What I’m doing with my Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi LogoThe dice have decreed equal portions for a total of a dozen, which is to say, six and six. So it will be a list of things I’d like to do, given enough time and enough Raspberry Pies.

What I’m actually doing:

Digital signage is really fashionable at the moment. It’s not surprising really, if a good image can be compelling, why not make it sing and dance? I’ve seen an Ipad being used for this in the window of a jewellery store. I’m sure there was a lovely app to make it happen, but Ipads are small and expensive. A cheap LCD TV and a Raspberry Pi running Pi Presents could cost one quarter of the Ipad and be a lot bigger too. Of course, the simplicity of an app may appeal to those who lack my ICT skills. I plan to use Pi Presents to power an interactive display in the exhibition space in my building at school.

What I would love to do:Raspberry Pi Diagram

Raspberry Pi as a hotspot; I’d love to share my internet connection with the neighbours but I’m not about to open my local network completely. The Raspberry Pi would make a fine hotspot for a series of town houses or a small business; just make sure you have the right antenna!

Raspberry Pi as multi-room sound system; and all controlled through your phone! It’s like a Sonos system, but a bit homespun and a great deal cheaper.

Raspberry Pi as a torrent box; at last I can unshackle my laptop and let my Raspberry Pi fix my appalling upload ratio. Assuming I did that sort of thing of course.

Raspberry Pi as my own private cloud; following the Snowden revelations, and the dubious behaviour of Google, keeping your own data close makes a lot of sense. I think in the future we’ll see many more self hosted platforms and the likes of Facebook and Google will wither on the vine.

There’s a lot here to keep me busy for the foreseeable future. I’ll keep you posted on my current project as it comes to fruition. 

 

Elvis at 21

"Going Home" By Alfred Wertheimer
“Going Home” By Alfred Wertheimer

I went and saw the “Elvis at 21” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, $15 entry fee for full fee admissions, $12 for others. My first emotion upon entry was disinterest, I’ve never thought Elvis had sex appeal (despite his “cock sucking lips” as the gays would say) and he never struck me as entertaining or as musically appealing in the way the Beatles were. All of the photographs were black and white, forming a collection of 56 images.

Thank goodness for the guide! Knowing the story behind the pictures made the entire exhibition come alive for me. I now understand the power and limits of the still image, it must suggest a story or possess one, if it doesn’t the image is powerless. A young man on a lounge with mail, on a train, in a pool, on a stage with a band. In themselves none of these images are extraordinary, they are of a young man gong through the world, but it’s the story it represents that is powerful. It’s the story of America on the cusp of enormous social, sexual and economic change. Viewed through this lens I understand the significance of Elvis better, these photos were shot by Alfred Wertheimer over seven days in 1956 just as Elvis’s star rose. Alfred took over 4000 shots during that time, for the mathematically minded, the exhibition represents 1.4% of the photos taken during that time.

The guide made a point at the beginning of telling us that if we wanted to add anything during the tour to speak up, and if anyone wanted to break into song, that was ok too. I can only imagine how little that poor guide is paid to put up with pedantic trivia tyrants and the musically inclined but mentally ill exhibition goers.  My last impression besides the great social upheaval of the time was that Elvis’s cousin Junior was more hotter.

Blah: Parking was a nightmare, I ended up parking at the national library and sprinting to make the tour on time.

Better: The guided tour (2:30pm everyday) was amazing and really made the exhibition worthwhile.

Best: They were selling peanut butter at the gift shop, BYO banana and deep fryer.

My Bernina B 380

I didn’t intend to buy the B 380. In truth, I was looking at the Bernette 25. The Bernette 25 had lots of funky stitches and it looked very cutting edge. However, even at $1000 more, I think the B 380 was better value. It has a 10 year warranty on parts, and 5 years on the electronics. It doesn’t have as many stitches, but I was blown away by it’s accuracy. The button holes are superb, and the decorative stitches, although only 80 odd or so are all quite lovely.

 

It was the knee lift that sold me too. If you’ve never used a knee lift you haven’t lived yet. The B 380 also feels a bit more serious as a sewing machine, and less like an accessory. The “utility stitches” are all a single button press on the front which is sensible, and it has auto back-tacking which is a life saver.

 

I’m note entirely sure I’ve got the hang of the over-cast stitch, to the point where I’m sure I’m doing something wrong. The blind hem, however, is unbeleivably good. I sometimes wonder if a world of competing patents make true excellence elusive, why people would not have copied the Bernina’s method is otherwise beyond me.

The B 380, unlike the 350 is described as a dress makers machine, as opposed to a quilter’s machine, and this is reflected in the accessories it comes with.

Having previously been wedded to my Janome, I’m having some difficulty coming to grips with the personality of the Bernina, but like my conversion from a PC to a Mac, I think the pain will be dwarfed by the gain.

 

A manifesto for the burnt out generation

We have been hollowed out by all those who have gone before us; the lofty ideals of our predecessors have turned to flame then ash. There is no hidden land for us to discover, no internal spark, everything that is in the world now is naught but smoke and mirrors.

We must stop looking for ourselves and decide who we shall be instead. We decide to be the best, the most truthful, skillful, aesthetic and ethical.

We have been hollowed out by all those who have gone before us; the lofty ideals of our predecessors have turned to flame then ash. There is no hidden land for us to discover, no internal spark, everything that is in the world now is naught but smoke and mirrors.

We must stop looking for ourselves and decide who we shall be instead. We decide to be the best, the most truthful, skillful, aesthetic and ethical.

On Art

Good art reveals a truth, is skillful in its execution, or is pleasing to the senses, and is ethical. Great art is all four. Michelangelo’s “David” told us something about dicks; the “Mona Lisa” showed us something about feminine mystique. Andy Warhol told us something about mass production, and Damien Hurst is telling us something about society. Art, music, drama, literature, each one is bound by those four principles.

On Architecture

Good architecture is like good art that people live in. It should embody the zeitgeist. It should be friendly to people, it should undo the damage of our predecessors. Stop looking for yourself, who do you want to be? Now say it in bricks and mortar! This is not an advertisement for conspicuous consumption. Do you want to be honest, truthful, with something meaningful to say? What does your built environment say then? Don’t discover it, decide it.

Materials should be used in the best possible way. The environment must be used in the best possible way. Buildings should not be retreats from the environment, but part of it. A Swiss lodge in an Australian suburb is a lie. Track housing and McMansions without infrastructure are unethical, not to mention aesthetically displeasing.

Good architecture is honest about the needs of people who dwell within. Humans with the need to privacy, and the need to socialize. Humans are tool using animals, but that doesn’t mean we need to be tools or animals. Good architecture enables a community to form, it lets people feel safe without putting them in fortresses. Good architecture doesn’t pretend to be “natural” when it isn’t, it doesn’t try to be alien when it’s not. Good architecture is honest, well made, and reveals something about how we connect to each other and the world beyond the walls of our abode.

On Media

Mass media is what interrupts the adverts. Mass media is an accidental poison. Mass media twists the truth to make us feel unsafe and un-whole. The mass media gives birth to a floating anxiety that something nameless and terrible has infected our world and we are vulnerable. Advertising, the conjoined twin of mass media, then gives a false name to our fears and offers us the wrong antidote. Terrorism, gang warfare, an endless sea of crime, you would be happier if you were slimmer, buy our frozen meals/drugs/false hopes.

The mass media is a cancer that feeds on attention. Let it wither and die in the cold, the dark, and the silence. Decide what you need to know. If you cannot find the news you need, create it.

On Capitalism

In its ideal form, capitalism eliminated waste. In its actual form capitalism spreads like a cancer, eliminating quality, as it sprays ugly, unethical “commodities” across the world. Capitalism lies when it says it is a liberator. Only people can eliminate slavery. Slaves swapping chains will always be slaves. Any cell can become cancerous, but they don’t because they are regulated. Markets must be regulated with an eye on the common good, because ultimately looking after people is more ethical than protecting a system of trade. “Trickle down” economics is a lie. The “unseen hand” of the market is a lie, and a poor substitute for an interventionist god.

Exchange must be honest, not only about the goods, but their production and the relationship of the seller to the buyer. Exchange cannot support inferior goods, or goods that fake a relationship to the consumer, artificial flavors, boy bands, and nostalgia, I’m looking at you.

On the Future

Stop looking. Start deciding. The world is full of followers, decide on a destination and take people there with you. You can’t change the world but you can change your circumstances, if only a fraction, and by fractions we shall change it all, into a world that is truthful, skillful, ethical and pleasing.