Home Automation with node.js, Angular,js and Raspberry Pi

I came across an article recently on how to set up a simple Home Automation system using a Raspberry Pi with an RF transmitter attached to it, and node.js with Angular.js.

It’s fairly primitive in that it is mainly a web interface to some light switches, but has the potential to grow into a real automation system. Keep an eye out for new releases (the author, Dennis Schulte, has given it version number 1.0, since the system is in production! 🙂

Banned Book week 2013

Something is on my mind that has only a passing relation to automation, but in the light of the Snowden revelations and the resulting attention to government surveillance, I think it’s important to touch on this.

Today marks the start of Banned Books Week, an event to call attention to the banning of books in the United States.

Yes, book banning.

Why? Because apparently Fahrenheit 451 (a banned book) scares people more as a book than as a scenario. Because 1984 (a banned book) apparently is too violent, rather than scary as a view of a total surveillance state (NSA surveillance, anyone?). Because Ender’s Game (a banned book) contains sex, something that doesn’t happen in our world (wait – didn’t it also contain a fair amount of violence? Oh right… banning books on the ground of violence would be weird, but banning them on the grounds of sex is perfectly reasonable).

I learned about Banned Books Week yesterday in our library, when my daughter asked why there was caution tape around a table with books. I was stunned to find books like A Brave New World, Animal Farm, 1984, The Great Gatsby and many, many more classics on the banned books list.

Although it’s everyone’s right to question books, I feel no one should have the ability to prevent others from reading certain books. Please support your local library and the ALA in the Banned Books Week.

Game of the Month: Wooden Path 2

This month’s game is Wooden Path 2, a puzzle game. In Wooden Path 2, you need to create bridges between island, by sliding pieces of bridge. You are hindered in the sliding by various obstacles.

And if you get stuck, make sure to check out the solutions for the first two complexity stages (Beginner and Explorer).

A very entertaining puzzle game, with various levels of complexity. Try it out for a fun couple of hours!

Startup window

The Beginning map is a tutorial level

One of the tutorial levels

Graduating from the tutorial

After the tutorial, levels become more complex!

Play free games at Kongregate

Is it worth optimizing?

XKCD has this wonderful chart, showing how long you can spend on optimizing a process, depending on the time you save and how often you do it:

So if you save 1 minute of a daily process, and you spend less than a day on it, you’ll save time in less than 5 years. Glad to know my 1 day effort on automating a daily process was well below the limit (6 days)…!

iPhone updates 7/22/2013

The following updates appeared on my iPhone last week:


  • Version 1.6.1
  • Calorie counter
  • Accessibility improvements
  • Bug fixes


  • Version 1.1.4
  • Stability improvements
  • Added a URL handler for searching. Example: fantastical://search?query=meeting or fantastical-x-callback://x-callback-url/search?query=meeting (optional scope parameter can be title, location, invitees, or all)
  • Fixed a problem where you couldn’t edit an alert that fires on a particular date after creating it
  • Fixed a problem where the ticker could appear out of position if you try scrolling the ticker and event list at the same time
  • Fixed a bug where the new event animation would appear incorrectly when specifying a different time zone
  • Fixed a bug where the event list could unexpectedly jump to the beginning of the day
  • Can now duplicate events to the same date
  • Various minor fixes and improvements


  • Version 5.4
  • Add shortcuts on your iOS device
  • Mark up images, PDFs and entire notes with Skitch integration
  • See notes you recently viewed along the bottom of any note
  • Premium users: view related notes at the bottom of your notes
  • Get the latest news and updates from Evernote in the Announcements section
  • Submit a support request from directly within the app

Squarespace Manager

  • Version 1.4.7
  • Fix for statistics not showing content for v6 customers
  • Fix for “error at server” when trying to publish
  • Fix for crash when prompted for password
  • Fix for white line appearing on photos taken on iPhone 4
  • Fix for crash when verifying account
  • Fix for crash when editing post created via website
  • Notify user that a blog is required to use the app, if site has no blog
  • Improved crash reporting
  • App will now optionally include account name and email address plus device information in support requests.

Moto X event August 1st in New York

Motorola’s next phone, the Moto X, is scheduled to be presented to the world on August 1st, in New York.

The Moto X has been spotted in Eric Schmidt’s hands, and last week an invitation-only NDA-covered presentation was held for a select few.

The new phone is completely manufactured in the US (although that probably means that it is assembled in the US, with components manufactured elsewhere), and is fully customizable.

Also, the Moto X is said to be the first Motorola phone completely designed and developed under Google’s leadership over Motorola.

We hope that the Moto X will be the new Google Android reference phone, and will receive updates in a timely manner. The rest of the phone is becoming secondary…

Domain name transfer

We’re currently transferring domain name managers. Hopefully this will not result in any outages, but it is possible that the website will be unavailable for a short period of time.

Update: it looks like the transfer is finished. Please let us know if there are any issues.

Google acquires Waze

Today Google announced the acquisition of Waze, the social driving app.

Waze allows users to not only get a route to their destination, but incorporate traffic reports from other Waze users, including stopped vehicles, debris on the road, and even police sightings. There is a gaming aspect to Waze, where users get points for miles driven and reporting traffic situations.

It will be interesting to see what Google will do with Waze. Will they incorporate aspects of Waze into Google Maps, and leave well enough alone, or will Waze be absorbed? Hopefully the community of Waze users will not be left in the cold, like the users of Google Reader were…