Hack in a dojo

Hack in a dojo

Mural inside the Hacker Dojo, Santa ClaraIf you stand in front of the office building at 3350 Thomas Rd you have to follow the signs to go around and enter the metal door at the side. That is if you want to visit the Hacker Dojo. Once inside you will be greeted by murals and a laptop that’ll ask you to sign in.

The Hacker Dojo is an institution in Silicon Valley. Since 2009 it allowed its members to share ideas, workspaces and party together. By now in its third location, you can use it for collaborate workspaces, check out the maker space, and tinker with the 3D printer or laser cutter. The classrooms on the side and the main space are also used for workshops and social events, like game nights. Membership fees start at $100/month and give you access to all events. Inside the Hacker Dojo, Santa Clara

This is a great place to network, and you might even score a job (check out the job board in the back).

There is table tennis to release some steam or to play a round with your new co-worker.

Have you been to the Hacker Dojo?

 

Visit the Apple Visitor Center

Visit the Apple Visitor Center

It’s round, it’s new, it’s a spaceship – well because of its roundness it’s call spaceship – it’s actually a large office building. But you can’t go in, unless you are working for Apple.

Tapple park tote bag, Apple Visitor Center, Cupertinoo get a peek, of the roof line, drop by the nearby visitor center. Yes, a visitor center to get you closer to the Apple headquarters. And while you’re there it’s also an Apple Store, with a few gift shop items, and a cafe.

From the underground parking lot, steps take you to the cafe entrance. Two large glass doors open perpendicular to let in the breeze and the customers. The cafe only seemed to offer espresso drinks and chocolate. In the next room is the Apple Store. I was surprised to see bags and t-shirts, this merchandize can only be bought at the visitor center. Model of Apple Park, Apple Visitor Center, Cupertino

The last room in the complex hosts the augmented reality model. Geniuses hand out iPads which augment the 3D model and you can swipe off the roof of the buildings to look inside. The staff also is very cheerful and answers any questions.

rooftop Apple Visitor Center, CupertinoThe rooftop is the highlight of the center. A serene space that has a view of Apple Park.

If you are looking for nerdy fun, this place should be on the tour. It is open 7 days a week.

Have you been to the Apple Visitor Center?

 

Ride in the park

Ride in the park

World’s largest full pipe, Action Sports Park, San JoseThe recently opened Action Sports Park on Lake Cunningham in San Jose has a bike and a skate park. The skate park was built in 2011 and it’s California’s largest with 68,000 square feet. In fact there are two world’s largest pipes, namely: full pipe and cradle. The vert wall is the world’s tallest.

Watch Tony Hawk and other experts in this 3 minute video on their sneak-peek opening experience:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1EgSwmps6Q

Riding zone at the Action Sports Park, San JoseThe brand new bike park surrounds the skatepark with some impressive hills and ramps. They have a small fleet of bikes for rent. Also the very important helmets and pads can be rented. There are no age restrictions, if you are under 6 you need an adult with you. Allowed are all kinds of bikes, even unicycles!

Different skill levels guide you through the seven riding zones. Spectators can hang out and enjoy the free wifi.

 

For $7 per person, you can ride all day (annual membership available), but there is also a $6 parking fee (and an option to buy a annual parking pass). The Action Sports Park allows outside food, but they also have a concession stand and a BBQ area.

 

Have you been to the Actions Sport Park?

 

Morph your art

Morph your art

Yanling He’s code manipulated images forces us to see usual objects in a distorted new shape. He’s Digital Photography and Video are currently on display at the Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA), in Mountain View. Just stop by at Finn Center’s Mohr Gallery, no admission fee. The exhibit is open Monday – Friday 9 am – 7 pm, Saturday 9 am – 3 pm, until May 6th, 2018.

 

There are three parts to this exhibit:

Part I—Computational Motion Graphics

Part II—Computational Static Visual Art

Part III—Photography

 

Refraction by Yanling He's Photography & Video, CSMA, Mountain View, CARefraction and Water Drops, are series that look like every image morphed into a Christmas ornament. Here are city icons bent to globe shapes, bodies distorted by the force of new curves, and flowers flowing in their new casing.

Some images are printed on interesting materials like metal or wood, showing the original next to it’s code manipulation self. Names like Liquify and Wave express the ideas for the image manipulation. Wave uses metal to intensify the reflection of tree stumps.

 

Curves by Yanling He, CSMA, Mountain View, CAHe’s experimental approach to forms and color is exemplary in the Shader and Curve compilations.

The accompanying video was not working on my visit, but it is available on her website: www.yanlinghe.com

Fraction of a photo by Yanling He, CSMA, Mountain View, CAMy favorite photos were from Fireworks (my image is only a fraction of the original, zoomed in). A close look of water drips on dandelion. There is something enchanting about the fragil spores of dandelions mixed with reflecting droplets of water.

 

 

Have you seen He’s computational art?

 

Off to the races

Off to the races

A beautiful racetrack right by the Bay, Dollar Day Sundays, and some (over 18) gambling excitement. The Golden Gate Fields racetrack Dollar Days, every Sunday until June 10th, 2018, include $1 parking, $1 entry fee, $1 program, $1 mimosas, $1 beer and $1 soda and water.

Betting starts at a minimum of $2.

They welcome newbies and have a booklet to teach you all the important aspects.

Spectator at Golden Gate Fields, BerkeleyThe audience is very eclectic, from college students to families to retired persons. The people-watching is part of the experience. Collections of interesting headwear, the groups gathered around TV screens to follow other races, and the owners and jockeys posing for pictures after the races.

The large amount of smokers surprised me. The place itself felt like a Casino without the one-armed bandits. One can almost smell lost hopes. Tickets on the floor  at Golden Gate Fields, Berkeley

 

But when the race starts and everyone either shouts out the name or the number of the horse they bid on, willing it to run faster, every sad thought is forgotten and you are, at least for these moments, excited in the experience.

Horse  at Golden Gate Fields, BerkeleyWhatever your strategy is for choosing a horse, statistics, names, numbers or looking at the horse prior to the race, there is a lot of luck involved.

Please drink and gamble responsibly.

 

 

Have you ever been to the races?

 

Geek out with computer artifacts

Geek out with computer artifacts

Have you ever visited the ‘Birthplace of Silicon Valley”? The HP garage is a national landmark, at 367 Addison Ave, in Palo Alto. Unfortunately it does not offer a public tour.

Replica of the HP garage and workbench, StanfordIf you really wonder what it was like to work in the garage you should go visit Stanford’s Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center. On what they call the terrace level, I would refer to as the basement, is a replica of the HP garage and workbench. This replication illustrates the size of the workplace and feels like a homage to the first tech-founders out of Stanford. The chairs and the table inside weren’t part of the garage, but they are a great way to collaborate with fellow students and let your creativity flow, like Hewlett and Packard did back in their days.

Other artifacts in the Engineering Center include Yahoo’s motherboard, the geometric engine chip (necessary to render 3D graphics), the Intel 4004 (the first microprocessor) and NVIDIA’s first GPU (the GeForce 256). All on the first floor.

The first Google storage server, StanfordMy personal favorite is the first Google storage server (on the terrace level). The case is made out of Lego’s and it is said that Google’s affinity for primary colors came from the building blocks color scheme.

All these exhibits remind us that Stanford’s engineering department has a longstanding history of enabling successful companies.

Stanford Engineering HerosYou can pick up a copy of the Jen-Hsun Huang Engineering Center self-guided tour at the computer kiosk located at the first floor lobby or in suite 135. One hour tours of the Engineering Quad are offered 3-4 times a week and require reservations (https://visit.stanford.edu/calendar/index.html)

 

 

What is your favorite computer artifact?

Can horses fly?

Can horses fly?

Photographer Eadweard Muybridge got commissioned by Leland Stanford to prove that horses can fly.

The horse in motion, statue at Stanford EquestrianTo find an answer to the question if horses are, while galloping, have all four legs off the ground, Eadweard Muybridge performed a gait analysis. In 1878 he came up with a construction of 24 cameras that were along a track. He proved that on one instance the horses legs were all aflot.

Muybridge used these images in his zoopraxiscope, an early device for projecting rotating pictures and perfect for the sequential motions captured. The Horse in Motion, also known as Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, is sometimes credited as the first silent movie.

I went to see pictures of Muybridge at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, but to my astonishment, although they have a collection of almost 500 photos, they don’t have a regular display. The only clue for this extraordinary invention and proof is the statue of The Horse in Motion at the Red Barn.

The horse in motion, information board at Stanford EquestrianStanford Equestrian has a plaque to commemorate Muybridge’s role. The tribute acknowledges The horse in motion as the  first academic study of Stanford. There is also an information board explaining the history in a bit more detail.

Have you seen proof about flying horses before?

Celebrate Christmas in the Park

Celebrate Christmas in the Park

One thing I miss during Christmas season, besides my family, are the Weihnachtsmarkets in Germany. Always a true sign that Christmas is coming, a great place to buy local gifts and drink some Gluehwein.

Every blood donation "counts" treeA surprising ‘christmassy’ event is Christmas in the Park in San Jose. This year they broke the world record for most decorated Christmas trees!  600 decorated trees can be seen on Cesar Chavez Plaza.

Some trees are decorated in memory of lost ones, there is a Grinch, and a Dracula advertising the mobile blood drive December 22nd from 12 pm to 5 pm, at Cesar Chavez Plaza.

 

 

LED ornament

My favorite trees were the Mentor Trees, showcasing the mentorship program between some colleges and elementary, middle and high schools in the area with some LED ornaments that glowed in different colors and patterns and the Washington Elementary Glasses Club Tree, which has some inspiring reasons why to wear glasses!

Washington Elementary Glasses Club Tree

 

The 40 animated displays is probably the reason why there were so many babies and young children during the day.

Caribbean Christmas animationThe one that made me smile the most was the Caribbean Christmas, a bunch of frogs playing a Christmas song in Caribbean tunes.

 

There is also a community stage and you can go see Santa.

This tradition is open through January 7th, 2018 and free with donations.

How are you decorating your tree?

See the light throughout the tunnel

See the light throughout the tunnel

This time of the year, when it gets dark early, it is a joy to see all the light installations, private and public.

Sonic runway, San JoseSan Jose partnered with Burning Man in an initiative called ‘Playa to Paseo’ to bring more engaging art downtown. The first of these, the Sonic Runway, is in front of the City Hall on Santa Clara Street from Fourth to Sixth. Everyday from 5pm to 12am thru mid January 2018 the Sonic Runway “is a corridor of lights that visualizes the speed of sound”, according to the official website. I recommend going both ways through the tunnel; one way the sound is coming at you the other way you are in sync with lights and sound.

 

When I visited, the early visitors were enjoying a stroll thru the tunnel, in both directions. I saw families with kids, but also couples on their way to a night out in town.

A short while later the skaters used a newspaper box as a ramp to perform some jumps and slides inside the tunnel.Skater in the Sonic Runway, San Jose

I had the feeling the only ones not so thrilled about it are the city hall employees trying to go home at 5pm.

 

The other light installations in the ‘Illuminating Downtown’ program are:

(http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/03/22/map-interactive-light-displays-downtown-san-jose/)

  • ‘Show Your Stripes’ – Second and San Fernando

You can use a phone code to change the patterns and colors of lights on the building

  • ‘Sensing You’ and ‘Sensing Water’ – Highway 87 underpasses at Santa Clara and San Fernando

Lights responding to movements of passers-by

Crack the code, an interactive game

  • ‘San Carlos Lantern Relay’ – South side of San Carlos, between Fourth and Market

Eight boxes on poles flash an interactive light show

  • ‘Voxel Cloud’ – Pierce Ave at Market St.

3-D light sculpture on top of the apartment building

 

Have you setup your own Holiday light installation? If you have post a photo on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/untilsuburbia/.

Learn about inventors

Learn about inventors

So, when you google Menlo Park you will get a lot of results talking about Thomas Edison. Who, it turns out lived in Menlo Park, New Jersey and that development was named after the Californian town.

 

1920s general store at the Museum of American History, Palo AltoThe Museum of American History in Palo Alto is running a current exhibit titled: Thomas Edison and His Rivals: Bringing Electricity to America.

You can learn about American ingenuity and the rivalries between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla, until February 18th, 2018. They also show a lot of different inventions from the three tech pioneers.

The subject is not surprising for the Museum of American History, which focuses on inventions and technology from 1750 to 1950.Melmac at the Museum of American History, Palo Alto

The permanent exhibit features a 1920s general store, an early 20th century kitchen and outside a replica of an auto-repair-shop, a print shop and the marvelous garden.

It is a great museum to spent some time inside and outside. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $5.

What is your favorite invention?