Simple Chat App

I've applied my phonetic keyboard portrait from last week's assignment to this week's. Now anyone can control my voice. I ran into an issue involving browser compatibility. It looks like it runs semi-well on FireFox, but there are bugs on Chrome. I'll need to investigate why, but it seems to have to do with how currentTime() is handled on the two browsers.


Here is a version without socket in case you want to see how it looks.

More to come!

Avatar Creation

The first avatar creation tool that I used was Bitmoji. I was a bit familiar with this since I've seen my sister and mom both use it in our family group chat. I thought it was stupid. 


And now I love it.

I've been responding to texts and messages primarily with Bitmoji these days. My family and my friends seem to enjoy it as well. The amount of different Bitmoji stickers is huge and really fits with how I communicate to my family and close friends. Below is a timelapse of the actual creation of the avatar.

My girlfriend helped me in the process of making the avatar. She says that my Bitmoji really captures the essence of Bryan. I think it's primarily due to the glasses and the body type I chose. The glasses look exactly like the ones I'm wearing now. I also gained a bunch of weight over the summer. You can tell in the video that I was wavering between choosing the fit body versus the chubby one. I ultimately decided on the chubby Bryan, not only because I felt that it showed my current state more accurately but because it also represents a big part of who I am: a happy guy who eats a lot of food.


The second avatar creation tool that I used is called Line Play. It is a game where you can purchase clothes and accessories for your avatar. It also includes a house that can be decorated with furniture and lots of other stuff. The first character creation screen was a gender, I saw that there was a third choice of Animal. I chose this option.

It was interesting to go through all the options of creating an animal version of Bryan. I tried to choose parts from different animals to represent different aspects of myself: a bear face because I'm a big guy and I eat and sleep a lot and dog ears because I'm well behaved yet playful. And of course I needed glasses. I found that being able to choose these features that are from all these different types of animals gave me more freedom to express attributes of myself that I would not be able to if they were human features.

I found that when creating avatars, it's good to exaggerate both physical and non-physical features. It's a bit like a cartoonist emphasizing your slightly larger front teeth by turning you into a rabbit. By using a more hyperbolic representation of one's self, character traits and personalities are more easily definable in an otherwise static avatar.

Self Portrait: Phonetic Keyboard

When I was a teenager, I always found myself much better at talking to people over online instant messengers like AOL Instant Messenger than in real life. In real life, I was awkward. Online, I was a George Clooney. 

I decided to create a version of me that speaks whatever I typed. I recorded a short video of me saying the phonetic sounds of each letter of the alphabet. I then associated each alphabetic key on the keyboard to the specific timestamp of when I said the corresponding letter. 

It ended up being more of a beatbox soundboard thing, but if you type at the right cadence, it sounds kind of like English.



Synchronous Technologies: Youtube shared and Showgoers

YouTube has recently released a chat app to watch videos with your friends. I've tried to adopt this chat app and tried to force it upon some of my closer friends. Its usage lasted for a whopping two days. The purpose of the application was so that you could watch Youtube videos while chatting about with your friends. However, there were a bunch of disappointing features of the app

You're not really watching the video with them. I expected some sort of live control, where the video would have shared playhead control access among all the users. If we were all watching the same content at the same time, we would feel connected. It would feel like I'm hanging out with my buddies at someones house. Without this feature, this app no longer becomes special because it loses that "live" feature. Also, the keyboard covers up 50% of the screen real estate, covering up all of the chat. This drives the unconnectedness of this application even more.

While I was in a long distance relationship with my girlfriend, we used this app called Showgoers. It was, among many others, a Google Chrome extension that allowed multiple users to sync and watch a Netflix program. If I paused the movie, the movie would pause at the same spot on her screen as well. We were connected by this strange limitation. We used this app along with Skype so that we could see each others faces in the corner of the screen while watching a movie. This was an example of a live technology that actually felt "live". It was like I was watching the movie right next to her.

I feel that "live" technologies require interaction with other users. If something is live, you need to be able to affect others that are using the same technology as you. If I told my long distance girlfriend to watch a movie by pressing the play button on our separate Netflix accounts, I could easily in the middle of the movie pause the movie to go the bathroom and she would never know. There needs to be something that connects the two users so that we can both see and hear each others reactions as they are happening.