Monday, May 23, 2011

Facebook Page and Interface

Out of boredom, this weekend I played around with the Facebook C# SDK. I was mainly seeing what I could access through the API and created an app that periodically scanned the news feed. Then I got sidetracked building a scripting engine into the app and allowing it to post to my feed. Eventually, I got the idea to build a Facebook page for Doghouse Labs and have my new app automatically post stuff to the feed. I've seen this done with Twitter before, but never on Facebook. This app also has xPL built in, so its posts can be event driven, based on what xPL messages it sees flying by. Since it has its own scripting engine, I can keep its code out of the normal HA code, so it doesn't pollute it or interfere with more critical operations. I'm in the process of figuring out what info to post and what not to post: "alarm armed, nobody home" ;) so what shows up on the feed will evolve over time. Check it out and don't forget to "like" it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

CR48 Bits

Just some random thoughts about my CR48

- Google chat is slow. It pops out a talk gadget every time you start a conversation. It is cool when someone IMs you and you're not in your gmail window, the talk gadget window pops up, but when starting a conversation it takes 4-5 seconds for the window to appear. Defeats the purpose of "instant" messaging.
- 1280x800 is good enough resolution for me.
- Battery life is good. I've gotten almost 8 hours a charge.
- The keyboard has a nice feel - Macbook like I'm told. I don't know about that as I haven't used an Apple computer since the Apple ][+ I had as a kid, although I'm open to receiving a free one from Apple to test for them. ;)
- It has an irritating automatic screen brightness feature, that adjusts the backlight based on the current lighting conditions. On an overcast day where the sun comes & goes, the backlight brightness keeps changing - a bit annoying.
- The screen doesn't fold back far enough.
- 2 years of free 100MB/month Verizon 3G data. I have more reasons to take this everywhere.
- The remote desktop app has no way of switching back to the CrOS stuff so I keep a Google chat window minimized all the time. When I hover over the chat window then I can Alt-Tab back to CrOS.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Google Chrome Revitalizes a Netbook

Our old Acer Aspire One netbook has been sitting around idle the last few months after our kids got really into Club Penguin. Even though I loaded it up with Ubuntu Notebook Remix some months ago, the bundled Firefox browser and Flash player really sucked. The Club Penguin site wouldn't even load. Today, I installed the latest version of Chrome on the netbook and was surprised how all of a sudden everything worked! My daughter was so happy as was my wife, who's laptop won't be hijacked anymore for penguin adventures. Chrome still gets laggy, which is more a limitation of the slow Atom N270 processor, the 512MB of RAM and the pokey 8GB SSD, but it really blows Firefox away.

On a side note, my CR48, aka ChromeOS Notebook, arrived a couple weeks ago courtesy of Google. I'm probably one of the last recipients in their Chrome pilot program. I've been playing with it on & off since then. The first thing I did after charging it was switch it over to developer's mode and load it up with a precompiled binary of a remote desktop client. I needed this so I could access my servers, which allowed me to test the CR48 exclusively for a few days without using my regular notebook. It's pretty impressive so far, but still a work in progress. At times, it bogs down due to the number of open tabs and possibly what extensions are running. Hopefully, I'll have time to write more detailed thoughts on it after I play with it more.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

OBI 110 and VOIP Fun

I've always been a late adopter with VOIP technologies and never used it until we switched over to MagicJack a couple years ago. I never even played with Asterisk until last November, when I added it to a hacked Dockstar. The main reason was to set up an in house intercom system using a Linksys PAP2T and Blink softphones on my wife and my laptops. When the OBI 110 came out, I immediately thought it was a neat new toy and so did others. I finally got one a couple weeks ago.

I initially configured it to use the MagicJack for all outgoing calls and incoming calls would come via MagicJack, Sipgate and Google Voice (via forwarding to the Sipgate number). This weekend, I configured the OBI to be a gateway for the Asterisk server for outgoing calls. Now, the kids' phones on the PAP2T, can not only call in-house numbers, but they can make outgoing calls through the MagicJack. Our Blink softphones can do the same. I'm thinking about having incoming calls also forwarded to the Blink clients as well.

I had configured Asterisk to allow outgoing calls from Blink via the Google Voice hacks, but it was always kludgy and sometimes didn't work. This seems to work nicely so far.