Tod Kurt 0:02
Welcome to the bootloader I’m Tod Kurt.
Paul Cutler 0:06
And I’m Paul Cutler. This is Episode Five. The show works like this. Todd and I each have brought three things to share with you. We’ll spend a few minutes talking about each but no more than five. If you want to learn more, we have detailed show notes available at the bootloader dotnet. And give us a follow on Twitter at the bootloader while Twitter is still alive, Todd, why don’t you get us started?
Tod Kurt 0:25
All right, so Arduino and micro Python. What? If you like, watch the Arduino blog at all, you might have seen that there is a micro Python IDE that was put out by Arduino labs. So it’s not by Arduino inspired, we know Labs, which is kind of this new thing that they’ve created. And it works. It’s just a short answer that works. If you if you play with micro Python, and you want to give it a give it a try. Go ahead and try it out. It’s basically like a very simplified version of what you get with these other things like Thani and mu. It’s very clean icons very, very well designed. And it looks very usable. It’s not restricted to just the micro Python boards that are doing the cells, it seems to work with any micro Python device. And it’s basically just two windows, your code editor and a little like serial terminal slash repple window on top of each other. The code editor has syntax highlighting kind of like like what you’d expect. And so it’s your it’s your basic like no frills, just like let’s get going. And so that’s the good part. The bad part is that it’s because it’s such a first step. It’s just the editor and the repple. If you start doing Oh, you’re used to things like library managers and board managers and a serial plotter things that help you sort of manage a larger project. And there’s none of that. There’s really not much of that in the micro Python world anyway. So you know, so it’s not really that much of a mess. Also, it’s an electron app. This is one of the reasons why I think they’re able to put it out so quickly, this electron app, which is this web framework, you can use to write web pages that are that act like desktop applications for multiple platforms, I use it a lot, it’s really great. But it is essentially another version of Chrome on your desktop. And you already probably have a couple of other electron apps on your desktop as well like discord and slack and all this other stuff, because that’s pretty much our iOS as they’re turning into just glorified browser runners. And, and the problem with electron apps is they’re usually pretty big, because because browsers are very complex beasts. And there’s a lot of stuff in there. And it’s really hard to pare them down because of because of the just the nature of how web browsers work. And so it’s pretty big, you know, like we need the download is like 180 meg or something to have it takes a couple of seconds to start up. You think like, oh, it’s such a simple program, we should just kind of instantly it’s like, well, it could and so yeah, go and try it out. If you’ve never played around with it ease for for micro Python, there’s a couple others that are things to look at a few here into this one’s called Thani th O N and why it’s seen as B to be loved by a lot of people, I find it an attractive and confusing. And others mu m u, it’s a much cleaner interface, it seems to be trying to try to be most like Arduino for micro Python or circuit Python, it’s got a very good serial plotter, which is really handy because a lot of times it microcontroller projects you like want to just read a sensor and spit out a bunch of values and kind of see what the shape of those values look like. And so on Arduino, you just do like serial dot print and the number and then you open up a serial plotter and you get a command called Graph. Mu has that also.
Paul Cutler 3:18
And Mu just came out with a new version 1.12 was released just this past Sunday.
Tod Kurt 3:22
That’s right. Yeah, cuz there’s been some changes with circuit Python, which it also supports where circuit Python can give you like this meta information about the Wi Fi network it’s connected to and other kinds of in the version and stuff and so mute can accurately track that and display it nicely for you. But my preferred choice all these IDs, I’m not really IDE guy, I use a text editor. And I use pico tool, which is the command line tool that Raspberry Pi makes to let you inspect and copy files and twiddle with your Raspberry Pi pico that’s running micro Python. I don’t really play with micro Python on other boards, much like there’s a if you’re doing like the ESP based micro Python, there’s like a web repple that kind of does similar stuff. And there’s cool things that hook into that. I know nothing about that. What I do not recommend if you’re into micro Python is any of these like extensions for VS code, or atom or whatever. The ones I’ve tried, they just kind of screw up your VS code install and kind of pollute, you’re doing normal Python stuff. I don’t know if it’s just my inexperience with this world, in my kind of general distaste for most IDs, but I would say just go ahead and use mu or Thani or this new micro Python binary we know it seems to work well.
Paul Cutler 4:29
I read four or five different stories talking about this launch of micro Python on Arduino. And like you said it’s Arduino labs. So it’s their experimental arm of Arduino. Is Arduino committing to anything? Are they saying that all their boards going forward will be micro Python compatible as well? Are they trying to make it more of a first class citizen or is it is it still do you think just in that experimental stage,
Tod Kurt 4:51
I think it’s purely just an experiment like there’s there’s a lot of a lot of noise, a lot of press around micro Python and circuit Python. On and Arduino doesn’t really want to be left out, I think and, and they see a lot of their customers moving to a simpler way of doing microcontroller things like in the same way that Arduino was a really simplified way of dealing with microcontrollers. 15 years ago, instead of setting up the BSP and the custom IDE that was made by the vendor, the chip vendor that had not had no knowledge of your particular board, you can just install Arduino. And you could get to blinking an LED in five minutes versus like a whole week that it would take you normally that sort of simplicity that are doing a promised you still want. But now our expectations of what simple is has gotten a lot higher, like now we want really high level languages like micro Python, or like there’s these embedded Java scripts and stuff now. And so I think this is just them kind of playing around and seeing and seeing how far they can go. Like let’s see what is micro Python do for us. And there are some some of our customers might want to use it. And because Arduino has gotten really into industrial, like sort of commercial embedded stuff. It’s really funny. They’ve they moved away in a lot in a lot of cases from the original teaching tool that are doing it was like now they’ve got some really serious boards that can run like almost a full OS. And so in that case, you know, a really high level language makes a lot more sense.
Paul Cutler 6:14
Thats of good one. My first one this week is home assistant, we had mentioned home assistant and passing in a past episode when we talked about the matter, smart home standard that was just finalized. Well, home assistant is matter compatible. On November 13th, they hosted a state of the open home live stream, where they took a look back at everything home assistant has done for the last year where the market has gone, they talked a little bit about matter, then they also look forward to what’s coming next year, what did they want to work on. So if you haven’t played around with home assistants, it’s really a home automation platform focused on local control and privacy. There’s no vendor lock in, it works with matter. It works with ZigBee, and Z wave. There’s something like 1900 different integrations for hardware and software that it can play around with. It’s absolutely amazing. It was the second most contributed to GitHub repository in the past year, which I thought was interesting. Second only to VS code. So it shows you how many different people are actually submitting their different integrations that they’ve done 190,000 instances of homelessness and have opted into telemetry reporting. And they estimate that there’s probably 500 to 600,000 Total installations of a home assistant out in the wild. That’s pretty darn impressive for an open source and free software project.
Tod Kurt 7:29
Yeah, and especially for one that’s not that easy to get going like it’s a Raspberry Pi thing, which is like already kind of a barrier to a lot of people. And I think you can run it on a desktop computer. But all the real installations I’ve seen have been on on Raspberry Pi’s.
Paul Cutler 7:42
Yeah, it’s really recommended to run on a Raspberry Pi. Looking forward, they have declared that 2023 will be the year of voice. I gotta give them credit, they looked at where home assistant is they looked at the other platforms. And that’s one area where they’re not quite up to par with some of the competition out there, whether it’s Alexa or Google or Siri. So they’ve hired Michael Hanson, who is the lead developer of the recipe voice assistant, which is has a lot of similarity to home assistant can function offline. It’s entirely free and open source under a permissive MIT license can be run disconnected from the internet. And it works well with home assistant already, though it could be some of those integrations could be improved. It’s optimized to work with MQ, tt, and HTTP and some WebSockets and supports over 25 different languages already. That’s going to be pretty cool. When you start thinking about those low cost ESP devices just added my microphone, customize your wake word. And now you can place those little microphones all over the home, especially with those ESPs having Wi Fi connectivity.
Tod Kurt 8:45
That’s really cool. I was watching some of the videos on on the raspy that’s our h a s s p y is a nice little nice little play on the a raspy voice and Raspberry Pi. And it listens to work really well. And it’s doing it all locally. Like although all these other voice assistants well, even even Siri to a large degree, it uploads essentially your voice wav file to some cloud service you have no control over and who knows where what’s it what it’s doing with that audio. We’re now this is all like in total your control totally on your network. You cannot be not even connected to the network and have it work. You know, if you wanna do a totally local install, that’s That’s amazing. I don’t have any home. I don’t have any voice based things in my house because of this. I don’t I don’t trust them. And so this all this URL I’d like to try out.
Paul Cutler 9:31
I don’t either and I’m right there with you. I did. I did back a Kickstarter a couple years ago from Microsoft, which is finally shipping after years of delays. And I’m hoping that I can try raspy on it. It already has some kind of voice assistant built in. But being open source I’m sure I can probably swap it out. What’s your next one?
Tod Kurt 9:49
Have you ever read boarded up little electric circuits? Yeah, you get little little grid of holes and you stick components in the holes and you like make LEDs blink with transistors and resistors In capacitors, it says a lot of fun. There’s a problem though with that, and that’s that you have to have those things. There’s this cool little website called with diode.com and created by this guy named Kenneth Castle, who also created this really interesting little vim tutorial if you want to learn the VIM editor. I first saw this announced by Clive Thompson on mastodon. The with DataCite is a breadboard and electrical circuit simulator. So you take like little wires and you plug them into the breadboard holes and you take a little resistors and plug them into the holes next to the wires and transistors. And you can make a little blinking LED and it’s got a little virtual battery pack you plug on you need to choose where on the breadboard holes that things can be plugged in. It’s all it’s all in 3d. So you can like spin the breadboard around to see it for different angles, which is really handy because it’s easy to get lost in kind of the nest of wires and a breadboard as you start to add. Make a circuit any complexity. I played with it for a cut for like half an hour and is able to implement some of the little oscillator circuits that me Carlin and Barb Noren made in early 2020, we had this little YouTube Twitch show called Deep fried neurons, where we got together once a week and we talked about and did little projects and a couple of weeks of projects were little transistor oscillators, each of us breadboard it up and try to do something creative creative with it. And this is really common oscillator called a multi Estevan multivibrator, which is two transistors and essentially two capacitors a couple of resistors. And with that you kind of slosh charge back and forth between the two capacitors using the transistors to blink LEDs. And this little simulator thing can do it with diode can can simulate all that. And you can actually change the values of the resistors and get the blinking to change and have it be a fade instead of a blink. And, and it’s pretty neat. I must say it’s kind of fascinating to see what’s possible in the browser. Nowadays. It’s just like every time you see one of these crazy crazy 3d things in the browser just blows me away. The problem. There’s a problem though with it. And that breadboard is actually kind of hard to use if you’ve never come across them before. So at first I was thinking, Oh, this might be a really great way to teach breadboards to someone who doesn’t have a breadboard. It’s better than not having anything with to teach. But I think there’s this extra level of obfuscation of having it be this still a 3d object in a browser window where if it was with a real breadboard, you can grab it and look at it and sort of poke around. But it’s harder to do that the 3d virtual environment also I think they missed a trick where one of the things I’ve noticed when I’ve taught electronics is how to teach people to learn what the different rows of the breadboards rows, like how they’re connected, like these rows are connected, but these columns are not connected and and the two rows are in parallel, but they’re not connected to each other. And so trying to try to explain that and get them students to understand that is hard. And they could have highlighted that somehow in the simulator, which they don’t do yet. And this is like a very new project. So maybe it’ll be changed to do that. That’s what doubt if you’re looking for things that are kind of like this but but different on different axes. I’m a real fan of this thing called the walkway simulator, it’s wo K wi is aimed at letting you simulate Arduino projects and micro Python circuit Python. And so you can run little versions of the Raspberry Pi Pico and you can like load an Arduino sketch onto it and have it you know, blink. It’s got virtual buttons and virtual pots and virtual LEDs and stuff and LEDs and LCDs. There’s also if you want to like just visualize a breadboard circuit there’s fritzing fri tz i ng it’s good for just drawing up a breadboard circuit it actually knows, knows about the conductivity of a breadboard, so it’ll let you kind of teach you how breadboards work. And the bonus of that is that also while you’re wiring things up on the breadboard, it’s also wiring them up in a schematic view if you want to look at that. So you can then switch over to schematic view and kind of clean up the layout. And so oh look, I’ve got now a schematic of the thing. I just breadboard it. So yeah, so that’s with diode, I recommend checking it out. It’s at least fun for an afternoon.
Paul Cutler 13:53
And that’s exactly what it was. I hadn’t heard of it until you shared it. And I was playing around with it. And the next thing I know probably a half hour went by and I hit you know, I had all these different things placed it was it was just a ton of fun.
Tod Kurt 14:06
Okay, so what’s what’s your number two this week,
Paul Cutler 14:08
I wanted to talk about GitHub again. But as a quick follow up to my GitHub story from a couple episodes ago, that lawsuit investigation about GitHub co pilot, the AI pair programmer has been filed. So there is an actual class action lawsuit filed in the state of California for that. So it’ll be something to keep an eye on. I’ve linked to a couple of the news stories for that in the show notes. But if you like CO pilots, and you really believe in it as a solution, GitHub universe was held earlier this month, which is their annual conference developer conference. And one of the things that they debuted from GitHub labs, their experimental arm is Hey, GitHub, and it’s probably exactly what you think it is a voice assistant way to code. So imagine being able to code hands free. This could be huge for accessibility. I had minor hand surgery a couple of months ago and that was the first question I asked the doctor is can I type right away? Thankfully, I could, but for someone who can’t. What’s really neat about it is is it uses natural speech. If you’re creating a Python program using Pandas, for example, you can say import pandas. And the result will be import pandas as PD. So the program knows of the right way to actually import a library in Python, for example, a link to the demonstration that GitHub has on their page, but it’s pretty cool in the in the features that they show how you can write an edit code, which is using GitHub pilot behind the scenes, or GitHub copilot behind the scenes. You can say things like go to the next method with code navigation hit GitHub, go to Line 34, or hey, GitHub, go to method x, or, you know, one of the ones they call out that I thought was really cool was code summarization. Ask, hey, GitHub to explain lines three through 10. And get a summary of what that code does. Or you can actually just run a program and control your IDE using any VS code command, using your voice. When we start thinking about what the next generation of IDs are, like we were just talking about, this really takes that to that next level,
Tod Kurt 16:03
this is really fascinating, especially the explanation, capability, I would love it if copilot turns into an opt in thing where maybe it’s part of a new license. Like there’s a there’s a new MIT open source license that is MIT with, you know, AI, re constitution or whatever. Like this has a great a great benefit for pedagogical reasons like I need to understand code and have it talk to me, you know, I want to talk to the thing and I want to have a talk back to me. And you can kind of almost pair program with this AI just by using your voice which I think it’d be really interesting. I agree. Oh, also, I there was a guy I work with, like 20 years ago, who’s RSI was so bad, he had to hire a person to do all of his typing for him. And so he would sit there. And he’d have a essentially like, like an intern level person in front of him. And he just would like, say things to like, add this line at this line. And this was like, I think he was doing it on the C or C++. Over time here. This person clearly had the typing person had to be technically savvy enough to know how to use editors run compilers. But over time, they almost became like pair programming because the TypeR kind of knew what he would would want when he would say things like import pandas. And he would, he would fill out the entire syntactically correct thing to type.
Paul Cutler 17:19
And now you’re gonna have it as your AI pair programmer.
Tod Kurt 17:23
Yeah, that’s great. Um, this could be this could be a huge boon for people with accessibility issues, because I’ve I’ve had a few RSI issues, but it’s not been nearly as enough enough to make it so that it’s I just can’t type. Imagine if you just couldn’t tie it. That’d be terrible.
Paul Cutler 17:37
So what’s your next one for us?
Tod Kurt 17:40
Paul Cutler 20:16
Yeah, if you can export to VST, you can put it into Logic Audacity is a recent release that just came out a couple of months ago uses VSTS for the first time ever. So that’s exciting.
Tod Kurt 20:27
All these all these video production things like OBS or Final Cut or whatever also can deal with VSTS I think there’s there’s even an online class you can buy from from the music Hackspace to teach you how to use r&b Oh, now to be truthful, r&b Rainbow isn’t exactly Max. It’s like kind of a parallel universe Max, because they had to make things. Max is a very text based, strangely very text based environment. And so they had to make some like sort of a Mirror Universe of the max objects to make them work in a purely sort of numeric way. But for the most part, you don’t really notice that you just kind of like copy the, the rainbow version of the max object you want to do use. And so if you’re a max person, it looked very comfortable. You just kind of like copy and paste and pretty much you’re done. But it is expensive is it’s a for pay thing. It’s like 300 bucks for permanent license or 10 bucks a month. If you just want to try it out and see how it works. It is independent of Mac’s, I believe, although if you buy Mac’s or rainbow comes with it. In fact, you can target Raspberry Pi’s are pretty cool, because normally Max only runs on Mac or Windows. Now if you’re like buy all this commercial software, I want something free. Good news. There’s this thing called pure data that’s been around as long as Macs because they are they come from the sort of the same source. And it’s the same sort of thing. It’s a graphical nodes and flows based programming language where you connect to other boxes with lines looks a little rougher, it’s open source looks a little rougher, but it runs everywhere runs on a Raspberry Pi. I think I had one that ran on my phone at one point. There’s also a huge community of patches already created in for PD, you can you can play with. I’ve only played with PD a little bit our hackerspace CrunchBase for a while had a PD, like a monthly PD meetup, where people in Los Angeles would get together and like talk about how to use peer data to like do stuff and one guy had a Raspberry Pi guitar pedal that you made out of using PD. Yeah, so it says this wasn’t like that this rainbow stuff is anything new per se. But it’s sort of new in the sense of like, here is this like big company that’s doing this sort of shiny version of this idea and making it so you can just have to go boom, here’s a VST of the thing. And it turns out there is even a compiler for PD patches and stuff that I just learned today. It’s called heavy and it’s an online thing. I’ve not tried it out yet. But apparently you can compile down PD patches in a similar way to what rainbow is doing. I don’t know how it works. I might try it out after the show. But
Paul Cutler 22:42
try it out and report back.
Tod Kurt 22:44
Exactly right. All right. So what’s so what’s our final thing for today?
Paul Cutler 22:49
Our final one is just a couple of quick links about Mastodon so we joked at the top of the show that Twitter’s dying and it’s it’s you know, it’s sad for me it’s actually the the one social media that I kind of liked. Yep. So I’m sad to see it go and I’m sad to see it implode in real time. So you and I are some of the ones that have made the migration over to Mastodon and Mastodon is different than Twitter. So for people who are thinking that it’s just going to be a Twitter clone, that’s not what it is. So the first article is hope for a post Musk net. So that really talks about the federated nature of Mastodon and how it’s decentralized. So it’s a really good primer for that. The next two articles one from Sage sharp and one from Summa, both talked about how important it is to do a little research about which instance which server you want to join, to understand, do they have any technical problems in the past? What kind of speech do they offer? Who are the admins and how many admins and what’s the uptime and those kinds of things. So just things to put in the back of your head if you’re thinking about joining Mastodon, and if you are the last two articles, one from Les pounder at Tom’s Hardware in one at Wired from Justin pod are both how to move from Twitter to Mastodon and how to get started. So good articles. I’m enjoying Mastodon I like the fact that I can follow hashtags, for example, makes it easy to follow along to a couple of different topics. But it’s not Twitter in nor should you expect it to be Twitter
Tod Kurt 24:12
or Hackerspace. Back in 2018 when there’s the other sort of big kerfuffle with Twitter, a lot of us started moving to mastodons or see if we could move to Mastodon me and Carlin set up a crush space Mastodon instance server just to see if we could see how hard it would be. And it turns out it’s pretty easy to set up your own Mastodon server it’s even easier now because there’s a what do you call it a hosting service called Mastodon dot host or something where you pay him like six bucks a month and they’ll just like maintain your Mastodon server for you and you can just have your own. You know, if you want to have Paul Cutler at flippy dot pizza, you know, as your Mastodon handle, you can have that. It turns out there’s a couple of different management issues. Well, I guess the the hosting the hosting service solves the one the big management issue which is keeping things updated, you know, so it’s not like, you know, like anything on the internet It has to be continuously updated. Yeah, there’s this sort of political management of like, one of the things with Macedon Federation is that the servers talk to each other. There’s no one central server. And servers can have opinions about other servers, like, Oh, there’s the server full of full of, you know, all the rude jerks. Let’s just like not federate with them, you can just choose to do that blink, and you just remove them from your feed, you can do that on a personal basis, like I could do it, you could do it, but the server admin can just make the decision. You know what, I think we should just not even allow any of these people to even see our users really. And if you have users on your system that aren’t you, you then maybe have to make that decision. For for the group, you know, right. And so we because of these management issues, we ended up turning off the crash base incidents, it might be time to revisit that. Nowadays, I would say pretty much pick one of the ones that that the mastodon, the join method. Org recommends to you, they’re all pretty good. They’re all pretty well maintained by people that will keep them up and have sort of good ability to, to keep out the creeps
Paul Cutler 26:11
to manage a server, which is a challenge. There’s too many internet trolls out there.
Tod Kurt 26:15
Yeah, it’s been really fun to sort of like experience the net the way it was almost back when I first joined Twitter back in 2006. As I was, I didn’t really have a need for it back then I’ve been really enjoying Twitter, these last couple of years, I felt like they’ve really had started to hit, hit a good stride on how to make the product get better. And it’s just kind of tears me up that like it’s going oh, it just seems to be going away very fast.
Paul Cutler 26:38
I’m right there with you. So anyway,
Tod Kurt 26:41
I’m at Todd bought at Mastodon dot social.
Paul Cutler 26:45
PR Cutler at Foster dawn.org. So I went with one of the free and open source ones. It also lets me put little cool emojis after my name. So I’ve got a little Python emoji after my very glum, which is one of the things the server’s can do is have custom emoji. So it’s, it’s really easy to look at the API calls for that off to put a link into a couple of those as well.
Tod Kurt 27:05
If you’re worried about joining a mastodon instance of SQL Server, just join one, it’s kind of like, you know, email addresses, like some people really care that they’ve got at my custom domain name.com. And some people just don’t care they and they will just email@example.com. And so you can use one of the big Macedon servers if you want,
Paul Cutler 27:23
and they make it a breeze to switch servers. So don’t feel like that you’re locked into one once you choose it. Yeah, I’m
Tod Kurt 27:29
on my I think fourth server and you can just move all your followers over and all your old posts on the old server still stay. And so it’s not like you’re deleting anything. Nothing really lets you explicitly delete it. So yeah, I would say just try it out and see what happens.
Paul Cutler 27:42
So give us a follow on mastodon. That’s our show. Thanks for listening for shownotes transcripts and to support the show, visit the bootloader dotnet. Until next time, stay positive