Spritzing

I stumbled upon a new method for an individual to acquire faster reading capabilities. Imagine tearing through a book in a matter of minutes!

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From www.spritz.com

I find it really exciting to see new technologies that would provide better platforms for presenting information. This method, called Spritz, relies on a presentation method of focusing words of a sentence into a singular visual focus (called “Optimal Recognition Point”, a focused visual space) with a visual aid (called “redicle”, essentially a red-coloured letter) and displaying said-words at various speeds to train the individual’s level of textual processing.

According to the company, this methodology seeks to “empower effective reading on a small display area”. It really does make sense on display devices that are small in nature (e.g. smartwatches, dinky smartphones and so on) – in fact, the company proposes a whole tonne of applications in their FAQs.

Naturally, I would wonder if such a methodology can be adopted in a gallery/museum space. The artwork or object labels (and their extended versions) often present challenging layout issues for the curators and exhibition designers – the slab of words can be quite the distraction on the wall when viewed with the artworks or objects. Just imagine a tiny screen using this methodology to provide information on the artwork or object.

Argh~ Looks like my imagination struck a obstacle.

In my view, there are some problems with this methodology – focus control and adoption.

Focus control would refer to how there is a need to “focus” on the methodology’s Optimal Recognition Point (ORP). Due to the nature on how Spritz displays individual words from sentences and paragraphs into a singular visual space, there is a certain amount of focus or concentration needed. When viewing an artwork, object or even an animated projection, the individual will look at these items and maybe go back to the information – there will be a disparity in informational processing when going back and forth between the item and text. Additionally it can be frustrating when the individual cannot quickly revert to the last point of the textual information – when the individual views the traditional label, there is a residual reference point made in memory when the individual looks away (similar to visual heuristics).

In that aspect, applications for gallery/museum space is not ideal. Their proposed usage of the methodology for closed captioning on television broadcast can be similarly dismissed as well due to the visual disparity – I want to watch what is going on the television first than split my attention (if it is possible) on another focused area (the ORP). I do feel challenged when I am watching drama serials with captions, and that splits my attention from the acting and the closed captioning going on.

Adoption would refer to how individuals and galleries/museums can adopt this methodology. For individuals, it would require an individual to “train” the way he/she views textual information based on this new methodology. This will take a few minutes or longer, based on the individual. However, should an untrained individual enter a gallery/museum space with such a visual presentation method, the individual would find it difficult to master this reading methodology on the spot. There would be priorities for the gallery/museum-going individual, and being trained to use a new technology would not be one of them (this goes for many complicated technologies that are being implemented in galleries and museums today).

For the galleries/museums, it would require staff to train visitors/customers to learn this new method of textual processing. It does not make economic sense and it definitely ties up already-overburdened resources which can be better implemented for other more important purposes.

Therefore, at least in the context of galleries/museums, the Spritz methodology will find it challenging to gain a foothold in as it is compounded by the focus control requirement and adoption by individuals and galleries/museums.

That being said, the ability of Spritz to appear on small devices (especially smartwatches) is definitely a good idea given the physical limitations of such products.

Go Spritz! There is definitely a  focused space for you!

More Permanent Head Damage

After spending a few days learning how to use a video production tool (HitFilm), I managed to trim and cut synced videos of dad’s first batch of field test videos.

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Synced videos are meant for data gathering

This particular video production tool, while easy to learn, caused some confusion earlier when I was trying to export the video files properly. There were so many settings for exporting videos and I just went blank (bit rate, frames per second, resolution… what?). Thankfully, the video production tool allows me to save my editing work as project files before committing to export them out as finalised videos.

To be honest, each session’s video took a few steps before making it onto the finalised cut. One of the issues I encountered was that the GoPro cameras, that I am using for data capture, outputs separated files once each video file (on the camera itself) reaches about 4 GB worth. That means I have to stitch all these separate files and combine them into a singular video file (plus fisheye correction rendering) on the video production tool.

I was rubbish with this step at first. So I blew an entire weekend trying to render all four sessions of videos from each camera – for a total of twelve videos (three cameras, four sessions) each averaging a total render time of four hours. And then, I realised I screwed up somewhere… and had to redo everything again.

Frustration, yes. But I think I learnt how to use
this video production tool on my own. =_=

Once those twelve videos were done, I had to spend almost a day each to eyeball and sync two videos from each session (there are four videos, from the perspective of the overhead camera, which are not used for data capture). This was where most of the editing and trimming work are done – once the project files were ready (averaging about two hours to trim and sync as a project file), I rendered them as high resolution video files for archival purposes. The final step is to queue them into another tool (Handbrake) to cut the file sizes without losing too much quality.

For these four sessions, the video production process took almost took an entire week to complete (not including the foul ups earlier). I guess I would much better prepared for the next twelve sessions!

While waiting for the next sessions to start again, I am currently tabulating the data captured by the session videos. Each video averages about 40 minutes in duration, but tabulating each session video takes about four to six hours (watching the videos from start till end repeatedly, as I need to collect information for about seven data points).

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Dad hard at work

While assessing the data capture, I realised that there are ways to improve the data capture. However, for the sake of consistency, I would not be improving the data capture but discuss about the improvements in the final research paper itself.

Another artist has caught wind of what I am
doing… and wants to be documented as well.

More data for the data god!

A friend who has been working late for a few days in a row, managed to send me some messages late at night (probably not knowing whether I am still awake). For some reason, this friend’s messages kind of encouraged me to work harder (and late through the next day) for some reason.

When the crates come, couriers and curators
are really dynamic people to work with.

Probably won’t have much update on this until the field test session start again (they are based on different conditions) when dad is back from overseas.

In the meantime, ボンジュール鈴木「羊曜日に猫ごっこして」

 

Permanent Head Damage

Well, at least I think I am on the way there…

I have always been fascinated by the artist’s creative process – especially their thoughts processes and how they go about creating their artworks. Their techniques and “trade secrets” are equally amazing for me to understand and document (often with the condition that I keep it to myself).

In a run-up to an exhibition in early 2017, I am assisting my father in documenting his creative process. After understanding how his version of hybridity in Chinese ink painting had inspired me to write something about it, he agreed easily to be a lab rat for my proposed independent field study.

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Field notes, a stopwatch and a screen for monitoring remote cameras

At the end of this particular session (of four paintings), I am stumped by about 120 GB worth of video data to gather my quantitative data from.

I love geeking out.

The best part is… I am supposed to gather data from sixteen paintings in total. Woooohooooo~

Understanding Myself

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” ― Harlan Ellison

Over the years whenever I was bored or had to undergo some kind of personality test, the results are pretty much consistent – I am identified as an INTJ sort of person. If you are not sure what this means, you can refer to a simplified version of it here (the graphics are really pleasant too).

Nothing annoys me more than a slight gap of knowledge, be it with myself or with others.

For myself, I would often read up on what I am not sure of, and become vested in the knowledge of this newly acquired knowledge – sometimes, I feel that I may eventually become the Master of Useless Information. To temper this potentially embarrassing achievement, I only pursue things that I am interested in and achieve mastery in those areas… for things that are of lesser importance, I would try to gain some passing knowledge of it.

For others, I find that it is kind of an double-edged sword. If the other party is knowledgeable, that is all well and good. However, if the other party tries to pass off as knowledgeable (and fail), I would find it hard to respect the credibility of this person, and with it, the entirety of the person himself/herself. Always on hindsight, this annoying trait of mine can undermine my relationship with others (especially at work) – as I grow older and perhaps more experienced, I do try to temper it. But it’s hard.

A decent strategy that I have adopted is to refrain from commenting, but silently judge. I guess being silent is far better than making potentially terrible remarks.

Oooh! That’s so J of the INTJ. I just can’t catch a break.

When I often get approached for help, I find myself willing to extend my hand or even provide advice. I believe deeply in the success of group objectives rather than individual objectives. If there is a way that individual objectives can be achieved along with the core group objectives, you know I will be there to provide assistance or to give advice.

My friendly nature contradicts with my private nature – I am often described as the quieter version of the “social butterfly” (not in an ostentatious or loud way) who can make social connections easily, and build trust with people who matter to me. I believe that by being a warm person, I am able to connect deeper with my colleagues (who often become my close friends). Yet at the same time, I am fiercely private where I keep to this small core of close friends whom I trust and rely on. In this context, I find that being sociable allows me to read the general perceptions and feelings of others… and prepare accordingly in advance.

In a leadership class I have just attended, my team was tasked with an activity to think of ideas and to present them. Due to prior classes and getting to know each other, I realised that I often get singled out to lead the teams. In the past, I have often been asked to lead teams by unanimous agreement – I find that puzzling.

Since this was a leadership class, I asked my team mates why they picked me. My team mates felt that they could trust me to lead them because they found me warm and friendly – “good intentions with no motives” as one would describe it.

Good intentions. That got me into trouble when I seemingly over-extended my assistance. While the beneficiaries are grateful, they were horrified that I got sanctioned for my assistance.

When I attended an investiture function last week, the guest of honour mentioned that the incumbent government and its agencies are looking for people who will be good leaders. She emphasised on warmth more than competence in seeking leaders – she demonstrated on the need for warmth over competence by sharing examples of sincerity and connections that made people trust and believe in their leaders. “Competence can be provided by others who work for the leader, but the leader has to be a leader of people, not a leader of competence.”

Wow. I agree wholeheartedly, but I think there is still the need some
form of competence, but just not specific technical competence?

Some reading for your enjoyment…

At the end of it, be it I am INTJ or otherwise, I still believe that life is a journey… and having others following and yet on the same level… will be a wonderful experience.

Premonitions as Part of My Journey

When my journey made abrupt change in direction in 2015, I began staying with my parents after twelve years away from them.

The first week saw me preparing my old room for my own use, intentionally creating an enclosed environment within my room surrounded by my boxes and shelves… a small gap from this enclosure leads to my bed where I can hide in this private space of my own – and perhaps to figure out what I am going to do from there on.

One month in, I told my parents that I want to visit my Malaysian relatives again – an absence of almost twenty-odd years. I had fond memories of my old kampung house there, where I grew up with my cousins in a small area with chickens and almost-farm-like environments.

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Childhood memories.

I remembered helping out with my aunts with their cooking and even accompanying my cousins to the nearby Chinese high school. I had stopped going back when I started preparing for my final year in primary school… and I have never been back since.

We took the train from Woodlands and got off at Kluang, Malaysia – my mother’s hometown. Stepping off the train, and onto the same old platform, brought back a tremendous flood of memories of my childhood.

I returned to Malaysia for a reason – it was not because I wanted a trip to distract myself, but to answer this dreadful premonition that was in my heart and mind. There was one person whom I was close to, and I had to meet and talk to this person even for a few minutes or seconds; and it was my third maternal aunt.

She operated a simple hawker stall just opposite the previously mentioned Chinese high school. She became extremely animated when she realised the stranger who accompanied my parents was actually me. “I have returned,” I greeted her shyly. Her warm smile almost broke my heart, and started offering to cook for me.

My mother saw my exchange with my aunt, and asked me quietly later, “Is there a reason why you wanted to come back?” I deflected that with lies: I wanted to see my old home town, I wanted to eat the good food, I wanted to heal my broken heart… and so on.

Just last month, my third maternal aunt passed on due to third-stage cancer. My mother cornered me again and demanded whether I knew. I did have a premonition: I felt it and that’s why I wanted to go back.

And now, I am having another one.

Beyond the fact that I am staying with my parents again, there was something nagging at me – my parents themselves. In a way, I am glad I am able to be nearer my parents should the time come. On the other hand, it is a worrying burden that I am quietly enduring before the inevitable happens.

Lately, I noticed a change and I do hope that I am wrong.

This morning my mother spoke to me about arrangements for the family and made me promise to look after my sister. I already know the details that are to go into such arrangements – my mother and I think alike, and we just have a knack for certain things. When she talked, I shared with her what my intentions are regarding such arrangements, and she said she felt a burden lifting from her shoulders – she knows that I know what to do, and that I will be able to look after the various things for the family.

Sure, I know how to be fair and where to draw the lines. Still, it is a terrible burden for one person to carry and undertake through the years – but this is my lonely journey, I guess.

What about my sister? She is someone who needs to be looked after. I do hope that she can find a good companion to trust and rely on – that’s my own wish as her brother. Till then I can only do what it is expected as her only older brother. And she knows that I will always unconditionally turn up when she needs help – no need for words, I will be there.

But you know, I am tired. Really tired.