Archive for August, 2012

Arduino on Mountain Lion

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

In my “spare” time (hah!), I hack on Arduino a bit. Mostly because there are tons and tons of 3rd party libraries that make hacking up a hardware solution mostly a bit of soldering followed by gluing together some pre-made software bits. The Arduino IDE is Java based and… well… not terribly awesome (to be fair — it isn’t awful, just quite lacking beyond the basics).

With the release of Mountain Lion, most Arduino installations were broken. Fortunately, this can be fixed by grabbing the latest bits from here and there.

  • Grab the latest Arduino.app for Mac OS X
  • Run it and it’ll insist on installing the latest Java VM. Do so.
  • If you use Teensyduino, grab the latest installer and install it. If Mac OS X (rightly) complains that the software is from an unidentified source and can’t be opened, you can ctrl-click on the installer, select “open” and it will present the option to bypass the security check. Do so, but not without a bit of misgivings.
  • Install the latest FTDI driver.
  • If all went well, you should see the device show up in /dev/ as something like /dev/tty.usbmodem12341.

    Amazon: Playing with an iPad

    Saturday, August 4th, 2012
    Playing with an iPad

    We spent a week at the end of June on the Amazon River in Peru with International Expeditions. Fantastic trip, more on that in a later post.

    One afternoon, we visited a village — Nueva York — along the Amazon. We spent some time with the children of the village, learning a bit of spanish and teaching them a bit of english (Head! Shoulders! Knees and Toes! Knees And Toes!).

    Fun with Photobooth

    One of our guides asked me to show the kids my iPad as they had never seen anything like it before. It took a moment, but they were enthralled. The big hits were Photo Booth and a simple finger painting app.

    It was quite gratifying to see the kids take to the iPad and start using the apps so naturally. They quite quickly learned how to change and control the effects in Photo Booth. Including taking their own pictures, as seen at the right.

    Of this wonderful experience — the kids were fantastically good natured and the adults were warm / welcoming — there were two standout events that I shall relay, one purely cultural and the other just flat out cute.

    When I first launched Photo Booth and showed it to one child, I was a bit surprised by the reaction. It was sort of, “Well, that’s neat.. but.. meh, weird pictures of a person isn’t that interesting”. When I turned the iPad so his friend could see, the second kid’s reaction was the same, but the first child completely lit up with laughter as soon as the second kid’s face was on screen! Then the same happened when I rotated back to the first child.

    As it turns out, there are pretty much no mirrors anywhere outside of, maybe, a hand mirror or two. Children really don’t see themselves on a regular basis save for on the back of a digital camera in the hands of a tourist (we were encouraged to always show them any pictures we took). Thus, seeing “self” just wasn’t very interesting at all.

    Once I suspected this was the case, I saw this same behavior with pretty much every child who saw Photo Booth for the first time!

    The really cute event happened when I was showing a little girl — maybe 6 or 7 years old — the finger painting application. It took her a second, but she got into it and had quite a bit of fun making a smily face. I showed her that the color could change and then left the color picker (a little grid of color swaths) on the screen for her to pick.

    She thought about it for a moment.

    Then carefully tapped light blue.

    Then looked at the tip of her finger to make sure the color was picked up.

    Disappointed that her finger wasn’t blue, she tried again with yellow. Same thing.

    Then I showed her that the color really did change and she was happily drawing away again. Still, every new color required a finger tip inspection…

    Neat folks. I hope to visit again.