Log: General

Old school graphics for the new school

As most of the guys in our office know, with the exception of a few (mainly me) who are behind the times, Minecraft has become one of the top games of the decade. As a result we decided to upload the game to our Raspberry Pis and get the Scouts to view some Minecraft programming in action.

Minecraft

For a Minecraft newbie it is hard to understand why a game with huge pixels and where everything has to be square would be so popular. I will be honest, when the Fubra Universe Team suggested it for teaching the Scouts about programming I couldn’t understand why the children would be interested in a less graphically appealing version of what I thought was the Sims.Rover Race

How wrong I was…

When we told the children they were going to be playing Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi a unanimous cheer came from each of them. We loaded up the game on the Raspberry Pi and got them going, they had to find the treasure hidden in the pyramid. The majority of them had played before and were away within minutes. After a while trying to find the pyramid which was created by one of our developers, we also showed them some pieces of code our developers had written specfically for this so they could see how a house could also be built with code. This resulted in them building numerous houses (mainly on top of each other).

While the group were getting on with their Minecraft world expansions each of the Scouts also got to take part in our Racing Rover competition. The idea was to get them to type in their programming script and get the Rover nearest to the Fubra Universe monster as possible. They only had one chance to do it and they had to get it right. Roverrace The girls were the outright winners beating the boys by a country mile. The overall winner won a WHSmiths voucher and will be showcasing their route to all of the parents who will be viewing it in real time using live streaming technology.

“Aldershot, Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed.”

Fubra Universe Mission Control

Subject of movies, documentaries and series, “Mission Control” is back! The Fubra Universe team has started to build the “Mission Control Centre”, a space centre where the 2nd Aldershot Scouts will be driving the Mars Rover over the Mars surface.

Learning high level coding, lots of engineering and bootcamps, and even meeting a real astronaut (through Skype, with 3G), are just a few bits of the hard training the Scouts have gone through to get ready to this new project that will become, without any doubt, a milestone in their lives.

In a month’s time, white shirts and black ties on (or more likely, neckerchief and woggle), the Scouts will come to the Fubra offices again, ready to explore and find out what is really out there.

Ten Raspberry Pi’s have been set as workstations to control the mini Mars Rover, which the children will navigate over the terrain using JavaScript. A webcam will be following the robot over the Mars surface and broadcasting how the robot is doing in real time. Another webcam will be, at the same time, pointing at the mission control, allowing the entire world to see what real engineering looks like.

And if this wasn’t enough, there is some more good news: thanks to our in-house Arduino playground, everyone willing to try the Mars Rover will be able to access it right from their own computers at home very soon!

If you want to find out more about the preparations of the Mission Control, as well as the whole project, please keep tuned, all engines are running now!

Ground control to Major Story

On Friday 26th April, Fubra Universe had one of their most out of this world experiences with the Scouts yet; speaking to an astronaut, in a wood, in the middle of the night.

Fubra Universe Mission Control

Before going into how this happened we need to start at the beginning. Last year, Fubra, the company behind Fubra Universe, became the Kickstarter Platinum partner of the ArduSat to promote the Fubra hosting product CatN. As a premium sponsor, Fubra was awarded a 30 minute Skype chat with the astronaut Story Musgrave.

Fast forward one year, and the Fubra Universe team are in a wood at the Scout district camp setting up the Skype chat, surrounded by 20 eager Scouts. We were going to be speaking with Story Musgrave; a man who had been into space 6 times, has 6 graduate degrees, was the lead spacewalker on the Hubble telescope repair mission and has 7 children.

As we dialled the number, our hearts were in our mouths and we had all fingers and toes crossed that our 3G connection would be sufficient enough to cross the Atlantic and allow us to speak to Dr. Story Musgrave himself. As soon as he answered we relaxed, although the virtual presence of a man who achieved so much in a lifetime was both thrilling and awe inspiring.

Story began by introducing himself to the Scouts and then the children came forward with their questions. The Scouts asked some fantastic questions including “what do astronauts eat in space?” and “what is the future of Space exploration?”. You can listen to the full sound recording and all of the questions here:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/90562527″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Hopefully we have managed to inspire the next generation of space explorers who one day may be interviewed by future Scouts asking about what they had eaten in space.

You can watch the evening transpire and see how we spoke to Story here:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLveUFK18QSTCqyHS9Gcqi6hXKDtsJumJC

If you go down to the woods today…be prepared!

Panorama1b

It was a dark and drizzly night in the woods and a group of 7 of us were following a path lit exclusively by glow sticks hanging ominously in the trees. The ground underfoot was muddy and a fire lay await in the distance. We were all starting to think this was the start of a very scary horror film and deciding in what order we would be killed off.

Scout entrance
In fact, this was the start of the Fubra Universe team’s Tuesday night which they had chosen to spend in a wood in the middle of nowhere to experience the 2nd Aldershot Scout’s hammock camp open evening.
The children were spending 5 nights in the woods sleeping in hammocks and learning Bear Grylls style survival techniques, and for their last night they had invited us and their parents to show us what they had done on camp.

The Fubra Universe team were more than impressed with the skills the Scouts had developed and one of our newest developers, Jorge, was so enamoured he wanted to stay and learn the skills himself. We were shown demonstrations of rope tying, cutting wood with axes, stake carving and even how to create fake wounds with plasticine and a rather stomach turning coloured custard.

We soon found that this was actually no ordinary camp, it was one of the most up to date camping experiences any of us had ever seen. The Scout leaders used a device which included a solar panel and small wind turbine to generate electricity. Using this technology the camp were able to live stream a film from the internet for them all to watch.

Towards the end of the evening, we all huddled around the roaring fire while the Scouts lit their fire torches and were presented with their badges, many of which they had achieved through the work they had done on the Fubra Universe project. Fubra was also awarded a special certificate for our contribution to their development.

It was a fantastic experience and great to see what the children achieve when not covering our office in paint or coding on our Raspberry Pis. They were back to basics and learning outdoor skills which is what Scouts is all about. The leaders had done a great deal of work and we were privileged to view the camp and their achievements. You can see all of our photos from the evening here.

I have a final note to the Fubra Universe team for next time we are invited to an event in the woods; take some advice from the Scouts and “Be Prepared”, white trainers and smart lace up shoes are NOT suitable footwear for a night in the woods!