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Tinkerers’ Rules

Posted 2011.05.15 10.34 in Computers/Internet/Technology

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Quoth the Maker: If you can’t open it, you don’t own it.

Chronodot Library for Arduino

Posted 2011.04.09 22.44 in Computers/Internet/Technology

When I was working on my Thermostat project, I came across the Chronodot RTC (real time clock) and decided it would be the perfect choice. Not just because it’s incredibly accurate, but because it provided both time and temperature readings in a single package. I could have used another RTC such as the DS1307 which is less expensive, but then I would have had to use something else for reading the temperature.

The only thing about using the Chronodot to get temperature readings was that there wasn’t an Arduino library that could get me that information. The Chronodot communicates using the i2c protocol, and as I hadn’t used it before I was hoping to find some examples and a usable library. Fortunately it’s compatible with the DS1307, but of course that library has no reference to temperature as the ‘1307 doesn’t read the temp.

So using the ‘1307 library as a starting point, I expanded it by adding two new readings to it: temperature, in both farenheit and celcius.

The library includes an example sketch. If you’re familiar with using the DS1307 with an Arduino then the Chronodot library will be an easy drop-in replacement. The time features are unchanged, I’ve just added the two temperature readings so they’re available within your sketch.

Click here to download the library: Chronodot_Library.zip

Closing the Polls

Posted 2009.08.12 14.45 in Computers/Internet/Technology

Not long ago I asked for some feedback regarding the Share This plugin. Share This adds a little icon and text to every page and every post, which allows people to link the pages/posts with a number of other services. I personally never used it, but my two biggest complaints about it were that it is a bit of a ‘black box’ that depends on a bunch of resources that are stored at the Share This servers rather than on my own servers, and that it required visitors to my site to download a bunch of other stuff behind-the-scenes which led to a delay in viewing my site.

I did some measurements and found that on my site’s front page, even with well over a dozen graphics and photos and several thumbnails present, the Share This plugin was adding so much overhead that it doubled the bandwidth and doubled the rendering time of my site. The Share This script alone was the single slowest component of the entire site, and there was nothing I could do to improve that because the script is served from their servers, not mine.

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To Share (This) or Not to Share (This)

Posted 2009.08.07 14.00 in Computers/Internet/Technology

So I’ve been waffling on this “Share This” thing. I’m not really up on this stuff myself, I’ve never used it, but my friend Lezley told me it was good and important so I put it on my site. The thing is, it runs entirely on the Share This server, so every time someone is viewing one of my pages, they’re also partially redirected to download stuff from the Share This site. And not just two words and a little logo either – it’s a lot of stuff. ¬†Scripts, style sheets, a bunch of logos, who knows what else. Honestly, I don’t really like it – it seems strange and mysterious and opaque to me.

Most WordPress plugins are pretty open and upfront. I mean, if you can read PHP (which isn’t that hard if you just take your time and don’t let it scare you), you can look at the plugin and get at least a bit of an idea what it does. You can do that with the Share This plugin, but what the Share This plugin does is basically just tell your guests to load a bunch of stuff from elsewhere – and you can’t change that stuff. It’s some digging just to get to see that stuff, what with all the javascript voodoo and all that.

Aside from the opacity of its function and my lack of understanding of its purpose, there is the bottom line fact that it slows things down. I’m on a fast connection – but when I can see a noticable change in speed between Share This and don’t Share This, that gives me misgivings. In fact, if there is a problem and for whatever reason the Share This stuff isn’t working, it makes it look like my site is having problems.

So I’ve turned it off, turned it back on, off and on again. I don’t know what’s best. So I’ve made a poll, and I’m asking you. And, please feel free to comment as well.

Cheers!

The poll has been closed, with the votes in at 8 votes against Share This and 1 vote for it.

Why Blog?

Posted 2009.07.26 10.23 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Pointless Blather

Here’s a meta-type question that has rattled around for a while. Why am I doing this? That is to say, why do I write this blog? And that could be extended a bit more to include, why do I even have this website? Obviously a lot of work has gone into it, and continues to go into maintaining, updating, and adding to it. So… why? What’s the point?

It isn’t for money – there are no ads or affiliate links or anything of the sort here. There’s no hidden pay-to-access section. It’s not so much that the idea of monetizing the blog/site hasn’t occured, but I mostly don’t like ads and haven’t felt the need to monetize anything. It isn’t for some kind of self-aggrandizement. To be honest, I’m actually a rather shy individual and sometimes get embarassed at the thought of people actually reading all this stuff.

I think ultimately there are a few reasons why I do all this. It really boils down to the fact that I like to learn and share knowledge; I like funny things and like to share the funny; I sometimes forget things and the blob is a good place to save information so I can find it again later. Finally, I like to create, and writing is an inexpensive way to be creative. In some cases, it’s also somewhat theraputic for myself, this writing stuff.

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