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?

Map of the Stanford Dish loop.

Run Around the Stanford Dish

It is vital these days to exercise.  A lot of public parks and open space preserves have been closed off, due to the excessive use and therefore people not being able to keep the 6ft required distance. 

We were lucky two weeks ago when my son and I decided to hike the Stanford Dish it was still open. As of April 3rd, they closed access to the Dish. 

The Stanford Dish

I have to confess I put the Stanford Dish hike in my 50 things to do in Stanford without ever being on the path. I am glad I did this hike before it got closed off. The path is concrete, which allows for wheelchairs and strollers, but keep in mind the alleviation changes dramatically – my health app said I climbed 22 floors that day!

Old radio telescope, Stanford Dish hike.

I always wanted to do this 3.8 mile loop passing the old radio telescope visible from 280. I was surprised that there are actually two radio telescopes! We parked at the Stanford parking lot, which is free. Be sure not to park in the residential area, because they will ticket.

The Dish is (usually) open from sunrise to sunset. No dogs, accept service dogs, or bicycles are allowed.

Stanford Dish

Have you hiked the Dish loop before?

Do you know of any hikes that are still open?

50 things to do in Cupertino

Explore 50 things to do in Cupertino

Since Tuesday we are officially ordered to ‘shelter in place’. So I like to take this time to introduce you to my series: ‘50 things to do’. I try to find 50 things to do in a city nearby. It is an interesting challenge and I enjoy discovering every aspect of a city.

Bowling balls at Homestead Bowl, Cupertino.

In my latest ‘50 things to do’ I discovered Cupertino. Most of you might know Cupertino as Apple’s headquarters, but this is not all this city has to offer. I was really surprised to see how many interesting options for sports they have. From disc golf to archery, hiking in the hills, and yoga in the park. This city also has two bowling alleys and an ice rink!

aquarium at the Cupertino library

There are some cool outings for kids, too, like the 16 feet wide aquarium in the library or the Deer Hollow Farm at Rancho San Antonio. If you like to explore local history you’ll be able to enjoy a few fascinating finds.

If you have any suggestions of places that I might have missed I’d love to hear from you!

Are you ready to explore Cupertino (virtually)?

Disc golf basket at Stevens Creek County Park, Cupertino.

Throw some discs around

I’ve been to the San Jose disc golf course at Hellyer. My technical skills for this sport are nothing to write about. But I was pleasantly surprised to find another course at Stevens Creek County Park in Cupertino.

A disc golf basket surrounded by trees at the Stevens Creek County Park in Cupertino.

This 12 hole course is well maintained by the Silicon Valley Disc Golf Club which established the Villa Maria course in 2018.

View from tee number 5 at the Stevens Creek County Park disc golf course, Cupertino.

Therefore this course is a fairly recent addition to the area. You have to pay the $6 parking fee at the bottom and then head up to the Villa Maria Orchard. There are restrooms nearby and picnic tables. The course itself has a decent elevation and is technically challenging because of the trees. I found reviews at DG Course Review  that warn people about poison oak, but overall it got a 3.5 out of a 5. The phone holders at the tee off were a big hit. Film yourself teeing off – how Silicon Valley!

Tee off at the disc golf course, Stevens Creek County Park, Cupertino.

If you are a regular you might consider joining the club to support the sport. But if you are just trying it out, it’s free, and there are no green fees, just parking fees. You just have to get yourself a disc golf set at your local sports store (around $20).

Have you tried disc golf?


Tesla statue, Palo Alto

Surf for free

You might find some public art objectionable. If part of the art is providing free Wi-Fi, will you still object?

Tesla statue, 260 Sheridan Ave, Palo Alto.

Since December 2013 there is a Tesla statue providing free Wi-Fi in Palo Alto with a time capsule to be opened in 2043, 100 years after Tesla died. 


A successful kickstarter campaign was held for the sculpture and free Wi-Fi. It also has it’s own website: https://www.teslastatue.com/ and can be counted as a true Silicon Valley experience.You can also support this artwork and the Wi-Fi by buying a small replica on Amazon (this is the final year of sale).

Tesla statue, 260 Sheridan Ave, Palo Alto.

Dorian Porter of Northern Imagination LLC ran this successful campaign and Harold Hohbach a landowner provides a place in front of one of his office buildings, 260 Sheridan Ave, Palo Alto. 

Yes, your local coffee shop provides Wi-Fi, but I still love the art created by Terry Geyer.

Where do you go to surf for free?

Resources:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/nikola-tesla-statue

https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2013/12/06/nikola-tesla-statue-to-be-unveiled-in-palo-alto


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?

Semaphore, Almaden Tower in San Jose.

Crack the code

Have you ever noticed the four round lights on top of the Adobe Almaden Tower in San José? They look like cat eyes turning to a rhythm.  Every 7.2 seconds they change their position. 

Adobe Almaden Tower's semaphore, San Jose.

This is a semaphore – in the early days a semaphore was the person holding two flags to send messages by changing the arm positions. In computer terms it is a variable used for multitasking operations. This semaphore has four wheels each of them can change into four different positions. Enabling it to have a 256 item vocabulary. It is transmitting a code that you can spend weeks to crack. 

Ben Rubin was chosen as the media artist to install this artwork in 2006. By 2007 Bob Mayo and Mark Snesrud cracked it. It took them 3 weeks to find out the semaphore was spelling out Thomas Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49.

Adobe Almaden Tower's semaphore, San Jose.

The code has been solved twice now. The most recent update was in October 2012. 

You can spend hours in front of the building or check out Adobe’s website to study the pattern. If you are successful in deciphering the code you can submit it to Adobe and they will award you bragging rights and a year’s subscription for the Adobe Creative Cloud. In 2017 the Tennessee math teacher, Jimmy Waters figured out that the code at that time was a sound file voicing Neil Amstrong’s famous sentence: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

A true Silicon Valley experience. 

Have you ever cracked a semaphore code?

Resources: 

https://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/philanthropy/sjsemaphore/
https://sf.curbed.com/2017/3/13/14913006/adobe-semaphore-code-cracked-tennessee


Front of the Alpine Inn, Portola Valley.

Stop by where the internet began

If you followed my 50 things to do in San Mateo county you might already know where the internet begun – at least in this area. 

The plaque outside the Alpine Inn, declaring the beginning of the Internet age.

A plaque at the entrance of the Alpine Inn in Portola Valley reads: “On August 27th, 1976, a scientist from SRI International celebrated the successful completion of tests by sending an electronic message from a computer set up at a picnic table behind the Alpine Inn. The message was sent via a radio network to SRI and on through a second network, the ARPANET, to Boston. This event marked the beginning of the Internet Age.” 

Founded in 1852, the Alpine Inn is the second longest continuously running tavern in California. In May of 1969 it was registered as a historic landmark (#825). Just recently Zott’s, as it is known by locals,  reopened after extensive renovations by the new owners.

Beer with charcuterie board at the Alpine Inn, Portola Valley.

The Alpine Inn is a jovial beer garden. They still have hot dogs and burgers on the menu, but we enjoyed the woodfired pizza and the charcuterie board.  Afterwards we played a game of cornhole (bags can be borrowed from the bar). 

The beer garden at the Alpine Inn, Portola Valley.

Currently they are open from 5 pm to 10 pm, but plan on having lunch hours soon.

The Alpine Inn is by far my favorite beer garden in Silicon Valley. Do you have a favorite beer garden?


The Apple 1 computer at the Historical Society and Museum in Cupertino.

View the Holy Grail of Computers

Cupertino is mostly linked with Apple. The garage where Steve Jobs and Steve Woziak build the first Apple computer is in Los Altos. But the first office and all the preceding offices are mostly in Cupertino, including the old headquarters at Infinite Loop and the new ‘spaceship’.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Cupertino Historical Society and Museum  is currently showing: Homage to the IT Revolution.

Entrance to the Historical Museum in Cupertino.

This traveling exhibit will be here until June 2020 and it is well worth the time. The Italian curated exhibit by a group called BasicGallery takes you on a journey of the visionaries of personal computers from 1975 to 1985.

Olivetti's Programma 101 at the Cupertino Historical Society and Museum.

It starts out with the first personal computer, the Programma 101, manufactured by Olivetti in Italy (1965). In a small space they have packed a cornucopia of information, illustrating it with the responding artifacts and stories about them. There are all the famous players you would expect, like the Commodore 64 and Atari 400, and of course multiple Apple computers. All artifacts are labeled with launch date, launch price, and units sold.

Apple 1 computer with keyboard, monitor, original package and letter from Steve Jobs, at the Cupertino Historical Society and Museum.

The star of the exhibit, titled in the showcase as the Holy Grail, is the Apple 1. This is believed to be the only surviving complete kit, of the 50 sold Apple 1’s, with the original box and a personal letter from Steve Jobs!

You can listen to interviews of key players at that time, like John Sculley, former CEO of Apple Inc., and Steve Wozniak (Co-founder of Apple Inc). The introductory video is online:

http://www.basicpress.com/contenuti/media/resultmedia.asp?id=143654

I highly recommend this free exhibit (donations are welcome), from Wednesday – Saturday 10 am – 4 pm. Please call ahead to verify that the museum is open (408) 973-1495.

What is your earliest personal computer experience?

Table setting at the Los Altos History Museum Silicon Valley Eats exhibit.

Foodies reunite in this exhibit

The last time I went to the Los Altos History Museum I came back with some old recipes. This time it was again a food inspired exhibit that spiked my interest: Silicon Valley Eats. Silicon Valley was formerly known as the Valley of Hearts Delights with orchards and canneries. This  is the natural starting point for this exhibit. I liked the different menus from restaurants in Los Altos displayed on the wall.

Place setting at the J. Gilbert Smith House, Los Altos.

There were a lot of information about new and inventive foods. Did you know that 80% of the world’s population eats bugs?

The J. Gilbert Smith House next door also has a Silicon Valley feel to it with its scavenger hunt-like exhibit about Gadgets Galore! Our guide pointed out different old mechanical devices. For example, there is an adding machine – and in fact, all it does is add.

Adding machine at the J. Gilbert Smith House, Los Altos.

In the spirit of invention, the History Museum can point to the walnut huller. They own the prototype and the actual working huller. All invented in Los Altos.

Part of the walnut huller, Los Altos History Museum.

Both exhibits run through early September and are free (donations are appreciated). The Los Altos History Museum is open Thursdays to Sundays noon – 4 pm.

This was our first group outing. Thanks to everyone who joined me! If you like to be included in future group activities contact me, or sent me an email under untilsuburbia@gmail.com.

Are you a foodie?