This is the blog, but if you want to know more about me and my projects, check out the Projects and About pages.

Over the Moon Pie

Over the Moonpie Video

The family went to Charleston, South Carolina for Thanksgiving and swung by the Downtown Market and the Moon Pie General Store.

This Hotel is Awesome

This Hotel is Awesome Thumb

In my continuing effort to make more videos, I give you a whirlwind tour of the hotel I visited while speaking at the Streaming Media West conference earlier this week.

Molly and Daddy Review "Superman" for Nintendo (1987)

Molly and Daddy Review Superman

We tried, but Superman for the Nintendo, released in 1987, is just terrible. What are you supposed to do? Why are those guys shooting at Clark Kent? How do you become Superman? …and when you finally do become Superman, how are you so easily hurt? How do you get off this door?!

Click the image above to watch the video. We should do more of these I think.

Speaking at the Variety Big Data Summit

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My career in technology has taken me to some interesting places over the last 10+ years: St. Louis (less interesting), Mountain View, Jerusalem, New York, San Francisco, and Beverly Hills, but this last trip to Beverly Hills was the first time I got to speak at a Hollywood event. I recently had the opportunity to be on a panel at the Variety Big Data Summit, and it was…well, I’m pretty sure I’m officially a fancy media executive now.

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The overall goal of the summit was to discuss how data can and should be effecting the business of Hollywood. My panel was entitled “The Transformation of Content Through Data”…

The transition to digital production has brought wholly new processes in storytelling, often involving formulas and equations as much as scripts and story boards. How are technology chiefs managing the digital transformation to ensure increasingly complicated assets are successfully produced and distributed across platforms? What are differences between managing data in animation versus live action production and distribution? Top studio and platform technology leaders will explore how they ensuring a great digital storytelling experience for audiences.

Moderator:

Jay Tucker, Chief Marketing Officer, Institute for Communication Technology Management, USC > Marshall School of Business

Speakers:

Mike Flynn, CTO, Collective Digital Studio

Aaron Sloman, CTO, OWNZONES

Paul Davidson, SVP Film & TV, The Orchard

Susan Cheng, Senior Vice President, Content Management & Distribution, Warner Bros.

Kaliel Roberts, SVP Product and Technology, Digital Media, Discovery Communications

Matt Kautz, Head of Business Intelligence, Analytics and Research for Machinima.

…and I think it went well, but who can tell on panels with 6 people, one of which was an event sponsor, on the stage talking about a wide ranging topic in under 45 minutes. In short, the answers our panel came up with where the same answers almost all the panels decided on: Collect data; Experiment; Collect more data; Experiment again; Repeat forever for every different content target.

I could have done the usual speaker thing and came and went, but I attended the whole summit and it was worthwhile. Eli Roth was impressive, as were Philippe Dauman and Irwin Gotlieb. Listening to them speak about data from the Entertainment executive (and in Roth’s case, a director) side was helpful to bridge that gap between my technical Bay Area world, and my fellow executives in LA. Simply being able to phrase the opportunities companies like Collective Digital Studio have right now in regards to technology in industry relate-able terms makes my job easier.

Cocktail hour and group networking lunches aren’t my thing (though I’ve been working on that), but speaking to the group, either independently or on a panel, is always fun and helps those networking lunches go a little more smoothly. My goal was to speak a few industry (either entertainment or tech) events year, and I’ll mark a panel as a 75% completion (I have one more panel coming up in a couple of weeks). I would still love to present at a tech conference, so maybe that’s in the cards for 2016 along with writing in this space about my thoughts on technology and the entertainment space. It’s different than Punching Kitty articles, but maybe I’ll work in a few “Breakin 2” references for old time sake.

Amazon Dash Buttons are Awesome For Everything but Buying Stuff

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Sell a wifi-enabled button to buy stuff on Amazon? Sure you’d have to make sure you can’t easily modify the button so that people can buy them and _not_ buy stuff on Amazon with them, but that shouldn’t be too hard.

Amazon had barely started selling their $5 “Dash Buttons” before this post on Medium showed up: “How I Hacked Amazon’s $5 WiFi Button to track Baby Data”. In it, Ted Benson, the co-founder and CTO of Cloudstitch, detailed how he managed to capture the click of an Amazon Dash Button without a single modification and it’s very simple: Sit on your wireless network until you see the Dash Button join and request an IP address. Amazon was obviously trying to squeeze as much battery as possible out of these little buttons so they wisely made the wifi antennae only connect when the button was pressed and shutdown right after, but that connection makes ripples in the form of ARP packets that need to be sent to acquire an IP address. If you write a script that listens for those packets and knows the MAC address of a specific button (and if you did just enough of the Dash Button setup process to give it wifi access, but not enough to say which product you want to buy) then you’re all set to have yourself a snazzy wireless button!

Pretty cool. I need one of those. Do I need one of those? I can think of something I’m sure…ok, yeah…I thought of something. I’ll buy one.

Ted used a Python library called scapy to do his network sniffing, but I don’t like Python. I don’t run any Python scripts in my internal server, and I don’t want to, so lets rewrite this functionality in Go (golang).

Took some digging around in the Go documentation, but I got it…

So what was that thing I wanted to do with the button again…? Right, lights. So here’s the back-story: I have two ceiling light fixtures in my basement / home office / my daughter’s blanket fort area, with both on different switches. I have Hue Lux light in the fixtures but the problem with wifi lights is that when you hit the switch they are off and you can’t control them any more, but turning them off via the app every time is a pain in the ass. Plus the switch for the back lights is in this terrible place that I always forget to hit on the way out…anyway, it would be a lot better if I had one switch that controlled all of the light and that switch didn’t turn them off, but turned them down so they would still be reachable for the apps.

I looked for a Go Hue light API library, but the only one I found was dead and not very good…so lets write one of those now! Why not?! Actually the Hue API is a little weird, but it’s pretty simple. This shouldn’t take long (especially in blog post time)…

Ok, all set!

Here it is compiled all together in a single project: github.com/mikeflynn/go-dash-button. It logs out new Dash Buttons it sees, Hue errors, and has a config file option baked in for API keys and stuff. It could stand to be even more flexible and more easily importable in to a Go project, but I figured that not many will use this and stopped short. If you do want to use this for your own buttons let me know and I can clean it up further.

So my button works, now what? The finishing touches were capping the light switches (we rent) and adding a little hook to the wall for the button to live. The hook works out great as it’s right above the old switch but you can pull it off the wall and use it as a portable switch by the couch. I also found that regular Office Depot sticky labels are the perfect width to stick on over the brand logo for relabeling.

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Now I’m just thinking of what else in my life needs a wireless button!

mikeflynn @ GitHub thatmikeflynn @ Twitter