Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Last Meeting Before Thanksgiving

Our Team had a great meeting last night.
We made progress on a number of fronts.
Jeremy is going to re-visit and probably re-write much of the parsing code he did in the summer in order to try and speed up the downloading of Gmail. Also, we have made a decision to limit the number of emails downloaded. So, the user will download only their first Gmail to number 1,000. This will allow for faster downloads, and it will give users a chance to actually "beat" the game.

Dave has been creating some great music. He's working on a few more seasonal, ambient songs and an intro song.

Eric is finishing his amazing art and animation. We should have a testable beta by the end of the semester.

After Thanksgiving, I am going to begin work on getting IRB approval for interviewing participants. By the end of spring semester, we hope to have a publishable paper with, hopefully, very rich empirical data.

Monday, November 2, 2009


It's been a while since I have updated our progress, but fear not, we are doing great!
  1. We had a great meeting the other night with the team. Eric has made wonderful progress with the art and animations. It is really starting to look better and better.
  2. We our proud to announce that fellow PhD student David Bello is now creating original music for our game! Dave is going for an ambient, seasonal sound, and his first audio file sounded amazing. I would post it here, but I will wait until he has tweaked it some more.
  3. Jeremy is continuing his work on speeding up the downloading of Gmail. He has found a new python library that will make use of IMAP, so we are hoping this will work better than our current technique.
We are going to have another meeting before Thanksgiving break and keep pushing forward. We anticipate being--hopefully--completely finished at the end of the semester, and I will start informal testing asap.

We are close!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Still Moving Forward

Jeremy and I and Eric had a good meeting about the art for the game.  Here's a quick mock-up that Eric did:
  This is the outside of the "game."  Above, you see a progress bar indicating how much of your gmail archive you have explored.  We decided that people need weapons because...why not?  So, for every 20 percent you complete, you will get a new weapon you can use to hack other "characters" to pieces.  We needed to do this to add more game play mechanics and keep people, hopefully, interested.  We shall see what happens...
Also, Nick is working hard on the comic program, and he is hoping to continue his work into the fall, provided there is funding :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Good Good!

Both projects are moving along very well. This Friday after the RCOS meeting, Nick and I are going to meet with our artist, Eric Newsom. Eric is my good friend and fellow PhD student in the Communication and Rhetoric program here at RPI. We need to discuss how the comic strip art will look. Since we are using other people's gmail, there is no way to account for every possible expression, thus the figures will have to look ambiguous. I am confident Eric will do a great job!

Jeremy has finished gathering, parsing and merging emails and chats and has the foundation setup for the game. Also, next week Jeremy and Eric and I will meet to talk about art for the Game program. Each of these projects contains their own design, programming and artistic obstacles, which makes it quite a challenge!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Interface Mockup

We have a mockup for Gcomic.  It will probably change, but this is what Nick has done so far.  I think it looks great.  Please note that the image inside of the interface will most likely not be the image we use.  I am meeting with my artist this week to talk it over.

Also, Jeremy is plugging away at the game prototype.  Things are looking good!

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Progress

Both projects are on track.

Jeremy is working super hard.  There have been many "little" issues for the video game program, and he has done an amazing job working through them.

Nick is also doing a great job.  His interface looks awesome, and so far he has not run into any parsing issues.

looking good!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Making Progress

Nick and Jeremy are making great progress.
We are definitely right on track.

Jeremy has run into a few parsing issues, but they are not his fault (stupid gmail!), and we are still moving forward with the game prototype.

Nick has a wonderful interface design for the comic strip.  It looks great. 

So far, so good!

Friday, May 29, 2009

looking good

The team has been very hard at work parsing Gmail. The major problem is that Google doesn't seem to want anybody to have access to their own Gtalk Chat archives, which is unfortunate and very troublesome.

Still, Jeremy and Nick are doing their best. It's possible that both projects may have to use whatever chats we can get with the caveat that many chats are simply not accessible.

We are hoping that parsing the Gmail will be easier since Google allows for IMAP. (Even when you use IMAP, it will NOT download your chats!)

We are making progress!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer 2009 Schedule

Summer 2009 Schedule for Gcomic and Ggame
5/4 Week 1: Create program requirements
5/11 Week 2: Begin parsing Gmail (email/IM)
5/18 Week 3: Finish parsing (Hopefully)
5/25 Week 4: Ggame prototype complete
6/1 Week 5: begin Gcomic prototype
6/8 Week 6: Work with artist on Gcomic panels
6/15 Week 7: keep tweaking Gcomic art
6/22 Week 8: Ggame testing and tweaking
6/29 Week 9: Ggame debug and test
7/6 Week 10: See if we can connect Game/comic to other services, i.e., Yahoo! (maybe)
7/13 Week 11: debug
7/20 Week 12: test with users
7/27 Week 13: get user results back
8/3 Week 14: tweak code and advertise to get others to build upon our source.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


This blog will post weekly updates for two open-source projects funded by the Rensselaer Center for Open Source Software.

The project members are Jason Zalinger, Jeremy Therrin and Nick Glickenhouse.

The two projects are Gmail as Video Game (Ggame) and Gmail as Comic Strip (Gcomic).

Ggame is a "game" meant to encourage exploration and self-reflection about your Gmail archives.  The game will log into your Gmail account and as the player wanders from space to space, he or she will encounter other "characters" from your past and engage in dialouges with them.  All the "data" comes from either Gmail emails or Gmail chats.

Gcomic is essentially the same idea except it exports your "data" in the form of a comic strip.

Each week, we will post updates on our progress and eventually we hope lots and lots of people will build on this work and use the programs to help them visualize their digital archives in a narrative form.