I need to start out by saying that I’ve been inspired to do all this by some great guys in the Charlotte area and they are Dan Thyer, Mike Linnen, and Jay Ziobrowski… thanks for the motivation guys! I am either copying something creative I’ve seen them do or trying to imitate their passion, talent, and drive for Halloween and/or IOT projects. One day I hope to be as sharp and creative as they are.
Halloween & IOT
In 2016 I made a flame throwing pumpkin (copy-catting one of Dan’s inventions) and let’s just say some of the parents weren’t too keen on fire being near their kids and I also didn’t make any fans on the community’s HOA! Though, we all must start somewhere. In 2017 I went the safer route and made the AirGhost which is very similar to this year’s project.
The IOT Clown
This year I have created an IOT Clown. I did some testing and iterating on various ideas and concepts and there’s just no way to get around it… the thrust of compressed air brings a startling surprise and the best part is that it’s safe. We have tons of young kids in our neighborhood and moving a skeleton bone (which I debated in this early prototype) could likely hit someone, cause a toddler to fall, or trip someone up which could potentially lead to a spill on the concrete sidewalk. I don’t want to injure anyone or have some local parents mad at me, so I reverted to the compressed air, but then added a few more movements and changed the medium from a ghost to a clown.
Here’s a quick video of the end-product prototype just to show you where we’re heading… I’m going to dress it up a little more by Halloween, but you’ll get the gist.
Here are the main components I’m using for this project:
Here’s a video “talk-through” of the mechanical parts and power supplies being used.
Let’s Talk About Particle
The Particle platform is awesome! Check out this video of the Particle platform to learn more. I am admittedly a little bit behind all of Particle’s new innovations. I still need to learn about their Mesh and Argon solutions. Even though I’m not 100% up to speed I know you can do tons of creative stuff with the particle platform, their multiple IOT devices, and their integrated IDE. Since I’m using the Particle photon, we’ll start with it.
The Particle photon is a small IOT (internet of things) device that makes it easy to bring real world objects online. Particle makes it easy to setup the device and to connect to Wifi via a mobile app. If you want to know more about initially connecting and getting up and running with Particle they have some of the best documentation I’ve seen check out the doc, tutorials, and guides.
For this project all I really want to do is to move 3 servos… one for the head to spin, one for the head to roll, and one to push the handle on the air compressor. To do that we need to use the components I listed above + Particle’s platform + some code. I’ve listed out the components and just introduced the photon… now let’s look at some code.
Let’s Look at Some Code!
Particle’s platform is awesome, but we need some code to make things happen! I could easily copy and paste code here, but that wouldn’t help you understand the “why” and “how” behind some of the concepts. I hope to help you connect some dots here and as such I’ve cut a video walking through how I’m doing some of this stuff. The video shows code and includes videos of the device in action.
To all you senior devs… yes, the code shown in the video could be much better. I have not refactored anything yet, so the code is not nearly as efficient as it could be. And yes, I showed my handy Particle access token in the video… no worries though, by the time you read this I’ve already recycled it and created a new one.
Here are some relevant links:
So, with some disclaimers down and links shared let’s talk through the code some…
If you take the sum of all the info presented here that is how I’m making this happen!
And We Wait on Halloween!
Halloween is just about a week away at this point. If you have any questions or issues filling the gaps in this high-level tutorial, please reach out and ask your question. I plan on trying to video some of the fun at Halloween and posting any interesting reactions here just below this section… so stay tuned!
The Halloween Video
Check out some of the reactions we got from kids and a few adults!
As an open source enthusiast and a .NET developer I’ve been watching the transformation of Microsoft happen and it has been great to watch. You see I’m an avid user of DotNetNuke and if you know anything about DNN’s history you know that DNN was one of the earliest, if not the earliest, open source project in the .NET Ecosystem. From 2003 on DNN has been a pioneer in the .NET open source world.
A lot has happened and several trends have come and gone in the Microsoft world since 2003. As an open source project built on Microsoft technology the notion of being open source wasn’t always a popular conversation topic. Being open source wasn’t “cool” and sometimes negative perceptions about open source solutions were visible.
Boy have times changed!
Microsoft is Serious About Open Source… and It’s Not Just Lip Service
One of my college football coaches always said “Your words don’t mean anything, but your actions mean everything.” Actions are a really good sign of what someone really believes.
Microsoft’s strategic shift to embracing and focusing on open source over the past few years has been such a refreshing transition to see, feel, and experience for me and my fellow DNN’ers because of the actions we are seeing.
If we look at the recent and strategic moves Microsoft has made it’s easy to see that Microsoft is indeed serious about open source. If you aren’t convinced that Microsoft is serious about open source or if you are not keeping up, let’s look at some of the actions Microsoft has taken related to open source. And these are just the ones I have observed… I’m sure there is even more evidence out there.
Why It’s a Great Time to Be a .NET Developer
There has never been a better time to be a .NET Developer. Literally everything you need to get started building is online and free to use and even better it’s likely open source. Anybody, anywhere can download code, look at it, enhance it, modify it, and submit it back to the projects if desired. If you can dream it, you can build it and you may build an online team of users and contributors to assist you in the process. Microsoft is literally making it easy to build open source projects via the technologies and resources they are providing. They are removing roadblocks for developers and being 100% transparent.
Consider the following capabilities anybody, anywhere has...
I referenced one of my college football coaches earlier, but he wasn’t the only one to to impart wisdom during my athletic days. My high school coaches had more one-liners than anyone could remember. One line that stuck with me was “If you do the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.” Microsoft is not only doing the big things, but they are also doing the little things that continue to reinforce their seriousness about open source.
We are watching a culture and paradigm shift occur in real-time and it’s awesome. By going “all in” on open source Microsoft is not only winning the hearts of developers, but they are making it easy for developers to get started with their technologies! I think the strategic decision to embrace open source will have a big impact for Microsoft in the long term.
Last week I attended Microsoft’s Build Conference in Seattle. I was helping at the .NET Open Source booth which promoted the .NET Foundation and all things open source. The conference was very nice, and the energy level was high. I had conversations with a wide variety of people during the conference and it is obvious that Microsoft’s strategy of embracing open source is welcomed by developers.
During one of my discussions a gentleman told me that his organization uses open source software (OSS) and he wants to allow his developers to contribute to OSS, but he needed to be able to justify it to his corporate leadership. His organization is a large, global organization so he needed solid and clear reasoning for why contributing to OSS is something his company should support.
He asked me if I knew of any blogs or resources that could provide insight into this topic. I thought about it and while I’m sure there is info somewhere, I wasn’t aware of any specific blogs or content about this subject. I am obviously biased about this topic, but let’s consider some reasons why a business should support OSS… especially if their organization is using OSS-based products.
Before we list out reasons we should first define what “support” means. When business people hear the term “support” they generally think about money, cost, or financial implications. Though, in the open source world it’s not necessarily about money as support can come in many different forms. Of course, the obvious need for any OSS project is code contribution, but there are more ways to contribute than one may initially think. As examples outside of the code, organizations could allow their developers to assist in marketing and promotions of sub-projects, conferences, user groups, GitHub repos, project documentation etc. Developers could also volunteer in any area of the OSS project as well as exchange knowledge online via forums, blogs, StackOverflow, and others. Organizations could also open up their offices for user group meetings, donate swag & door prizes, or sponsor the food at meetings. Any step taken to help move the the OSS project forward is a form of support.
Now that we know that support can come in forms outside of financial contributions let’s get back to the subject. If you are faced with the need to justify supporting open source software to your business leadership here are some thoughts and ideas to consider:
In this blog I’ve summarized my thoughts around why it’s important for organizations to give back, be active in, and support OSS projects and communities. As one considers justifying OSS participation to the business side of an organization much of the conversation will center around educating the business-side on how OSS ecosystems function. Communicating the potential positive benefits will be what’s needed to help bring on a change in perspective or cultural shift within the organization.
In my mind there are only positives to gain from contributing to OSS projects. Your developers will learn more, be empowered, meet new developers of all ages and skillsets, and your organization will be more efficient, and will likely be viewed as a great organization to work for.
If you don’t want to jump in head first then just try this one small thing to get your feet wet - if your developers have “down time” then simply encourage them focus their energies and time to assisting with the OSS project in any area they choose and watch what happens to your company in the months ahead. Be sure to pay attention to job satisfaction levels, quality of incoming new hires, general passion for work, and the perception of your organization among developers in your space.
After all, have you noticed that OSS projects that thrive are the ones with active community support? Who doesn’t want the project they use to not thrive? From my perspective the benefits of contributing to open source software far outweigh the drawbacks of not contributing.
Well there was not too much going on this week as it was rainy and dreary outside and since we had no game. As I stated before this was our originally scheduled off week. Since it was raining outside a few days this week, I stayed in and messed around. The weather over here is very fickle. For those of you with a weak vocabulary, fickle means that it changes easily. It will be hot one day, then cold the next and rain can come and go at the drop of a hat. During the week I was on the net until my eyes crossed and then I watched some TV as well. This is when I noticed that the censorship here is not as tight as it is in the states. That is audio and visual censorship. It was similar in Finland as well. We still had practice this week and I lifted weights a time or two, but I was still sore from the game.
I squeezed in my first tennis match early in the week. I have never played tennis before and if I could keep it between the lines its pretty hard to return, but the keeping it between the lines part gives me some problems. I went and played with some friends and Ilija and his brother. When Ilija and his brother played it was like watching 2 professionals. They made me stand in there for a few hits and the balls were coming so fast I couldn't hardly see them, much less return them. Tennis is a big sport over here, but soccer seems to be #1 with hockey coming in at #2. Who knows where American football falls in that sequence. I also saw a rugby match this week as well.
This week they had a holiday on Thursday, I believe, so everyone was out in the street during the day and out on the town at night. During the day they have people just singing in the middle of town square to everyone. Its like a free concert if you like that kind of music. They seem to draw somewhat decent crowds. I went to the big mall here called the NK one day with some friends and also went in several other stores downtown. Lets just say that I will never be buying anything inside of the NK building. One of my friends here bought a T-shirt that that would equal a price of 40 dollars...just to give you an idea. Though there were some attractive females on the inside. On a side note...I don't think that I have my hours adjusted totally as I continue to stay up late and sleep in. This way I can talk to my friends on line from the states as well as manage my schedule here. The nights are starting to be lighter longer which makes it hard to adjust to.
On Friday night some of the guys went out downtown. We went to 2 different clubs/restaurants or whatever you want to call it. There was a woman in there taking pictures. I asked her what she was taking them for and so she informed me that there is a nightlife website for Stockholm and so I jumped in behind two girls while they were having their picture taken. I was laughing, but click here to see it. Then I was able to get Ilija away from all of the women long enough to get a picture with him. Check it out here. Yeah so maybe I should have shaved, but there wasn't anything worth me shaving for in there anyways...hahahaa.
So on Saturday since we didn't have a game we went to watch 2 teams in our league play. I also met another guy from my last years team in Finland at the game. We had planned to meet there and so it was good to see none other than Mr. Kasper Johanson and his woman at the game. He rode the boat over to hang out with his brother who lives in Stockholm so he just swung right over to the game and watched it with us. We watched the Stockholm Mean Machines vs Carlstad. Upon entering the game we got a free magazine that had half clothed women in it. Another thing you wouldn't see at home. Carlstad is the team that wore us out in the first week and Stockholm beat them 26 - 21. Stockholm capitalized on some big plays during the game and were able to hold on for the victory. There was some pad popping going on in that game too. During the game one player injured his inner thigh. So what did they do...he just laid down on the sideline, pulled his football pants down and the female trainer was their massaging his inner thigh. I mean he still had other clothing on, but it was just something that you would not have seen at home. At half time they had a punt, pass, kick contest, but I didn't enter though I would have won by a long shot. I was tempted though.
On another side note Arlanda beat the team from Moscow in the Eurobowl series. I'm trying to paint a picture here for you so you can see how the deck is stacked. The team I played for last year ( Turku Trojans ) beat Arlanda 10 - 0 two weeks ago. The following week we played Arlanda and lost 22 - 21. Turku lost to Moscow 42 - 0 on that same day and then Arlanda beats Moscow this weekend 17 - 7. So it seems that on any given day any team can be beat. Hopefully we'll get our act together and be able to compete.
Today is Sunday and my cousin David Patterson flew into Sweden. He just recently graduated and this was his first time in Europe and I was present when he sat foot in Scandinavia. On the way there and on the way back we saw some moose. We saw a total of 3. One of the guys, " Diesel " as known by females all over Stockholm, was with us and he said that its not that frequent that you see something like that. He said that he's seen maybe 3 or 4 in his whole life. So as you can see whenever you have more than one Patterson at the same place anything magical can happen. Who knows what will happen downtown this week. We had some girls at McDonald's giggling already. I think they notice that you're not from Europe when they see you with baggy pants on. That's pretty much the tip because baggy is not the style here. We will try to get some good pictures while David is here and post them on the site next week.
Now we are preparing to play against the Solna Chiefs. We need to have a good week of practice because its time that we get a W. Hope all is well for all of you.
Well this week was our off week for the season. This didn't bother me that bad because obviously it was like a week off. We only had practice one day so that was ok. We did the normal lift weights and sit in the sauna Mon-Wed. Wednesday night we went to a club and saw Miss Finland from last year and yes she was fine standing about eye level to me. However, I wasn't going to let her think that she was good enough for me to talk to or something. She was being harassed enough as it was, but then again..she was fine. I almost witnessed my first Finnish street fight as well. Some drunks where harassing a man at his hamburger stand and he did shove the guy and they were about to get into it, but then the cops came and arrested the drunk man before any dukes were officially thrown.
On Thursday afternoon we left for a town called Pori, which is where my head coach lives. In Finland they have a festival in the summer that is basically called "midnight summer" or something to that effect. Its the day with the longest amount of sunlight and marks the middle of the summer. They say it is tradition to go to people's summer cottages/cabins and celebrate. So on Thursday evening we went to the golf course where they were having a tournament that my coach played in. I don't think he won, but he did beat JP so its all good. After that on Friday we went to the cabin. We had to ride about 20 minutes or so and we were deep in the woods sitting right on the baltic ocean. Now this ocean is not like the ocean that we have at home. I didn't see a beach, but this may have been due to my location. I do know that our water never gets that cold though, specially in the summer. I think they must feed their mosquitos protein powder or something because they are big and they are plentiful. It was a job to keep them off of you, but we did have some OFF with us and a grill going and some candles and things so the combination of smoke and off helped keep them down. And yes, the cabine did have a suana in it. This one was a wood suana though which is a little bit different than an electric suana. They say it is tradition to sit in the suana and then go run and jump in the ocean. Now before I came here one of my friends,(PGA Champion) Paul Tucker gave me some advice. He said "no matter what they tell you, don't jump in the Baltic Ocean". Well sorry Paul, I had to go against his advice and jump into the ocean with the rest of the guys. We sat in the suana for so long that when we came out we were steaming like we were on fire, then we jumped in the ocean and it still took my breathe. I could only stand to be in there for like 25 seconds then I had to get out and go directly back into the suana. What had seemed to be so hot, now seemed nothing. They also brought some leaves in off of this certain type of tree and put them on the rocks of the suana. These leaves gave off a fragrance that opened up your sinuses and smelled like aroma therapy or something. It was pretty neat.
I did go fishing on the Baltic ocean though I didn't catch any fish. This could have been due to several factors. My fishing guide was slack and claimed to know where the fish were. Instead of finding fish, I found water all over my back from the wakes of the waves. I didn't have my own rod and reel, which we all know is crucial and I couldn't feel my fingers for the second half of the trip in the boat. Not to mention that this wasn't one of my frequent fishing holes.
We did get to eat some different things while we were there too. We ate perch, salmon, and heron or something like that and some of these were raw. I had trouble getting some of these raw fish down, but I did try them. You can see the pics for better explanation. We grilled out and ate hot dogs, sausages and everything. The people were all nice and we were always outside doing something or listening to music. There must have been about 15 people in all. Mainly everyone was chilling and relaxing. We did play spades and representing the USA, Marlon and I did win 20 euros off of some Finnish patrons. We were also taught about our government and all of the political issues at hand. After a long day on the ocean here's what JP had to say about one topic Click . I never knew that we, the USA, are wrong in everything that we do, but I was informed of it all day long. Nah, just joking we had a good time though we were outnumbered.
Trying to get to sleep was another battle in itself. Marlon and I both slept with cans of off in our hands, but still suffered bites from these cornfed mosquitos. I tried to cover my body with the blanket , but this just made me hot...so you could see the dilemma. After overcoming the magnified snoring and afer the singing of 2 strangely dressed Finns we were able to sleep for a few hours. We stayed at the cabin for 2 nights.
This week we were supposed to have a game, but the team we were scheduled to play is competing in the Euro Bowl so that game took precedence over a regular league game thus giving us an open week. Each year whichever team wins the league championship in their country gets a bid to the Euro Bowl in the upcoming year. Well last year at Turku we won so this year they are playing in the Euro Bowl series. The leagues in different countries across Europe intertwine the regular season games with the Euro Bowl games so it can get confusing. Anyways...Turku played against the Arlanda Jets from Sweden and beat them 10 - 0 this past Saturday and now will be heading to Moscow, Russia to play in the next round. So congratulations again to my guys in Finland. Many of them called me after the game and it was good to speak with the guys again. I hope they can pull it off in Russia as well. Now our upcoming game for this week is against who...none other than the Arlanda Jets. Yes, it seems like a coincidence to me too, but who knows.
Since we didn't have a game I did a little sight seeing. Some of the guys here took me around to different places in Stockholm to see some sights. We went to the castle as you will see in the pics. It was a pretty big place that sat right by a lake and seemed to be on the outskirts of town I guess. They have guards that walk around in blue to " protect " the castle. They walk with a unique step I might add. The king has a nice sized yacht sitting out back beside the castle as well. I did not go in for the tour because I'm too cheap to pay money for that. The pictures will explain the castle better than my words so I will just let you view them here.
So as you can see the King is fit to throw a good party if he wants to. Somebody said something about a single princess around their somewhere, but that doesn't necessarily mean she's good enough to be Mrs. Patterson you know. So after we did MTV cribs at the king's house we went into town and checked out where he works. There were guards there too and we just happened to catch them when they were changing. If you care to view a small segment of that then click here . There is more to it than what that video shows, but I don't have enough space on my server to put it all up there. So that was pretty neat.
After this we went to the highest point in Stockholm, which has a good view of the city. I put a span view of the scene there online too, so click this if you want to see it. I can't make the resolution to high on these for storage sake as well. If you look at it you will see a theme park on the right hand side of it right when the clip starts. They have a drop zone that is higher than the one at Carowinds. Needless to say I will not be participating on that ride when we go there. From this view I got some pics as well. Check them out.
We saw some more things as well in the city, but none that I thought I should put on here (picture wise that is )...for example we went by the embassy. This was all early in the week. I still did the general weight lifting and practice stuff too so don't think I'm trying to slack. I did receive a very nice package in the mail this week too so thanks Karen for throwing the hook up and I do mean the hook up. We also had some fun @ McDonald's this week. Check out the European version of the double nodd . However the double nodd was unsuccessful in achieving anything. Speaking of McDonald's ... I went into a McDonald's and was looking around when I noticed that they serve beer. I was informed that its only " light beer " so its ok. hmm. I was thinking of suing because they didn't offer low carb beer with the meals, which aids in making consumers fat due to lack of beverage options, but I'm not sure if I'll pursue it or not yet. lol. Since we didn't have a game some of the guys went on Saturday and scouted some of the other teams in the league that were playing. It was a pretty good experience, but I saw some turf that I am not looking forward to playing on. Then on Sunday I went down with the juniors and watched them play a game in Nyköping Sweden. It wasn't a bad ride. We had a pimp bus driver that Rauge interviewed. Seems he was a guru of facts on Thailand so therefore he gets his picture on the page and also because he also gave us a ride to McDonald's after he dropped the team off.
I know I have said McDonald's like 70 times now, but you don't realize how many McDonald's there are over here. They have a monopoly. You can find a Burger every now and then.
Also I saw some of the weirdest referees ever...check out the pics
Last week I attended Microsoft’s Build Conference in Seattle. It was my first time attending so I was excited and didn’t know what to expect. It didn’t take long to realize that Microsoft puts on a top-notch event. From DJ’s playing music during the waiting line, to the constantly available live-stream piped everywhere throughout the event, to “cuddle-corner” where attendees could pet animals and relax, to the awesome expo, and non-stop new features and functionality being rolled out one could easily be impressed.
It was indeed a great event and I’d like to share a few things I learned from having attended the conference. These items will be more high-level and conceptual things I noticed versus down-in-the-weeds technology specific items.
As attendees listened to live-streamed sessions and keynotes the word cloud and “Azure” was prevalent throughout. I spent a lot of time in the expo hall of the event and I must have walked around it 6 or 7 times looking and booths and talking with Microsoft staff. Each booth has a navy-blue sign with white letters at the top indicating the technology being demonstrated at the booth. It was very eye-opening how many of the booths started with the word “Azure”. Sure, Azure has been out for a while now and that’s nothing new. I’m just communicating that walking around the expo and listening to sessions and keynotes it is crystal clear that Azure is a major component of many Microsoft technologies.
Take Home Point: If you are reading this and are hesitant to embrace Azure, you should re-think your position, or you’ll soon be left in the dust.
At the event Microsoft released “Sphere” which is a solution for creating highly-secure connected microcontrollers (IOT devices). And you guessed it… they connect to Azure! Many of the highly attended sessions and one of the most highly-trafficked booths all centered around Sphere.
As an IOT hobbyist I spent some time at the Sphere booth asking all kinds of questions about the Sphere Development Kits. I think the devices will be high-powered and offer a lot of functionality, but right now the price-point seems high in comparison to competitor solutions and the device that was being demo’d only connects to wi-fi currently. I imagine in the future they will connect to cellular via a SIM as well. One could argue that the increase in cost is the tradeoff for security as Microsoft touted how secure these devices are.
While micro-controller devices were being demo’d it’s important to note that Microsoft is not making the micro-controllers, rather they are working with established vendors in the industry to do so. Microsoft is collaborating in the design of the devices and helping align them with their IOT strategy for the future.
Take Home Point: Microsoft is continuing to invest in IOT, is linking devices to Azure, and is promoting the security of their IOT solution.
Another common thread throughout the event were the words “ML” and “AI”. You could hear this being presented in several sessions, keynotes, and there were booths discussing and demoing these topics as well…. and it makes sense. If your overall strategy is the cloud (Azure) and now IOT devices are easily connected to the cloud and sending tons of data to the cloud, then what will you do with all the data? The answer: you will learn from it and use it to make better decisions and become predictive.
An example demo showed a DJI drone flying over the top of a building looking at HVAC pipes analyzing them for inconsistencies or anomalies. Within seconds the drone was able to pick out the pipe that had the issue and show it to the audience in real-time. One can easily see the benefits of equipping the drone with AI capabilities.
But it doesn’t stop there… Microsoft is making it easy for developers to tie into their ML and AI capabilities in Azure. If you’ve got data stored in Azure, chances are leveraging the ML/AI capabilities offered to you by Microsoft could help your organization.
Take Home Point: Don’t write “ML” and “AI” off as just buzzwords. If you are using Azure then you may be surprised at how ML and AI can already help you. Give it a look!
One thing that also stuck out to me at the conference was the energy and level of enthusiasm of attendees and exhibitors. And I’m not just talking about Microsoft fan-boys. There were a lot of non-Microsoft developers at the event which was interesting and served as proof to me that Microsoft is on the right track strategically speaking.
As of late Microsoft has been heavily promoting open source and being open in general. From the open-sourcing of many of their .NET Technologies, to embracing non-Microsoft technologies (think running Linux in Azure) Microsoft is earning the respect of developers. But this stuff doesn’t just happen by luck. Microsoft has taken a different strategic stance and it is paying off… you could easily “feel” it while at the conference.
Take Home Point: This ain’t your granddaddy’s Microsoft!
I’m glad I went to Microsoft Build. I’ve been to several conferences over the years (including South by Southwest) and Build was by far my favorite. Yes, the content was great, but the conference experience extended beyond the content of the sessions and was woven all throughout all touch points of the event.
Everything was well-planned, organized, and first class from what I could tell. The registration process went smoothly, swag was everywhere, food and drinks were easily available, “Flow” of the expo was easy and open, the venue was great, several hotels were close by, the new technologies and content was awesome, and the Microsoftees were friendly. I didn’t see any attendees who had issues connecting to the internet or complaining about the typical things you’d see at conferences. All the details seemed to have been handled.
After all, where else could you hear about the latest and greatest technologies, pet dogs/rabbits/miniature horses, get free massages, meet the leaders of Microsoft, and have bottomless refreshments and snacks all in the same room?
Take Home Point: If you haven’t been to Build, you should go. It’s a great event.