The first Google storage server, Stanford

6 Hidden Spots for Geeks and Nerds in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley houses more geeky nerds, and I mean this as an honorary term. There are some places that might be especially interesting for this group:

  1. The first Google server with a case made with Legos. 

This server is displayed in the basement at the Huang Engineering Building in Stanford. 

While you are there check out the replica of the HP garage.

Huang Engineering Building Stanford

475 Via Ortega, Stanford, CA 94305

https://engineering.stanford.edu/about/visit

  1. Visit Facebook’s first office

The Face Book in Palo Alto is the first office of social media giant Facebook. A sign outside commemorates this place. This is an easier way to get a picture with a thumbs up. 😉

The Face Book - first Facebook office in Palo Alto.

The Face Book

471 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

  1. Apple Campus 3 

The spaceship, Apple Park, Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino is only viewable from afar at the visitor center. A great way to get a closer look of Apple is the Apple Campus 3, AC3 as insiders might call it. 

Apple

222 N Wolfe Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 

https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/03/19/apples-third-large-california-campus-is-already-built

  1. See the latest Android figure

Google celebrates its Android operating system versions by dedicating lawn sculptures. The naming used to be in alphabetical order after deserts and other sweets. The former OS figures can be seen near the visitor center. The latest Android figure is usually displayed at the Googleplex. For Android 11 you can also see it online, to stay with the candy theme, the internal name was Red Velvet Cake, the recipe is ‘taped’ to the sculpture, at least in its virtual version. 

https://www.android.com/android-11-ar-statue/

Google

Android Lawn Sculpture in Mountain View.

Android Lawn Sculptures

1981 Landings Dr, Mountain View, CA 94043

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_lawn_statues

  1. Tour Roblox headquarters 

See your favorite characters at the Roblox headquarters. Due to COVID-19 the 60 minute tours will be awarded in a lottery. Sign up at:

https://behindtheblox.splashthat.com/

Roblox

970 Park Pl, San Mateo, CA 94403

  1. Santa Clara NVIDIA Building

NVIDIA, inventors of the GPU, set themselves a building fitting for the creative potential. It is unique in how it used triangles, representing the building blocks for computer graphics.

NVIDIA

NVIDIA office in Santa Clara.

2788 San Tomas Expressway Santa Clara, CA. 95050

https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/2013/02/20/nvidia-to-build-a-new-home-20-years-after-our-founding/

Do you have any tips on hidden spots for geeks and nerds?

In my 50 things to do series I usually have ideas for nerdy fun.

Table outside of Kirin in Mountain View

Dine in Circles – COVID-19 Style

How is your summer going?

I would be on vacation right now. Sigh. 

But honestly I can’t complain too much. We are very privileged going into this pandemic and have a nice place to hang out and wait this out.

I hope everyone is safe and healthy!

Castro St. road closure, for outdoor dining, Mountain View, CA.

It is also very important to support local businesses right now. Since July 22nd Mountain View has closed off most of Castro St. for vehicular traffic and made it a great place for outdoor dining!

The 100 to 400 block on Castro is now a pedestrian zone, with the crossing streets, Evelyn, Villa, Dana, California and Mercy,  still open. The city opened up additional short term parking in City parking lots and garages behind Castro. The Castro Summer StEATS is a pilot program to see if it revives the downtown area. 

All is done with social distancing in mind. Circles on the floor show where the assigned tables should go, signs on the street lead you to the hand wash stations, and all waiting staff are wearing masks.

Castro St. people dining outdoors.

Finally the city is taking advantage of the weather and provides us with a piazza experience! The last time I visited I noticed a lot of children playing in the street. What a lovely accomplishment to enhance city living! Bravo!

What is your opinion about the Castro Summer StrEATS?

Actually the city is asking, please take 7 minutes of your time and fill out the questionnaire:

English

Spanish

Intel building in Mountain View, Superfund site

Explore the Dark Side of Silicon Valley

Originally I wanted my next blog post to be about the Superfund sites in Silicon Valley. In Mountain View alone there are seven hazardous waste sites that are commonly leftover from manufacturing facilities, like the production of semiconductors. In the case of Mountain View, these are Fairchild Semiconductor, Teledyne Semiconductor, CTS Pintex, Inc., Jasco Chemical Corp.Intel, Raytheon Corp.. and Spectra-Physics Inc. 

William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain received the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics.

The man who put the silicon in Silicon Valley through the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, William Shockley, has an even darker side to him. Shockley. A Nobel Prize winner for physics, weighed in on white supremacy and his view of genetic IQ differences. In a 2015 National Geographic article said about Shockley: “despite a complete lack of formal education in biology and genetics, Shockley tried to use these fields of study to support a set of racist ideas known as eugenics.” 

In 1956 Shockley lectured at Stanford and in 1963 was appointed as professor of engineering. He taught until 1975, but I could find no evidence that Stanford distanced themselves from the racist Shockley who published articles about his extremist ideas while teaching at the university.

391 San Antonio Rd. the site where Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory used to be.

The city of Mountain View acknowledges the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory as the birthplace of Silicon Valley with a plaque and an art installation at the site of 391 San Antonio Rd. The original building was torn down and nowadays is part of The Village, a complex of shopping malls, office buildings, apartments, and restaurants.

Part of the art work at 391 San Antonio Rd

Do you know of other dark sides of Silicon Valley?

Resources:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-real-birthplace-of-silicon-valley-mountain-view-california

https://www.wired.com/story/silicon-valleys-first-founder-was-its-worst/

https://www.sfgate.com/tech/article/Silicon-Valley-Shockley-racist-semiconductor-lab-13164228.php#item-95844-tbla-4

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/10/151005-nobel-laureates-forget-racist-sexist-science/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/btshoc.html

https://www.pbs.org/transistor/album1/shockley/shockley3.html

https://ee.stanford.edu/about/history

Explore Stanford with my tips of 50 things to do at Stanford!

NASA's NeMO-Net game lobby. Screenshot courtesy of NASA.

Classify Coral Reefs

When you play NeMO-Net, a single player iPad or phone game, you will help NASA map out the ocean floor and assess the health of coral reefs around the world. 

First I downloaded the app to my phone, got a username assigned, and then was greeted by Sylvia Earle, an Oceanographer from NASA’s NeMO-Net. NeMo-Net is a game created for us to learn about corals, how to identify them. NASA’s ultimate goal is to teach their supercomputer to learn with us and to create a global dataset to classify reefs.

Beginning of NeMO-Net game. A coral in 3D. Caption: Try zooming in closer to the NASA logo! Place two fingers on the screen and spread them apart to zoom in.
Screenshot courtesy of NASA

The game begins with a tutorial on how to zoom, rotate, and paint corals and other shallow marine environments in 3D. While you paint you listen to some meditative music, headphones are highly recommended! If you finish painting a coral with 90% accuracy, you are invited to Guam. From there you can start learning about different corals and help NASA to map the ocean floor.

Screenshot of NeMO-Net game, a colored in coral.
Screenshot courtesy of NASA

It is a very relaxing game, kind of like paint by numbers while you do some good. So, if you need to chill for a bit I challenge you to a game of NeMo-Net. The game play took a bit getting used to; the hand gestures are unfamiliar to me since I don’t play 3D games. Plus I had to get my reading glasses since the font is very tiny!

It wouldn’t be NASA if the implications of this game did not have anything to do with space. Indeed, the technology could be used to identify life on other planets or examine ancient Martian life.

Have you played NeMo-Net yet?

Have you visited the NASA Ames Research Center?

Kite flying at the kite flying area at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Fly a Kite

Family flying a kite at the kite flying area at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Did you know that there is a kite flying area at Shoreline Park in Mountain View? Since it is close to the Bay it always seems to have a nice breeze. Perfect for kites of all abilities. 

Kite at the Shoreline Park kite flying area in Mountain View.

I recently saw a traditional bird, a long cylinder with ruffles, and what looked like a miniature hang glider kite in rainbow colors. The more professional hang glider kite was doing constant loops and making some humming noises while cutting through the air. The other two were just pleased to be aloft. 

While on a midweek afternoon this seemed to be an activity for middle-aged men, on a recent weekend trip I saw little kids flying kites with their parents. 

Sign for the kite flying area general use parking at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Since the golf course is open again, you can drive into the park. The kite flying area is your first possible right turn with plenty of parking. (And there is a handicapped port-o-potty.)

When was the last time you flew a kite?

If you are looking for other fun things to do in Mountain View I recommend my 50 things to do in Mountain View.

chalk art drawing of Vincent Van Gogh starry night, Mountain View

Stroll on a chalk art walk

It’s been over a week now for shelter-in-place, and I hope everyone is still healthy and safe!

Since it is still OK to go on a walk – one of my neighbors had a great idea: a chalk art walk.

Walkway to a house, full of chalk drawings, Mountain View.

Last Friday almost 60 households participated in beautifying their drive or walkways with artful chalk drawings. 

All in this together - chalk drawing, Mountain View.

A lot of flowers and we-are-all-in-this-together messages.

A walk-by meditation chalk drawing, Mountain View

My favorite was an instruction to a walk-by meditation to stand, observe and breath.

It was really great how the neighborhood came together. There are some true artists out there!

We had a lot of media coverage for this (see the resources link below).

How are you coping with the shelter-in-place? 

Please leave a comment for creative ideas for the whole neighborhood below.

Resources:

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/03/22/us/california-sidewalk-drawings-coronavirus-trnd/index.html?f

https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/22/us/coronavirus-first-week-social-distancing-wrap-up-trnd/index.html?

https://mv-voice.com/news/2020/03/23/young-chalk-artists-brighten-the-mood-in-cuesta-park


Vasper cooling machines, Moffett Field

Streamline your exercise

It felt good the other day at the doctors. When she asked me about exercise I could give her a tip on how to get stronger muscles. 

View out the Vasper door towards the hanger, Moffett Field

Vasper is based on three scientifically proven principles – compression technology, cooling and interval training. Scientific experiments also show the reduction of stress hormones. 

Vasper bike at Moffett Field.

What is Vasper? A workout on a bike (or a rower unit or an elliptical unit), with added cooling. I do a 21 minute bike workout where I sit on a cold pad, the feet are bare and also cooled, and cooling compressions are added to the upper legs and arms. It’s perfect for a morning workout since sweat is little, you feel invigorated afterwards, and have a 1 ½ hour routine compressed into 30 minutes (there is a 10 minute cool-down period recommended). You can try out three sessions for free!

Vasper sign with the hanger, Moffett Field.

An added bonus is Vasper is located at Moffett Field in Mountain View. Bring an ID to enter and be close to the airship hangers you always see from the 101.

How do you exercise?

Refraction, by Yanling He, CSMA, Mountain View, CA

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?

 

Walk into space exploration

Walk into space exploration

Mountain View is not only a huge part of Silicon Valley, it also has the NASA Ames Research Center. To show off what they are doing to the public there is the free NASA Ames Visitor Center. It is at the main gate of the NASA Research Center and is open Tuesday to Friday 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday noon – 4 pm. Currently they have construction going on and you can only park behind the center.

A replica of the International Space Station at the Ames Research Visitor Center in Mountain ViewIf you ever wanted to see a moonstone or wondered how the researchers work in space (think nerdy tiny house) this is the place for you! There was also a great photo opportunity to pose as a couple of astronauts.

The friendly guy at the counter offered to show any of the movies, e.g. several about Mars, or a tour of the International Space Station, for me since it was slow and no one else was around, but I had to decline because I was pressed for time. Maybe something to come back for?

Have you seen any of the movies at the NASA  Ames Visitor Center?

Eat local produce

Eat local produce

One of many things I am thankful for living in such a beautiful area are the farmers markets. Mountain View has an especially large market located near the Caltrain station, on Sunday mornings from 9 to 1. Lots of stands that grow what they sell.

Mandarin oranges at Mountain View farmers marketA few bakers and butchers and the olive guy. Someone that will sharpen your knives while you shop. You can also buy some lunch or coffee and sit down for a while. The kids usually like the entertainment, the balloon guy and the music.

I especially like the vibe. People coming together enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables, getting their flower bouquet for the week, sampling some new fruits or old varieties. The sellers proud of their offerings are very knowledgeable. Cucumbers at Mountain View  farmers market

Here is a list of all the farmers markets in the area:

http://www.cafarmersmkts.com/

http://www.mercurynews.com/2007/05/08/farmers-market-list/

What is your favorite farmers market?

Happy Thanksgiving!