Adabox 016

I recently decided to get an Adabox, which I like to refer to as a CSA for Makers. Rather than greens and veggies, I get a healthy dose of electronics gadgets to play with. Box 016 contains a 64×32 pixel RGB display, or in simple terms, 2000+ blinky lights!

In addition to a cool display, this is my first exposure to CircuitPython, which is Adafruit’s approach to programming microcontrollers via Python. I have to admit that I was hesitant at first, and spent much of my pre-unboxing time scouring the internet for tutorials that used Arduino sketches for controlling the display.

Man, when I gave CircuitPython a shot, it was amazing. Along with Mu, the simple Python text editor, I was up and running in no time. Mu recognized that I was using CircuitPython, and once I enabled serial communication to help me find the stupid syntax errors I often make, I was up and running. I hadn’t bought into the “not compiling saves time” argument of Python over C++ for microcontrollers, (especially given the lightweight programming I do) but it does turn out to be a nice feature to click save and watch my screen update (again, after those stupid syntax errors are wiped out).

Anyway, after bouncing through the tutorials, I modded one of the examples for a Skype call with my nephew. He’s 500+ miles away and it’s his birthday today (he’s 16). COVID prevented me from visiting him so I did the next best thing that a geeky uncle could do, make blinky lights blink for him.

We Skyped, ate cake (virtually) together and I watched as he opened his gifts (a tablet and accessories). I then faded into the background because, well, he’s 16, with a new gadget sitting in front of a screen with an old guy on it. I would do the same thing.

Happy Birthday, Nick.


What the heck’s a popsocket?

I asked my students what these silly things on the back of their phones were, and why they were needed.  Apparently, phones are sufficiently heavy that you’ll drop them on your face while trying to read/text while lying down.  They also seem to help with taking selfies.  It turns out that they were thought up by a philosophy professor so tell that to your Mom and Dad when they ask why their paying so much money for your liberal-arts education.  Heck, I’ll even give you some inspiration, because one of my students bought me my very own popsocket (I feel sooooo millennial) and I just had to customize it.

My kickin’ T-Mobile slider phone – unlocked and now Popsocketed.

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