A Project Begins – An Arduino Unboxing

There’s a Maker‘s Space at the DAI in Heidelberg that’s just started up. I’ve been to the DAI a couple times. It has an awesome collection of (English language) books and I want to read them all. It’s an inspiring place by itself and I came away from the maker’s meetup wanting to do more.

The group is new there. They’ve invested in a 3D printer and some 3D pens, and the gaggle of people had a buzz about them too. After looking some 3D dresses and some people messing about with Arduinos the host and I got chatting. They’re planning a launch at the end of April and were looking for people to demonstrate. Without a concrete plan of what to do I volunteered.

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Arduino Starter Kit unboxing

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So I bought the official Arduino Starter Kit. And it comes in a really pretty box. I want to make something that makes some noise, but I’ll need to go through the Hello World stage and I’ll want to mess about with other things too. The project book it comes with looks really well laid out and the components are just what I need to start with.

I’ve set myself up GitHub Repo and will be keeping you updated here.

View this post on Instagram

Arduino Starter Kit unboxing

A post shared by Mike Ramnarine (@soundornoise) on

 

View this post on Instagram

Arduino Starter Kit unboxing

A post shared by Mike Ramnarine (@soundornoise) on

 

View this post on Instagram

Arduino Starter Kit unboxing

A post shared by Mike Ramnarine (@soundornoise) on

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One Month In

Mannheim

Wow! Has it been a month in Germany already? I had meant to do a not-a-new-years post, but I think the window on that was passed. Resolutions aren’t a thing I really believe in. Years a cyclic, but where we place a start and end is arbitrary. I don’t give much weight to calendars, so I don’t see new years as enough of an anchor to use to force a change of direction. This whole trip as been rooted in decisions made last year. Although I didn’t move until the end of January in my mind things have been snowballing since October. And none of this would have happened without the lifetime of choices and actions before it.

A month is a long time. This is something I’d forgotten. Stuck in routine, with work and habits decided long before it’s easy to forget how many hours (days, weeks) we have at our disposal. But being between full time commitments it’s easy to lose track of time for other reasons.

Hitting reset and starting from scratch has been daunting. There were moments filled with vertigo, but these moments of overwhelm at the scale of the change I’m making quickly passed. Mostly, I’ve taken the move with a sense of zen calm. I met some friends for leaving drinks and one of them said that they didn’t think that they could just leave the way I have. I simply replied that a life time of small differences and choices had, 27 years later, put us at different places. Maybe it was perception or a situation of our own creating. Throwing half your things away and putting the rest into boxes does interesting things to your state of mind.

So does spending two weeks without furniture waiting at the other end. There’s nothing like living in an empty space with just a mattress and no outside commitments to make you feel like your life is on pause.

Even with few distractions it’s easy to let environment (the lack of furniture) mask the actual accomplishments. I have worked out how German backing works (shit by UK standards – they often make you pay for basic services and there seems to be a lack of trust), healthcare too and recycling (not too different from the UK, but the Gelber Sack/Green Dot rules seem convoluted and unenforceable). Plus staring from scratch with a foreign language and all the small things that make a house a home. Probably some small things I’ve forgotten too. There’s a familiarity that’s completely taken for granted as a native.

Skyline Coming Soon

I’ve already had the chance to catch up with a German uni friend and been visited by and old housemate. This led me to Frankfurt to the north and Karlsruhe to the south. We did a lot of walking around Frankfurt and I think I can navigate the centre blind. I’ve also kept in touch with other friends and family remotely, and I know that others are just a few clicks away. The wonders of modern technology.

But with all this shit done I want to move on to a more focused use of my time. I’ve enrolled on the German as a Foreign Language course, so I will be able to go from giving one word to one sentence answers. I am definitely up for making mistakes talking to people, but I’m looking forward to having a working vocabulary and being able to understand sentences with more than one clause in them. That said, I’ll probably be relying on translation services for a while yet.

Heidelberg

Now I know where some things are it’s time to go exploring. It looks like there are a few interesting things going on at the DAI, and Heidelberg in general looks like an interesting place. It seems that the university circuit isn’t quite like how it is in the UK and there aren’t as many societies to do with them. I’m told they exist, but it almost sounds like you need to be introduced. Regardless of how and where I’m going to find some things to get involved with.

Robohorse in Heidelberg

Alive on arrival in Germany

On Thursday I went to the registration office. After being seen I was almost immediately passed to someone else who spoke English. I could have filled in a form slowly, but not answer the questions in real time. Week one in Germany has come and gone, but I am now officially a resident.

The move is still a work in progress. This week our shipped stuff will arrive. I’m looking forward to having more than just a bed and a kitchen again. We will still need to fill in some of the blanks, but it will be good to having a desk, books and a place designed for sitting to sit.

I would like to be getting on with productive things, but I’ve been spending most of the time settling in and that’s ok. Moving without a solid foundation in the language (but a desire to get one) was always going to be hard. I have managed to go shopping and get food, even if it is more draining than it should be.

I have already been lightly mocked for my lack of German. I’d been told that the attendant at the laundrette would speak English. After going into the dry cleaners next door and being redirected, it turns out they didn’t and what I’d been asked to do was not the default option. After acquiring the relevant verb from the shop window (trocknen – to dry) and through saying yes/no and gesturing we were understood, but it was not graceful.

wildfirebird joined me when we collected the laundry and when asked if she spoke German replied “ein bisschen”. The attendant assumed that this meant good enough to share a joke over how bad my German was. Even with my “super Deutsch” I could tell it was well intentioned, but we couldn’t really join in the banter. Still, clothes were cleaned but we may use the self service laundrette next time.

These types of things are going to happen and are expected to happen, but I’m past the point of being overwhelmed by everything. I have learning resources prepped, some time set aside and a willingness to try. More importantly, my lack of German has not caused me to starve to death. They say that it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Now that will be interesting, I haven’t dealt with the medical system yet.