Playing Pong with your shadow

The technical stuff from the Living Room of Map_of_You was exhibited at the afterparty of the it-natten event at ITU. Instead of moving around furniture-icons, you could play Pong with your shadow. I purchased a Logitech Quickcam Pro 9000 for the event, a superb piece of kit. So superb, in fact, that it proved impossible to run the installation with a white background because the camera would see the all-white screen and try to colour-correct out something. I ended up running the thing with the alpha-channel (normally used for tuning) displayed in all it’s pixelated CGA-glory. It was supposed to be a geeky/techy anyway, so that was OK. An automatic AI-mode, a scoring mechanism and sound would have been nice.

People genuinely seemed to have fun though, and I got a chance to explain how the setup works to a few of the high school kids there, hopefully getting them interested in a career in IT. Pictures below, courtesy of Mette Lundberg.

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.Net/Firefox Screen Scraping

Need to scrape a website? I have two links for you:

Solvent from the MIT SIMILI project. In combination with Piggy Bank it’s a scraper on it’s own, but I only use for its superb XPath generator. Just activate the sprayer and click on an element you want and Solvent will generate an intelligent XPath expression to get at it. Solvent will also higlight other elements on the page that would be returned with by the query and you can even dynamically edit the expression to narrow or broaden the result. All visible right there in the browser window.

Now switch to Visual Studio and Html Agility Pack, a great project that lets you parse HTML documents and query them using XPath just like they where XML. Solvent and Html Agility Packs (HAP) perception of the the DOM may sometimes differ slightly but, with a bit of tweaking, the visually generated XPath from Solvent works just great with your HAP code.

Truly a match made in heaven…