Geek Dad – Making Things With My Kids

Being a Geek Dad — curosity, electronics, treehouses, and children

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Beat Box Breakdown

Posted by on Dec 25, 2018 in geekdad, Updates | 0 comments

Christmas 2018 — I invented and created from scratch a new board game for my 16 year old son, Nick, whose favorite music genre (currently) is hip-hop and contemporary rap. The game is called Beat Box Breakdown, and I’m exploring options to fully productize and produce the game for the mass market (so yes, there are trademarks and patents in motion, because that’s how I roll). Here are some pictures, as well as some of the instructions for the game. Your hip-hop journey in Beat Box Breakdown travels in a clockwise spiral as you move from listener to garage rapping to freestyling in local venues to national online acclaim and then opening in national stadiums, culminating in Coachella, Los Angeles and finally opening at the Madison Square Garden. Please like &...

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Balancing Life in Writing and Tech

Posted by on Jun 16, 2017 in lifehack, tech, technology, writing | 0 comments

I recently had the opportunity to talk at some length with an engaged set of students at Olympia High School. (I talk regularly to school groups, and if you’d like to book me to talk to your school group, you can contact my booking agent here.) We discussed both my high tech career as well as my writing, and found ourselves discussing technology, the future, and how one balances career aspirations as well as creative endeavors.   Here are some of the resources I shared with them after my talk, as “footnotes” to our conversation.   1) First, I spoke about removing distractions from my creative work and focusing. Here is relevant information about phones and other technology as intentionally addictive and distracting.   Addiction to Phones   How Technology Addicts You — from a Google Design Ethicist   Digital Distraction   2) Second, I spoke about Ira Glass (host of “This American Life”) and his emphasis on the experience of a younger, striving artist.   Ira Glass on Failure as an Artist   Here’s a great animated video with the same quote:   3) Third, here is a link to that study on “luck” that I mentioned   Is Luck Real?   More details on this study here:   4) Fourth, I talked a bit about writing about autism. Here’s Temple Grandin’s TED Talk about the autistic experience.    Temple Grandin TED talk   5) Fifth, here are a number of articles about how liberal arts degrees make you more successful in the new economy:    Liberal Arts Degree is Tech’s hottest ticket (factual data)   Fortune 500 CEOs with Liberal Arts Degrees (factual data)   Why Tech Needs Liberal Arts Degrees  (factual data)   The Future of Work (an opinion piece)   6) Sixth, here’s a series of article that provide discussion of the coming wave of job losses due to high tech innovation and AI in particular.    AI and Unemployment   Robots and Work   Jobs Disappearing   AI and Jobs   7) Seventh, my current book-in-progress covers AR/VR futuristic scenarios. Some of the references I’ve used include the following:   Discussion of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality   Another perspective from Facebook —   8) Eighth, I mentioned my work in high tech. Here are some relevant videos and highlights that might be of interest.    Google I/O – Ned Hayes on the show floor doing a Drone Demo   Intel Developer Forum, on stage with EVP Doug Fisher   GigaOM Mobilize   Intel TV Interview   Early Mobile Phone interface Demo (it’s very cheesy, but please note that this was before the iPhone and Android went big — ) I led the UI design and demo team for Paul Allen.   Oh, and here’s some information about that iPhone innovation I mentioned, that Paul Allen’s team invented:   The following information about Silicon Valley is interesting and pertinent.   And here’s a quick Seattle Times article that covered my commute to Silicon Valley   And finally, I mentioned several additional books during the course of our conversation. Here are some of the relevant books.   AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH, by Neil Postman   Steve Silberman NEUROTRIBES   Temple...

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Intel’s Next Generation Drone Platform with the Intel® Context Sensing SDK

Posted by on Jun 18, 2016 in geekdad, Identity, Intel, tech, technology | 0 comments

The Intel® Context Sensing SDK surfaces the power of the Intel Integrated Sensor Solution and advanced sensor capabilities to power mobile, laptop and wearable apps. What if the Intel Context Sensing SDK could be used to understand a drone’s environment and even control a drone?  That’s the vision we set out to discover in this demo at Intel® Day Zero Google I/O in 2016. Our demo at the Intel Google I/O Day Zero Pre-Party demonstrated the integration of Intel’s Context Sensing SDK with Intel’s next generation drone platform for the collection and analysis of telemetry and environment sensing data. The demo highlighted how data collected by individual sensors on individual drones can be aggregated and processed for different use cases including authentication and control, environment understanding and proactive maintenance, as well as telemetry for thousands of devices stored and analyzed in the data center. Demo includes the following: Context Demo Dashboard demonstrates collection of sensor data across many drones and devices Authentication into “launch” of a drone via multi-device authentication, sensor state recognition and soft sensor inputs (calendar, time of day, etc.) Drone Dashboard demonstrates collection of sensor data across many drones and devices Drone behavior is also controlled as well by pre-set rules engines running both in the cloud and on the drones themselves Machine learning algorithms both on drone devices and in the cloud monitor thousands of drones and demonstrate how drones can “learn” from their environment and from the inputs given to them via sensors, etc. The Sensor SDK used for Drones can be used to provide SIMILAR benefits on your smaller device and laptop 2:1. All the Algorithms we use on drone sensors are cross-compatible on Intel’s Context Sensing SDK for wearables, phones and laptops / 2:1 devices. Get more information about the Context Sensing SDK here >> Please like &...

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Runcible – Monohm at MWC 2015

Posted by on Mar 4, 2015 in geekdad, Identity, Intel, lifehack, software, tech, technology | 0 comments

Runcible – Monohm at MWC 2015

I am so impressed with the craftsmanship and creativity shown by the Monohm team with their new “heirloom device,” the Runcible. Even in the first generation of this smartphone, the device no longer feels like a technological interloper on your life. Instead it feels like a natural part of your daily wardrobe, part of your life, and part of your family experience. This is what a “next generation wearable device” should feel like: it should be organic and beautiful. The Runcible device is a round smartphone that fits readily in your pocket, is crafted with care (both software and hardware), and delivers a personalized experience that does not interrupt your life, but instead accentuates what you really care about in your daily experience. I cannot wait to become an early adopter of this remarkable device. (with thanks to my old colleague George Arriola for being part of the team that developed this break-through device!) Pictures from my hands-on moments with the Runcible device at Mobile World Congress 2015.  Please like &...

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On Police Power — Bringing Peace or Fear

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in amwriting, geekdad, writing | 2 comments

Peace or Fear (I’m posting this on the day when a police officer was NOT indicted for choking Eric Garner to death without any overt provocation. Here’s the news story, and the actual video and audio tape) A few years ago, I did a ride along with the sheriffs department in Thurston County. The officer I was assigned was thoughtful, judicious, and extremely diplomatic. He defused about three situations we saw that day. Finally, we pulled up at a domestic violence situation at exactly the same time as another officer. My man turned to me and said “Well, I know this guy, and you’re about to see two different styles of policework here today. ” He was right. My guy walked in to bring the peace. The other guy walked in with the intent to beat somebody up, shoot somebody, or arrest both of them. We narrowly avoided a shooting, but one of them walked out in handcuffs. Later, my guy said none of this escalation was necessary. This is exactly what happened in this poor man’s death. Please, in the future, we need more diplomacy and peace bringing from officers. Less assertion of privilege, power, and honor.   What will your LAST WORDS be? I can understand how some of my (more conservative) relatives thought there were two sides to the story with Mike Brown, and with other recent deaths. I disagree, but I understand their perspective. But this one… yeah…. there’s no arguing there’s something wrong with murdering a non-violent, unarmed father of six for doing nothing but standing on the sidewalk talking, and then not prosecuting anyone for that homicide. Yeah, there’s some thing very wrong with America. Please like &...

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Trains, planes and Seattle supercommuters

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in geekdad, lifehack, tech | 0 comments

FLASHBACK — TWO YEARS AGO… This is an interesting article in Seattle Times written about my commute to California, when I was working for Xerox PARC in Palo Alto.   May 18, 2012 at 1:00 AM Trains, planes and Seattle supercommuters By Lora Shinn / Special to NWjobs For two years, technology product manager Ned Hayes would rise before the sun at 4 a.m. every Monday to drive to SeaTac airport from his home in Olympia. He would hop a flight to San Jose, Calif., and arrive at his workplace in Palo Alto just in time for the weekly 9:30 a.m. team meeting. To stay in touch with his family, Hayes read books to his two children over video chat and spoke with his wife using Skype. He returned home on Wednesday or Thursday night in time for dinner. Despite the difficulty, Hayes says this ultra-long-distance haul was still easier than when he commuted from Olympia into Seattle daily for a previous job. “I got better sleep when I wasn’t getting up at 5 a.m. every single day for the back-and-forth drive to Seattle,” he says. Enter the rise of the supercommuter: an employee who works in a metro area but lives beyond the boundaries of that area, requiring a commute into the workplace via air, rail, car, bus or combination of modes. That’s according to the New York University Wagner School of Public Service, which produced a 2012 paper on supercommuting trends. Supercommuting to King County King County, the center of the Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia statistical area, had the third-fastest rate of growth in supercommuting in the country from 2002-09, behind Houston and Los Angeles. The top areas of residences and number of supercommuters to King County: Portland: 12,900 Spokane: 7,700 Bellingham: 6,700 Yakima: 5,300 Kennewick: 4,800 Source: New York University Wagner School of Public Service As the report states, “supercommuters are well positioned to take advantage of higher salaries in one region and lower housing costs in another.” In a tight labor market and difficult housing climate, it may not be possible to sell a house or simply find another job. King County is noted as a region with 71,000 supercommuters, among the top five U.S. counties with a high rate of supercommuter growth. From 2002 to 2009, Yakima to Seattle alone saw a 131 percent increase in supercommutes (an additional 3,000 commutes). How best to manage a long-distance commute? There are several approaches, says Terry Pile, a Seattle-based career adviser. She knows an employee of the University of Washington who lives in the Darrington area but keeps a small apartment near the university instead of wrangling up to 90 miles of traffic each way. Similarly, Aaron Tinling lives in Port Townsend and commutes into Redmond every week to work at a large software company. Tinling eventually rented a room in a Redmond house for his four-day shift to cut down on the two- to three-hour drive (each way) required for work. Other supercommuters may ask for a compressed work week, like Hayes. “It depends on the job, but you can also ask to telecommute for a day or two,” Pile says. Take advantage of the time during the commute, Hayes suggests, whether it’s reading, working or catching up on sleep that may be cut short by long-distance commutes. Tasks that stretch your creativity can be accomplished during the commute,...

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Nikki McClure and Sinful Folk

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in books, geekdad, reading, sinfulfolk, writing | 0 comments

New York Times best-selling illustrator and author Nikki McClure and I know each other through our children’s school and our mutual interest in locally sourced art and supporting local artists. Nikki’s son and my children both attended the Lincoln Options Elementary School, and we are both very involved in the local arts community in the South Sound area in the Pacific Northwest. We first met at a Solstice Celebration that featured local children in an impromptu theatrical celebration of the season.   Nikki created the cover of Sinful Folk as one of her signature papercut pieces, but went in a new direction for the internal illustrations, which were created with charcoal. After reading the book in 2012, Nikki created her own graphical interpretation of SINFUL FOLK, which was accepted as the cover in late 2012.   I love the way that Nikki used papercuts and charcoal as the medium for illustration, as both are art forms that were used in the Middle Ages, and both styles of art were well known in the medieval era.     A literary update from Readers can find my books at these bookstores: To read more of my writing, you can visit Get literary updates by subscribing to my quarterly newsletter:  Please like &...

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Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in geekdad | 0 comments

The really neat thing about carving pumpkins is that it’s a transformative activity. You’re taking a smooth surface — an organic substance (no two pumpkins are the same) — and changing it into something that resembles a human being. What’s even better is that it doesn’t last — perhaps that’s why I like both pumpkin carving and sand castle building. Neither one of them are permanent art installations; both forms of art are ephemeral. Oh, and they are also architectural. I love planning out how a pumpkin’s structure will support whatever I carve into it, and how to create a relief impression. Given the varieties of light and of differing layers in the pumpkin skin, I have successfully carved entire landscapes of haunted houses, moons over a cemetary, ghosts rising from tombs and dark and mystical figures striding across a lost road. It’s wonderful to show somebody what can be accomplished with a sharp knife and an orange organic globe. But what kind of carvings do my kids prefer? A face of course. Preferably a scary one. Please like &...

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rocket hacking

Posted by on Jun 22, 2012 in geekdad | 0 comments

We launched a model rocket this last weekend. It was a blast! (sorry, I couldn’t resist) The kids really enjoyed watching me put together the rocket, and I encouraged them to decorate the rocket as they wished. I tried to explain the basic chemistry, but they lost interest quickly. So I just focused them on how cool it would be when the rocket took off into the sky, and how the parachute would open and allow it to float down safely. The funny thing is that the ignitor didn’t work. And this is where it got really creative — I needed to find a spark to ignite the engine. But by the time I realized that the store-bought battery-powered ignitor wouldn’t work, I had a yardful of kids waiting for the model rocket to take off. A dozen kids getting more and more impatient. With all the kids there, I couldn’t run to the store and get a new ignitor. I couldn’t just light a fire under the damn rocket (too dangerous, especially with all these nervous nelly parents around). So here’s the hack: I grabbed an old cell phone power cord, chopped the end off, and connected it to the rocket, and plugged the damn thing in. Of course, it immediately took off, with all the electricity flowing in there. The experience of the weak ignitor though compelled me to design my own much-cooler rocket ignition station, which would first light up a bulb (a red one, preferably), and then a lever to push down to complete the circuit — so there would be an ignition switch. It would be even cooler if I could hand-roll a capacitor coil and have a kid pedal a bicycle to build up sufficient charge to get the rocket off the ground. Anyway, as soon as I’m done with my design, I’ll post the thing here 😉 In related news, this rocket launcher hack is amazingly awesome! Please like &...

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PARC – New Context Aware App (featuring Ned Hayes)

Posted by on Oct 7, 2011 in lifehack, tech, technology | 0 comments

At the renowned PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), I’ve been instrumental in creating the Meshin context-aware communications platform and mobile apps for Android and iPhone. Meshin analyzes communications in real-time and provides insight into your activity with a new user experience on Android and iPhone. Recent videos about my work on PARC’s Meshin project below: Vulca Please like &...

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