Category Archives: FIRST

XML conversion

I need a way to convert a batch of XML files into one table, either into excel or something excel cam read (csv, tab delineated, etc). The XML files I have are from TI calculators and don’t seem to be in a standard format. I’m looking for any help. Here’s the XML in plain text:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC “-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN” “http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd”&gt;

<plist version=”1.0″>

<dict>

<key>cells</key>

<array>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>11</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>2</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>1</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>11</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>3</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>0</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>25</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>3</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>0</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>839</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>1</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>7</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>2</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>2</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>7</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>1</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>0</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>4</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>0</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>2</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>0</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>571</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>2</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>0</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>173</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>0</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>12</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>1</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>6</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>3</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>7</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>1</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>1</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>5</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>10</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>0</integer>

</dict>

<dict>

<key>column</key>

<integer>7</integer>

<key>numberValue</key>

<integer>2</integer>

<key>row</key>

<integer>3</integer>

</dict>

</array>

<key>columnCount</key>

<integer>8</integer>

<key>containsComplex</key>

<false/>

<key>device name</key>

<string>[F]</string>

<key>device type</key>

<string>TI-83 Plus</string>

<key>object type</key>

<string>Matrix</string>

<key>rowCount</key>

<integer>15</integer>

</dict>

</plist>

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More griping

If said people will be retiring, there should be something in place that will keep the team going and knowledge in place. This is not happening at all. Today, for instance, Bruce was there and showing everyone the drawings for the robot. Everyone was around the table looking at the laptop. How many students were in this group? One. How many students were at the meeting? 15 or so.

This is supposed to be a program for high school students right? The point of FIRST is to ‘inspire them to become engineers’ and pursuit other technical careers by working with professionals. None of the ‘working together’ happens on our team. I can legitimately say that the only person who actively gets students involved is me. I am finding it so frustrating that I’m the only one. I’m not the only one who notices this though. I’ve gotten comments from other adults on the team about how well the students were working, after I had given them something to do. I’m also the only person on the team who has had an entire room of students working and quiet.

It’s beyond frustrating to be the only one working with students. To me, it feels like everyone is almost working against what I’m trying to do. I’m sure my legions of readers have felt something similar before, but it’s one of the most motivation-crushing feelings there is. There was a point this season that I really didn’t care about the team at all.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the robot design this year is almost entirely Bruce’s. Let’s expand on that. For the first two weeks or so, of the season, people were coming up with ideas, building prototypes, and doing a lot of brainstorming. I know I was working on a gyroscope idea and there were others working on their ideas. Many hours were put into these ideas. Many people were on board with these ideas. Many people thought were were going to use these ideas on the actual robot.

During these weeks, as I said before, Bruce would be at the meetings once or twice a week. Therefore many of the ideas he did not hear. Come the end of the second week, start of the third, Bruce has a meeting to show us all a preliminary robot design. Where this design came from, I think caught most people off guard. I know it caught me off guard. I was wondering where or why the prelim design had formed. It’ didn’t really have anyone else’s ideas in it. It’s was almost entirely Bruce’s ideas which had not been run past the majority of the team. The kicker to the whole thing was that he was “almost set” on the design and it was approaching the point of no return.

Since then, a commitment to that design was made and parts have started to be made. All of this design was done by adults. Not a single student has helped with this design. Hell, most students on the team probably can’t even describe what the robot will be this year. To me, this is totally unacceptable. Of course, I will bring this up once the season is over, but there is no way I will be on the team next year if anyone puts up a serious argument with me. Doing so just says to me that their vision of the team and program are so different from mine (and wrong in my opinion) that I don’t want to be part of it anymore. I do not enjoying being frustrated with so much every time there’s a meeting.

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FIRST frustrations

This is going to be a gripe session.

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about RAGE since kickoff (January 5th). There have been a number of aspects of the team that I don’t like and really want to change. I also realize that the changes I want to make will not happen overnight. That is one of my biggest frustrations. Before I really get into the details, keep in mind how I see my role on the team in the future.

This is my last semester of classes at CCSU. In the fall I will be student teaching and after that I will get a job. That job will most likely not be in East Hartford. Even if it is, I need to take time to improve my teaching and don’t plan on doing anything with a FIRST team. In short, I don’t see myself on the team next year.

Now, let’s look at the technical mentors that are on the team. I’m talking about the mentors that have been there for years and are truly dedicated to the team. They have done great things to keep the team running and I truly appreciate everything they’ve done. First, there is myself, 24 years old. The other main mentors on the team are Chuck, Bruce, Connie, Sal, and Tom. The youngest of them is in their 50s. I can see four of the five retiring in five years or less. That leaves the team in a very tough spot.

When, not if, Bruce retires, he will be the biggest loss to the team. He is the only design engineer we have and does just about all our design work. He is also the only person who submits parts to be made. When he retires we will not only lose our engineering support, but also almost all our machining capabilities. This is a huge problem.

The team gets almost all our parts made for us by either Bruce, Trumpf, or Jim Palmer. We do have a few machines (lathe, bridgeport, CNC mill, press break, grinder, drill press) at RHS, but none of the students know how to use them. The students also don’t have access to them during the school day, nor are there classes in place to teach them about the machines. The machines are in the ‘robot room’, as its been dubbed, but it basically a storage room that we only have access to during the build season. The rest of the year its used as storage for the janitors.

When Bruce leaves, he’s taking his design process. While it might not be all bad, it leaves the team with virtually no design process of their own. Let me give you a rundown of how our season usually runs. The first week, a few people come up with ideas and try to prototype them. The prototyping and refining continues into the second week. These first two weeks, Bruce tends to be there two or three times a week. Once week three comes, design ideas are settled on. Now whether these ideas are ones that team members have come up with or not is something I’ll get to later. Once a design is settled on, Bruce starts designing. This really means that he draws everything in Solidworks over the next two weeks.

During these two weeks, Bruce is almost held up at his computer drawing, sending the occasional e-mail when he has questions. He shows up at meetings maybe once a week. In the meantime, the team continues to meet, throw ideas around and generally not do anything productive. While Bruce is designing, he’s also submitting parts to be made by our suppliers. This is usually done without anyone else knowing. This is the point in time the team is at right now.

In the last two weeks, parts show up and they are assembled into a robot as best we can. It’s hard, mainly because we don’t know how things are drawn and therefore don’t know how they go together. There is usually a few CAD models printed out to work from and a lot of calling Bruce, since he’s still on his computer CAD-ing it up. He’ll show up more frequently to make sure things are going together right, but usually leaves early to go back to CADing.

I think I’m gonna stop here, since I already wrote a book. That at least gives you an idea of how our team runs through a build season. Pick it apart and ask questions as you want. That’s basically what I’ll be doing in the next entry. Expect it to be a little longer than this one.

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new site?

Recently, Greg Needel and myself have brought back FIRSTcast, the FIRST robotics podcast. The old site (http://podcast.openfirst.org/) is getting kind of tired and cumbersome to update. I’ve been looking to move it to a wordpress blog to make it easier to update and archive old shows. If you wanna check out the new site go here.

So far the site is coming along alright. The design is good enough, since I’m worried about functionality more than looks. I’ve been having problems with podpress. It’s not posting the podcast and information in the post, but it is working in the archives page.

If you’ve used podpress before, let me know cause I could use some help figuring this out.

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Filed under FIRST, Podcasts, Rambling

118’s awesome robot

Even if you’re not a robot nerd like me, you can enjoy the awesomeness of this machine.

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Filed under FIRST, Video

Sorry

I think I said I would update this more often since school is out right now. I forgot about robotics though. It’s been consuming everything I’ve done for the past 4 days.
If you want to know what I’ll be pondering over for the next few weeks, FIRST has made a shortened explanation of the game this year.
If you come up with any bright ideas please share them.
Other than that life is pretty normal. Work, robots, work, party, etc. I’l try to remember interesting happenings or stories to tell, but no promises.

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Mike’s Mac list

This list is mainly for Mike about apps and things for the Mac that I use. But, you can use it too if you want.
Quicksilver (free)- An app launcher and so much more.
AppDelete (free) – A program that deletes programs and associated files and settings.
GimmieSomeTune (free)- A app-plugin-add-on thing for iTunes that will get album artwork from Amazon.com if iTunes can’t find it.
Armagetron (free) – Lightcycle.
iEatBrainz (free) – An app that will tag untagged or improperly music
MacSaber (free) – The best program ever.
Onyx (free) – Maintenace and things for your Mac.
Seashore (free) – A nice simple image editor.
Task List (free) – Keeps track of school work and stuff although I’ve found it rather annoying to use.
Transmission (free) – A good, simple but powerful bittorrent client.
SoundSource (free) – Its basically an icon that sits in the menu bar and allow me to change between outputs and inputs quickly, since my headset is connected through USB.
Adium (free) – Multi-protocol messenger client.

That’s pretty much my list of software that I use. I’l make a list of podcasts (video and audio) that I’m subscribed to, but I’m not going to link cause I’m lazy. Go find them on iTunes.
Apple Quick Tip of the Week – Self explanatory.
Ask a Ninja – Funny funny stuff.
Bands Under the Radar – One of the ways I stay so cool.
Budget Health Nut – A cooking show for normal people
Comedy Insider – Cause everyone wants to be a standup comedian.
Coverville – How I find those crazy cover versions of songs.
Cranky Geeks – Guys sit at a table and try to talk about tech stuff.
Ctrl+Alt+Chicken – Another cooking show, but there hasn’t been a new one recently.
Daily Giz Wiz – A new gadget everyday.
Diggnation (high def video) – Kevin and Alex.
FIRSTcast – Gotta monitor our feed.
Indiefeed: Alternative/Modern Rock – Another way I stay so cool.
Leo Laporte The Tech Guy – Computer talk
MacBreak (video) – People doing neat things with Macs.
Macbreak weekly – It’s how I find new programs and stay up on my Apple news.
The Music Slut – A feed of an MP3 blog
Net @ nite – More nerd computer and internet talk
Pixel Perfect (high def) – The best photoshop tutorials out there.
Security now! – Nerd security talk
Systm – Shows about tech related stuff.
This Week In Law – Cause we all want to be lawyers too.
This week in Tech – THE podcast that started it all (they talk about tech)
Tiki Bar TV – Learn how to drink.
Totally Rad Show – Keep up with movies, games, tv, comics, and other geek stuff.
Try This At Home – Women doing weird things
Wild Chronicles – A shortened version of the National Geographic show.
Windows Weekly – I can’t just pay attention to Macs. I have to fix windows.
The 5 Minute Drill – Fantasy Football.

So that’s most everything. There’s one or two podcasts I didn’t mention cause they’re from The Hype Machine and customized to me. I hope that’s enough content to keep everyone busy for awhile.

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Filed under FIRST, Life, Links, Mac, Music, Rambling, Video