Author Archives: Lance Knobel

Cal prof Joshua Bloom makes earthquake alert kit for $110

Joshua Bloom's homemade earthquake early warning alarm, in a Gregoire box. Photo: Joshua Bloom
Print Friendly

When the Napa earthquake struck on Aug. 24, Joshua Bloom had a 5-second warning.

That’s because the UC Berkeley astronomy professor likes to tinker.

It was when Bloom was a beta tester in the prototype ShakeAlert system being developed by a consortium of seismological researchers (including UC Berkeley), that he came up with an idea.

“I thought it was silly that every time I closed my laptop, I couldn’t get a warning,” he said.

So Bloom cobbled together his own earthquake alarm for just over $100, using a Raspberry Pi single-board computer ($36.39), a wired speaker ($14.99), a mini-WiFi adapter ($6.71), and SD card.

To house it, he uses a box from Grégoire, the local restaurant group known for its crispy potato puffs. And he keeps the device in the living room of his North Berkeley home, next to the fireplace.

ShakeAlert triggered a 10-second early warning alert for the Magnitude 6 Napa quake last month. Bloom’s device provided a five-second warning. (Bloom details how it worked on his blog.)

Meet Joshua Bloom at Uncharted on Oct. 24-25. Get your early-bird tickets now!

For Bloom, this is tinkering with a definite purpose. He sees his demonstration project as validation that Californians could have an earthquake alarm in every home for about the same price as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. And he hopes it adds pressure to the legislature to fund the $80 million it will take to roll out the ShakeAlert network beyond its few privileged early testers. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,
Government

The Lowdown: Berkeley council on ballot measures, downtown post office, FY2015 budget

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

On June 24, the Berkeley City Council is considering a raft of November ballot measures, discussing a preservation covenant for the Main Berkeley Post Office, and voting on adoption of the fiscal year 2015 budget.

On the action calendar

The council has spent several meetings debating how to fund much-needed maintenance for Berkeley’s parks. Polling commissioned by the City Council indicated that the two-thirds vote required for bond measures would be a difficult hurdle for a parks proposal. But at the May 20 meeting, the council agreed to move forward with a 16% hike in the parks special tax and create a Mello-Roos district for continued funding of parks operations. The council is scheduled to vote to place both measures on the ballot at tonight’s meeting. There will be a public hearing on the Mello-Roos district.  … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Glenchur named Berkeley High interim principal

caption
Print Friendly

Kristin Glenchur, vice principal at Berkeley High for the last six years, has been appointed interim principal of BHS for the 2014-15 school year by the BUSD superintendent and board.

Glenchur’s appointment comes after a brief search for a replacement for Pasquale Scuderi, who was appointed assistant superintendent for educational services for Berkeley Unified at the start of May. When the Scuderi appointment was announced, superintendent Donald Evans said he expected to hire a new principal by the end of May.

“There wasn’t a sufficient number of applicants,” said Mark Coplan, spokesman for BUSD.

Coplan said the school district would advertise the position and seek applicants from across the country next year. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,
News

7 Berkeley stories you won’t want to miss

Overflowing trash near Prospect St. Photo: Jasper Burget
Print Friendly

1. Building begins on site of Sequoia Apts fire on Telegraph
2. Once in a lifetime chance to see plant bloom in Berkeley
3. Photos: Departing Cal students leave debris piles behind
4. Berkeley officials hold off on minimum wage task force
5. Surveillance camera registry a possibility for police
6. Authorities uncover drug operation on Oregon Street
7. Potential Walgreens suit brews as Berkeley officials tackle new drugstore … Continue reading »

Tagged

East Bay’s Lush Gelato set to open in San Francisco

Lush Gelato in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Lush plans to expand to San Francisco's Nob Hill with a combined ice cream store and open kitchen.
Print Friendly

Lush Gelato, which was founded in the East Bay five years ago, is planning to expand to San Francisco.

Co-owner and gelato maker Federico Murtagh has launched a Kickstarter campaign to open a new ‘farm-to-cone’ store at1817 Polk Street in Nob Hill, where he’ll also have a demonstration kitchen.

“We want to show off how we make our gelato,” Murtagh said. “Most ice cream makers you know buy the mixture pre-made, then they flavor it and then they sell it. We make everything from scratch. We want to show all that process.”
Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,
Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Dr. Herb Wong, Washington Elementary School Principal invited world class big bands to perform for BUSD students.
Print Friendly

BERKELEY HIGH JAZZ ALUMNI CONCERT The “father” of Berkeley High’s acclaimed jazz program will be commemorated on Sunday at the third annual Berkeley High Jazz Alumni Concert. Musicians, spanning decades of Berkeley High jazz, will celebrate Wong’s life. Performers will include multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum, saxophonists BEnnett Friedman and Hitomi Oba, bassoonist Paul Hanson, percussionist Josh Jones, trombonist Sarah Cline (the current director of the program), and surprise guests. Charles Hamilton, who led the jazz program for 28 years to 2009, will be the day’s music director, and KCSM DJ Jesse “Chuy” Varela will emcee the day. Wong was principal of Washington Elementary in the ’60s, and was an early advocate for jazz education. The City of Berkeley will present a posthumous award honoring Wong’s inspiration to generations of Berkeley students. Sunday, June 1, 2-5 p.m., Coventry Grove, Kensington. Tickets are $20 at the door or through advance purchase on Eventbrite (recommended). Children under 5 are free. The concert benefits Berkeley High’s jazz programs. Doors open at 1 p.m.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Real Madrid to play Inter Milan on grass (!) at UC Berkeley

Real Madrid star player Cristiano Ronaldo likes pointing to himself. Photo: RealMadrid.com
Print Friendly

Real Madrid and Inter Milan will meet in the first-ever international soccer match at Cal Memorial Stadium on July 26.

For fans of what the rest of the world calls football, the chance to see two of the most storied teams in the game on — for this game only — natural grass at Memorial Stadium should prove a treat. The teams are playing in the confected International Champions Cup, which brings eight great European squads for a round of so-called friendly matches in the U.S.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,
Berkeleyside

9 Berkeley stories you won’t want to miss

Photo: Mickey Novella
Print Friendly

There’s certainly no shortage of stories in Berkeley this week:

Car used for smash-and-grab at Apple Store in Berkeley Council boosts minimum wage, approves task force to look deeper Rowdy youths disrupt downtown Berkeley police stop sparks racial controversy Officials agree to study Tasers for police Police rescue two men from I-80 overpass fire School district seeks feedback on how to spend $2.4 million for low-income students Initiative aims to tighten ‘green’ … Continue reading »

Update: Rowdy high schoolers disrupt Berkeley downtown

Hundreds
Print Friendly

Update, 10:50 p.m. According to Lt. Dave Frankel, Berkeley Police Department had planned a large police presence this afternoon, following two previous Fridays with what he described as “rambunctious” behavior. The police had received reports that some confrontations were expected between Berkeley High and B-Tech students.

Today’s confrontations, however, spiraled into a series of fights and other disruptive behavior by students.

Two Berkeley High students were arrested and released to their parents, one for punching someone, the other for resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. A student from an Oakland charter school was also arrested for battery via pepper spray, Frankel said. He said Berkeley High staff had been helping police.

There was no information of property damage.

“This turned into groups of people wanting to fight each other,” Frankel said. It wasn’t, he explained, a riot where property damage was an aim. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,
Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Edible Schoolyard. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Print Friendly

EDIBLE SCHOOLYARD The annual plant sale and celebration at King Middle School’s Edible Schoolyard opens on Saturday, May 10 at 9 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. Get your garden off to a strong start with tomatoes, vegetables, fruit trees and berries, herbs, perennials, annual flowers, and more. Plenty of gardening advice for novices and experts alike. In addition to the plants, there’s locally food, student-guided tours of the garden, music, and raffle prizes (dinner for two at Chez Panisse Café anyone?). Edible Schoolyard, King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. … Continue reading »

Tagged

Community survey shows difficulties for ballot measures

No city has yet been successful in passing a sugar-sweetened beverages tax. Will Berkeley be first? Photo: Vox Efx
Print Friendly

A second round survey of likely voters in Berkeley reveals the difficulty some likely ballot measures will face for passage in November.

The City Council commissioned the survey to test the waters for potential ballot measures. The first council-directed survey done in early March showed good support for a potential tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Other measures, including a parks parcel tax, commercial vacancy tax, and a pools bond, received tepid support. The latest survey, done in the second week of April, showed diminished support for the sugar tax, some hope for supporters of the commercial vacancy tax, and a continuing struggle for parks funds.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,
Schools

BHS principal Scuderi moves to assistant superintendent

Pascuale Scuderi at Berkeley High. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Print Friendly

Pasquale Scuderi, principal of Berkeley High School since 2010, will become Berkeley Unified’s assistant superintendent for educational services at the end of this school year. Scuderi will take over the role from Neil Smith who is retiring after 25 years with the district.

“The upside to this is that I could move along my career trajectory and still remain connected to the work we’re doing here at Berkeley High,” Scuderi said. “But it’s certainly a little bittersweet. I’ve not really connected yet with what it will mean not being with the kids on a daily basis.”  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Cal Performances season offers ‘world-beating innovation’

Robert Wilson's production of The Old Woman, with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe. Photo: Courtesy of Cal Performances
Print Friendly

Cal Performances this week announced its 2014-15 season, which includes cellist Yo Yo Ma performing Bach solo cello suites, Robert Wilson’s production of Daniil Kharms’ The Old Woman, with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe, a residency with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Australian Ballet’s Swan Lake (which includes the love triangle of Prince Charles, Princess Diana and Camilla Parker-Bowles), and Project TenFourteen, where the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players perform ten world premiers.

“You have world-beating innovation here,” said Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of London’s Barbican Centre, at the launch of the program. “Anywhere in the world would be envious of what you have in this season.”  … Continue reading »

Tagged ,