Sunday, June 08, 2014

Recap of PyCon and the PiDoorbell tutorial

Better late than never as they say.....

It's been a couple of months since our PyCon trip and our first workshop on PiDoorbell.

The CodeChix team of Deepa Dhurka, Akkana Peck, Serpil Bayraktar, Lyz Krumbach and Stuart Easson was absolutely phenomenal !!

We all left the bay area on our designated days and sync'd up in beautiful (and relatively cold) Montreal a day before our workshop.  The hardware arrived safely (was held up in customs for a couple of days) and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

And then we discovered that we needed to prepare our SD cards with the PiDoorbell software and Raspbian and that took a whole day since we ran into issues with bad SD cards.

On the day of the workshop, we arrived half an hour early so we could set up our own router on the hard-wired ethernet.  However, there was no hard-wired ethernet set up and so we had to tie into the rather flaky conference wi-fi.  None of us could tether our phones since it was Canada and the charges would have been astronomical.  Anyway, fingers and toes crossed and hit the gas pedal...

Students started to stream in and we ran out of hardware packets.  We had asked for a cutoff of 20 students but 23 showed up and, unfortunately, we didn't realize this till much later (after we had started instruction) and, so, all the TA's and I scrounged around and shared our own Rpi's, SD cards, sensors, wifi dongles and whatever else was needed during the workshop.

We had a few issues with SD cards that didn't have ssh enabled but the bulk of the issues were around the variety of laptops and different OS's that people were running.  We had Mac's with different versions of OSX, Linux with different distros and Windows with different distros.  And navigating that landscape turned out to be the most time-consuming of all.

But, despite these issues, everyone in the class had their LED's up and blinking happily and then got their sensors to work and detect objects !!  That was the goal of the workshop and we all had a round of applause when we reached it !

At that point we only had about 20 minutes left and I did a very quick run through of the Dropbox, Twilio and Twitter setup and 2 students got that working until the wifi got in the way and we lost connectivity at the end of the workshop.

Everyone in the class was extremely appreciative and we all got SO much positive feedback.  It was an awesome experience and the CodeChix team rocked it !

And our survey feedback had a review of Excellent across the board (except for one person who said they couldn't give us that review because she did not receive her hardware packet because we had run out).

And then we enjoyed our stay in Montreal and attended as many PyCon talks as we could !