Archive for the ‘2007’ Category

Dan Zen Gives Pecha Kucha Talk on Focuso at FITO, Toronto Flash User Group

November 30, 2007

Focuso FITO Talk

Inventor, Dan Zen gave a Pecha Kucha talk Nov 28th, 2007 at FITO the Toronto Flash user group, largest of its kind in the world: The event was packed and was held at the Pixel Gallery in Kensington Market, Toronto – (Element156 – Digital Media Center, 156 Augusta Avenue Just North of Dundas, Just West of Spadina – a great gallery to check out!)

Pecha Kucha, apparently Japanese for chit-chat involves showing 20 slides for 20 seconds each, traditionally with a format of no speaking or sound – however, we have westernized it to include speaking and sound. The gist of Dan Zen’s Pecha Kucha is as follows:

Focuso Pecha Kucha Talk

As interactive designers and developers, we often build features with a foreground and a background where the content for the foreground is created by the user.  We design the background or the environment.

If the foreground is considered in focus, the background might be considered out of focus. It is the context for the content.

Focuso is the art and philosophical aspect of out of focus or Focus out – Focuso. In particular, it can be demonstrated by photographs that are purposely out of focus for artistic reason.

This Pecha Kucha talk shows how Focuso has been used in a number of Dan Zen features, often as background, yet it stands alone as an art form as the pictures to the right attest.

It is hoped that the samples will encourage designers and developers to think about focus as a way to handle background much like we drop opacity. These days, with the blur filter in Flash, it is very easy to do – but of course, there is always the camera!

Dan Zen
mad inventor
meets Internet
finds peace

Professor & Industry Liaison,
Sheridan Interactive Multimedia
Canadian New Media Awards Programmer of the Year 2002
Dan Zen Flickr

Hip Cats Social Networking Site Makes Top Google Spot 7 Years Later…

November 26, 2007

Hip Cats Social Networking Site

Finally made the top Google page for Hip Cat and Hip Cats. I spent years fuming over being ousted by the likes of Cat Hip Displasia Injuries ;-). Try out the link and please click on Hip Cats!

Google Hip Cat Search Results

Hip Cats was and is a social networking site that was started in 2000. It allowed you to create a persona, make a friends list of people you wanted to hang out with, rate other hip cats, date them, see their favorite music, movies, and books – all connected to Amazon affiliate. You could message other hip cats and view them in different Hip Cat genres like beatnik psychedelia, goth, urban, surf and their words would get translated – good would become groovy, etc. There is a buzz section where users can post reviews, events and creative writing as well as custom moods to view Hip Cats through.

It was a very early dynamic html (DHTML) site that featured updates to certain parts of the page without loading the hole page – which is what AJAX is used for and all this Web 2.0. It was cross platform and still works today which is pretty amazing considering it is a thousand lines of JavaScript, and another five thousand lines of Perl.

The site is self modifying where hip cats that are rated poorly drop off the scene – their data is mailed to the creator.

In the first few months, thousands of Hip Cats were created, top ten Hip Cats messages were sent out to people, and friendships were made. I tried to get other companies or groups to take Hip Cat scenes. There is a SHIFT magazine scene but it went out of business. There is a Beatnik Museum scene but I do not think they added the link. I almost got Austin Powers to take it but it turned out that they thought I wanted to pay for advertising. So it was all very frustrating not to be able to get people to take a free scene and populate it with their fans. It had so much potential.

Out of Focus Photographic Art – Focuso – Desktop Backgrounds

November 25, 2007

Focuso - Out of Focus Photographic Art - Desktop Backgrounds

I have been shooting photographs that are out of focus on purpose as artistic expression. This allows us to concentrate on form, composition, color, mood and avoid some of the everyday details that can make a picture too complex. Often these pictures take on the look of a painting because the blur is similar to a paint stroke. The genre is called Focuso. Focus Out.

I have put together a site which makes it easy for you to save Focuso pictures for your desktop background. Thanks Amy for the suggestion.

I have posted links already to these established sites that showcase works:

Light Show for Christmas Psychedelic Band

November 5, 2007


I have been working on a tool in Flash to put shapes that move to music on top of pictures and apply blend modes and filters – I hope to launch it in the Spring.

One of the filters that I am experimenting with is the displacement filter. This light show comes from my experimentations and was used as a light show for the psychedelic band, Christmas / Reign Ghost from the 70’s and late 60’s at Sneaky Dees this weekend. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS at the bottom of the show to see different pictures:

My friend Gaven Dianda, who was in thee Gnostics and a few other bands with me is in a band called Saffron Sect and they played backup to Bob Bryden for the show. He played some really nice guitar and the crowd loved it.

Here is a link to a YouTube video of the show. The sound was great but the sound in the recording is distorted. I was manning the show so I could not take much video and it is just with my little camera.

It was a cool show!

Flat Chess – Player to Player Full Screen Game

August 20, 2007

Flat Chess - Simple Free Friend to Friend Chess

Flat Chess is a chess application that lets you play with your friends on a nice board in a no-fuss manner.

In striving for programming simplicity, it has a few quirks. Please read the Flat Chess Tips found behind the link on the bottom. It will help you sign up and invite friends. And it will help you with operation. It only takes five minutes to read and you will find everything will work smoothly thereafter.

You can play at the same time or you can play whenever you want. That is usually how it is with me. Where I make a move and close the application and come back later to make another move. But you are welcome to schedule a time with a friend and play without closing the browser. You will be notified in the application as soon as a move is made.

If you feel compelled, please let me know what you think!

Dan Zen

The Future of Interactive Op Art Age Guessing Mystery in an Underwater Civilization

July 17, 2007

Just taking a look at some search engine standings and these were a surprise for me. You are welcome to click through to the google result pages and try for yourself to see if the link does indeed go where it is supposed to and enjoy the resulting site! 😉

See if you can find our link and please click it!

Google Results for Age Guesser [Page 1 place1]

Google Results for Future Girl [Page 2]

Google Results for Vlogging Site [Page 1 place 2]

Google Results for flash motion games [Page 1 place 2]

Google Results for interactive online mysteries [Page 2]

Google Results for Op Art [Page 7]

Google Results for Op Art Tool [Page 1 place 1]

Comments are like the Beach…

June 5, 2007

CommentRight comment care tool

For many content creators, like Bloggers, money means nothing – all it takes is a few nice comments and they get all charged up to make another post or feature, etc. I know that when I wonder if it is all worth it, I take a look at the thousands of comments on the Dan Zen garden and they tell me, I’ve made a difference. On the blogs however, I seldom get a comment – and if I do, it is spam. This has prompted the making of a tool that will let visitors know that their comments are greatly appreciated. So please, if you have a blog, consider using CommentRight.

CommentRight comment care tool

CommentRight lets you select from a series of image prompts that you would like to tell your visitors with respect to leaving comments. Once you have selected, you can get the image code to paste into your blog post. Because it is just an image tag, it can be used anywhere such as in WordPress, Blogger or MySpace. The image tag will show a different one of your selected images each time.

CommentRight is free and easy – please let others know and please click on any CommentRight banner in this post to leave a comment as to what you think about CommentRight. It would be a helpful indication that CommentRight works. The C in a box to the right of the banner links through to the CommentRight site.

CommentRight comment care tool

Dan Zen to Give Video Motion Cursor Talk to FITC, the Toronto Flash User Group

May 24, 2007

video motion cursor class example in flash

FITC, the Toronto Flash User Group and one of the largest Flash user groups in the world, has its meetings the last Wednesday of the month at the Resistor Gallery at 284e College St. (just west of Spadina). This month’s talk is on Wed. May 20th from 7-11.

Dan Zen will present at 9pm on the video motion cursor class developed in Flash ActionScript 2 to capture video motion and convert the motion to a cursor or cursors that can rollover and hold to effect interactivity such as activating buttons, or controlling character movement, etc.

An example can be found here.

We hope that all interested come and see how the video motion cursor class is made. – Out of Focus Site Launches – Photography to Philosophy

March 31, 2007

Focuso - philosophy - photography site features the philosophy and photography of Focus Out – the philophotog – philography – photoshophy.

There is a Focuso Explosion Contest for a free one year Flickr Pro account so come on out and leave a few comments and see if you win!

Nodism Blog Launched – the Philosophy of Meta

March 20, 2007

Nodism Blog

Just launched a blog that acts as an interface into a Nodism Wiki.  Nodism is a philosophy that helps us explore concepts of meta and hierarchy – generational thought, etc.

Many logical people have been modelling life now in computer gaming, etc. and their way of doing so has converged to Object Oriented Programming (OOP).  And in our information age, there has become a standard way to represent and share information, that is XML.

Both OOP and XML rely heavily on hierarchies – nodes.  And so do we all every time we organize, group, categorize, etc.  So what have we learned and can we learn that would apply to earlier philosophies from food chain to set theory.

Please, if you are interested in such matters – which you will see encompass many exciting aspects of life such as invention, time, energy, nature, god, infinity, logic, feedback, recursion, etc. – please visit and write something!!!!

Add your name to the Nodist Colony!  Learn to use a Wiki – they are amazing – and so, so useful for organizing anything!

META ~ Anti-gravity Nano Sci-fi: Verse 05

March 14, 2007

View Vlog

This is the sixth installment of the META nano anti-gravity sci-fi mystery vlog. The original post is below. Click here for the full mash to date. Here is the current META verse and once again, it would be cool to see someone else create a Zen Mix for the poem! Please do and post a link in the comments.

It will come to be that millions of patterns in grids in sectors in quadrants are mapped and tagged with pilot names including missed patterns which gain the pilots merit points. The pilots will perform with efficiencies and acquire standing.

META is a sci-fi story based in the times of the Dan Zen game, Save Earth.

A premise has been written in the form of a prophetic poem. The verses will be put into a Zen Mix and will be posted here over the next while.

We would like to encourage this type of story telling using Zen Mix. And indeed, if anyone would like to make a mix of any of the META episodes, please feel free to post the link to the mix in the comments of the episode post. It is so easy to do that we started our first one with an eight-year old daughter! Click above…

Show us that you are destined to be a star!

  1. Record yourself with a digital camera saying the poem below
  2. Upload this video to
  3. Take a picture for the background and post it on
  4. Go to to mix the two and then post the link here

You can use our background – just look beneath any mix to find out what video or background url was used and copy it into your own mix – remember copyright though. You are free to use our backgrounds for META. In this case we used an upcoming motion graphics tool called Zen Pan to make a background.

Here is the META verse 04…

It will come to be that Professor Y sets up SensoryNet remote controls and a fleet of volunteer pilots fly probes which spray oxygen against the sphere surrounding Earth to map its macro-crystaline structure.

Here is the META verse 03…

It will come to be that Professor Y determines the material of the sphere to be macro-crystaline with ten circular segmented patterns. Professor Y proposes that by mapping the patterns he can formulate a frequency to crack the sphere.

Here is the META verse 02…

It will come to be quite the task for the world government whose eyes turn to Professor Y for aid. Mad Inventor, Professor Y, will have just made the owners of velcro rich by designing velcro self cleansing environmental filters.

Here is the META verse 01…

It will come to be that on the eve of forming a world government a sphere of undetermined material surrounds earth letting sustenance in but not much out. It is assumed that the sphere is alien in construction – none claims responsibility.

Here is the META verse 00…

It will come to be that a new organization called the Free Nations will play watchdog to the United Nations and in 2020 after years of policy battle, the two will combine to form the World Government.

Even if you do not create a mix for META, you are welcome to leave your comments! In the future, we will tell further mysteries from Moustache Mysteries.

All the best,

Dan Zen

Technology Tapoll Predict-a-Poll Blog Launched

March 3, 2007


Tapoll, the predict-a-poll site, now has a blog that concentrates on the technology polls posted on the site.

Blogger was chosen because of its ability to embed JavaScript which is necessary for remote Tapoll polls.

Technology was chosen because these seem to be doing well and I can easily create polls in this category. If anyone else is interested in writing for Tapoll or any other area of Dan Zen, please contact us.

New Blog on Inventing

March 3, 2007


I have been planning on writing to an inventing blog for some time so here is the start.  This will, to some degree, free up the Dan Zen blog to be about the site and perhaps the person while the inventor blog will be a place to discuss the secrets and wonders of invention. 

Please have an initial visit and then hopefully you will subscribe.  I expect there to be a flow of posts as I try and handle a large backlog of ideas.   All the best, Dan.

Digg Cannot Be Scraped

March 2, 2007

It appears that the news sharing site, Digg, cannot be scraped. Scraping is when a site uses a script to get the content from another site.


Scraping can be used for good or for bad. Here are two scenarios: some site goes around to various news sites and takes news articles without credit – it is questionable as to whether this is acceptable even with credit. In a second case, a site owner might scrape Amazon results and provide links back to Amazon for fulfilment. Here, there would be little reason for Amazon to complain.

A better solution to scraping and one that has certainly excelled, is providing an API like a Web service or a feed. With APIs there is an arranged and hopefully consistent format for the data as well as a representation of what data the site wants other sites to use.

Tapoll - predict-a-poll Web 2.0 site

The Dan Zen predict-a-poll Web 2.0 site, Tapoll, uses live data from five popular sites to show items relating to the current poll. This is done with a combination of scraping, and various APIs made available. Users then can reference the items and also start polls referring directly to the items by clicking the associated Tapoll link. To place the Tapoll link after each item, we need access to the data. The current Digg JavaScript interface that is made to put Digg stories on other sites will not do.


In the past, the Tapoll site uses PHP to read the Digg RSS feed. But now, it appears as though Digg is blocking http requests from other scripts most likely with a blanket blocking of non-Digg IP addresses. We get this message when scraping or trying to access the RSS feeds with the PHP file() command. This command works fine with most other sites like Flickr,, etc.

failed to open stream: HTTP request failed!

If anybody has a work-around or any further information on this, please let us know. Perhaps we should have just checked with Digg rather than this attempt at sensationalism. But hey, I’m playing reporter!

2021 – Future Girl Madeline Zen (Second Set of Fashion Pictures)

February 28, 2007

A Zen Picture presentation with Moog sounds and Madeline’s voice featuring shots of Madeline Zen mixed with the Focuso of Dan Zen.
(see – show – thumbs

The poetry or story was written based loosely on Nodism the philosophy of connections and in particular a single hierarchy to node zero. It also alludes to some aspects of META the anti-gravity sci-fi mystery that also works through concepts of Nodism. Nodism should be very much in tune to anybody who does object oriented programming as a way to model life or XML as a way to store information. It is an open for discussion philosophy that explores all sorts of important concepts of meta such as generational thought, movement movement, feedback feedback – it involves orgalines, chronolines, nodes, paths, etc.

Full size pictures are available on Flickr under fashion:

The picture above tells of feedback – often thought of as a thwarter of hierarchy but in reality, does time prevent the same thing happening and actually what occurs is more of a curl or helix.

Enjoy, and please leave a comment or any questions. Once again, you can do this stuff too… Zen Picture is free to download and includes Zen Sort which is a very simple yet effective tool for story telling. Arrange pictures and write captions. You will create very interesting and unique plots trying to get from one picture to another.

Focuso – Photos with Focus Out!

February 13, 2007

Focuso is a little gadget that explains various techniques for Focuso – the art of taking pictures out of focus. Just click the little circles to see examples and a brief explanation.

For more information see the Focuso post.

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