Ever since I got my hands on a handheld device (my first might have been a PocketPC or a Palm), I wanted to be able to write code in a little editor on the device and run it right there.Â It seems like a strange urge, except that I grew up in the years that programming tools (Pascal, BASIC, Assembler, LOGO) were sold in stores alongside video games.
I developed a proof of concept solution for this that runs on the iPad, iPhone, Android devices, and the Chrome browser. It doesn’t store any data in the cloud, so it only needs network access the first time you run it. Everything is downloaded to the device when you bookmark it (Nexus One) or add it to your home screen (iPad/iPhone). All of the programs you write in it are stored on the device: http://code.google.com/p/pjs4ipad/
About a week ago, I underwent corrective foot surgery. Since I’ve never had surgery of any kind before, I had plenty to be worried about. But what freaked me out most of all was what my friend Gareth referred to as “alien abduction juice,” a component of the anesthesia that not only renders me relaxed, but also eliminates pretty much all memories until it wears off. I asked the doctor about it, and learned that indeed, this drug, Midazolam (marketed under the name Versed here) will do that to you.
I made the mistake of Googling for it and reading a lot of the complaints about it, and managed to get myself really worked up. I eventually comforted myself with the notion that the complaints were mostly from people who hadn’t been adequately informed of the drug’s effects and a few who had genuinely adverse effects. But I still had a lot of lingering discomfort with the idea of willingly creating a gap in my memory. But considering that the alternative was general anesthesia, and that choosing Midazolam would allow me to remain conscious through the procedure (so I could report on my pain levels, etc.), I figured it was the best possible choice for me.
In the end, I have no recollection of ever getting my spinal anesthetic, only a fleeting image of the room I was operated on in, and a series of disconnected memories as the drug wore off. I asked my doctor what I talked about (if anything) during the procedure, and he reported that I kept asking the same questions about the anesthesia (and apparently repeatedly expressed surprise that I had already received a spinal anesthetic). So clearly, neither the Midazolam nor the Lorazepam that they first gave me reduced my hang-ups about this part of the process.
And upon reflection, I’m glad I asked a lot of questions from the minute I started discussion anesthesia with my doctor, the hospital pre-admission folks, and the anesthesiologist. I’m glad that I was more hung up with something that didn’t have to do with cutting, grinding, or sewing, as well. The alien abduction juice was a good distraction from all the other stuff I was going through, and I’ll certainly use it when we do the work on the next foot.
Inspired in part by a recent discussion with some fellow makers about getting the iPhone to talk to stuff, I built a sample iPhone app using PhoneGap that lets you tell an Arduino to take a given pin high or low. It’s pretty basic: in the iPhone app, you type in the IP address and pin number, and click an ON/OFF button (the button has no clue about the current state of the pin yet). You could probably adapt this to work with the Arduino using other network modules, like the MatchPort.
The Arduino needs an Ethernet Shield, and needs to be connected to an Ethernet LAN. There’s a sketch you need to install to get it to work.
The iPhone needs to be on a Wi-Fi network (must be on the same subnet as the Ethernet LAN), and you’ll need to be a registered iPhone developer to compile and install this on your own phone.
I’ve posted the source here, and I think everything is explained in the README. Because it’s based on PhoneGap, you could just double-click on index.html and test it in Safari or some other WebKit browser.
I’m thrilled to be part of the group of people organizing Maker Faire RI. We’ve just launched our new web site, just in time for all our workshops and events leading up to the main event on Saturday, September 19. See you there!
Yesterday night the Town of South Kingstown Council voted against the â€œAutomatic Open Recordsâ€ petition funding the â€œAutomatic Open Recordsâ€ Committee outlined in my letter to the Town Council on March 30, 2009. The general tenor of the comments were that the goal is good but that funding it now is not good.
I’d really like to see something like this go forward, even if the end result is simply our town publishing the raw data needed for people like Andrew and me to make our local government more open and accessible.
I really appreciate the work that Andrew Gilmartin’s been doing with his attempts to bring my home town’s government into the 21st century. His goal is to increase public participation in the Town of South Kingstown, and to this end, he’s petitioning the town to adopt modern technology for publishing information and inviting the community to participate. One of his early posts, “A call for a new kind of town hall” explains:
We need our public documents, meetings, and other artifacts online. We need to be notified about additions. We need to be notified when they have changed. We need to be able to comment upon these online and have this commentary considered. These new tools of participation are not ancillary. They are as primary as the existing ones.
Doing this is not a great technical challenge. The software development industry routinely uses these tools everywhere and everyday. Doing this does not require a great operational cost. The tools are free, the storage and computational costs minuscule, and the support costs reasonable. The most challenging cost is to the school’s and town’s processes. It is not that more work will be required of officials and staff but that the work is done differently. The difference results in making visible to online tools the workings of the school and the town.
Despite the fact that the South Kingstown Town Council flatly refused to even study his proposal, Andrew is still pressing on, and I hope he succeeds. As someone who grew up in SK, graduated from high school here, and got a college degree here, I can tell you we need this. I’ll be reflecting on Andrew’s experiences when we next return to the polls, and I’ll be encouraging everyone else I know to do the same!
Well, not yet, but the money’s coming in less than 60 days. As David Pogue has reported, Microsoft really wants you to use its search engine:
Until the end of the year, youâ€™ll get points every time you use Microsoftâ€™s Live.com service. Pile up enough of them, and you can buy free music downloads, gadgets, even frequent-flier miles. (Limited to the first 1 million people who sign up. Works with Internet Explorer for Windows only.)
It sounds like an email scam, but it’s true: Microsoft wants to give you money. I stumbled across another incarnation of their pay-to-search plan via FatWallet, and put it into action; I ended up getting an MSI Wind for $285 (after adding 2-day shipping and insurance, it came to $327). I’ve written it up on Hackszine, where I’m covering for Jason while he’s on vacation.
I attended The Last HOPE recently and worked the MAKE table there. It was tremendous fun; we had all sorts of kits and books and magazines and t-shirts for sale, and a lot of interesting folks came by with interesting questions and ideas. Video | Flickr photos