On January 8th, I bought a Withings Activité watch direct from Withings after finding a 25%-off coupon for their site. I had recently sold my Apple Watch and thought I'd try out a more analog watch.
I received the watch on the afternoon of January 13th. As soon as I opened the box, I could tell that I was not going to like it. If you look at all of the pictures of the watch on their website, you might not notice that they never show you the side profile of it. Much like the newer iMacs, the Activité has a huge tapered hump on the back that they hide in marketing materials to make it seem much thinner than it is. Combined with the unappealing appearance of the long and thin straps of the watch, and some frustration at difficulties pairing it with my phone, I was having a bit of buyer's remorse and decided to return it.
Although it fooled nobody, yesterday for April Fools' Day, Lobsters users that normally saw a boring list of story titles and links were greeted with a BBS-style interface to the site complete with story and comment browsing, private message reading and sending, and a multi-user chat area.
The BBS remains active at
https://lobste.rs/bbs (you can login as
I recently activated a new dedicated server that came preinstalled with Linux, as the hosting provider didn't support OpenBSD. Since they also didn't provide an IP-based KVM without purchasing a dedicated hardware module (though most of the IP-KVMs I've used recently require interfacing with some terrible Java-based monstrosity anyway), I needed a way to remotely install OpenBSD over the running Linux server.
I've previously used YAIFO to do remote OpenBSD installations, which basically adds an SSH daemon to the OpenBSD installer image and brings up a network interface that is manually configured before compiling the image. The image is then
dd'd directly to the hard drive while running whatever OS is on the system, the system is rebooted, and if all went according to plan, the machine will boot into OpenBSD and present you with SSH access so you can run the installer.
I recently decided to upgrade my Galaxy Nexus to something with a better camera. I liked much about the HTC One Mini, but I refuse to get a phone with logos on the front of it, so that ruled out the HTC One and all of the Samsung phones.
I first got the Moto X Developer Edition which only comes in one color: a black front with a white "woven" design which is just kind of cheap. The phone is plastic but with a solid feel. It has a smaller footprint than my Galaxy Nexus and the rear of the phone is curved and fit in my hand nicely. The screen is bright and colors are sharp. The camera is great, and very quick to respond which is one thing I really hated about the Galaxy Nexus. Its HDR mode in the Camera app made for some pretty decent pictures in various light.
I spent a week in Toronto, Canada attending the OpenBSD t2k13 hackathon hosted at the University of Toronto. While these events are put on every year in random places, I have not attended one since c2k7 in Calgary back in 2007. I tried to go to the Portugal hackathon last year but my travel plans got all screwed up.
I wrote about the technical details of what I accomplished at this event at the OpenBSD Journal so I won't duplicate it here, but it was a fairly productive week for me. I remember at c2k7 I didn't really have much to work on and felt out of place but this time I had more things to do than I had time.
After another stretch of not karting for almost 2 years, Dave, Adam and I went karting at Chicago Indoor Racing's Addison facility. I won the 3 races on track 7 with a 15.993, 15.800, and then a 15.743. I, Adam, and Dave set the 3 fastest times of the week with 15.743, 15.855, and 15.909, although looking at our last races on what would appear to be the same track configuration, Dave and I were running quite a bit faster back then. Maybe we've all just gotten heavier in 2 years.
Two employees asked if they could race with us because "we looked fast" and I was able to stay ahead of them each time, but maybe they were going easy on us.
Shortly after the initial release, I received some great feedback from Chad Etzel, one of the creators of Notifo, the notification service that I used until it was shut down (which prompted me to create Pushover in the first place). Chad asked for Pushover to support sending messages with URLs that can open external apps, and Pushover soon gained supplementary URL support which required changes in the API and on both Android and iOS apps.
Yesterday I submitted a post on Hacker News out of frustration at moderators pedantically changing post titles. After quickly rising to the number two spot on the front page with 482 points and 37 comments, the post was deleted by a moderator, presumably the operator of the site, Paul Graham. Since you can't read the text of it now, here it is:
As soon as the post was deleted, I received an e-mail from Paul Graham:
I'm a big fan of my Fitbit pedometer because it does most of its work without any interaction. I clip it onto my pocket and it counts my steps and flights of stairs as I walk throughout the day, then automatically, wirelessly uploads the data to Fitbit's website whenever I'm within range of its USB dongle plugged into one of my computers. The whole thing works without having to think about it or plug anything in. The battery lasts for about a week, and when it finally runs low, my low battery notifier sends a message to my phone through Pushover telling me to put it on its charger for a few hours.
To add to my step data, I got a Withings scale last year which logs my weight and BMI on Withings' website automatically every time I step on the scale. Fitbit's website syncs this data from Withings, so now I'm able to track my steps, flights of stairs, weight, and BMI, all automatically, all on Fitbit's website. I use this data mainly as a motivation to walk more and not get fat, just as my Wii Fit motivated me to exercise every day by tracking all of the data. When I know my Fitbit is counting my steps, I'll avoid hopping on the bus or train to get home and just walk. A few times I've left the house and upon noticing my Fitbit wasn't there, walked all the way back and got it just so the steps I was going to take that day would "count".
On March 7th, 2012, I announced the launch of Pushover, a simple mobile notification service with device clients available for Android and iOS. I kept some notes during the development process, which mostly occurred in the evenings and weekends around my other work.
I had been using Notifo for a year or so to receive push notifications on my phone from my custom network monitor, but last year the free service announced it was shutting down. When I switched back to my Android phone a few months ago, I was unable to download Notifo's Android app which never made it out of beta.
The source code to Android 4.0, nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich, was made available last Monday. For developers of Android ROMs like my Blandroid project, these source code releases enable us to release our own modified versions of Android to users that prefer to use our software on their phones. The source code to the previous major version, Android 3.0, was not made available and was only given to certain tablet manufacturers like Motorola. While many complained about the lack of source code to a supposedly open source project, Google's "excuse" was that the code was not suitable for release. They rushed and hacked together version 3.0 to add a tablet-compatible interface to its then-current version, 2.3, nicknamed Gingerbread, so that tablet manufacturers could push out rushed and hacked-together tablets to compete with the iPad. Google told everyone to wait for Android 4.0 which would combine the tablet interface changes of 3.0 but still work on smaller screens like phones.
I put "excuse" in scare quotes because Google doesn't really need to justify their decision to anyone. Android is their product, they are free to do whatever they want with it, and any source code they release to anyone that isn't a partnering hardware vendor is a gift. That's not how they would like it to appear, though, and to most it would seem that anyone can just download and compile the code like any other open source project. To many people familiar with the term, "open source" is used for a project that is developed in the open, releasing changes as they are made, taking in patches and input from the community along the way before releases are finalized. Developers participate in the project, contributing code and project direction, releases are made, and developers and users use the software. Users sometimes become developers by fixing bugs in the software, which get merged in and pushed back out in future releases.
I've had an Ecobee thermostat in my house and now in my apartment for a number of years. It's a touchscreen thermostat equipped with 802.11 wireless that can be remotely adjusted and monitored from Ecobee's website as well as iPhone and Android applications. While the expected use case might be monitoring the temperature of one's home while at work, I often lazily use the phone applications while at home when I'm too cold to get out of bed to turn the heat up. Also, while Ecobee's website touts its "green" features and energy savings, working from home has always meant being unable to use automated work/home schedules and instead having to hold the same temperature all day. With some Ruby code and SNMP, I am now able to automatically detect when I am home and when I leave the apartment, and adjust the temperature automatically.
Last night I tried to visit one of the websites that I host on one of my dedicated servers, and to my surprise, I saw this instead of the usual content: