Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Does Your Church Assume Folks are Visitors or Regular Attenders?

We've visited many various churches over the years.
We see two main types of communications styles. The styles seem to be based on what they believe about the types of people attending.

There are the Churches who are always Communicating for New People:
Some churches make the assumption that there are New Comers and Visitors. All of their communications are from this viewpoint.
When communications go out from these churches, they mention every single thing that is going on with excitement. They answer the questions of "who, what, where, when, and how" so everyone knows how to be involved. They tells stories of what's been accomplished so the excitement builds.

There are churches who are always communicating to regular attenders
Other churches communicate from the viewpoint that everyone knows everything and everyone. When these communications go out, they assume that you already know what's going on and how to get involved. Not all of the questions you would have are answered.  Sometimes, people who have gone to these churches for a long time don't even know what's going on. After a big event happens, there may not even be any mention of how well it went.

What do you think about this?
Have you experienced the same?

Thursday, June 08, 2017

TJBot Talks! #4

TJBot is Talking! See the video below!

I continued the work (see prior posts:  #1 order parts,  #2 test the hardware, and #3 assemble the cardboard ) by following this instructable starting at step 4 at the following link:

I used terminal on the Mac to ssh into the pi 2 in the TJBot (I think you can use putty on the pc which I understand can be downloaded )

I used the browser my mac (or you can use the pc) to get the credentials from each of the 3 services

To edit the config file I used "sudo nano config.js" you can then move your cursor around with keyboard keys and copy the credentials from the mac (or PC) browser and paste it into the config.js file (using control-C for copy and control-V for paste).

IMPORTANT NOTE: for the service credentials, they may not be presented in the same order, be careful to copy the password to the password entry in the config.js (i messed up because mine were in opposite order, so I was getting errors that Speech to Text STT wasn't working)

For step 6, if you're using ssh, you need the conversation file on your mac (or pc). You can get it from the zip at:

For the workspace ID, I somehow copied the wrong information and pasted it there in the config.js file at first. TJBot was not returning anything to pass to Text to Speech (TTS). I was getting an error that nothing was sent for TJBot to speak. So, I had to go pull that workspace ID again from the conversation tool and put it into the config file. I restarted the conversion.js and TJBot was talking!

Here's a copy of the verbose output to the console that I see when starting up TJBot Conversation:

sudo node conversation.js
verbose: TJBot initializing microphone
verbose: TJBot initializing conversation service
verbose: TJBot initializing speech_to_text service
verbose: TJBot initializing text_to_speech service
info: Hello from TJBot! My name is Watson.
verbose: TJBot library version v1.3.0
You can ask me to introduce myself or tell you a joke.
Try saying, “Watson, please introduce yourself” or “Watson, who are you?”
You can also say, “Watson, tell me a joke!”
verbose: TJBot initializing microphone
info: TJBot heard: Watson who are you
verbose: TJBot response from conversation id xyz Hi, I’m TJBot! :
verbose: TJBot speaking with voice en-US_MichaelVoice
verbose: TJBot speaking: Hi, I’m TJBot!
{ filename: ‘/tmp/tjbot11756-2013-811zkh’,
  gain: 100,
  debug: true,
  player: ‘aplay’,
  device: ‘plughw:0,0’ }

I then went in and modified the conversation training to add information about the local high school where I'm going to demonstrate it today. I added intents for the school and answers (in the dialog) that I pulled from information I found about the school.

It's so great to hear TJBot talk! I hope to set up to move it's arm and change the color of the LED for a Church Vacation Bible School coming up soon. I will probably use the Dashboard recipe for that. So, maybe you'll see another post here about that soon!

(A special tip-of-the-hat and word of thanks to the folks at IBM Research for their help, especially Victor Dibia for his many answers to my questions).

Please comment with your thoughts!

Monday, May 29, 2017

TJBot #3 : Assembling the Cardboard

In the past two posts, I ordered the parts and tested them. for a TJBot that I'm building
In this post, we assembled the cardboard body of TJBot.  My wife helped since she's great at puzzles.

Before you start, we have the following advice:
1. If you ordered a laser cut cardboard like we did, try wiping it off with a cloth or paper towel that is moistened ever so slightly.  We didn't do this and found our hands black after a bit. This is probably residue from the burning of the laser cutting.
2. Have tape and a hobby knife ready.  We found that some pieces were very difficult to pop out of the cardboard and we had to cut them with a knife first.  We also found that just from the normal required bending, one of the bent edges broke.  You may find a straight edge (such as a ruler) may help with the bending.
3.  Keep in mind that you might have to watch the video a few times and rewind it to watch parts over as you go. We found that we had to do this quite often.
4. Make certain that you have all the parts ready because they will be used in the assembly.

It took us about an hour or so to build the body.

To assemble TJBot, we followed the directions in step 3 on this instructable page.
You can also find the video here on YouTube:

In the next session, we'll install the software and get TJBot working!
(Click here for the next posting where TJBot talks)

Here are some photos of our assembly in process.

We unfolded the cardboard to have it in the same position as the YouTube video. Read the notes above about what we suggest that you do before you start.

So far, so good!

When folding the top of the head, because it folds in over another side, the cardboard split, but we didn't need to tape this part.

One of these two uprights snapped apart at the bend and we had to tape it back together (my bad)

It still worked find to hold the Raspberry Pi 2 in place

The Camera was a bit tricky
One other thing, we found that TJBot's "Arm" was very tricky to fold. We couldn't get it to be exactly correct when folding the tabs together. And, when we placed it on the servo, it seems that the arm falls off way too easily because the white "wing" or "arm" piece that comes with the servo hardly reaches the servo.  But, it works, so we're happy with the results (which are shown at the top of this blog post).
What do you think?  Doesn't TJBot look great!

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.  (click here to see a future post where TJBot speaks)

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.