10 Years Blogging

10 Years Blogging

According to my archives, today marks my 10th year of blogging!

I joined Tumblr in September 13th 2008 wanting to write some casual posts and as a good excuse to do some blog theme building.

My first post, ‘Laser Staring Cats’. Later, I managed to tip off TechCrunch about a Google Chrome promotion.

print-theme-hero
Print Theme for Tumblr

Since then I built and released my own Tumblr Theme, celebrated my 1000th post in 2011 and made the move to WordPress.com in 2016.

I  (somewhat) regularly post about #web, #tech, and #eco news. You can also find out more about memy web work and personal posts. Plenty to read here – a decades worth! Heres to 10 more!

Thanks for reading, Paul

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$600 Chromebooks are a dangerous development for Microsoft | Ars Technica

Lenovo reps told us that its new Chromebook was developed because the company was seeing demand for Chromebooks from users with a bit more disposable income. For example, new college students that had used Chrome OS at high school and families who wanted the robustness Chrome OS offers are looking for machines that are more attractive, use better materials, and are a bit faster and more powerful. The $600 machines fit that role.

And that’s why Microsoft should be concerned. This demand shows a few things. Perhaps most significantly of all, it shows that Chrome OS’s mix of Web applications, possibly extended with Android applications, is good enough for a growing slice of home and education users. Windows still has the application advantage overall, but the relevance of these applications is diminishing as Web applications continue to improve. A browser and the Web are sufficient to handle the needs of a great many users. No Windows necessary, not even to run the browser.

via $600 Chromebooks are a dangerous development for Microsoft | Ars Technica

Agreed. It should worry Microsoft (and Apple too). Google targeting the education market with Chromebooks, means the impression that you need Windows to get work done is never established. The web can handle most tasks.

The National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro is a treasure trove which contains more than 20 million scientific and historical items.
A massive fire spread through the 200-year-old institution on Sunday engulfing almost all of its rooms and gutting large parts of the building.
Most of its priceless collection is thought to have been burnt.

via Brazil National Museum fire: Key treasures at risk – BBC News

A huge (if not total) loss.

There is a movement to create a virtual museum with appeals for any previous visitors who have photos of exhibits to submit them and effectively digitise the museum. If you have any photos, consider sending them.

Microsoft Device Attempt To Bolster App Line-up?

Microsoft is exploring potential new avenues to remedy its issues with a lack of applications in the context of its rumored dual-screen mobile Surface device – which will allegedly utilize a custom version of Windows 10, referred to as Andromeda – beyond initial app expansion plans driven by Progressive Web Apps.

via Microsoft is exploring new ways to seriously bolster its app line-up ahead of Surface Phone | TechRadar

I had this in my mind when I heard about this rumoured device. They need developers to think about and build for smaller device form factors before they could think about launching a Surface Phone. Currently they have a hole in the form factors Windows runs on.

They seem happy being apps on other platforms right now but,  the phone is the gateway for future Microsoft customers. Its the most used device for many users. What is installed by default can lock customers in to non-Microsoft services. So I think they have to try and crack this market again with their own phone.

Hue Lights Workflow

Hue Lights Workflow

I’ve enjoyed using the Workflow app (acquired by Apple) to create little workflows to help my dad complete tasks. Remind him at work, remember supermarket coupons, show interesting stuff, like indicate the number of people in space right now etc.

Recently he got Phillips Hue lights. I decided this was a perfect opportunity to cross Workflow with the Hue API. Yes I know, the Hue app, but where is the fun in that?

Hue API Workflow

First step was building a workflow to hook up with the Hue Bridge and pass the API commands. I followed the steps on the ‘getting started’ guide on the Phillips developer site.

For easy future editing, I broke out the ‘Bridge IP address’ and the ‘User ID’ as variables.

After a little test, I had a workflow that sent a colour value to a Hue light.

API Workflow Reuse

To avoid long complex workflows I decided to keep the Hue API workflow very simple. It just passes the colour hue value to the lights. Thats it.

Any future flows I make, their last step will be RunWorkflow Hue API, to run that flow and pass it a colour input.

This avoids duplication. Any future change to the Hue API, will only have to be made in one place.

Carbon Intensity Workflow

The Carbon Intensity Forecast (carbonintensity.org.uk) is an API provided by the National Grid.  It returns the amount of CO2 used by the UK power grid.

I already had a flow that returned the current Carbon Intensity from their API. I modified this to extract the returned value – low, moderate or high.

Three variables with green, amber and red colour hue values were created. An odd colour hue format is the format Hue requires, unsurprisingly.

Selecting one of three values wasn’t straightforward, as Workflow only has if/else statements, not if/if else/else. I had to get a little creative and nest statements:

  • If does not contain ‘moderate’?
    • If contains ‘low’?
      • Get low variable colour value (green)
    • Else ‘high’
      • Get high colour value (red)
  • Else moderate
    • Get moderate value (amber)

The corresponding variable fetched, gets passed when I run the Hue API workflow and the LED strip displays the Carbon Intensity level as green, amber or red. Success.

Workflow

Its a simple use case and may seem a simple project but it still threw up some interesting little problems to solve etc. I enjoy using and looking for excuses to use Workflow app.

I am interested in the ability of iOS 12 to use Siri Automation with custom phrases to accomplish the same functionality.

I am also hoping for the day when the Carbon Intensity is low by default.