Fulcrum – Airplane Folding Time Lapse

B-2 Spirit – Airplane Folding Time Lapse

Boomerang – Airplane Folding Time Lapse

Kite Plane – Airplane Folding Time Lapse

Glider – Airplane Folding Time Lapse

Parallax – Airplane Folding Time Lapse

iPhone 5 is a Disappointment

Is Apple losing it’s touch? Has the iPhone lost it’s luster? Although I haven’t owned an iPhone since the first one, I’m always excited to see how the iPhone may challenge the competition to innovate but they’ve just been slowing down. This time, there is nothing new. NOTHING. Please correct me if I missed something. Maybe if they spent a little less time in the courtroom and a little more time actually working on their product we wouldn’t have something that looks almost identical to the previous model that barely catches up to devices that have been out for months.

Check out Mashable’s comparison of the iPhone 5 vs other high end smart phones.

And Apple says this is the “most beautiful product [they] have ever made.” Who knew that the tiny bit of depth they shaved off and the height they added would make such a big difference? Honestly, I think it’s ugly. From the front it now has the proportions of a cheap TV remote or a gaunt Frankenstein’s Monster’s head. The iPhone is the legal pad size option in a world of more functionally sized devices. I guess that change was important so that they could license and sell a whole new line of cases to protect it’s fragile body. Go ahead and get a design patent on that one. Nobody’s going to be copying it any time soon.

Anyone like the new plug? Excited to get all new accessories to go with it? The USB 3.0 could be pretty awesome depending on how it’s implemented. Really could have gone with a more standard plug if they were going to change it like maybe a micro USB like the rest of the world. Could’ve served all the functions just as well and saved them on production and engineering/development but then again, it’s becoming pretty apparent that Apple didn’t have the user in mind when scheming up this latest embarrassment.

The good news for me is that Android device manufacturers are perfectly capable of competing against each other to drive innovation. Maybe Windows Mobile will have a truly decent entry soon as well and that would be great. Good news for current iPhone users, you have better options. You don’t need to tolerate this. Don’t buy brand. They’ve proven they don’t care about you and you don’t owe them anything. Shop around and consider other options.

My Current 3D Printer Setup

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Car Unlock Project Update

I took a break from my 9 to 5 (see SquidTooth.com) this weekend and made some progress on my yet to be officially named car door unlocking with my phone project.  I got my phone talking to my Arduino via Bluetooth and my Arduino doin’ stuff based on that input.

I became aware of some limitations to the systems I was using that forced me to re-engineer my approach a couple times.  The BlueSMiRF Gold board I was using for the Arduino side of the Bluetooth connection doesn’t tell the Arduino when it’s connected.  Nifty that it just functions like a serial connection with no config required, though.  Well, thought I, I could just connect and send something over serial Bluetooth connection from my Android phone (HTC G2).  I went about trying to have a broadcast receiver run when the device’s screen was turned on so all I’d have to do is tap the power button on my phone.  That way I wouldn’t even have to remove it from my pocket.  The bad news is that Android doesn’t handle that broadcast the way one might think it would.  The Android Team decided that it would take measures to limit what apps would run at specific performance critical points of device usage, such as turning the device’s screen on.  There is a way to get code to run when the screen is turned on but it basically involves always running and telling Android that is what you’re waiting for.  Not ideal.  So, I adjusted my design again.

The idea now is to tap an icon on my screen that connects to the Bluetooth in my car which unlocks the door.  The Arduino will then send back confirmation that it was successful and the app will close and display success.  I got most of that working.  I seem to be having some issues with reading the message the Arduino sends back from withing the Android code and I’ve yet to actually do any door unlocking.  I still need to order those actuators and install this all in my ride.  One other thing I’m not certain about is connecting the Arduino Pro Mini I have directly to the car’s power.  A fully charged car battery can put out more than 12v which is the Pro Mini’s stated max voltage and then there’s also the issue of the voltage that the alternator supplies.  I may have to get a voltage regulator to go before my Arduino’s built in voltage regulator.  I’ll post stuff as I figure it out and code will be up as soon as I have a few more things finalized with it.

I hate keys

I don’t like having more in my pockets than I absolutely have to and I don’t like having to extract keys and sort through them each time I access my car.  I want my car to automatically unlock when I approach it.

This is a project I have been considering for a while but never started because my car had manual locks and I wasn’t going to install automatic locks on it when I didn’t intend to keep it for long.  It also only had two doors so unlocking everything wasn’t much of a hassle.  I now own a Jeep Cherokee which has four doors and unlocking all of them is a hassle.  In this case it is worth is for me to convert to automatic locks.  (Currently has manual locks.)

In order to have my car unlock as I want it to I will need:

  • Aftermarket automatic door locks installed
  • Arduino w/bluetooth aware of when paired phone is in range
  • Phone or other bluetooth host device
I already have an Arduino Pro Mini 5v, bluetooth serial adapter and phone with bluetooth.  I’ll just need to order that lock kit and slap it all together.  I’ll post updates on my progress.