DerbyHacks

DerbyHacks LogoStudents from the University of Louisville hosted DerbyHacks 2.0 on February 24-26, 2017 at the Institute for Product Realization complex, overlapping into the Engineering Garage, the Advanced Manufacturing Competency Center, and FirstBuild.

Hackathon

DerbyHacks isn’t the same kind of hackathon as the Open Data Day Public Safety Hackathon. This one is a three-day competition under the auspices of the Major League Hacking network.

I attended this hackathon as an observer/advisor, not as a competitor. I love the hackathon spirit and atmosphere; the innovation energy inspires me.

Over a hundred students from Kentucky colleges got together to create cool stuff. I’d guess that half the students were from UofL, where the event was held, but there were several from the University of Kentucky, from Berea College, and others.

Some of the teams created physical products, and others created digital ones.

Resources

There were several sponsors, presentations, mentors, tools and parts, and so so much food.

Experts from the region came to offer tips and troubleshooting to the teams.

The city’s Chief Data Officer, Michael Schnuerle (right), talked with several teams about Louisville’s Open Data Portal, and the myriad of ways that it could be used.

Teams

The full list of 26 teams is here, with the winners at the top (look for the diagonal yellow “winner” stripes).

Knowing several astrophysicists, I was quite impressed with CenterScope, that automatically centers your telescope on a star you want, without you having to manually fiddle with the delicate calibration knobs.

It was cool to see Alexa used for Smart Chess by letting you speak your move, with a synchronized electromagnetic chess board would move the piece on your board and on your remote opponent’s board. Your opponent would then speak his move, and so on.

A bunch of my friends formed the LouTrail team to recommend local restaurants and attractions. They won a special award for best use of local data.

Silent City combined the input from (proposed) sonic detectors throughout the city to map the noise pollution, much like Air Louisville did for the air quality (cleverly syncing asthma inhalers with a smartphone gadget to “phone home” when it was used, to identify to parts of town that were hardest on the lungs).

New Home for Me combined data for crimes and a dozen other sets with real estate listings, to help home buyers find a place that really fits their needs.

Physical Threat Intelligence used facial recognition technology as a “key” to grant access (and potentially other tasks).

The Smart Dollhouse was lots of fun. The team wanted to work with “smart home” technology, but since they couldn’t bring an actual house with them, they brought a tiny one. They installed cameras, motion sensors, heat sensors, and app-controlled door locks. Since the dollhouse had an elevator, which was broken, they fixed it! And also tied that to a smart app. It won the award for most potential value / biggest market.

The big winner was SnapCal, led by my friend Ishwar Agarwal, an app that uses pictures of your food to determine the calories. It sounds simple, but took a lot of computer know-how to pull off, using Machine Learning to translate an image into a food, then displaying the nutritional information. Besides being technically challenging, I think it reflects the health and fitness focus of today’s youth.

The Future

Since Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer was an entrepreneur himself (behind the combined soft drink / ice dispenser), he loves coming to hackathons, especially ones that are student-led and student-competed. Our future is in good hacky hands.

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Public Safety Hackathon

Hackathons

A hackathon is an event for making. Sometimes it’s making something physical, sometimes digital, sometimes service-based.

(No, it doesn’t mean we’re breaking into people’s computers.)

The hackathons that I’m a part of tend toward digital. It might be converting something to a new format, transferring it to a new platform, combining things, securing something, analyzing something, open up access to something, or anything else along those lines.

In the past, I worked with Louisville’s Civic Data Alliance volunteer code brigade on projects like this:

Open Data Day

Open Data EventsMarch 4 2017 was “International Open Data Day.” Hundreds of cities around the world held hackathons and other events to celebrate, to educate, and to serve.

Open Data is a philosophy that information should be available at no cost. Government data, being underwritten through taxes, belongs to the American people (at least in theory). Downloadable/accessible datasets for crimes, parks, restaurant health inspection scores, and similar information can be used to help everyone.

The Louisville government is at the forefront of open data. The data.louisvilleky.gov website has hundreds of datasets free for public use in a variety of formats (shapefile, json, csv, and more).

Public Safety

In Louisville, we chose “public safety” as our hackathon theme. Volunteer hackers could work on whatever project they’d like, of course, but event captains (Becky Steele and Margeaux Spring) arranged for representatives from the police department and other areas of government to share their needs and offer advice.

The hackathon was held at LouieLab, a dedicated space for government and the people to work together on projects.

Forty to fifty volunteers worked on projects all day (detailed blog about the projects here).

Public Safety Hackathon

Our volunteers from 2017; look at last year’s team here.

My Work

I worked on two projects, and also floated around a bit helping teams as needed.

I wrote my first Alexa Skill! The Amazon Echo / Amazon Dot has a speech interface, so people can access the internet by voice alone.

In the News

The event was covered here:

and blogged about here:

Get Involved

The Civic Data Alliance will host another hackathon for the National Day of Civic Hacking, and will ramp up to monthly public meetings and hackathons once per quarter.

Join the meetup group and the slack team.

Love Songs

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, here is some of my favorite love songs.

Some are well known, but there are probably others you haven’t heard before.

Dave Mattingly: The Musical, Part 15Love Music

Others: Honorable mentions, or barely-about-love songs.Love Song

Go back to Part 14: Halloween Music

Louisville

Startup WeekendI do what I can to stay involved in the local community.

Here are some of the groups, places, and events where I spend the most time.

https://davemattingly.net/louisville

 

Who What Where?

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.Question

This lesson doesn’t teach anything; it only asks. It’s good to periodically review all that we know and that we don’t know.

This is intended as an interactive group participation lesson. Taken as a whole, I’ve tried to organize it to paint a picture of God’s love for us, and what we should do from there.

God

  • Who is God?
  • What is God’s name?
  • What features/qualities does God have?
  • Does God love everyone or just Christians?
  • Does God ever change his mind?
  • Why is God so different in O.T. and N.T.?

Jesus

  • Is Jesus God, partly God, or the Son of God?
  • How do we know Jesus was born/real?
  • How do we know Jesus died? that he rose?
  • Where was Jesus for the three days between?
  • Was Jesus mortal or immortal?
  • Did Jesus perform miracles, or did God?

Holy Spirit

  • What does the Spirit actually do?
  • How/when does the Spirit come into us?
  • Does an identical Spirit live inside each of us?
  • Did the Spirit come to earth before Jesus?
  • Are there still miraculous gifts today?
  • How do we know our gifts?

Prayer

  • Why should we pray?
  • Should we pray the Lord’s Prayer?
  • Does God hear all of our prayers?
  • Does God answer all our prayers?
  • Does God hear the prayers of nonbelievers?
  • How do we know God’s answer?

Heaven and Hell

  • Who goes to heaven? Who goes to hell?
  • What about those who never hear the gospel?
  • What must we do to be saved?
  • How is Jesus the only way to heaven?
  • Are there other nonearthly realms?
  • Will we have physical bodies in heaven?

Church

  • What is the church?
  • What should the church be/do?
  • Who’s in charge of the church?
  • What makes Christianity different?
  • Why are there so many denominations?
  • Which denomination are we?

Us / People

  • Who are we?
  • Why did God make us?
  • Why did God die for us?
  • What happens when we die?
  • Why do we have troubles?
  • Do we have a truly free will?

The Bible

  • What is the Bible?
  • Who wrote the Bible?
  • How was the Bible assembled?
  • Why are there so many translations?
  • Are there/can there be errors in the Bible?
  • How did people know God before the Bible?

More Questions

To find more questions to consider, check out these great resources:

Download

You can get a copy of the PowerPoint slides PowerPoint slides here.

Global Game Jam

Warp Zone is Louisville’s shared working space for video game developers (one year old this week!). It was founded by the Louisville Makes Games group, which is in turn comprised of several small independent game companies.

Read up on the spot in Business First, Louisville DistilledNerd Louisville, Never Nervous, or On the Record Magazine.

Or check out this short intro video of the zone.

Global Game Jam

This annual event gives game developers just 48 hours to create a brand new video game based around a theme that is announced on Friday night. The teams then have until 7:00PM Sunday night to upload their games to the worldwide game repository (in order to be eligible). Then, all the teams demo their games. Visitors are welcome to attend the final presentations.

The theme this year was “Waves.”

The Games

All of these games were made in just 48 hours! Many of them even had a custom soundtrack that was composed and recorded over the weekend, as well.

Duolastic: This can be described as air hockey played with cones made of jello instead of regular paddles. That gave the developers a chance to play with some unusual elasticity properties. What was impressive is that several players (in pairs) could play against each other at once. There were a few two-player games going on in the room by audience members with laptops… while the demonstration was still going.

React: This is more of an experience than a game. Dancing gradients of color dance on the screen based on user input. Sort of like a screen saver that thinks it’s a mood ring, based on clicking or touching like a piano or drum. The effect was soothing and beautiful, like staring at a fishtank or a fire. I lost my mood ring. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

YellScreaming Mosquito: You play a mosquito that goes up when he flaps and falls when he’s not, and who dies if he touches the overhead clouds or water underneath. But the interface is the amazing part. This was pitched as “flappy birds controlled by noise”. The whole room would scream as he fell, causing him to rise up again. It was the most innovative and engaging game interface I’ve seen in years. I could see this quickly becoming the phone app game that every child loves, and every parent hates, possibly even launching a new craze.

Gupi: You play cute alien fish that swims through the water, eating floating hamburgers and avoiding a snake that twists all around. The artwork was so adorable that you might want to keep playing just to watch more of it.

Flowr Powr: You play a robot who spreads flowers over a boring grey planet. Even robots need to stop and input the flowery aromas, I suppose. The background textures, the lights and shadows, and other visual elements worked well together, making the colorful blossoms stand out even more. “I, for one, welcome our florist overlords.”

Ice CreamSweet Wave: This was a virtual reality game (that can also be played 2D). You play an ice cream truck employee who hurls ice cream cones at onrushing children, to get them to shut up. If you didn’t take care of the brats soon enough, they’d overwhelm your truck and start shaking it back and forth. The cartoony art, the smooth gameplay, and the chance for everyone to play a game using the latest VR tech made this was another standout achievement for the Warp Zone teams.

Photo Gallery

React Duolastic Screaming Mosquito Gupi Flowr Powr Sweet Wave

Want More?

Warp Zone has frequent social events, game jams like this one, classes, demonstrations, and other events.

Join the meetup group to keep abreast of the latest happenings.

Warp Zone is at 612 W Washington St, Louisville, KY 40202.

Winter Quest

This weekend, I went to www.Winter-Quest.com, a charity comic-con to benefit the homeless in Louisville.

Comic-Con for the Homeless?Hotel Louisville

The event was held at Wayside Christian Mission‘s Hotel Louisville.

Wayside is a homeless shelter that has been in Louisville for many years. A good friend of mine runs the “Samaritan Patrol” for them, delivering coffee, sandwiches, coats, and such to the homeless camps, bridges, train tracks, etc. every Sunday.

Hotel Louisville was once a Holiday Inn, but it ran into financial troubles right after a major remodel. So Wayside bought the hotel, where it now houses the homeless. The homeless also run the entire hotel, gaining experience at cooking, cleaning, managing, and otherwise taking care of business.

The Waycool Cafe inside the hotel is crazy cheap ($5 buffet, anyone?), and they have a very good selection, including vegan and Esselstyn diets.Ministries

Ministries

I was at the con representing some of the various outreaches that I’m a part of:

  • the Christian Gamers Guild (geared toward board gamers, card gamers, and roleplayers)
  • the Grave Robbers (geared toward punks and goths)
  • Game Church (geared toward video gamers)
  • Fans for Christ (sadly now defunct, geared toward fandom, cosplayers, anime, etc.)
  • …and others that I didn’t specifically have materials to send home with people

Guests

The range of people and groups there was impressive for such a new event.Family Tree

Fun

Leia Cupcakes

“I love these cupcakes.”
“I know.”

For a small first-year event, there was a lot going on.

 

Building Bridges

I’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

This lesson looks at how we can reach out to those around us, and is a good followup to the The World Around Us lesson.

Be There

“No matter where you go, there you are.”The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Many of us know people that don’t know the Lord. It’s difficult to get to know someone if you never spend time with them. The first step in building a bridge is to be where they are, now and then.

How can they believe if they have not heard? How can they hear without someone to preach? (Romans 10:14)

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

In this way, I have aspired to preach the gospel where Christ was not known. (Romans 15:20)

Paul didn’t just wait for the people to come to him — he went where the people were, and specifically sought out the people who no one else was talking to.

Thing Explainer

Relate

Finding something in common with people isn’t always easy. Paul adapted himself to his audience, but without crossing the line to join them in sin.

Even though I am free, I become a slave to all. When I am with Jews, I live like a Jew. When I am with gentiles, I too live apart from the law. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with the weak, I share their weakness. I have become all things to all people so that by any means some may be saved. (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)

Move beyond small talk about traffic and weather, by looking for topics around food, kids, travel, music, movies, and hobbies.

One of my favorite examples of how to get idea across to people is the book Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe, of xkcd webcomic fame. Here are some sample pages thanks to the fan site explainxkcd. (You can write your own ten hundred words people use most set of words, thanks to this word checker.)

Integrate

After finding some common ground, and beginning to build that relationship, find ways to keep it going. Help them out with something. Text or message them an article or video related to what you talked about. Don’t do it with a sneaky motive, but out of a genuine desire to help them and to know them better.

The entire Law is fulfilled in a single decree: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Love one another with genuine affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

Be a part of the community around you.

Do

Talking is nice. Praying is nice. But faith and love “with hands and feet” will usually have more impact.

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)

Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness will be as bright as noon. (Isaiah 58:10)

Get out and do something for someone. If you’re the first one home on garbage day, drag the garbage cans for all your neighbors back to their houses. Rake their leaves, shovel their driveways, offer to walk their dogs, “accidentally” bake too many cookies.

Don’t just be good. Do good

GiveGenerous

Generosity is an outgrowth of gratitude. All that we have come from God. The blessings he grants us can be shared with others.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in all its forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

Besides money, which is the most common application of generosity, we can also give: time, empathy, support, and others.

Evangelize

If all we do is get into the world around us, but never share the gospel, what have we ever accomplished?

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19)

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. (Matthew 9:37)

I pray that sharing your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. (Philemon 1:6)

If the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, God will hold the watchman accountable for their blood. (Ezekiel 33:6)

There are two outcomes for the afterlife – heaven or hell. By grace, we’ve been saved through faith, and we are commanded to share that same good news with all people.

Stay

The “drive-by save” is okay, if that’s all we can do, but if we have any ability to do so, we need to stay to become an ongoing part of life.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine. (John 15:4)

A faithful man will abound with blessings. (Proverbs 28:20)

If we don’t spend any time with our people, we can’t disciple them. “Go therefore… and teach them to obey.”

Building Bridges

Bridge, by Don E Yeoman, (c) 2016

Thanks to my buddy Don E Yeoman for this photo

  • B – Be There
  • R – Relate
  • I – Integrate
  • D – Do
  • G – Give
  • E – Evangelize
  • S – Stay

The acronym BRIDGES can serve as a roadmap on ways to reach others.

Examples

So, let’s look at how this BRIDGES approach can work…

With my variety of interests and contacts, I have friends in technology, business, the arts, and …less respectable parts of society.

Here are some of the recent sermons I’ve given to some very different audiences.

  • at a series of technology (database) conference:

I frequently present at technology conferences, especially those related to data
In 2016, I focused on text analytics — the science of collecting, matching, and learning from massive amounts of words
On the standard technology side of things, text analytics can do a lot of cool things
The Bible is unique in that it has dozens of translations in English, and that each block of words is identified through a system of books, chapters, and verses
When I present, I always give several non-Biblical examples first, but then ask my audience if there are any objections to me diving deeper into Bible text, and there have not yet been any
Here are some really cool findings from other text experts that have looked at the Bible:

  • at a horror film festival:
    • I spoke about “Bible Gore” — the scary, gross, and bloody parts
    • It was fun for me to preach about parts of scripture that rarely get preached on, at least that I’ve seen
    • It was a good way to use the symbols and trappings of the genre to find relatable common ground

So here I was able to use the Bible to reach out to people who use computer databases for a living, and for people who like blood and thrills, and might be a part of the filmmaking process themselves. I’ve preached or taught at a punk/goth concert/festival, some prisons, a creative writing conference, a board game convention, a disability camp, and plenty of sci-fi/comic/fantasy/costume/etc. events. It’s fun to find ways to bring the topic at hand to the Bible, and vice versa. Stretching my brain to make those connections also helps me to learn more about God’s word, and helps me to see all of God’s people as real people.

You can check out my repertoire of sermons and lessons on my downloads page.

GroupsGroups

I’m involved in a lot of local groups, clubs, organizations, associations, events, and such. Part of the reason is that I like to learn things and meet people. But I’m also a bit of a homebody, and enjoy sitting around the house doing nothing, so the real reason I’m out there so much of the time is that I’m there to help people. Helping with small temporary things is fine, but the long-term goal is always to help them eternally.

Here are some of the major groups of things that I’m a part of.

  • Church: worship, study, serving
  • Software: security, data, code
  • Hardware: drones, robots, VR, makerspace
  • Business: startup, networking, openings
  • Government: chamber, hackathons, comprehensive plan
  • Arts: theater, comedy, books, visual
  • Games: board, card, party, apps
  • Health: food, medical, life science

I can’t be at all of those events all the time, of course. Many of them happen at the same time as other events. But I do try to pick a handful that I attend almost all the time, and then I “keep my hand in” with the others by joining one or two events a year with them. And I’m not saying that any of you should be a part of dozens of groups at once. That’s me.

My public calendar (which doesn’t have any of my private “none o’ ya business” appointments) is always available here. I keep it public so that other local people with similar interests can check where I’ll be (or at least where I might be), and find events that they may also enjoy.

Here’s a typical week (with the day-job and other private details not publicly shown). Green is for tech events (“The Matrix” colored), pink is for the arts (“heart” colored), gold is for church (“halo” colored), brown is for business (“briefcase” colored), and light blue is for webinars (“IE” colored). Not pictured on this selection below are: red for medical (blood), black for personal (just because that’s the default), dark blue for job events (that’s one of the company’s logo colors), and purple for holidays (since that’s Outlook’s out-of-office color). The colors I’ve chosen aren’t any kind of exact science, or anything, but I’ve gotten used to them, and I know instantly what my day looks like based on the colors present.

Calendar Sample

Having a public calendar is also a great excuse to hand out a business card. You never know what’ll come up in conversation, so when I mention something cool that I’ve done or I’m about to do, it’s a natural segue to give a card with a mention of “We’re meeting again in two weeks. The calendar on my blog will have the details.”

Discuss

  • How can you touch lives to save souls?
  • What skills and hobbies can help you help others?

Download

You can get a copy of the PowerPoint slides here.

Retro Rock

Over the years, there have been many bands who play like they don’t know the 60’s ever came to an end. This is great news.

On most stops along my magical musical tour, I’ve listed Known For for each band, to remind the reader where they might have heard of the bands before. But most of these bands are not known for anything, at least that I’m aware of. So I’ve replaced that with a Sounds Like, to give you a clue of who else they might remind you of.

These are “my” bands. The bands that helped shape who I am, roughly in order of how much they mean to me.

Dave Mattingly: The Musical, Part 15

Garage Rock

  • Mystic EyesMystic Eyes
    • Sounds Like: The Animals, Van Morrison/Them, Sweet, The Standells, MC5
    • Memories: The first song I heard from Mystic Eyes was “From Above” back in 1986. I thought that the singer, Bernie Kugel, sounded like Elmer Fudd with a cold (and I mean that in the best way possible), and loved him for it. The first line of their opening track, “she’s got a reason” sounds a bit like “she’s got a weasel”, which makes She Don’t Cry No More even more fun. In 1993 or so, I was on a business trip to Pittsburgh, and got to town a day before my conference, so I stopped by Get Hip headquarters, the label that produced their albums. It was great to meet the folks there, and pick up the band’s second album (that I didn’t even know existed).
    • Favorite Songs: From Above, Calm Me Down, I Lost My World, She Don’t Cry No More, I Believe You, I Can Only Give You Everything
    • Links: Some of their songs can be found here and here, and a great retrospective here.

Surf PopGuantanamo Baywatch

Psychedelic Rock

Girl Power Pop

Go back to Part 14: Halloween Music

 

Cool Job: Wire Tranfer

I’ve done a lot of things for a living over the years, and after working with a number of short-lived startups and a large corporation in Louisville, I left town for a new start.

Cool Job, Part 5: Wire TransferWire

A recruiter friend of mine found a job for me. This was before the internet had revolutionized our daily lives, so recruiters were a great way to find something, especially out of town.

The job was at Essex Group in Fort Wayne, Indiana. That’s the northeastern corner of the state, around 250 miles away from Louisville (four hours on the road… barring traffic, construction, or weather).

Essex is a wire manufacturer, with several brands around the world. They’d bring in various metals, and turn it into long spools of wire, sort of like a giant Play-Doh Fun Factory, but with more metal.

Be Excellent to Each OtherFort Wayne

My job was to build an EIS (Executive Information Summary) system. EIS was the precursor to Business Intelligence (BI, sometimes called dashboarding). The goal was to take all the data from all the departments from all the locations, roll it up into drill-downs, and highlight areas that need attention from the bigwigs.

This would help them find problems that arose (with any luck, even before they arose), like:

  • we’re almost out of inventory item XYZ123, which we need to make this thing over here that makes us a lot of money
  • this location’s so-and-so division is almost two weeks behind on their critical project, which will jeopardize all these other things
  • four of our ten managers are shorthanded by over 20% in whatever job
  • the market price for one of our supplies is going up in a hurry
  • …and stuff like that

Boss: “Are you good at PowerPoint?”
Me: “I Excel.”
Boss: “Was that Microsoft pun?”
Me: “Word.

Until this job, I had really only written software. I learned a lot about data management and reporting from this job.

In fact, I still do a lot of this kind of thing, but using very different technologies and techniques. Turning “facts” into “information” into “action” is still highly useful.

What a Data be Alive

Once I had gotten a good grip on using Excel to pull data from the mainframe and SQL databases, and worked my magic on it, I took a strong interest in the data itself. How was it organized? How did it get in and out? When did it go in? Who put it there? What did it really mean? How did we know it was correct?

I spent a lot of time hanging out with the DBA (DataBase Administrator) team, and learned from them. Before too long, I didn’t have to rely on them to get the data I needed — I got it myself, and cleaned/joined/moved it the way I needed it to be.Data Box

Fun Stuff

While in Fort Wayne, I got involved with the local gaming convention, took over as editor-in-chief of Haymaker APAzine, drove to my first GenCon (in Milwaukee), saw They Might Be Giants in concert at the Wooden Nickel record shop, and found a church I really liked (after trying probably thirty others).

After I left, I missed out on the people voting for an inside joke — to name their new government center after former mayor Harry Baals. But the city officials wouldn’t go for it. As NBC reported: Scratch “Harry Baals” off list of names for government center. Buzzkill.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

I loved my job. I was learning great stuff, and kicking butt while doing it. I was getting paid nicely. But we had just had our first son, and two of my brothers were also have their first kids (one was born just three days after my boy), and I wanted these young cousins to grow up together.

So I used my newfound database skills, and took a job as a Database Administrator back in Louisville.

Go back to Part 4: Corporate Agent or on to Part 6