About my blog

I am multithreaded, and sometimes the threads get tangled.


a Studiolab production.


food design course at TUDelft
I blog in Italian
I have a LinkedIn profile
my lab is Studiolab!
I love Jasper van Kuijk's product usability weblog

the wind I am enjoying


De meningen ge-uit door medewerkers en studenten van de TU Delft en de commentaren die zijn gegeven reflecteren niet perse de mening(en) van de TU Delft. De TU Delft is dan ook niet verantwoordelijk voor de inhoud van hetgeen op de TU Delft weblogs zichtbaar is. Wel vindt de TU Delft het belangrijk - en ook waarde toevoegend - dat medewerkers en studenten op deze, door de TU Delft gefaciliteerde, omgeving hun mening kunnen geven.

Posts in category Uncategorized

Minibloq: a visual programming editor for the Arduino

Very lazily, just a quick link to this very exciting environment

Minibloq project and download page: http://blog.minibloq.org/

Forum: http://minibloq.net/forum 

The interface lets you put together a program by dragging colorful blocks (a bit like Scratch). Blocks roughly correspond to lines of code or fragments of expressions.


The blocks are converted in real time into C code for the Arduino. I think that all variables are assumed to be float. You can see the code (that you cannot edit) on screen as it is being generated. If anything in your block diagram is red, this means that something is missing in your program and the code will not compile.


The code is then compiled and uploaded to the Arduino. The environment includes a serial terminal (that in Arduinoland people like to call a serial monitor). There is also a console window underneath, where you can see the usual Arduino spouting of mad and mysterious gibberish that would make a lot of sense, if only years ago you had decided to become an embedded computing nerd.

If you want to see the whole interface in its glory, here it is in its 1920 pixel wide splendor.

I am certainly going to point ITD students to this. I am not sure if this can be used “seriously” for prototypes or if it is more of a training wheel for the first weeks of getting acquainted with Arduino. My perplexities are based on:


  • very direct mapping from C to blocks (no abstraction)
  • heavy use of screen space (as you can see, even in this small example the visual program is longer than the C program), which in turn will make bigger programs very hard
  • does not solve the trickyness with variables having action at a distance


but these are common issues with visual programming environments



Apple users are masochists

I have just realized what is so amazing about the iPhone: its users. It is not the interface, or the battery or the OS or even the interaction design. It is the users. The iPhone users are primed to accept anything that comes out of Apple as the greatest thing ever invented. And they are ready to believe that it was invented by Apple. This is an important part of why You Can’t Innovate  Like Apple (and if you want to discuss Apple as a designer in the future you really need to read that article) – your users are not like their users.  Or rather, they may be the very same users but they have a different relationship with you, if you are not Apple.

The best part is that Apple users are happy to pay for everything, or at least to wait for it.

Tethering? You mean, actually using your phone as a modem for a PC? Something I used to do with my stodgy Nokia 5120 rubberphone what, eight years ago? 

but perhaps the best example is the amazing Find My iPhone, an exciting app with the following features (cut and paste from the Apple site)

Find myIphone Alternative
Locate your iPhone or iPad on a map Google Latitude has been out for a while.
Display a message and optionally play a sound for two minutes at full volume (even if your device is set to silent) SMS Flash messages plus making silent mode expire after a few hours (many phones can do this). Flash SMS have been around for ages.
Remotely set a passcode lock on your device, or lock it using your existing passcode Nokia phones do this but in a different way. 
Remotely wipe your device to permanently erase all of your personal data This is probably a bad idea. I am waiting for the first exciting exploit, and the following global wail of despair.

the big news is that now Apple made the software free.  The cognitive peculiarity of the Apple user is that, instead of being irritated at the company for making him pay previously, he is delighted because now it is free!

Other excellent examples would be cut-and-paste and multitasking. What good is a device like the iPhone when it does only one thing at a time – making you choose between e.g. running some IM program OR browsing the web OR running Skype OR checking your calendar? It beats me. But I am not an Apple user. So I cannot join in the delighted cheer for the multitasking in IOS4: I am still too flabbergasted by the absence of multitasking in IOSx, with x<4. Of course, all the update goodness does not distribute evenly across iPhone models: slightly older ones get little or no loving. But the Apple user does not care! Because now he can convince himself that he desperately needs multitasking, the same feature that he had previously rationalized away as Android nuttiness only good for techies: which means that he can make one more happy trip to the Apple store, preferably with a queue that starts at 4AM.

And he can have one more unboxing experience, which, as we know, is an important part of the Apple product experience.

But again, I am not a boxophiliac iPhone user. I have the privilege of knowing many, though. I can see how hugely insincere they are when they complain because the display of their phone broke: actually they are delighted because they can give another lump of money to Apple. And I am ever amazed by their inner strength. This is from gizmodo:

In previous versions of the iPhone OS,
if you are working on email and there’s a link to a web page, clicking
on that link will open Safari and close Mail. Then, once you were done
watching that web page, you close Safari, get back to the main iPhone
menu, click on the Mail icon, and go back to your mail.  (from Gizmodo, How Multitasking Works in the New iPhone OS 4.0 published on 4/4/2010, dowloaded today)

The amount of fortitude required to engage in something like this is, I am afraid, beyond me. I have been spoiled in my youth, and I can’t put up with this amount of crap any more. Of course, I have used computers that do not multitask and don’t even switch tasks, but it was in the Eighties (home computers: Commodore and Sinclair). Then I found out about UNIX, that has been multitasking since 1969 (when it was created to run on computers whose memory was measured in kilobytes). To say the least, you could call multitasking a pretty well established idea in the field. I am too much of a wuss now for single-tasking computers, with the exception of the Arduino.

The condition of the Apple user is similar to somebody who is in thrall to a demanding, expensive, prostitute. You buy her affection with money (or you imagine that you are buying it), and she stingily doles out her favors, turning every little element of life into a theatrical show where you have to pay and pay. She can do everything for you, provided it is what she wants to do. And you pay, you watch the streaming video shows where the Wizard sells you whatever he feels is right and you read the fawning press. And of course, you import the phone from faraway countries where you can get it unlocked (imagine that!), jailbreak it in complex and dangerous ways, terrified that your wife might find out… it is all there inside Venus in Furs. I am indeed going to pay a high compliment to the Apple user, by comparing him to the Baron de Charlus in À la recherche du temps perdu and his passion for being whipped.

In short, his desire to be chained and beaten betrayed, in its ugliness, a dream just as poetic as other men’s desire to go to Venice or to keep a mistress.

Or, as it were, to be Apple users.

Now putting on my assistant-professorial hat (it looks just like a professorial hat, only it is smaller, less furry and the sequins are silver) I will point you to a an enlightening post about the iPad ecosystem and how you would need to create one if you wanted to make very succesful tablets, and to an old post about the chicken-and-egg problem by Joel Spolski, a very sharp software guy. BTW, chicken and egg is another way of saying "you need the whole ecosystem, otherwise you are just a hardware pusher putting lipstick on a sow".Slightly less techy but still on the ball you can read an NYT article, "The power of the platform".

Lampan 92 is on show now!

If you have recently visited the Industrial Design building in TUDelft, you may have noticed certain disturbances in the main entrance. And if you were there today you have certainly noticed a large almost spherical lamp suspended above your head, close to the security desk.

Does it look familiar? This is the Lampan92 lamp whose building I have discussed in a previous post. And now it has entered reality, which is both exciting and terrifying. This has been a low intensity projects, slowly advancing for over one year. Here is another shot with more context:


Apologies for the bad photograph: better ones will follow. What will also follow is that the lamp will get its own network connections, which in turn will allow us to control from anywhere on the Internet! The installation is powered by Python + Linux + Arduino + Google + cron and wget.

Involved people: the fundamental Aadjan, the helpful Aditya, the faraway Daniel, the very cute Sterre and of course Saint Rob Luxen.

And yes, we knew that it would look smaller once it was up there. At the same time, visual impact is a function of the surface, which is linearly proportional to the number of lamps, and we were not going to build one with 184 lamps – already this one was a nightmare of cabling

ITD bootstrap

The ITD course started today, fun with student management. 4 briefs presented so far, 2 to go. Just the time to post a panoramic shot taken with my N800 (and that is one dinky camera, trust me) of the Wim Crouwel room during presentation of the Philips Hospitality brief.




To the left, wearing a photogenic red shirt, you can kind of make out David Keyson.

a canonical first post

It is an old tradition, at least as old as the ancient art of blogging, that the first post on a blog cannot contain any useful information. Only meaningless drivel is allowed, mostly because the blogger is not really sure he will go on blogging, at least on that particular platform.

I will try to go against the force of tradition by stating that I work at TUDelft, more specifically at the Studiolab in the Faculty of Industrial Design. Boy, is that ever a mouthful of capitals! At any rate, I can be found there on workdays (here is some contact information). But not on weekends, because on weekends the faculty is closed, which is something I will blog about in the future. Half of me agrees, half of me does not.

a reverse video photograph of a toy camera

  this image is here for no particular reason, other than I like having pictures in my posts


I have been blogging for years, even before there was a name for the activity. This blog will have a professional focus, and it will be in English. English is not my first language, but it is a language that I share with the majority of the TUDelft people, which is expedient. It is also a language I like to murder and molest whenever I can.

I will try to avoid waiting for the perfect post, as I tend to do, and just write, preferring frequency to completeness. Of course, comments are most welcome.


© 2011 TU Delft