Wednesday, May 24, 2017

TJBot #2 - Testing the Parts especially the Hardware

In our last episode (TJBot Episode 1), TJBot was just a bunch of ordered parts. I ordered the parts on April 18,2017 and received them all by May 8, 2017.
Now it's time for the parts to come together and do something.
In this episode, we'll test out the hardware.

1. First, we need to put noobs on the microsd card. The download file and directions are available here.  You can follow the software setup guide on this page.

2.  Connect the hardware according to the diagram on this page (also available here)

3. Connect the camera (this video shows how and shows how to test it too)

4. install the packages on the Pi
I did this by following step 2 on the instructables page which included these steps:
sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

curl -sL | sudo -E bash -

sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

sudo apt-get install alsa-base alsa-utils libasound2-dev
5. I followed the steps in the TJBot bootstrap manual steps here, but I skipped the steps that I had done from the instructable above. I also did not do the section titled "Notice about Watson credentials" and I did not do the section titled "Running your first recipe."  I skipped down to the section "Running hardware tests" - I ran the tests and they all worked!

6. I realized that there wasn't a test for the microphone.  Someone at IBM pointed me to this test for the microphone.

So, once all the hardware tests out alright, then we're ready for the next part of the assembly.

In our next episode we'll try to assemble TJBot cardboard and the parts.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Watson and Art - Hidden Portraits

IBM had an exhibit at the Cadillac House in New York City. It just ended on May 7th. It was only there for a few days. I wanted to get a chance to see it, so I drove in on Saturday May 6th. 
Note: I am having issues with the videos in this blog post. Come back in a few days to allow me time to figure out what the issue is.
Here is the Cadillac House from across the street. I got there early, so there weren't many people around yet.

Here is the entry to the Cadillac House

There are several of the latest Cadillac models on display.

And, there is a coffee bar

And, some nice places to sit and relax

The cars are quite impressive and displayed well.

I liked the old photos of Cadillacs and this nice table

Turning to the side of the table there was the entrance to the exhibit

The exhibit is titled Hidden Portraits

There was a good explanation of the exhibit at the entrance

And, the required legal information

As you walked in, you saw the center piece. A large white booth with rounded corners and the artwork around it. Each of the pieces of art were created by using Watson to obtain information about the person being depicted.

Paul Rand was one of the persons that the art depicted. Paul Rand is well known and he created some logos for IBM.

It wasn't easy to capture a photo of the artwork with the lighting

Thomas Watson was the First Chairman  CEOs of IBM

This artwork was a slide puzzle

The line started to get longer for Watson. Each person took about 7 minutes to be analyzed by Watson, so I got in line.

Watson Asked about 5 questions. One asked who my childhood best friend was and why I selected them 

At first, I couldn't figure out why the media would stop. Then I realized that it reacted to my movements.

There were mirrors all around, so it was just right for a selfie!

After seeing all 7 pieces, I went back to the Watson Booth and collected the poster of myself that Watson created. 

I walked down to the Hudson River afterwards

I decided to walk over to SoHo and walked right by the Trump SoHo building

I walked by a bakery and got some treats to take back home.

I hope you liked the photos. Please comment!

Google AI Project in the MagPi Magazine #57

My great wife picked up this MagPi magazine for me.
It's the May issue of the Magazine for the Raspberry Pi (thus the name "MagPi").
The magazine this month included a free kit for adding some parts to a Raspberry Pi to make it into a Google Assistant.

Someone at work asked if I could find one for him.
I've asked around at a few Barnes and Knoble stores and can't find any.
One store told me that people are stealing them because they are being sold online for $100.
I haven't had time to put mine together yet, but it's a pretty thick box.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

About RSVPs

I've heard stories and even experienced when an RSVP is sent out and people don't ever respond. RSVP means you're supposed to respond either way: if you're going or not going to attend.

And it's very frustrating when people don't respond. You don't know whether to include them in planning or not. If it's an event at a restaurant, for example, you call in a number of people for an event so the restaurant knows how much to prepare. Or, if it's an event at home, you buy food and prepare for the number of folks who responded. Either way, if and when people who didn't respond show up anyway, there isn't enough food!

We always try to respond to RSVPs right away. We err on the side of going if we have any doubt.
My philosophy has been to prioritize attending events that happen less often.
So, if there is a choice between going to see something that happens once a month and something that happens once a year or once in a lifetime, then the event that happens less often is what we attend.
This policy helps in deciding which events to attend and how to RSVP.
What are your thoughts about RSVPs?

TJBot part 1

Watson TJBot Laser Cut Cardboard
I'm in the process of gathering parts to build a TJBot.

What is a TJBot?
A TJBot is a open source IBM maker kit that was designed by IBM Research. It was made for makers to learn about Watson. It is a project you can make that allows you to experiment with various Watson Services to make TJBot carry on a verbal conversation, respond to commands (like playing a song and dancing to it), tell the time, tell the weather, visually recognize things, and other projects.

Parts list
I'll post more information as I obtain parts and assemble TJBot in future posts. For now, here is the parts list that I've ordered.  I started with the parts list on this page.

1.$30 (including shipping)  For the TJBot "Body" I decided to order a laser cut "cardboard" (It's actually a very thick cardboard almost like a child's board book). from Texaslaser.
2. $30 - A Raspberry Pi 3 is the computer that runs TJBot (together with Watson on the cloud). I bought mine from microcenter.
3. $5 - A Micro-SD card - I'm using a PNY 8gb class 10 card that I found at Walmart on clearance. The chart on this page tells which cards work best with the Pi3. The parts list calls for 16gb, but I'm using an 8gb card.
4. $0 - Noobs is available for download here.I just use my laptop to copy files onto the micro-sd card for the Pi.
5. $10  - NeoPixel Diffused 8mm Through-Hole LED - I found mine for less by shopping around. You can find them on Amazon and ebay.  Shipping is expensive. Note: you can't use any old LED if you want it to work with the TJBot software without modification, it must be a neopixel LED and must be "through hole" which is a little more difficult to find and more expensive. You may even be able to get it from microcenter (mentioned above)
6. $3- Jumper wires (see the parts list referenced above) : I have a bunch laying around that I bought from Aliexpress. For example, here are a bunch for just a few dollars at Aliexpress. (Aliexpress is like amazon or ebay ordering direct from China. You need to wait a long time, like a month, for things to come)
7. $20 Raspberry Pi V2 Camera (from Aliexpress)
8. $1.40 Speaker connector: Instead of a USB speaker, I ordered this part to allow me to plug in one of my existing speakers through the USB connector on the Pi from Alisexpress  I read in there somewhere that a USB speaker is better than using the 3.5mm jack on the Pi because with the Pi's audio jack you might get distortion.
9. $1.38 Servo from Aliexpress.
10. $1.38 USB Microphone from Aliexpress.
I can not yet speak to the quality of these Aliexpress items until they are received by me and I try them out. I'll know in a few weeks.
11. $10 Power adapter
CanaKit 5V 2.5A Raspberry Pi 3 Power Supply / Adapter / Charge  -

Note: a colleague of mine took this list and created a GitHub repo to track parts list ordering alternatives at

All told, the total is about $113 US.
There are also places you can get the whole kit of parts (Amazon, Adafruit, and others) for about $150. I suppose for the $50 it's a lot less work than trying to piece things together and save a few dollars by ordering from multiple places.

So, I'll keep you informed how it goes when the parts come in. I've ordered parts before through Aliexpress and I've had very few issues with any of them.

Next Steps
Once I've received all the parts, I'll try them out. If I have time in the meantime, I'll do some of the steps to get the Raspberry Pi 3 set up (here are some great Step-by-step instructions for all the building steps for TJBot). Also, I might get together with someone else from IBM to assemble the TJBot cardboard (There are some great step-by-step instructions with pictures here for how to assemble the TJBot cardboard).

Watch here for future posts...
Any comments here are very much appreciated.

Monday, February 27, 2017

You Can Feed the Hungry of the World! Stop Hunger Now and Rise Against Hunger

Some of my regular followers of my blogs may remember that when I spoke at IBM Interconnect last year, I also did some volunteer work with Stop Hunger Now. If you read my blogs, you may very well know that as a Christian, I have a servant's heart. Stop Hunger Now is an organization that has the goal of ending world hunger. They are in the process of changing their name to "Rise Against Hunger."

While volunteering to help package meals at IBM Interconnect 2016 (285,000+ meals were packaged there, 285,000 meals will fill a whole shipping container), I asked the Stop Hunger Now leaders about how to organize an event with them. I mentioned that our church had done something very similar a few times with a similar organization called GAIN. I asked the SHN leaders if we could do a meal packaging event with Stop Hunger Now. I worked with Stop Hunger Now and my local church. I lead an event in 2016. Our church raised more than $3000 ($0.29 per meal) and packaged 12,500+ meals that later went to feed the hungry in Uganda!

I also started speaking with the IBM Club of New Jersey (I had volunteered with them in the past).  They agreed to sponsor the event and supply the funding of about 10,000 meals (the minimum needed to have an event) if I would agree to lead the event. I was happy to do so!
I'm happy to say that we had 50 volunteers who turned out this past Saturday and we packaged 10,152 meals!

We had a fun time singing and dancing to the music while working. It only took about 100 minutes!
As we packaged the meals, we would sound a gong every time that another 1000 meals were packaged. I was able to sound the gong at 7,000 meals being completed.  Our New Jersey State executive sounded the gong when we accomplished the midway point of 5,000 meals. Our IBM Club of NJ treasurer sounded the gong for one of the milestones too. We also had some children of IBMers who volunteered and they also sounded the gong for some of the milestones.

Here I am with my wife (who was a big help) in front of the meal boxes.

I recommend that you may want to consider leading a similar event with some organization that you are involved with. You can contact Rise Against Hunger at their website and they would be more than happy to work with you.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

another Patent

Another patent was just issued yesterday with my name on it.
This was another idea that I came up with and was able to collaborate on it with another IBM Master Inventor.
See the "My Patents" page link here on my website ( for the link to it.
Thank God that he created me this ability to be creative.
I also thank my parents and schools for giving me the basis to think of these ideas.
I thank God and my family for giving me the experiences that help me think of these things and the encouragement to submit ideas.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Traveling In Europe With a Moose


I just got back from traveling on business to Europe (Germany and France).
I traveled with a moose.  "A moose?", you ask.  Yes, a moose. My granddaughter was given a plush moose by  my son and daughter-in-love as a souvenir gift when they recently came back from a trip to Sweden.
She put it in my suitcase to take with me on my business trip.
I flew into Frankfurt Germany and took 3 trains to Strasbourg France (The capital of Europe).
Here's a Map showing the train route:

We walked around Strasbourg, here's a short video showing the Cathedral (more about that later)


This moose is such a great traveling companion! Moose reads the maps, helps with directions, carries my bags, finds the best places to sit and the most comfy side of the bed for me. Moose watches my bags for me, and is a great translator because this moose is conversant in many languages. Many people enjoyed seeing me take photos with the moose. Some people from work even suggested some pictures that I should take with the moose. Someone on the customer team said that the moose needed a traveling friend: a cigogne. This is the White Stork which is the emblem of the Alsace region of France where Strasbourg is located.
Here is the moose helping me with directions:
Moose helped me know when to cross the street too! Here the Moose is telling me to wait for green:
here we are outside the Strasbourg train station
inside the train station
on the local train (Thanks to my manager for taking this photo for me)
Here the moose is helping me order the local traditional dish of pork with sauerkraut: Chouchroute garnie
Here's what that dish looks like:
While walking about Strasbourg, my manager's manager kindly took this photo of me in front of the cathedral
Later in the evening, we saw this light show on the side of the cathedral. You can see fish and a whale in this sequence:
The moose helped me with the train schedule. Here you can see the board that shows how the trains are configured so you can figure out where to stand on the platform and if you have a reserved seat where it is on the train.
Another train ride:
And, here is moose watching my bags on the train
The Frankfurt Train station:
IMG_20160721_211608443 IMG_20160721_211544079 IMG_20160721_215514079
The hotel gave me a room key that said that their low prices are "Lower than a sausage dog taking a lie down" - which is quite funny since our dog Toby is a dachshund.
Look at this huge signboard at the Frankfurt airport!
When I saw this opportunity in the airport to pose with a hot air balloon, the moose wanted to take a selfie with me
And, in the plane, the moose found this comfy seat for me. We both had a great trip and a good ride home.
What do you think of the moose?