Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You should know about this.

It’s interesting how we all understand the impact of a catastrophe depending on how close to our time and culture such catastrophe occurred.

This particular thought comes from a conversation in which I was asked if I had ever heard about Chernobyl. My friend and I entered in an argument about whether she was polite or rude by asking me if I had ever heard about Chernobyl. Her point of view was that not everyone knows about this event. My point of view was that everybody should know about this event. I got more upset when I remembered that some months ago, after the re-screening of Titanic, a large number of people started posting on their social networks that they had always thought that Titanic was a fictional story…

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Machining a Team

How many times have you been asked, requested or forced to work in a team? How many times have you worked with a cool, nice, hard working team? How many of those teams were conformed by highly qualified, highly motivated people always willing to put all their weight in and doing ther best to not letting you down?

You might have been luckier than me, and worked in a couple or lots of them, but I think that in my whole working-in-a-team experience, I’ve only been in ONE team like that. And believe me, coming from the schools I come (UIA at Mexico City and CMU a Pittsburgh), and through all my work experience I’ve had the chance to work on so many teams… so many of them.


For the past month and days I’ve been volunteering part of my “free” time to build and improve Romibos. Romibo is a cute little furry robot developed with the intention of helping autistic childs to improve their social skills by Origami Robotics, one more startup spun out of the CMU fertile gene pool.

Different from all the previously developed robot pets, Romibo will be affordable, programmable, controllable with an iPad, and as it runs on an Arduino, open source… you can even make it whistle like R2. So if the product generates enough buzz, we’ll see some of those awesome hacks the maker community usually amazes us with.

It seems that over the past months the little furry guys have developed great interest in the scientific community as they present a very flexible (and affordable) platform to perform research on autistic children. Because of such interest, Origami is planning on sellling dev kits for scientists and research centers and sepparately, kits to parents and to the general public.

The first version may be available pretty soon for around $700. They are expensive and they know it, but the first orders, mainly intended for research centers and universities, will (hopefully) generate enough cash flow to develop the commercial available kits for the general public, which will probably have a target price of around $200.

Kids loving the Romibos at the NY Maker Faire 2012 

On my side, I'm already savouring my own home-made hack to my Romibo. Maybe adding a webcam and tweaking the Wifi card to upload stuff (like pics of your inner kid interacting with it) to the cloud?

You can learn more about Romibo at Origami Robotics, and also in this short article by Engadget, where you’ll be able to see my own Romibo in action, it’s the naked one (of course)!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Way home

Its dark, warm. Not raining anymore. No battery on my music anymore. Store the player on my pocket, sigh.

I raise my eyes and find me walking on a well known lonely sidewalk. The artificial yellow of the street lamps manages to reach my face, dodging almost every tree leaf it finds on its way.

It’s not warm, it’s not cold… its more like perfect.

Stop, breathe.

The smell of freshly poured rain fills the night and as I walk again, the music of the neighborhood escorts the sound of my steps. Two signing crickets and an out-of-tune ciccada, an elusive squirrel that doesn’t agree it’s time to sleep playing with the bark of that big, old oak. A wooden door, soggy, creaking as the night breeze plays with its old hinges. Keep walking, don’t care about the mud beneath my feet.

The wind´s also still awake and it makes sure I know it by shaking the last rain drops from the leaves of the trees I’m walking under. Door closes.

Walking by the local public orchard. The spices fill the air with their playful, tasty fragrances, freshly squeezed by the recent rain. Spearmint, rosemary, maybe some basil. It makes me think of  you. Makes me wonder what expression you´d pull out of your collection to enjoy this tiny moment. It makes me smile. Thinking about your thousand faces makes me smile. Thinking about your big brown eyes, you make me smile…

…No more battery on my music. Yes, it makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Music Container – Part 2

I’ve been able to put more hours on the project and I’m getting very excited with it. I’ve been finding some similar projects on the web but most of them just play a song when the RFID tag has been read, or they’re using flat cards to read them. Most of them seem to be just explorations on how to implement RFID with Arduino, not that much of an exploration of the user experience… I really want to thank all of the guys doing this kind of projects for now I really know what’s happening here.

So, following with my Tinkerlab project: I'm back to business as I finally got some components: an Arduino UNO, the ID-12 reader, some 125KHz RFID tags and the USB base for the ID-12, all from Sparkfun.


The first thing I did was just plugging the USB reader to my laptop and playing around with the tags to see if I had bought the right type, and fortunately for me, I did (I had surfed way too fast on the Sparkfun website, so I was kind of afraid that I had bought the wrong ones). Then I hooked it up to the arduino and wrote some code based on what Martijn The did with BARRAGAN’s code.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The RFID Music Container – Part1

Well, I don’t know if that’s the best name for this project, but at the time being I’m going to call it like that.

I started this project for the S’12 Tinkerlab class with fabulous Nick Durrant at CMU. I’ll be posting my progress in this blog to keep track of everything, and for any curious mind trying to do something similar.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Places are made by people

There’s nothing more true than that. Places, situations, jobs, etc., everything is as good or as bad as the people in them.

Take this train for example. This business class car is super comfortable, I have a whole “meeting table” for myself, ac power outlets, a blanket and wifi. I have a beautiful view of the Amish country as I’m typing this, I have a copy of the NYTimes and the old man sitting across the alley is super polite. Man… I love this train.

Until, of course, we make a stop in Lancaster and this damn mister gets in the train, he sits just behind me and he just won’t stop snoring, snorting, coughing, loud chewing and farting… man I hate this train.