My Raspberry Pi So Far.

Another year, another failure.

I bought the Raspberry Pi. Sometime between the entry of credit card details and the ripping open of a cardboard box, a project presented itself. I will mine Dogecoins. 30 years from now my children will ask what Bitcoin was, and I’ll be forced to explain. They’ll ask if I, myself, was involved in mining Bitcoin. And I’ll say no, I mined Dogecoin, because it was funnier. They’ll stare at me with blank teenage contempt. It’ll be hilarious.

The Raspberry Pi is a green bit of plastic with some electrical components soldered to it. It advertises itself as a computer, and technically it is. It has more horsepower than the original Commodore 64, but probably not much more than the Furby I had at age eleven. The first mention I heard of it was from my deskmate in the summer of 2011. “Mine’s in the mail,” he said, clipping his toenails. “I’m going to make a media server.” I silently wondered when he was going to put his socks back on, and turned back to the water-damaged laptop I was tearing apart.

I wish sometimes that I was a kinder person. If I was, maybe I’d make friends more easily instead of being forced to embark on projects for the sake of earning attention. The Pi itself is the foundation of many excellent projects, but the way I approach it is less admirable. I whip out the credit card and have soon paid 70 dollars for a piece of kit that actually costs 35. That is with shipping, since I ordered it from England instead of a Canadian outlet; an enclosure, which I realize soon after opening it, is far from the best on the market, and not especially well priced; and a usb power plug, which I already have several of in my drawer.

And all this still isn’t enough to get started. I need a keyboard. There are plenty at work available to be stolen. For weeks I write reminders on the palm of my hand and forget. Finally I ask my cousin for a keyboard for Christmas. One thing off the list. A memory card… I assumed that there were several in my drawer. There are, but they are all under 2GB. Age catches up with all of us. I could have ordered a cheap one with the other components, but that would have been intelligent, can’t have that. I purchase a 4GB for full price at the Future Shop, trying to ignore the Chinese toddler blood on my hands.

Finally, if one is going to compute, one needs to be able to read the letters on a screen of some sort. The Pi was made with Americans in mind – most of them own TVs. I don’t. A nerd friend quickly offered a VGA monitor, but the ports did not line up. I bought a DVI monitor from Value Village and an adapter from the Source. The ports lined up, but no video appears on the screen. I feel that I’ve betrayed the punk rock ethos that I was raised on. 35 dollars for the board itself is fine – but I’m close to a hundred dollars into peripherals now, with nothing to show for it. I feel so white, I cut myself and don’t bleed. I should have borrowed and scrounged better. I should have… dammit. The same cousin from before has an old TV that I’ll go see tomorrow. If it works, I’ll be redeemed. If it doesn’t, I’ll be yet another middle-class dilettante…. if you want to do computers, go to university. Leave the tinkering for children much cleverer than yourself.

 

A Bike Polo Tournament

Vic Winter Mixer 2013

If you play bike polo, you have to have a tournament once in a while.

We were talking about it since Jawn Fawn put one on in spring, in Nanaimo. Around October Ryan started getting serious about doing it. I got put in charge the usual way – no one else wanted the job. But I’m mainly surprised at how little work I actually had to do, and how many problems solved themselves.

Anna got as a venue and insurance, and gave me a lot of tips.
Brett volunteered to help, so I put him in charge of food. That was probably the best decision I made, because he locked it down real good. Potato soup, huge loaves of bread, snacks, corporate sponsors.
Greg was captain of the boards without any intervention from me, and Ryan H. hired a truck to move the boards. The boards were beautiful.
Jawn kept score and ran the competition, an unexpectedly (to me) big job.
Ryan H. also helped by supplying a lot of money for tshirts and beer at the after party. And by being calm and chill when I was panicking.
Cordelia was incredibly encouraging, and opened her house up to visitors.

The boards, assembled the night before, by hands and feet that were like bricks of ice in -8 degree weather.
The boards, assembled the night before, by hands and feet that were like bricks of ice in -8 degree weather.

Some things that went really well: there were no fights or drama at any point during the planning or the actual tournament. Or if there was, I didn’t know about it.
Volunteers showed up to move the boards… it was a hella big job.

Greg handled his job and Brett handled his. I’m sure I did a lot of things wrong or insufficiently, but everyone was incredibly encouraging. People had fun! They kept telling me so. And I learned a ton, and met so many cool people.

Some things I’d do differently next time:

  • Have people pre-register/pre-pay to save on running around collecting cash from people.
  • Give people a discount on tshirts if they buy them at the same time as their registration.
  • Maybe don’t get quite so many tshirts.
  • Make sure all the little items like balls, whiteboard markers, timers, and so on, are accounted for.
  • Figure out the competition style and schedule beforehand. Figure out prized beforehand too.
  • Have a cashbox, and appoint someone to be in charge of it.
  • Have a megaphone.
  • Get more people to commit to volunteering – though it’s hard to do. I’m so grateful to the people who did help in the freezing cold, but boy hardy it was one full ton of wood. The more hands the better.
  • Do a better job with the social media stuff – an Instagram handle is a great way of getting all the photos into one place. Live tweets are awesome.
  • Followpodium.com was an amazing resource that I had no idea existed until days before the tournament began. It’s polo-specific tournament software that’s tied into the League of Bike Polo website, so everyone’s names are already in it.
"Call me baby", I don't care what you call yourselves, that's your name now.
“Call Me Baby”, I don’t care what you call yourselves, that’s your name now.

Most of all, I wish I’d played more pickup and talked to more people. I did talk to a lot of them, but the more the better. I’m always too shy. All the people I met from Vancouver and Seattle were super cool and nice, and I only managed to hang on to maybe 1 name out of 5. In some cases I mistook Victorians for Vancouverites and vice versa.

One of the cool people I met was Max from Seattle (hi Max!) great guy, and interestingly, has 2 cochlear implants (I have one) so he’s deaf the same way I am. That is, he can hear quite a lot… enough to fool people a lot of the time. But I could tell when he had only heard maybe 3 words out of 20, and attempted to piece together a whole conversation from that little information.

I do the same thing, often. When I’m feeling shy or tired, it’s often easier to just guess and fake my way through the conversation – but though my guesses are very good considering how little information I’m working with, they are often a little off. It tends to ruin the flow of conversation. Better to come clean and give people instructions on how to talk to me. But still… it’s exhausting.

Max gave me a chance to see what that’s like from the other person’s point of view. He also came second in the tournament, thus demonstrating that being deaf still isn’t an excuse for not being excellent.

The List.
The List.

The tournament was really great experience, and though it will take me quite some time to muster up enough mental energy for the next one, I want to do it again. But only if I’m backed up by a crew as amazing as the one we had this time.