From Postcards to Interactive Maps

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This week some major progress was made in getting a better understanding of Cordelia’s journey. Cordelia traveled to Europe in the summer of 1931 and sent postcards to her mother in Los Angeles from almost every destination along the way. The first thing I did before analyzing anything was to transcribe all of the postcards and have access to all the text in one place, digitally.



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Once transcribed, I organized all the posts by date. But, since I wanted to know more than just when Cordelia traveled, I decided to depict these postcards and build a dataset, recording the following information:

  • Date of postcard
  • Name of place
  • Name of city + country
  • Latitude and Longitude coordinates
  • Image
  • Wikipedia link of the site

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From the data collected, Cordelia had talked about 40 unique sites in the postcards she wrote to her mother. I uploaded my dataset to platform called CartoDB, a site that allows you to build interactive maps based on data it receives. When coordinates are assigned to a location, the software an mark that specific place and plot your story based on locations. I added images to each assigned place to make it easy for me to visually refer to a place.

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For me, the next step will be to understand the ratios and relationships between places in Cordelia’s descriptions. Which places have more elaborate explanations and stories? Which places just have mentionings? And how specific and detailed is every message? I find this to be an important part in the project, since one of my goals is to translate Cordelia’s experiences to visitors. Our memory and perception of a place is not absolute for every place we visit, and I would like to explore ways to communicate those differences as they appear in Cordelia’s descriptions. Till then, the map I built on CartoDB can be viewed here.

A Moment in Time

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Always On Always Connected


For the course of the semester, I would like to try and develop an app that I designed in the past. This app, suggested to be designed for NASA, is a time-traveling app. For generations people have dreamed of closing their eyes and escaping to a different place in time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful be to have lunch with Cleopatra? Or perhaps, to fly side by side with the Wright Brothers? Whether it’s the wish to roll back in time, or to defy what the future holds, transporting through time has always been a desired power. A Moment in Time is an app that allows dreamers to travel through different events in time at the tip of their fingers. By selecting a year in time along with preferred areas of interest and places around the globe, the adventurer is transported to a selection of events in single moments. Each event, or result, is composed of short documentation, unique imagery and possible links for related content. A Moment in Time has a clear mission: to bring the world one step closer to buckling up and traveling to a desired place in time.








Traveling in time can be interpreted in many different ways, but to me, the most fascinating experience is the one that redirects the traveler to a specific event in time. Be it in the past or in the future, feeling the fluidity of time at the tips of your fingers and having the ability to set a destination is remarkable. Inspired by Google Now, I would like to propose that Time + Place = not just any event, but one that is of particular interest to the adventurer. A strong analogy that captures the act of time traveling is the revolving of a satellite around the globe. The same way technology scans planet Earth, our initiation of time travel scans moments in our past and in our future.


Sketches and Wireframes




(high fidelity WF coming soon.)








The ultimate time travel app allows one to search events (1) based on selected parameters such as time (2), topic and place, but also suggests a more spontaneous option, which is to explore any given event. Upon initiation, the voyager is sent off in time (3) and the progress bar begins to cycle planet Earth (4). A selection of events are suggested, represented as cards (5). Once a card is selected, the event will expand and reveal a variety of content on the subject matter.

My Favorite App (so far)

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Always On Always Connected

Do you remember the last time you were in a situation where everyone around you spoke a language you couldn’t understand, and all of a sudden, you felt like a foreigner (even sometimes in your own country)? How vulnerable did it feel not to understand a word being said? For this reason, and many others, Duolingo was created — an app that teaches you a new language in a fun and playful way. The experience of the app is one of the most positive for a number of reasons:

  • I feel like I’m getting more than I came for.
  • The creators designers of the app thought about and considered many ways to engage a user.
  • I always know what I’m expected to click in order to move forward.
  • No one’s selling me anything.
  • It’s gamified to the right extent (playful without being too childish).
  • It make’s me feel good.
  • Memorable.

When people use the word “clean” to describe an app that they like, I’m a bit resentful, because there are more than enough apps out there that may look “clean” but have terrible usability attributes. Also, “clean” isn’t a bonus-feature of UI, it’s a benchmark for how apps should be designed. When you throw a user to an experience that’s too busy or give them too many choices, they’re likely to just leave the app altogether. Duolingo does a great job of keeping things simple, focused, interesting and surprising all along the way, which may be the reason this app has been on my phone for over three years.


My Saturday Oasis

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Always On Always Connected

The relationship I have with my phone is complicated, but one thing’s for sure — we’re pretty close. From the moment I wake up and over the next 17-18 hours of the day, I’d say we’re pretty inseparable. While many people refer to this device as a phone, but I am under the impression that a title like “phone” is far too simplistic for the many capabilities this super-gadget has. It is my window to the world and my magic carpet to get me places. It’s my shopping buddy, and it even nudges me when I need to get back on the running track. When I leave the house or pack up my stuff, this device is one of the three things I always make sure I have: iPhone, wallet, keys.

As close and dependent as we are on one another, I’d like to share my experiences from a particular day of the week and how this day, and the relationship I have with my so-called “phone” on that day changes everything. Hold tight, because you might find this completely outrageous.

Every week towards Friday evening, I get ready for Shabbat. What’s Shabbat you might ask? That’s a great question — Shabbat is the Hebrew word for Saturday, and is also known in Jewish tradition as the day of rest. For generations, Jewish communities of all types have celebrated this day is some shape or form. The core essence of the day is to rest and to spend quality time with family and friends. Some hassidic communities have taken the concept of Shabbat to more observant places, but the progressive community that I belong to in Brooklyn aspire to commemorate this day by unplugging from all of our everyday rituals and behaviors, and creating space for quality human interaction. Whether it be your own meditation with yourself, or a meal with friends around a table, the escapism Shabbat allows from the tech-binding lives we live today is extremely liberating. Just to be clear, my weekly celebration of Shabbat includes cutting off all technology completely. From Friday night till Saturday night (since the Jewish calendar is a lunar one), all tech devices are shut off — so, no computer (which means no email!), no phone (which means no Facebook! no Instagram!), and, I also don’t travel. There is so much serenity in staying put in one space, and to have continuos moments that are not chopped off by a notification alert, or a worry to get back to someone.

I’m aware that while reading this you may be thinking that I am insane for giving up a full 24 hours each week (while I’m at grad school! And working!), when I could be using my time “wisely” by catching up with the many unchecked tasks I have accumulated over the week. And you may be right — I don’t know and I’m not running to find out, because for me, this weekly cleanse is the greatest gift I could give myself. Being conscious of the human self, in my opinion, is something we should all invest more time in. Can you recall the last time you waited at a stoplight and the person standing next to you wasn’t eagerly re-checking their messages, just to make sure that between now and two seconds ago, nothing new has come up?

My commute to the city during the week is pretty decent, and the subway that I take is actually very scenic at one point since it travels along the Manhattan bridge. During these subway trips, I’m usually listening to a podcast, iPhone in pocket. It’s pretty common that the moment the subway reaches the bridge and is riding outdoors in range of cellular signal, I hear a notification in the background. Depending on how engaged I am, I might take a peek at what the notification is about, but I almost never open it up and look while I’m on the subway. This is a conscious decision I have made after noticing that the moment the subway hits daylight, all the passengers aboard, like zombies, pull out their devices and turn down their heads. It’s almost like an instinct, and I refuse to take part in this automatic culture, although I know I am already a victim of it to some extent. What strikes me the most though is that as a society, we like to complain and over-analyze this apocalyptic way of life we have all become members of, when in fact we are the ones creating this destructive and hostile reality to live in. The more we give in to the Pavlovian effect (aka classical conditioning) and feel obligated to respond instantly to whatever distraction it was that broke our routine, the more we strengthen the assumption and validate one’s expectation of an immediate response in return. And don’t think we’re not the villains as well. How many times have you sent out an email and after not hearing back from the person in 20 minutes you immediately assume that something must be wrong / they hate you / you must be fired.

One of the things I love most about Shabbat is the opportunity to reclaim my power as human being. Every Saturday, I get to sit in the driver’s seat and say to the world, “Today, your emails, your pokes and your stress are just going to have to wait a bit. Today is my designated human time.” You might be surprised to know that it’s actually not as bad or as extreme as it sounds. Yes, this kind of lifestyle sometimes sends me back to the days before cell phones when we had to make plans with people in advance, and I admit, sometimes people who don’t know about this ritual of mine get worried and anxious. One Saturday night I turned my phone back on and got a stream of texts with 10 minute gaps from the same person, each text increasing the number of question marks and the letter “y” in “Are you okayyyyyyyyy?????????”. And the answer is, yes, I am okay. Even more than okay.

You don’t have to be Jewish to create a Shabbat environment for yourself. It’s worth setting aside even a few hours a week to be totally tech-free and to regain ownership on your own life, where you set the expectations and boundaries — you and only you! And if I can recommend a small dose of sanity to the world, creating your own Saturday oasis would be it. As we wish to one another on this content day — May you have a peaceful weekend — Shabbat Shalom.

 Featured image by Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

3D Cross-stitched Plant

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3D Printing

For my final in Intro to 3D Printing, I attempted to create a 3D cross-stitch model of a plant, which I also stitched. This project was a roller coaster of lessons, even for AMS. I had created a the files on Rhino, split all the pieces to separate files, and sent it to print on the MOJO printer. The file was approved by the staff at AMS, but when I went to pick up the final piece, a gooey, soapy print was waiting for me:

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They tried printing the file two additional times, and had failed. The way the files were printed in the end was by scaling all the pieces 50%, which made the entire structure a lot more durable.




After many hours of stitching, here is the end result:


Printing and Stitching a 3D Plant

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3D Printing

For the final project, I’m going to print and stitch a 3D plant. My technique for creating the the structure of the plant was to geometric shapes to create the structure of the plant, and to then project a grid on the 3d object, extrude the lines and offset them. once that wrap is done, I would delete the original 3D object and be left with a hollow 3D grid.

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I went to print this at AMS, and they wouldn’t let me print a sample since the file was approved and they had no doubts that it would print well. I’m printing them on the Mojo printers in two parts, one part is scheduled to take 26 hours!

Once the print is done I’ll be able to buy the appropriate thickness of yarn. I imagine for the end result to look something like this, but in 3D:


Working with Datasets

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Data Personalization

We humans have become obsessed with tracking data. It seems the data we enjoy consuming, analyzing and critiquing is that relating to the behavior of others. How obese is America? How uneducated is our youth? What percent of the population is addicted to drugs?

I’m interested in tracking some personal data, that might help me improve my own behavior. For example, ever since I moved to NYC, I’ve noticed I spend more money than I spent when living in any other city. I’m interested in tracking my daily transactions, and reflect on the results to learn what I may be wasting money on.


Another dataset I would like to experiment with is the migration of birds. I’m not entirely sure how I would go about this but I would like to target a dataset that includes specimen, number of birds (if possible) and dates of migration.


Sculpting in 3D — Not fully working yet

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This week I attempted to make an attaching piece for my iPhone that would amplify the volume. You might be familiar with the amplifying trick of placing the speaker area of your phone in a cove-shape space (cupped hand, or, just a cup).


The design I came up with references to seashells, and I’m curious to find out whether or not some of the properties I hypothesize are related will indeed change the quality of the sound. Here are some of my sketches:


I attempted to translate my design to a 3D file in Rhino, and unfortunately was not very successful. My main issue is precision, I still feel like it’s very hard to get precise with the tools I’m using. Here are a few attempts at the modelling, but I think I’ll come back to thins once I have a better idea on perhaps the right tools to use and the right way to use them.

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Depth of focus and polarization

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In this week’s exercise, I experimented with depth of focus and polarization. For depth of field, we learned that the amount of focus in the depth of field is determined by the aperture setting. The smaller the aperture the longer the range of focus. So, I took two photos, the first is with the smallest aperture on my camera (I believe it was 4.6):


In the second photo, the aperture is completely open (29):


For polarization, we learned that the polarization filter filters some of the light that is captured is the lens, giving a much more detailed image. Here are the photos with and without the polarization lens:

Without polarization lens:


With polarization lens:


Building a Compass

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3D Printing

This week we were asked to sketch and model an object with two parts. The object I created is a compass with two parts: one part is the base and the other part is the arrow. The design I created incorporates a male/female attachment, so the base of the compass has a small bit to “house” a tiny pin designed for the arrow to sit upon.

This was a great exercise to do in order to become familiar with getting precise results on Rhino. There were many areas where alignment was crucial, but also very fine measurements in height and depth. The functions I used most were Copy, Extrude, Boolean Intersection and Boolean Union.

Here are some shots of my sketch and process:


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