Jonathan's Blog

Jonathan's Blog

Mindful Leadership and Technology


Internet of Things IoT Mindfulness

My Top 3 Favorite Internet of Things Devices from 2017

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Here are my 3 favorite internet of things devices from 2017:

  1. Amazon IoT Button: I got a couple of these in the summer and used one for a family communication project and one for a client presentation, both were very successful. An awesome tool to build quick, button-based interactions to do almost anything.
  2. Smith LowDown Focus: These are sunglasses that use EEG sensors to track your brainwaves. They allow you to understand how your brain is functioning, improve focus, and enhance your mindfulness or focused-attention program. It's like a fitbit for your brain.
  3. FitBit:There are a lot of activity trackers out there, but I still love my FitBit. It does just the right amount of things, and theapp is great and helpful. It's helped me lose weight, keep it off, and stick to a regular exercise regimen. That's what an atctivity tracker is for, right?

Cloud Cloud Computing Software System Design IoT

How the Cloud Works

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Here is a picture of how the cloud works:

Rockets holding up a cloud

Those are rockets and they hold up the cloud. Those black hash-mark areas are patches in the cloud where things didn't work right. Because of these flaws someone needed to sew the cloud together. The patches are comprised of 81% code and 22% duct tape.

Why don't the cables burn up in the rocket exhaust? That is because of trained monkeys wearing asbestos suits. When the cable breaks or one monkey burns up, a monkey is added to the chain.

This concludes our brief tutorial on the cloud.

Here's the deal. This was inspired by a discussion with a client about a large cloud service provider. The service provider informed the client that the hardware that their instances ran on was bad and needed to be replaced. This is not the first time this has happened.

To me this revelation of 'hardware problem' feels tone deaf because everything about the cloud (which I mostly love) is predicated on us (the customers) not caring about hardware anymore: pricing structures, product offerings, marketing materials, billing. It seems wrong to then blame the hardware when it is convenient. My client didn't ask for you to tie their instance to some faulty hardware. My client had previously been entirely oblivious (and rightly so) to what hardware the instance ran on. Why don't they just quietly move the VM and fix the problem themselves?

Even if it was totally manual, it would give me a lot more faith in the magic and that they have their stuff together.

Truly, I love the cloud. Even if it is imperfect, it powers a lot of the modern world (including this site). I love it mostly because it is a technical marvel and it empowers business, but this customer service flaw makes me doubt the technical greatness. Why do that?

I really believe that cloud, IoT, and mobile technology are job creators in the long run, because there will just be so much of it.

Just, please, don't blame the hardware when the rest of the time you don't want me to think about it.


IoT Internet of Things Blink(1) Node.js Big Thinking

Blink(1) The Doctor is In Light

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I just got my Blink(1) and because my office configuration makes it hard for people to see if I am there or not, I wanted to rig something up so that when I sign in to my computer it turns the light green.

Here is how I accomplished this:

I am running the current version of Blink1Control2, and I activated the server.

Now all I need is two small programs that can be called when the Lock and Unlock events fire.

Enter Node.js and node-libcurl - with them I was able to write two simple programs two flip the light to red and green. Here is the crux of the green light program:

var Curl = require( 'node-libcurl' ).Curl;

var curl = new Curl();

curl.setOpt( 'URL', 'localhost:9997/blink1/fadeToRGB?rgb=%2300FF00' );


Think that's the real port? Guess again!

Lastly you just need a way to call these when you lock or unlock your computer (Windows 10 in my case).

This StackExchange/SuperUser article was very helpful in figuring that out.

After some quick debugging and testing, I locked and unlocked and the light turns red/green. Boom!

All told, it took about an hour, but most of that was figuring out how to plug the pieces together. I was not envisioning using Node to solve this at first, so that took me a minute.

Blink(1) Green Light Image

That was some good fun. When I get it set up in my office I will post a picture of that also.

I don't love running the control program, but I think if I want to go deeper it will take more time and I think what I have will work.