Hans' Blog Archive Random

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Internet of Things Talk at Carnegie Mellon University

Last weekend was the Pittsburgh Perl Workshop hosted by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. I gave a talk on the Internet of Things and building apps using the Perl programming language as the connective tissue between devices and web applications. I covered the basics on how you interface devices to the real-world. I also hosted a Hardware Hackathon and got to discuss hardware, connecting things, and Perl. I introduced everyone to my remixed theory of innovation. Just get out there and copy a well documented project, learn by transforming some part of the project, and combine it with other ideas. This is the only way innovation has ever happened… Thanks for the awesome time at PPW!

Hans Scharler at the 2011 Pittsburgh Perl Workshop

Here are my slides from the 2011 Pittsburgh Perl Workshop:

[slideshare id=9638095&doc=scriptingthings-111010211741-phpapp02]

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Thank You, Steve Jobs

My parents saved up Campbell’s Soup labels and gave them to my school. For whatever rational, the school would get computers from Apple based on the number of soup labels collected. We got a lab of Apple II’s, then came along the IIe, IIgs, and finally the Macintosh. I spent most of my early time on the Apple IIe programming. This was a very significant time for me and planted the seeds for my future career in software. I was inspired to create and can’t think of an existence without his influence. While we mourn the loss of a great one, I wanted to say, “Thank you, Steve Jobs.”

"…the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. Think Different." - Steve Jobs, 1955-2011


httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rwsuXHA7RA



10 PRINT "STEVE JOBS"

20 GOTO 10

(sad face)

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Top 100 “Internet of Things” Thinkers

We all love lists and some lists are really cool to be on. Postcapes selected me as one of the Top 100 Thinkers in the emerging field of the “Internet of Things”. They based their decision on many criteria, but I think the one item that sets me a part is my charisma (CHA of 16 is nothing to sneeze at). I am on the list at #88! It’s honor to be included with so many of the people that I have been following during my career.

Internet of Things Top 100 Thinkers

From Postcapes,

As a Software Developer at ioBridge and active speaker, and developer (including having over 800 people following his toaster on Twitter) in the Internet of Things space Hans Scharler is someone to watch as he sits on the interesting intersection of DIY’ers and corporate products.

Follow Hans and his latest on Twitter @scharler.

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Keynote Speech at Web of Things 2011

I had the distinct  privilege to be invited to give a keynote speech at the Web of Things Workshop 2011 at Pervasive 2011 in San Francisco on June 12, 2011.

The perspective of my presentation will be from my vantage point of being involved day-to-day working on Internet of Things projects with ioBridge and how we turned projects into products for consumers and manufacturers. Our perspective is that we see the Internet of Things being built from the ground up versus the top down. This means that there is so much innovation that will bubble up from small companies that will revolutionize the industries above them. I am honored to be part of the Web of Things Workshop.

Updates:

The Web of Things conference turned out great. I got a chance to meet the researchers and developers in other areas related to the Internet of Things and the cross over into wireless, social networking, and web technologies.

Here are the slides from my keynote presentation at the Web of Things Workshop.

[slideshare id=8297842&doc=webofthingsworkshop2011-110613180750-phpapp02]

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ThingSpeak: Building My Own Twitter (for Things)

Over the past several months I have been working on software to allow “things” to form social networks and send status updates via the Internet. At first glance this may sound very impractical. Hopefully, in a few years this will make more sense as better applications come out. Remember how ridiculous my toaster sounded three years ago? I gave that thing a voice and since has been on TV and more people are interested in it than my Twitter status updates. More proof? At CES 2011 there were at least 10 appliances that could send Twitter status updates. I am not saying that I created them, but I am not not saying that they didn’t know about My  Toaster and it’s 600+ followers on Twitter. With this project, I wanted to take it a few steps further and build something from the ground up that’s focused on collecting enormous amounts of data from everyday objects, allowing devices to interact with each other, and building applications to present some meaning. The ThingSpeak project is finally ready to go and open to anyone that wants to start building applications.

My Problem

One problem with the Internet of Things is the concept of “the killer app” - the app that defines a new industry. The internet connected refrigerator is our poster child. Recently, Ryan Rusnak connected a mini fridge to the iPhone via ioBridge, added a motor controlled beer selector, and strapped on an air cannon to fire beers to his couch from 25 feet away - now that’s a killer app. So, my problem was trying to find an application that highlights key features of ThingSpeak and why it’s different.

My App

What I come up with is the idea of “my_house”. “my_house” is a collection of “rooms” that all hold computers, appliances, and sensors aka things. I recently installed some light sensors in “my_room” that push light levels to the ThingSpeak API. I did this to remind me when to turn my lights on so I don’t work in the dark when I get plugged in. And an interesting side benefit was that now I can detect whether or not someone is in the room based on the light level. I will admit this could have been done other ways, but sometimes you solve problems with what you have lying around. “my_house” already keeps track of my location using Google Latitude to control my thermostat. Eureka moment…

Now I can tell when my mom goes into my room when I am out on the town, most likely Sheetz!!!


Below is a screenshot of the demo app and how I aggregate the data collected by my light sensors. Here are a few things I want to point out:

  • "my_house" is sending the status updates via a collection of networked sensors

  • The status updates were generated by the light sensor device itself

  • The timestamps were recorded by the ThingSpeak API

  • If you click the chart icon you get what the actual light level was

  • The app works in real-time and you can check it out here





The Technical Details


The light sensor uses a Netduino Plus that connects to my home network over Ethernet. This device uses Microsoft .NET Micro Framework and I wrote an application that interfaces with the ThingSpeak API. I also wrote a tutorial over at the ThingSpeak community site on how to use the Netduino Plus for those that want to get started with it fast.

The front-end application is written using only HTML, CSS, and jQuery. I have the fully documented source code attached and you can also see the app live in your web browser.

Project Files:

Light Sensor connected to the Netduino Plus

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Web of Things Talk at Ignite Pittsburgh

I will be giving a talk at the first annual Ignite Pittsburgh a part of the O’Reilly Ignite Global week. Ignite is series of 5 minute talks on any topic - 20 slides at 15 seconds each. I will be giving a talk about the “Web of Things” aka “Internet of Things”. This is the future of connected devices and a new era of self-serving applications. This topic is near and dear to me as I have been connecting things together for a long time. It’s also the focus of ioBridge and some of the projects I work on. We used to kid about ioBridge being one step closer to SkyNet…it may actually be true given enough time, iterations, and scale. Who knows how many times civilizations have been to this point before?

My talk is about the things that surround us - iPads, Toasters, Fridges, and Cars - and pose some questions - what if they were connected? What are the issues that we must consider? How can we can we disconnect in a connected world? After the talk I will post the slides and if they record it, I may or may not post the video.

Web of Things Ignite Talk

Ignite Pittsburgh

Brillobox
7pm
Febuary 10, 2011

Abstract and Credits

Update:

Ignite Pittsburgh

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"My other shirt is a v-neck"

Have you ever done something that you completly forgotten about only to see it on the web years later? I guess the whole current generation of noobs will know what I mean when they are sitting in their job interview, and the interviewer asks them about that YouTube video…

If you ever go to a gaming convention you will notice all of the ironic t-shirts everyone wears. For example, the overweight guy wearing a small Supperman t-shirt. Each year more and more t-shirt vendors invade the exhibit hall at Gen Con.

If you know me, you know that I just had to create a bunch of sarcastic, novelty shirts. I just can’t not do it. So in 2006 I made up a bunch of shirts. I sold a few, mostly it was a waste of time. A few survived and I gave them out to my friends for Gen Con 2006. One in particular was a shirt for The Dungeoneering Dad that read, “My other shirt is a v-neck”. Looks like TDD gave it away…

Today, I find that exact shirt on a website called “toomanytshirts.com" - a site where "a random dude from Pittsburgh" wears and photographs a different t-shirt every day.

It's In Here Somewhere...


That was a pleasant surprise to see the old shirt still making its rounds with my trademark bar code on the sleeve. I completely forgot about the two weeks I was “T-shirt Hans”.

PS.

Here are some of my other more popular (less popular) t-shirt slogans:

  • Rage Against the Washing Machine

  • Got Rhetorical Questions?

  • I believe in God and Aliens

  • 3 out of 5 dentists agree 60% of the time

  • Community Chest

  • I hate Slogans

  • WWW.JD

  • Political Statement

  • I am case-Sensitive

  • I’m the man from Nantucket

  • Ask me about today’s specials

  • I hate scallions

  • My favorite font is Ironic Sans

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Automatic Thermostat Control Based on Location and Weather

The Pittsburgh Perl Workshop will be held at the Carnegie Mellon University on October 9-10, 2010. The PPW is a gathering of Perl programmers from around the world (and near Pittsburgh) to learn more and discuss the future of Perl.

At this year’s PPW, I will be giving a talk called, “Connecting the Internet of Things with Perl" (visit pghpw.org for schedule info). I will also explain how to create an Internet of Things application using off-the-shelf Perl modules and web control technology by ioBridge.

As you may or may not know, Perl is a really powerful programming language that enables everything from fast prototyping of web applications to large-scale software platforms. What makes the language unique is the library of modules available to you. If you get a great new idea for a web app, you can get started quickly and find modules that others have written. In some cases, it’s literally copy-and-paste.

A big movement for the past few years is this concept of The Internet of Things. More things will be on the Internet than people in the next few years, so my talk is to highlight why Perl is still relevant after 20 years and needs to be apart of this emerging technology. Internet of Things applications involve connecting sensors and controllers to the web. Perl is perfect for parsing lots of data, pushing data into databases, and connecting services together, known as “mashups”.

My Internet of Things project, written in Perl, allows your current location and home weather conditions to control your home heating and cooling system.

Location Aware Home Automation using Google Latitude API and ioBridge API

I call it,  ”Location Aware Home Automation”. You don’t have to do anything to control your HVAC/Thermostat, it all happens based on where you are. If you are home, the thermostat regulates the inside temperature as normal. When you leave, systems turn off or enter power saving modes. When you get near your home, the heating/cooling system kicks back on so you have a comfortable temperature by the time you get back home. In order to pull off all of this passive and automatic functionality, I have mashed up several APIs from Google Latitude, WeatherBug, and ioBridge.

Using the API for Google Latitude, I track the location of my Android mobile phone. When I get near my home, I check the weather using Google Weather API, WeatherBug API, and my home temperature (via ioBridge) to see if I need to to use the air conditioner, the heater, or neither. If I do need to control the HVAC, I send the control commands using the ioBridge API that routes the commands to the IO-204 controller that’s hooked up to my thermostat.

This application is really just a beginning. Right after I got everything working, I started having a flood of ideas. I can see some real power here.

The How To Portion of the Show

» Google Latitude

You have to enable Google Latitude on your mobile phone and get your Badge ID. This ID represents your position in the world, your latitude and longitude. Visit the Google Latitude API site for more information.

Install the latest Geo::Google::Latitude Perl module from CPAN.org - this module completely abstracts the access to the Google Latitude API for you. All you have to do us pass your ID and the module returns the date, time, last known latitude and longitude (the values are in decimal degrees).

use Geo::Google::Latitude;
my $gl=Geo::Google::Latitude->new;
my $id="7832225593622256926";
my $badge=$gl->get($id);
my ($lat2, $lon2) = $badge->point->latlon;


» Calculating how far you are away  from home

You have to figure out how far you are from home, you do this by doing some math. Oh wait, there’s a Perl module for that. Install Geo::Distance and all you have to do is tell it what latitude and longitude to compare and it spits out the distance.

use Geo::Distance;
my $geo = new Geo::Distance;
### Home Location
my $lon1 = "-79.76408";
my $lat1 = "39.980342";
### Calculated Distance
my $distance = $geo->distance( 'mile', $lon1, $lat1 =>; $lon2, $lat2 ); # Use 'meter' to calculate distance in meters


» Getting the Weather

You can use a number of weather APIs to get weather data for your home location. All you need to know is where you live. The easiest to implement is Google Weather (Weather::Google), but the WeatherBug API has a lot more information you can use for other Internet of Things things you may do.

use Weather::Google;
my $gw = new Weather::Google(15401); # Zipcode
my $current_outside = $gw->current->{temp_f}; #Use temp_c for Celsius


» Connect to ioBridge

All you have to do to connect with ioBridge is to send command via the ioBridge Widget API. First you create the control widgets for your heating and cooling system. For mine, I can use relays. Others may need serial strings, which you can send as well. Once you have the widgets created, locate there widget ID’s and send them to the API.

use LWP::Simple;
my $Air_Conditioner_widgetID = "Gb2Q1FUKPmzZ"; ### Replace with your widget ID's
my $Heater_widgetID = "9c3WEGHKemnzJ";
my $Inside_Temp_widgetID = "D32SDghy98iOu";
my $ioBridgeAPI = "";
$ioBridgeAPI = "http://www.iobridge.com/widgets/static/id=" . $Inside_Temp_widgetID . "&value=1&format=text";
my $current_inside = get($ioBridgeAPI);
### Test if the heater or the air condition should be turned on
if ($current_outside >= 78 && $current_inside >= 72) {
$ioBridgeAPI = "http://www.iobridge.com/widgets/static/id=" . $Air_Conditioner_widgetID . "&value=1&format=text";
get($ioBridgeAPI);
}
elsif ($current_outside $ioBridgeAPI = "http://www.iobridge.com/widgets/static/id=" . $Heater_widgetID . "&value=1&format=text";
get("$ioBridgeAPI");
}


» Putting it all together

Once you have the entire built all you have to do is call the app periodically using CRON Linux or Task Scheduler on Windows. Here is a TXT file of the Perl application with all of the parts tied together, probably will be easier to read and understand.

The hardware side uses the ioBridge IO-204 connected to the control lines of a thermostat or an HVAC control box. The lines switch at 12 volts, so I use relays trigger them. Other thermostats that I researched use serial lines which the IO-204 can tap into using RS-232.

It may seem like a lot of work, but just think about what is happening. Feeds from Google Latitude and WeatherBug are being processed and passed to your home network via the Internet. All of this is happening without your direct interaction - your things are working for you. I hope that you can see that is a start of some pretty amazing applications of technologies that will advance over time. A lot has changed in the past year, I can’t image what comes next.

If you get around to building a project like this, please drop me a line. I love this stuff.

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Happy Birthday Jumpman, I mean, “Super Mario”

Today marks Super Mario’s 25th birthday, or the anniversary of the start of the best selling game franchise of all time. Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario and all of the spin-offs have sold over 240 million game copies.

[caption id=”attachment_235” align=”aligncenter” width=”382” caption=”Super Mario Evolution”]Super Mario Evolution[/caption]

Here’s something I learned recently. Super Mario was originally named Jumpman. Do you think the game would have been a big with the name Jumpan? Or should we ask what William Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?” Mario got the name because the orginal character looked like Mario Segali, a caretaker at the New York City office where the game was programmed. I read that on the Internets so I knows it to be true.

Mario was the first game that got me into video games, my gateway to Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Tecmo Football. I have a special place for Mario, the sound effects, and the music.

Here’s a list of some things that I learned from Mario:


  • Use your head at all times

  • Turtles should be jumped on or fire-balled although I love turtles

  • Stars make you invincible

  • Mushrooms make you taller

  • Donkey Kong hates barrels

  • If you play the game long enough, you get the girl in the end


Thanks Mario!

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New Google Search: Instant Narcissism

If you use Google Search as a lot of people do, then you have noticed the new feature from Google. As you type you get instant search results. It is an interesting feature and I am not sure how much this will change my search patterns. I still want to hit the return button after I type in a search phrase.

For the vain, the new Google Search will allow you to “google” yourself instantly.

Hans Scharler Google Search Vain