testing to create wordpress templates

January 16, 2016

AES 2016 Spring Raspberry Pi Club

Filed under: Raspberry Pi — clintcarlson @ 1:11 am
Pi

We start with this. A computer the size of a credit card.

The AES 2016 Raspberry Pi Club starts January 20, 2016 and I’m very excited to lead this group of (mostly) Middle Schoolers who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of:

  • How computers actually work
  • Linux
  • Command Line Interfaces
  • Python coding
  • Hardware vs. software
  • Artificial Intelligence

We kick off next week and I’ll be blogging under Category /raspberry-pi as we go, documenting our progress, mistakes made, lessons learned. These blog posts will serve as a record of learning that concludes with our own AES Raspberry Jam where all members of the club will show off their individual Pi creations.

Agenda

As a group, we’ll modify as we go so we are doing what is best for the club, but here’s a plan:

Getting Started

Week 1 – Understand your Pi

  • Identify processor, storage, and input/outputs
  • Plug-in components (video, keyboard, mouse, network, SD Card, Power)
  • Load Debian Linux and Raspian GUI

Section 1 – Turing Test

Week 2 – How do computers “think”?

  • All students will create a simple program in Python.

Week 3 – Can computers think for themselves?

  • All students will watch a chatbot and discuss how this works
  • All students will program in Python print statements to quickly understand training programs to provide output

Week 4 – Make a chatting robot

  • Our robots will chat out text that has been programmed

Section 2 – Hardware programming

Week 5 – Making a light blink based on your decisions

Week 6 – Detecting motion and sending alerts when something has entered a room

Section 3 – Student Led Raspberry Jam

Week 7 – So… what do you want to do with this?

Each student pitches an idea for their Pi. We will discuss how to go about it and expand on the idea. There will likely be an open week for members of the club to work on their project and come in for troubleshooting/feedback.

Week 8 – AES Raspberry Jam v1.0

  • Everyone shows off what they have created and how it was done!

Raspberry Pi

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November 23, 2015

Macros to Automate PowerSchool Gradebook

Filed under: Automation — clintcarlson @ 11:07 am

Macros are unknown to most and taken for granted by power users. In this video, I show an example of how I was able to automate assignments and connections to grading standards within PowerSchool’s Gradebook to ensure quality control and speed to set up for 50 Elementary School teachers.

A macro is a script of commands set to run in a select order. A way of programming a series of front end processes if you will.

The Challenge

PowerSchool in our Elementary School had a few factors to consider:

  • ES Teachers had never used PowerSchool or GradeBook before
  • Gradebook is a Java application which doesn’t have tabbed targeting programmed correctly
  • Every teacher needed identical final assignments for 7 courses created quickly for each class. Some teachers having 10+ classes
  • PowerSchool doesn’t allow for these assignments or standards to be “pushed” from an admin
  • Each course had 2-5 standards each in which to grade from
  • A specific end date for reporting needed to be included

All of this had to happen exactly the same for 50 teachers. Any typos or a forgotten step by anyone and grades would not appear on the report card. A potential worse case – if the standards were selected incorrectly, grades in one area might appear for another.

The Solution… Macros!

As these 100s of steps were the same for every teacher, I wanted to program a macro that in 5 seconds would run the exact process needed for each course. This would eliminate the training meetings, review cycles, typo fixes, misselections, date errors, etc. that come from expecting 50 very busy people being introduced to new software to complete perfectly 20-2000 times.

First solution and failure – Automator

I immediately expected to run the entire system using the OSX macro default, Automator. It started great until I found that GradeBook was missing the functionality to tab navigate around the software, you MUST use a mouse. Not only is this a very poor user experience, but Automator doesn’t support mouse coordinates.

A stronger solution – QuicKeys

A little more research and demoing and I found an amazing little program, QuicKeys which operates much like Automator but also will record X,Y coordinates of a mouse clicking.

I built out a series of QuicKeys scripts that could be run in 30 seconds for each teacher providing the exact same setup throughout all GradeBooks. This allowed the technical limitations to get out of the way and let teachers focus on grading, comments and get back to the learning.

Check out the video walkthrough I created showing the process:

November 22, 2015

Major success using Instagram to collaborate the fun for #AESRickshawRally 2015!

Filed under: Activities — clintcarlson @ 3:26 am

One of my favorite days of the year, the AES Rickshaw Rally took place yesterday. The 3rd annual event staring American Embassy School teams was the best yet! For weeks, myself, Kate, Maureen and Allie crafted clues, maps, scoring and NGOs into a day of silly competition “Amazing Race” style.

Teams of 2, dressed in costumes for their team names raced all over New Delhi solving puzzles, taking selfies and learning about the city they live in. This year we printed large cutouts of our school Director, Paul Chmelik, so he could be in the 1200 photos taken.

Shared on Instagram by #aesrickshawrally and with a hashtag to group by team, the entire day was photographed from many perspectives! Using Instagram this allowed for everyone to share their stories in real time and let our judges score teams while the events were going on.

To learn more or donate to the NGO’s we supported yesterday, visit:https://www.hopefoundation.org.in/ and http://vsaindia.org/

October 18, 2015

Drawdio – Now Everything is an Instrument

Filed under: Soldering — clintcarlson @ 9:02 am

Here are some action shots of my soldering the Drawdio project.

Base components

First resisters soldered

All but the battery

Speaker install

Final product in action:

October 17, 2015

Raspberry Pi with a side of Chocolate Doom

Filed under: Raspberry Pi — clintcarlson @ 1:19 am

One of the first projects I’ve tackled once I had a stable hardware and software build on my Raspberry Pi was installing the classic DOS game Doom. I thought it would be fun to loosely document the process.

Downloading Chocolate Doom engine, untarballing and making the build.

Downloading and unpacking doom1.wad (game data)

Test launch

Much success!

October 6, 2015

American Embassy School website launch

Filed under: Wordpress — clintcarlson @ 10:46 am

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 9.35.18 PMPhase 1 of my American Embassy Technology Vision roadmap for the year has launched. Aes.ac.in and my.aes.ac.in have been born from a split of public and internal web information.

Aes.ac.in operates now as the public facing site for the school. Focusing on main areas of interest for the public, potential students and employment.

My.aes.ac.in – the internal facing site. At the moment this houses all internal information much like a traditional website, but this is just the foundation.

Later, my.aes will evolve into a custom home page for every member of the AES community which will aggregate specific information relevant to each student of the school. Parent’s will have instant access to the real-time learning going in the classroom. This lends to the larger, cultural shift we are striving for that puts emphasis on learning over grades.

April 25, 2015

Using data to create informative, interactive maps

Spent this afternoon digging into how to generate maps based on structured data. Using CartoDB, I was able to generate this map which shows blues musician birthplaces along Highway 61.

CartoDB not only allowed for simple SQL programming to plot the birthplaces, but I also was able to color code distances from Highway 61. An excellent user interface results that allows you to see how many blues musicians were born in the area, how close to Highway 61 they were born and quickly reference the artists by distance.

https://clintcarlson.cartodb.com/viz/3ffd0652-eb25-11e4-84a9-0e6e1df11cbf/embed_map

December 15, 2014

Very Special Arts India

Filed under: Volunteer, Web Development, Wordpress — clintcarlson @ 2:05 am

While in New Delhi, India working for the World Health Organization, I also have been working on the side with many NGOs. One if which is Very Special Arts India who works with the disabled, underprivileged young population of India.

Very Special Arts IndiaThe campus is incredible and the work being done with so many who live outside of the normal means of education is mind-blowing. While I’ve run many fundraisers and projects through their organization to raise awareness, what they really needed was a proper website to communicate what VSAI is working on, what events they have coming up, and to allow for online donations.

Well today is the day. VSAIndia.org has launched. There is still work to do as far as updating some images, re-writing bits of content, etc. but the tools are in place. Built on open-source WordPress.org, employees at VSAI are able to update the site themselves with upcoming projects, photo galleries and more.

Very Special Arts India

October 11, 2014

The dangers of “free” internet

Filed under: Net Neutrality, Open Internet — clintcarlson @ 2:05 am
Disclaimer: These views are of course sole my personal views on the subject. To be fair, many of the plans I’ll write about here of internet.org aren’t firm. In fact, I was unable to get anyone to answer the question of “what is internet.org’s 5 year plan?” This doesn’t mean there isn’t a plan (there must be), but no one seemed comfortable making a formal statement.
What Facebook is working on here could be honest and thoughtful, bringing full internet access to the entire world down the road. The details and transparency and long term plans have not yet been communicated and until they are… this is a conversation that must happen.

Creation of the Free Wall

Internet.org was created by Facebook to find technology, partnerships and solutions in order to provide internet access to the 2/3 of the world population without. This is a great plan in theory, but of course anything that has to do with that many humans, countries, governments and companies is never that clear cut.

The current plan is to provide free phones, with pre-loaded apps, to much of the world without access. The access problems are primarily financial. Humans living on $2USD a month are far, far from getting a mobile device and even further from having a data plan to pay for every month.

On this free phone will come a Internet.org application. This app provides what I am calling a “free wall”. Any content you access via this app will have no data charges attached to it. From the users perspective, this information is 100% free. The electricity to charge these devices also comes with a cost, but that is outside of this conversation (though that will be yet another issue to work out).

Owners of the Free Wall

The question of who decides what free information is on this application is the source of a steep conversation, which I’m hoping to begin here. Providing the internet access to these phones will primarily come from the telecommunication providers in country. These companies are not in the business of giving away free data, so deals must be struck to allow some data to be free.

There are options in progress regarding drones, satellite and other providers that can source data access outside of the existing infrastructure. Again, deals will need to be made to bankroll these projects and we come back to the same issue. In an internet ecosystem were much of the world agrees that internet access should be a human right and the information is flat… who decides what information on these devices is free, and which is not?

If this system sounds similar to the Net Neutrality conversations going on in America, well they are similar. I would argue that there is even more to loose in these developing areas of the world who

  1. Have no option to pay for more internet access
  2. Are getting internet for the first time and will be ignorant of the vast information that is accessible to everyone on the other side of the free wall.

While there are plenty of good arguments for; at it’s core this plan is anti-internet, anti-information, and frankly anti-Facebook who lives by the theory that everyone has a story to tell and we should opening be giving that content away to Facebook to distribute.

The Dangers of Free Wall

By creating the Free Wall, a system is in place for a select few individuals and companies to dictate who gets what content. All of this can be done under the excuse of “well… they can pay for the rest of the internet if they want”, but, as I’ve explained earlier, this is obviously not an option for the vast majority of those receiving these devices.

Hypothetical Short Term Effects of the Free Wall

Interests of the businesses owning the pipes

If the data providers are now the gatekeepers of who gets what information, it is not a stretch to see a future where millions of data-free internet users won’t find news on alternative politics, ads for internet service providers, e-commerce solutions that aren’t in partnership with the providers and/or internet.org.

In many of these countries where data providers are government run or supported, what is to stop an outside agenda from dictating what these millions of new users get to know? 

New business model of selling content by the piece and not by data size

By selling access to an individual video for 5 cents, yes, you allow users to pay a reasonable, small amount for a bit of information. This does solve the issue of “no one knows what a 3G 5GB/month plan means” but this also begins a restriction of freely discovering information on your own. If the Free Wall is the place promoting these microdata plans, how will anyone find un-vetted information outside of the wall?

Health and emergency information

In event of a health or disaster crisis, rather than an open internet providing a huge array of information to search and choose from, those behind the Free Wall will only know what they are being allowed to know. Relying on a vetted, private group to get information to these people takes time, resources and a commitment. Obviously having a totally open pipe to Twitter can save lives when every second counts during chaos. I have no yet seen anything from internet.org’s infancy that says that ALL information will be available, even during exceptional times. Again, we are depending on a partnership with commercial organizations to understand and commit.

A change in how content is created

If there is now an obvious line where some content reaches all and some content reaches some, we will now see a change in content itself as writers, film makers, bloggers, etc. will change how they communicate in efforts for readership. This puts everyone in a position to alter how he or she communicates. At first this will be intentional, but shortly this will be a subconscious effort. This effects everyone even if the plight of poverty in Asia is far outside of your day to day world.

Watering down of culture

In countries such as India where cultures, dialects, foods, etc. change every 100 km; delivering content that is relevant and true to everyone is a huge task. An open internet solves this by providing flat information where everyone can publish and everyone can find publications. There is no reason to believe at this time that this access will be provided within the Free Wall.

Who else is asking questions about the Free Wall?

I’m looking… and feeling like the conspiracy nut in the room, no one else seems to be having this conversation. At the recent internet.org summit in New Delhi, India; time and time again I would raise a version of these issues to the panels only to get 3 types of answers.

  1. Let’s worry about that later – was the cut off comment I received from Facebook who then diverted the conversation away so the panel wouldn’t have to have the conversation. (My question: “What are you going to do as content creators if you aren’t included on the application and can’t reach these millions of new users?”) Very concerning as once this foundation is laid down and partnerships made, the cat is out of the bag.
  2. I’m not interested in talking about that – Many at the summit where there to work on their business model of how to capitalize on this new flood of customers. They either didn’t think any of this would be a problem, or more likely, they didn’t want to get on the wrong foot with internet.org and facebook from the start as everyone wants to be the populated side of the wall
  3. I didn’t think of that – Thankfully… I wasn’t the conspiracy nut in the room, just the only one thinking about it. I had dozens of organizations and NGOs approach me after I raised my concerns. Turns out that there are so many good intentions of getting essential services to these developing parts of the world that the tunnel vision is inevitable.

This is happening. What do?

Bluntly, I’m very concerned about these millions of digital immigrants being sold out before they even know how important they are.

I’m also afraid that this issue simply won’t be seen as a priority and dismissed.

I get it. There are also so many other issues to deal with these parts of the world without internet access. Starvation, dehydration, health care, slavery, education… I am very aware that digital information can be seen as an ultra-low priority. Internet.org and I agree strongly that information access is a gateway to improving all areas of life.

Mark Zuckerberg gave the summit keynote about how exciting it is to be in a position of connecting the rest of the world. Being connected provides a path to solving many other problems. Finding out what to do when an earthquake strikes. Communicating with your family on how to sanitize water. Mark is right; nearly every issue can be given a boost towards solution with access to information.

2 days later, I was allowed to make a closing statement about how careful we must be to handle this responsibly. The critical difference here is that un-censored, flat access to an open internet has been and will be key to solving these problems in an organic, sustainable way. Knowledge is built on information.

The responsibility of what millions of humans know and have access to finding out is enormous and MUST be taken with the seriousness that it is. A project of connecting every last human on the planet to the gift of the internet cannot be overstated. The world gets smaller with each connection, we owe it to each other as humans to be aware and strive together to ensure this human right is provided as honestly as we can.

 


Hopefully these are just fresh ideas in my head and I just haven’t done research to find organizations and like-minded individuals who are passionate about this. I hope this isn’t the start of creating a whistleblowing-type foundation. If you know of an organization that is active in these types of concerns or would be interested, please be in touch. ClintCarlson@gmail.com

 

January 26, 2014

Google Apps for Business

Filed under: Google, Google Apps for Business — clintcarlson @ 5:54 am

Google AppsI recently setup Google Apps for Business for a client. I’ve done this in the past, but it seems that while a quick project, it’s worth adding to the portfolio of services offered.

“Google Apps is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps you and your team connect and get work done from anywhere on any device… allowing you to work smarter and focus on what really matters.”

The bulk of the work is light consultation and then server-side setups. Training can then be done on and off site at any clients convenience. As many organizations grow, it’s a great idea to have the world of Google integrated into their internal and external communication, collaboration and organizational tools.  This includes Gmail based email systems running the email servers for a company domain, group Google Calendars, shared documents with Google Drive and more.

It’s a great tool that when set up in a mindful ways for growth, can work for a company of any size to get to work without the worries of having to start from scratch in 3 months.

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