Re-designing a NASA interface

interface

I am interested in many things. One of the main ones is technology. And within technology, software development to view telemetry data in different ways, within the same application.

Answering NASA’s call to help contribute to the exploration of the solar system, I got access to their next-generation mission control framework being developed at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley being used for mission planning and operations in the lead up to the Resource Prospector mission, and at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to view data from the Curiosity Rover.

Although I do not have much “spare time”, I have been tinkering with composing and modifying screen layouts, bringing together various telemetry objects and other object types in a single screen, following some basic design principles, as outlined in a book I have read recently: Designing for Emerging Technologies – UX for Genomics, Robotics and the IoT, by Jonathan Follett (Editor) published by O’Reilly.

Still a “work in progress”, but I hope my contributions help.

Invited to the Amazon Web Services Summit

On Wednesday and Thursday, I was invited to attend the Amazon Web Services Summit in London’s Excel center.

Besides an exhibition area with many vendors (some of them already suppliers to my company) like NewRelic, DataDog, GitHub, Chef, Alscient, Teradici, DataPipe, Ruxit, CloudCheckr, Amazon Activate, Elastic, Redis, etc, all with their great swag (mostly t-shirts and stickers, but lots of giveaways, from drones to iWatches), the highlight was the conference sessions.

I was interested in (and attended most of): DevOps, Game development, Security, Migration, Containers, Lumberyard, Encryption, Diversity, Microservices, BigData, and Enterprise systems.

They ranged from very boring to very interesting, from highly technical to highly comical. But the only one that was extremely sad is… you guessed it: the talk on Diversity. The one with less attendance and less engagement (see if you can spot which of the photos in the gallery belong to that session). How can that be, when lack of diversity is such an enormous problem in the tech world?

By the people attending and the talk itself it is very clear that the tech world is absolutely clueless about what the real problem is and how to address it.

My fear is that, beyond being quite a complex issue, there is no REAL interest in addressing it. After all, throughout history, high-value profit-generating activities have been the exclusive domain of the ruling elite. Which today mostly means White AngloSaxon Middle-Aged Men.

Never mind the shiny millennial poster boys in the cover of Entrepreneur magazines: they usually do not run the show or call the shots, they just speak the techno-lingo, but the money behind them, and the power center in “their” companies resides in… mostly White AngloSaxon Middle-Aged Men. Luckily there is a lot of activity coming from other countries and other ethnic groups. But the “gender gap” (or “glass-ceiling”) is still a seriously unresolved issue.

Festival of Genomics Boston

June 28 and 29 I attended, along with my friend John Memarian, President & CCO of my company Kanteron Systems, the Festival of Genomics Boston, as a Microsoft Genomics Group partner.

Although the show was small, it was a great opportunity to network with industry and academic experts (from Harvard Professors to Illumina executives) and learn.

From scientific posters to the latest sequencing technologies, from robotic arms to genomics experiments in space, it was great #geekfun.

Ultimate Father’s Day gift: building a Picade with my son

For Father’s Day (we live in London, so we celebrate it today, unlike in Spain which is March 19) my wife gave me the “Ultimate Father’s Day” gift, from TechCamp UK. [Thank you, love!]

It consisted of a workshop with other father-son / father-daughter “teams”, held at the Iron Yard (The Leathermarket – London), where we built a desktop arcade machine in 5 hours (including lunch break), following the directions from Tom and Tom, using the Picade set, setting up and using the Raspberry Pi, custom OS, emulators, ROMs, loudspeakers, power supply, LCD screen, etc:

Not only we had a lot of fun and bonded through the “hard” work (especially getting all those nuts and bolts and cables in their little places!) of putting together the mini arcade machine, but my son also learned a few very valuable lessons, like being patient, not being shy, following directions carefully, and the main one, overcoming adversity: our board had a loose connector, which had to be soldered, and when we finished setting up the arcade… the screen was upside down! It took some thinking and engineering to get it straight up.

To top it all off, we got to take the arcade home, so now, if you will excuse me, I NEED TO install the Super Mario Bros. ROM and mash some buttons old style 😉

Invited with my son to Intel Buzz videogame developer workshop

Today I was invited, along with my son, who at 14 has been a videogame developer for years, to attend the Intel Buzz videogame developer workshop. It was not only a lot of fun, but WONDERFUL to attend with him!

Although a small event, it ended up being extremely interesting, with an area to try indie games and new technologies, and a long list of talks and panels, including one-on-ones.

Almost all of the indie games showcased were really good. My favourite was Elise: Unpainted Memories:

The speakers were amazing, like:

  • Ed Fries, Co-founder of the Xbox Project and Microsoft Game Studios
  • Kate Edwards, Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA)
  • Oscar Clark, Evangelist for Everyplay & UnityAds, Unity Technologies
  • Penka Kouneva, Game Composer (Prince of Persia, Transformers), leader in Game Audio
    Will Eastcott, CEO and co-founder of PlayCanvas

The talks and technology were really interesting, and the games and technology we tried (like the Rovr) were super cool. But the two main conclusions are: VR is all the rage, and it’s going to be everywhere soon (coming to Chrome for Android in October!), and there were a lot of women attending (which is great, and hopefully a sign that gender equality is finally arriving to the tech industry).

My talk at the Circumvention Tech Festival, March 4th

This past winter I met Sandy and James from Open ITP in New York, and Pepe from Valencia. They were organizing the Circumvention Tech Festival to be held in Las Naves, Valencia (Spain) March 1-6.

They invited me to give a talk, which was eventually scheduled for March 4th at 3pm. I titled the talk “When privacy does not mean the same to you and me”. It was meant to generate debate, to expose other people’s points of view, rather than to be a unidirectional speech.

Nonetheless, my talk was but one of many meetings, talks, workshops, and debates that James, Sandy and the whole team put together. iRex, Tor, Pirate Party, Censorship.no, Ooni, Xnet, Alkasir, ASL19… It ended up being one of the most awesome events of this kind I have ever attended, with circumvention activist and journalists from all over the world sharing their experiences and projects with the community.

The last night I threw a party for all those who wanted to attend at Kanteron’s offices in Valencia. We had fun 🙂

I can’t wait for next year’s edition!

Bitcoin – block chain event in New York

On Monday, February 9, I attended a Bitcoin – Blockchain event with my wife at law firm Latham & Watkins in New York, organized by Hedgeable.

IMG_20150209_194420

Over 100 bitcoin enthusiasts, investors, journalists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs networking over food and beverages, with demos from:

and a round table of Bitcoin innovation experts:

Since I have already started researching the application of the block chain technology for healthcare, it was quite a useful event. But walking around Manhattan at -4ºF is not fun 😉

The Circumvention Tech Festival

November 4th I had a very interesting non-business meeting in New America NYC, 199 Lafayette (New York). I met Sandra Ordonez of OpenITP, one of the organizers of The Circumvention Tech Festival.

OpenITP is an American project that supports the software developers and communities that design and develop anti-surveillance and anti-censorship in the internet (“circumvention tools”), allowing citizens to communicate directly and freely in their own terms. Their objective is to identify opportunities to improve and increase the distribution of these tools.

Right now they are organizing the Circumvention Tech Festival, event that will bring the international anti-surveillance and anti-censorship community to Valencia (Spain) March 1-6, 2015. Developers, activists, journalists, citizens, NGOs and more joining forces.

The festival will consist of a week of conferences, workshops, hackathons, and social gatherings featuring many of the Internet Freedom community’s flagship events. It will also feature two community-run series – one in English and one in Spanish, as well as public events designed to familiarize the local Valencian community with FLOSS privacy and security tools and their communities.

Website in English: www.circumventionfestival.org

Website in Spanish: www.circumventionfestival.es

Would you like to contribute? They need:

  • Small donations to help pay for Internet infrastructure, coffee, evening events, and marketing materials
  • Companies that want to setup a table in our security & privacy expo
  • Bilingual volunteers that can help man the festival for a few hours a day
  • Spanish and English speakers, that want to give a talk, or organize a hackathon/workshop relating to the FLOSS security/privacy space

Don’t miss this amazing festival, and try to help in any way you can!

Wearable review: Withings Pulse Ox, WS-30 WiFi scale, and Blood Pressure Monitor

Due to the launch of the biosensors module for my company’s medical imaging and data solution a few days ago, the Withings company sent me a biosensor (wearable) Withings Pulse Ox, manometer BPM and WiFi WS-30 scale for testing and integration tests ahead of some national projects we are about to sign in London and Santiago de Chile.

All three came in luxury packaging, and were relatively easy to connect and set up, at least for a “tinkerer” (there are people who gets annoyed if I use “hacker” as a synonym, although it is) like me.

The WS-30 scale is connected via WiFi, and sends the weight and BMI, either to the “cloud” or to another application (data accessible via API) and synchronizes it with the phone, either Apple’s iOS or Android, as in my case, by its own application or connection with third-party applications.

scale

The BPM blood pressure cuff is one of those devices that doctors place around a patients’ arm and inflate to measure blood pressure. In this case it’s the same, but driven by a phone, and measurements are wirelessly synchronized as explained above in the case of  the scale, but there is also the option of using a USB cable.

esfigmomanómetro

Finally, the Pulse Ox is a “bracelet-type” or “clock” device showing (depending on configuration) with each press of its single button: day / time, blood oxygen level (SpO2) and pulse, quantity and quality of sleep, steps, distance and elevation. It’s really light and comfortable to wear, easy to use, and I like its design.

Pulse Ox

These are certainly excellent devices, and I really appreciate them opening access to the data, unlike others (like Basis).

dasboard

I shall not comment on the benefits and dangers of this “quantify-self” trend to quantify all personal activities (although in my case I do it for work and aim to provide data and monitoring to certain patients in a simple, integrated mode). What is certain is that with the “internet of things” (IoT) there is no escape from this trend of quantifying that some denounce as “reductionist” or “dehumanizing”, while others see as a panacea to solve all kinds of problems. I prefer to focus my efforts in trying to make sure that if it has to happen, it is an open, integrated, interoperable, and privacy-safeguarded accessible way. And that’s what I’m working on (or rather my great team of developers).

The market for these devices is growing at full speed, although they are not exactly cheap (yet). Each has advantages and disadvantages. From Intel to Apple through Nike and Samsung, many multinationals are betting that soon everyone will wear a device like these in one form or another, even in the fabric of their shirt. The last to arrive is the last one I expected, specially since they seem to have done it so well: Microsoft, with its “Band”, which not only provides connection from iOS devices, Android, or Windows Mobile of course, but also has advanced sensors like constant pulse reading or GPS.

MS Band

This is getting interesting!

My new OnePlus One phone is amazing

I have just bought a OnePlus One phone, and have been using it for a couple of days. Let me tell you: it’s AMAZING.

If you have never heard of the company, don’t worry, you’re not alone. But you should definitely check it out, because their phones are incredibly high quality, high specs, and low price (mine was $349). No catch:

  • Qualcomm© Snapdragon™ 801 processor with 2.5GHz Quad-core CPUs
  • Adreno 330 GPU, 578MHz
  • 64 GB eMMC 5.0
  • 3 GB LP-DDR3 RAM, 1866MHz
  • global 4G LTE
  • NFC5.5″ 1080p display
  • 13 megapixel 6 lens camera
  • Tri-microphone with noise cancellation

I decided to get one of these because my Samsung Galaxy S II was getting old, and I wanted to go from the limited stock Android, full of my cell carrier’s bloatware, to a more open and free Cyanogen Mod (11S), which will also allow me to experiment with advanced cell cryptography.

Purchasing one of these phones is not that easy. I guess they want to control the huge demand they are experiencing. But I got an invitation, so I decided to use it 😉

Upon receiving the package I felt something I had not feel since the first iPhone: like a fan-boy. Sorry Apple, you lost your touch long time ago, and many of us just despise how you do not care about user’s rights and freedoms.

OnePlus has put a lot of care in every detail. And after a couple of days of spending too much time using the phone (who wouldn’t?) I must say even the batter life is amazing!

AWESOME JOB, OnePlus guys!