Swype Alphabet

Data Representation, Linguistic Deconstruction

I just got a new cell phone, a Samsung SCH-I415. It has a physical keyboard, but it also comes loaded with Swype, a virtual keyboard that uses word patterns on the keyboard to interpret input. This annoyed me, because I’d wanted to do sculptures based on these shapes and don’t want to be considered as derivative. I’d done some maquettes in recent years and posted about it here, but hadn’t showed anything, except for a small piece I showed at the Samson Project‘s Chain Letter show in 2011. For the curious, documentation occurs on the far right panel of the 13th image from the show, it’s the little wooden piece to the left of the tangle of wires. My own documentation of the show is here.

Well, I started playing with Swype, and it works pretty well as an input system, much better than pecking at a virtual screen with fingertips and missing every sixth letter. It doesn’t much like usernames and oddities, but it does a decent job of adding things to its dictionary, although I’d rather not trust it with any passwords. It’s funny, but it’s easier to Swype with my left hand because it doesn’t seem to cover up as much of the keyboard while I’m drawing. It then occurred to me: since I’m drawing on the keyboard, I could take a page from my alphabets fixation and see how Swype would interpret my letter shapes.

I did the capital alphabet several times, to get something of a statistical collection of words, and here is a selected list:

A: Cyndi
B: Truth
C: Itch
D: Tactic
E: Rancho
F: Through
G: Using
H: Rerun
I: Truck
J: Until
K: Reign
L: Ten
M: Exton
N: Darby
O: Hecht
P: Trig
Q: Grub
R: Flubbed
S: Utrecht
T: Thai
U: Ruby
V: Rio
W: Echo
X: Eric
Y: Rub
Z: Rick Flynn

I tried to keep with a single word for each letter, with the exception of “Rick Flynn” for “Z”, because it was pretty awesome. Also, honorable mention to the runner up for “Z”, “Gagnon B-)”. I didn’t include it because an emoticon isn’t really a word, but it’s also pretty awesome.

PostArt Poets Logo ETG Poem

Internet Art, Linguistic Deconstruction

Here’s a new posting of an Encoded Twitter Graphic, the protocol of which you may peruse here. This particular graphic is a tiled ETG, which is mentioned here. The tweets are as follows:





And encode the logo of the PostArt Poets in the CGA color space. These four tweets may be considered a poem, in four stanzas, celebrating digital art in all its glory.

Actual size:


Detail view (10x):

Tenth Round of QRs in the Wild

Composites, Data Representation

300… I’ve captured 300 QRs. Here’s the group average, as shot:

(the graininess comes from the fact I photographed three or four QRs on computer monitors this time around)

Generated average:

Average of all 300, as shot–

And all 300, freshly generated:

Since 300 is a big and round number, I figured I’d do another breakdown of the QRs by size, generating averages that are slightly more meaningful because there’s greater overlap. (Here’s the first one.) First, the histogram of QR sizes (given in pixels on the bottom axis):

For the pixel sizes with more than one entry, here are those composites:

216 pixels:

248 pixels:

280 pixels:

312 pixels:

344 pixels:

376 pixels:

408 pixels:

504 pixels:

These averages clearly show the control blocks, the orientation blocks, and the data fields used int he QR specification.

Ninth Round of QRs in the Wild

Composites, Data Representation

The sad thing is, I’d had the eighth round mostly processed for a couple months, and I finally finished it up and posted it because I’d collected enough for the ninth round. So… here’s the ninth round! 270 QRs found in the wild.

9th round as-shot

9th round as clean, regenerated codes

Full set of 270 codes, as-shot

Full set of 270, clean, regenerated codes.

DTMF Made Visible

Data Representation, Metashapes

Another bit of noodling I did over the past few days, I’m playing with the frequency mapping of the DTMF (or TouchTone™) sounds used in telephony. These tones are becoming less and less prevalent as mobile phones replace land lines, so this is something of a latter-day portrait of a mature technology. The colors are okay, but I’ll probably play with them some more. Pictured here are the ringback tone, dial tone, and busy signal. I’ll do the numberpad presently.

Another Way to Get More ETG Pixels

Data Representation, Internet Art

Continuing on the idea of stuffing the Twitter pipeline with pixels, maybe I should just not worry so much about compression and figure out a way to divide images up and let the coding enable people to reconstitute them. Thus, I have prepared a tiled Twitter graphic, expanding from a simple 9 x 12 pixel CGA graphic to a 27 x 36 pixel graphic in 9 tiles.

For this end, though, I’ll need to modify the header definitions. Consider this ETG V0.2, with a small tweak on how to deal with images that are supposed to be displayed together.

The ATG frames code includes a 4-letter ID squib and 2 hex digits for animation frame numbering. I reserved the first block of 128 for a non-looping animation set, which is actually kinda silly because most Web animations are looped anyway. So let’s use that block to indicate the location of each tile in the set. This gives us a latitude of 7 tiles across and 15 tiles down, or tile coordinates 7E.

If you have a tileset of 7 tiles by 10 tiles, then the tiling number 45 means “fourth tile from the left, fifth tile down”. The tiling number 12 means “first tile from the left, second down”. And, using hex, number 7A means “seventh tile from left, ten down”, or the last tile in this set.

For this image, I tiled an image into a 3×3 grid, or 9 tiles. For our first tile, the header will look like this:

`CGA which gives the color space

`09×12 which gives the size of the tile

`FedW11 which gives the ID squib and the origin tile (first from left, first down)

and `{ which locates the data payload.

The tiles can be tweeted in any order, because they share their unique ID squib and their ordering is contained within their headers. However, I prepared these in left-right/top-down order, so I’ll paste them here that way:










Here are those pieces:

Here they are assembled:

And here they are enlarged for more clarity:

Further CGA ETG Compression

Data Representation, Internet Art

I’ve been trying to find a way to compress images even more, so I could expand the size of the color tweets available. Basically, since Twitter uses only the usable characters of ASCII text, and it can be hard to type higher-bit ASCII on some keyboards, I’ve pretty much exhausted the palette of encoding options with my 6-bit “0-9 A-Z a-v” encoding scheme. So… instead of encoding, maybe I could address patterns in the data itself.

One of the easiest things to see in the data are strings of repeating elements. If I could further encode those strings I could save room and not have long lines of 000000 or 33333 for fields of color in the image. Let’s say I simply put the number of pixels in front of the code for the pixel color, and the TwGD will decipher what was meant. So, a string of eight white CGA pixels, FFFFFFFF, would be represented as 8F.

The only problem with this is that the character 8 already encodes for dark grey. Putting numbers in the stream will collide with the numbers already there. So I’ll need to convert the hex numbers into a new coding scheme, so the pixel quantities don’t mess with the pixel codes. Say, pixel 0 (black) equals a, pixel 1 (dark blue) equals b, and so on. In this scheme, the string of white, FFFFFFFF, would become 8p. That’s a savings of 6 characters!

Of course, you won’t get that kind of savings everywhere. Especially 2-pixel doubles, since you’re just replacing 2 identical pixel codes with a “2” and the new code. There’s still some squishing to be had here. For this special case, I came up with a second series of codes, using punctuation to stand for pixel doubles. Here’s the full set of codes for this scheme, which I’m calling Similar String CGA encoding (“CGS”)

0 = a   00 = !
1 = b   11 = "
2 = c   22 = $
3 = d   33 = %
4 = e   44 = &
5 = f   55 = '
6 = g   66 = (
7 = h   77 = )
8 = i   88 = *
9 = j   99 = +
A = k   AA = ,
B = l   BB = -
C = m   CC = .
D = n   DD = /
E = o   EE = :
F = p   FF = ;

So, using this additional compression scheme, I was able to encode a 12 x 17 pixel CGA image with plenty of room to spare. It doesn’t sound like too much extra, but that’s 150% the area of the 10 x 13 CGA pixel image I tweeted back in December, and includes the ETG header information, too.

Here’s the image, a color version of the self-portrait from yesterday:

And the resulting tweet, using “CGS” as the code for this new compression scheme:


A New ETG (Encoded Twitter Graphic) Self-Portrait

Data Representation, Internet Art

I dusted off the old ETC encoding protocol today for a project I’m doing for a show entry, creating a self-portrait to send through social media. I used the 6-bit compression scheme I used for old Teddy Roosevelt’s 2-bit gray image for an image of myself. Because I did a couple tweaks on the protocol between encoding Roosevelt and nailing down the format, I had to sacrifice a line of pixels for this image. It’s 15×25 pixels, not 15×26, but that’s not too bad. The tweet:


And the encoded image: