input Archive

Almost three years I published an article detailing how to remotely buzz yourself into an apartment building. In the time since, new technologies have made it even easier to interact with your home remotely. Below, I detail an updated remote door buzzer that works with mobile phones and even Apple Watches. Furthermore, the basic setup is extensible to lighting systems and any other action that can be controlled by a shell script.

Overview

The ultimate workflow is simple and is as follows:

  1. On your smartphone or Apple Watch, send a Yo to a custom-created recipient
  2. Your door buzzer will be activated

To achieve this, we’ll be using a custom-made circuit that electronically switches the door buzzer. To control the circuit remotely, we’ll be using a Raspberry Pi home server that will receive casually authenticated signals over the internet sent via the Yo app (https://dashboard.justyo.co/).

Required Gear

The following items will be used to create your phone-controlled door buzzer:

  • Raspberry Pi — Any Raspberry Pi model should work, but I’m using the Raspberry Pi Model B+. You’ll also need an SD card (micro SD in the case of the B+ model) with at least a few gigs of space, and all gear necessary

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I recently watched 2010: The Year We Make Contact and noted how the set was crammed with old-school keyboards. It occurred to me that if the film were re-made today, each of those conventional-looking keyboards would be replaced by a futuristic virtual keyboard on a screen, wall, or table surface (the control center in the film Oblivion comes to mind).

We have the technology today to create that reality of glass-based interface, but how many of us are actually using soft keyboards to do serious work on on computers? The first accessory I bought for my first iPad was a Bluetooth keyboard. The first accessory I bought for my new iPad mini 2 only a few months ago was a Bluetooth keyboard.

In my experience working with professional software developers at a prominent startup, instead of moving toward soft keyboards, the trend is quite literally opposite. Many developers I know are seeking out mechanical switch keyboards with greater “clickiness”, not less, such as Max Keyboard Blackbird Tenkeyless model (I’m told the Cherry MX Blue version is the most clicky). They appreciate the more active typing experience, and type more accurately and quickly

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Across the internets I’ve found two prominent methods for using an iPad as a graphics tablet in cases without native application support (like Photoshop CS5/6). Both rely on third party apps to stretch your desktop display onto your iPad, but by slightly different approaches. Neither solution will provide the pressure or pen-angle detection that Wacom tablets provide, and their input resolutions are comparatively poor. However, if you’re just hoping to make some simple hand-drawn paths in Illustrator or the like, these are fine solutions.

Considering the factors below, I find LogMeIn to be a much better tablet input solution than Air Display. Both are imperfect, but LogMeIn came out on top.

LogMeIn Free Edition

LogMeIn a remote desktop control service that let’s you control a remote computer from any web browser or an iOS app. Both the service and the related software are free. The premium versions provide more advanced functionality like web-printing but for our and most other purposes the free version is perfect. Although you can use the program from a coffee shop to access your desktop, you can also use it while sitting right in front of your desktop as a tablet input device. You retain full control of

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It may not be edgy, but I, like many others on the bleeding edge, am waiting with bated breath for the release of Thalmic Labs’ Myo Armband expected to ship later this year. Although I generally avoid buying products 6-9 months before they’ll be in my hot little hands, the prospect of remotely controlling a tablet, stereo, or household device with a subtle gesture was too much to pass up on. One pre-order later, I’m left biding my time before a surge of tech-powered midi-chlorians enter my veins.

Unlike Field of Dreams, often times awesome tech is built and no one comes – so the question I’m left pondering is who will use it, who will develop for it, and will it just be me and my 15,000 other geeks $150-poorer while waving our hands in the air with nary an app to hear us. Having some Objective C and other development experience under my belt I’m looking forward to building some of my own software to make use of the device, but I’m still confronted with the what and why of the device. What I want most is to solve real problems, rather than tear down strawmen with my $150

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I knew all that time spent playing Call of Duty on Wii would pay off. The newest issue of Make Magazine (#33) offers an interesting and relatively easy project that turns a Wii Nunchuk into a gesture-based computer input device. Now I can be just as much of a deadeye in Excel – C2, bam; F7, bam – but at least in Excel everyone’s a winner. The guide was written by Gabriel Bianconi, an impressive Brazilian teenager, who appears to have been working on the project for a few years now.

The project pairs a Nunchuk with an Arduino to provide serial input interpreted by a custom Arduino library and a straight-forward Python script available on Make’s website that drives mouse events via win32api.  Best of all, the project is non-destructive – Wii Nunchuks accept regular jumper wires so you can try the project at no cost (assuming you already have an Arduino and Nunchuck), and later disconnect the controller for gaming use at any time.

The web link to Make’s online tutorial appears to broken at this time, but you can refer to Gabriel’s original tutorial if you can’t find a hard copy.  For further reading, check out this guide detailing the

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