Raspberry Jams - Silicon Valley


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by W. H. Heydt » Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:18 am
Jim Manley wrote:We will be able to go down to the Babbage Difference Engine where I can give a presentation and demonstration of it calculating values of log base 10 to 26 decimal places. I have a fun idea where we can make a video of the Pi racing the Babbage Engine - I need to look up how to calculate 26 decimal place integers using a computer that only has about nine decimal places of native integer capability.


Two answers to how to do it...

The frivolous one...last time I did something like that was ca. 1968 on a CDC 6400 when I calculated e to 5000 places. It took 11 CP minutes. It was done in FORTRAN. You build an array of digits and do your own modular arithmetic on the array.

The serious answer... The Pi is a 32-bit machine. It should have double-precision floating point which should give at least 20 digits. It *might* have (or the compiler might have) larger word size for floating point and you *might* be able to get to 128-bit, about 40 digits.

Good luck doing the former by Saturday afternoon.

Too bad you don't have what the IBM 1620 had with it's FORTRAN IID compiler. A compiler directive called an "F & K" statement, which allowed one to specify the precision of math to be used in the compiled code. IIRC, the mantissa of floating point numbers could be as much as 28 digits....

(Maybe you could get the museum to fire up their 1620--I know they have one--to race the Babbage Engine...)
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by W. H. Heydt » Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:21 am
Jim Manley wrote:The Fry's over on Auto Mall Parkway off I-680 has a bunch of Tesla coils of various sizes and capacity that power up randomly and zap the crap out of the air molecules inside their safety cages! I sometimes wonder if bursts of EMF aren't "Fry's"-ing some semiconductor junctions in the hundreds of thousands of products spread throughout the store :(


Last time I was in that Fry's--and I'll admit it's been a few years--they only had one Tesla Coil. The other device you may be thinking of is a Jacob's Ladder. The Tesla coil isn't likely to kill random electronic devices, as it's in a Faraday cage. Granted, it's a Faraday cage made of chain-link fencing, but it should stop most of what the Tesla coil might put out in the way of RF.
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by snej » Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:28 am
I will see if I can make it tomorrow! Sorry for the short notice, but I just got my Pi on Wednesday and just found this announcement/thread minutes ago.
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by Hexxeh » Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:53 am
I don't have anything like monitors or bulky stuff since I'm here for an internship and travelling fairly light, but I do have a few Pi's with me I can bring along if we can source displays for them. They're not running anything very interesting other than my Chromium stuff, though.
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by Jim Manley » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:26 pm
Hexxeh wrote:I don't have anything like monitors or bulky stuff since I'm here for an internship and travelling fairly light, but I do have a few Pi's with me I can bring along if we can source displays for them. They're not running anything very interesting other than my Chromium stuff, though.

Bring every Pi you can spare. I have some extra SD cards and we can swap in pretty much anything we want to show off.

I'll be bringing a few older LCD monitors that will be fine for a few people to crowd around each (they will need HDMI-to-DVI-D adapters). We will have a 1080p HDMI projector for stuff everyone should see, and maybe we can VNC into the various Pi boards to highlight interesting stuff - although that won't work for anything run outside of X. The museum does have monitors behind-the-scenes from 19 to 55+ inches, but, I haven't been guaranteed we can have access to them where we'll be.
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by Jim Manley » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:27 pm
snej wrote:I will see if I can make it tomorrow! Sorry for the short notice, but I just got my Pi on Wednesday and just found this announcement/thread minutes ago.

We will be glad to see you there!
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by Jim Manley » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:42 pm
W. H. Heydt wrote:(Maybe you could get the museum to fire up their 1620--I know they have one--to race the Babbage Engine...)

I am "they", as in one of the 1620 operators/presenters. Unfortunately, it's not operational at the moment, and it's a royal PITA to set up. It's connected to an old PC with thousands of 1620 programs on its hard disk that were loaded from punched cards. Each program has to be loaded via a shift register that the punched card reader would normally be connected to, IIRC (it's not even a proper 20 ma current-loop serial interface!).

I've done the larger integer thing before ... about 30 years ago. There has to be some code already Out There for doing this. Floating point would be cheating and I haven't checked to see if the Debian we're using supports quad-precision IEEE floating-point (128-bit). Babbage's Analytical Engine design uses 50 decimal digit gear stacks, and can do double-precision integer calculations to 100 digits - a googol! You're probably aware of the group in the UK that's creating a 3-D virtual mechanical model (e.g., SolidWorks) of the Analytical Engine on a path to actually building a real one over the next decade, or so.
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by Jim Manley » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:50 pm
W. H. Heydt wrote:Last time I was in that Fry's--and I'll admit it's been a few years--they only had one Tesla Coil. The other device you may be thinking of is a Jacob's Ladder. The Tesla coil isn't likely to kill random electronic devices, as it's in a Faraday cage. Granted, it's a Faraday cage made of chain-link fencing, but it should stop most of what the Tesla coil might put out in the way of RF.

Yeah, it's been years since I've been in that store, too, and all I remember was the impressive sound of big ZAPs going on aperiodically. I don't know what the 1/r^2 power level of those sparks are, but, the gap in the cage mesh looked too big to stop higher frequencies with wavelengths that would easily resonate at the scale of modern PC board traces, and even the larger conductor paths within chips (particularly ground and power runs).
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by Jim Manley » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:53 pm
BTW, for those old enough to have attended them, I plan for the Jam agenda to follow the Original Flavor Homebrew Computer Club format, which will mostly consist of the ever-popular Random Access session :D
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by Jim Manley » Sun Jul 22, 2012 12:40 am
In the rush to pack up this afternoon at the end of the very successful Jam at the Computer History Museum, someone accidentally picked up my Pi and, worst of all, it has my current Pi-finity! development environment, and was last backed up yesterday, so, I don't have the work I did last night or this morning on any other card.

It was the Pi that the kids were using closest to the projector and impressing everyone. Let me know where to come pick it up tonight and I'll come by, as I don't have anything more pressing to attend to at the moment, and I really need those files.

Thanks again to everyone for coming, especially all of the kids! In the words of Chief Brody in "Jaws", "We're gonna need a bigger boat!" :D

Thanks, and All the Best,
Jim
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by kongorilla » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:01 am
Sorry to hear about the pi mix up, Jim. I just checked, and Sean and I came home with our pi, so the search continues. Hope it turns up soon.

Thanks for organizing the event, and to everybody who brought accessories and were there to share. Sean's looking forward to bringing more code to show off next time.

-Steve
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by Jim Manley » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:18 am
For anyone in the Silicon Valley area who attended our Jam today and is interested in our bulk buy of Pi boards that should arrive within about a week, PM/e-mail me to get your order in ASAP as the bulk order will be going in as early as Sunday. If you've already e-mailed me, that's fine, I've got you covered. The next opportunity will be to buy directly from Eben and Liz at DefCon in Las Vegas next weekend, when they will "only" have 4,000 to sell (I bet they sell out easily).
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by Jim Manley » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:02 am
kongorilla wrote:Sorry to hear about the pi mix up, Jim. I just checked, and Sean and I came home with our pi, so the search continues. Hope it turns up soon.

Thanks for organizing the event, and to everybody who brought accessories and were there to share. Sean's looking forward to bringing more code to show off next time.

If it was still connected to the monitor when you left, it disappeared in the minutes between when you left and the last of us did with Dag. The cable with the HDMI/DVI-D adapter is there, so, someone just unplugged it and it looks like they may have also taken the power adapter and USB A male to microUSB cable.

It was Dag's and my pleasure to have everyone show up, especially Sean and the other kids. Now that we have a core group of hard-core coders established (and adults, too! :D ), it's off we go, into the wild blue yonder! Since we have a much better idea of the profile of the group, we will be able to focus on everyone's Interests during future Jams. We will have more of an agenda firmed up by August's Jam, including a specific list of what to bring vs. what Hal, I and others and the museum will provide. We'll also have specific project goals, especially for the kids (the ones who are over 50! ;) ). Any suggestions are always welcome, and Dag and I will be posting a lessons-learned and recommended next steps in the coming weeks before the next Jam the third Saturday of August, the 25th.
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by W. H. Heydt » Sun Jul 22, 2012 4:03 am
Jim Manley wrote:We will have more of an agenda firmed up by August's Jam, including a specific list of what to bring vs. what Hal, I and others and the museum will provide. We'll also have specific project goals, especially for the kids (the ones who are over 50! ;) ). Any suggestions are always welcome, and Dag and I will be posting a lessons-learned and recommended next steps in the coming weeks before the next Jam the third Saturday of August, the 25th.


Works for me. I should be able to deploy at least one more monitor by then and a couple of keyboards. I may be able to expand my trackball supply...like digging out a couple squirreled away in odd places, though we did seem to have enough.

In terms of layout, I think starting by plugging a bunch of breaker bars into the connector on the table to minimize some of the spaghetti and daisy chaining might help.

Just send me a list of what you think I need to bring, and if I haven't got enough (or won't have enough in time), I'll let you know.
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by Jim Manley » Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:24 pm
[ I'm duplicating this post to the General Discussion forum so that we have some hope of finding it again ]

Despite the intentionally eye-catching title, we had a very successful Raspberry Jam in Silicon Valley Saturday afternoon at the Computer History Museum. However, please read on to see what you can do to make your Jam even better based on the knuckle-dragging and Wily Coyote antics of those who have preceded you in evolutionary terms (aka an education in the School of Hard Knocks).

I was concerned about getting overwhelmed by making a big announcement weeks in advance as there would only be limited space, so, I started publicizing the Jam about a week before the event, after casually mentioning here the intent to hold the event upwards of several weeks beforehand. We wound up in a conference room about as far away from the main entrance and lobby of the museum as is possible. There was an 8.5 x 11 inch sign next to the reception desk with the Pi logo and the Raspberry Jam title which directed attendees to await escort to the Jam site. For the Jams next month and beyond, I hope to be able to have about a 1 x 4 (H x L) meter banner with the logo and Jam name hanging from the second floor railing above the lobby to increase awareness by the general public.

We wound up with a few dozen attendees during the four hour duration of the Jam, with about half of the people remaining the entire time and the others coming and going intermittently. We had a delightful and surprising number of kids attend, about a third of the total, of which about half a dozen actively participated for at least three hours. Given the short notice and it being one of the most popular weeks for families to be on vacation travel, it was very heartening to see such a response. It turned out that almost everyone attending had at least one Pi, although only about a dozen boards were set up by a core of the more experienced folks. The kids were a bit reticent when they first arrived, but, with only a modicum of prodding, they quickly realized that we had actually set up machines for kids to play with them. The next thing we knew, Scratch and Python games were busting out all over!

We had a 1080p HDMI projector to throw video up on a wall-sized screen, and that was great. We had some wired network issues until a properly-functioning RJ-45 wall connector was found and later, we brought in a 24-port network switch given the rapid rise in the number of boards showing up. The museum has pretty much moved on to WiFi beyond their offices and front-of-house infrastructure and, while we had brought WiFi access points that could bridge to a wired segment connected to the Pi boards, we didn't have time to really set up our own infrastructure the way we would for a serious business event. After all, it was a lazy, sunny Saturday afternoon, and we were there to have fun above all else! When the number of attendees gets larger, we will definitely arrive hours early to set up, debug everything, and keep things running smoothly with people dedicated to the task. That will be especially true in the cooler months, when physical activity will be more welcome than in the mid 90s F weather we had Saturday.

Hal Heydt and Liam McLoughlin very kindly provided much-needed technical assistance to the kids and adults alike throughout the event, and Liam was able to set up a Quake 3 server. He helped others load the client binaries and get started in the game, and I can foresee where a game session could be a very popular part of every Jam. Perhaps we can take a cue from the Raspithon kids and have attendees do some level of coordinated preparation of components for a Game-of-the-Jam each month, which would be finally integrated, debugged, and played at the Jams. The same would be possible for "Piduino" devices used in equipment such as robots and other hardware-oriented projects.

I talked with one of the parents who suggested that the Jams should be coordinated with local volunteer groups that mentor kids in Summertime computing activities such as CodeDojo. There is a very popular CodeDojo group that meets in San Francisco, but, none in Silicon Valley itself, which is one of those ironies that permeates the Valley (San Francisco is a city of millions of visitors this time of year, and it's difficult to get there, park, etc., especially with a vehicle full of kids). People just assume that every kid here is born with a keyboard in their hands and knows how to program by age three and, while there are a few exceptional prodigies that come close, most kids are just kids, and need some guidance and coaching to get started. We will be exploring this in depth with these groups and the museum's educational staff.

Because of the network issues and setup of late-arriving boards, we didn't get around to some of the things on our very loose list of nice-to-achieve milestones. The DDoS attack on the Raspithon kids' site meant that we couldn't really share with them, but, now that our RaspenJammer (rhymes with Katzenjammer) Kids know how much fun there is to be had, they can't wait to come back and play a lot more. Being able to do it with kids all around the world will just be that much more awesome.

I did get my Atrix lapdock set up for all to ogle at, and everyone was very impressed with the light weight, low cost, ease-of-setup with the Pi, and high quality of the materials and construction (think MacBook Air, but, even lighter). Now that cables/adapters with microHDMI/USB female connectors are becoming more available via Amazon and eBay and shipping from within the U.S., I believe we may have inspired the purchase of dozens more of The Little Lapdocks that Can. It really is a perfect mobile platform for the Pi with its integrated display, keyboard, trackpad, dual USB ports, battery, etc.

Before we knew it, the Jam was yet-another notch in the belt of history, and it was time to tear down and go home. We didn't even get a chance to race a Pi against the Babbage Difference Engine at calculating Pi to at least 26 decimal places. Well, we had to leave something to the imagination to get people back. We expect the word-of-mouth coming out of this Jam, combined with a barrage of real publicity, and when Valley denizens are actually all still here, to help increase the number of attendees in the future easily by an order of magnitude. That will require a larger venue than the conference room that got hot immediately since it's on the West side of the building, with large windows warmed by the Sun, and multiple monitors and people further adding calories to the room, vs. the cool beaches and mountain peaks where more sane people are this very moment.

OK, so, what about the title of this thread - How to Not Hold a Raspberry Jam? Well, we did slip up here and there, but, on balance, things went pretty much exactly as planned. Since there was no real plan, that was certainly easy to achieve! One lesson learned was to make sure visitors are logged in and out and secure everything if they will be playing/working on equipment we provide. I still have heard nil about my missing Pi, and I'm hoping whomever took it did so in an honest mistake and will be returning it immediately. Leaving a drivers license or credit card with the greeter or even taking a deposit should be considered, even with a small group like ours Saturday. I am now dead-in-the-water without my Pi and the SD card with the latest Pi-finity! code on it. The other two boards I set up were borrowed and returned to their owners, so, I am back to where I was without any way to effectively develop the game system.

I can't afford people walking off with my hardware because every spare penny I earn goes toward caring for my 90 year-old combat-and-POW decorated WW-II veteran father at a rate approaching six figures per year. I spent nearly twice as much as the cost of a Pi just on gas driving the hour-and-a-half each way to the Jam, so expenses for these events add up fast. The Pi was actually a special gift to me, and I have no means to replace it since I won't be seeing income from teaching again for another couple of months, and it's at that time during the Summer when finances are thinnest ($4.50+ a gallon gas didn't help earlier this Spring/Summer, either). I wish I could attend DefCon next weekend to see Eben and Liz again, but, $1,000+ for the conference sessions alone makes that impossible, to say nothing of the other $1,000 it would cost to travel and stay there.

Having someone assigned to logging visitors in and out should include getting as much contact information from them as possible. Print up name badges in advance for registered attendees and leave the background blank for people without a Pi, and include a Pi board photo as the background for people who do have a Pi. I found that few people found out about the Jam the same way, and it would have been more useful to have demographic data (even just an e-mail address) to help tune upcoming publicity blitzes. Speaking of publicity, I used EventBright.com to manage attendance and spread the word, as well as PR.com and Manta.com, which did result in the local San Jose Mercury News automagically featuring the announcement in their events calendar. I Tweeted it daily leading up to the event and asked influencers such as Liz to retweet, which they did, but, it was only a day, or so, before the event, at that point. I will essentially be starting to roll out the announcements for the August Jam today, based on the extremely positive feedback we received from even this modest and fumble-thumbed attempt to gather a few birds of a feather.

I didn't get to set up my camera and digital camcorder until the last half-hour of the Jam, only to discover that I had forgotten to charge their batteries! We already had far too many wires and cables stretched out all over the place, so, I just abandoned any hope of optical documentation. Fortunately, others did take photos and I hope to be able to use those to fill out what I missed in our posts to the forum and other outlets. There are only so many things one harried organizer can do, and I need to find someone who's good at photos/video to take those media on distribution-wise.

Due to our remote location relative to front-of-house amenities and the need to be escorted through areas restricted to the public, it was difficult for people to access the cafe, rest rooms, etc. This was a peculiarity of the unusual location, and with a larger attendance, we would have been in an area with full access to all of the front-of-house facilities. However, we weren't being charged the thousands of dollars for the conference facilities that the museum normally earns even from other non-profit groups, so, we appreciated what we had, restrictions and all. Since I didn't know in advance precisely where we would be located, I couldn't foresee the need to provide easy access to food and drink. Although some people did bring small coolers with drinks and others were escorted to the lobby where the cafe was, we really should have coordinated some sort of ordered-in, potluck, or bring-your-own food and beverage in an area adjacent to the conference room.

This will be particularly important when we arrive at least a couple of hours early to set up in the future. There is no way food and particularly drink could be accommodated at the conference table with the bramble of wiring covering it. Bare printed circuit boards and drinks do not mix well, especially when the latter are powered up - even if only with a few watts! As it turned out, the conference room we were in was adjacent to an outdoor patio area and, given the warmth of the room, was a welcome respite for people to take breaks and sit in the fresh air (90+F degree air, but, fresh!).

I didn't know how many people were actually going to show up, and I wound up so busy setting up the rats' nest of cables on several Pi boards that I didn't always have time to properly welcome each new group of guests who arrived during the event. There were a couple of families who I think left soon after arriving because everyone was madly typing, clicking, and dragging as they worked on their respective projects. We did have some very highly appreciated help from parents in getting their kids playing with the Pi, but, once they latched onto the keyboards, mice, and monitors, it was all over but for the cheering! If we have things set up in advance, that will give us the time we need to cordially greet new arrivals and get them settled in. I didn't want to institute a lot of bureaucracy in something pretty simple that might only be a one-time event, but, it's obvious that everyone wants to meeting monthly. As numbers grow as anticipated, we're going to have to buckle down and do some more planning, organization, and, yes, administration. At least now we know the demand is there to make it worthwhile.

As our numbers grow, we're either going to have to charge admission or find sponsors to defray the costs of meeting facilities. There are a number of potential sponsors in the Valley who already provide funding to the museum itself. Perhaps Allied (RS Electronics partner) and Newark (Element 14 partner) might be able to help since they are making some level of profit on the accessories being sold with Pi boards, if not the boards themselves. There are plenty of vacant buildings sprinkled throughout the Valley that are used by seasonal non-profits such as holiday gift-giving trees and back-to-school backpacks full of school supplies for high-needs kids. Perhaps we can find at least one place where kids can meet to work and play together beyond the monthly Jams at the museum.

So, in summary, we need to:

- Begin publicity at least a month in advance, as it takes an average of 11 advertising impressions before people take action to attend such an event

- You can never have enough stuff, so explicitly tell people to bring their Pi and as much infrastructure as they can in the form of monitors, keyboards, mice/trackpads/trackballs/etc., power strips, network hubs/switches, USB hubs, power supplies for every device, and cables, cables, and more cables - did I mention bringing cables?

- Coordinate the event with related local computing education organizations, such as CodeDojo, etc.

- Start seeking sponsors immediately even if you don't need them initially as, once your growth starts exploding, it will be too late to start looking at that point

- Make a list, check it twice, and assume that you won't get to at least half of the items for a variety of reasons, but, that way you always have the next item identified when a planned item can't happen as anticipated

- Set up the infrastructure hours in advance and debug, debug, debug the network into submission

- Set up photo and video equipment early to ensure batteries are charged and that the best visual vantage points are staked out early

- Coordinate how food and drink will be handled, especially for those who will be coming early to set up

- Have someone designated as greeter and administrator to get people oriented and signed in with as much identifying info as possible

- Print up name badges for attendees and leave the background blank for people without a Pi, and include a Pi board photo as the background for people who do have a Pi

- Identify the gurus who can not only perform technical miracles, but communicate how they did it to mere mortal visitors - it's a rare combination of skills!

- Provide room and power/network distribution for people to bring in their own hardware

- Register people to take responsibility for equipment that has been set up in advance to prevent accidental removal of items that don't belong to them, or intentional pilferage (sadly, it appears that even a $35 computer can be a target for theft)

- Have a variety of activities planned and announced, as different people will be interested in divergent activities, especially as the group gets larger

- Disseminate a draft agenda well before the event to allow core members to review it and shoot holes in it before the teeming masses of the public arrive and do it for you

It would have been impossible to keep things under control without the greatly appreciated help from our host, Dag Spicer, senior curator at the museum. We're going to have a post-mortem soon and his initial feedback is that he's very enthusiastic about continuing to support future Jams at the museum. He will very likely be nodding in agreement to most, if not all, of what I'm typing here, and we'll be working on a plan to ensure future Jams go without a hitch, or at least the hitches I identified here. Once the school year starts, we will need to coordinate Jams with both parents and teachers, as well as students, along with the museum's educational programs director, Lauren Silver, and the executive director, John Hollar, who has strongly endorsed events like Jams as part of the museum's computing education for the public beyond paid entry to exhibits, tours, demos, etc., required as part of its non-profit charter.

Now that Pi boards are showing up in the area in volume, I expect that we're going to be busier than ever during the August Jam, and a bunch of the 4,000 people receiving their boards from Eben and Liz at DefCon next week will likely be beating feet to future Jams. It's all good and I'm looking forward to helping more people, although I collapsed in a dehydrated and exhausted heap Saturday night after the hour-and-a-half drive home. I haven't slept that well in years! I'll undoubtedly think of other issues as I'm sure others will, and I really need to replicate this in a more organized way into a blog to keep others from being put to sleep here.

Thanks very much to everyone who showed up to our Jam, and to the two of you who were the only ones to make it this far in my babbling. I'm really looking forward to future Jams and I can't wait to see the kids in action again. Anyone who isn't already organizing their own local Jam doesn't know how much fun they're missing!
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
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by Jim Manley » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:36 pm
In my usual Sunday morning stupor, I accidentally typed August 25th as the date for the next Jam in a previous comment - it will be Saturday, August 18th - which really is the third Saturday of the month!

Just when I thought I had all of the answers, they changed all of the questions! :oops:
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
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by gervangster » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:44 pm
Jim Manley wrote:In my usual Sunday morning stupor, I accidentally typed August 25th as the date for the next Jam in a previous comment - it will be Saturday, August 18th - which really is the third Saturday of the month!

Just when I thought I had all of the answers, they changed all of the questions! :oops:


Great! I already have it marked down in my calender :D

Next time I'm going to remember to bring my video equipment. If you want, I have everything needed to do interviews and even a small video ad!
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by dan_in_sd » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:05 am
Jim,
Good to hear your first Jam went off without a hitch. And, sorry to hear you lost one of your Pi boards. I hope it gets returned to you.
256 mb rpi | kingston 4gb class 4 | GearHead wireless keyboard model KB3800TPW | 5.0volt 2.1amp PSU | Lego case from dailybrick.co.uk | oc: arm=920;gpu=310
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by Jim Manley » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:56 pm
Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends!
We're glad you could attend, come inside, come inside!

Yes, it's getting to be that time again already - only three short weeks until the next Raspberry Jam Silicon Valley will be held at the Computer History Museum at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., in Mountain View. I need to start gathering the head count in order to ensure we have an appropriately-sized area available within the museum. Please wander over to our perennial coordination page at http://raspberry-jam-silicon-valley.eventbrite.com to sign up for tickets - I've reserved 400 in the ridiculous case where that many people might just show up.

If there are particular topics which people would like to provide, or see, a presentation on, let's post them here.

Thanks - Let the games begin!
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- W.B. Yeats
In theory, theory & practice are the same - in practice, they aren't!!!
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by Jim Manley » Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:59 am
I established contact with Peter Mui of the RaspberryPi Peninsula Meetup group, which has 80 members and we're coordinating to have Meetup members attend the SV Jams, so, attendance should jump significantly over the inaugural Jam.

More to Come, so Stay Tuned!
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- W.B. Yeats
In theory, theory & practice are the same - in practice, they aren't!!!
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by Jim Manley » Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:46 am
Just a reminder that, yes, it's that time of the month again already - the next Raspberry Jam Silicon Valley will be held from 1 to 5 PM, this coming Saturday, August 18th, at the Computer History Museum (1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA).

It looks like we're going to have an Extra Super Secret Thing to show off at Jam! Put on your thinking caps as to what would be some really cool demos we could put on using more than just software. In addition to the Extra Super Secret Thing, I'll be bringing my Arduino Uno board with the mini-prototyping plug-board that is equipped with the standard blinky-light LEDs and some other interesting analog accessories.

I will also bring my BASIC Stamp educational experimentation kit that has some analog doo-dads that should also work with both the Arduino Uno. Since the Stamp kit also has a serial-port bootloader and can communicate via the serial port, we should be able to put together quite a distributed digital/analog demo. If someone can bring an SD card with the Arduino development and downloader utilities loaded (and tested, if possible) as a backup to what I'll be bringing, that would be greatly appreciated. I haven't tested the Arduino tools on Raspbian, yet, so, it would be a big help if someone could verify that works.

If anyone has proposed agenda items for the Jam this Saturday, please forward them to me ASAP. I'll be sending a note to everyone who's signed up on EventBrite.com asking them to bring as many extra monitors, keyboards, mice, etc., as they can to complement Hal's power and network gear.

If anyone who reads this is from the R-Pi Peninsula Meetup group (organized by Peter Mui of ICS.com) is planning to attend the Jam that would be great to know, and I'll be posting a reminder about the Jam this evening on the Peninsula Meetup site.

We really should have a Qt-on-Pi demo running on Saturday, but, according to recent forum posts in the Other Programming threads, apparently, there is some potential issue where there doesn't appear to be a Qt port yet that will run on Raspbian? So, if anyone you know who is experienced with Qt-on-Pi will be coming to the Jam and can have something to show off, that would be a big help. Otherwise, it will be 4 AM Saturday morning before I get to bed while trying to get Qt running on a Pi under Wheezy armel (software floating-point), instead of 2 AM when I'm still trying to get the Arduino and all of the other demos running :)

More to Come as additional crazy ideas leak out of the sieve that is my brain.
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- W.B. Yeats
In theory, theory & practice are the same - in practice, they aren't!!!
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by gervangster » Tue Aug 14, 2012 7:35 pm
Jim Manley wrote:Just a reminder that, yes, it's that time of the month again already - the next Raspberry Jam Silicon Valley will be held from 1 to 5 PM, this coming Saturday, August 18th, at the Computer History Museum (1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA)....
...More to Come as additional crazy ideas leak out of the sieve that is my brain.


Do you need any help with any preparations for Saturday? I'm afraid I cant help too much with programming yet, but graphics and videos and other event stuff I can do.

Ive also been preparing two neat configurations for using a raspberry pi that I cant wait to show off! (Lets just hope the last of my parts come in the mail by Saturday, or else ill have to show off thoughts and prototypes :/ which isnt as cool)

Cant wait to see what everyone has done since last we met!

-Chris Gervang
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by Jim Manley » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:42 pm
Hi Chris,

We will have plenty to do that anyone can help with, setup will start at noon, and the public event will take place from 1 to 5 PM, like last time, so, feel free to show up at 1 PM or noon if you want. We'll be setting up the boards, monitors, networking, power, etc., in a more organized way than last time, now that we know ahead of time which area we will be using. Just let the folks at the reception desk know that you're attending the Jam and Dag or I will come to escort you up to the setup area.

Looking forward to seeing you and everyone else Saturday!
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- W.B. Yeats
In theory, theory & practice are the same - in practice, they aren't!!!
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by gervangster » Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:25 pm
I had some unexpected commitments today, so ill be coming for a while, but probably around 2. Sorry!
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by Jim Manley » Mon Aug 20, 2012 3:21 am
What if we held a Jam and the venue didn't show up? Well, that's exactly what happened Saturday, August 17th, at the Computer History Museum! Despite more than a month-and-a-half of planning and coordination, the museum liaison we were working with (who, to be fair, was helping us as a favor on his own time during the weekend) didn't think to check the museum rental events calendar to ensure the area we needed for the Jam would be available. Murphy, working his normal overtime weekend schedule, made sure we were maximally inconvenienced by the entire museum outside the exhibit areas being rented out to Silicon Valley University's graduation ceremony.

This wasn't discovered until less than two hours before the Jam was to begin, and our network and power infrastructure guru, Hal Heydt, arrived before I did and was told that the event had been cancelled, so, he left for a Fry's Electronics run before spending another hour driving back home to the East Bay. I was left to intercept arriving Jam attendees and we wound up gathering in the lobby of the museum to at least show each other the results of our efforts since the inaugural Jam in July. Progress has been made on Atrix lapdock integration with Pi boards, and construction and modification of some very nice cases made of acrylic and even one fabricated from poly-lactic acid (PLA) parts produced on a home-made 3-D printer.

The highlight of the Jam was a demo loaner of a GertBoard just for the Jam that was assembled by none other than its developer, Gert van Loo. I provided an impromptu lesson on analog I/O that the GertBoard facilitates via the Pi GPIO pins, including what the Arduino-compatible ATmega168 microcontroller can do. Gert didn't have any ATmega328 devices on-hand, so, that meant that dynamic RAM was limited to 1KB instead of 2KB, and flash RAM is 16KB vs. 32KB. However, I was just running the very simple demo sketches for the moment, and they each fit into the 168 with plenty of room to spare.

I also covered how GertBoard features such as buffering were used, including a quick tutorial on the differences between voltage levels in most Arduino devices (5 volts) vs. the Pi (3.3 volts). I spent the time to also explain what's special about the motor and relay ports, induction in coils, solenoids, relays, motor windings, etc., and how induction-related back-EMF can blow out semiconductor device junctions if signals are not properly limited in current and voltage as the GertBoard does.

The fabrication of the GertBoard printed circuit board is quite high-quality, as on-line photos suggest and everything works as advertised. It's really nice having a Linux system running an Arduino integrated development environment (IDE) directly attached to the ATmega168 microcontroller via the GPIO pins. Not having a snake's nest of cables between a PC and a typical Arduino prototyping board is great, especially considering how many cables are already splayed out from every side of a Pi board, especially if a powered USB port is added. I would like to fit a solderless breadboard to the GertBoard, perhaps mounted on a transparent plate laid over the Gertboard with ribbon and jumper cables coming up around the same edge as where the Arduino header pins are located.

Some Jam attendees already had a GertBoard pre-ordered, but, many of the remaining members have reported that they've also pre-ordered one based on seeing the board "in the fiberglass". If there's interest, I can provide a full review of the GertBoard and all of its features. Suffice it to say that I consider it a Two Thumbs Up, Best Buy, Must-Have for Experimenters, peripheral. Plus, being a kit, people unfamiliar with hardware can gain very valuable experience assembling the board. Assembly will really educate the builder as to what every single component on the board does, which is worth the price of admission alone. There's almost nothing that can go wrong other than perhaps if soldering is not the builder's strong suite. As long as you don't go out of your way to short power between pins that shouldn't be connected, you can't really damage anything on the Pi or GertBoard. I'll be posting more as I work on more complex sketches for the Arduino on the GertBoard.

So, despite the bumpy start to the Jam, it was still a success. We came, we saw, we Pied, and that's always a Very Good Thing! :D
The best things in life aren't things ... but, a Pi comes pretty darned close! :D
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." -- W.B. Yeats
In theory, theory & practice are the same - in practice, they aren't!!!
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