Hacking Developers With A Cat Feeder: Who’s A Good Kitty?

Most of us probably know the drudgery of getting through some coding work, with just tedious hours of monkeying around stretching ahead of us. What if this tedium were to be interrupted by an occasional reward when we did something productive, like pushing a commit or other measure of progress? That’s roughly the concept that [John Partee] started off with when his gaze fell upon one of those automated cat feeders. Cat or developer, who doesn’t like to hear the tinkle of a tasty treat falling into their bowl?

The target pet feeder is a PetKit Fresh Element Solo, which allows for objects with a size of 12×12 mm (any orientation) to be fed through the feeding mechanism. Fortunately [John]’s favorite dark chocolate-covered almonds treat fit these requirements, and he set to work to figure out the REST API call needed to trigger a manual feeding event on the cat feeder device, employing the existing PyPetKit Python library that does the heavy lifting of connecting to and communicating with PetKit’s servers, as the feeder is of course an IoT device.

This means that the event flow still depends on PetKit’s “cloud”, which may inspire some enterprising hackers to make a stand-alone version, the development of which may be assisted by [John]’s solution through a regular treat. Before taking such a solution into use, be sure to discuss it with any pets you have, as they may not quite comprehend why there’s no reward for them whenever the *tinkle* sound occurs.

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Fake motivational plant squirts you in the wherever.

Focus Flower Motivates By Squirting Water In Your Face

When you need to get some tasks done and are short on attention, it’s hard to beat a timer. But whenever you do, it feels pretty darn good. The problem is that when you don’t finish in time, what’s the punishment? There are no consequences baked into the Pomodoro Technique other than good ol’ guilt. Wouldn’t it be better if there was a bit of negative reinforcement involved?

[Hardware Unknown]’s Focus Flower never needs watering, at least not in the normal horticultural way. You will have to fill a reservoir, because this flower provides liquid motivation. No, it’s not a spirit spritzer, though we suppose you could turn it into an avant-garde vodka fountain when the novelty of water wears off, making this Pomodoro with a twist into more of a Bloody Mary. It’s a natural next step, especially if you were already into the hot sauce idea.

Operation Focus Flower is simple: just push the easy button to start the task timer, and the Arduino Nano attached will begin a countdown. Push the button again when you’re done, but if you don’t do it before the countdown is over, the plant squirts you with a steady, skin-blasting stream of water from a solenoid-driven flosser tip. An air compressor nearby is required, which blows the minimalist vibe a bit, but you could always stow that part underneath your desk.

The Focus Flower sure looks to be effective at the whole negative reinforcement thing. And it doesn’t leave you totally clueless — there’s a ring of LEDs around the base that show how much time is left. Whenever you do successfully hit the button in time, it will say ‘that was easy’ in one of 12 languages, hence all the flags. Do not miss the totally free infomercial below.

Maybe you want a more friendly way to manage your time — we understand. Meet the Pomodachi productivity pet.

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Former Smoker Now Pats Pockets For Motivation

It’s hard to quit smoking. Trust us, we know. Half the battle is wanting to quit in the first place. Once you do, the other half is mostly fighting with yourself until enough time goes by that food tastes better, and life looks longer.

[Danko] recently quit smoking. And because idle hands are Big Tobacco’s tools, he kept himself busy through those torturous first few days by building a piece of pocket-sized motivation. This little board’s main purpose is to help him root for himself by showing the time elapsed since his final cigarette, the number of cigarettes he has avoided, and all the money he’s saved since then. At the press of a button, he can reflect on the exact moment he took the plunge into Cold Turkey Lake.

Sure, there are apps that’ll do the same thing. But anyone who’s ever tried to quit smoking knows how important it is to stay busy every minute while your brain deals with the lack of toxins. It runs on an ATtiny85 and a DS1307 RTC chip. Looks to us like [Danko] adapted a board from a different project, and we love it when that’s a possibility.

Not a smoker? Good for you. The next hardest thing humans motivate themselves to do is exercise. That’s a lifelong battle that can definitely be improved with some gamification.

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