Another visit to Olympus test lab with the unMonastery, and this was a dramatically different visit to my other visits (here and here). The very hot weather dissipated as I arrived, with my first week filled with intense downpours, schoolhouse leaks and strong winds thrashing the nearby trees, creating a soundscape like a wintry beach. Not having a kitchen to cook hot food was a real problem until an electric cooker arrived, in the meantime we all lived on salad and dashing to a taverna when the rains paused. I had no wet weather clothes at all.
Okay, so it wasn’t holiday weather – what was the work?
My role initially was to get started on a schoolhouse manual, roll out a Mazizone, and help Bembo Davies with the technical aspects of his village community engagement. It all started out quite positive. Before I start complaining too much, there were a lot of good starting points. The Mazizone reached a new development plateau with plenty of additional features in v1.8.5:
- An interview tool (based on tool created for the PrinzessenGarten project in Berlin), comprising of two parts. An Android recording app, seeming a bit wonky at first for recording – also suffering from a really minimal/nearly impossible system to navigate. Interview questions are created in advance, and a phone or tablet can be handed to a potential interviewee to record responses. A photo and the recordings are then uploaded into the Mazizone. Initial attempts provided sketchy results (wobbly recordings), but it may have been a model specific glitch; trying with a Galaxy S5 mini worked okay.
- Ability to update the system, set the time.
- Sensor feeds and presentation as graphs – although limited by the types of data input when so many sensor options available.
- Pi Camera functionality.
- Export/Import of Mazizone settings. According to James Stevens previous versions not catered for. Useful option to create snapshot profiles for differing deployments.
- WordPress publishing. This application really needed to be used in mazizone dual mode (connected to a router and accessing the internet) as the installation cried out to be updated to the latest version, 4.8.1 at the time of writing. Resetting passwords and updating themes would also need a connection.
- Ability to add a second wifi radio, enabling connection to an existing service and broadcast Mazizone services via the Raspberry Pi onboard radio (v3 only).
Plenty to play with, and indeed there was time.
The weather locked us in. In so many ways. Only people with ‘survival Greek’ in attendance, no Greek speakers again…As I started the Mazizone rollout, I thought that it was useful for people in general to log their projects as a separate set of reflections alongside the collective house diary. Charles Pryor contended with changes of plan for the permaculture garden and decided to start a medicinal herbal WordPress blog to insert his research, potentially to sync with his Maps.me app, logging coordinates of fauna. unMonk Lauren arrived with plans of mapping (places unknown), which also were to use the WordPress system initial – on another machine. Bembo’s plans of engagement were tentative and somewhat fractured by his change of role to transport manager. Time was available, but the centre did not hold.
Purpose, service and err, collaboration?
For a time after the initial creation of the Mazizone and the framework documents, it seemed that things could stumble along. Unfortunately, the Unmonk routine had not been collectively created (YT referred to this in meetings of decreasing interest). Even when addressed, this scattering began to impact on the other projects, my tai chi sessions were not being attended en masse, or even with any sense of interest. Communal interest was not dynamic. Project work became hidden and not a shared situation – when called upon all of a sudden to assist with a technical problem, collaboration has become a term abused to become on call tech support. Not what I was there to do. The house manual had one draft with myself and unMonk Michael as writers. Thought it a good idea to do some drawings in the house manual, instead of trying to make a digital copy which would be on an ‘invisible’ network. It would offer up a signpost to accessing the network, and the idiosyncratic nature of the schoolhouse/people sharing the house. Nobody else seemed to be interested, and creative options raised quickly forgotten.
As the ‘salad days’ continued, exasperation grew with others – the house diary was becoming neglected for a start. I became a grumpy pragmatist, highlighting situations with a practical scenario, in one meeting prompting everyone to clean up by stating my intent to deep clean the toilets. Hrrm. I reflected upon what services we were meant to be offering the village, and each other – both options seemed opaque.
Enough of the moaning, what happened worth mentioning?
Again the Mazizone proved useful with patchy internet access, and a Youtube addicted 9 year old watching non stop videos and sucking up the access for others trying to get some research. This is worth mentioning, he was a source of good humour, boy band dance moves and pillow fights…seriously. The weather improved for the second week, as did the cooking scenario when a tatty electric cooker unceremoniously arrived with a grumpy host who didn’t like the idea of a hallway kitchen.
The second Mazizone on hand was deployed in ‘our’ taverna, using a second radio. Using the v2 Raspberry Pi does make a difference to the performance of the system, and it may be that alternative versions may need to be rolled up to optimise the different specifications. The eventual push to locate local produce was a great way to start village dialogues – YT being the grumpy initiator of the obvious. The village showed an influx of families with children, a noticeable change in the area – this peaked with the fete (the day I was leaving) to celebrate the patron saint of the village, unfortunately I can’t recall her name. I did manage to record the folk singers and a few photos of the authentic dress. I also managed to purchase a lot of mountain tea, but not from people in the village. That’s a different story, one I may recount in my next not so thrilling update, as I’m going back to consolidate the situation I left behind.
Anyone interested in setting up a Mazizone? If you want to try some DIY networking, then have a look here…