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If we're not in St. Louis, what "new technology rollout" will FIRST give us online?

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  • If we're not in St. Louis, what "new technology rollout" will FIRST give us online?

    I have just 2 weekly on-campus meetings with my team left in this school year. So, my last chance to discuss the new FTC technology with my team will be on the Tuesday after World Championships.

    I went to the FTC World Championship web page, which lists an "FTC New Platform Demonstration - Union Station Mall" occurring each day: 8.5 hours each on Wednesday and Friday, 5 hours on Thursday, and 3 hours on Saturday. Clearly, those attending will have extensive opportunities to observe, examine, ask questions and take notes.

    So, I think it is time now for FIRST to give us the full schedule for release/publication of all of the online resources that will "roll out" the new technology for the rest of us who will not be in St. Louis: streamed video demonstrations, web pages providing downloads and FAQs, online chats, webinars, YouTube videos, etc.

    And if FIRST cannot provide this information before the Championships start, then I submit that FIRST owes several hundred teams and several thousand students an apology, and an extensive explanation of yet another delay in helping us to adjust to a decision by FIRST in which we had no voice.

  • #2
    Originally posted by AlanG View Post
    And if FIRST cannot provide this information before the Championships start, then I submit that FIRST owes several hundred teams and several thousand students an apology, and an extensive explanation of yet another delay in helping us to adjust to a decision by FIRST in which we had no voice.
    I have to agree that this rollout was not ideal; on the software side some choices were made that I didn't really see well-justified. Fixing them to make programming more flexible and powerful does not seem to be an extremely prohibitive process, yet it is not being done and no strong technical reason for same was given.
    FTC6460 mentor (software+computer vision+electronics), FPGA enthusiast. In favor of allowing custom electronics on FTC bots.
    Co-founder of ##ftc live chat for FTC programming--currently you may need to join and wait some time for help--volunteer basis only.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by AlanG View Post
      I have just 2 weekly on-campus meetings with my team left in this school year. So, my last chance to discuss the new FTC technology with my team will be on the Tuesday after World Championships.

      I went to the FTC World Championship web page, which lists an "FTC New Platform Demonstration - Union Station Mall" occurring each day: 8.5 hours each on Wednesday and Friday, 5 hours on Thursday, and 3 hours on Saturday. Clearly, those attending will have extensive opportunities to observe, examine, ask questions and take notes.

      So, I think it is time now for FIRST to give us the full schedule for release/publication of all of the online resources that will "roll out" the new technology for the rest of us who will not be in St. Louis: streamed video demonstrations, web pages providing downloads and FAQs, online chats, webinars, YouTube videos, etc.
      While I can agree that the rollout of this change has been less than wonderful, I don't understand why you think that you deserve to see everything before the teams that made it to World Championships do. FIRST has rolled out new technology at, and not before, World Championships several times in recent memory. I believe that letting everyone see the new system before St Louis was a mistake if they weren't going to release ALL OF IT. After all, this change is for NEXT season, and I believe that this early disclosure disrespects the teams at World Festival by taking the focus off of them and putting it on this rollout.

      Originally posted by AlanG View Post
      And if FIRST cannot provide this information before the Championships start, then I submit that FIRST owes several hundred teams and several thousand students an apology, and an extensive explanation of yet another delay in helping us to adjust to a decision by FIRST in which we had no voice.
      I'm confused about why you think that you deserve an advantage over the new rookie teams that won't get to apply this new technology until they register when the 2015-2016 season opens and receive their robot kits in June or July. FIRST had little choice about the upgrade, as the remaining supply of discontinued NXT kits wasn't going to support the number of new teams projected for the 2015-2016 season and as the two control models are not compatible, they had to do this all at once. While I know that there will be some pain this season, I support FIRST's decision to do the upgrade.

      And if anyone needs to offer an apology, I think that you need to look in the mirror and find some Gracious Professionalism.
      Jim Bates
      Atlantic County NJ 4-H Robotics
      FLL Teams 71 & 13365
      FTC Team 9765

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by JimInNJ View Post
        I'm confused about why you think that you deserve an advantage over the new rookie teams that won't get to apply this new technology until they register when the 2015-2016 season opens and receive their robot kits in June or July. FIRST had little choice about the upgrade, as the remaining supply of discontinued NXT kits wasn't going to support the number of new teams projected for the 2015-2016 season and as the two control models are not compatible, they had to do this all at once. While I know that there will be some pain this season, I support FIRST's decision to do the upgrade.
        OP never said that the hardware itself needs to be made available to his team/all teams, and the original post didn't really request it. I agree with AlanG that having access to downloads, FAQs, APIs/Javadocs, code examples, etc. is very helpful to clear up many questions and doubts that we have. Additionally, nobody and nothing is keeping a rookie team from looking at these downloads/APIs/examples before they receive their kits.

        I don't understand why you think that you deserve to see everything before the teams that made it to World Championships do.
        If you look around a bit, there are teams that already got access to hardware and software. I likewise do not understand why these teams get to see everything (mind you, not just code samples and APIs). These teams that got access (if they did so because of their performance this year) make it unfair for teams that may have equal merit but either did not succeed for some reason for another (funding, other circumstances), or were overlooked in selection for beta testing. While these teams are currently capable of starting to develop libraries of functions that will be useful in later years, we other teams are left waiting for basic clarifications on many things.

        And if anyone needs to offer an apology, I think that you need to look in the mirror and find some Gracious Professionalism.
        A part of gracious professionalism is to assume good faith. This applies to all cases (including OP and the reply).
        FTC6460 mentor (software+computer vision+electronics), FPGA enthusiast. In favor of allowing custom electronics on FTC bots.
        Co-founder of ##ftc live chat for FTC programming--currently you may need to join and wait some time for help--volunteer basis only.

        Comment


        • #5
          AlanG,

          While I won't be as aggressive as JimInNJ, I would encourage you to think about how you are positioning you comments. I believe the assumption you are making is that First is going to spend 8+ hours teaching everyone at worlds what the new system is. It would be much more respectful to simply ask what will presented during these sessions, before jumping to the conclusion that FIRST is giving a huge advantage to the teams at worlds.

          Based solely on my experience at the Super Regional I attended, your assumption is likely incorrect. The demonstration there was simply an opportunity for teams to touch and run the "demo" robot, which you have seen in some of the videos. You also have the opportunity to talk to some of the "business/marketing/product" team who are working on this project. However, they didn't have Tom Eng there and I can't imagine they will have him there for worlds either.

          Perhaps someone from FIRST can confirm what is going to be demo'ed at Worlds and I am all wet.

          While the demo was nice and I felt better after seeing it, I knew as much about the technology as the team running the demo. In my opinion Tom Eng and FIRST are being as open and transparent as he can be.

          I am not saying we should ignore the challenges with the rollout of the new technology. Just that you should try to give the benefit of the doubt to Tom Eng and the FIRST team when you are asking about this type of thing.

          Regards,

          EddieD

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by EddieD View Post
            While the demo was nice and I felt better after seeing it, I knew as much about the technology as the team running the demo. In my opinion Tom Eng and FIRST are being as open and transparent as he can be.

            EddieD
            I'd like to disagree, in that I would like to see a bit more openness (although I have a strong background in open-source methodologies). There were many requests to see code samples, preliminary APIs, etc (even if just lists of methods available with the understanding that they would be apt to change). I've made some requests of this sort myself, and I have not really gotten a definitive answer on them. I didn't really get a reason such as "they're under an NDA" or "they're about to change drastically in the next week", and I didn't see the actual materials published, that many members here were hoping to see. It seemed to be met more by silence (although some of our direct questions about structure were answered directly).
            FTC6460 mentor (software+computer vision+electronics), FPGA enthusiast. In favor of allowing custom electronics on FTC bots.
            Co-founder of ##ftc live chat for FTC programming--currently you may need to join and wait some time for help--volunteer basis only.

            Comment


            • #7
              In the spirit of Gracious Professionalism, kindly re-read what I actually wrote. I asked for FIRST "to give us the full SCHEDULE for release/publication of all of the online resources that will "roll out" the new technology " (emphasis added). I don't think that any reasonable person with experience in technology transfer would expect that SCHEDULE to start BEFORE April 22. But I think that all of us who won't be in St. Louis have every reason to expect that the online releases of information will start ON April 22. Otherwise, the advantages that you presumed I was asking for will "flip" to all of those standing in the mall watching the demonstration in person.

              And I submit that, on April 22nd, those not in St. Louis will want to start a LOT of online work, to overcome the DISadvantages of not being able to get answers and make observations in person. In particular, the rookie teams, coaches and mentors will need that online information even more than those of us on experienced teams.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by AlanG View Post
                In the spirit of Gracious Professionalism, kindly re-read what I actually wrote. I asked for FIRST "to give us the full SCHEDULE for release/publication of all of the online resources that will "roll out" the new technology " (emphasis added).
                Yes, "give us the full SCHEDULE", or else "FIRST owes several hundred teams and several thousand students an apology". Do what I say or apologize. I'm trying to assume good faith, but . . .

                Originally posted by AlanG View Post
                And I submit that, on April 22nd, those not in St. Louis will want to start a LOT of online work, to overcome the DISadvantages of not being able to get answers and make observations in person. In particular, the rookie teams, coaches and mentors will need that online information even more than those of us on experienced teams.
                Is this so complex that 2 weeks in April will make or break a team's chances of fielding a viable robot in October? Then maybe this technology choice was a mistake after all.

                I stand by my statement - " I believe that letting everyone see the new system before St Louis was a mistake if they weren't going to release ALL OF IT." If they had held back everything until the 22nd, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

                I'm done with this thread. If anyone is still offended, I APOLOGIZE.

                With high fives and admiration,

                JIM BATES
                Jim Bates
                Atlantic County NJ 4-H Robotics
                FLL Teams 71 & 13365
                FTC Team 9765

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hi Folks,

                  I appreciate everyone's interest and intensity regarding this new platform rollout. We are trying to be as responsive as we can and as transparent as we can, but unfortunately cannot respond immediately to all requests.

                  I would urge folks to be gracious and a little patient. Details regarding the software availability and the hardware availability will be forthcoming. I hate to use the cliche, but there really are a lot of moving parts to this technology transition and we are trying to be as open and transparent as possible.

                  Also, regarding the pilot testing - The pilot tests were schedule so that we can do some external testing with the prototype software and hardware. We had a limited amount of time and resources to conduct the tests, and unfortunately we were only able to run the tests with a limited number of teams. I can understand people's frustration that more teams did not have an opportunity to preview the new material and equipment. However, it was important do external testing in a more realistic environment and we felt that the pilot tests were a good way to do this.

                  Regarding the demo at world, we will have several "k9 bots" (the little robot that you might have seen in some of Ken Johnson's video blogs) that are equipped with two DC motors, two servos, and a LEGO NXT IR Sensor, and a lego NXT light sensor. some bots will have USB-enabled motor and servo controllers. Others will have legacy motor and servo controllers.

                  There will be an area (a 12'x12') perimeter where teams can drive the bots. There will also be a couple of bots on a table or two so visitors can look at the bot and see what the Modern Robotics modules look like.

                  I think EddieD's assessment is correct. The demo will be similar to what was seen at the super regional events, except that we will also have two teams from MA that will have retrofitted their season's bots with the new Android platform. Also engineers from QualComm, Modern Robotics and Google will be present to answer questions.

                  If it would be helpful, I could talk to the powers at FTC and see if we could potentially hold an online event where we do some technology demonstration and have some engineers available for Q&A. I will talk to the FTC team and see if we could arrange something like this to be scheduled after World Championships.

                  Regarding software changes, etc. - we do monitor this forum and we do see the suggestions and complaints. We make it a point to review these items with the engineering team. We do maintain a prioritized list of bugs, issues and change requests and do review and consider the input from this forum.

                  Sincerely,

                  Tom

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tom Eng View Post

                    I think EddieD's assessment is correct. The demo will be similar to what was seen at the super regional events, except that we will also have two teams from MA that will have retrofitted their season's bots with the new Android platform. Also engineers from QualComm, Modern Robotics and Google will be present to answer questions.

                    If it would be helpful, I could talk to the powers at FTC and see if we could potentially hold an online event where we do some technology demonstration and have some engineers available for Q&A. I will talk to the FTC team and see if we could arrange something like this to be scheduled after World Championships.
                    Thank you, Tom, for your prompt response!

                    I'm very glad to hear you bring up the idea of the "powers at FTC" conducting an online conference/webinar that would let us watch and listen in. And it will be all the better if "engineers from QualComm, Modern Robotics and Google will be present to answer questions."

                    We have limited team meeting time left before our students get immersed in final exams and AP exams. Then they and their teachers and mentors take off for the summer! I think all of us participating in this discussion recognize that we need to give our students their "summer assignments" as soon as possible, so that they can prepare to dive into the 2015-2016 game in September with the new hardware and software tools. We mentors and coaches also recognize that we have to put ourselves through some "summer school", so that we're prepared to teach and lead.

                    I think that a good online video+audio+text_chat conference (saved in an archive for those whose schedules don't allow participation) will get us off to the "summer school" start we need. After that, we can download every API source code package, programmer's guide, and FAQ list you can provide us. We can finagle our finances as necessary to get our hands on hardware as soon as possible. We can then prepare ourselves to embrace all of the possibilities of the new technology that really excite us so much already!

                    Please keep us posted!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tom Eng View Post
                      Regarding the demo at world, we will have several "k9 bots" (the little robot that you might have seen in some of Ken Johnson's video blogs) that are equipped with two DC motors, two servos, and a LEGO NXT IR Sensor, and a lego NXT light sensor. some bots will have USB-enabled motor and servo controllers. Others will have legacy motor and servo controllers.

                      There will be an area (a 12'x12') perimeter where teams can drive the bots. There will also be a couple of bots on a table or two so visitors can look at the bot and see what the Modern Robotics modules look like.

                      I think EddieD's assessment is correct. The demo will be similar to what was seen at the super regional events, except that we will also have two teams from MA that will have retrofitted their season's bots with the new Android platform. Also engineers from QualComm, Modern Robotics and Google will be present to answer questions.
                      I think this is an awesome way to roll out details to teams present. I would like to graciously propose that events be held in smaller regions, either through official FIRST, or through a "representative" team for that area that is willing to organize and coordinate the event (with similar hardware and communication to engineers on hand). Ideally, areas could cover about 1 or 2 hours driving time in areas "dense" with FTC teams, if logistically it works out. I understand that there is a lot that needs to happen on your side, and I understand that physical access may not be possible--however hands on access to the bots is one of the most powerful ways to learn. If we could see code samples and API docs it would, for many programmers in the FTC community, also be a good way to get acquainted with the system, even if we cannot get devices shipped at the time, or make it to a physical event.

                      Additionally, if we could see more of the involved engineers (that might be at said event) active on the forums (or on some realtime chat like IRC), it would help communication between coaches, mentors, team programmers, and the developers/engineers involved.
                      FTC6460 mentor (software+computer vision+electronics), FPGA enthusiast. In favor of allowing custom electronics on FTC bots.
                      Co-founder of ##ftc live chat for FTC programming--currently you may need to join and wait some time for help--volunteer basis only.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tom Eng View Post
                        Hi Folks,

                        If it would be helpful, I could talk to the powers at FTC and see if we could potentially hold an online event where we do some technology demonstration and have some engineers available for Q&A. I will talk to the FTC team and see if we could arrange something like this to be scheduled after World Championships.

                        Sincerely,

                        Tom
                        Outstanding suggestion! An online technology demo with Q&A would be extremely helpful, thanks Tom!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Seeing as how it is multiple days, why not document the more interesting questions asked, ideas put forth, etc. each day. Need not be formatted in anything fancy but more of a Top Ten list. Then at the end of the event, sum up all the high points topics brought forth. Add in a possible live stream of the demonstration area and I'll be more than happy to sit at home/work during championships.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pyreknight View Post
                            Seeing as how it is multiple days, why not document the more interesting questions asked, ideas put forth, etc. each day. Need not be formatted in anything fancy but more of a Top Ten list. Then at the end of the event, sum up all the high points topics brought forth. Add in a possible live stream of the demonstration area and I'll be more than happy to sit at home/work during championships.
                            I think this is also an excellent suggestion. Tom, if you're able to read Pyreknight's suggestion, I think this would be tremendously helpful, and might even help soothe the ruffled feathers of some others about not being able to be present and feeling like the 8 hours to "demo" the new technology might have an upper hand.

                            Thanks!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by pyreknight View Post
                              Add in a possible live stream of the demonstration area and I'll be more than happy to sit at home/work during championships.
                              If I'm reading the Championship website correctly, there will be NO streaming from the Union Station venue AT ALL. I think that this is another mistake that should remind us all about FTC's place in the FIRST pecking order . . .
                              Jim Bates
                              Atlantic County NJ 4-H Robotics
                              FLL Teams 71 & 13365
                              FTC Team 9765

                              Comment

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