Pete reports from Campus Party, São Paulo

Pete Lomas, the Raspberry Pi’s hardware designer and all-round good egg, has just been in São Paulo, Brazil, speaking at Campus Party. He sent me this report with a stern warning to edit it thoroughly. Thanks so much Pete – sounds like you had quite the trip!

A spot of housekeeping: I’m travelling all day Monday and some of Tuesday (a byzantine bit of ticket-price optimisation and the fitting in of meetings means that Eben and I have to take three planes and drive about 150 miles to get from California to Cambridge). I’ll be posting here on Tuesday only if I feel awake enough to make sense…

Over to Pete!

Crunch together a 76,000 m2 exhibition hall, 8000 campuseiros and an equivalent number of computers, 10 presentation stages, a 30Gb internet connection and a host of national and international speakers, and you have the week-long event that is Campus Party Brazil 2013. Next to all of this shenanigans, there’s another large hall full of tents for the campuseiros – not surprising given that the activities run from 10am until 10pm every day, followed by trips to the Sambadrome till the early hours (or so they tell me). It’s only a week until carnival starts here in São Paulo, and preparations are in full swing.

Mission Control

Tents ‘r’ Us

The size and scale of Campus Party and the host city of São Paulo take my breath away.  From the tallest building in the city centre, the urbanisation extends as far as the eye can see (and the rain clouds permit). I suppose you would expect this for a city of 18M people, but in person it goes far beyond your most febrile imaginings.

The atmosphere is just amazing; enthusiasm and excitement is bubbling up everywhere. I was going to say it was ‘electrifying’, but that’s taken care of by two sizeable generator sets providing power to the party. The main Anhembi campus feed cannot cope with the demands of Campus Party.

Serious power

The activities are an eclectic mix of teaching, modding, hacking, competitions and other events decided on largely by the campuseiros themselves.  Campus Party takes care of the high-level organisation, security, tents and keynotes; and also provides space for local companies to show their wares in a visitor area that has free admission for the general public.

Robot competition area

Games are much in evidence, with presentations from many of the key players, along with the Intel Extreme Masters tour qualifier for the World Championships Season 6, who I ended up competing with during my presentation – I lost by at least 90db!.

I’d been asked to give a talk about Raspberry Pi to this enormous audience, on one of the largest stages we’ve been invited to present from. (Video of the talk is at the bottom of the page.)

Life of Pi

After the talk I met up very briefly with a young Pi enthusiast and his family. He has made a robot with WiFi based on Pi. I would have loved to talk longer but press interviews had been lined up and I was keeping them waiting, not a good plan, or so I’m told by Liz!

Liz interjects: I am wounded! I actually make a point of getting our principals to spend as much time with members of the community as they can; unfortunately, this time Pete was dragged away by the organisers, who needed to keep things running smoothly and to schedule. WiFi robot family: please get in touch – you’ll find my email address on the Contacts page under the About link above. Pete was really impressed by what you’re doing, and we’d love to learn some more about it and perhaps feature it here on the blog.

Pi Robot

After a quick change, the family was properly kitted out!

An important feature (for me) is the classrooms where dedicated volunteers take groups of school children and give them a first touch of a computer class, or an overview of social media for the more advanced students. Over the week over 4000 children pass through, a remarkable achievement. Coupled with a meal and an hour or so of game-playing afterwards, the kids really seemed enjoy the whole experience.

One of the Campus Party classrooms between sessions

While most of the talks and events were PC-related, there was a really positive contribution from the Raspberry Pi community, with talks from John (maddog) Hall on educational use of Pi and XBMC.

Quite literally on the floor of the hall, I found Alex Ferreira (on the left) giving a tutorial on hardware modding and interfacing.

Alex teaching interfacing – he tried to do a part-ex – Pi for Arduino!

He broke off momentarily to show me one of his more spectacular case mods.

Extreme case-modding

Judging by the number of interviews I gave, plus the number of groups that stopped me on the floor to have a look at the Raspberry Pi, interest in Brazil is certainly growing.

One special interview was by Luciana, a upper school student from Sao Paulo.  She is using Raspberry Pi in her final-year project. She was tremendously enthusiastic, and some of her questions incisive.  Although her project is still to be fully debugged, she remained completely upbeat that she would get there.

Pete is interviewed by Luciana

It was particularly satisfying to have positive discussions with Campus Party team about featuring Raspberry Pi in their London event in September, announced by John Doddrell, the British Consulate General, here in São Paulo.  Exact dates and venue are to be announced soon.

Giving John Doddrell a quick rundown of the features of Raspberry Pi

I’ve demonstrated the Pi so often this week,  I can do it with my eyes closed!

So thanks to everyone at Campus Party that gave Raspberry Pi and myself such a warm welcome, and to the UK in Brazil team for inviting us over. I’m sure we’ll be back soon.

Liz again: Thank you Pete! Next time we send you to Brazil, let’s try to make sure you get some free time as well – I hear those beachside caipirinhas are quite something! 

Video of Pete’s talk is below. He says he wishes it’d been edited down; I think it’s perfect.