So last week I was at InstructureCon giving a presentation on ProctorHub (UCF’s passive proctoring solution). InstructureCon was held at Keystone, Colorado this year, and it kicked my butt. Those mountains and high elevation are no joke. It was incredibly hard to breath that first day.
Everything went well, presentation was awesome, met a lot of great educators doing all sorts of neat e-Learning.
The best part of the trip was that They Might Be Giants performed after the keynote.
This has been a fun month. Between campaigning, work, and Raspberry Pi stuff, I’ve been busy 😀
So I’ve been campaigning a lot this month. I am running for the District 49 Representative in Florida’s House. I love my district. One thing that is crazy to me is the amount of money being put into this election. I have raised around $2000. I’m very proud of that number. It’s coming from friends and family who believe in me. It’s humbling. My Republican opponent has raised around ~$7000. I’m sure it’s more now. And now there is a second Republican who has entered the race. On the other side, my Democrat opponent has raised over $90,000! $90,000. That is an absurd amount of money for a State House race. I’ve heard the average is around $40,000.
That is insane to me. That’s a scholarship, a car, someone’s student loans. And instead it’s going to a campaign for ad buys and t shirts. I hate it. I truly believe campaigns should be publicly funded at all levels. On that note, I can’t help but see the irony in me asking for donations: https://donate.sheasilverman.com
In other news, the first revision to the PiPlay Advance PCBs came in, and they are awesome!
This week I was in San Antonio, Texas for the IMS Global Learning Impact Leadership Institute conference, where I gave two presentations on the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) standards. I was also there because my team at UCF won 2nd place in the LTI App Challenge for ProctorHub, our free passive proctoring software!
It was a very different conference than I am used too. Most of the software conferences I have been to have been very low level. Getting into the nuts and bolts of how things work. These educational conferences are very high level. It’s an interesting paradigm change but I think we got some good stuff done. I was able to give anecdotal evidence regarding some of the gaps in the current standards, and what could be done to improve them at all levels. Stuff I introduce today will help to change the shape of educational software in the next few years.
MegaCon is also this weekend. I’ll have some pictures up from that event soon.
BUT, what I’m more excited to show off is a very early prototype of a project a coworker and I are working on!
It’s a Raspberry Pi Zero powered portable gaming system styled after the Nintendo GameBoy Advance using an SPI TFT and some other little cool things.
This is the first PCB I’ve ever helped design, and I placed the order for it this week. Boards shipped today, which means they will get here between 8 and 40 days. Argh, the waiting sucks!
On another note, Pokken Tournament came out today for the Wii U. It’s a really cool Tekken inspired Pokemon fighting game and so far I am loving it! My Nintendo Network ID is SSilver2k2 so if you want to fight, add me 😀
I also picked up some really cool Nintendo retro consoles this week.
This is the Sharp Famicom Twin. It is the Japanese version of the NES (Famicom) and the Famicom Disk System combined into one unit. I also picked up the Family BASIC addon which allows you to do rudimentary programs in BASIC (HuBASIC) for the NES. BASIC programs can be saved and loaded off of a cassette tape player, or loaded from any audio player.
So this week the Raspberry Pi Foundation released a new version of Raspbian that includes experimental support for OpenGL. This is a big leap from OpenGL ES. This is real OpenGL that tons of games and software use. No mobile versions required anymore. That being said, its super experimental. It basically breaks the official screen and the camera doesn’t work. It also only works in xwindows and not on the command line.
BUT! One of my favorite games (and the way I lost 50lbs) is now available on the Pi! StepMania! The Dance Dance Revolution simulation game!
Here’s how to compile it:
First clone the StepMania repo:
git clone https://github.com/stepmania/stepmania stepmania
Less than 24 hours left on the Deskcade Kickstarter! So excited!!!
On a related note, I picked up a Steam Controller to see what the hype was about. It’s cool, but what’s really neat is that it can be a keyboard, mouse, or gamepad at the same time, depending on the game. Whats not cool is it requires steam to be running to set that.
I’ve forked it (https://github.com/ssilverm/steamcontroller) and I’m going to see if I can get it running as just a joypad for now. It can currently run on the Raspberry Pi, and I can see the buttons being detected and get the feedback. It’s just not being passed into a uinput item yet. Soon 😀
Also, I’m trying to get the bootsplash to work again in Raspbian Jessie. Jessie introduces Systemd, which takes over for init.d. Currently the bootsplash runs later in the startup, so by the time omxplayer starts, the login screen is about a second away from showing up. I’m working on that too.
First week of the semester is done! Can’t say everything went off without a hitch. Ran into a nasty timezone issue between servers that I just couldn’t figure out. One image, two servers cloned from that image. When pulling the info from Python one reported UTC, the other Eastern. Tried a bunch of different ways to force Eastern, but eventually used this:
from datetime import datetime
from pytz import timezone
fmt = "%m/%d/%Y %I:%M:%S"
# Current time in UTC
now_utc = datetime.now(timezone('UTC'))
# Convert to US/Eastern time zone
now_eastern = now_utc.astimezone(timezone('US/Eastern'))
So yeah, that was a fun couple days trying to make sure our data wasn’t 4 hours off 🙂 Also, we might be getting hit by a Tropical Storm / Hurricane on Monday. Yay.
Onto the cool stuff! Maker Faire Orlando!
I am working on two projects for Maker Faire. The first is with Factur and FamiLAB. We are making the worlds LARGEST arcade cabinet! It is so awesome. I can’t wait for the electronics to come in so I can help wire it up. I’ll be posting more details as we get closer to the Faire!
The top panel was recently added on, but I couldn’t get a good picture of it because it is about an inch from touching the ceiling of the warehouse, and I just couldn’t get a good angle on it. This thing is massive! It’s a beast!
My personal project is a new modular arcade cabinet.
This is a 3 piece cabinet that breaks down into sections for easy movement, transporation, and customization. My main requirement was that it had to fit in my PT Cruiser, everything from there was negotiable. This is what it looks like so far:
1/3 Model. Cat for Scale.
Team working the ShopBot CNC Machine.
3D Printed a Bulbasaur using glow in the dark filament!
Sorry for not posting last weekend. I needed a break. I have been super swamped these past two weeks. Fall semester begins on Monday, and for some reason, this feels like a weird one. Something is in the air. My team is launching a new app for teachers and students. It’s coming out of pilot phase after a year. I’m so excited and nervous!
Of course things didn’t roll out as they were supposed to. Network errors, department ticket freezes, ubuntu issues…everything but the software has been blowing up around me. Though this means on Monday, everything will work A-Ok!. If everything went smoothly, I would really be worried 😀
Next week, once I hopefully have some time to breathe, I will have some big things to post about.
Have a great weekend, and a great start of classes to my fellow friends in Academia!