The first batch of hardware has been ordered for Rupa's and my
tutorial at PyCon in Montreal this April!
your own PiDoorbell - Learn Home Automation with Python on
the afternoon of Wednesday, April 9.
It'll be a hands-on workshop, where we'll experiment with the
Raspberry Pi's GPIO pins and learn how to control simple things like
an LED. Then we'll hook up sonar rangefinders to the RPis, and
build a little device that can be used to monitor visitors at your
front door, birds at your feeder, co-workers standing in front of your
monitor while you're away, or just about anything else you can think of.
Participants will bring their own Raspberry Pi computers and power supplies
-- attendees of last year's PyCon got them there, but a new Model A
can be gotten for $30, and a model B for $40.
We'll provide everything else.
We worried that requiring participants to bring a long list of esoteric
hardware was just asking for trouble, so we worked a deal with PyCon
and they're sponsoring hardware for attendees. Thank you, PyCon!
CodeChix is fronting the money
for the kits and helping with our travel expenses, thanks to donations
from some generous sponsors.
We'll be passing out hardware kits and SD cards at the
beginning of the workshop, which attendees can take home afterward.
We're also looking for volunteer T/As.
The key to a good hardware workshop is having lots of
helpers who can make sure everybody's keeping up and nobody's getting lost.
We have a few top-notch T/As signed up already, but we can always
use more. We can't provide hardware for T/As, but most of it's quite
inexpensive if you want to buy your own kit to practice on. And we'll
teach you everything you need to know about how get your PiDoorbell
up and running -- no need to be an expert at hardware or even at
Python, as long as you're interested in learning and in helping
other people learn.
This should be a really fun workshop! PyCon tutorial sign-ups just
opened recently, so sign up for the tutorial (we do need advance
registration so we know how many hardware kits to buy). And if you're
going to be at PyCon and are interested in being a T/A, drop me or
Rupa a line and we'll get you on the list and get you all the
information you need.
See you at PyCon!
[ 19:32 Jan 29, 2014
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We've been having occasional visits from black squirrels for maybe
five years now, but mostly they're shy and don't stay long.
Black squirrels are interesting. As far as I know, they're a color
variation of the usual Eastern grey squirrel we get as our most common
yard visitor here in San Jose. (For a while we got a lot of Eastern
Fox squirrels, but I guess that population moved away since I haven't
seen one in years.) Our native Western greys are larger and more wary,
and keep to the hills and forests, never venturing down into the city.
Black squirrels have been common in Palo Alto for many decades, I'm told,
but it's only in the last five or ten years that they've started expanding
First I would see a few in Sunnyvale and Mountain View, then a couple
in Campbell, and then, finally, a few years after that, they made it
here to West San Jose.
(Campbell is farther south than our house, but the squirrels as they
expanded their range probably moved toward the less urban hills and
This year we had our first friendly, regular black squirrel visitor.
I called him Little Blackie after the pony in True Grit. He's by far
the most beautiful squirrel we've ever had -- his fur glistens in the
sun and looks amazingly soft. Unfortunately he's also difficult to
photograph well -- the point-and-shoot tends not to focus on him very
well, and he's always underexposed even when I use exposure compensation.
LB was very
quick (as squirrels go) to figure out that our fencepost was a good
source of walnuts, and even pretty quick to make the association that
people near the office door means that another nut may appear soon.
(Most squirrels take forever to figure that out, and when you come
out to put up another nut, they run away and don't come back for hours.)
After a few months of regular feeding, he was tolerating us only a few
feet away as we put nuts on the fencepost, and then it was a few more
months before he worked up the courage to take nuts from our hands.
He still doesn't linger -- he grabs the nut and runs.
This morning he was quite entertaining, when he decided I was coming
out too slowly (I try not to make sudden movements when approaching
wild animals) and jumped from the fencepost to run along the gate.
I met him halfway, and offered the nut to him as he sat on the gate.
He grabbed it, but his nervousness about being in a different place
made him too hasty, and he missed his grab and the nut went bouncing
down onto the driveway.
He looked at me with a bemused expression, jumped back to the
fencepost and ran back along the fence -- but couldn't quite work up
the nerve to run down and get the nut off the driveway. So I fetched
it for him, and offered it to him up on the fence.
Nothing doing -- that was too weird. So he waited until I went back to
the fencepost, whereupon he scampered right over, grabbed the nut and
ran off to hang from the tree.
Wacky Blackie! Here are the best photos of him I've been able to get
our black squirrel.
[ 10:29 Jan 19, 2014
More nature/squirrels |
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Do you ever get annoyed at how government takes your tax money and
tosses it around, without much accountability as to how much money
Well, in New Mexico they want to make sure you don't get that feeling.
When you drive by a highway construction project, the cost of the project
is right there -- down to the nearest dollar. (With no commas, so be
careful when counting those digits that you don't run into the car in
front of you.)
$7557022.00. Now that's accountability!
(We won't talk about the completion date of fall 2013 and the fact
that this photo was taken in early 2014. I hope that doesn't make
the costs overrun to $7557022.50 or even $7557023.00.)
[ 20:18 Jan 06, 2014
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