Sunday, November 9, 2014

Context and Cities

I just read a book, The Responsive City, by Stephen Goldsmith and Susan Crawford that I highly recommend.  First, it provides great case studies on how apps and analytics could transform city services and the relationship between city government and citizens. But the book is so much more.

In particular many of the case studies relate to what some folks are calling contextual computing(see for example, Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel.  To begin their foreword they provide a great Nicholas Negroponte quote, "Computing is not about computers any more.  It is about living."    They define five technologies as forming contextual computing: mobile devices, social media, big data, sensor and location based services.  More on the Age of Context  after I finish it, back to The Responsive City.

More broadly I think The Responsive City  is of general interest to anyone interested in understanding what is involved in introducing technology and building high tech systems. The principles noted are as timeless as those provided in Fred Brooks, Mythical Man Month. Some examples: (1) you not only introduce a system but change the process and empower employees, (2) management support is essential (3) user driven is key - test the apps in actual use (4) be mindful of privacy (5) work within the system but often with a small number of folks outside the system. I could go on but hopefully you get the idea and each is supported by several case studies.  Well worth the read for understanding city hall's side of smart cities and for understanding the general issues with introducing new technologies especially contextual systems.  This goes way beyond the Internet of Things or Cyber-Physical systems and the issues it addresses will greatly contribute to the success of such systems.  Highly recommended!

I have been away for awhile but hope to ramp up my posts as the year closes.  My goal is one per week until the end of the year.  Later!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Active STEM

This was my summer of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  First, with Matt Amoroso as my TA,  I taught six workshops at Stevens for their ECOES (Exploring Career Opportunities in Engineering and Science) program.  The workshops were three hours, half lecture and half workshop. Workshops were with raspberry pis, a breadboard and exercises.  The programming language was Python.  The high school students had variable experience in computer science, only about a quarter were active programmers.  Nonetheless the labs worked well with some tuning through the summer.  A later post will discuss some of these experiences.

We reprised this experience at r00tz, a spin off  workshop at DEF CON, with mostly grade school students.  The labs held up, especially the first few, and it was nice to see parents becoming absorbed too.

I am making the labs available on my new homepage,  I am adding resources and code to this site over the next few weeks and will keep you posted on the progress.  You are free to use any materials on the site with attribution and the promise that if you improve it you wil let me know so I can incorporate it in future versions.  Later!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Death and Bits

I have posted a few blogs on how to prepare your digital property for your demise.  This includes surveying the large ebook providers, commenting on Google's excellent and ground breaking policy and referring you to articles discussing the topic

Well another article surfaced today that discusses the topic and how friends and relatives potentially can be in trouble for taking possession of your friend or relatives bits.  Anne Flaherty does a great job in her article, much of the information is complimentary to what has been discussed in this blog.  So take a look at it now or bookmark it to return when you need it.  I hope that day is far away!

I will continually come back to this topic and hope you find the compendium of articles, knowledge and research useful.

Next blog on my summer of STEM with pointers to all the materials.  Later!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Of Course(s)

I have been teaching courses for an Executive Master's in Technology Management at the University of Pennsylvania, EMTM, since 2004.  This is the last year of the program and I decided to provide all my class notes on the web.  The class notes are for three courses: Software engineering, security and privacy in IT and human computer interaction. They can be found at my personal web site.  I hope you find it useful.

Some statistics from my involvement int he program: taught 26 trimesters involving 126, 3 hour lectures.

I hope you enjoy the material.  More posts soon, I have a backlog finally.  Later!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pi Eyed

Worked on a few kits this weekend from my kickstarter collection.  This one was PiRingo another flashing lights board.
  I am doing this a bit more earnestly since I am teaching a  summer STEM course for high school students on using python to do Internet of Things stuff using Raspberry Pis.
I am appreciating RPi.GPIO, although the lower case i, is a source of error, even though it is cute.
It i sonly 3 hours and I have to teach them the python logic to work the boards so it is going to be more tweaking the code.  Can do light sensing and temperature sensing (and of course the blinking lights) but should I even attempt anything mobile?  I would appreciate any suggestions and will post what I finally do.

Also stumbled across Ren'Py today, a "Visual Novel Engine."  It is strange enough to give it a look.  I will report on that and I owe you one on lua, I have been side tracked by a machine learning tool in lua, Torch7 and am trying to get my arms around it.  For all the apt-gets and brews in the world, some things are still just damn hard to install!

More soon.  I just soldered my first surface mount for a DocJava audio processing shield.    It is not pretty but I think it will work.  Later!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gone Fishing

This weekend I did a quick raspberry pi i/o kit, the fish dish from Pi Supply.  Not one of my best soldering jobs but it works.  It is a nice, elementary and cheap shield to test using the i/o ports of the raspberry pi.   The board has an elementary speaker, LEDs and a button.  The test program that a user submitted uses python and its RPi.GPIO library, very straightforward on the Raspberry Pi.  The kit is less than $15 and will be out soon.  Mine was delivered early since I supported the kickstarter that launched it.

One caution is that it seems that the latest NOOBS version of Raspberry Pi really needs more than a 4 gig SD card,  I advise 8 or 16 gig.  Now I am wondering whether python scripts or arduino sketches will be my i/o software of choice.  For most embedded projects the arduino will win due to its size and the final will be in C and not in sketches.

So when does one stay pat with the programming languages they know?  Well I am 62 and still want to learn new languages!  I am wondering whether Dart should be next.  Any opinions?  Later!