Archive for the 'Ideas' Category

The Story of Stuff

Posted by Nate in Consumers, Ideas, Politics.
Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 at 11:42 am

So…  I fully intend to write a nice post about our recent trip to Colorado (awesome!!), but in the meantime:

Watch this.

I Need This

Posted by Nate in Beer, Ideas.
Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 at 9:27 am

This is almost certainly the coolest thing ever built.  Brent, feel like making some modifications to your MAME cabinet??  I’ll brew the beer…

Time for a project!

Posted by Nate in Ideas, Projects.
Wednesday, October 10th, 2007 at 6:06 pm

I’m sure you’ve all experienced this: waking a half-hour before your alarm, alert and ready, but decided to sleep the extra half hour.  When the alarm goes off you find yourself back in REM sleep and can barely open your eyes.  Or, like this morning for me, the heat comes on and the temperature change causes you to wake up too early.

Ever since moving north, I’ve been looking for an answer to waking up in the dark and trying to convince my body it’s actually time to get up.  Last fall I researched a number of products, include the DayBreak Duo Sunrise Simulator, the Soleil Sun Alarm, and the Progression Wake Up Clock.  They all look intriguing but are either pricey, ugly, or both, and none offer the full set of features I’m dreaming of.  Recently my coworker pointed me to an article about a guy using an Arduino to control the temperature in his kegerator, and it got me thinking…

The human body responds to light and heat to come out of deep sleep and into an alert waking state.  Surely there’s a way to combine all of these into a cohesive and natural wakeup system??

Wish List

  • must be easy to set the alarm, no tricky knobs or interface
  • has to fade a light on over an adjustable period of time
  • must have an option for external lights
  • play birdsong and morning sounds, also faded in
  • have an actual "alarm" sound if not deactivated
  • flash lights if not deactivated
  • tie into the thermostat to bring the heat on
    • must be separate from the programmable thermostat so we can adjust the wakeup time without reprogramming
  • has to make me coffee!

wakeup_system.jpgMy current plan is to find a cheapish CD player alarm clock, and hack the guts of it to find a way to tell the controller the alarm is "on", or going off.  This may end up being the hardest part of the project, but I’m hoping that with the CD circuitry there will be a pretty obvious change I can monitor, maybe voltage across the motor?

Once the controller goes into an alarm state and the CD starts playing, it will start looping:

  1. The CD player will be playing either a blank CD or birdsongs or whatever
  2. Arduino loop:
    1. fade the light up a bit
    2. check the room temperature and fire the furnace if needed
      1. some timer here to make sure we don’t call for heat too often
    3. exit the loop if the alarm is turned off or times out
  3. If the alarm is still on after X minutes (we’re not awake)
    1. flash the lights
    2. the CD will switch to an actual loud alarm sound or song

I put the coffee maker in there as a joke, but it’s totally possible – who knows, maybe I’ll include it!

Watch this space for updates – I’ve ordered the Arduino and a dimmer kit, with any luck I’ll have something hacked together by next week!

Non-wedding life

Posted by Nate in Day to Day, Ideas.
Tuesday, July 24th, 2007 at 8:24 pm

I had sort of an American Beauty "life is too beautiful" moment today while reading the comments on all the fundraising sites…  (on the right, still not too late to give!)  On one hand there’s the stress of planning the wedding, the heat, Boo Boo getting stung by a bee, a flat on my bike on the way to work today, the humidity, last minute contract work I’m trying to finish, nonstop plans for the foreseeable future, and, oh, the heat…  Not to mention the world.  But on the other hand: I’m getting married to the most amazing woman I’ve ever met!  And we have an awesome house with a kegerator in the basement!  And the best dog in the world!  And – as indicated by the comments and donations – there are still wonderful people in the world who care.  It’s weird, the things that give you perspective…  Duoteam is more than a wedding.  Can’t wait to see everyone and freaking celebrate!!!

… and to that end, I’ve gotta go brew some beer.  Sweet.

Birds and Bees

Posted by Nate in Ideas, Soapbox.
Friday, June 22nd, 2007 at 6:37 pm

And that’s why I’m a dog person…  Interesting link to the Audubon Christmas Bird Count in there – I remember going on that a few times with my dad, but somehow it didn’t occur to me until just now that there’s obviously some amazing data being gathered in that event.  I mean, it goes back to the 1920s!

Stupid cats.  And I was about to write "no offense, cat people", but…  I mean, come on, they make me sneeze, they give you cat-scratch disease, and toxoplasmosis is linked to all kinds of freaky shit.  And they kill birds.  You don’t want to kill birds, do you?  Or make me sneeze and puff up?  Get a dog.

Give the earth a Hugg

Posted by Nate in Consumers, Ideas, Recycling.
Thursday, May 24th, 2007 at 12:01 pm

hugg iconDear dirty hippies and friends of all ages:

Want to save the world but don’t know where to start?  Look for a way to see what’s interesting and / or fun in the world of green news?  Go check out and get hugging.  It’s a pretty cool ripoff of Digg, where users can add stories to the list and other users can "hugg" them (rate them higher) so in theory you start seeing the best news from the green web.  If all that went over your head, just click the link and get ready to waste an hour reading about how to save the planet.  Do it.  Do it.

DST = big fat waste

Posted by Nate in Ideas, Politics.
Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 at 10:40 am

Turns out — predictably — that the energy conserving plan to expand daylight saving time has fallen flat: power companies are reporting no measurable change in consumption.  It seems tempting to chalk this up to a "good try", but all signs point to congress knowing it wouldn’t conserve energy — Australia had tried a similar scheme and got no results — but passing it anyway for economic reasons.  Apparently sporting goods stores and convenience stores both benefit from lighter evenings, and via wikipedia I read "both Idaho senators voted to extend DST on the basis of fast-food restaurants selling more French fries made from Idaho potatoes."  Hmm.

daylight-saving-time.jpgNot only that, but personally this has been a big hassle for me: I had to hand patch all our servers at work so their internal clocks would get the correct time.  And I’m just one guy with a few servers – the total estimated cost of the change is $500 million up to $1 billion!!

Wow.  Way to save the daylight, guys.  There’s an energy crisis, look busy!