FIRST Lego League 2019

A few weeks back, I attended my first FIRST Lego League (FLL) qualifiers at the Liberty High School in Renton. I volunteered at the registration desk in the morning checking in coaches and students. I got to welcome students ages 9-16 from 30 local teams as they entered the building around 8 AM. With big smiles on their faces and robots in their hands, they were ready for an exciting day of building, networking, testing, presenting, competing and just having a blast.

Teams settling in for the day.

After everyone was checked in, I got to walk around and soak in the experience of the day; I checked out the judging room where students were presenting their projects to the judges. Students chose problems in their communities, researched them and came up with solutions using tech. Themes for these projects included clean water, safer playgrounds, reducing landfill waste, smart sidewalks, etc.

I walked around and talked to teams in the Pit area where they had posters and prototypes for everyone to see. This year’s challenge is called City Shaper and students programmed their Lego Mindstorms robots to solve various challenges in a city they had built with Lego. It was lovely to see students testing their code, timing their activities, and tweaking their robots and code on the fly when things didn’t work as expected. I talked to coaches and mentors as these young coders practiced on the game field to ensure their robots were ready for action.

Robot goes up the bridge and raises the flag successfully.

I didn’t get to see the teams compete on the field this time, but I hope to be back for the semifinals and bring some of my robotics students along as well.

Have you ever attended a robotics competition? Please share your experience using the comments below.

Hey Siri – Are you listening?

iPhone with Hello text on screen
“Hi, I’m Siri! Your virtual assistant.”

I’ll admit, I am an avid Siri user!. Carrying a little one around all the time often leaves me without two hands to type on my phone and I hate how slow one hand typing is. So, ever since my son was born, I have started using Siri for a lot of things; I use Siri (referred to as her in the rest of the post) to check my calendar, turn on/off lights, track my baby’s diapers and naps, add items to my grocery list, get directions, send text messages and to make phone calls etc. Come to think of it, I don’t know what I don’t use Siri for..

Last week, I heard on the news that Siri is listening in (or spying) on us even when we didn’t ask her for something by using the wake word “Hey Siri”. I wasn’t surprised by this news story. Even though Apple (maker of Siri), didn’t comment, I want to tell you that you don’t have to wait for a comment from Apple to trust whether the news is true or not. Technology like Siri is there to make our lives easier and sometimes that comes at a price (our privacy).

If you are using any sort of smart device, it probably is sharing some of our your private information (your voice, your location etc.) with the maker of the device. This private information is used to make the device smarter and is often available to the engineers working on the technology. And this private information can sometimes leak to unwanted parties if the companies aren’t careful.

Key Take Away – Assume someone is always listening and don’t buy a smart speaker if you are worried about privacy.

Prime Day 2019 – Make your home smart today!

Amazon Prime day 2019 is just a few days away – July 15-16.

Mark your calendars and get ready to make your home a smart home. With deals like 20% off select smart home devices, you wouldn’t want to miss out.

Amazon Smart Home Favorites of Mine:

Echo Dot – small smart speaker:

  • Turn on/off or dim lights (used with smart bulbs or smart plugs sold seperately). “Alexa turn on the lights”
  • Play nursery rhymes for my baby. If you have Amazon Music (which is free for the primary Amazon prime member), try saying “Alexa play nursery rhyme party time”. It will get you dancing!

Echo Show – smart display:

  • Set cooking timers. “Alexa start a 7 minute pasta timer”
  • Cook my favorite recipes from All Recipes or discover new recipes based on ingredients I have in the pantry/fridge. “Alexa show me a recipe with tomatoes and chicken”
  • “Alexa show me Max” – Keep an eye on my baby (used with smart camera sold seperately). 

Echo Dot and Show are just two of the smart devices we have in our home and are one of the first ones we got started with back in 2017. What smart home device(s) are you going to buy this year?

Contact me to help you make your home a Smart Home today! I will recommend you what to buy, what to avoid and will get you setup in no time!

Apple iOS 12 Camera Tips and Tricks

Checkout the latest iOS camera tips and see how many of them you already know. Not on the latest version of iOS? If you have a device that’s fairly new and is running well (e.g. My iPhone 6S is still kicking and is running the latest iOS), I suggest you upgrade and try some of these camera tips. Let me know what you learned today by commenting below.

Hello world!

Hello world! Small business world that is! I’m here. I’m Seattle Tech Guru, your friendly and local tech expert. I have taken the leap and jumped all in. I have started my first business. I have formed an LLC. I have created a website. I have bought some Ad words on Google. I have printed my business cards and I have started handing them out and I have started selling my services. Hope to share my passion of technology with everyone reading this blog (if I haven’t done so already). Wish me luck. See you around!