Empowered Pie Menu Performance at CHI’90, and Other Weird Stuff

A live performance of pie menus, the PSIBER Space Deck and the Pseudo Scientific Visualizer at the CHI’90 Empowered show. And other weird stuff inspired by Craig Hubley’s sound advice and vision that it’s possible to empower every user to play around and be an artist with their computer.

“By pushing the pie-menu interface to the limit you get a *gesture interface* that ties the tools so tightly and personally to their user that they effectively become one cooperative entity.”

EMPOWERED, the interactive performance!

CHI’90, the 7th Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April 1–5 1990, will provide an environment where Computer-Human Interaction comes alive, where understanding and ideas are developed, where new styles, techniques and applications are explored. CHI’90 will be more than a conference, it will be an event.

Don Hopkins performing at CHI’90 Empowered. Photo by Ben Shneiderman.

In addition to an excellent and international tutorial and technical program, we will be presenting “EMPOWERED”, a set of live interactive performances, and making the latest in interaction available for hands- on exploration in “THE INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE”. CHI ’90 will not only be a technically excellent event, it will be FUN and an experience to remember.

The CHI ’90 Conference will be held at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington with additional events being held next door in the Seattle Sheraton.

TECHNICAL PROGRAM
Tuesday, April 3, 1990
7:00 & 9:00 PM
EMPOWERED, the interactive performance!
(Sheraton Hotel)
Humans and computers take to the stage in the most demanding CHI forum ever — performing live with interactive instruments and systems! No bugs, out-takes or edits — the ultimate demonstration of man-machine trust as the show must go on! Motion-to-music, software soloists, video virtuality, hacking harmonies, augmented action, and more…

The Planning Discussion

Date: Thu, 18 Jan 90 14:40:29 PST
From: Craig Hubley <hubley@JRANDM.enet.dec.com>
Subject: CHI performance
To: don@brillig.umd.edu

Don,
 
My generic letter re: the performance should be in your emailbox. The CHI program should be in your physical mailbox. Now is the time to decide…
 
I am perfectly willing to let you set up the most insane demo you can think of, and do it onstage, so long as you are willing to encore the fabulous ‘pie- menus blindfolded’ part of your demonstration from CHI’88 during the thing. This time, of course, we will give it an appropriate drumroll and setting. I am sure there is plenty of other amazing stuff you can do with the Cyberspace deck, and if you can pack dozens of things into ten minutes, you are my guest. I will not even ask what drugs you are on…
 
Right now we anticipate having a full raft of AV equipment there, but if your stuff runs only on Suns we might have to find one and hook it up to the video. I don’t think there are supposed to be any Suns onsite — do you think Sun would go for lending us one ?
 
Don’t forget to send me your present physical address and phone number!
 
Regards,
Craig Hubley
Craig Hubley & Associates
CHI’90 Performance Chair
 
 —

From: don@brillig.umd.edu (Don Hopkins)
To: craig@gpu.utcs.utoronto.ca
Subject: CHI’90 demos

I am still working on borrowing a Sun. I don’t think the video projector you
have will be able to handle the Sun display, but I’m also trying to borrow a
Barco projector that can deal with the fast scan rate (90 megahertz).

I can bring a cassette tape or a CD of appropriately spacey music (Jean
Michelle Jarre or Tangerine Dream).

Here are four lines describing my demo:

“I’ll show several kinds of “pie menus”, whose items are in a circle around the cursor, and “mouse ahead display supression”, making pie menu selections very rapidly without looking at the screen. I’ll also give a fish-eye view of information in the round, through the pseudo-scientific visualizer.”

How much time do I have? I could use as much time as possible, it will be
frantically paced in any case.

…In more detail (off the top of my head):

Pie menus:

(Bring up “mousee” — a window with an image of the mouse, that shows where I move the mouse on the screen and when and where I click the buttons. Very useful for showing what I’m doing with the mouse, to drive the computer.)

Introductory demonstration of menu selection. (Click, pop, see, it’s round, you move off in some direction, you select it.)

Show window managment menu: explain the important menu items: push/pop window to bottom/top, iconify, reshape, stretch edge or corner, move.

Walk through bottom/top items, to change stacking order of window, slow enough that people can see. (first level menu items: up and down are top and bottom.)

Walk through stretching a corner slow enough that the menus display and people can see how I did it. (This involves selecting from a submenu of 4 edges and 4 corners, followed by a click to position the corner.)

Mouse ahead, into bottom/top items. The subliminal flashing pac-man is the feedback telling me I made the menu selection faster than it could pop up the menu.

Mouse ahead into submenu to stretch a corner, click to position the corner. Two subliminal pac-men flash because I moused ahead into 2 menus. This is something I do very often so muscle memory has chunked two successive menu selections into one quick gesture.

Go crazy making lots of menu selections to do all kinds of spaztic window management stuff.

Demonstrate pull-out font selection pie menu, and color pie wheel.

PSIBER space deck:

Bring up a PSIBER space deck PostScript debugger/data structure editor. (it has lots of pie menus to do way too many things.) Demonstrate a few of the pie menus it uses to do common tasks (that are designed to be gestural).

Open up a PostScript dictionary with lots of entries in it. Open the entries deeper and deeper. My this is very complicated, it’s too big to fit on the screen all at once. Aha. This sounds like a job for the pseudo-scientific visualizer.

Pseudo-scientific visualizer:

Pop up a pseudo-scientific visualizer (in a round window), let it make a complex drawing, point and click at some of the mouse sensitive objects to see what they are. A window in the shape of a rounded rectangle with a pointing hand sticking out of it annotates each of the colored blobs that I click on. Click another button to pop up more zoomed-in pseudo-scientific visualizer windows. Click on the background to highlight all the circular mouse sensitive targets in a window.

Grand finale: show an animation of zooming out of a close-up of an *extremely* complicated data structure, way out so it’s just a point, then back in to a close-up of another part of the data structure. (This is all done with smoke and mirrors — precomputed raster images, of a distilled pseudo-scientific image of Object, root of the X11/NeWS class hierarchy.)

-Don

From: Craig Hubley <craig@gpu.utcs.utoronto.ca>
To: don@cs.UMD.EDU
Subject: Re: CHI’90 demos
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 90 19:41:28 EST

>I am still working on borrowing a Sun. I don’t think the video projector you have will be able to handle the Sun display, but I’m also trying yo borrow a Barco projector that can deal with the fast scan rate (90 megahertz).

We are presently planning to use Sony 1041s which can only handle NTSC and IBM CGA-level (15 MHz). We have Barcos but the information I have suggests that they can only sweep up to 62… is that wrong ? Or are you thinking of a higher-grade model? It is also not possible to tape what is broadcast, which is a major minus of using RGB. Although there is some picture degradation with an NTSC encoder, if you can make your images large enough, that won’t matter.

>I can bring a cassette tape or a CD of appropriately spacey music (Jean Michelle Jarre or Tangerine Dream).

Hmm, a little too dreamy perhaps. I would suggest a tape or LP since we can vary the speed. I was kind of thinking that maybe we could slowly boost the speed as you go along. How ‘bout, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”?

>Here are four lines describing my demo:
>”I’ll show several kinds of “pie menus”, whose items are in a circle around the cursor, and “mouse ahead display supression”, making pie menu selections very rapidly without looking at the screen. I’ll also give a fish-eye view of information in the round, through the pseudo-scientific visualizer.”

Good but not dramatic enough. This is a performance, after all, and it is not so much about showing *the system* as it is about showing *you the expert* using it. I would like you to emphasize, both in the program and in the act, that by pushing the pie-menu interface to the limit you get a *gesture interface* that ties the tools so tightly and personally to their user that they effectively become one cooperative entity. Regarding the pseudo-scientific visualizer, it can be seen as another example of a highly customized interface.

>How much time do I have? I could use as much time as possible, it will be frantically paced in any case.

Unfortunately, the longer things get the more people perceive it as technical and the less as dramatic. This argues to keep things short. Afterwards they should not be able to enumerate exactly how your system works — that is the role of the “demo” forum and of written papers. Instead they should understand that highly personalized and tightly-coupled interfaces can be built even with such ‘mundane’ tools as menus, and that users with such tools can do more with a flick of their wrist than by typing a whole line.

The role of the “performance” forum is to demonstrate how tight and trusted user interfaces can get — how close man and machine can become. This is essentially an emotional question, so the forum is essentially dramatic. We need to build that drama and get it across to the audience so that everyone walks away thinking “boy, what if I could do that myself”? Note how different this is from “oh, I wonder when Microsoft Windows will be able to do that”. The difference is drama.

>…In more detail (off the top of my head):

Since it’s off the top, I hope you won’t mind my critique.

>Pie menus:
>(Bring up “mousee” — a window with an image of the mouse, that shows where I move the mouse on the screen and when and where I click the buttons. Very useful for showing what I’m doing with the mouse, to drive the computer.)
>Introductory demonstration of menu selection. (Click, pop, see, it’s round, you move off in some direction, you select it.)
>Show window managment menu: explain the important menu items: push/pop window to bottom/top, iconify, reshape, stretch edge or corner, move.
>Walk through bottom/top items, to change stacking order of window, slow enough that people can see. (first level menu items: up and down are top and bottom.)

This can be kept zippy — most people know about window systems and it will degrade into a demo otherwise. I don’t want people wondering “why is this on stage” or thinking “boy, I did that yesterday in front of 20 people — how come this guy gets to do his in front of 1200”. What is novel here is the pie menu itself. Just show it and assume people are hip.

>Walk through stretching a corner slow enough that the menus display and people can see how I did it. (This involves selecting from a submenu of 4 edges and 4 corners, followed by a click to position the corner.)

Again, quickly. No more than one such ‘slow enough’ demo should be needed.

>Mouse ahead, into bottom/top items. The subliminal flashing pac-man is the feedback telling me I made the menu selection faster than it could pop up the menu.
>Mouse ahead into submenu to stretch a corner, click to position the corner. Two subliminal pac-men flash because I moused ahead into 2 menus. This is something I do very often so muscle memory has chunked two successive menu selections into one quick gesture.

Aha, now you are into interesting stuff. Make sure you are explaining enough that people understand that one pac-man means you gestured one level ahead, and two pac-mean means you gestured two levels ahead. I think at CHI’88 you went a little deeper, didn’t you ? Three or even four levels ?

>Go crazy making lots of menu selections to do all kinds of spaztic window managment stuff.

OK, by this point we have to build some drama — go nuts with a lot of one- and two-level gestures, so fast that people can barely follow you. Then we slow down a little and say, “should I try three ?”, or “I’m gonna cut all the text out of that window and paste it into that one, in one second…” Whatever you feel is visually impressive and people will think is impossible. We will give you a drumroll and hopefully get the audience chanting “Go! Go! Go!” or “Three! Three! Three!” or whatever. So long as they go mad.

>Demonstrate pull-out font selection pie menu, and color pie wheel.

Again, this should be done as part of the manic stuff *before* the “impossible feats”. The color and font wheels are interesting visual ways to indicate what you are doing — the effects of the menu selections are fully visible.

The seque to the following should be something like “who thinks I can program this way” ?

>PSIBER space deck:
>Bring up a PSIBER space deck PostScript debugger/data structure editor. (it has lots of pie menus to do way too many things.) Demonstrate a few of the pie menus it uses to do common tasks (that are designed to be gestural).

Boy, I hope this doesn’t take a long time to open. Keep the demo brief but just enough that bright people will figure out that you are essentially doing programming-type stuff.

>Open up a PostScript dictionary with lots of entries in it. Open the entries deeper and deeper. My this is very complicated, it’s too big to fit on the screen all at once. Aha. This sounds like a job for the pseudo-scientific visualizer.

Yeah, fill the screen. Everybody will identify with that. Pretend to get lost looking for a clock or something.

>Pseudo-scientific visualizer:
>Pop up a pseudo-scientific visualizer (in a round window), let it make a complex drawing, point and click at some of the mouse sensitive objects to see what they are. A window in the shape of a rounded rectangle with a pointing hand sticking out of it annotates each of the colored blobs that I click on. Click another button to pop up more zoomed-in pseudo-scientific visualizer windows. Click on the background to highlight all the circular mouse sensitive targets in a window.
>Grand finale: show an animation of zooming out of a close-up of an *extremely* complicated data structure, way out so it’s just a point, then back in to a close-up of another part of the data structure. (This is all done with smoke and mirrors — precomputed raster images, of a distilled pseudo-scientific image of Object, root of the X11/NeWS class hierarchy.)

If this doesn’t work, it will come off as an anticlimax to the pie menus. If it *does* work, it may come off something like the end of 2001 where the astronaut turns back into a gigantic baby. People who were around in the 1960s will appreciate seeing Object in such a mind-expanded way. Perhaps we should have “Thus Spake Zarathustra” as the theme music for this part. But if they are not standing and cheering by the time all of Object comes into view, then we have perhaps created an anticlimax to the pie menu stuff. Maybe there is a way to switch it around — show the world you are working in before showing how empowered you are within it…?

The point to be made here, so far as I’m concerned, is that the gestural interface and visualizer are two ways you have tied the machine very tightly to your own needs. Like the artistic performers, you have built your own tools to do it and they are really trusted extensions of your own way of working. Unlike them, you are working on ‘practical’ tasks that the audience understands. It is easy to see someone doing interactive video or interactive music and say “well, that’s great for artists, but what does it do for me or my users?”. That becomes very much harder to say if they understand that personalized gestural/visual interfaces are applicable to the tasks they perform every day. It also helps them feel a little more like artists, which doesn’t hurt. To quote Glenn Gould:

>”In the best of all possible worlds, art would be unnecessary. Its offer of restorative, placative therapy would go begging a patient. The professional specialization involved in its making would be presumption. The generalities of its applicability would be an affront. The audience would be the artist and their life would be art.”

You are going to show everyone just how true this is. Everyone should go back to their desks after CHI understanding themselves to be artists just as much as the people they saw in “Empowered”. And believing that it is possible to do the same for every user. I see you as one of the key people capable of doing that. So get that Sun!

Craig

Other Weird Stuff

Here are some other performances of pie menus, demos of half baked ideas, and other weird stuff that’s hard to explain, inspired by Craig’s sound advice and vision that it’s possible to empower every user to play around and be an artist with their computer:

Pet Rock Remote Control

Pie menu remote control touch screen interface for sending commands to pet rocks.

Pie Menu Demo: I Am A Robot

Early demo of self editing pie menus and text entry pie menus on a Sun 3/50 workstation running the NeWS 1.0 window system, by Don Hopkins. The items change the menu in weird and different ways.
Pie Menu Demo: I Am A Robot

How To Choose with Pie Menus

Early pie menu demo by Don Hopkins, on NeWS 1.0, running on a Sun 3 workstation. Shows the Most Gigantic Pie Menus In The World at 2:54.
How To Choose with Pie Menus, Showing Shows the Most Gigantic Pie Menus In The World at 2:54

Mousee Demo

Demo of Mousee running in the NeWS Window System. Research performed under the direction of Mark Weiser and Ben Shneiderman. Developed and demonstrated by Don Hopkins.
Mousee Demo

Precision Pie Demo

Demo of the precision pie menu. Research performed by Don Hopkins under the direction of Mark Weiser and Ben Shneiderman. Developed and demonstrated by Don Hopkins.
Precision Pie Demo

Handy Pie Menu Demo

University of Maryland Human Computer Interaction Lab Handy Pie Menu Demo. Research performed under the direction of Mark Weiser and Ben Shneiderman. Pie menus developed and demonstrated by Don Hopkins.

Pseudo Scientific Visualizer

Demo of the NeWS PseudoScientific Visualizer and the PSIBER Space Deck. Research performed under the direction of Mark Weiser and Ben Shneiderman. Developed and documented thanks to the support of John Gilmore and Julia Menapace. Developed and demonstrated by Don Hopkins. Sorry about the terrible compression — think of it as retro glitch art!
Pseudo Scientific Visualizer

NeWS Hacking

NeWS hacking demo by Don Hopkins. Demo of UniPress NeMACS, the PseudoScientific Visualizer and NeWS PSIBER Space Deck. Research performed under the direction of Mark Weiser and Ben Shneiderman. Emacs development performed under the direction of Mike Gallaher. Developed and documented thanks to the support of John Gilmore and Julia Menapace. Developed and demonstrated by Don Hopkins. I just left the video camera running while I played around until NeWS crashed.
NeWS Hacking

HCIL Demo — HyperTIES Browsing

Demo of NeWS based HyperTIES authoring tool, by Don Hopkins, at the University of Maryland Human Computer Interaction Lab.
HCIL Demo — HyperTIES Browsing

NeWS Tab Window Demo

Demo of the Pie Menu Tab Window Manager for The NeWS Toolkit 2.0. Developed and demonstrated by Don Hopkins.
NeWS Tab Window Demo

X11 SimCity Demo

Demo of Pie Menus in SimCity for X11. Ported to Unix and demonstrated by Don Hopkins. Shows pie menus saving the day by preventing a train from crashing into a fountain just in the nick of time at 3:30.
X11 SimCity Demo, Showing Pie Menus Saving the Day by Preventing a Train from Crashing Into a Fountain Just in the Nick of Time at 3:30

Playing SimCity for X11 on Linux with Pie Menus in San Francisco

Demo of playing SimCity for X11 with Pie Menus, cleaning up after an earthquake in San Francisco. Ported to Unix and demonstrated by Don Hopkins.

Multi Player SimCityNet for X11 on Linux

Demo of the latest optimized Linux version of Multi Player SimCity for X11. Ported to Unix, optimized for Linux and demonstrated by Don Hopkins. Shows pie menu and tool palette demo at 11:52.
Multi Player SimCityNet for X11 on Linux showing Pie Menu and Tool Palette Demo at 11:52

Cellular SimCity

Cellular Automata in SimCityNet on Unix.
Cellular SimCity

Cellular Automata Demo

Demo of the real time Cellular Automata Machine, developed by Don Hopkins for performing live graphics to music.
Cellular Automata Demo

Don Hopkins’ Cellular Automata and Video Feedback Demo Reel

Various cellular automata by Don Hopkins.
Don Hopkins’ Cellular Automata and Video Feedback Demo Reel

HyperLook Demo

Demonstration of SimCity running under the HyperLook user interface development system, based on NeWS PostScript, running on a SPARCstation 2. Includes a demonstration of editing HyperLook graphics and user interfaces, the HyperLook Cellular Automata Machine, and the HyperLook Happy Tool. Also shows The NeWS Toolkit applications PizzaTool and RasterRap. HyperLook developed by Arthur van Hoff and Don Hopkins at the Turing Institute. SimCity ported to Unix and HyperLook by Don Hopkins. HyperLook Cellular Automata Machine, Happy Tool, The NeWS Toolkit, PizzaTool and Raster Rap developed by Don Hopkins. Demonstration, transcript and close captioning by Don Hopkins. Camera and interview by Abbe Don. Taped at the San Francisco Exploratorium.
HyperLook Demo

1995 Apple World Wide Developers Conference Kaleida Labs ScriptX Demo by Don Hopkins

Demo by Don Hopkins of DreamScape on Kaleida Labs ScriptX presented at the 1995 Apple World Wide Developer Conference.
1995 Apple World Wide Developers Conference Kaleida Labs ScriptX Demo by Don Hopkins

The Sims, Pie Menus, Edith Editing, and SimAntics Visual Programming Demo

This is a demonstration of the pie menus, architectural editing tools, and Edith visual programming tools that I developed for The Sims with Will Wright at Maxis and Electronic Arts.
The Sims, Pie Menus, Edith Editing, and SimAntics Visual Programming Demo

Demo of The Sims Transmogrifier, RugOMatic, ShowNTell, Simplifier and Slice City.

A demonstration of The Sims Transmogrifier, RugOMatic, ShowNTell, Simplifier, and Slice City. By Don Hopkins, Lush Creations.
Demo of The Sims Transmogrifier, RugOMatic, ShowNTell, Simplifier and Slice City.

WarpOMatic Demo 1

Real time video background removal and feedback demo by Don Hopkins.
WarpOMatic Demo 1

WarpOMatic Demo 2

Real time video background removal and feedback demo by Don Hopkins.
WarpOMatic Demo 2

WarpOMatic Demo 3

Real time video background removal and feedback demo by Don Hopkins.
WarpOMatic Demo 3

iPhone app iLoci by Don Hopkins @ Mobile Dev Camp

A talk about iLoci, an iPhone app and server based on the Method of Loci for constructing a Memory Palace, by Don Hopkins, presented at Mobile Dev Camp in Amsterdam.
iPhone app iLoci by Don Hopkins @ Mobile Dev Camp

Unity3D Pie Menu Demo

I’ve made a general purpose pie menu component in C# for Unity3D, which supports text items, image items, and 3d object items too!
Unity3D Pie Menu Demo

MediaGraph Music Navigation with Pie Menus Prototype developed for Will Wright’s Stupid Fun Club

This is a demo of a user interface research prototype that I developed for Will Wright at the Stupid Fun Club. It includes pie menus, an editable map of music interconnected with roads, and cellular automata.
MediaGraph Music Navigation with Pie Menus Prototype developed for Will Wright’s Stupid Fun Club