If you’re using the FEZ or USBizi boards like I do, you’ll be interested to see a new SDK went online yesterday. Details can be found at http://tinyclr.com/forum/12/2491 and there are some really great new features included.
Posts Tagged Coding Outside The Box
If you’ve been following the path of the Microsoft Micro Framework (and maybe talked with us at the ‘08 Austin Maker Faire) then you know that things have moved forward and open sourced a LOT. Well, today we just announced that the beta for .Net Micro Framework 4.1 has opened up on http://connect.microsoft.com. Take a look! Some very cutting edge stuff going on there!
This past week, for me the big news in consumer electronics wasn’t what you probably thought. The big names all were all talking mobility of one fashion or another, but one of the companies that can make a claim to bringing printers into the home is now applying that same talent to 3d Printers. Yep, that’s right HP is now working with Stratasys to bring 3d printing to a much wider array of people. This has huge potential for localsourcing manufacturing and changing how economics work in quite a number of markets.
Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.
— J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1999)
In the spirit of completeness, I wanted to make a few comments about my other session I submitted for SxSWi- “Smart for Who?” This session really came out of looking around my office and working spaces and really noting not only how connected all those “impulse electronics” and “entertainment devices” have become, but how little most people consider what their full capabilities and purposes are. As we’ve seen in the history of PC’s the best capabilities have come with networking and larger connectivity between systems, but that increase has also been paced by an increase in vulnerability and exposure to those connections being done with malice.
So as we connect more and more devices that we use every day not only to each other, but to the internet at large, we need to be aware of what’s going on between those. PVR’s often report back not just what shows you watched, but how many times you rewound that halftime commercial or act. The old days of “tracing a call” have become a Hollywood gimmick – the number is available even before the connection is made, and the call itself can be real time transcribed to text. Your printer is network connected, and most embed unique numbers in ever item printed, your security system knows when you’re home and when you’re gone. And they’re all able to talk with each other.
This session will be about how much control we have over this – how much is black helicopters and how much is actual productivity enhancement and personal customization that I WANT to be done. Do I want my bedside alarm clock to check my schedule and know that it doesn’t have to wake me quite so early tomorrow morning because my first meeting got cancelled overnight? Do I want the world to know I’ve put my house on power save mode because I’m going to be in Chicago for a couple of days? The Yin and Yang of connectivity is that Identity, Privacy, and Security are key – and we’re having to find new ways of making those concepts easy enough that you don’t have to read another 300 page manual just to use your new remote control or VOIP phone!
If this sounds like something you would be interesting in hearing about, either at SxSWi or in the community after SxSW – please “Thumbs Up” my session either above on the link or below!
I’ve had a couple of people ask me (and a couple of people not ask, but given their own spin on the title) and so I thought I’d do a bit more commentary on my “Brain” session submission.
From the site (“Your Brain in the Cloud”), you’ll see the description as:
Workflows, Agents, Bots… Not only is our data going into the Net but our decision making processes as well. What constitutes “Me” and how carefully should we consider how much of that resides outside of my own skull? Who owns or has access to that part of us outside ourselves?
So what does this mean? Well when I first started thinking and talking about this, “Bookworm, Run”, “True Names”, and “A World out of Time” (Peerssa for the state) were some of the works that had already been thinking about what happens when we begin not just using computers, but embedding our own decision making processes into them and then turning over those “mundane” activities to be freed up for more lofty (or just more fun) activities.
Well, as the years went on and many people continued thinking about it, most of the “Serious” work was focused on either higher FPS’s, achieving the holy grail of the Memex, or embedding the decision making processes of Corporations and legal entities into the programs and systems of the machines. But Moore’s Law marches on and what used to be in the reach of only governments and multi-nationals are now the playground of everyday users, and embedding yourself in various systems comes along with that.
What I hope to talk about is how this initiative/push/desire – whatever you want to call it – will affect us. Don’t think you’re part of it? Have you ever run a tweetbot? Set up an email rule? Configured your phone to allow some people and not others at different times of the day? Used a Bot in an online game? These are all ways that people today are putting parts of themselves into the cloud without even realizing it!
So what I hope to do is get us all thinking about what we do outsource of our internal selves, what makes sense to push up and to think about what happens if that repository should be compromised. While we all want the happy part of “True Names” (“My kernel is out there in the System. Every time I’m there, I transfer a little more of myself.") we also need to be aware of Stross and his vision of multiple copies of self aware selves and how the very idea of identity can be challenged by this.
And my final plea – if all this sounds interesting, please “Thumbs up” my session either directly or by the link below.
While I’m looking at my Micro Framework notes, I wanted to push this one out as well. over at CodePlex (http://mftoolkit.codeplex.com) you can find Michael’s toolkit for networking Micro Framework boards. To get your interest, let me just quote directly from the latest release notes:
Oh, did I mention there’s XBee support in there too? OK, I’ll stop typing because you’ve already clicked over and are downloading the toolkit!
This has been a long post in arriving. Why? I keep finding new stuff to throw into the project. I’ll do some of the major items right now, but there will be more as we go along – there’s a LOT going on in the embedded and low power processor and sensor spaces.
Let’s start with the processors:
This is my SJJ Micro Framework board (I’ve stuck the breadboard on top.) I’ll be using this for where I need a small, low powered remote processing unit that has access to an Ethernet cable (very handy feature that last one.)
Next is my GHI USBizi board – again, Micro Framework, but smaller and with more serial ports. This is useful for even lower power situations, and those with the need for local storage and USB Host capabilities. Note no Ethernet onboard, but I’ve got some ways around that a bit further down.
And a base Arduino (with prototype shield.) Useful for quick and cheap, but fewer control lines and memory/storage size. It is worth a note that the Arduino Mega is out and answers a number of these concerns.
And (not quite stand alone but even easier to prototype with) my old V1 Phidgets 8/8/8 controller. Requires at least a USB connection to a PC so it’s not for remote usage, but it’s really easy to put together various configurations, has a LOAD of great sample code, exposes functionality as a web service, and has Robotics Studio support for features. Oh, and the wiring is keyed for the analog I/O so I don’t fry all my sensors when I get distracted and forget to make SURE that everything’s hooked up right. (Yes, I tend to multitask far too often.)
A number of XBee radios – not the processors themselves, but allowing me to do wireless serial over some nice distances. Handling point to point communications right out of the box, this nice little radio is fairly inexpensive, pretty good with power, and it has a good many tricks up it’s sleeve (including star network and mesh networking configurations.) Below I show the radio itself and one of the several breakout boards that are used to talk with the radio both from the embedded controllers above and my main controller computer.
The Sparkfun weather board. This is a prototype from Sparkfun that gathers up environmental data and reports on it in a text format through a serial interface at a rate of 1Hz. I’m throwing this in on the controller section because it really is stand alone – the processing happens locally and then opens up that data for remote usage. I could even rewrite the firmware for different local functionality (but I probably won’t.)
Next time – OK, so you’ve got a bunch of procs floating around – what are you going to use them for?
So what’s this all about? You may have heard me talking about this during the spring, but with all of the activity and talks during March, I’m making myself sit down and put some of it together.
The base concept of this series of posts is that if you want to be be your most effective in architecting and implementing solutions today, you have to take advantage of all the resources available. Today there’s so much going on and things move so fast that we often either just look at the items that are top on the buzz list, or we reach for the tried and true because we know it works and we just need to Get Stuff Done.
What I’m hoping to do here is take a number of technologies and tie them together in a way that’s different from the mainstream of just Desktop/Laptop development or Web Browser development. My goal is to pull in some of the custom hardware that’s available today at very reasonable prices and tie that into some of the web services (lower case on that phrase) and use that to put systems together that can actually help me stay aware, in touch, and connected with the information and people I’m interested in. Plus doing something like this helps be justify blocking out time to implement some of the things I’ve been talking about for a while. I’ve had a number of people asking me to come speak on things such as Smart Environments, Ambient Information, Cloud Computing, and Adaptive Architecture – so in doing this I’ll both have some follow on information for them to continue the conversations that get started, and I’ll have the hardware and services put in place for examples.
So that being said – what are you going to get out of it? Hopefully some ideas and inspiration. Maybe some techniques. I’m going to be doing the articles live – I have a rough outline of the first part of the series that I want to cover, but I can definitely tell you that where it ends up will be influenced by comments or observations from the blog here and through other mechanisms. Let me know what you think. Let me know what’s interesting. And let me know when I put my foot in my mouth (because I will sooner or later.)
So enough about the conceptual. Next up, the first batch of technologies.
This one’s as much for me as for the regular post.
One of the coolest thing about embedded development today is that there are so many parallels to the original PC development space. For instance the I2C bus is actually filling the old S-100 bus space, but unfortunately you really had to dive full scale into it to utilize this capability. Or you did – there’s a new (to me) adapter to allow you to connect I2C devices to a USB bus for prototyping and testing. http://www.acroname.com/robotics/parts/R286-USB-I2C.html Way cool – there’s some really nice devices that come as I2C so Now those are a lot easier to work with!