The “Fine Earl Grey” of Dot Matrix Printers

Because of the PComp labs this week, I’ve got motors on the mind. So when I was taking a walk around my neighborhood the other day and found a Panasonic KX-P1595. I nearly fainted. A KX-P1595? Can you believe it?

Photo Nov 03, 12 56 45 PM

For those of you who aren’t dot-matrix printer fanatics, this classic 123-character per minute, tractor feed workhorse debuted to critical acclaim in 1986 at a steal of a list prince of an even $949. (Below you’ll find images of PC Magazine’s sterling review.)

I figured it would have at least one useable stepper motor inside. And when I gutted her, my hunch was confirmed. Inside were two beautiful motors for the taking.

Photo Nov 04, 1 48 35 PM

Now I just have to see if they’re still in working order.

Visual Reading with Strings and Data

 As Long as We’re Visualizing Data…Productivity_DataVizGraph

String difficult = “difficult”;

This week was difficult for a few reasons.

I found that strings got tricky once they were broken down into characters and it comes time to reassemble them. I can’t really fathom doing anything besides just counting them or showing them on screen. Like animating…although that’s certainly the next step.

And data…actually, data isn’t so bad. It’s only a problem whenever you’re trying to use or work with it. I’ve never read anything that’s made less sense then some of the API documentation I looked at this week.

Ok. I’m done now.

Visual Reading

What is it? 

It’s something I just made up right now. It’s a way of reading a text using images that match strings in the text.

How’s it work?

The sketch displays the text of Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet on screen, one word at a time. It’s also checking the individual words against a CSV database for matching strings. When it finds a matching string (i.e. “sherlock”) it loads an image from an online image search and displays the image.*


Pixel Experiment 1

Starting with the Basics

I spent some time today with Katie trying to figure where I went wrong last time. She doesn’t have experience with this type of stuff either and so it was a solid hour of us going back and forth with ideas and breaking the sketch. We ended up with something that resembles a basic sort.

The problem is that we’re sorting in an arbitrary way. I.e. not by any interesting intrinsic to the pixels in the picture. I think, as it stands we’re just grabbing and sorting a pixel by the number associated with the way the color is being stored in the computer. Rather than by the value (or values) of the color itself.



Sorted (I guess)

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 7.45.46 PM

 Next Steps

This whole pixel sorting thing goes pretty deep as evidenced by this dude, Kim, who apparently coined the term. It’s clear there’s a lot more to learn.

These are, I think, some of the next steps to understand the process before I can create some semblance of direction. Most of these bullets should have a “How do I” or “Figure out how to” in front of them and a “?” at the end.

  • Grab some value associated with a pixel
  • Keep pixel information intact
  • Sort by that value
  • Sort in an interesting way (most unique to least unique, difference from average color, etc)
  • Something I’m forgetting/missing
  • ?