ASDFJKL; update -- video of difficult song, new visualization, and storyboards of VR experience

In my last blog post I shared a link to a really difficult song. I decided to try to make a video of me playing / performing the song:

Another Visualization…

I built a new visualization on key input. It more closely emulates the shape of a keyboard:

visualization 2.gif

I like that the mapping doesn’t have “a” and “;” right next to each other.

I don’t know why I’m attached to this circular shape. Maybe this is just an arrangement that feels like it maps closer to how my brain thinks about keys. Not sure. Maybe I should also just try a straight line across with this pattern.

Sketchy storyboards of an ASDFJKL; crossover VR experience…

I have very vague plans for converting all this json data into a VR rhythm game… meaning that you could encode some choreography on a website, and then experience that choreography in VR in the space around you.. Anyhow, I made a few sketches describing how I might imagine doing this.

The main idea from my scrawlings are that the player sees ASDFJKL; in front of them like a xylophone or wood blocks. They have to strike these objects that are thrown it at them with their wands. I think the objects that you need to strike are tossed in and respect gravity, but maybe at half or quarter gravity.

The neat part is I’ve done most of this work already. Catch the beat has the throwing mechanic. I believe I have an ASDFJKL; choreography interpreter in a sketch somewhere. I think those are the major things for now… will want to build a prototype environment for just me to try, film it, and share those results when I can.

ASDFJKL; -- new hard song, and dev on visualizations

One of the shows I really enjoyed recently was Halt and Catch Fire. In addition to it being a great show, it also has a pretty amazing theme song. Take a listen:

So anyhow, I made an ASDFJKL; song for it. The choreography is pretty challenging, but I feel pretty proud about it:

Also, on top of that, yesterday I made a visualization of my key input for ASDFJKL;. It’s offline only, but here’s a gif of the experience. I guess I’m just curious to see what different ways there are to visualize homerow interaction…


Updates to ASDFJKL;

I made many updates to the game. You can play the game here:

This is a continuation of the work mentioned two posts ago.

I’m happy with the progress and have been getting some good feedback. Most of the work was ironing out the user flow to make it way less confusing. Then I posted to social media and got some good response.

The biggest power user as of right now is my buddy Drew Stone (@stonedrew), who made a handful of good ones. Here’s on he shared with me that has some pretty solid choreographic composition!

As I was developing all these updates, I realized that I was totally under-using something that I, by chance, had. Back in around 2008-ish I was working for a nifty web firm and, as a part of the gig, someone registered me for some system with the username “Albert”. Well, that system turned out to be Github. So because of this, I was at the right place at the right time to get This also means that I get as well.

I’ve had stuff hosted on there for a while, but it was completely raw HTML and no styling, so I replaced that with a minimal markup and a smidge of CSS. It’s still a super bare site, but at least it doesn’t look like an error message anymore.

Not completely sure how that URL relates to Maybe I’m looking for a fresh start? Anyhow, good problems to have, I think.

It's refreshing to be back out in the public again

When I moved to Seattle, one of my goals was to get involved in the new media arts / tech scene out here. I wanted to go to meetups and share my perspective and bounce ideas off of others.

But when I arrived, I started working for a company that didn’t really want me to be social. My creativity wasn’t really allowed to be expressed in a public manner because of PR fears. They didn’t want any of their employees / contractors to say things that caused controversy.

Well, I finished that job in January, and things are slowly changing for the better. Additionally, I’m at a new gig at Looking Glass Factory that wants me to be more public across the board Here’s a list of a handful of things I’ve been back at engaging with the public now that I’m a free digital person again.

I presented at 4 public events

So the public events I’ve recently been at were:

This last one was particularly interesting for me. I loved blabbing about my opinions and also engaging with the two other panelists, who were clearly super well-informed on the topic. It’s also nice to occasionally take a step back (as I did in these last two public appearances) and to reframe my career, which has been kind of a wile ride.

Anyhow, here’s a shot of me in a panel.

(shot by Alexandra Steele,

(shot by Alexandra Steele,

I’ve been posting to my blog, sorta

This is the third post since leaving my job. It feels good to simply share some of the things I’m super curious about lately. The previous two posts were for projects that I had knocking around for a while, but am happy now to sort of let them go…

I’ve been posting videos

I’m taking a smidge of a pause with my YouTube account. Not that I’m a YouTube star or anything, but I find my subscriber count on YouTube to be a little overwhelming — so much so that I feel that if I post it really ought to be edited down and not be super rambly. Well, that and I should either turn off comments or be okay with… uhm… you know, YouTube comments. I mean, my last YouTube video I posted has literally one comment:


Ugh… Hard for me to motivate myself to engage w/ this audience and to ask them to remember to like and subscribe. Like what am I doing on this platform?

Anyhow, as an alternative low-pressure way for me to still have a creative outlet, I’ve instead jumped onto another video service: is an instance of peertube — which is a federated version of YouTube. It I love it! It reminds me of what YouTube used to be for me — just a place to document my unfiltered crappy progress updates and rambly rants.

I’m making a game, sort of…

A lot of what I’ve been doing on is documenting my process for building a game. It’s in it’s super infant stages. I currently have two participants and am learning a lot from how they’re engaging (and often not engaging) with what I want them to do. Anyhow, I don’t know if I can convert this into a real game, but so far it’s been a fun and healthy process.

"asdf jklsemi" -- a YouTube rhythm game

I made a YouTube Rhythm game. Here’s footage of me playing it:

Here’s the experience if you’d like to try it out yourself.

  1. Go here (Seems to work best in Chrome): asdf jklsemi for Blur Song 2: Finger Choreography by Phedhex

  2. Press the “Play” button under the video (Not the play button on top of the video)

Here are a couple other songs I choreographed rhythms to:

And if you’d like to make one on your own, you can… kind of. The tool for making your own choreography is a bit ass right now, but hey, it’s better than nothing…

  1. Go find yourself a musical YouTube video (preferrably short)

  2. Copy that YouTube URL

  3. Fill out this page (with Chrome) with your YouTube URL

  4. Press “Record”

  5. As the song plays, tap out a sequence

  6. When the video is done, you’ll get a chance to try out your game

  7. If you like what you’ve made, just copy the URL so that others can try it out


Vim Motion Graphics

So I’m a fan of this program called “Vim”. Vim if a text editor that, among other things, lets you move your cursor around the screen really really quickly.

I wondered what it would feel like if my Vim cursor left a trail — like a pebble skipping along the surface of a water. So I decided to build a (very limited) prototype. Here’s a screen cap of that prototype:

If you want to try the prototype out yourself, you can do so here. Warning — it does seem to chop a bit in Firefox, so I suggest trying it in Chrome:

Why prototype this?

My initial impulse was simply that I felt the desire to create something pretty. I like the feeling of flying around quickly with Vim, and I wanted something that helped me express that feeling.

Once I built this and felt how my fingertips fired impulses around in a Vim buffer, I got inspired. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was potential for more than just an aesthetic value. If this simple effect existed in a proper version of Vim, could it also serve a functional value?

In a limited way I think the answer is yes. This would be useful anytime I lose my cursor. Maybe it’s because my Vim Motion was bigger than expected. Maybe it’s because I’m disoriented after my buffer scrolled elsewhere. Maybe it’s because I hit a typo. For whatever reason, I think a simple ripple would help me get my bearings.

But I also wonder if these ripples could hold semantic value. Perhaps ripples could reflect off the edges of the file. If your buffer were at the end of the file, you’d get a ripple reflection off the bottom edge of the screen. If instead you were mid-file, the ripples would exit off the bottom of the screen signifying more space down there. This could also help signal if you are in a soft-wrap or no-wrap condition.

My mind also wanders to other types of effects that I’d love to at least try out. Maybe I only crave this because sometimes Vim is so fast that I wish I had some transition to help me better understand what I just did. Anyhow, here are some other thoughts:

  • When you delete large chunks (typing “da]” to delete an entire bracket pair), see a ripple visualization that outlines the extents of what was just deleted

  • Command line mode (hitting “:”) will ripple from down below

  • Different ripple colors for different modes (normal, insert, visual)

  • Visual mode to cast large ripples as per the geometry of the entire selection

  • Tiny ripples to indicate inertia of last motion. For example: “i” for insert would cast a mini ripple backwards, but “a” for append would cast a tiny ripple forward.

Is this even possible in a real Vim environment?

I have no idea! All I know is that it’s not possible for me to complete in any reasonable amount of time. This is why I decided to blog about it — to note how far I got before completely abandoning the concept.

That said, the premise I think is at least a theoretical possibility. The prototype design treats the Vim buffer as a 2d graphical array, with each “pixel” being the width and height of a single character. In principle, a grotesquely hacked Vimscript should be able to power this with a sufficiently powerful computer. How grotesquely hacked, and how powerful the computer needs to be, I have absolutely no clue.

Another possibility is building something for Atom, which is built upon common web technologies. In some ways CSS sounds like a smarter way to approach this problem. Again, no clue what the level of effort would be here either.

The last idea I had would be to run a transparent Vim window on top of another window that somehow knows cursor location and can render graphics using a different, more sane graphics library.