Alexa AI on Raspberry Pi 3

Christopher Barnatt is the consummate professional when it comes to making instructional videos about the Raspberry Pi. Everything is presented carefully and in an organised fashion and the visual aspect of his videos has been honed to perfection. This video is clear, instructive and easy to follow. Christopher Barnatt is a professional futurist and is very comfortable in a changing world which relies on technology development. He wants us to be too and as a consequence he gives us ideas to work on which we can follow. Alexa AI 10, 000 skills available now. Tech Republic has a quick overview of what Alexa AI can do . The video shows you how to set up Alexa AI on a Raspberry Pi 3. I haven’t done it yet and even though I have the recommended wifi dongle for the Pi 2 I may not have sufficient processing power. I might try it and then work out whether I really need a Raspberry Pi 3. Nice little project for a rainy day.

It’s not justified

toolsWordPress has decided to remove the justification of text button on the template for this blog. The two new templates I chose for the blogs I imported from Blogger didn’t have the option of justifying the text, which I thought somewhat remiss, but still , I used the templates and knew I wouldn’t be able to easily justify the text on the click of a button. Yes, I can code it into every post. I can tell we are moving with the times in 2017. If you want something, code it yourself. Been there, done that and obviously I am going to be doing it again. Where are my options? My choices? Whatever happened to correct format? I justify text. I justify email texts. I think it is the right and proper thing to do under certain circumstances. I am treating you as an adult and being polite.

Text justification is now up for discussion as have been  spelling correctly and correct grammar. We no longer live in the age of protocol and accepted practice. We live in the consensus era and if most people don’t mind whether text is justified or not then WordPress can feel vindicated in pulling the plug on the justification button. This will further erode the knowledge and use of text justification. There are so many discussions about it. Some claim justified text to be harder to read. Some claim justified text is more formal. Some claim it is now a matter of choice. WordPress has its own forum on it going and the comments are interesting. Thoughtco more or less sums up the arguments on both sides. Adams drafting has an interesting look at it and one of the strongest arguments not to justify is we are not trained publishers. If a skilled publisher justifies text then it will look neat and professional. Otherwise you can get inappropriate spacing or rivers of white through the blocks of text. A business writer for Ontario Training puts a case for which sorts of texts need to be justified according to popular demand.

We live in a world were the emphasis is currently on white spaces in design. That is all very well. White spaces in texts belong to children’s stories. We leave white spaces around the text to allow children to absorb and process the text better. Is our busy , optimised, values driven, productive centred life leading us to be being so swamped we are now having to read and process text in a child’s way? That may well be how the digital caretakers of our online lives are helping us to cope and manage. I want a choice, though. You can’t just take the justification button off me. All right. I’ll code it myself.

Install Steam on Ubuntu 16.04

SteamI tried to install Steam on Ubuntu 16.04 about a month ago. I got a shortcut onto the desktop. I had the hourglass going and I was thinking it was going to load but nothing. I just could not get it past that point. There is all sorts of help on the Net and  all I can say is – persist. Eventually you will get there like I did. I found it easier to install Steam through Terminal:

sudo apt-get install steam

I had followed the instructions on the Linux Config site. Plenty of stuff downloaded through Terminal and then I thought I was there but it just wouldn’t work. I had it loaded on Windows so I just left it. You can also look on the site It’s F.O.S.S.. That site has some other ideas you can try.

steaminstallToday, I decided to try and get it going and a line of code on the ask Ubuntu site was the thing which got Steam updating, functioning and allowing me to log into my account:

env LD_PRELOAD=’/usr/$LIB/′ steam steam://rungameid/730

It took a while but versions of Linux vary, laptop hardware varies and with Linux you have to ensure you have all the bits you need in order for software to work. Happy now!

Stardew Valley downlaod from Steam

Benefits of coding

That cartoon came up on my Facebook again this morning, endorsed by a teacher. We live in the digital age and we can be victims of it and put ourselves in the position of being constantly rescued or told, or we can take control of it and have some input, some capacity to see what is happening and have sufficient knowledge to be able to manage what happens with devices and computers. I am not a big coder but I know enough to know when to alert sites, to know how to discuss technical problems and to negotiate improvements. I know when to be concerned or not when something goes wrong and I know how to customise some things when I want to and it’s possible. Knowing code puts you in the driver’s seat. You make better choices. Coding is cardio for you brain and The Smart Girl Workout explains it well. The article on the Benefits of Coding explains why it is good for anyone to learn how to code and then provides a number of links to support the arguments. It covers a number of different benefits including sustainablity. Douglas Rushkoff, in the video, has looked at our digital world from all angles and has widely shared his ideas. He analyses and questions our digital world  in a comprehensive way. Rex Salisbury looks at the benefits of immersive learning at coding bootcamps where you are in an intensive learning situation and come out of it with a strong sense of achievement and knowledge. For some that would be a better way of going about it rather than being drip fed. Immersive learning cannot be sustained because it’s exhausting and demanding but it’s a great way to get a head start into the ongoing brain cardio work of coding.

Learn coding

vivaLucci is straight to the point and explains clearly how to go about learning code. Code is problem solving. Get a good project and learn to code. Get a reason to code and learn to code. Start with one code and dedicate yourself to that learning and you’ll find a lot of the knowledge and approaches are transferable. I started coding because I was there when Commodore 64s came on to the market as the first home computers. They were clever but to get the best out of them you had to code. The manual came with some codes to learn and I built on that. The school I was in introduced BBC computers which could run some software but we had nothing for languages. I used my Commodore 64 language, borrowed books on BBC computers and learned to write scripts to run programmes to teach languages. I was coding the images, the sequence of events and then collaborating with interested students to develop those programmes further. That’s a point vivaLucci makes. Coding gets you collaborating and collaborating improves your coding. Students couldn’t write the scripts I was writing but they could add to them. We were a mini coding team and grew our knowledge by helping each other. We had a purpose. We were trying to make cool things for the class to use in the computer lab. I have grown from that point and add to it when I want to. Forbes has a good article as to why students should learn coding :

“It also has the potential to bring about a fundamental shift in the way we view technology, turning us from passive consumers into active producers. “There is a massive difference between consuming content and being able to create it,” Sutcliffe adds. “It is important to have agency over the tools you are using.””

Entrepreneur has some good sites to help anyone learn coding. There is so much free material to help you learn and you can go back to it and learn some more when you are ready. Lifehacker has some good recommendations for apps and sites for children to learn coding. For children to learn coding adults have to know what to safely recommend and have a degree of comfort with the software and apps and teachers need some good training which enables them to feel at ease with coding and see the purpose of it:

“But if coding is to become embedded in schools it is going to take a massive effort in terms of teacher-training. Kirsop attests to the shortage of time lack spent on programming skills on her own training course. “There is a long way to go before teachers feel confident enough to teach these skills,” she says.”

Teach kids how to code and you give them a skill for life

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