Archive for the ‘Hacking’ Category

Calling all innovators: Don’t miss the #LATISM Hackathon!

Friday, September 13th, 2013

With the excitement of our conference this year, and all the great things that we’ve prepared for all of you, we couldn’t be happier to announce our first ever Hackathon (¡¿un jaka-qué?! you are probably asking). A Hackathon is an event that engages computer programmers, designers and entrepreneurs to collaborate and create projects that positively impact the Latino community.

It is also a vehicle to introduce products and ideas that benefit from the Latino market. Hackathons are known for allowing people to problem solve together as teams. “El Hackathon” will be hosted on Friday, September 20th, during our 5th Annual National Conference, LATISM’13, at the amazing Waldorf Astoria in New York City. For a 24-hour period, hackers will be scrambling to execute and produce their concepts into demonstrable functional hacks.

Hackathons allow people to isolate problems and create forward thinking solutions in a creative, yet fast-paced manner, due to the limited time available to perform. This helps people focus on core systems and their “MVP” or Minimum Viable Product.

The goal for the event is to get as many people involved in the innovation process. Teams are then asked to “Demo” their hacks, which exercises a vital part of the innovation process on how to explain an idea. The biggest benefit of hackathons, are the increase awareness around emerging technology and products.

This year’s prizes for the winners of “El Hackathon” include a grand prize of $5,000 for the best hack, chosen by our panel of judges. With sponsors in the ranks of Google, AT&T, McDonalds, Johnson & Johnson and Toyota, this is sure to be a pretty fancy hackathon!

All are welcome to participate. For tickets and more information for this event visit: 

Disrupt NY Hackathon 2013!

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

The TechCrunch Disrupt NY Hackathon 2013 is around the corner! And you can get your tickets in “waves” that get released every so often!

Last year my team won first place with Thingscription!

Thingscription is a simple idea that we hacked over two days; a website where you can buy anything by subscription. Here is the 1 min. presentation Justin gave for the team:

This year I am looking to team up with other who want to do something fun around location. I am particularly looking for people who can code native apps (iOS, Android, or Windows) And people who can do P-Comp Stuff like Arduino, Wifi Shields, GFM Shields etc. This Year’s Disrupt Hackathon is going to be fun like any other. I can’t wait! You can find me @oscargt on the twitter…

Also I may hack something together with some of my teammates here @zenplaya or maybe team up with @NYUPOLYinqb8 folks. Who knows, Hackathons are so unpredictable and anything goes. At the end of the day it’s about amazing ideas come to life. And like any other hackathon, a little competition among buddies is always fun!

How We Won TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon NYC 2012

Friday, September 7th, 2012

So I decided to go to the Disrupt Hackathon this past May to get some free snacks and maybe even a Beer! After a few hours of bumming around and talking to people; trying to convince them to do a little mapping hack. I ran into Justin @justinisaf who had a nice little idea at hand. He wanted to create a little hack for A-B testing of product performance, which I though had legs but sounded kinda boring. I told him I would think about it and get back to him.

I spent another hour talking to other hackers about their projects, sharing my ideas, giving each other feedback and suggestions. From previous wins at these things, I found that the best way to reach that amazing idea is by putting your idea on the table. Shoot it out there, tell everyone about it and take good notes on the feedback. As I was telling everyone about my ideas for hacks, I realized that there was one a crucial element that was not very strong on all my concepts. It was not strong, not because the idea was bad, but because I had not spent enough time thinking about a way to monetize the idea. This is often the downfall of great concepts at hackathons.

Thinking back to Justin’s hack, I saw the great potential for the product and you could see that there was something there waiting to jump at you. I went back to talk to him and after another 10 min of dialogue, the synergy could be felt and I decided to join the project. The team consisted of Justin, Tyler @tylerstalder and Jon @jonmarkgo

We all chiped in to develop different aspects of the hack with one goal in mind (after some discussion on what the hack was actually going to be). The Hack would be called Thingscription and it would be a platform that would allow anyone to subscribe to any product for home deliery. Once you bought a subscription to a product (like shaving cream), you would get your product in the mail every week, month or whatever amount of time you chose for the subscription.

What was great about this hack, its that it started with a nifty way to do business and it expanded into a general money making machine that would benefit the average Joe.

After a pound of snacks, a gallon of Beer, a barrel of coffee and the occasional redbull it was 3am and decided that Justin would present Thingscription, so it would make sense that he go home, get some sleep and look pretty for the camera =) For the rest of us, it was break time, perhaps a massage courtesy of Mobli and then a well needed nap!

From 4:30am till 9am it was crunch time, designing, coding, frameworks, elevator pitch! The MVP is always the main focus and features are fun to talk about but placed way, way in the back burner.

Before we knew it, they moved us out of the main hack space so they could setup for the Main Disrupt event. And then while putting the final touched on the hack it was almost time to present! We were #31 out of 92 teams. #27 was presenting when our team was called to set up! Jon was literary still coding as he was walking up to setup the laptop for demo.

The presentation went well and we were confident that we gave our 100% on this project. You can see the presentation here:

After the presentation, we grabbed some coffee and actually started paying attention to the other teams; which I must say, had impressive hacks. My favorite project was this hack called Poachbase, a website to go find talent from startups that did not make it. Such a great idea, and so funny! All the teams finished presenting and the judges went to the back to discuss and pick winners.

When they called everyone back in, the sponsored prizes were announced; non won by Thingscription as expected. Most of the prizes are won by hacks using sponsored APIs, and we did not use any of those. We kept it real and went out on a limb to make a project we thought was cool and had potential to make some $$.

The finalists were finally up, third place went to Practikhan “A platform that lets teachers create their own online quizzes to share with their students.”

Second Place went to Poachbase, which I thought was well deserved! And the winners, which I felt for a slight millisecond might be us, but then realize that there were 40 other projects that were just as amazing. Is… Bla bla bla bla bla!?? When the winner was announce, I completely spaced out and did not hear the name of the hack. I looked over at my team, and they were all looking back at me super shocked! And then finally Justin clarified the whole thing by exclaiming; We WON!!!

It was a very cool moment, yet we all felt we deserved the darn first place. A well thought out idea, with skilled hacking and an awesome team!

Here are some highlights:

Cool Video of AMEX OPEN Forum Hackathon

Friday, August 10th, 2012

You can see my ugly mug on min. 2:23

Momentum | AMEX OPEN Forum Hackathon from Momentum Worldwide on Vimeo.

News On The P-Comp and Mobile Front

Friday, May 20th, 2011

I’ve notice that we are making some interesting leaps in technology. Geeks and Nerds are innovating at a faster rate than I initially thought. Open source projects are making great leaps specially in the mobile world.

Here are some projects that have great potential. They are just beginning to scratch the surface and is a sign of the greater things to come.

The first trend that’s happening is the use of androids to interface with PCs. Here is a little hacked software that allows the android phone to act as a mouse controller for a computer.

RemoteDroid demo from Joshua Sera on Vimeo.

Sooner than later you will have software on your phone to control just about anything with an internet connection and digital controls.

An other little device that will certainly enable hackers and techies to do some rapid prototyping is the IOIO (pronounced yoyo.)

The IOIO is an open-source micro controller that connects to your android phone. The little micro controller is packed with 16 analog inputs, 9 PWM outputs and an astonishing 48 i/o digital pins. This will allow you to make gadgets control via mobile device:

If you think that these innovations are already too cool for their own good. You have not kept up with ubuntu news. Just a few weeks ago the news spread like wildfire about the Raspberry Pi:

I mean just look at what’s packed into this little computer that is no bigger than a pack of chewing gum or a USB stick!

- 700MHz ARM11
- 256MB of SDRAM
- OpenGL ES 2.0
- 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
- Composite and HDMI video output
- USB 2.0
- SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot
- General-purpose I/O
- Open software (Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)

With all this, what else do you need to make your very own terminator…

Here is a good resource video with lots of helpful links in the video description:

I guess you would need the generative titanium and the living tissue colonies etc. but that’s besides the point. The tools are there to make just about anything and it fit in the palm of your hand. Plus when you add the additional open source software, you have an arsenal of tools that is unmatched aka hackarsenal…

Sooner than later, you will be able to build your own mini helper:

Or just buy one for your self and then customize it:

I predict that by next year this time, we will have fully functional personal computers the size of your cellphone that you can carry around everywhere like a laptop, but pocket sized.

Postanalog or Post-Analog

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

So I have decided to start classifying a lot of the new art I see as Postanalog (Post-analog). It is the only way I can describe or categorize things like Art Robotica or projects such as Mortal Engine

Postanalog is similar to the term Postdigital but with a dramatic difference. Postanalog is art that embraces digital technology. This is that art that sees humanity and digital technology as symbiotic. It is when you see a natural element and an algorithmic digital element combine and for a new beautiful form.

Postanalog will revolutionize the world as we see it.

Army Strong … The US Army.

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

It is Veterans Day in the United States. A day to remember those who have served in combat in order to protect our state, our home, our freedom. There is not enough thanking in the world to give the US Army Forces. Thank you.

Simultaneously there is big talk surrounding the US Army’s advertising strategy as the Army is looking for its new advertising campaign. The current campaign by the army revolves around the slogan “Army Strong” and the fist thing that I puzzled me was what that line meant? Who is army strong? Is it the soldiers or the machinery they use? Its a vague tag line, but I guess its catchy. The main purpose of a slogan or tag line is important as a tool to influence perception, specially when it involves an icon such as a logo.

Every generation has its collective personality which comes from environmental variables, a zeitgeist that influence behavior. Our biggest identifiable generation begins at the G.I. Generation a generation who’s parents where raised in a world where the USA was only beginning to gain its own national identity. It was the time of The Spanish-American war, a time when there was a persistant remanence of European culture such as Impressionism in art. This was a time when the US Army was still in its infancy as a modern Army.

Targeting the GI Generation was made by using propaganda that included the famous uncle sam poster.

The generation that followed was the Baby Boomer Generation which was a very influential generation which was far more conservative than the current generations. This is the Generation that was heavily divided on the peace and war issue and when the peace sign and smiley face gained popularity.

The interesting part about the symbols of the time, is that they had to co-inhabit the cultural ecosystem of the time. References on the “Duality of man” was made through the use of symbols in the movie “Full Metal Jacket” When a soldier was asked why he was wearing the symbols in the form of a button.


Generation X followed which is currently taking control of society. The awareness level of this generation greatly increased due to an increase in broadcasting capabilities by radio, television and the telephone. Television gained the capability of acquiring video footage outside of a recording studio with portable video cameras that could be purchased by the masses. Essentially, technology began to infiltrate our personal and private living spaces allowing a stream of messages to bombard us in our very own living rooms. We welcomed this new technology the way we have welcomed mobile phone technology. Generation X grew up with a broadcasting network increase information dissemination at a very rapid pace.

The US Army capitalized on this new network to promote enlistments by using the televisions as a medium to get to Generation X. The slogan that the Army was using at the time was “Be All You Can Be” which was a campaign revolving around the characteristics of Generation X.

What where the characteristics of Generation X? Pop culture is, in a way, a reflection of culture. While Babyboomers could be associated to cultural icons such asElvis Presley, Generation X can be described with Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Doors which where bands that “Gen-Xers” grew up with and who’s characteristics manifested in the form of a new genre in musical expression; Nirvana.

The Army targeted these characteristics in Generation X with their “Be All You Can Be” campaign, which revolved about making the individual a better individual.

In 2006 there was a change in the slogan of the US Army. A reflection on the decrease of people that where enlisting to service. The Army’s new branding hoped to attract a new generation of people that where very unpredictable… at the time.

Generation Y is a very complex generation. It is driven by community and group interaction. They are a generation that revolves around strong family connections and interpersonal relationships. This is the generation that grew up with video games, mobile devices, and the internet. Television has become a very fragmented entity that lacks the ability to connect and interact. The Millennials are those who have realized that television is based on fantasy on specific views that isolates people. They are the ones, that even-though still watch the TV, the TV is not the main source of entertainment. Youtube, Vimeo, The Cheezburger Network, Twitter, and the thousands of news sources that exists in the cloud are the main source of entertainment for the new generations. But by far the most important innovation that has influenced the new generation is the ability to gather data and analyze that data in a casual manner, specifically with the addition of location and emotional connections. Any company, organization or institution that is targeting Millennials needs to understand collaboration, ubiquity, sustainability, memes and filters. The new generations are a generation that has increased awareness and masters of, as Linda Stone put it, Constant Partial Attention. They are the generation that, as Clay Shirky put it, decided to do something with their cognitive surplus. We are in a time of drastic change, and it is making sense to Millenials more than other generations. A time where adopting others as part of our own, is a necessity and not a luxury.

First Sikh Enlisted Soldier:

The new generations are not looking to become “drones” that are in the control of some other person. There is a big misunderstanding that you stop being an individual when you become a soldier. I think the opposite is true. Becoming a soldier makes you part of a big group of people. You actually become an individual in a big group of people that have a similar goal in mind; to protect what matters most, other people. Soldiers in today’s army are not drones, they are the ones controlling the drones literary. Physical computing is the next level of innovation. It is when the computer goes out into the real world and does something. Do something! Literary. How would you like to control a robot from your mobile phone? Well, that is not science fiction any more. Its the reality. Willow Garage is mass producing telepresence devices that are similar in concept, to the ones being deployed by the army. Sooner than later we will see a squad of soldiers be accompanied by a hundred is not thousands of swarm-bots all guided by a couple of soldiers. We currently have the technology that is being widely explored by hackers and artists:

These networked robots will soon have the capability to self organize to accomplish complex tasks. When you have a swarm of thousands of tiny little robots, dealing with them would be like dealing with a beehive that was just attacked or a swarm of locusts. You may be able to fend off against a few hundred before being over ran by the group. Here are some projects in their research stage which will become more familiar as time goes by.

And then there are the bots that the army and institutions are exploring:

These are the things that Millenials are interested in doing. Becoming part of something bigger. Something that they have the ability to make a big contribution to, with out endangering them selves in the process. They are the new tribes that have risen from digital connections, metaverses, LOLz, Hacking video games, and then telling their friends about it. And their world is like being inside “Tron” or “The Matrix”

…but the only difference, is that you can talk to everyone there. Including your enemies.

Now here is a peek at out awesome Armed forces!

One of the things that technology has done to our society is to increase the “small town effect” which means that everyone and their mom knows what everyone is doing. We are all interconnected, including the army and our “enemies.” We are all aware of what the other is doing and this effect is only bound to become more apparent. It would be silly to say that Millennials clearly understand the complexities that our new communication systems have created. But they are definitely more aware of our inter-connectivity than any other generation.

Jackoon at NYC Resistor Show

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

NYC Resistor is hosting “Art, Design, and the Arduino: a lineage” Curated by Alicia Gibb

March 27th, 2010 8-12pm

At NYC Resistor
87 3rd Avenue,
4th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11217

$10 Admission

In addition to artworks using the Arduino, the first prototype of the original Arduino from the collection of Massimo Banzi will be shown.

Works include a lineage of variations, modifications and relations to the Arduino microcontroller:
Hc Gilje
Aaron Koblin
Laura Greig
Hernando Barragán
Edith Kollath
Jan Borchers & René Bohne
Becky Stern
Oscar G. Torres & Jackoon
Raphael Abrams
Joe Saavedra

Curated by Alicia Gibb

RSVPs are appreciated:

More about the Artists:

Google Map of show location.

View Larger Map

Venue image:

Jackoon at the Gizmodo Gallery 2009:

Jackoon pair Painting at Gizmodo Gallery 2009 from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

The WAMI Dome on Make Zine

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010


A couple of years back I made the WAMI which is a simple digital wave modulation instrument, which really means that it can make a bunch of cool sounds by waving your hands over it. Last month I saw a blog post on it on MAKE zine. The WAMI Dome was a project commissioned by my friend Jim Heekin Jr. for his leisurely use =)

Jonah Brucker-Cohen Wrote a brief description of it on the Make Zine Blog.

Thanks for the shout out! =)

Wami Dome from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

Jackoon at Gizmodo Gallery Exhibit

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Jackoon-Art Robotica

Jackoon will be showing his painting skills at The Gizmodo Gallery Exhibit starting Tuesday (for Press) and Wednesday for the general public.

Gizmodo wrote an article about Art Robotica featuring Jackoon the painting robot. Jackoon is one of the first or many prototypes I made which managed to paint robot art by using a live video stram as reference or just a simple picture.

Gallery Hours and Special Events Open to the Public:

Wednesday, September 23 through Friday, September 25
12noon – 8pm
- Main Gallery
- Opening Day features Laser Etching (I think its around $20)

Friday, September 25
- Public Party, with prizes

Saturday, September 26
11am – 8pm
- Main Gallery

Saturday, September 26
9pm – Live DJ set by Music Director Jason Bentley, KCRW, 100% independently funded radio station

Sunday, September 27
11am – 6pm
- Main Gallery

Groupe Gallery
267 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012