April 30, 2012
My Thoughts on the Apple Tax Hiding Expose

Todays The Joy of Tech comic pretty much perfectly sums up my thoughts on the Apple is avoiding paying billions in taxes story that “broke” this weekend. Seriously, I’m pretty sure that every big company (Microsoft, Google, et all) all do exactly this, but somehow putting “Apple” in the headline makes it something that lasted for more than a day on the internet.

The Apple response is a good read.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like that companies making BILLIONS of dollars every quarter avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes, but I make deductions on my taxes, and do my best to avoid paying anything extra, so why shouldn’t they? The argument of “if Apple had to pay an extra 40 billion in taxes, they wouldn’t be able to employ the 50,000 people that they do now”. I think it’s fine to get all high and mighty, but until you go to the CRA or IRS or whatever and say “no sir, please let me pay the maximum taxes possible” and not “can I deduct my cat as a dependant”, you can’t complain too much, as this is just a difference in scale (and that companies with a lot of money can afford to hire accountants who know all the tricks).

Posted by Arcterex at 04:51 PM
Prometheus Extended International Trailer

A Prometheus Extended International Trailer has been released.

Have I said how excited I am for this movie?

Posted by Arcterex at 04:41 PM
Designers vs. Developers  

Awesome infographic that my designer (and developer friends) will surely enjoy. Love the ‘what they fear’ section as well :)

Web Designers vs Developers

Hat tip: ForgetFoo

Posted by Arcterex at 04:36 PM
Google "Maps Cube" Game

The Google “Maps Cube” game was released a couple of days ago. Looks super sexy, unfortunately it seems to not recognize Chrome on Linux as a “supported” platform (yet webGL works just fine on it).

Ah well, I guess Google just doesn’t love Linux at all :(

Posted by Arcterex at 04:30 PM
Ars Digs into "Mastered for iTunes" Music

Ars asks Does “Mastered for iTunes” matter to music? and then goes deep into exactly what it means.

Posted by Arcterex at 02:23 PM
April 27, 2012
Amazing Glass Bottom Bathroom

JWZ found the most amazing glass bottomed bathroom you’ll see today.

Posted by Arcterex at 04:05 PM
FanExpo Vancouver Gallery Part 2

James over at RainGeek has the FanExpo Vancouver Gallery Part 2 gallery online. You can find part 1 here.

Posted by Arcterex at 11:56 AM
Ubuntu 12.04 Quick Review

The Bad

  • Thunderbird still takes up 50% of the CPU doing nothing? - Check
  • Alt-tab behaviour between multip-desktops even worse than before? - Check
  • Random crashes of core system components (unity-music-lens, desktop notifications, sound)? - Check
  • Default music player still has the user adding podcasts by XML feed? - Check
  • Default music player doesn’t save position in a file? - Check

The Ugly

  • Unity dock menu still has odd, unefined behaviour? - Check
  • Unity Dash even worse a UI disaster than before (doesn’t save search between modes, icons and defaults ? - Check
  • Potential security flaws like showing what you have running in the dock and any tool tips exposed when the password prompt dialog goes up still there? - Check

The Good

  • Unity Dash seems faster. Maybe.
  • Haven’t hit the “HUD” key accidentally
  • Refreshed look and feel
  • Ubuntu software center (app store) not a horrible slow beast!
  • Newly added apps go into the dock (a la MacOS).
  • My keyboard’s multimedia keys actually work! (We’ll see how long this lasts though).
  • New desktop notifications do look nice, though you still can’t close them like with growl on MacOS
  • My Skype icon has moved to my main desktop menu bar now (good yes, though I don’t understand why it’d move from one or the other).

Long story short, and bitching aside, this is still a good OS update and a lot of the issues that I found with the previous verions of the post-gnome2-era desktop have been resolved, but the desktop is still plagued with UI issues, odd bugs and a lack of general polish (amidst the lot of great polish that has been given) to areas that would stop me from being able to give this to a non-linux user and being confident they’d figure it out.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:34 AM
April 26, 2012
Ubuntu 12.04 "Precise Pangolin"

Ubuntu has released the latest version of it’s mainstay operating system, [version 12.04 “Precise Pangolin”] to the world. This has the third (and from everything I’ve read, greatly improved) version of the “Unity” user interface. This is also an LTS (Long Term Support) release which will be supported until April of 2017.

You can read the press releases for the desktop or server versions (neither of which mention the release by name interestingly), take a tour using their sweet web UI mockup of the distro or heck, just go and download it right now. Iloveubuntu.net has a review based on the final release.

Posted by Arcterex at 08:58 AM
April 25, 2012
NASA Apollo Program Source Code and Manuals

Virtual Apollo Guidence Computer, a collection of scans, documents, etc from the NASA space program.

Here you’ll find a collection of all the AGC, AGS, LVDC, and Gemini spacecraft computer documentation and software that I’ve managed to find whilst working on Virtual AGC.

Amazing resource. Via this reddit thread. Debugging something like this would have been a bitch.

Posted by Arcterex at 04:37 PM
Pizza Hut Middle East Debuts Crusts Made Of Cheeseburgers And Chicken Strips

Looking for something tasty? Testing your immunity to heart attacks? Or maybe have a death wish? Check out the new pizza topping made from cheeseburgers that Pizza Hut Middle East Debuted.

Plain old stuffed crust? That’s so last decade — at least according to Domino’s Pizza. Earlier this year, the chain rolled out a line of “Stuffed Cheesy Bread” that’s full of “cheese, cheese, and more cheese.” In fact, the breads — which come in Spinach and Feta, Bacon and Jalapeño, and plain Cheese — contain as much cheese as an entire medium pizza.

Seriously, that looks like something you get on your way to the electric chair. The greese would probably help conductivity as well.

Thanks to Bryan for passing this on.

Posted by Arcterex at 04:05 PM
Flickr Announces New Uploader

Insisting that they’re not dead yet, Flickr has updated their image uploader. Well, it’s not live yet, but the sneak peak they give shows a pretty sexy HTML5 utility that looks like a pleasure to use. Faster, easier workflow, and bumped max upload sizes (30/50mb for free/pro respectively). Should be live for all users “soon”.

Posted by Arcterex at 02:06 PM
Stephen Colbert Uncovers a Canadian Currency Conspiracy

Stephen Colbert Uncovers a Canadian Currency Conspiracy. Crap, he’s on to us!

Posted by Arcterex at 11:06 AM
April 24, 2012
Why The Scariest Sci-Fi Robot Uprising Has Already Begun

Awesome video: Why The Scariest Sci-Fi Robot Uprising Has Already Begun. Via Jim.

Posted by Arcterex at 01:12 PM
Yosemite Time Lapse Video - Range of Light

Yosemite Range of Light is an amazing time lapse video of Yosemite by Shawn Reeder.

Simply stunning. Definitely watch this on the largest screen you can in high def.

Posted by Arcterex at 12:59 PM
Miss Aniela Composite Video

Great “making of” video from Miss Aniela of one of her projects: From Pixels to Vogue: Making of Surreal Fashion by Miss Aniela. Great stuff if you’re into photography and skills in Photoshop work.

Posted by Arcterex at 12:41 PM
Google Drive Is Live

Google Drive goes Live.

No, I didn’t believe it would happen either :)

Another story, and of course it’s all over google plus.

Update - The Google Drive Android App is in the Google Play store, and here is the Official Google announcement.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:41 AM
Adobe Photoshop CS6 Video Demonstrations

Colby Brown has links to 10 Videos Demonstrating Adobe Photoshop CS6’s New Features. Great stuff if you haven’t been playing that deeply with the public beta.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:35 AM
Rare Nikon 6mm f/2.8 Lens

Preposterously large and rare Nikon 6mm f/2.8 lens for sale in London posted over on The Verge. All I can say is “hello lovely…”.

Seriously though, that’s huge. And remember that’s a 6mm in 35mm format, so it’s a “real” 6mm, not 6mm x 1.5x. I have no idea what you’d even use that thing for, other than an exercise in frustration not shooting your own feet (or in this case, your feet, legs, and waist).

Posted by Arcterex at 09:08 AM
April 23, 2012
Time Lapse of Birth to 12 Years

Great time lapse of video every week from Birth to 12 years in 2 min. 45. Not a new concept, but a cool implementation.

Posted by Arcterex at 05:20 PM
A New Concept in Programming IDEs: Light Table

Light Table by Chris Granger is a new concept in programming IDEs that is definitely a step outside what you’re used to. This is a project on Kickstarter that is well worth supporting.

Light Table is based on a very simple idea: we need a real work surface to code on, not just an editor and a project explorer. We need to be able to move things around, keep clutter down, and bring information to the foreground in the places we need it most.

The abstract barely scratches the surface, you really need to watch the intro video:

Posted by Arcterex at 03:48 PM
Dropbox Introduces New Link Sharing

The Dropbox blog writes about how they have a new simple and fast file sharing to share your dropbox items with a link. Essentially this is what you had before for your public folder, but is now everywhere. Quick and easy, which is great.

Posted by Arcterex at 10:07 AM
Adobe launches Creative Suite 6 and The New Creative Cloud

Graphics nerds with big budgets rejoice, Adobe launched Creative Suite 6 today.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:57 AM
April 21, 2012
Diablo 3 Open Beta Weekend Kicks Off

Diablo 3 Open Beta Weekend Kicks Off and it seems that some of the servers are buckling a bit (for a single player version?).

To access the game, players need Blizzard’s Battle.net account. And new players can register there for free. Afterwards, a game client is needed to hook the game with Diablo server. The Diablo 3 Beta client is also available on the Web site as a free download.

If you’ve been looking forward to this you’ll of course want to hit up the download page and grab the windows or mac version.

Posted by Arcterex at 03:35 PM
April 19, 2012
500px Releases Android App, updated iPad App

Great stuff from 500px (the awesome photo sharing site) today. First of all they have released the 500px Android app for both phone and tablet, giving android users all the loving of a full on site browsing and if you log in, all the voting, sharing, etc goodness from the site.

Secondly the iPad app has been updated with retina display graphics for the 3rd generation iPad (both for the UI and images, which got a 30% bump in pixel density), new UI and native twitter sharing.

Great stuff! As always you can find my portraits up on my account on 500px.

Posted by Arcterex at 04:30 PM
April 18, 2012
Stuff Blowing up at 2,500 FPS

It’s true, everything looks awesome at 2,500 FPS, especially if it’s stupid things and/or stuff blowing up.

Posted by Arcterex at 02:12 PM
Windows 8 Editions Announced

Windows-start-screen.jpgThe Windows Blog Announced the Windows 8 Editions recently. It seems that there will be three version (OMG ONLY THREE!?), Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro with more “enterprisey” features (though it seems that only pro will allow RDP in, which will suck) and Windows RT, which is the tablet edition. This seems to fly in the face of earlier rumours of there being the same huge number of SKUs as there were in Vista and Windows 7, but all I can say is “yay”. I guess technically there are 5 editions, as Windows 8 and Pro come in both 32 and 64 bit versions, but that’s barely noticeable.

Kudos for MS for simplifying things. Forbes also has written about this.

Posted by Arcterex at 10:04 AM
April 17, 2012
A DSLR Hot Shoe Mount For Your .... Smartphone?

So the Flash Dock is a hot shoe mount for a DSLR camera to attach your SmartPhone (iPhone is shown, I assume any Android or other smartphone will do). Why would you want to do that you ask? Well, their site makes some compelling arguments, beyond of course, “why don’t you just keep it in your pocket dumbass” :)

Via tuaw.

Posted by Arcterex at 01:41 PM
Canon 5D Mark II vs. Mark III vs. Nikon D800 High-ISO Video

Pretty amazing vide of the Canon 5D Mark II vs. Mark III vs. Nikon D800 under candlelight shot at alternating higher and higher ISO.

A couple of interesting things to note.

  • It’s interesting that either the ISO sensitivity is higher on the Nikon or something is off, as it is letting in about a stop or 2 more light (at least it looks like that visually).
  • The 5D Mark 3 looks like it’s doing a lot more noise reduction at higher ISO (looking at detail in the lashes vs the Nikon). That said….
  • HOLY CRAP is the response I had at the video from the 5Dm3 at high ISO. It maintains the “not high ISO” look amazingly well.

Via the Brooks Review.

Posted by Arcterex at 12:26 PM
Readability Introduces Iris, Context of Content

Speaking of reading-it-later-type services, Readability has Introduced Iris: A Big Leap Forward in Drawing Meaning from the Web. The short version is this:

With Iris, we’ve built an engine that you might call abstract—inspired by IBM’s Watson, the machine that beat contestants on Jeopardy!, Iris’ first order of business is to figure what type of content source is at hand. It analyzes a page, determines the likely context based on a number of factors and extracts what a human would expect as meaningful information from that source. Each context is fully malleable, and can be modified and improved upon individually.

And farther in:

Once the content type is determined, there’s still the complex task of knowing precisely what to tease out of a web resource. Even web articles—Readability’s wheelhouse—are comprised of much more than just a headline and body text. With Iris, Readability gains the ability to glean a whole new level of insight into what facets of a web resource matters to readers and developers: titles and headlines. Subheadlines. Lead images. Videos. Excerpts. Authors. Languages. Captions. Beyond just a great end-user experience, Iris represents a powerful bridge to the new ways content is being consumed beyond the browser.

So as I understand it this is two parts. One is a justification for linking shared links for readability content back to the readability site instead of the original page, something that blew up a bit in their faces in the continuing passive-aggressive battle between Readability and Instapaper. The second is that when you view articles on the Readability site, instead of just getting the content and nothing more, articles will contain other meaningful data gleamed from analysis of the article by the new Iris engine.

Posted by Arcterex at 10:45 AM
Dilbert's Wally and the Quantum Computer

The Dilbert comic strip for 04/17/2012 is possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen recently. Wally rocks.

Posted by Arcterex at 10:02 AM
iPhone 4 vs .50 Cal Sniper Rifle iPhone 4s

iPhone 4 vs .50 Cal Sniper Rifle iPhone 4s. Really not much more to say. I won’t spoil the ending though, but I’ll bet you can figure out how it goes :)

Posted by Arcterex at 09:40 AM
Read It Later's iPhone App Renamed to "Pocket", Also Free

Instapaper and Readability competator Read it Later has gone free and been renamed Pocket. Their new site, http://getpocket.com/ has been relaunched and looks good. I’m personally an instapaper guy but I have to say that the iPad app looks very Flipboard-like, and is propbably worth checking out. Also the app is now free, which makes it a no-brainer :)

Posted by Arcterex at 09:35 AM
April 16, 2012
FoxTrot for iPad

Bill Amend, author of Foxtrot is doing a self-published book for the iPad. FoxTrot for iPad is now available in three different “pad packs”. Updated for native iPad retina display resolution, with Kindle/Nook/Android coming soon.

I’m calling them FoxTrot Pad Packs, because I like the metaphor of collectable cards and how you build up your collection via booster packs. I made them myself using Apple’s free iBooks Author software. Each $1.99 book contains 100 strips, some old, some new, some story lines, some stand-alone jokes, some black and white dailies, some color Sundays. The idea is to create mini books that take maybe 20-30 minutes to read and which aren’t bogged down with a ton of outdated references, as happens with my older, chronologically arranged print books. Plus, they’re short enough that I can put together a fun themed book like the geeky #3.14. They’re at native resolution for the new iPad with its Retina display, but look awesome on older iPads as well. The navigation is super smooth and you can scroll through thumbnails and bookmark favorites if you like. And you can pinch zoom for extra detail if you want. I’m really, really happy with how well they turned out.

At $1.99 each you can get all three for the price of a Starbucks Mocha, a good deal if I ever heard one!

Posted by Arcterex at 02:43 PM
Titanic in SUPER 3D

I knew that Titantic was getting the 3D treatment for the re-release, but I didn’t know it was in SUPER 3D.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:38 AM
April 13, 2012
Quantum Conundrum Preview

Also on Shacknews is a preview of Quantum Conundrum, a game that is being hailed as the spiritual successor to Portal and Portal 2.

Posted by Arcterex at 02:11 PM
CryEngine 3.4 Demo Video

Nice video of CryEngine 3.4 showing all the latest awesomeness they’ve shoved into their gaming engine.

Posted by Arcterex at 02:11 PM
April 12, 2012
Google Plus Gets A Facelift

Today Vic Gundotra posted Toward a simpler, more beautiful Google on the official google blog, detailing the UI changes that appeared on Google Plus yesterday. If you’re one of the 18 people using G+, you’ve probably already noticed though (I kid, I kid, I enjoy G+ and love the great photographers that have been adopting it as their go to social network).

Posted by Arcterex at 03:20 PM
April 11, 2012
Coding Horror on Physical Books vs Ebooks

Awesome article by Jeff onBooks: Bits vs. Atoms, all about how eBooks are better (and worse) than physical books.

More specifically, so many beautiful ideas have been helplessly trapped in physical made-of-atoms books for the last few centuries. How do books suck? Let me count the ways[….]

One thing missed in the ‘how much do they cost’ section is the reason my… uhm… “frugal” parents gave for buying physical books. You can get them for a quarter at a garage sale, which pretty much nukes even the best (legal) price for an ebook out of the water by about 2000x.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:16 PM
What Happens When A 35-Year-Old Man Retakes The SAT?

A hilarious read: What Happens When A 35-Year-Old Man Retakes The SAT?

If you’re 35 years old and you’re thinking about retaking the SAT as a kind of blog stunt, I would highly recommend you avoid it. In fact, I would recommend that no one take the SAT ever. It’s a sternly worded dinosaur of a test, graded in an arbitrary manner with outdated equipment, and it blows. The only reason people take it is because they have to. It exists only so that preppy dipshits can brag about their scores well into adulthood if they did well. I hate it. I hope the Princeton Review gets fucked by a cattle prod.

Via Daring Fireball a couple days ago.

Posted by Arcterex at 07:29 PM
What's Wrong with PHP

As someone recently moved into the world of PHP programming, PHP: a fractal of bad design hits it right on the head.

You pull out the hammer, but to your dismay, it has the claw part on both sides. Still serviceable though, I mean, you can hit nails with the middle of the head holding it sideways.

Posted by Arcterex at 03:48 PM
Ziptastic API


Ziptastic is a simple API that allows people to ask which Country,State and City are associated with a Zip Code.

So if you are doing web form programming you can let the user enter the zip code first and auto-fill the country/state/city for them. Magic! Grab ziptastic on github.

Posted by Arcterex at 11:32 AM
April 10, 2012
Useless Mug Review Mug

Marco posts about his Useless mug image from Twitter the other day. Sadly the Update is that all orders were cancelled. Great novelty mug idea though.

UPDATE: After receiving 116 orders for these mugs today, Zazzle canceled all of them, telling every customer (but not me, yet) that it’s an acceptable-use violation: “Design contains an image or text that may be subject to copyright.” This was just something fun, and I don’t have time to battle them on this. Now I just know that Zazzle sucks, and I’ll never do business with them again.

Posted by Arcterex at 05:33 PM
500px Launches Mid-Level Hosting Plan

The Verge has the details of 500px launching a $19.95 image hosting plan to compete with Flickr Pro.

I think this is a good step, 500px is an excellent site and they need to be able to make more money to make the site better. Personally I agree with Thomas Hawk on Flickr being dead, but even dead they have a lot of momentum and name recognition on the web.

You of course can check out my 500px portfolio or all my images on 500px.

Posted by Arcterex at 02:05 PM
Adam Baldwin sings "Hero of Canton." Shiny. : firefly

On a bit of a Firefly kick this afternoon, so I present you with Adam Baldwin singing “Hero of Canton.”

Damn I miss this show :(

Posted by Arcterex at 02:02 PM
Joss Whedon Does a Reddit "AMA"

Geek Legend writer and directory Joss Whedon posted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit today: I am Joss Whedon - AMA. Awesome.

Posted by Arcterex at 12:37 PM
Jim Whig - Google+

My buddy Jim shared a Business Insider article on features Apple needs to steal from Android for the next iPhone which I wrote up a long reply to, thought ya’ll might be interested in it here. Hopefully it doesn’t come off as blatant fanboyism, as it’s not meant to be:

Agree on some, disagree on others. Everything can use some tweaking though.

1 - Multitasking - I think they should use the WebOS multitasking “card” paradigm personally, or use the multitasking gestures they have on the iPad already (4 finger swipe left/right, 4 finger pinch to get back to home, etc). Having a dedicated “multitasking” button isn’t the right solution IMHO, or at least it’s very un-apple-y.

Read on for the other 10 points…

2 - Search web as well - You sort of can already, just by using one extra tap. I think this could be very bad if you are searching for something common like bob smith, but if presented the right way yea, go for it. I rarely use spotlight to search anything other than apps or contacts though, else I’ll just go into the browser and search. My vote is yes, do it if it doesn’t override the local data.

3 - Update apps automatically - Again could go either way. I like knowing what the new features are and having the control to update or not (sometimes you don’t want a new version for eg). Have an option to auto-update maybe, but I’d keep using it as is (if for nothing more than control issues and OCD about knowing what the new features are).

4 - Widgets - No. This has been an argument since the beginning of Android (similar IMHO to the “iphone needs a hardware keyboard or it’s dead” argument).

5 - Use new google maps app - Yup, agreed 100%, it looks awesome on android. Unless they use that sexy C3 maps thing of course (though I doubt they can make it look as good overall compared to google maps).

6 - Notifications - Meh, I find it fine, think they look nicer than Android. Not that they couldn’t use some tweaking of course.

7 - Better integration - Yup, the ‘contracts’ system in Android is great, would love to see that in iOS.

8 - Shortcuts - Meh. I think there are apps you can use to do similar things already, but it’s not something I need / want. I think swipe to get to your home/widget/whatever screen and clicking on a person is about the same as clicking on the phone icon and then clicking on an entry in the favorites.

9 - Control panel for BT/Wifi/etc - There are various jailbreak tweaks to do this already. To flame some baits, iOS has better battery management than Android so you don’t have to do the ‘turn stuff on/off’ dance to save battery life all the time (ie: turn off gps/3g, turn on wifi when you get to the office, turn on BT/3g and turn off wifi when you leave), so iPhone users (at least that I see) don’t tend to need these sort of quick shortcuts to turn on and off radios and system functions. It’s not (again, my own experience) so common that the extra 2 clicks in the settings menu are a pain. Personally I’d rather see Apple keep making battery life better so you don’t have to worry about turning things on and off so often vs cluttering up the UI with extra buttons and toggles.

10 - Pano mode / shutter lag - I think the lag in the 4S is pretty damn small, and in the 4 isn’t too bad (not having a latest and greatest Android phone I have no comparison for speed). Would love a pano mode though, though I have an app called DMD that does this, and it’d have to be the quality of the AutoStitch App (slow, but uses the ptgui engine). As a photographer though anything that makes the iPhone camera better

11 - Voice dictation - Yup, would be nice, and I believe that Siri has been hacked onto 3GS and 4 via jailbreak. It’ll be on all new phones going forward I’m sure of course. Apple hasn’t added it officially onto later phones no doubt a combination of a) preferring to sell new phones and b) performance issues on older phones.

Posted by Arcterex at 12:07 PM
Book Review - Programming Your Home, By Mike Riley

A review of Programming Your Home by Mike Riley. This is a new book from The Pragmatic Bookshelf on how to automate your home with Arduino, Android and your computer. It’s a project book, setup so that given the time and means to follow the instructions and equipment lists in the book, the reader will be able to create some pretty damn cool systems.

I have a history in this, well, kinda. I started in home automation when I was around 12 years old, using a series of strings to allow me to control my bedroom door, curtains and lights from a command post by my bed, where 10 or 20 strings came together in a big bunch and if I read the labels right I could open or close the door or drapes, and turn the lights on and off, all without leaving the confines of the bed. Nothing but high tech for this 80’s kid!

Times sure have changed.

The Book

When I first picked up the sample copy of Programming Your Home, I commented to my brother in law, “the perfect book if you have ten grand in home automation equipment”. Boy I couldn’t have been more wrong. In this day and age the super-cool Arduino systems allow us to do amazing things to create home automation projects (and because it’s open source hardware and software, you’re not limited to the home, but only by your imagination.

For the 3 or you reading this that haven’t heard of Arduino before, head over to the home page at Arduino.cc and have a look.

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

If you’re interested in Arduino projects but maybe are a bit nervous about taking the plunge, this is the book for you. It’s a nice and clear introduction to creating cool projects with this software and you are hand held (but not in a bad way) through a variety of different builds.

The book has 12 chapters, split into 4 parts, Preparations, Projects, Predictions and at the very end, Appendices.

Part 1 - Preparations

The first two chapters are an introduction to both the hardware and software you’ll be involved with for these projects. It goes into the history and current state of home automation, the software you’ll need for doing the programming components, and of course detailing the hardware that you will use (i.e.: cheap stuff that us mere mortals can afford). All the projects in this book use the Arduino systems so there’s a good introduction to that system and the in’s and out’s of it.

Part 2 - Projects

This is the meat of the book. There are 7 projects here, ranging in difficulty and complexity, both in hardware and software. A few examples are a water level alarm (chapter 3), a tweeting bird feeder (chapter 5) and a smartphone controlled door lock (chapter 9). A fairly good variety of different ideas utilizing different skills, hardware, and types of programming.

Each project chapter follows a similar setup. First an introduction to the project and how it’ll work, including an illustration or two the parts and how it will all look and work once assembled. There’s then a layout of the requirements, both hardware and software. Following this is the build instructions for the hardware, going through any assembly from wiring bits together to laying out breadboards. Finally it’s the programming, compilation, assembly, testing and use.

I like that this book has variety. Since a majority of these projects use Arduino the main bulk of the coding work is in Java (Arduino’s toolkit language), however because of how the systems are connected to the outside world, there’s also Ruby on Rails and Android client programming (well, I guess that’s more Java). Nice to have the variety at least, there’s something in there for everyone.

Part 3 - Predictions

These two chapters have a look at home automation in the future and other project ideas. The predictions go through a look at how the author sees home automation going forward, some old ideas (the fridge that tells you what it’s low on), some new, and some simple extrapolation from what we have today.

Other project ideas is a tick-list of ideas for new projects, building upon the hardware and software that the reader has learned through the rest of the book.

Part 4 - Appendix

This last section is short and sweet, installing the Arduino libraries and a bibliography.

Conclusion and Recommendation

First of all, just go and buy this book if you have an interest in Arduino hardware but haven’t known where to start, or are interested in home automation and haven’t known where to start. If you’re skilled in Arduino already this might not be a good fit for you as there aren’t as many complex builds as might be of interest, I’d suggest browsing the chapters online and see if it matches up with your expectations. As there’s not a lot of people that I know who are deep into Arduino however, I’d say it’s probably a fairly safe bet that this is a book for you.

Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of the book curtesy of O’Reilly media upon my request and offer to do a this review. No more, no less. Thanks again Mary!

Posted by Arcterex at 07:20 AM
April 05, 2012
10 video games viewed from a slightly different perspective

The Portal one was my favorite.

Posted by Arcterex at 11:53 PM
Shadowrun Returns via Kickstarter

Yup, it’s true, the awesome old school game Shadowrun Returns via Kickstarter. Thanks to my buddy Jim for pointing it out to me. It’s a cool story, the original designer Jordan Weisman re-licensed his own game back to create a PC and tablet version of it, and I have to admit the pitch video made me want the game (which for a mere $15 backing, I could have). The rewards go up high, for a mere $10,000 you can have the lead game developer come to your town and play a tabletop game of Shadowrun with you and your friends :)

Luckily the game is funded, so assuming they can do it, they have the money backing.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:52 AM
Here's A More Realistic Look At Google's Project Glass

That didn’t take long…. a A More Realistic Look At Google’s Project Glass via TechCrunch.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:31 AM
April 04, 2012
Dropbox Referral Bonus Now 500mb

Check your dropbox space recently? The bonus for referrals is now double. Better yet, if you have referrals from before it’s retroactive (my space went up from 17G to 25G).

Awesome news from Dropbox and great that they are so good to their customers!

Posted by Arcterex at 01:02 PM
Google reveals Project Glass(es) (AKA Google Goggles)

Google reveals Project Glass(es). Hell yea, sign me up!

Posted by Arcterex at 11:57 AM
How To Install Instagram On Your Android Phone In 23 Easy Steps

How To Install Instagram On Your Android Phone In 23 Easy Steps from buzzfeed. Is it really this bad Android people? If so, then this is why your friends with iPhones feel superior to you. If not, then start blogging and posting about how it’s not this bad so the lies, damn lies and statistics go away.

Posted by Arcterex at 11:44 AM
The Strobist April Fool's Joke That Almost Was

David Hobby writes about his Ambitious April Fool’s Joke which was almost pulled off. So, so close.

Eight hours behind, I remember getting very little sleep that night, alternating between the glee of launching an epic, intercontinental April Fool’s Day prank on Joe — and wondering what it would be like to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder. Because Joe is a very accomplished joker in his own right. And I am pretty sure he has a long memory.

Make sure you read the full story.

Posted by Arcterex at 10:50 AM
5 problems with Ubuntu 12.04

5 problems with Ubuntu 12.04 part 1 goes into a bunch of potential issues with the new “Unity Dash” when confronted by “normal” people.

What Wendy Windows sees next is an entirely blank window overlay with a search bar at the top. And nothing else. At first glance she doesn’t see the Lens icons at the bottom of the window at all, but even if she did would she recognise which represents applications? Should she take her chances she would eventually be met by a list of applications, but it needs to be expanded and cycled through before she’ll get the result she’s looking for.

It’s a nice article that (in my opinion) goes into some of the issues that will hold Linux back from mass adoption when they try to be too cute with the new UI, and how sometimes the tried and true old start menu or mac doc are the Right Choice(tm). Definitely be interesting to see what happens with the new Ubuntu release.

Posted by Arcterex at 10:09 AM
April 03, 2012
Stephen Fry - Four and Half Years Of The iPhone

Great post by Mr. Fry called Four and Half Years On about his time with the iPhone, and some reflections of smartphones in general, not all with kind words.

In mid to late 2007 the Redmond Behemoth had just come up with Windows Mobile 6 for Pocket PCs, as they charmingly called their absolutely fucking dog of an operating system. Pardon the language, but nothing else will do. CEO Steve Ballmer and others at MS were the first to admit it when they launched Windows Phone 7 a year and a half ago […]

Posted by Arcterex at 10:14 PM
Lumia 900 From The Verge

The Verge has a Lumia 900 review (the Lumia 900 is the latest US offering of the premier Windows Phone 7 experience from Nokia). Overall though, it seems it doesn’t deliver.

I’ve already said this, but it bears repeating. I really wanted to love this phone. From a design standpoint, the Lumia 900 was immediately enticing. I’d already been salivating over Nokia’s N9 and Lumia 800, so knowing that a slightly larger (but more feature packed) version of that device was headed our way was fairly encouraging. But while the hardware — at least externally — delivers, the phone as a whole does not.

Gruber also pulled out some key points from the review. However it’s best to read it yourself as a whole, as not to be tainted by a few cherry picked phrases. As Josh says in his review, the phone has some excellent points in it’s favor.

Posted by Arcterex at 09:41 PM
CameraPlus App Guide

Someone has gone and created an excellent guide for the Camera+ app on the iPhone.

Posted by Arcterex at 08:58 PM
Preserving The Internet... and Everything Else

Awesome article on Coding Horror on Preserving The Internet… and Everything Else, all about the Internet Archive and what it does and how gargantuan the task is.

Posted by Arcterex at 04:47 PM
1000memories Updates Their Site

The cool site 1000memories has updated their site. See the blog post with more detail.

If you’re not familiar with 1km (as I like to call them), it’s a “shoeboxing” site where the idea is you are over at Aunt Martha’s and see some old family photos in an album. You don’t have time to do a full proper scan of them, but you have the shoebox app on your phone and whip it out, take pictures of the images (and if you have a decently new phone and good lighting conditions, these probably will be adequate, and the app helps with nice intuitive cropping and filtering). Images are stored forever through a partnership with the Internet Archive. More info on the 1000 memories.com about page.

Posted by Arcterex at 04:12 PM
Wind Map

Wind Map. Via Daring Fireball.

Posted by Arcterex at 02:16 PM
Total Recall 2012 Official Trailer

Total Recall 2012 Official Trailer. Not much more to say.

Posted by Arcterex at 10:44 AM
Rear Window Stitched Together into a Single Scene

Found this post with Rear Window stitched together into a single scene on Google+:

This is amazing. An artist type named Jeff Desom “dissected” Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 thriller “Rear Window” into a single scene that plays out in chronological order.

It’s really hard to describe, think stitching a panorama from an entire movie…. kinda. Just check out the video. It’s really amazing, even more so if you’re a fan of the movie (and you should be, it’s awesome).

Posted by Arcterex at 10:37 AM
Instagram for Android

Instagram for Android. Yup, it’s here. Looking forward to seeing even more awesomeness in my feed.

You can get more info about it on Mashable or Engadget. Though honestly, there’s not so much to it that you need too much other information :)

Download from google marketplace Google Play here.

Update: It’s now top hit in Google Play. Yay!

Side-Rant: So lets say you’re an android user without access to the link above and want to search for Instagram on Google Play. You go there, search, and look at the search results. See instagram there? Nope, not at the top of the search results, maybe it’s just some keyword spam in there, it must be in page 2. Nope, how about page 3? 4?… not anywhere in the search results (as of 10am PST anyway). My Android Friend tells me that it could take up to 1-2 (or 12) hours to have new apps indexed, which to me sounds a bit odd for a search engine that prides itself in fast indexing. Seriously, this is a high profile app and you’d think that it should be right up there fast :)

It does luckily show up as the third hit if you just do a normal google search…

Posted by Arcterex at 09:43 AM
Create Better Project Pages On GitHub

GitHub has announced their Instantly Beautiful Project Pages project pages, which lets you set yourself up a great looking project page with an automatic page generator.

Ever pushed a new project to GitHub and wished you had the time or talent to make a beautiful page for it? Stop wishing. We’re proud to present the new GitHub Page Generator.

I’m not sure how this affects private repositories, as it publishes a page to user.github.com/repository

Posted by Arcterex at 09:35 AM
April 01, 2012
Reddit Timeline(tm) And Other April Fools Jokes

Well, the Reddit timeline(tm) is possibly the best and most awesome bit of this years April Fools I’ve seen so far.

Other notable bits:

Posted by Arcterex at 11:06 AM