Programming in the Small: Kids, Chickens, and Ruby

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Programming in the Small: Kids, Chickens, and Ruby
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After several years of programming in Ruby using Shoes, my daughter and I were hunting for a new project. Something more useful than a game. Something with a real-world connection. Then it struck us: Chickens! Join us as we show you how we built our coop monitoring system. It’ll be a wild ride of hardware hacking, weather-proofing, and father-daughter bonding, with Ruby sprinkled throughout. You’ll learn how to modernize your surroundings, and about engaging the young people in your life in technology along the way.
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hi i'm current. we're so glad that you're here today everybody and.
so a few years ago corner and i did a presentation at cascadia rupees and that presentation was about shoes programs of shoes as a green library will see a little bit more about it a little while later on in we had done a series of different programs in she was together what's what. for some of the things that we had coded insurance costs. the. favoured program and one of the star wars program do what was on about. well. reprice the. derek jeter his wife's the. late saver. when to cross in when we pressed to why he used his years with can be in when we press. i think it was well i'll princess way as like sheep or came up was right and i caught the bug. that my dad did in if we press which to the to me times the feeders late saber will off the screen you know she was my toaster so this was one example of the water per rooms that needed together. we had a really good time we really we love routine in our household don't win when he's pretty grim is pretty awesome how much do we were ruby now i have a lot so who's this on screen it's is making paid to be that's right we like her me so much in the clark household name or guinea pig group.
but you know we were looking at this and i we've had a great time programming together and building games in different pictures and things but we wanted to to move things come to the next level we one of the sold something real world right so we came up with a problem that existed in our lives what was our problem cora.
wow. and she can't find a way that's right so we have chickens in our backyard you know we're from portland oregon of course we would have chickens in her backyard. one and in keeping track of these chickens in the eggs that they're laying is is a real problem for spain because this is actually a thing to write i mean why is this so much trouble for a sport where we have to lie detector lines area. you can advance to the next thing that'll show in part of the we have eleven chickens. eleven chickens now if the city of portland asks that eleven is inspiring. but you know eleven chickens as a lot of chickens to keep track of them. and in a big part of why this is trouble for us is in his you may or may not know if you haven't been around chickens before they lay eggs that look really similar so we have a couple of america on as which way kind of blue green eggs and then one that lays why days of polish and then the rest of them. labour innings we can't tell the difference between the vast majority of these chickens in what big as their way. the polish as it were a very often that's right the polish will see a picture of her in a few minutes she's pretty small and doesn't way that not often that we can tell when she does in the eye. it's also problematic because the chickens lay eggs at different speeds and depending on how well they are and depending on the time of the year how much light how warm how happy they are they may lay as much as one a day in the melee every two or three days where they may hold out for much much longer on which us. vauxhall yeah as winter sets in they all sort of slow down quite a bit so words let's give him a little in terms of some of our flock our roots will take a look at some of the characters we have so this is that can cover am.
in the library and i mean here have lacked implications plaque cancer are lots of the next so these are a pair of our american audience so in those homes that one is in america and the end. that for one at the fact is it. the kind that i forgot the old ok well she might have got a game on someone's confirming she may actually be correct about this is why it went to a co-president. it's one of the next one so this is why i want to turkey and so they aren't actually related to turkey's but you can understand where the name came from a week that's our oldest its if someone were older ones we got them from some friends after they had been a little higher the entire incident it at their house and people. would come over and we like these are the chickens that we have we adopted because of the got attacked by the kind who doesn't like all that's so terrible winner her feathers going to grow back the this is just what the turkeys look like in that it was not actually related to the injuries at all. in england and we have a i think three red sexily chickens on boys few kids when eight stay for the idea that's right she comes are not very smart. and in the in the western chickens that are not very smart as well you can move to the next this is our polish this is the one trick on it lamb that's actually named her her name is rocket she had a little incident early in her life and we ended up nursing her to hold inside so work is a predator chait to pack or week. this get it out those killed her life life's rough as a chicken so ok so this is a little bit of of what we're dealing with we've got so many chickens and so many different things to try to keep track of so what was our solution when we come up with for figuring out how to keep track of what our chickens are up to you.
we need to have grasped a pattern that's right ok want to step forward and we can show them or system diagram i know i'll grant you took care of the art work so what happens in the first stage and here was a cheeky lake city that's right and then what happens about once a raspberry tight takes.
the picture and ten and then where does the picture gets sent to incite amazon that's right so we center chicken pictures to the cloud know it's great working with modern architecture is that makes development so easy to get shots essential elements that's right so then we wrote a little desktop app to view this data is relief on this was the. this was a pretty pretty big project to put together there's a lot of different stages here to which brings us to the first step that i have. and so with projects when you're working with your kids it's really important to chalk it up into small pieces that they're going to be able to die just that they're going to be able to pay attention to and the attention span of an eight year old is not the attention span of an adult and as kids get older the typically there.
tensions fans will grow but you need to know how much time you can spend with a kid working on these things at each step and make sure that you're planning things so the bats workable for them you don't want to overwhelm you don't want to bore them and drag things on a really long time it's important to you know keep it light and keep it fun. so. so for a what's your first it's fine to spend time with bob that's right and i agree totally with this tent like it is an awesome way building things together with kids it's a fun way to connect with them and connect the work that we do is developers with their interest. this and help teach and then skills that they're going to be able to take forward. so our first big section that we're going to talk about his hardware what's hard work or steps that you get act now.
but i love it because it's technically accurate and not actually what we're talking about it so much like programming aren't what what kind of hardware we really talking about here.
yet what you want to make one looks good so what hardware meaning not hardware from home depot. what i'm talking about fees. we have their things and computing's was right where they can say it's too risky to trade so we've got to appear on screen is a partial shot of our reservoir i pod and that's just a little teeny tiny computer it's just about big business looks as big as it next guy you know i'm right about that size so. that brings us to our next dead ten.
it's important if you're doing these projects as well you know it's good to do things with the kid and make sure that you're spending time exploring it with them but it's also a valuable to try some things out yourself i had a time so for me i had never worked with the raspberry pied piper to doing this project and so i sat down and i spent a little time without corot to the bug. through make sure that the thing was going to run make sure that we had all the pieces that we needed so that when we sat down to do it we were going to just hit a bunch of roadblocks and spend an hour you're looking for web pages to make the thing on integrating as much as you can with the kid for real but you want to make sure that you're not going to get blocked. the.
so what's this a picture of course you can ask for a pie if a camera attached that's right so does the red grape i'd come with a camera to be here you have to order it on amazon are some where else and you need to get a life like that's right so we got both. if the camera attachment and the wife my attachment so the party could be on the network. so what is this step over process and building up the hardware when we do their the press along and fit the box so he could print that ruled last part of the raspberry pang camera and there.
it's so it can take clear pictures of the chickens and they are so so why did we knew this plastic more years without documents also the chickens don't pack at a that's right i mean when this thing outdoors and a trucking company and some amount of protection but we didn't do anything fancy region. just took a plastic box that we have to hold one of the next fall. so here is the completed and physical part of the project so we screwed it down to a couple of pieces of wood and then why don't we used to it to make it so that doesn't slide around the duct tape why would we use duct tape in a chicken project. but i pod touch. it should have been checking tape but you know i don't missteps along the way what are you going to. right so let's take a look at where this got installed so this is a picture of her to come to this is the the ladies roosting is night time comes with part of why the whiting looks like it does we have those white strung up so that during the darker parts of the year they get a few extra hours worth of light in this sometimes courses them into laying eggs for us more frequently than the.
otherwise and then let's go to the next i know some people here are really into woodworking i hope you appreciate and the school for craftmanship with which i put this together we can see the whole there were the camera looks through in this is right on his way out we are aware that the.
can his nest so they typically lady eggs down right underneath.
and so there was some software to go with their hardware what's what software. and we will search of some words the instructions we give the computer right. cool so if the razr a pie is just this little thing the size of an index card how do you program. how about. you trade given to a big screen because the raspberry pie does not have a little screen that's right i mean it's a computer but it's not a laptop write anything fully the raspberry pie just as an age to my output so we were able to plug in.
directly into our t.v. and the it has us be that we could plug in the mouse taken over the board and then we were able to get programming with there is so what was the first stuff that we looked at when we do to this recovery pile of books show and that's fine.
right so rarely pio by default to run a basic desktop linux environment called recipe and and it was so we did quite a bit of stuff from the terminal once what's the command that we were doing there would you want our oas now any time course sees a terminal want to computer she wants to type ls and what israel us do. it shows test to fire off once right so it gives us a listing of the files that are there and this brings me to my next dad to. and that is that koran really enjoyed the work that we did at the terminal like learning these basic commands their little cryptic their little weird sometimes but to give her a sense of power to be able to control the computer she would type things in and she can see information she can tell the computer what to do.
and the terminal would give her that feedback and do it i mean there's a lot of power in having children's programming tools things like scratch environments that sort of you know give them an easier time but sometimes you can give kids real tools like we use as developers and they can have a great experience with what's your to peru. this though color be careful that program. in order to its right computers are really really picky on things like one that letter off and things just do not or at first with me. val r b i did it all up or case in my dad's a slight know. rb is lower case you know it was really interesting to see how many of those conventions and things that we'd just assume and understand after using computers for a little while we're so completely foreign to her but it was fun to start indoctrinating her in the audience of computer programming right so let's take. look at the next thing that we did on the terminal the camera that comes with the raspberry pie has a number of command line utilities that you can use to interact with it so what is rather can still do what his command that makes him there.
file you and i want to make sure it's enough fall yeah that's right so you type or as we still and it will pop up a little preview and then take a picture and just drops the jaipur great where you tell it to put that so that brings me to one of the other things that i enjoy when a program with kids extent and that.
is focusing on things that give you faster results so within minutes of us plug in the cameron booting there as very high up we were able to have images have the camera working this command line that we were using was able to give us really fast results that she was able to see with kids it's. great to make things as visual as you can in the results of your program so that they can stain gauging keep that feedback loop tight right so let's take a look next at the code that we wrote.
so this is that this is the thing that we run on around very pirate so what is the doing up of the talker was that first warning about. one n one and lived do you means it takes a picture over and over again mine and so worn seven there's our residents still be a sleek means how many. second serve minutes or hours you want it to do in between are the pictures have tried so since work uploading these pictures we won about some amount of reasonable way between things and although i didn't know what the time it apparently takes a trick in about ten. and it's to lay an egg for us so taking a picture every two minutes very reasonable and so this was an upgrade for us from the prior programming that we've done as well because chorus started using the ad an editor which a lot of as programmers use in our day to day i'm more of them guy but i wasn't going to do that to her just. yet and but one of the best things about adam is how customizable what is right so what did we what we do first off like to get ourselves that when one was a sea change the calorie on the back that's right so if you like this particular theme once to to the next we would like to a thing. amy would go for her fairy floss theme it works for sublime and for adam you should go downloaded and make your programming experience more cute. our it so it's tough to the next dead to.
i know you know a lot of you might look at the code that we just showed and you know there's some drawbacks to the way that we program that you know as a developer when i first started thinking about writing something to take these pictures i and interact with amazon and do all these things like oh we should use the gym to do that and i wonder what library support their his and then. i realized that would be really boring for her to get into and to understand now instead we were able to just take a man's that we did at the command one things that we did at the terminal in just put him in backpacks it's fine it's not as reliable as it could be the air handling is. pretty much nonexistent but you know what it works and we got something to give us feedback and that we were able to play with quickly so don't get too hung up on making sure that everything is right up to your engine nearing standards when you're working with kids make sure that they are having a good experience and learning the things that you. one word aren't so the razr a pie is only one side of the software question no right what was the other positive it's right and what issues for.
tournament. so issues like i introduced earlier is a a gooey library for room on and so it lets us right desktop applications and i rambled on about this so the number of conferences so if you want more details about shoes you can get back into that the shoes project is also still somewhat active and i'm ramping. back up on it so if you're interested in this sort of coating you should come talk to me but was the first thing that we do when we're writing issues program before we sit down at the keyboard. and dr jack on paper for its that's right so one of the big parts that we do when we're doing this sort of program he is we don't died immediately into just typing things out we plan we think about what we want the program to do we draw pictures of how it's going to interact.
with shoes you can do a lot of drawing in we often will figure out how to decompose the picture that we want to draw into its constituent parts this is really critical i think when programming with kids because programming is not just a series of arcane comedians that we give to the computer it's about thinking it's about thinking how. now you can express the problem it's thinking how the tools the you know and understand fit with the thing that you're trying to accomplish and that sort of thinking comes about not just wall you're typing it can happen on paper and in our minds for years. are so let's take a look next there's a great picture of cora working on her program.
and what was one of your favorite parts of writing the shoes application and what your temper. the experiment how it works.
so like i mentioned before i'm one of the great things about shoes and about a lot of these tools is the fast feedback that you can get so a lot of the time we would write the basics of a program and then we would spend as much time in customizing how it works as we did writing in the first place so what do we customize about this application or. you can and. in may last task. i experiment how the calories the lat on the characters and when you know we did a lot of work this one you were showing pictures that the party to so what sorts of things that we experiment with their. during this size of the wind in the picture that's right so we did all all about service so let's take a quick look at the shoes code that we wrote then it will be time for them.
right so this is this is a basic shoes that is you can see this is pretty minimal like if you've ever done you i development in java or see sharper tried to use g t k bindings from c. plus plus i don't know this is a breath of fresh air to me for happy to write do we come very. the very straightforward so so what we do the first there's a real human toll on wine one what do we ask me say he went. and the number there had any know who'll and then after that what do we do an ominous. to recover. it asks what day your to see. on the pictures simple so this is another point where you know the programmer me is like go this should talk to him as on the e.p.i. and it should do all sorts of things it was way simpler to just download the files look and display there and we had a much better time for that this is something we could grow from there we wanted. yes. the ones we're almost to the din why you're so excited i got one more quick thing to say ask permission to tight that's right so as much as possible when you're programming with kids let them have the control let them have the keyboard guide them in what they need to do and don't just.
dive in and do it. it takes a lot of patients but you know what your the adult in the situation you can have patients right says part of your daughter ok so next step down. on the right man to the key word for moment and give us tuned up on a bill you can you understand our hearts would see how well this were six the machine that's my dad and i really am fat i write i think we're ready here to do you remember that's the. the spine of r.b.s. or permanent and we're going to run the shoes and don't know what you are here we go. ok so you want to start her shoes program. and and then you go to file. there it is she learned. i said. the day in one you remember there's a very specific day you want me to tell you the numbers if it's or twenty sixteen want to know what are you.
ten. dash twenty five. so the secret story here is basically as soon as we got this project finished we had about two days' worth of the chickens actually laying eggs and they haven't played anything cents. but we caught him yeah it's a bit annoying but what are you going and you are right time to run and here we are and there's the bread and there's an ngo flat why not want to i want to die so we can see it moves around a little clearly the chickens are moving around.
in the coupe some. in germany the netherlands from such a fan and one of them snuck into the edge there and it's going to get darker one thing i have noticed about the raspberry pies the media it's pretty light sensitive as well so.
and all the money here and.
the chicken party after my dad took a grin he should remain yep that's the point of the his goal was the right so there is.
the end.
you are right. you in advance this forward to be cute. through the future all right so what are some ideas that we had around other things we could do on for first off better lighting the lighting in the coup meant the it sometimes the at the camera would cut out like four o'clock. so you know about a pretty easy one to fix we can just huge the lights around the world when i think we have better success in. i will go to the swan i think you recognize the. the u.s. right so was a kind of annoying having to type that exact strain it was the date is there should be just an error our your credit card then there's the hall thing of the fence right that we can just click on a day goes by. this could be a much better user experience you were totally right ok so what's up next after that faster protect sure you know it would be as something that we can play with i think the images might have been larger than they needed to be that made some of the display little slower here and there there's a lot of things you can fine tune around doing that i've heard of people having a really good six. yes even was streaming video often high over the network so you know it's it's something that we could certainly experiment with are getting more than a shot every two minutes right now. to see our what's o.c.r. apt to coach a kid in red shirts. so it's a lot of trouble figuring out which chicken it is actually way me and grow the fact that they played and like there's a there's a lot of cool possibilities there are no she said to do you remember when this once. korean the chicken as they enter a mate. the raspberry pipe takes a picture and that when the leaves it takes a picture of the day that's right yes so we could probably saved taking you know one hundred pictures of data of the ship's sitting right there if we did something a little smarter with the party. its door open and close yet. this is a this is one of the big hard part about owning the chickens as i have to go and opened the door and lot about making those that would be in the american its fayette aren't smart enough to get air lock so that's right but we do have a problem tag walk into. but the we do have to make sure that we go out and shouted at night right or bad things happen you were never pull us chick is our youngest and she was day around in the butt and in my mom and dad forgot to it. it may interact to came at me some of the other ones. you know it's so it's something you gotta keep track of with your chickens are we any other few tried means i think that was about all the we have right now think you can be questions. and yet so the question is a good start key to him when he gets like a u.s.o. will repeat the question for the people who are on going to watch the video so the question was a what about the door open close what sort of automation and a lot of it it would be like group.
and like or as saying so the chickens all will go into the coupe themselves when it gets dark and so they'll all be in there so we could sense that carefully enough and then have some sort of mechanism for shutting the door we could pretty safely close it and that would have a close up a lot earlier than we tend to get out there you know sometimes it's an hour to. after dark before i remember going shot of the year. but that are at their polish taking got he said. ways at a lavender ten o'clock us know we we forgot it we win and was iran as well but i did here. great sticks crack on now that might have done so. and the chicken it's going to fall wrote. you know it's true we have a glass door. every year. and so the question is if we have any ideas around how will tackle the o.c.r. thing i don't know exactly so i've that the german schaeffler and their in paterson to the talking year to year to go at ruby on ailes where they were a defining magic cards. with some sort of o.c.r. and if some of what they did around like recognizing darker shapes and sort of the difference between things in still images i think could be applicable here like it's pretty obvious when the chickens in the shot or when the shot is very different from the one prior to it. so i don't know exactly where we would go and how sophisticated it can get but that's where i was kind of going to start was like flagging the picture where things actually change so we don't have to scrape through all of them to be able to find the spot. but he think it's somewhat with the question is does the raspberry pipe play music and could we play music for chickens were taken seriously when you think it's not a good plan ensure that the honor future list i think that would be a pretty good plan. star hours on steroids program and the princess program us so what was the question was what was your fate of their favorite things so the princess program what was about and that was our first big program and so it's kind of an adventure game. in and it has a bunch of your work and it wasn't all this why i put capon yeah so i do the dog you put the key point that was several years ago my home are thinking can you could use an up day maybe we should maybe do another interesting make a sequel so do you explore programming without me. no monetary not much yet i'm she starting to do a little bit of running her own programs that we've written by herself and her own time so i'm hopeful that will turn into her modifying them and and extending them by herself but it's been mostly a pairing activity so far. do you have friends that you cope with. are not really that there's an app that at school or at library train. i mean my friend. do you could lean job. org in its for class way. well our library and made it for class in a lot further losses he and repaired program. the purple. you answer the question is since the chickens are are so similar for the whole movie on and i sense the chickens are so similar could we have to give them some sort of markings the hat were some sort of way of doing that yet that that would definitely possible most of them their distinctive enough. you can tell if you look closely and we've also want to be honest i forgot to put it on the futures list we talked about using our a fight the gags is well just when no food bank out as much as we can one secrete the ones that really pace and that's true some of the that that whole pecking order thing with chickens. that's not me about like the chickens are coming mean to each other. the only when we get a god of older than me. they were on its cue jake that's also true the eggs lives and serious about might be something we could we could look into as well the older they get bigger the eggs get us. well browned why pollution created in those rooms those are the main road doesn't win. well sometimes the main question. start. so the question was due the chickens lay in the same place all the time south their chickens land same price and some deny these sour no lower half of are checking camp. the sometimes lane aid in their break. where we can never find their way to put some words bots intel wake of school world cup taps on the been mostly lady in the place that's like the softest and they kind of like it to be a little enclosed so we've at some points had nesting boxes have been. to which way they stand and watch me. that one of my son soft and they tend to just stay in that one spot because yeah the visibility of it is very very limited. but the nesting boxes pay we put cardboard that the partisan from cereal boxes in a paper towel soul of and make cracks we can just get the paper town replace a in the nesting boxes also we found that they were me. maybe a little too comfy is the chickens were just roost in there and where he grew even stay there all day i'm somebody would get brady why we got rid of those you. the stairs happened in our backyard you know you can put them back if we want to do are there any other questions. thank you so much.