Monthly Archives: September 2020

Need better fish?

As you have guessed by now, I’m not maintaining Shoes 3 anymore. I do still answer some questions on github but nothing new is likely. I owe you an explanation of why. It’s pretty simple. My health is bad and is not going to get better. The Shoes community (Shoes 3 or Shoes 4) is not growing and there is little enjoyment in working on code that no one else cares about enough to help code the internals. The underlying technology employed is evolving in ways that run counter to what Shoes is and does.

It’s just time to quit. We had fun, we learned some things and we’ll leave it at that.

I started computing long ago from the hardware perspective of gates and registers and clocks and boolean logic and arithmetic. I wanted to get back into building things. Physical things. Things you can use or look at when your done. Some people take up painting or wood working for a hobby. Or they restore a classic automobile. I thought Home Automation might be a good fit. I was correct about that.

After some research I bought a Hubitat hub and some smart light switches. That’s enough to get deep into networking with Z-Wave and Zigbee. The motion sensors don’t do what I wanted so I built a couple of my own. Arduino and C++ and ESP32 and electronic things. And Groovy device drivers for Hubitat. They didn’t do what I wanted but they are still good enough to use and have 3 of my sensors in my house. I thought Cameras as motion sensors might solve my problem. I bought more hardware. Wrote python code for them. It was better. It would be even better if they had object detection. That’s a little compute intensive so I bought a Nvidia Jetson Nano for its CUDA abilities. Using rpc calls from the Raspberry pi’s with cameras.

Home automation is fun. It’s not cheap but it’s multi-discipline and I use it all the time (24×7). You might notice that I’ve got all kinds of little computers everywhere, none of them alike. But they only do one thing each and it’s my code so I don’t have to fixed it or update it once it works well enough. Lots and lots
of little computers sending little messages on the networks.

Still, I needed a goal. Even a silly goal would do. I found one and if I write any new posts at this website, it will be about my silly Rube Goldberg-esque machine. More of a performance art piece than useful device but it pulls in all the things above plus a few more – I ‘had’ to get a 3D printer and that device alone would be enough hobby for most tinker’ers. I even have a small Shoes program in the mix which brings my full circle.