Saturday, August 30, 2014

Connected Photospheres

So apparently you can make your own "Google Streetview" by linking your own photospheres together..
heres one i created using 2 photospheres.. one of my terrace and one of the top floor of our house.

If it doesnt load above, head over to this link.

For instructions on how to do this check this help page

now to shoot some more of these.. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Google's Cleverness Melted My Brain

So almost a month ago when google unveiled the Google Cardboard at Google IO.. the followup videos blew my mind.. the sheer cleverness of that magnetic button.. even the Oculus doesnt have an interactive input element built into their head gear.. 

I immediately went to one of the first sites to sell the kit.. and placed an order.. due to shipping issues it took a month to arrive.. 

Yes thats a patch of sweat from my forehead.. damn

Then the way the "cardboard" apps work is just astonishing.. the youtube app simulates a 3d movie theatre.. complete with subtle bleed of light along the edges.. you move your head around to see other videos.. or look down at the mic icon and tell it what you want to see...!! and because this is a nexus.. my indian accent doesnt matter.. in a few seconds i'm surfing youtube in 3d with no hands ma!

The standard google cardboard app was fun to use.. but the real utility for me is being able to load and view my own 3d models.. using 

all you have to do is go to one of your models(or any model) and add 


at the end of its url

when you put the nexus in, remember to shift it a little to the side so that the center of the screen(where the two views join) is aligned to the center of the cardboard viewer.

note: by going into fullscreen mode it overrides the launching of the google cardboard app(triggered by the nfc tag).. alternatively when your assembling the kit.. just stick the nfc tag somewhere else.

This particular Google Cardboard kit is by Knoxlabs..
i ordered it right after the Google Cardboard popped up on youtube .. now you can find it all over amazon and ebay for a bit cheaper. You can also buy just the lenses and magnet, and build your own housing.

My Suzanne Robocop model can be 
viewed below or at

    RoboCop Suzanne
    by Chaitanya Krishnan
    on Sketchfab

and it can also be downloaded for free at

Thursday, August 14, 2014

OBD-II with Chevrolet Beat 2010 model

Had read up on these things years back when i was comissioned to model one.

    by dash
    on Sketchfab

However I never actually got one for myself, since my android devices back then had really bad battery life, and were also entry level devices that i suspected would just hang if i ran Torque or other OBD (On-Board Diagnostics)apps. 

Anyway now that i have a good device(nexus5 ) i went ahead and got a cheap OBD(On-Board Diagnostics) device from this Amazon listing .. heres what it looked like on the Amazon page..

This arrived today and it looks less toy like and sort of more like a premium product. hmm..

I havnt yet taken it for a proper "drive". Ideally would like someone else to drive the car, while i fiddle around on the phone, but my dad just went back to Afghanistan. So I now have to wait a few weeks for him to get back. Or find a friend to drive it for me.. 

I have however installed and tested it with the engine idling and revving.. you know see if it actually works.

Finding the socket/port to plug it in was actually the trickiest part of the exercise. I first looked under the steering column, since thats where a few forums had said it was.. but on proper inspection i found it neatly within reach.. just below that latch that opens the hood.
Chevrolet Beat 2010 Model

Its riiiight there...
You won't be able to reach it if your sitting in your seat... have to step out of the car and bend.. bend.. and twist a little.

There it is.. see it?
I actually lay down on my back and checked the entire bottom of the dash.. even the passenger side.. but i couldnt find another one. So if there is another one.. its either in use or tucked away in the shadows.

After Plugging it in i checked to see if it was visible. some OBD devices will run off the car's battery even when you turn the car off. So its something you need to check on.. otherwise it will just drain your battery (bluetooth transmitters use up a lot of juice).

Anyway there was no device in range, so then i turned on the ignition and left the car idling..
now it popped up in the list of bluetooth devices(remember to make your device visible though)..   pairing is easy.. it asks for the code.. and suggests using either 0000 or 1234 .. i don't remember which one i tried but it worked on the first try and then i was able to name the device(original name was just OBDII .. I added the Chevy Beat so i don't get confused later. 

I had already installed Torque, and on running it, it asked me to switch on my GPS(which was on.. but was in battery saving mode).. once i turned it on and restarted Torque, it took a few seconds to search for the bluetooth OBD device.. but kept coming up with a "Device not found.. searching again" message.. 

one quick look in settings showed me that it had the option to manually select an already paired device..

That turned out to be a handy feature. 

As soon as Torque found the device.. the dials and displays lit up.. and started reacting everytime a revved the engine.
I havn't tried it with any other apps yet(apparently Dash is good too).. 
will post an update when i do.. for now am using Torque Lite (OBD2 & Car) the demo version of Torque. 

Get it here at the android Play Store.

UPDATE: Safety issues

There have been concerns on various forums about whether a faulty OBD might mess up your car's ECU..
this guy adresses those concerns-

" I am an electrical engineer with 15 years experience, and for a few of those years I designed custom hardware and software for monitoring engine parameters over OBDII.

Even the buggy-est software sending the crappiest of messages is virtually incapable of messing up an ECU. Trust me, if anybody could fry an ECU by accident it probably would have been me - I put those things through hell as I tried to figure things out the hard way.

About the only messages that an OBD scanner can give an ECU are requests for info (which cannot mess anything up) and a request to clear the warning light (which either works or not). Deeper commands are proprietary to the auto manufacturer and are generally encoded (in other words, a bad dongle isn't going to accidentally be able to get into them). All OBD commands are checksumed to detect "crappy" messages and ignore them.

To mess up an engine (not an ECU), the software controlling the dongle would have to know the proprietary coding needed to access the deeper functions of the ECU, send a bad command (like uploading a crappy fuel map) in a properly formatted way. You might mess up the tuning, maybe even damage the engine, but that would not be the dongle's fault, would have to be very intentional, and makes it almost impossible to mess up the ECU.
In other words, don't worry about it. "
source - Robert Alan Gerhart's comment at

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Boardgame and an Escher Puzzle

Found these two beauties on the Play Store last night.. installed them immediately.

Hitman Go
I've never been a hardcore fan of the Hitman franchise.. i've honestly only played a few minutes of one of the earlier games on a friend's computer.. liked it.. but just never got into it.
For Hitman fans, let me tell you right away, its not a shooter. it is however a really engaging puzzler. One anyone can play.. even with the least Hitman experience :)

What made me get the game is of course the unique
- artwork: beautiful little dioramas showing frozen moments in time..
- soundtrack: a subtle yet haunting tune thats at times upbeat.. making one feel like your planning a real caper
- game play: the only other time i've liked this kind of game-play was a few years back with a gorgeous turn based multi-player flash game that the makers of The Legend of Zorro had put on their site to build anticipation for their movie. footage of that old game can be seen here .

i miss board games.. and just couldn't pass up the chance of having one on my phone!
get it here

Monument Valley
Had been following the progress on Monument Valley for a while now.. I've been an Escher fan since Art School.. and couldn't pass this one up :)

The game is set in a twisted landscape that seems right out of the mind of M.C.Escher .. you have to manipulate it in ways that will defy the laws of physics/optics.. to get your character through each level.

Each level is a visual masterpiece.. and i found myself taking my time with each one :)

get it here

3D Scans of my dogs

Subject: Mulan
age: approx 4
Classification: cockerspaniel + mystery.. could be a labradoodle 
pictured here after a haircut.

click to load the 3d models.. 
and then drag to rotate.. 
scroll to zoom.

    Mulan 3d #3DST9
    by Chaitanya Krishnan
    on Sketchfab

Subject: Rumi
age: approx 5+
Classification: Irish Setter

    Rumi in front of the Aquarium
    by Chaitanya Krishnan
    on Sketchfab

To see how i created these models and how you can too(no 3d skills needed anymore..i just updated that page with an easier method).. check out

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nazis and Piranhas

CAUTION: The following content is insensitive to Nazis.

Heres another lockscreen i created few days back.. took a little longer to get to the Play Store.. probably because the word Nazi, sent up a red flag somewhere.. anyway here it is. 

I created it using the Go Themes Factory site and Inkscape for the artwork.

Feed the Nazi to the piranha to open your lock screen. because "slide to unlock" is for wimps... You need to install Go Locker  in order to use this. You can use the Go locker settings to add your own wallpaper or use the launcher's wallpaper
To unlock your phone.. touch and drag the floating nazi to one of the swirling schools of Piranha.

Get it  here at the Android Play store.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Radioactive Canister

For all the GOLOcker users out there, heres a fun way to unlock your phone.
I created it using the Go Themes Factory site and Inkscape for the artwork.

Move the unstable canister to the lock and watch it blow open your lock screen. because "slide to unlock" is for wimps... You need to install Go Locker in order to use this. You can use the Go locker settings to add your own wallpaper or use the launcher's wallpaper

Get it here at the Android Play Store.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Walking Helmet

Sculpted today in the browser based sculpting tool Sculptfab

Heres the final model.. (unless i continue working on it..)

    Walking Helmet original
    by Chaitanya Krishnan
    on Sketchfab

and heres the painted and for some reason lower rez model

    walking helmet painted
    by Chaitanya Krishnan
    on Sketchfab

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rumi after 2 years

Two years ago while i was driving to work, this happened ..

After her few days of treatment at the hospital, during which time no one claimed her..
i brought her home

this is her now in 2014.

She's adjusted well to my other dog Mulan

we're all one big happy family now :)

There are many more like her that need a home.. adopt a dog today!

Nexus Cases

So I usually customise all my stuff.. almost immediately.. or atleast within a month.
heres a recap - Laptop1 , laptop2, motorcycle1, motorcycle2, helmet, tablet and so on..

So it was quite obvious that i had to customise the new phone as well. My previous phone just had an sticker on it.. and since i had one lying around i slapped it onto the nexus as well... pretty much on day1 infact..
then i got a little fedup of how bright and white it is.. and it was also a bit slippery.. 
so a few days ago i cut a bit of vinyl from a larger sticker i had printed for my tablet.. 
This was designed for the back of my old Acer tab a500

i had a spare.. so cut out a small piece and voila!
This skin while being glossy to look at actually isnt slippery.. and provides almost the same traction as the velvety rubberised finish of the nexus. it also conforms to the curved back pretty nicely! 
So this stays for now.. until i print something else on vinyl.

STICKER UPDATE(2 weeks later):
The sticker fades fast heres what it looked like today(almost 2 weeks later) 
Stuck it to a cupboard after peeling it off the phone 
Peeling it off was remarkably unmessy! no glue residue on the phone at all.. so vinyl is definitely the way to go.. 

anyway i had more of that old print lying around, so i cut out a bigger piece for the whole phone.. heres my handiwork..

I know the cutout is a bit wonky.. but hell this is only going to last a couple of weeks anyway

The Cases
I've tried out two cases so far.. the first one i ordered at around the same time that i ordered the nexus, and it arrived a few days later..

The Spigen Ultra Hybrid (available here)
Its a robust rubber rim with a transparent polycarbonate back.. so i can place my own artwork as cutouts(was easy to find the template online) 
Here with a 3d render of a Puch 250 SGS i modelled in Blender
The other cutouts i made.. two other printouts of my renders and two are hand painted.

The only issue i had with this case is that its actually quite bulky.. very hardcore utilitarian infact.. so i've decided to use it when i go Paint balling or trekking or something. 

My next case was a custom one. I was locked out of the studio one morning and spent an hour waiting for the keys.. during that time i was chatting with the design student next door Shaan Suleman and he showed me this custom phone case he'd made for a client.. he told me about the site he used and i was totally sold on it! 

So a few days later i logged in at and designed my own case.. using the Mech Ascension artwork i'd created for a tshirt a while back.. i modified it a bit and gave it a black vignette so that it would blend with the rest of the case(i had the option of white or black for the case). The prices vary with the case/model/phone and they give you some discount codes when you register on the site.

Heres the design i uploaded to the site.. 

and heres the final case that arrived in the mail..

My camera can't focus on it.. but that teeny tiny text is fairly crisp and readable.

Its nice and slick.. especially around the buttons..

It has a matte finish thats almost the same as the Nexus' hinish, so am glad about that. 
So this should be my daily use case for a while.. lets see.. i still like the caseless feel of my phone.

Going caseless is definitely not good advice.. as i learned the hard way!
read about my misadventures here -

I'm not supposed to tell you this

So an amazon game froze my nexus 5 today .. and apparently I'm not allowed to talk about it.

Here's a screenshot from the game.. (It froze a few seconds after loading the cut scene)

I was shocked that the nexus 5 could freeze during a hidden object game.. So posted this review

Unlike on the Google play store.. Here there is a review process.. And this is the response I got

To clarify, the game is by Big Fish Games(am a fan of quite a few of their games).. And amazon is only distributing it.. So why would Amazon behave this way? Why? Why?