THINGM NEWSLETTER, SEPTEMBER 28, 2010

CONTENTS
- Autumn Lantern: A perfect BlinkM starter project!
- Longer cable runs and fault tolerance with SoftIC2Master
- ThingM data sheets are readable online
- Tod and Crash Space on Hacker Space Challenge
- Mike’s recent presentations
- Mike’s book is shipping
- Upcoming Appearances
- Unsubscribe

AUTUMN LANTERNS
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We asked Carlyn Maw, an engineer, designer and co-founder of Crash Space (the LA hacker space) to put together an entry-level project that used BlinkMs. She did an amazing job, creating a beautifully simple decorative lantern that used a programmed BlinkM as its heart. Her thorough, straightforward documentation is a perfect starting point for anyone who wants to dip their toe into physical computing, no matter the experience level.
You can find it on our blog:
blog.thingm.com/2010/09/autumn-lantern-with-blinkm/

LONGER CABLE RUNS WITH SOFTI2CMASTER
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For the VIMBY/Scion Hackerspace Challenge (see below), Tod created an array of BlinkM MaxM-powered accent lights. As many people have discovered, when I2C cable runs are longer than a few feet, the Arduino Wire library starts having trouble. That library, which comes standard with Arduino, assumes a perfect bus. If there is any noise or other bus problems, the Wire library will lock up, requiring the Arduino to be rebooted. This has been a long-term persistent problem, so Tod decided to address the problem with a more tolerant Arduino I2C solution.
His SoftI2CMaster library solves a number of problems that people have been asking about for a while:
- It’s more fault tolerant
- It allows any pins on the Arduino to be used for I2C communication
- It makes it easy to slow the I2C bus down. If data rate is not critical, slower bus rates will allow for longer cable runs.

You can find his writeup and the library code on his blog:
tinyurl.com/2f4q873

DATA SHEETS NOW READABLE ONLINE
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We have traditionally published all of our data sheets as PDFs, because it’s often easier to flip through some papers mid-project than look things up online. However, paper isn’t easily searched and it’s a pain to download a PDF and launch a reader just to look up a small piece of information. Maintaining simultaneous HTML and PDF versions of the same data is surprisingly hard, considering how common those formats are.
Thanks to Google Viewer, all of these tradeoffs are no longer a problem.
Here is the LinkM datasheet on Google Viewer: tinyurl.com/2vgffb7
And here is the datasheet for BlinkM, MaxM and MinM: tinyurl.com/2vfopxx

TOD AND CRASH SPACE ON THE HACKER SPACE CHALLENGE
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Scion, the automobile manufacturer, is sponsoring a Hacker Space Challenge tv show. It’s hosted by famous hardware hacker Mitch Altman. Five hacker spaces across the US are participating in a physical computing contest. One of these is Crash Space, the LA hacker space that Tod co-founded.

See the first episode of the show here:
tinyurl.com/37wbfbf

Check out Crash Space’s progress (and their other thoughts) here:
blog.crashspace.org

MIKE’S RECENT PRESENTATIONS
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Mike has been on the speaking circuit again. He’s given three presentations in the last month, and uploaded his slides and transcripts on his website.

At Device Design Day Mike spoke about information as a design material:
orangecone.com/archives/2010/08/information_is_.html
devicedesignday.com

At Appnation he talked about ubiquitous computing, the Web and services:
orangecone.com/archives/2010/09/ubicomp_the_web.html
www.appnationconference.com

At the Open Hardware Summit he talked about three situations where making hardware designs open affected business decisions at ThingM:
orangecone.com/archives/2010/09/three_crappy_op.html
www.openhardwaresummit.org

MIKE’S BOOK IS SHIPPING
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“Smart things: ubiquitous computing user experience design” (Morgan Kaufmann, ISBN 0123748992) is Mike’s new book, and as of September 9, it’s on sale. It’s both a practical and theoretical book for designers, students, product managers, and anyone else who is creating products, environments or services that involve digital technology that goes beyond the screen.

People as diverse as the VP of Design at Whirlpool and Google’s head of User Experience have praised it. Peter Morville (author of “Findability” and O’Reilly’s famous “Information Architecture for the Web” books) says “It is the most useful book about the future of design I’ve read.”

Here’s PriceScan’s list of places that carry it (give it 10 seconds while they load the prices):
tinyurl.com/2bt7jbz

UPCOMING APPEARANCES
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Mike will be speaking at GigaOM’s Mobilize 2010 on September 30:
events.gigaom.com/mobilize/10/

Posted in September 2010