[Graham Auld] got his hands on an energy monitor for free from his utility company. The device seen in the insert provides a nice LCD display but he wanted a way to graph the data over time. There was an included cable and a method of using Google PowerMeter but only for Windows computers. He did a little poking around and came up with a Perl script to interface the meter with Google’s tools.
The hardware module is known as the Current Cost CC128 and the developer was nice enough to publish an XML output description which [Graham] used in his script. From there it’s just a matter of registering and authenticating through the Google PowerMeter API. The script is not fully polished yet but it serves as a road map for your own implementation.
Google’s tentacles continue to wrap around every portion of our lives with the addition of an API for their PowerMeter software. The PowerMeter tool works with smart electricity meters to monitor and display power usage in the home. This will allow manufacturers (and hackers alike) to design new devices with the Google interface in mind.
We’ve got an old-fashioned power meter with a spinning dial and no blinking LED. This means we can’t monitor that blink to add our own PowerMeter interface. But if you do have an easy way to grab data from your meter you can design a home system that takes full advantage of Google’s tools.
tircd is an ircd proxy for talking to the Twitter API. It should work with any standard IRC client. After running the Perl script, you authenticate to the IRC server using your Twitter username as your /nick. Join the room #twitter and the /topic will be set to your last update. Any message you type will update Twitter and the room’s topic. All of the people you are following show up in the room as users and post messages as they tweet. If you private message one of them, it will become a direct message on Twitter. Other commands work too: /whois to get a person’s bio, /invite to start following, and /kick to unfollow. The project is brand new and will be added new features in the future like Search API support. Follow @tircd for updates.
Maybe you’ve tinkered a bit with the Google Maps API. Most of the software produced with it is not all that useful or entertaining, but a few gem have shone through. Still, wouldn’t it be better if applications produced with it could be easily ported to other online mapping services like Mapquest or Yahoo! Maps?
Some of Mapstraction’s current features are what you would expect: point, line, and polygon support, image overlay, GeoRSS and KML feed importing, and several others. We’re really looking forward to future versions with OpenStreetMap support. Currently Mapstraction works with only commercial mapping services, but OpenStreetMap combined with Mapstraction directly hits the sweet spot; a customizable, open source map.
Here’s a quick hack to satiate our appetite for location aware applications. The Dash Express is a GPS unit with cellular and WiFi radios so it can do two way communication. Out of the box it can download maps and traffic on the fly. A little while ago they opened up the API so the device could receive info from other web services and owners could give feedback, like reporting speed traps live. The handy hack embedded above publishes your location to Twitter; we would have preferred it hit an actual location service like Brightkite. This just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to possible applications. We wonder what the adoption rate of the Dash Express will be, since the iPhone also has a touchscreen, GPS, and of course a cellular connection.
We’ve got a Dash Express in the lab and it’s based on the OpenMoko design. What sort of tomfoolery would you like to see us do with it? What do you think the killer app for the Dash Express will be?
Twitter users often have trouble explaining just exactly what the service is for. The site specifically asks “What are you doing right now?” A simple interface and multiple ways to update means people have started hooking it to different real world objects… objects that aren’t reporting what they had for lunch. After the break, we’ll cover a couple devices that have interfaced Twitter to the real world and how you can update from your command line.