Catherine Holloway of kwartzlab coordinated a Verilog FPGA programming class on Saturday at the lab. I’ve always wanted to learn this stuff, occasionally driven by the limitations in I/O lines or speed that I’ve hit in some applications using Arduinos and the like. Altera, the FPGA chip maker, supported this class with free-no-pay instruction and in-class use of gear like this demo board (above). It was a great class and I’m looking forward to part two next weekend.
Big thanks to Catherine and to Mike Cardoso of Altera (who volunteered his time) for making it happen, and high-five to kwartzlab for hosting. A marginally-unreasonable number of shots follow…
Y’all know how I love to photograph photographers, and even more fun is to talk photography with them. And leveling up from there is to talk about how to create/extend a thing in our community that facilitates excellence/learning/sharing/collaboration around photography. I caught up with some friends Thursday night to talk about just such a catalyst.
Foto:RE is the invention of Mark Walton and Sean Puckett, with Jen King, Karl Griffiths-Fulton, and a raft of others pitching in. The group is at least a couple of years old now, with some successes under the belt and self-reflection in progress as they look to the future.
Hey, before you switch channels: Foto:RE is getting together on the Third Thursday of April in a TBD venue to review photos among whomever shows up. So get off your sofa, and bring one (1) print or digital instance of one of *your* photos and we’ll sit around and critique each other’s work. Expect respectful and constructive honesty there. Get your unconditional love where everyone does: mom. Goals are to improve your skills and iterate. And make friends. Follow @foto_re or me on twitter to catch details.
Professors Steve Quilley (above), Rob Gorbet, and Marcel O’Gorman, all of The University of Waterloo, have secured a small Metcalf Foundation grant to “study the impact of accessibility of ‘making’ technologies for ‘ordinary people’ on their sense of self(-worth) and their consumer practices”, as Rob described it. Rob reached out to me in January, looking to put together a maker advisory group, and I’m super-happy my offer to volunteer was accepted.
I’ve spent a good deal of effort over the past five years thinking about how to identify and lower the barriers to making for those whom I respectfully call “civilians”, beyond the hardcore maker community. In fact, my blogging and workshops and media work were born out of the necessity to tackle just these kinds of challenges. We had a great lunch and chat at Kismet on Tuesday to start banging around perspectives and ideas.
James Taylor sang “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain” and we sure saw lots of both on Sunday during our metal casting meetup at Gus’ place. In true Maker spirit we all just figured out how to make it work and it was a blast. It was my first metal cast and it provided many “wow” moments. (video shot by Natalie Silvanovich –thanks Nat!)
On the way home from the Rangers game this afternoon, Calder spotted an unbelievable snow… mountain from the expressway. That’s the only way I can describe it. Probably 3-4 stories high. Awesome opportunities like this immediately become top priority, so instead of going home, we prowled around back streets until we found it. He free climbed; I photographed and spotted.
Princess Street. This is Waterloo.
L to R – My Mom’s marbles, Lisa’s chalks, Lisa’s buttons
Back in September last year, I was approached by a product manager at work who was looking for some very specific type of photos to support the new Picture Password feature in BlackBerry 10.2.1. The feature allows you to unlock your phone (or “device”, as we say) with an overlay of randomized digits on top of a photo. You line up a pre-selected digit with a pre-selected area of the photo and, bam, device unlocks. So cool and resistant to shoulder-surfing. This fellow, J. Caloy, on YouTube has *the* best explanation.
The photos needed to: (a) be portrait orientation, (b) have numerous and evenly distributed points of interest, and (c) be somewhat interesting visually. Skimming through thousands of my photos, I discovered I had very few that (at least) met the first two criteria. I mostly shoot landscape and I often try to steer the viewer’s attention with very deliberate composition and DOF. All of which was incompatible with this gig. The TL;DR is I ended up getting four of my photos into BB10.2.1 software: the marbles, chalks, buttons, and shells. The photos above are not the photos that went in the product (all lawyers please re-read that last part), they’re just generally similar. They’re also intentionally low-res so don’t snag them for your phone because they’ll look sub-optimal.
Click through for more of the story and see some of the rejected photos…