Saturday, December 26, 2009

ioBridge Sensors

I've been playing around with the ioBridge IO-204. This is a fun little gadget that allows you to hook up and control various devices in your home or office. The cool thing about ioBridge is that they have a web site for controlling and accessing the device. You plug it in and it connects up to the ioBridge website. You can then log into the website and configure the device. Since the IO-204 connects to their site, you don't have to muck with firewall issues or do any port forwarding on your router.

Since the servers at ioBridge provide the interface to the device at your home, you can easily create widgets that you can embed in your blog or web page. Here's one that shows the temperature in my basement.

I must say that it took me way too long to get this graph to work. The site is still pretty confusing. I had to poke around on the forums before I was able to get everything configured properly. For instance, I kept trying to create the temperature sensor as a digital input. It sure looks digital to me. But in ioBridge terms, digital really means binary and analog means a range of digital values. Go figure.

Anyway, I think they have the right approach and it was relatively simple to setup. For months I've had a similar device from Mi Casa Verde called the Vera and I have yet to be able to get a graph of temperatures out of it. The Vera will do a lot more, but the web integration for the IO-204 is much simpler.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wreath Thief Caught on

We've been alpha testing for a few months now. I got an email from one of our early users that his camera caught a thief in action. See the shots below.

Unfortunately they haven't caught the guy, yet. At least the neighbors have been warned and they know what the guy looks like so they can keep an eye out for him in the future.

Love is all you need

A touching video from Starbucks.

My favorites are the wacky folks from Japan and Denmark.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tesla and Lotus

They are so cute together.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 live

About a year ago I started playing around with the idea of monitoring various things around the house. We travel a lot and I wanted to be able to check on the house while I was out of town. I started playing with network cameras and found that it was cool to have remote access to a camera back home, but setting it up and monitoring it was a pain. I tried Linux, PC, and Mac software but I didn't like the idea of having a dedicated computer inside my house to do the monitoring. My PhD is in distributed computing, so it's only fitting that my home to be monitored in the cloud.

I started building a website for monitoring my cameras and realized that this could be a useful service for others and might even be a nice business. In the course of the last year I've been lucky enough to hook up with some incredibly talented folks who have joined me in this effort. We're now ready to start opening up the site for others to try. It's not perfect and it's not for everyone, but is at least ready for the hacker class to try.

How does it work?

Basically we'll provision an FTP account for each of your cameras and process all the images it sends to us. We keep images where we've detected motion and organize them by time and date. Want to know what time the plumber left? Check the front door camera, archived on

We'll also send you alerts (email or text) if you want. This works great on indoor cameras when you're away from home. Of course you may get notified about motion that you don't care about. Here's one alert I got a while back that would have been annoying had it come at 3 am.

Moth caught mid-flight.

Why the cloud?

Nobody runs their own email server anymore, why should you run a home server?

  1. Infinite disk space: You don't have to worry that the PC in your basement is going to run out of disk just before your house gets robbed.
  2. Elastic compute infrastructure: We can build all kinds of interesting computer vision algorithms to process your images. Right now we're starting with simple motion detection, but once the pipeline is setup, we can add other kinds of processing. Face detection should be easy. Face recognition is doable. Tagging your images with text could be next. Having our infrastructure in the cloud allows us to be creative and try new kinds of processing without requiring you to install anything.
  3. Nothing to manage: Our users don't have to worry about the care and feeding of a PC. We'll deal with all those hassles for them.
  4. Disaster recovery: If your house is robbed, we'll still have pictures of the thieves, even if they steal the camera. If your house burns down, all the images we've stored for you will still be there.
Sure, there are drawbacks. If your network goes down, we can't monitor your cameras. In most cases broadband connections are very reliable these days. Especially if you compare them with something like Windows Vista. Eventually we may support multiple tiers, so you can have an agent inside the home for caching until your network comes back. Some network cameras will do that already.

Why FTP?

FTP may seem like an anachronism, but in this case I think it makes a lot of sense. The issue is the home firewall. These days everyone has a firewall, so our servers can't reach into your network and pull images from your cameras. With FTP your camera will push images to our servers. Users don't need to configure confusing port forwarding options on their firewall.

Why Facebook Connect?

Do your really want another user name and password to remember? I didn't think so. That's one reason we use Facebook Connect for authentication. Besides, this makes it easy for you to share access to your cameras with your friends. BTW, you don't have to share whole cameras. You can mark a camera as private, then only share interesting images by uploading them to Facebook in a single click.

Not on Facebook yet? (Really?) Well, you can still peruse the public cameras. If you want to add your own camera or see cameras that your friends have added, you'll have to sign up for a Facebook account. Facebook accounts are free you know.

Give it a try!

So if you have a network camera that supports FTP, head over to and give it a try. If you want to use the camera built into your PC or a USB camera you can make that work too. See the FAQ for details.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Big Island Damage

Well there wasn't enough wind yesterday but I went out anyway. Didn't
even get up. The kite ended up in the waves and suffered a big rip.

It seems that 9 times out of 10 I need a bigger kite. I guess it's
time to look into a 12 because this 10 isn't doing it for me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tesla Model S Infotainment Center

Cool video on the design of the Model S. Can't wait for this.

For the UI geeks, skip to minute 28 or so to get to the juicy bits.

Towards the end of the talk in the Q&A they mention the possibility of a Tesla App store. Basically the idea is to keep it flexible and customizable. Sweet!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Salted Chrome

According to CNet there is now a NaCL (Native Client) version of Chrome. Since the early days of the web, computer scientists have tried to come up with ways to programmaticly extended the browser. It started with slow Java Applets and led to scary ActiveX implementations. Today most developers stick with Javascript or Flash.

This latest effort from Google might actually have a chance at success. It seems to strike a nice balance between performance and security. Of course a huge obstacle will be adoption. Including NaCL in Chrome is a significant step forward, but Chrome is has a very small percentage of the browser market. Perhaps if the Chrome experiment goes well, Google can get Firefox to include NaCL. I still don't see Microsoft supporting NaCL in IE, so compared to Javascript and Flash, it's going to be a long uphill battle for widespread adoption. I suppose NaCL browser plugins/extensions for Firefox and IE might be one way to gain further adoption. Maybe they could deliver it as an iPhone App as a way to finally get Google Voice on the iPhone. :-)

I'll be interested to see how it goes. I'll give it a try when the Mac version comes out.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Augemented Reality on iPhone 3GS

Looks like another reason to upgrade! These AR apps are pretty cool.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Hampshire Biking

Dr. Palmer and I went for a little mountain bike ride near his place. We ran across this odd summer estate. Seems to have been abandoned since the 80s.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sashimi Dinner

At Cho Cho San NYC. Yum!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Fred Zeppelin @ Gold Lake

Last weekend we were camping at Gold Lake and a few campsites down there was this amazing band rocking out. The band is called Fred Zeppelin and they were really good. There is something magical about a hard rock band playing in the wilderness. Thanks to Fred Zeppelin for a great show.

Thanks to my cousin Mark for inviting me and posting the video!

Piston Powered Fusion

Sometimes I forget how much I don't know about science. Being an expert in one field sort of blinds us to the crazy and creative things going on in other fields. Case in point, the folks at General Fusion have come up with an idea for a new kind of fusion reactor. Read more about it in this Technology Review article.

I love this quote:

"One of the big risks to the project is nobody has compressed spheromaks to fusion-relevant conditions before," says Richardson.
I'm glad folks are still working on big idea startups. This is not a Y Combinator kind of idea. This is a $1 billion project. Cool!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Judas and Me

If you're going to be in NYC, this September or October check out the new play from Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar. It's part of the New York Musical Festival this Fall.

Here's the description:

It's tough keeping up with the Joneses when your neighbor's kid is the Messiah. Consumed by jealousy, Rheba Iscariot pushes her son Judas to be better than Jesus - and we all know how well that turns out. A new musical comedy by the Tony-nominated writing team of Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar, Judas & Me is a hilarious look at life with the ultimate biblical stage mom.
Should be a great show!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hawley Lake Run

Jameson Canyon?

Mark and I were doing a run last weekend for Wampler Kids. It's a great cause.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Clamato and Bud Light

I did not buy this but I'm tempted!

My First Cat5

I'm putting a new camera at the front door and decided I needed to make my own ethernet cable. I got a crimper and a spool of cable from Radio Shack. I had to look up the order of the wires, and found this site and the video pretty useful. Thanks LAN Shack for the great tutorial.

I didn't know if the wires were supposed to be the same on each end or not. They should be in the same order on each end. The order is: orange stripe, orange, green stripe, blue, blue stripe, green, brown stripe, and brown.

The image above is the first image from the camera. It's not mounted yet and the wire is still strung across the doorway. I just wanted to do a quick test to see if my home made cable actually worked or not.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Armstrong and Truveo

Just saw this in the NY Times. It seems the new AOL CEO likes Truveo but was convinced that it's not a core business. Strange.

Eventually, the assembled employees voted on their top five ideas. Separately, Mr. Armstrong wrote his top five on a blackboard, turning it so the audience could see it only after the vote. The only difference: Mr. Armstrong wanted to include AOL’s Truveo video search company in the top priorities. But he deferred to the group and assigned Truveo instead to a new unit called AOL Ventures, where he is putting noncore businesses, like the Bebo social network, that might eventually be sold.
I wonder if anyone from Truveo was in the room...

3 Phone Wires

We're doing some remodeling and I need to move a phone jack. Turns
out this old house has three wires running to the phone jack. What's
up with that? I've always seen pairs but never an extra wire.

As you can see, the third wire isn't being used.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Makeshift Camera Cover

Just in case it rains.

I added a camera that keeps an eye out on one of our doors. I didn't have a lot of time but wanted to make sure the camera didn't get destroyed if it rained. Luckily the camera came with everything wrapped up in little plastic bags. I used a couple of those bags to drape behind and in front of the camera. There is enough room for airflow so it shouldn't get too hot. The lens isn't covered so it doesn't obscure the image.

Hopefully this will hold until I have a chance to find a better solution or the wife finds it.

The camera caught a snapshot of me attacking it. :-)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

SMS Camera Alerts

As we pulled into the garage early on Friday morning my iPhone chirped the arrival of an SMS. I thought this was odd since it was I don't usually get text messages at 1am.

Silly me, I forgot that I had setup the camera to send me text messages when it detected motion. We've been out of town for most of the summer so I wanted to know if there was any action inside my garage. I was pleasantly surprised when it worked so well. In the photo above, you can see me telling above telling my wife what just happened.

I'm working on a website that will let you do this kind of thing, and a whole lot more. If you're interested in trying it out, go to and request alpha access. We're slowly opening the doors to a few alpha users.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cool Augmented Reality with Pacube

I've been following Pachube for a while now. They put out this video recently showing how Pachube data could be combined with augmented reality.

Imagine folks walking down the street with those augmented reality glyphs printed on their clothing. If you had the right camera setup, you could check out the data feeds represented by their t-shirts. I see a computer art project in the making....

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rubicon Misadventure

On our way out on the last day we got stuck behind this rig (above). I didn't have any pictures of it so I didn't include it in my original Rubicon post. The guy pictured above was stuck on Cadillac Hill. He only had 4wd high with no breaks. This is an example of how not to do the Rubicon. His engine (below) was held in with the yellow strap. The engine eventually shifted and the fan started hitting the radiator. Our guys helped jury rig it so it worked a bit. Notice the jack and the newer orange straps holding it together!

The guy was nice enough but he just wasn't nearly prepared enough for the trip. After a couple of hours we were able to get him to a wide spot in the trail so other folks could get by. On the Rubicon you can never be in a hurry.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rubicon Trail Adventure

I just got back from five days of 4x4 action on the Rubicon Trail. We had our mobile tribe of Jeeps. The drivers were Jefe, Mark, Brent, Danny, Chris and Tom. I rode along with my cousin Mark in his classic Jeep CJ-8, pictured above. We started at Loon Lake on Thursday and ended with Cadillac Hill on Monday. The first night we camped at Buck Island and the rest of the time we were based at Rubicon Falls.

I met a lot of great folks along the way. Among others, our group included a factory worker with a Star Wars fetish, a university employee with a knack for welding, cryogenics lab (sperm bank) owners, a lawyer, an internet guy, a retired fireman, a Jeep and bicycle mechanic, a structural engineer, and a classical musician.

Offroading seems to have it's own vocabulary. Here are a few terms I learned along the way:

  • rig: another term for your vehicle. "Nice rig, is that an '82 CJ?"
  • flop: when a rig turns on it's side. "Get the winch, Brent had a flop."
  • break: some kind of failure or breakdown. "Sherman had a break. Good thing Mark was nearby with his welder."
  • stocker: someone driving a unmodified (stock) jeep. "Those stockers don't know what they're in for."
  • lockers: device to lock your differential so the wheels spin together.
  • open diff: an unlocked differential. "He couldn't make it over the rock because of the open diff."
  • comfort shovel: shovel used when you need to do your business in the woods.
  • Jethro: a hick or hillbilly type of person. Usually broken down in front of a group of rigs trying to make their way along the trail. "That Jetrhro is using a strap to hold his engine in."
The scenery is amazing and the challenges of getting vehicles through the trail keeps it interesting. There is driving skill involved but there's also an element of camaraderie that goes along with it. You need to be prepared, but you can't bring everything with you, so it's important to have a group of folks. When someone has a break or a flop, the group pulls together to help them out.

All in all we had a great time. I'm thinking I might just need to start looking around for my own Jeep.

Video of Mark making his way down Million Dollar Hill.

Brent and his flop near Buck Island. Thankfully no one was hurt.

It seems orange was the official Beguelin color for the day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Ibis on Flume

First ride of the season.

Update: I took this shot yesterday on my way up. The weather was moody and I was glad I wore my warm biking shirt. I started at the home and made it to the Flume trail in about 70 minutes which is a good reference. Perhaps I can improve on that time over the season.

On the way back, around 4:15 p.m. it started to spit rain. Not enough to pull out the jacket, but it was close. Overall it was a great ride. I love the new Ibis. I found myself aiming for rocks just to try to test out the ride. On the way back down Tunnel Road I caught air a few times. Nice!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

GitHub: You Know, For Code

I've been working with git, the source code control system, for about a year now. There are things I love about git and things I hate about it. Using GitHub is one of the things I love about it. Git was designed to work for very large distributed projects and teams. Building a social coding site around it makes a lot of sense.

I'm sure I'll post more on Git later. But for now I would recommend you check out GitHub if you're looking to learn more about the new hotness in source code control. You can see my public projects here:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Does My Brain Look Fat?

In this strange article they are trying to get at the size limit for human brains, assuming brains were cooled like computer chips. Human brains are about 1.5 kg while the study points out that the thermal limits for mammalian brains (cooled like computer chips) are about 5 kg. They then point out that sperm whales have brains in the 9 kg range. Great, another thing to envy about sperm whales.

I guess the real take away is that mammalian brains are not cooled like computer chips. That explains the lack of ungainly heat sinks sticking out of our skulls. Probably a good thing, although it could make for a more interesting hat industry.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

1 Rule for Weight Loss

I just saw this annoying advertisement. I don't know what they're selling, but here's the rule that really works: eat less and exercise.

The trick is getting yourself to follow that rule. In a previous blog post I shared what works for me. Skip the colon flush and just find a way to keep your intake less than the number of calories that you burn and you'll loose weight.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Transfer Big Files

My brother the playwright is working on some new songs and wanted to send them to me. (Such a nice guy!) Of course they were too big to send in email. I found a site called Transfer Big Files and it worked like a charm. No registration required. No weird software to download. Just fill in a form with an email address and upload your files. They make money from advertisements.

Sweet and simple.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rattle Snake Again

We saw this rattle snake today while mountain biking. This is the second time Tony and I have seen rattle snakes at Waterdog. At least we didn't run over it.

Click the image above for the full size version.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Twitter Circa 1935

Just thought this was funny.

Friday, May 8, 2009

locate and updatedb on CentOS

If you have a CentOS 5.x box and locate doesn't work. Try this:

sudo yum install mlocate
sudo /etc/cron.daily/mlocate.cron

The first line will install the locate and updatedb commands. It will also setup a cron job to re-index your disk once a day. The second line runs that cron job immediately, so you can start using the locate command right away.

Now you can easily find files on your system. Just use the locate command.

$ locate mlocate.cron
$ locate updatedb

Thanks to my friend Peter Stephan for educating me on the locate command. I don't know how I got along without it.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ibis Mojo

Looks like I won a Mojo in a raffle for the benefit of Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. Mountain biking is one of my favorite activities. My buddy Tony has been making fun of my bikes lately, so now he'll be the one with the old bike!

Note the mismatched logos I'm wearing. The Truveo fleece and the Yahoo hat don't really go together. Truveo is an AOL company. My brother-in-law Chris gave me the hat, that's my excuse!

Thanks to Ibis for donating the bike! Thanks to Nica for organizing the trail days, and Passion Trail Bikes for such a great newsletter.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Funky Camera

Here's a clever network camera, the Digital Window D7, that captures a bunch of different views at once. According to the Times article the images are stitched together and streamed as one. They call this technique Scallop Imaging. I call it clever.

This is a great alternative to fish eye cameras or PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom). I can understand that PTZ would be an issue if it's not pointed where you want it. Fish eye distortion is ugly. It seems to me that the fish eye problem could be taken care of in software though. I would imagine that removing the distortion wouldn't be that difficult. (Maybe less difficult than stitching together 5 images in real time.)

I've been playing around with network cameras and this one looks like a winner. Of course at $800 it's a bit pricey. You could buy more than 8 decent network cameras for that price. Of course you would have to deal with a jungle of wires and mounting all the cameras would be a nightmare. (Even the WiFi cameras need power cables, at least until we get that wireless power working well.) The photo shows an Ethernet jack on the bottom. The data sheet says it supports Power of Ethernet and H.264. I want one.

Thanks to CAK for pointing this out to me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tesla Model S Ride

Just got a ride in the Model S prototype at the Menlo Park store.
Spacious and zippy. Can't wait for production. Thanks Zak!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Fun with circuits at the hacker space in SF.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Agile Development, Hitler's Build

If you've ever worked on a software development team, you should find this entertaining. At Inktomi we used to hang a cute stuffed pink fuzzy pig above the cube of the developer who broke the build. This was a much more gentle reminder than a Hitler rant, but effective none the less.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yes on S

We liked it so much we decided to buy one. We're on the Signature 1000 list now. Dang, that's a sweet ride. Can't wait to get it. Good luck Tesla. Make it so.

New Tesla Model S

Elon next to the S.

Monday, March 23, 2009

syslog for your body

I ran across this interesting post. Basically the point is that we don't really have any good monitoring for our bodies. Wouldn't it be cool if we had some devices that could monitor a bunch of health related stats and report them to some centralized dashboard? In Unix there is a system called syslog, where significant events get logged. It would be cool to have something like this for our bodies.

I wonder how difficult it would be to design a small sensor that you could swallow each morning like a vitamin. This sensor could dump stats when ever it's connected. Maybe it could be WiFi enabled, so you would just need to walk through a WiFi hot spot during the day to get your latest stats.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wattvision and The Others

Yesterday Wattvision presented at YC Demo Day. They did a great job presenting the company, which provides a device for monitoring your home electric usage in real time. They have a device that attaches to your electric meter and optically reads it, sending back data through the internet so you can graph it in real time.

I was particularly interested in Wattvision because I've been trying to find a solution like this for a while. There are a few options out there. Here's what I've found so far:

The PowerCost Monitor from Blueline Innovations also uses an optical sensor but it reports back to a device in the home, so it's not internet enabled but has the same ease of installation as the Wattvision solution. Similar sensor to Wattvision, but closed system.

The Energy Detective (aka TED) from Energy, Inc. is a hard wired solution. You open up your circuit breaker box and put a couple clamps on the incoming power lines to monitor the electricity. The sensor then reports back to a display unit (like PowerCost) or a USB doohickey that plugs into your computer. This this is better than the PowerCost solution as you can get the data into your computer. However, you have to buy extra software from Energy, Inc. that only runs on Mac or Windows. (No linux support.) It would be much better if they opened up the protocol so anyone could use it. I'm sure it could be reverse engineered, but they should just support something like Extended Environments Markup Language (EEML) and/or Pachube. Compared to TED, the Wattvision solution is better in that it connects directly to your WiFi.

In England there is a device called the Current Cost meter. The Current Cost solution has a single clamp rather than two smaller clamps like the PowerCost meter. See a picture of the clamp below. Presumably, this solution won't work in the US because of the differences in the electrical systems. It seems to have quite a hacker following in the UK, which should be a clue for the US vendors. Open your systems and you'll have a much better chance of success. Hopefully the Wattvision folks will take a more open approach. The fact that they're using WiFi and the Internet are good indicators that they may be more open than their competitors.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Front Door Camera

Our neighbor had a rude awakening this week. Some burglars started breaking into his house while he was asleep. Luckily they ran away when he came to the door.

I've had a security camera on the font door for a while. I figured I should do some testing to make sure it was still working. Here's a shot of me sitting on the front steps looking at a picture of me, sitting on the front steps.

There are a lot of cool things you can do with these cameras. More on that later....

ZigBee Internet Gateway

Rob Faludi of ITP is working on a ZigBee internet gateway. See his original post here. This is a great solution for getting those XBee widgets onto the net. I've been wanting something like this for a while. I would like to use it so I can create little XBee sensor devices and have them report back to a server on the net, maybe Pachube.

Adruino and Ultrasonic Sensor

In this video they have hooked up a motion sensor and are using the inputs to drive a display. The computer reads the motion inputs and then simulates the grass movement as if the motion was actually moving the grass. Very clever.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Zoe Chello

#etech performance.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ETech Goodness

I'm hanging out at the ETech Conference in San Jose this week. It's a lot of fun and I'm meeting a bunch of great folks. I'm getting introduced to some great ideas that I'm putting on the list of things to explore.

Today I was amused to see the Truveo logo on a slide during the txteagle presentation. The presentation was inspiring. It makes me want to move to Africa and teach computer science. txteagle is basically a mobile version of mechanical turk that works in Africa. Truveo was one of a pile of companies that might be able to use such a service, perhaps for translations or tagging of videos.

I also learned that XBee radios have an API mode where they can communicate sensor data without the need for a seperate microcontroller.

My list of cool things I've learned this week is getting longer. I can always use more fun things to blog about.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Off-Peak Tesla Charging

The Tesla Roadster has a cool feature that allows you to set the time of day when charging should begin. I have mine set to 10PM which I thought was off peak. I decided to check the actual rate schedule. It turns out it's a bit complicated. (See the definition below.) Most of the time 10PM would be Partial-Peak. Of course there is no reason to charge the car at Partial-Peak instead of Off-Peak.

It almost never takes more than 4 hours to fully charge the Tesla. So I'm changing my charge time from 10PM to 2AM. Off-Peak starts at midnight most days but there are a few weeks per year when it starts at 1AM. I'm going with 2AM just to be safe. The earliest the rates go up is at 7AM, and then it's just to Partial-Peak anyway. This safely gives me 5 hours of Off-Peak charge time, which is plenty.

It's interesting how all these rules are setup as incentives but they are so complicated that most people don't even bother to try to understand them at all.

Click on the above image to see the entire rate description document in PDF form. Note this is for my rate schedule, E-9. It's special because I have solar panels and an electric car.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Facebook Connect Flaking Out

I'm working on a site that uses Facebook Connect so user's can log in with their FB accounts. I just saw this and it gave me pause. It seems FC is down and the login says to check back in hours. Hours? Really? Ouch. So this means my site would be down for hours just because the folks at Facebook feel like doing some maintenance? This is bad, very bad.

If you're going to provide a service like Facebook Connect. It better be up all the time. I may need to rethink the whole Facebook Connect usage if this is going to be an ongoing problem.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Everything is Amazing

The Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy clip is making the rounds. But it reminds me of a much funnier one by Monty Python. It still cracks me up.

Here it is for your enjoyment.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hacker's Diet

Back in November I realized that my weight was getting out of control (again). I started working with the folks at The Happy Body with great results. While following their exercise and diet approach was working wonders, I still found I had the daily bi-polar reaction to my scale. If my weight was down, I was happy. If it was up, then I was in a foul mood. Ran across The Hacker's Diet and in particular the chapter on Signal to Noise and it really struck a chord with me.

The following figure from The Hacker's Diet gives you an example of what I'm talking about.

The solution to this graph of terror is proposed by John Walker in the book: look to the trend. Don't get too focused on your daily fluctuations. Walker, being a hacker, has built some great tools for computing and graphing trends based on your daily weigh-ins. The graph at the top of this post is generated from my daily measurements for 2009. The red line is the trend. The floaters and anchors show the daily weights. More anchors than floaters means you're headed in the right direction, the trend is headed down. If you see a bunch of floaters showing up on the graph, then it's time to buckle down because the trend will be heading up if you don't get things back under control.

The Hacker's Diet has a lot of great advice and the combination of a free online web tools is very useful as well. I would recommend the online tools over the spreadsheets. Excel is just evil, in my opinion.

I would like to thank John Walker for taking the time to put his weight loss knowledge online for the rest of us.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Network Cameras

I've been playing around with network cameras lately. I've tried a few and figured I blog about my view of these cameras.

Linksys has two cameras that look very similar but are in fact very different. The Linksys WVC54GCA is ok. It supports a snapshot mode and motion JPEG streaming.

The Linksys WVC54GC is really bad. It only supports ASF streaming and doesn't have a snapshot mode. The resolution is just horrible. The only good thing I can say about this camera is that it supports WEP.

I have two D-Link cameras, the DCS-910 and the DCS-G900 that are pretty good and seem to be stable. The DCS-910 is not wireless though.

I have an Airlink AIC250W. It does the night vision thing, which is kind of cool. You can't turn it off though, which is a pain. The AIC250W also seems to be less stable. I find it drops off my network pretty often.

Recently I spoke to a guy who was installing a webcam at the local yogurt shop. He recommended the Axis M1001W. He showed me the image and it was very good.

All of these cameras come with horrible PC software for configuring and using them. Fortunately, it's possible to simply connect to the cameras with a browser and configure them directly. I wouldn't recommend installing the crummy software that accompanies them. If I get motivated, perhaps I'll post an entry on how to configure each of these cameras without the software.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cute Dog

Here's a shot of our puppy modeling her new coat. I have to admit she looks pretty darn cute.

Sledding Accident

It looks worse than it was. I was trying to slow us down on the sled and somehow my fingernail got bent back.