Things I learn from travelling while pregnant


I became pregnant last year, after much consideration about becoming a mother. It was surprisingly easy considering everything they say about getting pregnant after 35 years old. At the same time, my job was in one of those years where it takes me everywhere, which is one of the reasons I enjoy it to begin with :) Carrying a growing belly and teaching about IoT and Galileo and Edison was great fun, but also great learning. So, in case you find yourself in the same situation, here’s some tips:

It is not for everyone

First of all, it is not for everyone. Many people like to say “it’s not a disability” – that’s only partially true. From my perspective, it wasn’t an easy ride. From the perspective of some people I know, my ride was a piece of cake. I know of two women that lost several kilos, that ended up a week in a hospital, or having to spend months in bed, otherwise they would miscarry. So comparing to this, my smells aversion and tiredness seem very easy. So please do not take my experience as a measure for what any pregnant woman can do – it doesn’t work like this.

Eat your 5 a day! And always have a water bottle nearby

When you are in the first trimester, especially if it’s your first time, most likely you will get those well known symptoms: nausea, food and smells aversion. My symptoms kicked in when I was only a few weeks, during 2nd month. I was traveling to England for a residential school, and after the long walks through the campus proved to be too much for me, I was allocated in a dorm that was very close to the classes and activities. However, that building probably has not seen its carpet deep cleaned for a decade. And my nose picked it up. And being England, they had that effing carpet even in the elevator. And there was nothing I could do about it. But the food also triggered my stomach problems, endless heartburn and disgust by the unappealing boiled vegetables. No wonder people have problems eating their 5 a day!

So the first rule is: good, healthy food is essential. People who travel a lot know how much better it gets when you eat well, balanced meals, and drink plenty of water. If you are pregnant, it makes the total difference between being a functional human being or some sluggish resemblance of yourself. Make smart choices, don’t be afraid of being picky and demanding. Only you will know the price you will pay for not giving your body all the rest and nutrients it needs. And it is really for you to function, because guess what? Your baby will be just great. He or she will deplete you of all your vitamins and reserves, because that’s what pregnancy does. Of course you want a healthy baby and should do everything you can to ensure it, but pregnancy makes sure everything goes to the embryo first, and you have the leftovers. So really, pack your fruits and veggies, chose some good carbs – you need them to think! – and keep a water bottle always in hand.

Tell everyone you are pregnant

I was lucky in my first big travel commitment, to conduct a hackathon in Paris. The agency organizing it for Intel was extremely sensitive to my needs, and I got fruits, iced tea, water, people carrying my bag. But they knew I was pregnant. In another event, in Berlin, most people assumed I was just obese. I even got someone pitching me a project about a chair that would give electrical shocks to people who didn’t move around too much and that would be a good incentive for me, after I mentioned that it was getting harder to get of the sofa. Soon afterwards, someone else asked me if I could help moving a table. So, next day I was wearing my “Baby loading t-shirt” just to make things clear. Also, remember that dorm close to the classes during my study week in England? It was granted after I had a very scary moment when I began to bleed a bit during second day at school. I could have been nothing, it could have been the long distance between the original dorm and the classes having an effect, but have I told them upfront, maybe I had avoided the deeply scary moments I spent unsure if it was something serious. So, if you are like me, you may think it’s not worth the trouble to mention, you don’t want people to think you want special treatment. But, the other option may be really detrimental to you, so, balancing things out, you are best out telling people upfront you are pregnant, just so they are aware. Most people I met were wonderful and understanding and helping me to be more comfortable than I could think I could be.

Tips for reducing bloating

Bloating has always been a big problem for me while traveling. I normally bloat up to 2kg just by flying, and it was even worse during pregnancy. I use to measure how bad it was by checking if I could see my ankle bone or not. After a flight, even a short one, it was sure that I wouldn’t have ankles, foot and legs would be all a continuity. But I learned a secret a long time ago by a masseuse: soak your foot, preferable all legs, into a hot bath, immediately followed by a cold stream of water. It is so challenging, but after a few hours, I could see my ankle again. But soon that wasn’t enough, so compression tights it was. Oh my god, trying to pull compression tights up your legs maneuvering around a rotund belly was the most ridicule situation I remember myself on.  So many huffs and puffs that I wanted to give up every time, but the thought of normal legs by the end of the day kept me going.

Recovering takes forever

Another thing it was surprising for me was how long would take me to recover from each travel. Like, if you only travel 1h, it would barely count, right? Wrong! Every time it would take days of oversleeping and slowing down to recover. Granted, most of the travels also involved long working hours, which was interesting. During the hackathons, I wouldn’t feel much tired, as I believe the adrenaline would kick in and keep me going. But after I was done, oh my gosh I was so done. And even travel just for vacations would get me exhausted. So I started planning everything to allow a couple of day of rest after any travel.


34 weeks pregnant

I kept doing Pilates, mostly because my awesome instructor and great friend Sabine kept telling me it would get better sooner if I didn’t stop. And I felt towards stopping because very very early on the pregnancy, I went from being advanced to a total beginner in class. I could barely do the moves, feeling clumsy and without the control of my core muscles – just like that, from one week to another. The reason is that the hormones flooding your pregnant body make your muscles soft, so working out would barely maintain them, but they would not get stronger. Sabine promised me that once I am done with nursing, all the muscles would resume to the state I left them. Let’s see. But even without being able to perform as well as before, just the general feeling of stretching, reaching out, even if you can reach less and less, makes you feel great after the exercise. You will be more tired, so prepare to go to bed even earlier, but your back will appreciate. Here in Germany Yoga for Pregnants is really popular for the same reasons. I also did a few pathetic swimming sessions, but after 6 months, it is just wonderful to be floating in water where your belly is so much lighter. Midwives will also say that the more you move, the easier will be your delivery. I wasn’t that active, don’t take me as an example, I did mostly only once a week, while they recommend you to at least walk 15 min a day. But I hope the up and down the stairs at home and work will count for something. That is, until a limit. I reached my at 36 weeks, while most women will reach that at 32, according to Sabine (although she did until 38, cheeky fit lady :)). When you reach that limit, you will know it. If the exercise makes you feel uncomfortable in your belly, you are done, from now on is more sofa than yoga mat.

Live in a developed country and work for a great company

And here is where I feel really bad for women living in countries not as understanding as Germany, or working for companies less sympathetic than Intel. My working from home hours increased proportionally as the pain in my back after spending time in the office. And due German laws, 6 weeks before my due date, I was on leave. I remember the two last days in the office, which were very difficult due lack of elevator and many things to check, to leave everything taken care of. The pain later at night when I tried to find a position to sleep almost got me into the hospital, as I was suspicious I was in labor. But it was just my huge belly tired of being sustained all day long. And this was 6 weeks prior. What about women who have to work until delivery date? They are just super heroes…

Do one thing at the time, and slow down

I always have been the kind of person who tries to do everything at the same time right now. I am still relearning how to do one thing at the time and slowly. It is for the best. I have heard before about the constant sleepiness and just general feeling tired, but I didn’t know my IQ would seem to drop. It takes more time for me to absorb information, to make decisions, to plan and execute. I would beat myself up to be back on track if I wasn’t so tired. So, slow down it was. I wonder if I will continue to be like that after sometime. No idea. Any guesses?

Vivendo na Alemanha – apoio à família

Depois de quase 4 anos vivendo na Alemanha, aprendi bastante coisa sobre como o país funciona. Uma das maiores potências mundiais, com uma qualidade de vida impressionante, tem muito o que ensinar. Fala-se muito em Holanda, Noruega, mas a vida aqui é bastante confortável, e com mais sol. E com a ocasião da minha gravidez, pensei em contar um pouco do quanto o governo daqui é pró-família.

Começa no planejamento familiar, claro. Como a população tem um nível grande de educação, a maioria conhece métodos anticoncepcionais. Mas para quando existe algum problema – seja de saúde, do feto ou da mãe, ou por circunstancias em que a mulher não quer ser mãe naquele momento mas acabou engravidando – o aborto é uma solução perfeitamente legal. E veja bem, o país continua gerando – e muitas – crianças. Um passeio a pé em qualquer bairro pode demonstrar isto.

O conceito de família também começa com dois adultos que decidem formar uma. Não importa se são dois diferentes ou dois iguais. Casais homossexuais tem os mesmos direitos que os heteros, inclusive para adotar. E o país não está sendo dizimado.

Agora, quando uma família – ou mesmo uma pessoa sozinha – resolve ter um filho, o governo está lá para apoiar. A sociedade em geral me parece entender a idéia de que se queremos a continuação desta sociedade, pais que decidem ter filhos precisam de algum apoio. As medidas deste apoio aposto que deixam meus amigos liberais de cabelo em pé. Mas olha, tem funcionado bem.

Seis semanas antes da data prevista do parto e 8 semanas depois do parto, é a licença maternidade, com salário integral pago pela empresa empregadora. Depois disto, a mãe ou o pai pode receber do governo o equivalente a 65% do salário (com teto de 1800 euros) durante 14 meses para ficar em casa. É o chamado “dinheiro para os pais” (Elterngeld) – e vale para filhos naturais ou adotados. Geralmente os homens pedem apenas dois meses, mas o número de homens que pedem mais tempo tem aumentando. A idéia de papeis femininos ou masculinos ainda é muito forte aqui – pelo menos na Bavária – mas espero que com o tempo sejam mais parecidos aos países nórdicos neste sentido, de onde se espelham estas ajudas.

A ajuda financeira dura este tempo, mas se o pai ou a mãe resolver ficar em casa mais tempo, também tem esse direito, por até 3 anos em total desde o nascimento. E se o pai ou mãe trabalhava antes, a empresa tem que manter o posto de trabalho aberto para quando este retorne ao trabalho. Sufocam as empresas? Como disse no princípio, a Alemanha tem resistido bravamente a crise e os negócios por aqui vão muito bem obrigado. Reservar alguns meses em que um trabalhador tenha que ausentar-se, por uma, duas (mais comum) ou três vezes durante a vida parece ser um bom preço em troca de uma sociedade estável. Um direito igual a não ter que trabalhar fins de semana ou jornadas de trabalho maiores de que 8h ao dia.

Ser pró-família para mim é isto. É respeitar o tempo das pessoas, não obrigando-as a assumirem uma responsabilidade quando não querem. Nem ignorando uma parcela da população que pode e quer criar uma família, que tem todos as possibilidades para dar um lar e apoio a crianças sem isto. E depois que as famílias estão formadas, dar apoio a elas para terem tranquilidade no momento que os bebês são mais frágeis, sabendo que podem contar com apoio financeiro e segurança no trabalho.

Wearables and Human Behaviour

I found this paper “Inside Wearables – How the Science of Human Behaviour Change Offers the Secret to Long-Term Engagement” at MakerFaireUK, and the title caught my attention. It’s a really interesting approach to wearables, especially tackling the fact that “a third of U.S. consumers who have owned one stopped using the device within six months of receiving it”.

So what it’s the answer for long term engagement? First, they listed 9 baseline criteria for commercial success, things like OOB, UX, comfort, API/Integratability. Then, they look into human behavioural studies to find the key 3 criteria for this long term engagement: Habit Formation, Social Motivation, Goal Reinforcement.

Habit formation: “Psychologists define habits as automatic behaviors or routines that are triggered by situational cues, which are then followed by some form of reward. For example, when we feel lonely (internal trigger) or receive a push notification (external trigger) while riding the subway (situational cue) we check Facebook (behavior), and may experience pleasure (reward). Decades of psychological and cognitive neuroscience research have been spent studying the habit formation process.”

Social motivation: “The human factors and mechanisms at work here include social support from friends and family, as well as the fear and guilt from losing social capital by not reaching a goal* … we learn not just from our own experiences, but also vicariously from observing those around us. For example, if person A observes that person B has lost 10 pounds by using an activity tracker, person A learns that he or she may be be able to lose weight if he or she acquires an activity tracker and replicates the same behavior.”

Goal reinforcement: “To achieve sustained engagement, a user needs to experience a feeling of progress toward defined goals. … By setting small goals, people are less likely to over-reach and fall short, and thereby gain the momentum necessary to progress. This allows people to experience a sense of continuous progress.”

They then tested 8 wearables against those criterias. Here’s how they scored:


The full paper is here . It was a great reading, and made me remember why most often than not I spend my weekends on psychology books and writing essays. It’s not just about a good set of features – that’s the basics – but the key to adoption is looking into human behaviour and translating those into technology.

*I would debate that, but hey, let’s assume it’s true.

When dreams come true

Sometimes I have to explain to people that I have grown up in a extraordinarily beautiful island, so I’m very spoiled when comes to natural beauty. I’m also very attached to water. So one of my lifelong dreams was to someday stay in a overwater bungalow. And since that’s such a romantic scenario, would also be fitted to a very special occasion, like honeymoon. So it came the day that I could afford the extravaganza and also have a perfect occasion for it. There are only two places in the world where that’s available and you can actually swim away from your room: Tahiti and Maldives. After some research, the wilderness of – and distance to – the Maldives won. With the help of TripAdvisor, we selected our destination: Gili Lankanfushi, a resort well rated in many areas like environmentally conscious, food, service and all. So there we went, for 10 days. I was aware of the No News, No Shoes motto, which was also introduced to us in the boat going from Male Airport to Gili, where our shoes were packed in a little recycled bag. We decided to take it a bit further: no computers, no phones, no heart rate monitor, no watches, no books, no kindle. Nothing that could mean controlling, scheduling, expectations. Even if I took a book, I would feel like I should read it. I decided that I would do what I was feeling at the moment, and if that meant to read a book, I was also aware there is a copy of Robinson Crusoe book at every villa. And if I was going to exercise, I would do it for enjoyment, not for counting burned calories.

The arrival was incredible. The day was perfect, a few clouds but with the sun shinning over those amazing shades of blue, my reaction was to exclaim: “It’s true!” We all know those places that look perfect in pictures, but then when you get there you find they have enhanced the colors or used angles to appear to have more space. Not Gili. All the beautiful pictures were an exact replica of this calm paradise. We were received by Brad – who said my reaction was one of the best he ever heard, Ibrahin and Aboo, which was our Mr Friday. Aboo took us on a little golf car to tour around the island – which has about 600x200m size, but packed with spa, 2 restaurants, 1 bar, 44 villas, pool, organic herbs and vegetable garden. But I was eager to see our villa. I have looked at the map and disposition of the villas previously, and I wanted to be facing the ocean. I was informed that would conflict with my wish to swim around the villa because that area is shallow, but I decided the sound of the waves would make up for it. And I could have seen it all in pictures, but seeing it live when the door was open and Aboo announced “Welcome to your new home” was amazing.
Our villa deck

We received a welcome set of refreshments with iced tea and champagne, but I just couldn’t wait to change and just take a dip. There is no reception, it’s all done in your villa, checking documents, cards and all, and we were left to enjoy and explore. And of course, the first thing to do is to try the water!

It was hard to believe. The first night, awaken by jet leg, I went outside and laid down in the hammock, watching the moon, the stars, listening the waves. I was so profoundly happy. Next day I woke up early and took a yoga session, a great way to start the day by the gentle sun and breeze. Then, off to breakfast! Unlimited combinations of any fruit juices you can imagine – Hector became quite found of mixing fruits and ginger – or eggs, sushi, english breakfast, pastries and all.

The food is just amazing. It was one of the items most cited by reviewers at TripAdvisor, but most people just say it’s great. Looking at the website, I saw they had their own herb garden, and I thought that anyone who had that must know the great difference it makes to a dish to add just a few fresh spices. After several days, I was a fan of the chef John Bakker. There is a different theme for every lunch and dinner: Lebanese, Mexican, European, Asian, Maldivian. The Asia Street Market night was amazing. Everything was well presented, and cooked perfectly, so his staff must be great as well. But the creativity which each plate had captivated me. Playing with so many things: herbs, coconut, chillies, ginger, fruits. I was in heaven. So much I decided if there was a creation menu worth trying, it must be here. And I was right, we had the Chef’s Degustation Dinner at the Wine Cellar and it was one of the most amazing meals of my life. I had to meet the chef and express my admiration, and ask for his Pomegranate & Pineapple salad recipe – which he sent me later, thank you Chef!

Another reason to select Gili Lankanfushi was the mention to being ecologically conscious. We were up for even more surprises. All the water is produced in the island via desalinisation, which is an expensive process. But you have plenty of water available, still or sparkling! All the water bottles are glass and refilled, and later struck me I didn’t see any plastic at all during my time there. We move around in bikes, as most of the guests and hots. The marine biologist gives talks twice a week about the reefs and the best practices around – he probably would be happy to know we didn’t buy any coral souvenirs, just gorgeous wooden vases. The results were the amazing fauna around us. Our villa were particularly eventful. We had what I called it our coral garden, small sets of corals right by our deck. When you look underwater with the snorkel, you see each one is actually effervescent with more than a hundred of little fishes munching around.

And that’s the best part of being so ecologically conscious. We felt like we were truly integrated to the environment, causing minimum disturbance to their lives. The reward was seeing not just the tiny fishes, but big puffer fishes, baby sharks (yes, baby sharks! harmless), stingrays, plus so many other fishes I can’t name all. Blue, yellow, black and white, grey, with dots or stripes. It was a sad comparison with the place were I went snorkelling for the first time (Retiro dos Frades, Bombinhas) and felt in love with it, to return to the same place less than 7 years later to find plastic bags have replaced the colourful fishes in there. But at Gili, it was all there. We found out that our privacy water garden, below the shower, was also the fishes’ spa: the 3 big puffer fishes were there all day long while little blue fishes would clean then, and frequently joined by others “clients”. We had one fish that was farming algae in our deck stairs. He didn’t like no one passing by it, being that fishes or us, and would always leave a little nudge in our feet to let us know. We had the visit of a heron a couple of days. I’ve also seen what I assumed was an eel living in one of the corals. One morning I sat down in front of the coral to watch the fishes, which was simple due the low tide. Then I notice that the eel was coming out of the coral and seemed very interested in me, but it had a little mouth and some teeth. As she was getting closer, and we have been informed that animals usually are not that curious, I prefer to give her more space. Later visiting the Dive Center and looking at pictures, I found out it was actually a baby moray! To be more specific, a Pepper Moray Eel. So I made a good guess leaving her alone. I have probably sat down too close from where she was, and in the low tide she could not easily move away. And that’s also part of a experience of being a good guest into their habitat – don’t disturb the animals, just observe.

The staff is also another great area where many commenters of TripAdvisor take note. They are always helpful, always cheerful. It’s of course their job, but reading the behind the scenes notes you see how many people are actually involved into making paradise function. Gili reports to employ 300 hosts, investing in local communities and schools to employ mainly Maldivians. They seem particularly attached to football, specially during the first days where they were preparing for a match against the team of Male, which they won by 11×2 (if I remember correctly). The manager mention to us they have invested a few millions to renovate the hosts village, with a state of the art football pitch. Later I found that in case of tsunami, everybody would run to the hosts village, which has higher buildings (and here I’m thinking we would be put into boats and sail away into ocean…). And the staff there seems happy. So it also felt good spending money in a place where treats their staff well.

After a few days resting and engaging in one of my favourite activities – doing nothing – we started to move around. We’ve been to a few yoga sessions. We snorkelled around, we went kayaking. But best of all, we went scuba diving. Then you have even more appreciation for the resort’s environmental care. We saw turtles! Peacefully napping and observing us, until getting tired of us and swimming away. Underwater is truly a parallel universe, so much life, so colorful, so eventful! We went swimming around hundreds of Blue Fin Triggerfish, and I’ve met my favourites, the Red Big Eye fish. They look amazing underwater. Oh, and an unlikely sight of a shark :) usually they stay in the lagoon, not in the reefs. But I was lucky! And hooked. I would have taken a lot more dives if I haven’t committed the newbies sin: underestimate the air conditioning. With a cold, no diving :( at least I had snorkelling!

Then enter one of my holiday heroes, Dr Rajesh. I first met him on my third day when my food indulgence and my sensible stomach weren’t getting along. A couple of pills and I was new. The second time was when my coughing was really annoying, and again he was there to my rescue.

When I got the cold, coughing and a bit miserable because I couldn’t go scuba diving, I realized the answer to a question I’ve had in my mind for a few days. Even in paradise, with such nice and helpful staff, with amazing food and nature, it was clear some people were not happy. And I kept wondering, how can you be stressed in a place like this? Well, let me tell you, that day when I was coughing, banned from scuba and realizing there were only a few days left, I was so grumpy I think I had a little cloud over my head. And everything seemed to annoy me or be wrong. Too hot, too windy, not wind enough, food doesn’t taste so good anymore. It’s hard to control it, specially in the fast pacing life we live today. But then I decided to reach to the holistic specialist in residence, Sommai, and an acupuncture session put me back on track. Meditation is also such a wonderful tool. It was a big lesson for me that I hope to continue to exercise – if you carry that little black cloud over your head, it will rain everywhere…


Gladily, I was in this little paradise called Gili Lankanfushi. There was also a never ending surprising amenities. Like special after sun shampoo and conditioner, or aloe vera gel, wonderfully soothing the skin after a day under the sun and water. Upon learning about my cold, Aboo and the spa manager sent me the ginger tea I was becoming addicted, along with nice fruits and honey. The resort also has a local timezone, one hour ahead of Male, so sunrise is at 7am, not 6am, and you enjoy more the sun! Being honeymooners, we got a little chocolate wedding cake that didn’t survive long enough for pictures – I swear it was the best chocolate cake ever! We also got a Dolphin cruise, to see little dolphins come by the lagoon by sunset. We only spend one morning by the pool, where we were pampered with nice sorbet tastings. There were the Information and the Nature guides, with infos about everything on the resort and the most likely fishes to see. Everyday we were checking the activities available, the food themes, the time for the high tide to enjoy. There was also TV and Wifi, of course, but those were never used. We rather took on using the iPod and the sound system, sometimes to wake up, sometimes to dance around getting ready for dinner.

And that’s the best part, the memories. The jet lag recovery under the star. The majestic effect the full moon have over the high tide, making the water almost roar around our deck. The little crab that stole one of the lights from the full moon dinner decoration and went running around with it. Our farmer fish, our puffer fish spa clients. Our little dances by the evening. Our tea or napping sessions, enjoying the breeze. The after yoga feeling of being a bit taller. Feeling so incredibly light floating underwater, and swimming with the fishes. Learning the underwater signs to say “everything is good” or “shark” or “turtle”, and using them! Counting stars.

Feeling renewed. Thank you to all the Gili staff. Special thanks to Dr Rajesh for saving my holiday twice. To Aboo for organizing everything for us, for the red apples and the rose petals, and for the moray story! And to Shifau, for always having something new to bring for us to try, always with a smile. And to Andrea from Stopover Reisen, for helping us to make it happen. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Blinking LEDs with Intel Galileo, Yocto and shell script

Using shell script to control LEDs from the Yocto system powering the Intel Galileo board. Using the documentation from Sergey’s Blog. Full shell script bellow:


# gpio17 = Galileo pin 5
# gpio24 = Galileo pin 6
# gpio27 = Galileo pin 7

for i in 17 24 27; do
  echo out > /sys/class/gpio/gpio$i/direction
  echo strong > /sys/class/gpio/gpio$i/drive

for i in `seq 5`; do
  echo 0 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio17/value
  echo 0 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio24/value
  echo 0 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio27/value
  sleep 1
  echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio17/value
  echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio24/value
  echo 1 > /sys/class/gpio/gpio27/value
  sleep 1

A Maker in the Making – my first steps with Intel® Galileo

Update: a German translation can be found here – Eine Entwicklerin beim Entwickeln: meine ersten Schritte mit dem Intel Galileo Board. (how cool is this!!!)

I am one of the lucky people who managed to have access to an Intel® Galileo board a month ago. The Intel Galileo board is an Arduino certified board using Intel Quark Technology. At the beginning I was very lost, but now I’m borderline obsessed with it.  I find the activity of connecting things and making them work together very relaxing, and it reminded me those childhood moments where I disassembled the stereo, the blender, the talking doll and other articles to see how they worked inside. The best part here is the almost immediate reward of seeing something blink or move so easily. So if you are interested in my journey, keep reading for a report on my first steps.

What will I make?

What will I make?

The first step is to download the Intel Galileo® Arduino SW. It is a prepared version of the Arduino development environment with the image for working with the Intel Galileo board already installed. There are versions for Windows, Linux and MacOS.  The Getting Started document guides you through recognizing, connecting and updating the firmware in your board, so I’m not going to repeat here. There are tons of examples, but the first one you are instructed to try is the Blink example.

Accessing the Blink example

Accessing the Blink example

If you are a newbie like me, the next question would be: great, but now, how do I stop it? Short answer: you can’t. I mean, not through programming. You can always unplug the power (but first disconnect the USB!!! I’m not sure why but the documentation says so :) ).

Update: In the German post, Alexander M nicely explains why is it necessary: “Because otherwise the SPI image on the Galileo may be damaged, and in the case of Galileo can be saved only with external hardware Guide Search. Background: The Galileo requires minimal 550mA current for stable operation, which is normally provided via the AC adapter.If this is not (more) connected but the Galileo still connected via USB to the computer, then it tries to power through this USB port to draw. However, since USB is only specified up to 500mA the current can be almost here, in the worst case during a write operation on the SPI image. Then, the write operation is incomplete and the file structures in the image are corrupted.”

Danke schön!

Danke schön!

But what the Arduino is doing is transferring the sketch (the name Arduino uses for a program) created in the development environment to the Linux system running in the board, which will call that sketch in a loop. Curious? Look at the bottom-dark area in the IDE and you can see the log of what was just done:

Uploading sketch log

Uploading sketch log

 So the slightly more elegant way to stop it is actually upload to the board the initial script, which does nothing, so the board stops blinking and goes to a loop of doing nothing.

Do Nothing sketch

Do Nothing sketch

Ok, now I had my Intel Galileo board connected, updated and had successfully run my first sketch! As you can notice, there are two main parts in a sketch: the setup() and the loop(). As the name suggests, in setup() you set your controls, and in the loop() you program what you want the board to do. The controls are usually associating your variable with the correspondent pin connected to the control of the component, and the loop() will read and/or write something in this control. In the case of our Blink example, the sketch declares pin as 13, then during setup, initializes the digital pin as an output:

Turns on an LED on for one second, then off for one second, repeatedly.
This example code is in the public domain.

// Pin 13 has an LED connected on most Arduino boards.
// give it a name:
int led = 13;

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {
// initialize the digital pin as an output.
pinMode(led, OUTPUT);

Then in the loop(), it alternates the high and low voltages to make the LED blink, with pauses in between:

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
digitalWrite(led, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(1000); // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(1000); // wait for a second

So what next? Well, that’s where we have to start using our imagination – or if you already have a project, start connecting the components. The board itself, although well prepared for many usages, cannot do much more than blink without components or add-ons. This video covers of what the board has, the chipsets and controllers. There is also extensive documentation and the available datasheet on what is in the board. But they are mostly controllers, so I needed some component to play with. My first choice was a servo, and after realizing how the proper connect it, I was able to execute the Sweep sample from Arduino:

This video was made today, after my weekend visit to a hardware store to buy proper jumper cables. As I mention on the beginning, I am only starting this and I don’t know yet what will I do (although I have some ideas) and what will I need, so far I’m testing the basics. During my first tests with the servos, having just wires was not very friendly but worked, but working with the motion sensor convinced me I needed proper tools. Now I have jumper wires, alligator clips (especially for conductive fabric), several LEDs, a breadboard and an anti-static band. Previously I had acquired the motion sensor, a LCD and the conductive fabrics. But then today I found out that I actually also need resistors for working with LEDs – told you, newbie! Although a colleague already stated a clarification on my Facebook wall:

Maybe I need more than resistors...

Maybe I need more than resistors…

In my opinion, getting started is super easy. The documentation is great, many samples, and I’m becoming particularly fond of Adafruit (which I cannot not mention the fact that is owned by a women, Limor Fried). Every component has links for the tutorials on how to use it, which is essential for newbies like me.

Limor Fried, Adafruit owner, Entrepreneur of 2012

As I mention before, what the Arduino development environment will do is to upload a sketch that the Linux system will execute indefinitely. So there is a Linux system… here is where things my start to get interesting :) so may next steps will be 1) buy resistors and get the LEDs working, and 2) start investigating the hacking options for the operating system. I already know Yocto is a way to do it, and some people are already using it. I will keep you posted ;)

Germany’s first all-women Hackathon – by Berlin Geekettes

This weekend, right after MWC13, I went to Germany’s first all-women hackathon, organized by Berlin Geekettes (in Berlin). The event was invite only, and I was one of the +100 women – yes, +100 women – who attended and spent the weekend hacking. You can see pictures summing up the event at I served as UX and designer consultant for two teams, and one of the teams came in 4th! Full details of this amazing experience bellow:

Berlin Geekettes started one year ago, founded by Jess Erickson, and in just one year managed to form a network of +400 women connected to technology, from developers, designers, to entrepreneurs and angel investors. The team was approached and invited to Google, Facebook and other companies, to present the group and talk about their experience. The main team is formed of 4 other women, including an events manager, a technical ambassador, an evangelist and an official photographer/designer. The website is, but it will be changed soon from a Tumblr based to a full CMS page.

The Hackathon was attended by more than 100 women. This is a remarkable number even for those who are active in female oriented online groups and know how many women are active but avoid regular events for a number of reasons. The absolutely majority was developers of web applications, very few C developers. I didn’t count how many ideas were pitched, but in the end 28 projects were finalized and demoed. The event was sponsored and hosted by Deutsche Telekom, which provided space, flawless internet access and technical support; SoundCloud, sponsoring meals, prizes and having engineers to support the apps development; Uber, a car service who offered every participant one free ride anywhere and anytime; plus 15 smaller sponsorships, several with onsite engineers to support the developers. Facebook wanted to be there but double booked, so they send a video message specially recorded for the event. The Hackathon ran officially for 24hs, with extra activities expanding the event to a total of 48hs.

The difference from the regular hackathon, besides being an all-women event, was the inclusion of a yoga stretching room, where a volunteer ran 10min sessions during the 24hs to help developers to take a break; real food, delicious, organic, provided by an independent chef; a crafts room, where Etsy helped developers to craft their mascot; the sponsorship of a car service company to give everyone the sense of safety and freedom to hack as long as they wanted, and 2 little kids supporting their respective moms during demo time. Besides that, was everything like any other hackathon, obsessive hackers coding away, groups collaborating, arguing, supporting each other.


The projects were posted using Hacker League website, and can be seen here . I participated in Journey Mix, a tool for finding tracks for long activities (the idea started to be pitched with “I used to go clubbing a lot. Now I go running a lot, but I miss the DJs”); and Bikeable Sounds, basically plotting your playlist into your bike path map. Both were using SoundCloud service. Journey Mix got the 4th place, and it’s live at The first prizes went to Monkey See Monkey Do (1st – helping children to understand their schedule); Life in Music (2nd; and Sound Pairs (3rd, another educational tool for teaching sounds to children). My other favourite idea was the Urban Sound Archive, Mood Swings, Wonder Belt and Flip It.

It was an overwhelming experience to find myself with so many female hackers, and I think we were all in this same state of wonderment. But as for reflections on the developer scene, I noted a few important insights:

–       many web developers are just doing HTML5 without any fuss about it. We just did, without calling it HTML5, most of the time it was called JavaScript/CSS programming.

–       two of the most cheered demos, that got the crowd excited, were about sensors. The Wonder Belt used tapping to play Tetris, and the LeapPlay, using the LeapMotion sensor device to play music.

–       having a common objective and appropriate tools made us all go miles this weekend. I learned tons of CSS, my colleagues learned tons about API programming, SoundCloud learned a lot about bugs in their API, and everybody went further than they imagine. I saw one of my colleagues doing this face many times during the time there

–       having a UX knowledge can really save tons of time from developers. I helped them to think about the objectives, similarities and differences into 3 projects thinking of merging, ending up in two different projects. Ideas about what should be shown, should be hidden, should be featured, presented and in what order helped the developers to focus and achieve a lot more than if they had to test every option.

There are some talks for expanding Berlin Geekettes, and one of the first chapters will be Munich Geekettes, supported by this happy hacker-turned-designer-over-the-weekend reporter. Now if you excuse me, I will crash again because this week was amazing, but I need to recharge.