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Education

Volunteer Bob Paulin Turns Kids on to Tech with Devoxx4Kids (Video) 10

Posted by Roblimo
from the it's-more-fun-to-make-the-game-than-to-play-the-game dept.
You can call Bob Paulin 'Coach' and he'll probably respond, because he's been coaching youth football since 2005. Now he's also coaching what you might call 'youth science and technology' as the Chicagoland organizer of Devoxx4Kids.org. A motto on the group's website says, 'Game programming, robotics, engineering for kids in a fun way!' And that's what the group is all about, as Bob says in this video (and in the accompanying transcript for those who prefer reading over watching).

Comment: Re:A spokesman for Uber said (Score 2) 251

by Roblimo (#49632909) Attached to: Uber Forced Out of Kansas

In Baltimore or DC you could have arranged for me or my buddy Charles to meet you at the airport in a clean stretch limo, complete with soft drinks and bottled water in the ice box, for about 20% more than a *legit* cab fare, and *less* than a jacked-up one. And we had maps and could find literally anything. Nowadays, of course, everyone has GPS. But there have always been small, squared-away local car services and limo companies. You just had to be smart enough to find them, maybe by using that Inter Net thing I keep hearing about. Or recommendations from friends or business associates. Our basic business model was to be just like your private chauffeur, except you only paid for us when you needed us, not all the time.

Most of our transport customers, after the firs year, were regulars. You could be on your way home after an exhausting flight, and know the driver who was picking you up well enough that you could go to sleep in the car. We knew where you lived, and were kind enough not to wake you until we had your luggage out of the trunk and (if applicable) got your wife/gf/bf to come wake you up with a kiss.

It's a service business. We succeeded by giving better service than our competition. And that red carpet we laid down all the time? Remnants we got for $2 each. Why didn't other transport companies do that? Got me. And on hourly charters, a rose for each lady -- or femme-ish gay.

We had all kinds of customers, which is what made the business fun.

If my eyes hadn't gotten shitty and if I still had any stamina, I'd go back in the limo biz. Still have the roblimo.com URL. :)

Comment: Re: skating on the edge of legal? (Score 1) 251

by Roblimo (#49632759) Attached to: Uber Forced Out of Kansas

"Shouldn't the existing laws be sufficient to shutdown uber?" They usually are, if anybody bothers to enforce them.

I jumped out of the cab into a "limo' that was a heavily-waxed Buick with "for hire" plates and commercial insurance. I sat on the Hyatt's parking apron and the doormen and concierges referred rides to me, and I gave them 10%. Totally legal. And over the next few months I built enough private trade that I didn't sit in front of the hotel very often, and not long after that I bought an old but low-mileage stretch -- and did well enough with it to buy a house trailer on a very nice lot in Elkridge, MD.

Uber isn't the first company that has taken on the cabs. How about Boston Coach? Or Carey Limo? Or.... hell, there's lots of them out there, all making a decent living. Uber just whines louder than the others, and is bilking investors in a big way instead of quietly running a transportation business.

Comment: Re: skating on the edge of legal? (Score 1) 251

by Roblimo (#49632635) Attached to: Uber Forced Out of Kansas

I had to get a background check and provide proof of commercial insurance to operate a limousine in Maryland. The insurance was not expensive due to my clean driving record and extensive experience as a cab & limo driver, and the background check was maybe $25, plus I had to supply 2 passport-sized photos for my passenger-carry license. BFD. Took me maybe a couple of hours, and once I was in business I did just fine.

I'm starting to think 'Uber' means 'crybaby' in the Shoshone Indian language.

AND - my friend Cate, who used to drive for Uber and Lyft at the same time, has now dropped Uber. 'They're just too flaky,' she says, and tells me just sticking with Lyft has made her life easier without cutting her income. Nicer customers, too, she says.

Robotics

Mark and Joel Make Autonomous Drones in Their Spare Time (Video) 16

Posted by Roblimo
from the when-a-drone-hits-your-eye-like-a-big-pizza-pie-that's-a-lawsuit dept.
Mark F. Brown and Joel Rozenweig build autonomous drones; that is, drones that don't need an operator every second. You tell the autonomous drone, "Pick up package # 941A at the loading dock and deliver it to 451 Bradbury St.' and off it goes. It's going to be a while yet before that happens, but one day....

Back in the present, dronemaking is still a hobby for Mark and Joel, something they do for fun after spending their workdays as software engineers at Intel. Joel says there is 'remarkably little' crossover between their jobs and their hobby, and that (so far) Intel has contributed little beyond some Edison modules (which you can buy for less than $50) and travel to the Embedded Linux Conference, where they gave a talk accompanied by these slides. NOTE: We have a little bonus for you today. We try to keep videos to 10 minutes or less, but we have no such constraints on transcript length. So if you want the 'full' version of this interview, please read the transcript.
Cellphones

Meet the Firmware Lead For Google's Project Ara Modular Smartphone (Video) 25

Posted by Roblimo
from the build-it-one-piece-at-a-time dept.
According to Wikipedia, 'Project Ara is the codename for an initiative that aims to develop an open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.' Google is the sponsor, and the project seems to be moving faster than some people expect it to. There's a Project Ara website, of course, a GitHub repository, a Facebook page, even an Ara subreddit. During his conversation with Timothy Lord, Ara firmware project lead (and spokesman) Marti Bolivar said it won't be long before prototype Ara modular phones start user testing. Meanwhile, if you want to see what Marti and his coworkers have been up to lately, besides this interview, you can read a transcription of his talk (including slides) from the January Project Ara Developers Conference in Singapore.

Comment: Re:Desert Bus for Hope (Score 2) 34

I've had problems logging in and sometimes can't post as other than AC even when logged it, too. Try emailing feedback@slashdot.org. That should bring your comment to the attention of people who can help. (I'm can't help because I'm an old retired guy now, and do a little work on Slashdot videos as a contractor.)

Comment: Re: And no one cares (Score 1) 34

If you don't want to watch Slashdot videos, don't. If you want the *information* in them, read the verbatim transcripts we include with almost every one. And if you don't like the info in our videos, Don't click on them.

  Believe it or not, many different people look at Slashdot every day. Some want to read about *BSD, some want science news. Some -- usually many thousands -- watch the videos, while 10 (on average) complain about them. I learned long ago that not every story on Slashdot is going to please everyone. Such is life.

AND if you think you can do better or more informative videos than we do, XLNT! Submit a video -- or maybe an idea for one, along with links to videos you've done elsewhere. We stay simple on purpose, because our job in these videos is to introduce you to the people in them, often with a "you are there" feel at conferences and shows where background noise is part of the environment. Remember that we are not looking for star wipes and such. We can do them as well as anyone else, but we know that just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you *should*.

Something that happened all the way back in 2000: We did a reader-generated questions interview with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. He'd been complaining that nobody was ever fair to him; that they edited his words to twist their meanings. So, being us, Timothy talked to Lars for hours because Lars said it would have to be verbal, that he wasn't going to do all that typing. So Timothy transcribed every word of that interview verbatim, including every "uh" and mumble and obscenity.

Lars was not thrilled to be quoted verbatim even though that's what he said he wanted. But that interview gave Slashdot people a better sense of who Lars was as a person than all the laundered interviews in the world.

So we do video interviews with people a Slashdot editor considers interesting, often after a reader suggests interviewing that person (and includes contact information). Or they're people Timothy meets at conferences and trade shows. Some interviewees are making major contributions in one field or another. Some think they are, but aren't. Some are well-known. Some aren't - - but should be. And some live in obscurity and should stay there.

It's a mixed bag. I say again: if you want to suggest video interview subjects *or* want to be interviewed yourself *or* do an interview, let's go!

- Rob

PS - Slashdot has always done a little original content, and for many years was associated with original content sites NewsForge and Linux.com. If you dip into the pool of internet content every day, shouldn't you be obliged to add to it? :)

Games

How and Why the U-Pick Game Marathon Raises Money With Non-Stop Gaming (Video) 34

Posted by timothy
from the don't-tase-me-bro-it's-only-a-game dept.
On June 12 through 14th of this year, the fourth (not "fourth annual," but close) iteration of the U-Pick Video Game Marathon for Charity --“UPickVG IV” for short --will be streaming on an Internet connection near you. The U-Pick crew's volunteers will be playing and broadcasting video games, non-stop, as a fundraiser for Charity Water, a cause they've supported since the beginning. I talked with organizers Stephanie and Grant Kibler from their video-game lounge of a living room about what it takes to broadcast an online gathering like this, and why they've adopted this as an annual event. Hint: some esoteric video-capture hardware helps, and so does a beefy network connection, for high-quality streaming of games that pre-date today's multiplayer, network-oriented options. That's significant, because U-Pick's stable of titles isn't limited to modern ones, and observers are encouraged to suggest appropriate games (hence "U-Pick").The remote viewers' choices and donations influence the event by deciding which games are represented on the Wheel of Destiny that the team spins to decide which games get played.The play itself, though,*is* limited to the players who'll be on hand at a Northern Virginia co-working space that will serve as this year's venue. It turns out to be easier to stream the output of old consoles than it is to control them from remote (never mind the latency that would mean), but maybe one day participants will be able to play as well as shoulder-surf and laugh at the players' running commentary. You can check out the Upick page on Facebook, too, and watch one of their practice runs each Sunday. (Note: Video #1 talks mostly about the game play and how you can join. Video #2 - below - talks more about hardware and behind-the-scenes work.)
Robotics

Learn About FIRST's New Embedded Linux Controller (Video) 26

Posted by Roblimo
from the rocking-and-socking-more-powerfully-than-ever dept.
Our interviewee today is Mike Anderson, an adviser to FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Team 116 at Herndon High School in Virginia. He's here to tell us about the new embedded Linux controller FIRST is using this year. It is apparently a bit short of documentation at this stage, so team 116 and others have been posting what they learn at Chief Delphi, which is 'the' FIRST online discussion forum (and fun to read to keep up with all things FIRST). We've talked about FIRST before. We've taken you to FIRST competitions, and looked behind the scenes at the building of a FIRST robot, and will no doubt keep covering a selection of FIRST activities in the future.
Robotics

John Hawley Talks About UAV Controls (Video) 20

Posted by Roblimo
from the monocopter-bicopter-tricopter-quadcopter dept.
John 'Warthog9' Hawley was the boss sysadmin on kernel.org before he jumped to Intel in April, 2014, as an open hardware technical evangelist. He last showed up on Slashdot in June, 2014, with his Dr. Who-inspired Robot K-9. Now he's talking about flight computers for quadcopters, specifically ones based on MinnowBoards. Last month (April 2015) he was speaking at the Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit. That's where he and Timothy Lord had this conversation about flight controllers for UAVs, which makes it a fitting sequel to yesterday's video, which was also about controlling drones with real-time Linux.

Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it. -- Donald Knuth

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