The Creator Ci40 Kit
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to Imagination Technologies. They didn’t contact me. They didn’t asked me to do this piece. I really like this kit and want to have it too
Link to kickstarter: Creator Ci40 Kit
Internet of Things is cool
The Internet of Things is many things and basically every group of people has a different definition of it but there is one point they all agree which is that the Internet of Things is coming and it is cool.
Analysis predicts that more IoT enabled devices will ship in the next years than the combined smartphones and PCs markets but I am not here to tell you that betting in IoT is a sound business decision, I am here to tell you that hacking IoT stuff is really cool.
Web of Things is cooler
The main bad trend I see forming with IoT stuff is the attempt by large stakeholders to establish vertical domination of the market where the IoT board comes from them and the smartphone device to talk to that board also comes from them and they require their app because it is using their proprietary protocol.
This would be like buying a General Motors car and only being allowed to drive in GM roads and having to fill the tank with GM Gas. Thats not really how we want this new born ecosystem to work.
Now imagine if Smart/Connected devices all played by the rules of the Web. When you arrive at someones house and want to interact with their connected device may it be a TV, garden, lights, whatever, you’d just need to fire up a Web Browser and point it to the correct address and a rich web interface would be provided. This system would be agnostic of Operating Systems, it would not require an app installation. It would just work.
How many times you’ve installed an app on your phone to use just once? For example, you go to a friends house and want to fling some content at his Chromecast. You will need to install the Chromecast app. Even if you don’t have one at your own home and will never use it again. This is not good UX.
What you want is to have your phone, laptop, smart thingy, discover devices around you and talk to them using HTTP. Just firing up a web page and playing with it. This is the Web of Things. A Web that is personal, physical and works the way you want it to work.
The Creator Ci40 Kit looks awesome!
This kit by Imagination Technologies looks awesome to play with the Web of Things for the following reasons: * It has a powerful MIPS CPU and it runs Linux, so it can serve a Web interface pretty easily. * You have Bluetooth (and BLE), WIFI and 6LoWPAN, so you’re extremely connected. * You have so many pins and ports and interfaces that makes it easy to interface with basically anything * Imagination is already doing the Web thing with their software stack.
Bonus point that the kit comes with some clicker boards that can help you interface with the physical world. If you check the price and the potential of that kit then it becomes really easy. Assembling a collection of Raspberry Pis, shields, arduinos, and the necessary connectivity adapters will quickly sum up to similar prices. I am not trying to place this kit agains Pis or start a flamewar, I am saying that this kit alone, when you check how much you are paying and the potential you have to start your own Web of Things projects is really good.
The board will connect to basically anything and has enough power to serve smart web interfaces. You can create lots of cool personal projects with it. From automated watering of your home garden to the first connected laundry machine. This is a very good opportunity.
You still have 23 hours to back up this kit, you may need to hurry.
Link to kickstarter: Creator Ci40 Kit
MozFest 2015 group photo
So it was that awesome part of the year again, the one time we all wait for, Mozilla Festival time! This was my second time being a part of this amazing event (you can read more about my first encounter with it here) and this time I was a pathfinder there.
There were 1700 attendees at the event and I have the firm belief that if you pick a group of 20 random people there and asked them what is the Mozilla Festival you’d receive 20 different answers. There will be a common theme to the answers though which is the creative nature of the event.
Mozilla’s annual, hands-on festival (affectionately known as MozFest) is dedicated to forging the future of the open Web.
MozFest is a celebration of creativity, the Web and the people who ♡ it. It is the culmination of our motto of a Web made by users for users and a place where you can learn, explore and create new things and boldly take your Web stuff to places no one though sane before!
The famous tree
This event is not like you usual tech convening. MozFest is a practical event where instead of being passive watching someone talk, people engage in practical activities exploring new ideas, prototypes and connecting to other awesome people. Roughly one in three people were there as facilitators meaning they were there to help others. There were sessions about basically everything, from scaling a program such as the Mozilla TechSpeakers to learning how to play the musical instrument known as Pandeiro which is a frame drum from Brazil. The Mozilla Festival will have something for everyone.
In this post we’ll share how we organize our meetings here at the Rio Mozilla Club, you can use, remix and adapt this to your own setting.
We have two types of activities going on during one of our club meetings.
- Micro-activities: these are quite simple and only require a flip-chart, sharpie pens or similar and post-it notes. They usually take about 5 minutes to complete.
- Activities: these are the same activities you find at the Web Literacy Basics curriculum. Most activities take about 1 hour to complete.
In our events we tend to do a little roller-coaster ride oscillating between micro-activities and full activities to keep the rythim cool.
There is a lot of talk about digital inclusion in Brazil and in general people are supportive about it but we don’t always stop to think about why it is important. There are those that think that digital inclusion is only a way to add value to your resumé so to become a more interesting hire, I disagree with this notion because I believe that digital inclusion goes way beyond professional opportunities.
For a real digital inclusion we need to talk about a bit about web literacy. In Portuguese we have two distinct concepts to use when talking about literacy. We call alphabetization the techniques of reading and writing and literacy the social practice involving those techniques. Someone who is alphabetized might not have literacy the same way an knowledgeable person might not be wise. The current web situation is similar to an old epoch when alphabetization was not wide spread and literacy was even less accessible. A time where scribes had domain over technique and common folk where unable to preserve their voices to future generations. The great majority of people experience a disconnected situation regarding their web usage, they are able to use part of the web but are unable to truly understand what is happening behind the scenes and they do not possess the techniques to put their own creations online.
The Web is the only mass communication media where the public is able to distribute their own content.
While on TV, radio and press, the democratic and accessible distribution of content is not possible. On the Web such distribution is a cybercafe away. Even without your own computer, you can still interact and benefit from the Web from libraries, schools and cybercafes. Teaching people how to use the Web both as readers and content producers is an essential factor for participation in the 21st century. Imagine living in a world where people knew how to read but only 10% of the people knew how to write. This is the kind of world we live now regarding Web usage. Knowing the basics about writing is important even if you don’t have aspirations of becoming a bestseller author immortalized in classic collections for the next couple centuries. In this brief article we’ll talk a bit about some interesting consequences of web literacy.
My previous post about WhatsApp Web Client generated a lot of feedback and polarizing opinions. From all the comments I’ve received since then there was a point of view expressed by a minority that worried me a lot: some people seem to believe that releasing something only for Google Chrome is the correct thing to do and that is one of the topics I plan to address with this post.
Many who were not web designers or web heavy users during the 90s don’t recall the horrible experiences that were common back them. Stuff such as designed for Internet Explorer and best viewed in 800x600 in Internet Explorer, on a Sunday, in the northern hemisphere, while closing one eye and wearing a funny hat (well this last one was not that common).
Lots of websites back then were designed exclusively for a single browser and made use of non-standard technologies such as ActiveX and others. It was like the wild west but with cities not communicating with one another.
It was not until Mozilla decided to fight monoculture that standards started gaining more importance but thats another tale. The tale today is about monocultures and the horrors that spawn from it.
Today WhatsApp launched their web client in a way that is sure to upset and disappoint a lot of people. WhatsApp is a very popular instant message solution competing on the same market as LINE, Telegram and others. Here in Brazil WhatsApp is basically ubiquitous since its cheaper to send IM messages than to send SMS.
Unfortunately while other companies embrace the web and third party clients such as Telegram which has a list of official and unofficial clients and a public API, WhatsApp is actively waging war against third-party developers and their users. Last year they issued DMCA takedowns to all popular Github repositories hosting third-party clients and/or libraries interfacing with their API.
WhatsApp provides clients for many platforms but not for all platforms. Users of webOS, Firefox OS, Maemo, Sailfish, Ubuntu Touch had to use third-party libraries and also users of other platforms where there is an official client preferred using a third-party client because of many reasons.
After the takedowns, WhatsApp started banning users that connected to their network using third-party client, a move so evil that deserves a post in its own and the reason I stopped using their service. Since the takedowns and the banishments people waited for the release of a web client that would enable other platforms to use their service thru the beautiful of the world wide web.
Well, they finally launched their web offerring but its such a poor offerring that one wonders if anyone at WhatsApp actually understand the power behind the web. Lets analyse some parts of their launch post from their company blog:
To connect your web browser to your WhatsApp client, simply open https://web.whatsapp.com in your
Google Chrome browser. You will see a QR code —
scan the code inside of WhatsApp, and you’re ready to go. You have now paired WhatsApp on your phone with the WhatsApp web client.
Your phone needs to stay connected to the internet for our web client to work, and please make sure to install the latest version of WhatsApp on your phone. Unfortunately for now, we will not be able to provide web client to our iOS users due to Apple platform limitations.
I added some emphasis to the quote above. Lets count their mistakes:
The past few days we’ve seen lots of news regarding the current trends in SmartTV platforms. CES coverage is bringing in a lot of new tendencies and I’d like to talk a bit about the current convergence I see happening in the market.
It all starts with LG webOS
LG rocked the world when it shipped webOS on SmartTVs. With the objective of making TVs simple again without reducing features or restricting potential. The LG webOS SmartTVs are a joy to use both as an end user and as a developer.
webOS has a rich history and legacy. It influenced the current mobile operating systems much more than people usually give credit for. This legacy of shaping the industry can be felt again in the SmartTV ecosystem. webOS pioneered the idea that mobile apps could be built using web technologies and while SmartTVs are a bit less mobile than smartphones they still share the foundation technologies with its older siblings from HP webOS and Palm webOS.
Apps for webOS TVs are built using the webOS SDK and web applications are a first class citizen in the system. The apps are built with good old Apache Cordova. The most impressive part of the SDK is the EnyoJS Framework which is able to build cross-platform apps that goes from Smartphones to SmartTVs with ease. The moonstone UI library for Enyo was created specifically for SmartTVs and the spotlight library allows easy navigation and input using different types of TV remote. It becomes much easier to deploy apps on TVs once you have a ready to use UI and input library.
LG with the killer combo of webOS + Enyo based apps raised the bar for the competing platforms. Finally building applications for a SmartTV was as easy as developing web pages.
Then it becomes open with Firefox OS
Blaze your own path
The new mobile operating system by Mozilla brought a refreshing openness and power to the mobile operating system ecosystem. Smartphones with Firefox OS have been released in 29 countries are able to run in devices with specs as low as 128 MB of RAM. The new system is the only mobile operating system in the world that is developed in the open. And before you start shouting Android remember that even though most of the Android versions had their source released at some point in time, some did not. Also Android is not developed in the open, you can’t go to a roadmap or issue tracker and start contributing to the next release (or help shape it by adding new features).
Firefox OS is developed in plain sight. Anyone can fetch the source tree and help make the system what they want it to be. All the roadmap and all the source for all the system, built-in apps and backend services are published. Contribution is encouraged and lots of partners already jumped in. The promise of an open operating system with no strings attached and full source code is very appealing to hardware developers.
What is Enyo JS
Enyo JS is a framework for building native-quality HTML5 apps that run everywhere! It begun its life in HP webOS (my favorite system ever) and was released as an open source project in the aftermath of the fiasco.
What is known as Enyo 1.0 is tied closely to webOS (a.k.a. a webkit based system). The Enyo team decided that with the open source release they should rewrite Enyo from the scratch to be compatible with other systems thus Enyo 2.x was born.
The current release is Enyo JS 2.4.0 and it is a gorgeous release sporting bindings, mvc, components, and more.
I will write more about Enyo JS as soon as I can but lets try to give you readers a glimpse of what it is all about.
Enyo is about components. Its about building reusable/shareable code into self contained components that may contain other components. Your app is a collection of these components structured in a elegant way.
I could go on for hours on why Enyo is a very elegant system but let me just give you one reason: Enyo JS core libraries and components are built in Enyo JS so if you know how to use the framework you can debug it, also if you read the framework source code you become a better Enyo coder.
You can check A Tour of Enyo to get a quick look at its features
There is a quick tutorial available at github wiki for enyojs/enyo and its very easy to follow.
It has been some days since I’ve been back from the amazing Mozilla Festival and its time to post about all the amazing things I’ve seen and done over there. This event was probably the most engaging “tech” event I’ve ever been. The whole mindset of sessions and facilitators is something that we should replicate all around the globe. In my humble opinion this event represents the best of the Mozilla mission and spirit and in these brief words I will try to explain a bit of my wonderful experience over there.
A Free Agent (or being a bit lost)
I am a Mozilla Rep and love working on Web related stuff. I’ve been to many events around the globe but this was my first MozFest. This event is very different than all other events I’ve been to and part of my experience was shapped by how I got there.
MozReps making their scary face
There was an application form for Mozilla Reps that were interested in going to the event. I’ve filled it. There was also a public call for sessions and I’ve submit my proposal about teching how to run Mozilla Appmaker on a Raspberry Pi. My session was reject but my trip was approved. So in essence, I was going but I had no idea what I was going to do there.
A new book focused on Game Development
I am almost reaching the point where I can almost release the book. My idea is to release it as an early unfinished preview and allow readers to send feedback and enjoy it while I am still building it.
The Google Summer of Code is all about open source creations and its my belief that open source should also be open development so by releasing this book in early form I am able to invite you all to contribute to it.