Alexa on Raspberry Pi

On Friday I was talked into going to one of the library’s Maker Events focused on turning a Raspberry Pi into (effectively) an Amazon Echo.  I know that I’ve been to quite a few student presentations where they talked about using Alexa skills to let them do all kinds of nifty things, but I hadn’t really given much thought to what was involved in using Alexa myself.

We spent most of Friday’s session getting micro SD cards set up with Raspbian on them, and setting up our Amazon developer accounts.  Honestly that sounds like it was probably the hardest part of the whole project.  After that, it looked like it would just be a matter of following this sample project before we’d be ready to go.

Yes, I am saying “it looked like.”  We didn’t actually finish the project.  We didn’t have good enough wifi to complete Step 4, where you clone the Git project onto your Pi, in a reasonable amount of time.

Most of the other people at the event had bought their own equipment, and thus were able to take it home and continue working on the project.  I’ll be curious to talk to them and see how the rest of it went.  For myself–well, I was using the library’s equipment, which had to be turned back in before I left.

I’m pretty ok with that, though.  I don’t particularly want an Amazon Echo, I don’t have any projects in mind that would make use of being able to talk to a computer and ask it to do things, and I’m mostly just happy to have gotten a sense of how a project like this works.  If I *do* think of a project that would benefit from this, I know where to start and I’m pretty confident I could pull it off.

Linen Stitch

Knitting at professional conferences is simultaneously wonderful and awful.  On the one hand, I love the spontaneous connections with other knitters.  Also, knitting is a great way to stay awake during those presentations that are, shall we say, less than stimulating.  But on the other hand, trying out a new stitch or pattern in a public, noisy, stressful place… well, that’s not so good.

All of this is leading up to how I’m learning to knit linen stitch.  You can read more about the stitch here, among many other places.

I was really excited about how much knitting I got done at Computers in Libraries last week, until I realized just how awful a job I’d done at keeping track of whether I was on a knit row or a pearl row, and whether each stitch was a slip or a proper stitch.  All of that matters when you’re making a scarf as simple as this one.  There’s nowhere to hide your mistakes.

So when I got home, I ripped out all those many hours of travel/conference knitting.  Wheeeee.

Thinking positively, though, I have now gotten myself in hand enough to keep a written tally of which row I’m on.  This gets rid of the problem of doing a perl row when I ought to do a knit row, and vice versa.  It also gets rid of the problem where I go, “Hang on, how many rows have I worked in this color?”  Variegated yarn and an unfamiliar stitch do NOT make it easy for me to see my rows!

Plus I’ve spent enough hours with this stitch now that I know how to see whether I’ve just stitched or slipped, which is key to knowing which to do next.  Better still, I’ve *finally* figured out that for most of these rows, you can just check the loops on the needle to make sure they’re alternating colors.  If they are, you haven’t screwed up the stitch pattern within the row.  So obvious!  And so painfully learned in the school of “Now you must rip out everything that you spent hours and hours doing in the first place.”

Anyway–linen stitch.  I’m doing it.  And I’m totally going to continue using it for other projects after this, because I’m getting rather fond of it.