The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'web toys'
Random Album Generator generates album covers by randomly mashing up found images and text. It occasionally hits on some serendipitous combinations:
Lullatone are a half-Japanese, half-American duo based in Japan who make music that can probably best be described as twee folktronica. And now, you can make it too with their Raindrop Melody Maker Flash web toy, which looks a bit like a pastel-coloured Tenori-On:
Web toy of the day: FontStruct. A Flash-based web app which allows you to create your own geometric fonts from a selection of tiles.
The site lets you make your characters as large or small as you want, and gives you access to all of Unicode (so if you want to do the entire set of Chinese pictographs, knock yourself out). You can download your creations in TrueType or Flash bitmap format, or share them in the site's galery under a variety of Creative Commons licences. Or just browse the gallery for other users' creations, which vary from the sorts of geometric and bitmap fonts you'd expect to find to retro-styled ones, blackletter fonts, and the odd twee-looking picture font.
Which is way cool, though I can't help but think that FontShop has just wiped out its market for geometric fonts. (Not that that was unexpected; with the rise of user-generated content and better authoring tools, content is no longer a seller's market, and the standard of user-generated content is rising to the point where, even if it's on average not as good as the professional stuff, it's often good enough.)
Web toy of the day (if not the year): Hobnox Audiotool. A TR-909, two TB-303s and a bag of effects pedals in a Flash applet, with a nifty patch-cord interface.
It sounds pretty authentic (well, at least as much as the various ReBirths and 303 softsynths) and flexible (the knobs produce the right amount of variation in the sound), which suggests that there is more to this than a bunch of samples in a simple player. The two options are:
- Recent versions of Flash have some kind of MSP/SuperCollider-style unit-generator-based audio engine built in, and pre-stocked with a bunch of useful components (such as wavetable oscillators, envelopes, filters, delay lines, convolvers, &c.), so that the Flash code only has to assemble a network of these and press play. Which essentially means that this sort of high-powered computer music infrastructure has become thoroughly commodified, to the point of being embedded for free in the infrastructure, remaining unnoticed until one actually uses something made from it. And that it would be possible to assemble quite usable audio production web applications in Flash, or:
- The applet merely communicates with a process on the web server, which synthesises the audio and streams it back to it.
Muxtape.com is a new web application which allows users to make online mix tapes by uploading MP3s, which then can be arranged into a "mix tape" people can listen to online. It gets bonus points for the interface, which has a minimal elegance about it and does everything other than the actual music playing in DHTML. On the down side, you only get to put 12 MP3s in your mix, and are not supposed to have more than one mix.
(For what it's worth, my one's here.)
Retrievr is a web-toy that lets you search images on Flickr by drawing things that look like what you're looking for on a Flash applet. It seems to go mostly by colour, rather than feature recognition, and seems to only search a small pre-cached subset of images (which tends towards the prettier end of the scale and includes a lot of sunsets, cats and arty black-and-white photos). As far as finding pictures of objects one draws, it's rather unsuccessful; though, nonetheless, it does yield interesting results.
(via The Fix)
flickrGraph is an applet for graphically browsing social networks on Flickr, not unlike the TouchGraph LiveJournal Browser in concept. Except, of course, it is a Flash applet, which means that it (a) looks k3wler, as large full-colour icons jiggle, bounce and rotate, and (b) is less usable, as large full-colour icons take up lots of screen space, bounce unstoppably and obscure controls.
It appears that Tetka is skinnable. Perhaps we'll soon see other public figures subjected to the indignity of being tossed, arse over teakettle, down an infinite well of spheres. Could this be the peeing Calvin of the Flash age?
Tetka, an interactive Flash toy in which an oddly rubbery, physics-obeying female mannequin (which looks to be either the corpse of a drugged stripper, a perversely erotic crash-test dummy or a sex doll from well within Mori's Uncanny Valley) falls through an infinite void of spheres, hitting and bouncing off spheres, its limbs flailing realistically. It's compelling whilst at the same time disturbing.
Another online speech synthesizer demo; this one (ScanSoft's rVoice), however, has multiple accents, including British (i.e., RP), Scottish, Australian (only in sheila, though, and not bloke), Spanish, and not only American but also Valley Girl (more formally known as "Southern California").
Which is rather nifty; it's good to be able to get synthesized speech that doesn't sound either generic-American or (occasionally) RP-British (which some call the BBC accent, except for the fact that nobody on the BBC talks like that these days).
Apparently one of their markets is call centres and voice-response systems (and some of the voices have normal and call-centre modes of diction). Which could explain the presence of a Scottish accent; apparently, studies in Britain found that Scottish accents are considered the most soothing/least aggravating to call centre callers.
The Beaterator; an online Flash-based audio sequencer, which comes with loops and sounds from several popular house/trance/breakbeat/electronica artists, or you can upload your own.
OKCupid is another on-line matchmaking site/web-toy for people who enjoy filling in surveys. As the theory goes, you fill in a survey, get a personality type (one of those four-element ones, like the Myers-Briggs or the Spark personality test, only more bootywhang-oriented). Then, to build up your profile by answering random questions from a database; the more you have, in theory, the more "accurate" your matches with strangers online will be.
The questions were mostly submitted by users, so about half of them are poorly-designed to the point of uselessness; many of them one could answer either way depending on context, or consist of inadequate choices ("a) techno; b) trance; c) house; d) I don't like electronic music"), or are US-centric ("Do you have an ambition to visit all 50 states before you die?", "Should the death penalty be abolished?"). Then there are the questions, like "do you think extraterrestrials are watching us?", for which any answer other than skipping it asserts much the same thing (i.e., in this case, a certainty of belief about the unknowable). More interesting are the ones which betray their authors' assumptions: false dichotomies ("Is human life more important than the environment?", which suggests the naïve technocratic worldview of someone raised in a veal pen on a diet of corporate television), straw-men ("Are all human actions fundamentally controlled by a biological desire to survive and reproduce?"; a caricature of evolutionary psychology as seen by someone vehemently opposed to it on ideological grounds), and leading questions ("Do animals have souls like humans do?"). A number of them seem to come from a curious world where modern science is considered with suspicion ("Do you believe in dinosaurs?", "Should creationism and evolution be taught alonside each other?")
TouchGraph Google Browser shows Google results in a graph. (Java required; it seems to work with Mozilla on Linux.)