2014 Some of My Favourite Things

As the year draws to a close it is fun to reflect on a few of my favourite things of the year.

  1. Pebble Watch
    Pebble Alert Message

    Pebble Alert Message

    I had known about the pebble watch for a while. I saw the initial KickStarter project but was too late to sign up. Over Christmas I thought that it was time to buy one. So on New Year’s Eve 2013 I bought one from the Pebble Watch site. It was on offer as a New Year special.
    The watch shipped from Singapore, and arrived about 10 days later. I paid the ‘government taxes‘ and the ‘mail handling charge
    First Impressions were that there was a fault with the screen, and the watch strap was too small.  It took several go arounds with support before someone told me all screens looked like that – a moire pattern. The software was poor, hardly worked from one day to the next.  The watch was put on the pile of ‘technology that I wish I hadn’t adopted too early
    A few months later the battery in my main watch died. I needed a watch to go away, so I turned to the Pebble. At the same time the software was updated to Version 2
    Now the watch worked, once you battled through the vagaries of set-up – I need to run Pebble Notifier on my Android phone to get Mail notifications. I bodged together a watch strap, and I was off.
    6 months later the Pebble is my main watch. I can’t go anywhere without it. It works perfectly, although the software is still updated a little too frequently. Some of the apps are a bit rough around the edge, but the main purpose is excellent.
    I don’t need to get my phone out to see whether I have an e-mail, or other messages, e.g. Twitter. They are delivered direct to my wrist.
    And having different watch faces is excellent. We use time differently as we do different things, and it is great to be able to do that all from your wrist watch. It is even better now that I have managed to send messages to the pebble from programs running on my Raspberry Pi 🙂
    And the screen moire – in certain lighting it is noticeable, but mostly it is not, and it doesn’t detract from the Pebble experience at all. I am sure they will fix that, but I love it all the same!


  2. Raspberry Pi A+ and B+
    The Raspberry Pi, but better.

    Lapdock and Model A+

    Lapdock and Model A+

    This is my new Raspberry Pi Model A+ sitting on top of a Motorola Atrix Lapdock – a screen and keyboard device for certain Motorola phones which can also be connect to the RasPi.

    Some people even think I have connected my Pi to a laptop in some way. No. It is a Pi Laptop, or should I say Pi LapDock.

    Connect a nano wi-fi dongle in the back of the Lapdock, open up a hotspot on your phone, and you are truly mobile with a snazzy Pi Laptop.  And I am getting 5 – 8 hours battery life.


  3. Google Sheets
    It is not often that I trip over something that I didn’t know, but the charting feature in Google Sheets that lets you scroll around a chart is excellent.  Someday all charts will look like this.  This might have been around for ages, but when I found it I could immediately see the potential – and used it for my Pi Weather Station.

    Scrollable Charts

    Scrollable Charts

  4. Heathrow T5 Pods
    I have travelled on the driverless personal electric transport Pods at Heathrow T5 a few times now and never fail to enjoy the experience. This year I was accompanied by a friend. They had a smile on their face for the whole way 🙂


  5. WordPress
    In just a short while it was possible to completely redesign this website.
    Yes, WordPress does have about 3 different ways to do everything, and each menu is context driven so the functions look different depending upon which way you arrived at them, which may account for why it takes ages for newbies (like me) to find what you are looking for. Notwithstanding all of that, the results are impressive to say the least:

    Ps. The old Doesn’t look that bad, but the new just looks ‘better‘.


  6. A £10 Temperature and Humidity Sensor

    Headless on Kitchen Windowsill

    Headless on Kitchen Windowsill

    I have had hours of fun with a £10 temperature and humidity sensor connected to my Raspberry Pi.
    I had to solder together some leads, then write a python program which updates an online Google Docs Spreadsheet, and sends low temperature messages to my Pebble watch (above).
    There is an immense amount of satisfaction to be gained from building something yourself. And great fun writing, and testing, the software to control it.
    A longer project post can be found here.


I hope 2014 has given you some favourite things as well?