalgic when I see micro-controllers. I think of gadgets, game consoles and anything electronic from my childhood. For my Raspberry Pi assignment I wanted to use Sonic Pi to create a few sounds from an old school game. I ran into trouble during set up because I wasn’t able to find the /opt/sonic-pi/etc/samples folder with all the .flac sample sound files. I downloaded several .wav sounds from Freesound.com as a workaround and wired four push buttons to a breadboard and Raspberry Pi to create a GPIO box.

Check it out:


Next steps: Turn .wav sounds into a rhythmic flow and pattern. Make music!

I’m actually really interested in Sonic Pi in general and I’d LOVE to eventually make an entire album using Sonic Pi and live coding.

Stay tuned…

Also, I found this cool website for 8 bit sounds after I completed the GPIO box…


I added another button and include a game over wav file.

I. had. to.


[Final Video] Emotional IQ

I had so much fun with this project. It was an informative learning experience and Marina’s feedback during our early stages into completion was critical.

Thank you Gabriella and FenFen for your hard work and dedication to our project.

Also, a tremendous thank you to the actors who made our video possible.

Actors: Amanda Wallace and Rel Holla

Voiceover Actor: Evelyse Fung

Music: Alumo Royalty Free Music – Cinematic Inspirational Music Instrumental


Thank you!

[Midterm idea] A blast from the past [ICM]

We were asked to incorporate ICM work with Pcomp for the midterm assignment. Its been well over a year since ICM but I’m still pretty excited to refresh my mind and revisit some of my old projects from my ICM days… I was obsessed with Kanye West last year for some odd reason; way before his recent comments in the media about well.. everything. Needless to say, Ye’s been under harsh criticism lately – and rightfully so.  Millions of people look up to Kanye West, particularly the youth  – to go even deeper, young black children. Trust me I get it, it’s not a rappers job to play a positive role model for kids but it’s crucial for entertainers to have an awareness of their direct impact and influence, on and off-screen. I’m not interested in judging Kanye’s political views;  we have the right to support who we want to support. But there’s a huge difference between free thought and trolling…

Anyway, Kanye is the subject of my Midterm assignment. I plan to use a potentiometer to manipulate an image of Ye in P5.  The pot will control several behaviors and I’ll add a final touch at the end of the potentiometer reading.

How does this all play into a “Halloween Themed” project? Well, aside from Kanye’s scary ass behavior lately, the potentiometer will also control spooky sounds. Additionally, I plan to have two bright red LED eyes on the base of my device. If this all works out, it will be super cool!


Make something [NYC Police Sirens]

I also followed the book for this exercise; I seem to retain more information when I read examples directly from the Arduino projects book.  I switch between the resources online and the physical book – this is extremely useful and helpful for me. I used a Pushbutton switch and three LED’s (red, blue, white), 3 220 OHM resistors, and 1 10 K ohm resistor to replicate NYC police sirens. The code was pretty straight forward but I added an extra 100 delay to create the flickering effect between the white and blue LED’s.

Make something C4/C5

I was able to get through a few labs but I ran into problems with the servo motor control project. I started with the web version and decided to work on the example in the book, which I found easier to comprehend. I followed the project line for line this time around to avoid mistakes but I still ran into trouble. Initially, I wanted to build a small menu with three food options for dinner. An arrow would cover the servo arm, similar to  the Mood cue example.

Ingredients: 3 Male header pins, 1 Potentiometer, 1 Servo Motor, Motor arm and 2 100UF capacitors. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get it working so I had an apple for dinner. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I followed the code line for line, I’m not sure why it isn’t functional. The servo motor starts as soon as I upload Arduino however, the serial monitor returns weird values. I’m sure this is incorrect and I’ll need to ask Danny for guidance.