Well, for those of you who decided it was just too nice a day to stay indoors Saturday, you missed Eben Upton visiting our little Jam during the final 4 - 5 PM hour! Yes, THAT Eben! We had no idea he was going to show up or I would have certainly let everyone know in advance (I'm sure he and Liz knew I wouldn't be able to keep it secret if needed, but they were also providing a surprise due to my minimal enthusiasm for the Pi
). He was keynote speaker at, and attending, the annual PyCon (Python programming language Conference) about seven miles from the museum through the weekend and decided to come by the Jam to say hello.
I gave him The Worid's Fastest Tour of The Computer History Museum after the Jam, including the reproduction of the Hollerith Punched Card Tabulating Machine; three vacuum tube racks of the actual ENIAC (of the half-dozen still in existence); the 15,000 tube Johnniac (one of the first stored-program EDVAC machines named in honor of Dr. John von Neuman); a console, core memory, and vacuum tube rack from the 50,000 tube Air Force SAGE air defense automation system; an original Xerox Alto WYSIWYG workstation; an Apple I board; a MITS Altair 8800 owned by Bill Gates along with a paper tape copy of his original BASIC; and literally tons of other artifacts, including a BBC Micro, an Archimedes, the Sinclairs, etc., of course.
He generously talked individually with everyone who had brought something to show, patiently answered questions from everyone, and got down into the technical weeds to the delight of all. I was running around with my hair on fire as usual as Jam Disorganizer-in-Chief (aka "The DiC" to the delight of all Pi enthusiasts, I'm sure) to the point where I couldn't get any one-on-one conversation time in with him during the Jam. To the surprise and delight of my Trusty Sidekick and Really Helpful Jam Chief Infrastructure Assistance Officer (aka "CIAO, Baby") and myself, Eben spent way more time than he should have with us after the Jam as we discussed various topics Pi and Definitely Not Pi. It finally occurred to me that there might be times when he would like to talk about something, anything other than the Pi, given how much time and effort he's put in on the project that's been an "overnight" success ... during the past seven years he's been working on it in various forms ... in his spare time!
There's nothing like a good ol' bull session involving science fiction, war stories (about actual wars in my case and that of our collective ancestors, other family, and friends), and other topics so It's-Geek-to-Me that if we hadn't been sitting six blocks from the Googleplex, we might be suspected of being alien targets of the Men in Black. We wound up talking about all sorts of aspects of nuclear physics, astronomy, aeronautics, torpedoes (not necessarily just the naval kind), and other Really Cool Stuff that not even the writers and technical consultants for "The Big Bang Theory" TV show would discuss so casually.
The moral of the story is to start organizing Jams in your own neighborhood ... and plan the location and time to coincide with Eben attending a nearby event ... or just be lucky like we were!
Thanks again so much for everything Eben!
DiC Jam Special Scheduling Notice: the May Jam will occur the same weekend as the Maker Faire at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds. So, we will instead hold the Jam as a live (possibly webcasted) event at the Faire. I hope we can wrangle Eben and Liz to at least stop by during that Jam since Eben will be a featured speaker at, and they will both be attending, the Faire. I will update the EventBrite web page to reflect this change.
Yet-another DiC Jam Special Notice: I am applying to Adafruit for our Jam to become an Adafruit distributor, which will provide up to a 40% discount to Jam members on Adafruit products as long as we can order at least $250 worth of products at a time. We will consolidate members' orders every month and have them shipped in time to be picked up at Jams, which should help increase attendance. Plus, if you need help with any Adafruit products, all the experts you can shake a soldering iron at will be there to help and provide advice.
See you at the museum for the next Jam on April 20th! You never know who could show up for that one!