Saturday, 27 September 2014

Not mechatronic ears~

I went to The Edge for a Making Mechatronic Ears workshop and I made these! The power needed was grossly miscalculated so they're essentially just ears.

We used a Cheapduino which is programmed using plastic.

??????? O_O

My Amazon-Twitch Fan Fic

Twitch is a website dedicated to live-streaming video games. It is my primary source of entertainment and to be honest, my only one true love. The recent Amazon-Twitch acquisition not only has the potential to make for a better Twitch experience, but could change Twitch's product offering.

A few weeks ago (before the acquisition), I ventured out to an AWS meet up, expecting to learn about Amazon Web Services (deploying web applications to the cloud). Turns out I had read the invitation incorrectly, and I walked into a Amazon Work Spaces demonstration. All attendees worked for financial intermediaries and what not so I felt out of place amidst all the fancy suits and well-polished shoes in my school-girl tartan skirt and people stomping boots.

Other than learning that I found desktop deployment soul-wrenchingly monotonous, at the conclusion of the presentation, they displayed a really awesome new product called Amazon AppStream. It is for highly resource-intensive applications, like video games, 3D modelling and visual editing, running in the cloud. They conducted a demonstration running Diablo 3 so that the visuals were streamed to the screen while controls were streamed to the server in real time. I was super impressed as it was effectively high definition, low latency gaming, my only two criteria for a satisfying gaming experience (other than the game). The critical thing is that it was done using a Microsoft Surface Pro which lacks the hardware to play such games, especially with such a sleek form-factor.

At the time, I thought it was a shame. Amazon will not be able to market this sort of technology to the general public. Through an outlet like Twitch, I believe that now it is possible.

The hardware needed to play the majority of games can be quite an investment. Add high quality streaming, high quality audio and film peripherals and that's something else altogether. Large streamers like DethRidge (who receives an average of 3,000 concurrent viewers) need to purchase two computers to maintain the quality of their stream. One for playing video games at a high quality, another to capture the screen at a high resolution.

DethRidgeCraft's PC's ($1495 + $855 disregarding peripherals)
Perhaps every single one of my friends (not that I have many) has told me that they would like to start streaming but they lack the equipment to do so.

For the majority of streamers, attaining hardware is one of their main problems, as a low quality stream can really put off the average Twitch viewer which prevent small streams from getting their fair consideration. A large segment of potential streamers are typically students without capital to invest but lots of time to spare, the perfect streamer.

There is a massive untapped market that AppStream could theoretically fulfill. In regards to Twitch, it will be unnecessary for a streamer to upload visuals and audio from both the game and their webcam. Rather, they would download visuals (which is usually more efficient than uploading), their input and web cam will be uploaded, then synced using AppStream and AWS then distributed to Twitch viewers.

This opens opportunities for pass the controller, "Twitch plays insert name", less lag and allows all streamers to have the option of maintaining a high quality stream.

This is meant to be a very high level wish list. There are tonnes of details missing that need to be considered but I don't work for Twitch or Amazon oh well.

On a side note, if AppStream or any sort of ubiquitous gaming platform was commercialised, I don't think it will do well for the gaming industry. There will be little incentive to update graphics or performance and god forbid, console gaming will become the "classic" way of gaming. Although, internet speed will never be more crucial and I'm not going to lie, I don't understand why people need faster internet but this is totally a legitimate reason.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

I got a jawb!

I'm going to be a graduate developer at!!! So as of early next year, I'll be rotating throughout the company working on various projects in loads of different technologies.

REA put a lot of effort to making the recruitment process as enjoyable as possible. I was flown to Melbourne to do the interview and I came back with just as much knowledge about working in IT and REA as the information they gathered about me.

It's a complete miracle that I've managed to acquire this position. This was the only graduate position I actually applied for, as:
  • I didn't think I could graduate for another year or so
  • BUT this job sounded so perfect that I devised a strategy - (most likely) fail to get the position this year, then apply next year with a perfect application off what I had learned
When the offer got serious, I found out that it is possible to graduate with just my IT degree at the end of the year, so I'll be dropping my business degree to continue in the future for whenever I actually develop an interest in it.

So I'll be moving down to Melbourne for the position with my kitty cat early next year ^^

Look how excited she was when I told her.

In light of these events, I'm going to start a series on this blog about my overall honest reflections on university - what I completely despised and what I thoroughly enjoyed. Additionally, the nature of my posts will be changing in nature. I'll be focusing more on analytical content rather than observational content. It will be much more interesting to (all 2 of my) readers and give this blog a purpose.

Get hype.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Rails Girls~

Ruby on Rails is an awesome web framework, similar to Django, which I talked about a few weeks ago. I went to Rails Girls on the weekend, which allocates a day to go through in quite a bit of depth, all technologies involved in creating a website with Ruby on Rails.

These were:
  • Installation
  • Ruby
  • Combining them together with Rails
  • Github
  • Deploying to Heroku with PostgreSQL
It was super fun. It seems that the Ruby community is super strong in Brisbane. It's perfect for anyone who knows nothing about creating a website, not just Ruby on Rails.


Here's my deployed website:

I'd love to use Django or Rails for my website, however since the most complex thing I do is list my blog posts (which can even be done on the client) it seems a little over the top, especially since I'd need to pay for cloud hosting which is vastly more expensive than my cheap web hosting.


Berp Borp

I went to Intro to Electronics at The Edge tonight! It's a two hour workshop that introduces you to basic electronics concepts and fabrication - sewing with electronics.

We made badges :3 With two tiny LEDs powered by a coin cell battery, joined together with conductive thread.

It's name is Berp Borp.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

We beat the game!!

Fix My City won Best Use of Transportation Data!!!
Isn't Rameelcajo pretty when we're not working our butts off!?

Getting warm and fuzzy with Pia Waugh, who's passion for open data is so potent, Caleb couldn't hold my phone properly, and Adam Spencer... who's on Catalyst and everything science related.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

PyCon Australia!

I went to PyCon on the weekend! It's a Python - a programming language - conference set here in Brisbane. I volunteered and was placed in the main theatre to do audio/visual work in effort to obtain a free ticket, avoid awkward lonely moments and satisfy my slowly developing altruism.

The view from my station overlooking the main theatre~

The presentations covered many topics from the issues of supporting multiple versions of Python, how to ask questions effectively online, why catering for accessibility will improve your website and what I can only describe as Python bashing. There were loads of technical talks that just went over my head.

Previously, I've used Python a lot for my Project Euler questions mainly because of its support for integer overflow and its handy math libraries. Other than that, I've also just completed an internship in Django (with an awesome Brisbane start-up, Liquid State) , a super handy web app framework, which took up a large portion of the conference.

I find that my peers at uni tend to be repulsed by Python, as it is the first language they're taught and it's associated with bad memories of understanding basic OO.

On Monday I attended Django Girls! Myself and a whole truckload of female developers created our own fully functional Django driven blogs. Here's mine:
It has the basic blog features with ability to log in, edit, create and publish posts. It's no blogger :3


The tutorial is really easy to follow and I strongly encourage anyone who wants to make their own web app at least to take a look. Django is very high level and is designed to make web development simple so you can get on with whatever you want to do.

The organiser, Elena was absolutely amazing and she gave me the prettiest tech book that I've ever seen. Two Scoops of Django 1.6 signed by the authors, Audrey and Daniel!! It's full of best practices in Django and illustrations featuring humanised ice creams.


Quality PyCon stash~ Shirts not pictured as they're in the wash.

The biggest thing I took away from PyCon is an understanding on how the open source community works. In order to keep Python a competitive language, it's necessary to get others involved. Because of this, basically everyone I talk to was super inclusive and willing to help.


Monday, 21 July 2014

Google Student Ambassador visit to Warwick Central State School!

Ashleigh, my fellow Google Student Ambassador and myself went to Warwick Central State School to meet up with their Prep/1T class! Warwick is a 3 hour drive from Brisbane.

We introduced them to this awesome coding game which I recommend to anyone who hasn't had any experience with programming (no matter their age):

They learned about for basic programming concepts like loops and they were all prodigies. Then made their own Google Glasses.

We had tonnes of fun and gave out lots of swag.

Monday, 14 July 2014

GovHack~ Fix My City!

Over the weekend, myself and a team of super rad people went to GovHack! It's a competition that gets the public to use government and local data to create an application. There are tonnes of prizes, free food which makes up for the soul draining experience as the competition lasts 48 hours.

At 48 hours with limited sleep~

While my team didn't really know each other prior to the event, amazingly our limited skill sets happened to compliment each other.

I worked on processing the data on the front end and incorporating swishy effects with JavaScript. Also I did most of the video.

This is the video:

We eventually found out that it costs $16 to report a problem to someone in council, and $400 to report something to the Lord Mayor. If we integrated our system directly into their SAP instance, it would bring a lot of value.

Our final work is functional, but needs a lot of polishing. I'm super happy with it and I hope something like this be used in the future. It's taught me the effectiveness of quick prototyping and why many tech companies utilise 20% time and hack days.

GovHack was super fun. Totally worth it~

Here's our final submission:


More information about the project here:

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Studio Ghibli Nails!

My friend Madison so graciously lent her hands for my various Ghibli doodlings. Some of them turned out amazing, others not so much.

Noface is a thing of nightmares.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

New Website!

Most excitingly, I used CSS3 animations to make my tongue stick out the more one scrolls.

Other than that:

  • Bootstrap for all that responsive goodness
  • PHP script to create a blogger feed
  • PHP script to create an email contact form
  • Timeline JS to make myself a nice interactive résumé
  • Terrible Engreesh

Thursday, 12 June 2014

NFC ring~

I made an NFC ring to unlock my phone~

The things I needed to accomplish this:
  • NFC tokens (18mm, 1kb size)
  • Generic rings (adjustable size)
  • Android rooted phone with Xposed Framework
Total = $10.

This is very simple to implement if you have a rooted phone with Xposed Framework enabled. All you need to do is download this module: [MOD][Xposed] NFC Unlocking (based on NFCLockscreenOff Enabler)
This allows you to enable NFC while your phone is locked with the screen off. For those with unrooted Android phones, it's possible to do this but I'm not entirely sure of the process.

I'm really happy with the end result. It opens the possibility of using an insanely complicated security options.

The inspiration came from Adafruit!

Some issues:
My skin has been reacting to the cheap material on the ring.
The NFC token scans multiple times and brings up an "Unknown tag type" dialogue. I think I can fix this with Tasker.
Kid's PVA glue (Clag) isn't a fantastic binding agent.
Rings are really uncomfortable. This is my first time and it's terrible :<

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Monty Hall Problem

I've made a simulation of the Monty Hall Problem! The problem is as follows:

  • There are 3 doors, 1 has a luxury good behind it, eg. fancy car, the other two have worthless things. The incentive is to guess the door which has the car behind it.
  • You select a door, another door that does not have the car behind it is opened
  • You are given the option to switch doors, or stick with your choice
According to the following video, if you stick with your original choice, that will provide a probability of 1/3 that the car was behind it, but if you switched to the only remaining door, there would be a probability of 2/3 that it would be behind that one.

I've made it so you can run multiple games and find out the percentage win rate. Through my own testing of the simulation, the theory saying that you should switch definitely has merit. If I was asked, I would definitely switch.


Also comes with CSS hover animations~

Monday, 26 May 2014

Clojure Bridge!

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop called Clojure Bridge aimed at ladies (11/16 females to males!). Clojure is a functional programming language.

We learnt about core Clojure libraries and attempted to implement a web server, unfortunately our web service had a demographic issue and it didn't work :< Basically the point was that Clojure is great and manipulating data.

I've been getting a lot of Thoughtworks swag as of recent~

~ R A I N B O W ~* \(^ W ^)/

I submitted this for this Colour Your Week competition.

Two weeks later I got this! Aw yea~

Saturday, 17 May 2014


The DURR is a bracelet that alerts you by vibrating every 5 minutes (see video for how this might be useful). It came out half a year or so ago very exclusively for $120. It sounded like a simple introductory electronics project so since then, I've been meaning to create my own.

~ Murr ~

The Durr has given quite a bit of transparency in terms of what hardware they used so I just purchased what they used:

  • Coin vibration motor
  • ATtiny85 (the brain)
  • CR2032 battery
The total cost was ~$12 and months of waiting for components to arrive.

I used the Arduino to program the ATtiny: instructions


Although I attempted to code it myself but I found that others had used assembly which allows it to be much more efficient. Code from here.

I'm super happy with the result. ^w^ My photography doesn't do it justice, particularly that 70's brown veroboard.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


Sieve of Eratosthenes

Sieve of Eratosthenes is an algorithm that gets all prime numbers under a specified number. It's fast and super easy to understand. This is my implementation of it.

My code and demo here:

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Lamb durr~

I'm having a jam (hoho) packed functional programming week~ I'm volunteering at Lambda Jam, a FP conference put on by YOW!, then Clojure Bridge at Thoughtworks!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Party Time

It's my friend Madison's birthday today. I decided to give her epilepsy.

Words to Colours (Ascii to hex)

Get Chicken Crimpy from Hexadecimal Colours

I've been obsessed with Numberphile recently, one of my favourite YouTube channels. In one video (below) they talk about using numbers to encrypt information, so in essence they're "illegal numbers" as they're illegal to distribute. They go on to make their own hypothetical illegal number by taking "NUMBERPHILE" to converting it from Ascii to binary, then decimal, then hexadecimal, then to hexadecimal colours.

So essentially, you can take the colours, extract the hexadecimal colour values and eventually arrive back at the original Ascii values like the Chicken Crimpy picture. So distributing the colours would be illegal.

I've made a widget in JavaScript to convert ascii to hex colours! You can play with it here:
Here's my original code:

My colours.

Pi to as many that could fit on the web page.

I was super disappointed with how ugly these deliberate random hexadecimal colours are :(

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Why the front?

I recently got some business cards done up. Anything is better than scribbling my email address incorrectly on a scrap of hot pink paper then handing it to someone I'm trying to woo with my technical prowess. While being intimidating on paper, having two hyphenated names (Mei Weng Brough-Smyth) makes things like professional email addresses unnecessarily complicated.

Anyway here they are:

I just wanted to clarify that I had to refrain myself from getting the following design printed:

While I managed to control myself, I just wanted to say that I'm completely miffed at the state of business card designs. They typically are overly professional and do not reflect the card holder's personality - and in fact refrain from showing any sort of personality at all.

Trying to find a example feminine looking business cards in tech or finance was much too difficult. Through my hasty research, I felt that people abandon themselves and try to create a front that satisfies the stereotype that they're trying to present. :<

This all raises the question - do I want to be associated with anyone who would feel awkward holding my kitty business card?

No. No I do not.