Greg Walsh

 

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My Entrance into NFTs

March 30, 2021

COVID-549k, Greg Walsh. Done with Python and pixels

In 2013, I got into cryptocurrency mining and did relatively terrible. Then, I got into cryptocurrency trading and turned $20 of BTC into $1000 value of alt coins. Then the exchange I was using, Cryptsy, got “hacked” or possibly embezzled or lost in a divorce settlement…I’m not really sure. So, I decided to just buy on Coinbase (referral link) at a slow and steady pace instead of trying to invest in hardware and electricity.

I had everything on autopilot and then heard about Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT) recently (you can watch SNL to learn more about them). I’ve always been a fan of the idea of blockchain even if it felt like a solution without a problem. The idea of digital items that only officially exist in one place is really interesting to me as I’ve often seen digital assets as easy replicable from a technical standpoint even if copyright owners see it differently. NFTs allow a digital file to be signed as if they are the original. Even if a copy can be made, the blockchain transactions ensure who has the original. Think of it like a Picasso painting: you can buy a highquality print of the painting in the museum gift shop, but, that’s not the same as having the original thing.

In order to learn more about this, I made some of my own NFTs using generative art. I’ve written a program that makes a non-representational (abstract) picture based on the number of victims of COVID-19 in the US. While grim, it has helped me work through the last year’s trauma that we’ve been sharing. I used Opensea to “mint” my NFTs. Minting requires using the cryptocurrency Ethereum (I had some from Coinbase) and a wallet (I’m using MetaMask. To mint the first time on Opensea, it cost about $75 but that varies throughout the day and depends on the Ethereum blockchain.

I do not think I will make $69M, but I do think this is a next step in Web3, a more decentralized web that supports transactions and builds on the backend as Web 2.0 did on the front end.

My collection is viewable at https://opensea.io/collection/covid-gen-art.

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Using C# or How I Learned to Love Microsoft

February 26, 2021

One of the more difficult languages I have had to learn for Design is C#.

Why C#?

Well, it appears to be the language of game design…or I should say, the language of Unity which is a highly popular game engine. At UBalt, we standardized on Unity for our Simulation and Game Design Program and have had some amazing projects come out of it.

I “know” Python, Perl, C, some Java, JavaScript, and a bunch of other derivitives of those. C# is very much like Java in formality and construction. I didn’t know C# because the last time I played with Unity was when they had a Unity-script. Now, Unity uses C# exclusively as the language within the tool. They also make you use Visual Studio as the IDE.

The IDE has been the most exciting for me, because, I always code in BBEdit and never get the benefit of code completion or syntax checking. Visual Studio has been fantastic for that…it practictically writes my code for me and reminds me when I mis-Type a variable or mistype some code. I was so excited by it, I rewrote my Blog engine in C# and used XCode on a mac to make a MacOS application to write from. It’s very boring now (and still requires Python to upload) but XCode and Visual Studio have been making it easy for me to make this app the way I want it.

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Zoom isn't an Educational Tool

February 18, 2021

I read this article today and can't help but agree with the premise. However, educators' frustration with Zoom and Google Meet aren't because of any technological failings on the part of those companies, instead the problem is the design of those technologies.

When I first started teaching online in 2005 at UMBC's ISD program, we used a education-focused tool called LiveClassroom within Blackboard. It ran in Java and was visulally lacking but it worked well enough to teach our classes. It had nice break out rooms and students could interact with non-verbal feedback tools. Unfortunately, Blackboard cancelled that tool after aquiring it.

Cut to 2012 when I moved to UB's design programs, we used WebEx which is very much not an educational tool. It's just a meeting tool with minimal feedback tools necessary for the facilitating the inherent power dynamics in a classroom and did not have breakout rooms to facilitate the small-group learning necessary for design work.

We eventually went to Zoom and I've been happy enough with it. But, it's not a learning tool and I've had to do a lot of work to integrate into my co-synchronous classes.

The new wave of startups are slicing and dicing the same market of students and teachers who are fatigued by Zoom University, which — at best — often looks like a gallery view with a chat bar. Four of the companies that are gaining traction include Class, Engageli, Top Hat and InSpace. It signals a shift from startups playing in the supplemental education space and searching to win a spot in the largest chunk of a students day: the classroom.

I'm excited to see how these tools work out (especially Class).

Tired of Zoom University? So is edtech – TechCrunch

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Drawing Ellipses

February 17, 2021

Ellipses are circles in perspective. I've been needing to draw them a lot lately.

The One Rule to Drawing Ellipses - Brandon Dayton

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Ambiguous Constraints

February 17, 2021

I have a hunch design as a profession would go a lot farther if more designers embraced ambiguous constraints.

— Raphael Arar (@rarar) February 16, 2021

I saw this tweet yesterday and it has been in my head ever since.

This is a major problem I see in both new and mid-level designers. In new designers, I understand how ambiguous constraints and ambiguous goals could be problematic for them as they don't have the experience to break a problem down or, more difficult, begin to see what the real problem is.

Mid-level designers that have this problem disappoint me. If you've done this for more than three projects, you know that nothing in constraints or requirements is unambiguous. In fact, that is where a good designer is separated from a mediocre one.

I have a few thoughts on why this happens. The most obvious reason is due to that designer's training. Boot-camp style and for-profit groups like General Assembly teach a very specific form of design. They templatize solutions and teach those solutions to their students. More than likely, students in these learning environments don't get enough "messy" design problems to work through and see ambiguity, nor do they get a lot of experience in looking at case studies that might inspire. Instead, they look for a defined list of problems and anything outside of that or any talk of those constraints not being accurate is not discussed.

Good designers are trained not only on tools and techniques but also the history and theory of their specialty. Without turning into an ad for my day job, good designers come from training that takes time and is holistic in both tools and theory. It's only when designers can sift through ambiguous constraints, ask questions, understand their users, iterate through solutions, and execute those findings does success follow.

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The 15 Minute City

February 12, 2021

Paris’s 15-Minute City Could Be Coming to an Urban Area Near You - Bloomberg

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Building My Own 3D Printer

February 11, 2021

A Homemade 3D Printer

I have been using a Monoprice MPSelect Mini for four years as my main 3D printer. It is a great printer but has a very small print bed. One of the things I'd like to do is print larger objects to mix fashion design and interaction design, so, I'd like a 1m cube printer. However, those don't exist and I knew I'd have to build it myself. Having no experience with "building" 3d printers, I decided to follow an online tutorial and create one from scratch.

And I mean SCRATCH. Using the MakerMashup Bill of Materials as my guide, I sourced aluminum bars, bolts, gears, hotends, extruders, timing belts, and lots and lots of stepper motors. I also needed to use a 3D printer to construct parts for the machine. The Select Mini did about 80% of what I needed but I did need to borrow a bigger one for a few parts.

There was a lot to learn and I hope to document more of it in the future. I have replaced almost all of the big parts because I kept breaking pieces though shorting wires or just jamming it up.

After three months, I'm now at the point where I'm able to reliably print.

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Tool kit for Co-Design with Kids

February 10, 2021

Kids designing together

The University of Baltimore's Digital Whimsy Lab is proud to announce the release of our KidsTeam Co-Design Toolkit. This toolkit can aid design teams in the creation of co-design activities that enable children and adults to work together. Even though the original target audience was libaries and librarians, we think the content is a valuable resource for any team that wants to design with kids and aren't sure where to start.

This tool kit is the culmination of five years of my work at UBalt and the most recent version was updated by Zoe Skinner as part of her MS in Interaction Design and Information Architecture.

In this tool kit, you'll find information on:

I hope you find this useful! As I mentioned, it was inspired by my work in Baltimore City's Enoch Pratt Library to create inclusive and equitable co-design opportunites for kids who usually get overlooked. I've published several papers on inclusive design here:

Please let me know if you have any questions about the tool kit or need help in implementing co-design with children: greg [AT] gregwalsh [DOT] com

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I Made This: Marker Holder for your Board

February 09, 2021

Marker Holder Image

I've been reconfiguring my desk to accomodate my research, design, and teaching work. One of the favorite features of my home office is the

two giant walls with whiteboard "paint". Of course, the big downside to walls of white boards instead of framed white boards is the lack of a tray for the markers. I've

tried to keep them on my desk but I kept losing them. I decided to build a marker holder to help. I plan on sticking it to the wall with command strips.

You can download it here: Marker Board Holder mk1

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I Really Like Scripting

February 05, 2021

I don't have a lot to write today, but, I just want to put out there that I LOVE SCRIPTING! AppleScript, Python, Perl...it doesn't matter. I love it. So much so that I find myself wasting time while trying to script a new way to do something that I already have done.

Can I build a blog engine using AppleScript? Probably. Will I? Probably. Do I have time for that. No.

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