Haxoring the Chumby: My first thoughts
Posted on Apr 11, 2007
So I got a Chumby awhile ago. It is really neat. I fell in love with it immediately. I took it apart, put it back together. I turned on SSH, poked around, played with the insides. I replaced images, replaced flash pieces and then I got real busy. So this weekend I finally got to sit down and get down to the nitty gritty.
Well not so nitty gritty - but a bit nitty gritty. maybe about 30% nitty and about 10% gritty. ok ok. so I just plugged it in and watched the flickr widget for about ten minutes. heh. just kidding.
So really I wanted to write a bit of what I thought about the Chumby. Its really neat. I really like how it works. The architecture of the appliance is nice. It reminds me of my first love, the 3COM Audrey, in that regard. A very simple minimal interface. It will be nice when you get a really solid widget that fits your lifestyle. I think the best part is the nice set of sensors that accompany the chumby. You have a couple touch sensors, wifi, a light sensor, a speaker and of course the touch screen. A good widget would be something that would use all these sensors to determine environmental information and then spit out relevant info. Like using wifi to check your Google calendar, the light sensor to tell when you arrive home (by when you turn on the lights - totally flaky) and then using the speakers to alert you of stuff and the touch screen and sensors to scroll through stats and what not. I think it would be really neat. I think I am going to start hacking out the python scripts soon to do this.
The thing about the chumby that I don't like is the default application. It is targeted toward a widget world. Honestly, all the chumby is in its current state is a widget screen saver. A widget slide show really. It just scrolls through widgets and is pretty boring. What I want to do with it is have options on what it displays. I don't just want to be able to set a widget to display indefinitely, I want to be able to say - boot only this widget. Because I want it to be application based. I want my widget to be bigger than just showing the time, or displaying images. I want it to do both of those things depending on the environmental setting. The chumby now is a glorified screensaver, in weird potato bag. However - with the proper coding and trickery I think the chumby will really shine and become something awesome.
The best part about the chumby, by far, is how open the architecture is. I love it. It is the hardware hackers dream. I can go to the wiki and view the schematics, software info and even look at others experiences in the forum. Its really something. And my gripes about the application being a screen saver can easily be overcome by my own work. I can fix what I don't like. And I can do it with the blessings of chumby corp.
This is the future.
So the next thing I need to do is figure out how to be the chumby to display what I want it to display. I don't think it will be hard. I already got it working with al sorts of interesting stuff - having it boot to a different flash app is not hard. What is hard is integrating that flash app with good python scripts and having it hit a solid web app to do the heavy lifting. Hopefully all that will be solid soon. when I have some free time.
heh. did you like my joke about the free time ;) I sure didn't :(