I was just ordering some moo stickers to customise my Olinda social radio after Matt and Jack discovered that the stickers fit perfectly in the little "window" for each friend. So I was thinking about what pictures I might use. And we've previously thought about one of the friend slots on Olinda actually being an automated recommendations robot - so the light goes on whenever a radio station is playing something you might like.
And I realised that you can hack Olinda. Maybe you want one of those friend lights to notify you of new email, or tweets, or your doorbell, or any other geeky alerts you might have. Or it could remind you that your plants need watering or that it's someone's birthday. Or as Matt Jones just tweeted "can you hack Olinda to switch over whenever George Lamb is on?". No comment.
And the way we've built it means that you can do this. There's a backdoor API to Radio Pop - the social listening service that Olinda uses to communicate with other radios. Basically you hit a particular URL with some data (sorry, can't tell you, it's secret) representing which Olinda this is and the station ID that you are listening to. But as Radio Pop is BBC only (for now), any non-BBC station IDs are not stored in Radio Pop but just get transparently passed on to any friends' Olindas. Now, Olinda won't know what to do with a random ID, but it doesn't matter, it will still turn the little light on. So I can go to Radio Pop, configure a dummy user to represent my alert, write a little script that pretends to be an Olinda and posts every time I want to be alerted, choose an appropriate sticker and sit back and wait for the light to go on.
Leave things a little bit open. Publish the APIs. And make things hackable.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
This is an update to my previous plea for an energy monitor that could share its data. Thanks to Kim and Frankie who pointed me to Roo Reynolds from where I find that there is a small community of mainly IBMers who have recently been playing with exactly this. They have discovered that the Current Cost energy monitor has a data port and that you can construct or buy appropriate cables to connect this to your computer, whereby it spits out a chunk of XML every 6 seconds containing your energy data. Perfect. So I've just ordered mine for about 30 quid from the eco gadget shop. And I've also discovered that the company behind Current Cost is based in the town where I live so maybe I'll be able to buy a data cable from them directly.
So here are some of the links I've found about hacking the Current Cost:
How to make the data cable
How to buy a data cable
The XML output format
Logging and graphing the data
More about using Google Graphs to chart the data
And the Current Cost Wiki (currently a bit sparse)