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October 1, 2008

Don’t Wear It In Boston
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:04 PM * 35 comments

A tee-shirt that lights up when you get close to a wireless hot-spot.

Comments on Don't Wear It In Boston:
#1 ::: skzb ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2008, 10:44 PM:

Oh, my.

#2 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2008, 10:47 PM:

I'm pretty sure I saw someone at Fourth Street (Mark Gritter?) wearing one of those.

#3 ::: Liza ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2008, 10:47 PM:

Mark Gritter wore one at Fourth Street. It was a wonder to behold!

P.S. Why not in Boston?

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2008, 10:55 PM:

Liza, read these:
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008611.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008619.html
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/008713.html

More than you want to know about the Boston police and things they don't recognize.

#6 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2008, 10:56 PM:
Please Note: If you plug the connector into the battery pack backwards the shirt will not animate properly. It will not damage the shirt. Simply reverse the connector.
So they can make a shirt that responds to wireless hotspots, but it doesn't occur to them to use a one-way plug for, well, the thing that one-way plugs are designed for?

Note that the presence of this note means that they're *aware of the problem* of people putting the plug in backwards and it *still* doesn't occur to them to use the mature, tested, well-nigh foolproof solution to this very common problem.


That's pretty funny, IMO.

#7 ::: Mark Gritter ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2008, 11:05 PM:

I do, in fact, own one of these. DDB has a picture of me wearing it at 4th street.

Somebody made a T-shirt with a scrolling LED text display but most sites report being out of stock.

I'd like to make my own improved one (to play Life on a small grid, maybe) but that seems a sure-fire way to attract unwanted bomb-scare attention these days.

#8 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2008, 11:30 PM:

Chris @ #6: It's how they test people. If you can't figure it out you are obviously not a true geek. ;)

#9 ::: meredith ::: (view all by) ::: October 01, 2008, 11:34 PM:

First: WANT.

Second: The headline had me ROTFL. I saw it in my RSS feed and thought "why on earth would something involving the Yankees be mentioned on Making Light?"

(back to watching the Sox game...)

#10 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 12:01 AM:

But I have seen a lights-up-when-near-hotspot-and-shows-strength t-shirt in Boston or Cambridge, in early 2007 and/or 2008, on the torso of Dr Breidbart.

#11 ::: Andrea A. Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 12:03 AM:

Amusingly enough, ARGfest, the annual get-together for the alternate reality gaming community, was held in Boston this summer. We'd hoped to get a representative from the Boston PD to speak to us and open a channel of communication about pervasive gaming and/or viral marketing, but alas, it fell through. I'd really have loved to hear what advice they in particular would have offered us.

#12 ::: Remus Shepherd ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 12:21 AM:

I saw you at Fourth street, Mark. Neat shirt. But...the panel is thick and looks inflexible. How comfortable is it? Were you wearing an undershirt?

#13 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 01:02 AM:

Chris --

Actually, the use of the cable that can be inserted both directions, but works only in one makes good design sense to me -- assuming that the wrong-way connection will do no harm, it simplifies the design and makes for a more sturdy implementation -- there no extraneous "keys" to be broken off, and also bypasses the lackwits who would try to insert the connector the wrong way anyways, and,if it didn't work the first time, would simply apply more force until it was seated -- damaged and non-working -- but seated.

#14 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 01:04 AM:

Chris @6: The stick-in-the-mud realistic answer to your question is that, when you've already got a container of the things sitting in the warehouse -- as they almost certainly did when they realized the problem -- it's a bit easier to fix a problem like that in the documentation once than it is to go through every shirt and replace the connectors. Or to go back in time and remember to explicitly specify "use a one-way connector" on the design drawings for it, rather than leaving it to the assemblers' discretion (which was probably, "if we use either-way connectors we only have to align them correctly once, not twice" or something like that).

#15 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 01:04 AM:

Chris @6: The stick-in-the-mud realistic answer to your question is that, when you've already got a container of the things sitting in the warehouse -- as they almost certainly did when they realized the problem -- it's a bit easier to fix a problem like that in the documentation once than it is to go through every shirt and replace the connectors. Or to go back in time and remember to explicitly specify "use a one-way connector" on the design drawings for it, rather than leaving it to the assemblers' discretion (which was probably, "if we use either-way connectors we only have to align them correctly once, not twice" or something like that).

#16 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 01:13 AM:

The Wi-fi shirt is cool, and all, but in my book, a pair of 8-bit Dynamic Life Shirts is way cooler.

#17 ::: Mark Gritter ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 01:49 AM:

Remus@12:

The panel is pretty thin and lightweight; it's some sort of flexible electroluminescent. It wears pretty well, so I didn't have another shirt on underneath. There is a cable (encased in a cloth sheath for comfort) running down to a belt battery pack so the heavier components are not on the chest.

On the other hand, it's not quite as comfortable as wearing a normal T-shirt. The velcro connecting the panel and the T-shirt can cause it to hang somewhat funny, or give way and let the panel curl up a little bit.

#18 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 08:03 AM:

I've seen those at Arisia (in Boston).

It really needs one addition, though -- an upward-pointing arrow which says "Eyes up here"

#19 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 09:24 AM:

Skwid @ 16: The Wi-fi shirt is cool, and all, but in my book, a pair of 8-bit Dynamic Life Shirts is way cooler.

Before I went to look, I was expecting that the shirts would be running Conway's cellular-automata "game", which would definitely be cool. But that may be beyond current technology. Next would be Pong-on-a-shirt, which would be extremely cool, if potentially complicated by the "Eyes up ^ here ^" problem.

But from there, it's not a big step to people walking around with real-time full-colour video on their tummies, and primary-colour full-body outfits, which would be very very disturbing. And probably unacceptable in Boston.

#20 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 10:01 AM:

My wife got me one of these for Christmas. It's lovely, but I use it sporadically because to wash it you have to take out a long cable on the inside (which is then painful to put back).

It usually stirs up more interest than xkcd shirts, as even non-geeks will react to it in one way or another.

It would be even better if the LEDs were hidden behind a thin layer of cotton, so that it would look like you are actually lighting up :)

#21 ::: Leroy F. Berven ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 12:43 PM:

Joel Polowin @ 19: "People walking around with real-time full-colour video on their tummies, and primary-colour full-body outfits" . . .

a/k/a "Teletubbies".

#22 ::: John Boston ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 01:41 PM:

Off-topic, but . . .

Teresa, did you see that V**** B**** has surfaced again?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14002908/

John Boston

#23 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 03:18 PM:

Pong on a shirt.

(However, I think it's just an animation, not an actual playable game. Unlike the playable drum set (not linked because I don't feel like falling into moderation, but it's at thinkgeek (the top linked store)).)

#24 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 03:23 PM:

BTW, talk2myshirt.com has a blog that's pretty much on top of all kinds of wacky geek clothing (though you have to wade through a lot of latest-iteration-of-iPod-enabled-jacket to get there).

#25 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 03:41 PM:

It seems to me that I must have seen that Pong shirt advertised before. But yeah, according to descriptions on-line, it's just an animation.

#26 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 04:05 PM:

Leroy F. Berven #21: Teletubbies

Invoke not the wrath of BabySun; the Teletubbies are heroically doing their best to keep the madgod distracted from destroying reality (the Big Burp Theory). The true reason that the valiant Bostonian pop culture warriors punished the distribution of the mooninite Brite-Lites was to prevent their infiltration of the bunny rabbid community that covertly supports the efforts of the Teletubbies.

#27 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 08:10 PM:

For Teresa: Scienceblogs' William Connolly looks at the actual data for atmospheric CH4. It's not hurtling upwards.

#28 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 10:03 PM:

There's a closer reason than the links above for not wearing the shirt in Boston: some time after the ad episode there was an incident involving an MIT student wearing an LED shirt into the airport, where some non-municipal authorities (staties?) decided she was a suicide bomber (cuz bombers, yanno, always wear signposts identifying themselves). Her case was also not dismissed....

#29 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 10:39 PM:

Am I the only one that wants to make a 45' long paper-mache sperm whale, leave it next to Boston Harbor, and see if the Boston Police Department is any smarter than the Oregon Department of Transportation?

#30 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 10:40 PM:

Giacomo, #20, the instructions on the website say the cable can stay in when washed. But it has to be gentle wash and hang dry.

#31 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: October 02, 2008, 10:55 PM:

Bruce @ #29: No. No, you're not.

#32 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2008, 12:02 AM:

The only disadvantage I see is that they're unlikely to get that lovely "splud' sound of rotting blubber hitting a car roof. Maybe we should fill it with lard?

#33 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: October 03, 2008, 03:05 PM:

"A tee-shirt that lights up when you get close to a wireless hot-spot."

Yes, but does it light up differently to indicate WEP, WPA, and/or Unencrpyted? And does it come with a program to instantaneously tests unencrypted signals for actual viable Internets, and play a little tune when it tests positive? so that I'll know if it's worthwhile to hork out my laptop for that sweet, sweet connectivity?

I didn't think so.

Harrumph!

#34 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2008, 06:36 PM:

A possible reason for the connector being designed to safely be connected the wrong way: it keeps the dangling cable from getting damaged, if you need to turn it off for some reason (like an unexpected diversion to Boston).

#35 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2008, 06:41 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little #33: Yes, but does it light up differently to indicate WEP, WPA, and/or Unencrpyted?

Well, there's clearly work to be done for version 2.0. What are you doing next week?

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