In Knowledge Work, Originality Is The 9th Form Of Waste, Getting Caught Borrowing Is The 10th

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Originality is frequently a form of waste in creative or knowledge work

When Knowledge Work and Lean Manufacturing Meet

I was recently reading up on Lean Manufacturing, a system of production efficiency which identifies 8  classes of “waste.” These wastes include:

  • Transporting things
  • Idle inventory
  • Unnecessary motion
  • Waiting for parts
  • Overproduction
  • Overprocessing
  • Defects
  • Underutilized skills

The ultimate goal of Lean Manufacturing is to eliminate these wastes to increase productivity. Any activity which does not produce value for an end customer is written off as “Muda,” the Japanese term for the same.

These types of wastes make sense in a physical manufacturing operation, I started thinking about how reducing waste applies to “knowledge work.” In Knowledge Work the objective is to turn raw data into insight which helps drive intelligent business activity. A close relative is Creative Work, which seeks to entertain, convince or perhaps provoke through the use of artwork.

A stack of survey can be processed into a marketing plan or feature for a product. A museum of classical paintings can be interpreted into a new form of graffiti. In these ways and more, knowledge and creative workers process data into results. [Read more…]

Build Your Own Hacklebox

IMG_0911In the last two years I supported something like 50-60 hackathons and developer workshops. Many of these were hardware focused.

It became abundantly clear that students can’t do much with just a device – they need soldering irons, pin wire, breadboards, tape, scissors and all manner of other supplies in order to actually build something. These items are not always present at many events.

Thus the idea of a rolling hacklebox was born.

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We (Intel Mashery DEVO, at the time) gathered some feedback, observed the common types of projects that get built and distilled it into this Google spreadsheet. Feel free to use this to build your own rolling hackathon solution for hardware events.

I broke out all the costs, suggested counts of devices and embedded order links from Amazon to make it easy to stock up. The Keter Master Pro (pictured) happens to be quite nice as a rolling chest for these events. It doesn’t survive airplanes very well.

I tried to pick supplies that are on the cheap side.

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Sensors and Sensor Kits

A good approach is to pick a sensor format such as Seeed Studio Grove (a simple format for pluggable sensors) and lend people Grove shields. You can then provide a wide library of sensors for checkout during the event if people want them. These sensors are generally too expensive to give away, so I suggest appointing a sensor librarian to track and recover everything.

Sensors tend to be useful between hackathons, other components like pin wire and LEDs are going to get chewed up and you aren’t going to want them back. Some venues will complain about smoke from soldering and not allow it.

Hardware Platforms

This is too broad a topic to cover in great detail, there are new boards coming out daily.

The Arduino 101 ($30) is pretty sweet, not just saying the because I work on it at Intel MIG. I like that it has BLE and Gyro / Accelerometer by default. This particular combination of basic functionality combined with Arduino Uno compatibility will be compelling for many students.

Anything that requires WiFi is going to have problems at most public events. There are often barriers to overcome (navigating HTML redirects, authentication, isolation mode etc).

Raspberry Pi and other HDMI-capable devices – People are going to want keyboards, mice, monitors – that is hard to support at an event with many people unless you just run in headless mode.

The LightBlue Bean+ is likely a great platform for hackathons and workshops. Most devices from Particle.io should be pretty good. RedBearLab and mBientLab have devices which are promising as well.

The more common requests (with some examples) from students:

  • Flex sensors  (1) (2) -> Good for building glove projects, darn expensive to give to people
  • Light sensors  (1) (2) -> Can be used as a primitive motion sensor also
  • Proximity sensors (1) -> Detect presence of objects
  • PIR / Motion Sensors (1) -> Lots of requests for these to use in home security projects
  • Potentiometers (i.e. knobs) (1) -> General control of some analog actuator
  • Buttons  (1) (2) -> A must, lots and lots of uses
  • Lots of LEDs, multi-color as well as single color (1)
  • Battery power packs, LiPos, 9v batteries (or USB battery sticks) -> A must for wearables, USB battery sticks are wonderful for hackathons
  • 9v Barrel Jack Connectors for 9v batteries (1)
  • Alcohol sensors (1) -> College students go nuts with these things with projects
  • Accelerometer / gyros (1) -> Endless requests for these, very popular
  • Hall sensors (magnetic) (1) -> Detect a gate opening and closing, or maybe if a key or object is picked up
  • Crash Sensor (1) -> Car or skateboard, snowboard crashes, good for wearables
  • LED strips are very popular, especially the NeoPixel
  • There are other fun sensors out there such as UV,  moisture / humidity, flame, dust, gravity and gas
  • Servo motors (1) -> People build really simple things like a box that opens and closes to hide a key to prevent a drunk driver kind of thing
  • Brushless DC motors aka stepper motors (1) -> Robots, things which require stopping the motor at a specific angle
  • Motor driver shields (1) -> Rovers and other similar robots, need wheels though

Where to get kits

Here is the spreadsheet with all the buy links and costs: Check out the open source hacklebox manifest.

Thanks to Martin Kronberg, Steven Xing, Wai Lun Poon, Cheston Contaoi, Dan Holmlund, Monica Houston for providing feedback and suggestions to this list.

Enter the Thud Rumble

Somehow learning to code has lead to me hanging out with the world’s most talented DJ crew over at Thud Rumble. Had an amazing all day session with DJ Qbert, DJ Yogafrog and DJ Hardrich down in the bay area. These guys are seriously legit, amazing to hear about all of the new project and products they have underway. Really looking forward to working closely with these guys this year.

Meeting Massimo

One benefit of the job is getting to meet interesting people, in this case Massimo Banzi who was a founder of Arduino. Here we are with the whole MIG Product Team, good times.

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From Brick To Brain: How Modular Robotic Brains Are Taking Off

 

Intelligent Brick: The EV3 from Lego Mindstorms, a modular robotic “brain”

Computers were always supposed to be brains – however they have spent the majority of their lifetimes clogging up our server rooms, sitting on our desktops running screensavers and eventually moving into our pockets where they were too often used for the playing of games like Flappy Bird.

To be a brain means to be able to think and reason, to be able to sense and possess awareness, to learn from experience and ultimately possess consciousness – not just any calculator deserves this distinction – which is probably why Lego Mindstorms (a popular robotics kit) took a hard look at the capabilities of their computing unit and settled on the name “Intelligent Brick.”

We ain’t there yet.

However, with key advancements in heterogeneous computing (the stuffing of different complimentary CPUs and GPUs into a single space), size and power shrinkages urged by the needs of mobile computing, the addition of perceptive cameras capable of “Seeing” in 3D, we are now beginning to see steps towards much more capable general-purpose modular robotic brains.

These hardware advancements are being joined by key developments in software tools and operating systems such as ROS (Robot Operating Systems) and Dronecode, not to mention the cloud (as Amazon demonstrated last year with their Simple Drone Service).

In the next couple of years, we may very well see the introduction of what will one day be remembered as the “Ford Model-T” of robotic brains. 

Exhibit A: The DJI Manifold

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Who you thinkin’ at?

Meet our first contender for the title of true robotic brain: It’s called “Manifold” by DJI. It looks like a box, its square like a box, it isn’t a box – it is actually a thinking unit for drones loaded with NVIDIA Tegra K1, 192 GPU CUDA cores and a Quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor.

You need all of that graphical processing horsepower to do a whole lot of computer vision, obstacle recognition and avoidance (As Intel demonstrated earlier in the year at CES with the RealSense-based Yuneec Typhoon H). Drone compute units like this are going to be very helpful over the next few years as more and more drones are deployed for commercial applications.

Exhibit B: The Erle-Brain 2

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Don’t call it a brick, you might hurt it’s feelings

Next up we have the Erle Robotics Erle-Brain 2 – it comes loaded with Ubuntu and ROS (Robot Operating System) and even has a perceptive camera built directly into the top of the device.  You can snap the Erle-Brain 2 into a variety of different kits and contains sensors including a gyroscope, accelerometer, temperature, pressure and digital compass.

applications

General purpose robotics units such as this will have a vast array of applications and are going to be fun to watch, my expectations are high about the direction these are heading in. 

 

AWS NYC Pop-Up Loft Lightning Talk + Workshop

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I was invited by Amazon Web Services to give a talk at the NYC Loft to discuss some of the trends happening in Internet of Things over the last year and run a workshop focusing on Intel Edison over the course of two days.

Thanks to the excellent folks from Dash and Canary we had a great lineup of talks last Thursday, probably around 80-100 developers were in attendance and another 40 for the workshop the following day. Really enjoyed making the trip and seeing the new AWS space, looking forward to exploring many more potential areas of collaboration between Intel and AWS IoT ecosystems and partners.

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What Happens To Old Systems-On-A-Chip When No One Wants Them?

Quad-Core connected single-board computers with GPUs, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth got a bit cheaper last year.
(Graph loosely based on Kickstarters from the last two years)

Mobile phones are neat aren’t they? Tiny, thin, capable of driving touch-screens and your favorite app stores as fancy mobile operating systems. Today’s phones come packed with capabilities such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, GPRS, light-sensors, gyroscopes, audio, GPUs and accelerometers.

As a result of years of fierce competition, the average person now carries a super-computer in their pocket which also doubles as a cloud-connected sensor-hub.

Underneath all these whizzy sensors and features is an amazing core element: The System-On-A-Chip or SoC, a full computer composed of many different processors packed into the smallest space possible, the miracle of “Heterogeneous Computing.”

SoCs have been produced by the train-load for the last several years…which raises a question: What happens to old SoCs after they get “put out to pasture.” What happens to older versions of these components six months later when “the next-next best thing” comes out?

According to market forces, their prices drop..

Quick Poll: Raise your hand if you want an Android phone built on processing components from two years ago. Anyone? Anyone? Didn’t think so.

Now raise your hand if you want a single-board computer, quad-core with a GPU capable of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for $9? I saw a couple more hands go up for that one.

These left-over SoCs live new lives, they get stuffed into single-board computers and repurposed on the hobby market, perhaps added to drones or robots. Maybe they form the core of new low-cost educational computers to teach kids in India to learn how to code. Who knows!

Now close your eyes and imagine a growing stockpile of hundreds of millions of these components:  The guts of this year’s stellar Android phones that don’t get sold gathering dust in boxes someplace in China with nowhere else to go but into the next Kickstarter.

How about a $3 quad-core GPU, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth computer?

How about $1?

Enjoy the future.

Intel Edison El Capitan Setup Process

El Capitan requires a different set of instructions to setup with Intel Edison. This guide walks you through the setup process.

Before you start:

  • BOTH Micro-USB from your Edison must be plugged into your Mac
  • These instructions will work specifically for El Capitan, not Yosemite
  • Download the latest Intel Edison image from software.intel.com (Scroll down, select the Yocto complete image download, skip the integrated installer)

Instructions:

First, open Spotlight (“Command + Space Bar”) and type “Disk Utility” to open the Disk Utility. If you have both your USB cables plugged in, you will see an EDISON listing.

disk_util_edison

Next, select your EDISON listing and click the “Erase” button at the top.

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Under the “Erase” menu, click the “Format” button and select MS-DOS (FAT) as below.

fat32_edison

Now click “Erase.” After some time, your Edison will be partitioned and erased correctly. Now we need to flash the board.

Running flashall.sh

Download and unzip the Yocto complete image from software.intel.com (again, skip the integrated installer).

Open “Terminal” (Command + Space Bar and type “Terminal” to use Spotlight). Navigate via BASH to the folder where you unzipped the Yocto complete image.

If you don’t have HomeBrew on your machine, run this command. You may need to add “sudo” before these commands to make this work.

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
brew install dfu-util coreutils gnu-getopt

You also need to install lsusb for OS X: LSUSB for Mac install instructions

Now run the flashall.sh script located in the Yocto image folder:

./flashall.sh

flashing

Now your Edison is flashed!