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Showing posts from February, 2013

A single pixel don't often get me this excited...

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I'm posting this from a Pixel, and have my first chance to get my hands on it... and I'm impressed!


Why? It's really well made and beautiful. The screen is exceptionally sharp, and the machine is lighting quick. Opening up my gmail account was instantaneous... no wait, no loading screen... and this is on a machine that has never seen me before.
Back lit keys, key weight, screen image (from any angle), touch pad surface, build quality all count towards just a beautiful, slick experience.

And I'm sure the touch screen will just become the norm over time. Triaging a few emails by touching the screen made for a welcome change, and it's very usable.

I like it! On the down side: I'm looking forward to a UK keyboard, more touch geasture aware sites and built-in 3G or faster mobile data access.

Would I buy one now? If money was no object, absolutely!

Speed of development (Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Hue)

I've got a big plan to build a all singing & dancing lighting (& automation) system for our new home, and decided to use Arduino to act as controller unit (with lots of IO). I got hold of an Arduino board, and within a few hours of playing with it, I've got my own code on the Arduino now switching on/off a couple of relays based on other sensors.
Next, in order to control the lighting from a tablet or phone, I wanted some way to address the Arduino via an IP network, some JSON API or something. One option is to get the Ethernet shield for Arduino, but as it was as expensive as a Raspberri Pi, I opted to buy the Pi. In again less than two hours of playing, I've got my RPi up and running with an Apache web server that I can interact with.

The point is this: In under a week elapsed time (including shipping!), just spending a few hours in the evening in front of the TV, with no prior knowledge of Arduino or Raspberry Pi or even any prior Linux experience, it was easy …

My light bulbs now respond to HTTP requests

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I recently bought Hue Light bulbs, and I am very excited about the possibilities of these bulbs. And, as hoped, they can (subject to deep pockets as they cost £50 per bulb!) become the backbone of a nice lighting system @ home.
Essentially, these are LED light bulbs that just screw into a 220V light bulb socket. (Cheap, compact bayonet cap converters are available.) They switch on/off like a normal light bulb, but save a bit of energy and fade in/out so it's a bit nicer.

But wait. There's more. They can change colour too. And all can be controlled by an iPhone or Android app. And the idea is that you can set up a scene that has one corner of your room a bit more red, and the rest a bit more orange so that you get the feeling the sun is setting right in your living room, or blue & white to remind you of your Greek holiday...

Technically, the bulbs contain some Zigbee 2-way device to device communication that talks to the Philips Hue hub. The hub connects via Ethernet to yo…