Adventures with Chumby
Listing 1. Sample profile.xml File
<profile> <widget_instances> <widget_instance id="1"> <widget> <name>Breads</name> <description>Various bread recipes.</description> <version>1.0</version> <mode time="180" mode="timeout"/> <access sendable="false" deleteable="false" access="private" virtualable="false"/> <user username="myusername"/> <thumbnail href="file:////mnt/usb/breads.jpg" contenttype="image/jpeg"/> <movie href="file:////mnt/usb/breads.swf" contenttype="application/x-shockwave-flash"/> </widget> </widget_instance> <widget_instance id="2"> <widget> <name>Cookies</name> <description>Various cookie recipes.</description> <version>1.0</version> <mode time="180" mode="timeout"/> <access sendable="false" deleteable="false" access="private" virtualable="false"/> <user username="myusername"/> <thumbnail href="file:////mnt/usb/cookies.jpg" contenttype="image/jpeg"/> <movie href="file:////mnt/usb/cookies.swf" contenttype="application/x-shockwave-flash"/> </widget> </widget_instance> </widget_instances> </profile>
I haven't been able to get all the things I wanted to get onto the Chumby onto it. However, after actually using the Chumby for a couple weeks, I'm not so sure they were good ideas to begin with.
The main reason for this is that my intended recipe search, shopping list creator and meal planning widgets all would require extensive text input, and that is where the Chumby is not ideal. The Chumby is mainly an output device, suited to displaying various bits of information. Input is best limited to simple interactions, such as tapping on buttons and sliding your finger around the screen.
The Chumby can handle text input, and some widgets require it. The control panel, for example, has a simple on-screen keyboard where you enter in your wireless settings during the Chumby's initial setup. Also, in the music interface, there is another on-screen keyboard where you enter in the location of the music stream to which you want to connect. But, supporting text input where required and doing a lot of text input are two very different things.
After entering text in just those two above-mentioned places, I could see it was not something I would want to do on a regular basis with the Chumby, because although it works, it's slow. The problem is that when using the Chumby, the natural thing to do is to use your fingers, and most widgets—if they have buttons at all—keep them large and few in number. For effective text input, you need a lot of small buttons, and on the Chumby's screen, lots of small buttons practically requires you to use a stylus—not something I want to have to use with the Chumby.
I toyed around with using an RSS widget to display recipe data from sites that offer it, such as Taste-of-Home's Recipe of the Day, but as you can see from the screenshot, my testing did not go so well.
The Chumby is an amazing device. It can be adapted to fit in with almost any room in the house and can display any sort of data that can be displayed within the confines of the Flash file format.
New widgets come out all the time, and the basic software is under constant improvement. Check out chumby.com and browse the available widgets; there's something for everyone.
The Chumby is also very hackable. The underlying operating system is embedded Linux, and all the source code (apart from a few licensed bits that they aren't allowed to disclose) and complete hardware schematics are available on the Chumby Web site. The developers really seem to get the idea of making a device hackable, with their only warning being a gentle reminder that if you take your Chumby apart, it will void the warranty. Beyond that, they actively encourage you to turn the Chumby into anything you please and are eager to help you in any way they can through their Web site, forums and wiki.
In these days of locked-down, don't-you-dare-look-behind-the-curtain-or-we'll-sue gadgets, having one that you can mod to your heart's content, with full schematics and source code—and the original developers—to guide you, is a nice feeling.
|Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform||Jan 23, 2015|
|Designing with Linux||Jan 22, 2015|
|Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch||Jan 21, 2015|
|Ideal Backups with zbackup||Jan 19, 2015|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Animation Made Easy||Jan 14, 2015|
|Internet of Things Blows Away CES, and it May Be Hunting for YOU Next||Jan 12, 2015|
- Designing with Linux
- Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform
- Internet of Things Blows Away CES, and it May Be Hunting for YOU Next
- Ideal Backups with zbackup
- Slow System? iotop Is Your Friend
- New Products
- 2014 Book Roundup
- Hats Off to Mozilla
- January 2015 Issue of Linux Journal: Security
Editorial Advisory Panel
Thank you to our 2014 Editorial Advisors!
- Jeff Parent
- Brad Baillio
- Nick Baronian
- Steve Case
- Chadalavada Kalyana
- Caleb Cullen
- Keir Davis
- Michael Eager
- Nick Faltys
- Dennis Frey
- Philip Jacob
- Jay Kruizenga
- Steve Marquez
- Dave McAllister
- Craig Oda
- Mike Roberts
- Chris Stark
- Patrick Swartz
- David Lynch
- Alicia Gibb
- Thomas Quinlan
- Carson McDonald
- Kristen Shoemaker
- Charnell Luchich
- James Walker
- Victor Gregorio
- Hari Boukis
- Brian Conner
- David Lane