bye world maker faire from FIRST

Norm and I organized the FIRST robotics presence at Maker Faire for the past 9 years. Given that Make Magazine has gone out of business, last year was the last one.

I think some of the Mini Maker Faire events will live on. The NY and San Mateo ones were quite a production to put on. NY hadn’t even opened the call for Makers yet so it makes sense for the event not to happen.

As a way of saying goodbye, I’m posting some of memories from the event.

Maker Faire was held rain or shine. We learned that it can in fact be too hot for a robot. Luckily teams innovated with a sunhat.

The first year our “rain plan” was “it better not rain.” Luckily, we got more sophisticated by the year it was really rainy and windy overnight.

Little kids loved the robots and we won a ribbon almost every year. Two years ago, Norm had the great idea to have each team there on Sunday take a picture with the ribbon.

A shout out to every participating team over the years. As we grew from a small space to a big attraction, we couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for influencing lots of people and spreading the reach of FIRST. I’m proud to say that I helped *make* a *space* for FIRST robotics exhibitors.

creating a chromebook recovery disk

In the past, I have used the Chromebook utility to create a recovery image USB. This time, it hung at 0% on writing to disk. I tried with two different USBs. Then I started searching for a workaround

A reddit post led me in the right direction. This URL downloads a conf file with the direct URLs to download the image for each Chromebook. I searched the file for my model (Acer Chromebook 15 (CB3-531)) and downloaded the zip file. It was about the size of a CD (655MB)

Then I chose the gear and the local image option. I picked the bin.zip file. It still wouldn’t load. I wound up just copying the zip (and the unzipped cpgz) to the USB. (still under 3GB). That way I have it in case it is needed. My mother would have to bring the ChromeBook to best buy anyway so they can make the recovery disk if needed. We’ve never needed it so I don’t expect to!

I’m now wondering why it needs a 8GB disk when the image is far smaller. i also note that in 2012, it said you needed an 8GB disk and i used a 4GB one. So inflation?

Converting PowerPoint to eps

A few months ago, I blogged about editing eps file on a Mac without an expensive tool. I only did it a couple times and fell back to “Scott edits eps files.” I’m now writing a new chapter which means I don’t have to deal with existing images. Scott offered to convert my image files to eps. (The publisher did it for our Java 8 books.) I wanted to see if I could to it myself. I feel bad using him as my “eps file service.”

With a bit of Googling, I learned that InkScape has a command line that can convert. I also learned that it is a pain to set up, but instructions are online.

Before doing an operation described as a “pain” and that looks like a lot of stops, I decided to try the UI.

  1. In PowerPoint, save as and choose PDF
  2. Open Inkscape
  3. Open > choose the PDF
  4. Changed precision field from ‘rough” to “very fine”
  5. Click ok
  6. Wait a few minutes (The InkScape window “disappeared” during this step.)
  7. Get Window back: Right click XQuartz > Options > Desktop on Display 2
  8. File > Save as
  9. Choose eps as file type
  10. Choose all defaults

Well, I’m glad I didn’t fiddle with the command line. The eps file has a shaded background behind all my arrows.


Take two

  1. In PowerPoint, save as and choose pnd
  2. Open Inkscape
  3. Open > choose the png
  4. Changed image rendering mode to “smooth”
  5. Click ok
  6. File > Save as
  7. Choose eps as file type
  8. Choose all defaults

Same problem. The eps file has a shaded background. The pdf and png did not.

Oh well. If I can’t figure this out, I guess I’m back to Scott as eps exporter.