Dec 042012

As a fan of the ‘latest’ gadgets I’ve been scouring Interwebs to see if there are any thermometers out there which use WiFi to report their findings. There are quite a few square/rectangle boxes out there, but I was looking for something that was aesthetically pleasing as well.
EL-WiFi-THThe search brought me to Lascar Electronics, a UK/US company, and their EL-WiFi-TH product. This combined temperature/humidity datalogger has, according to the Lascar site, the following features:

  • WiFi capability and integrated display
  • Wireless connectivity to PC via WiFi
  • View and analyse multiple sensors using the PC application, including immediate graphing of historic data
  • Measurement range from -20 to +60°C (-4 to +140°F)
  • Rechargeable internal lithium polymer battery, said to last > 1 year on a charge with ‘typical use’.

Let’s look at these selling points with a critical mind:

  • Wifi capability: Yes, but apparantly only IEEE 802.11b-1999 compliant. Since my WiFi network currently only supports 802.11g & 802.11n it would mean I have to enable some ‘legacy’ settings to re-enable 802.11b
  • Wireless connectivity to PC via WiFi: It says ‘PC’, but what they really mean is: a computer running Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 (no mention of Windows 8 yet), so if you use OS X or Linux, you’re outta luck…
    (It may work under Wine on Linux. Worth checking out)
  • Measurement range: Hmm… Perhaps a good range for other parts of the world but here (in Norway) it means I can’t use the unit for outdoor measurements during the winter months, when the temperatures some times drop (quite a bit) below -20C/-4F. I think -40 to +40°C would be a more interesting range.

I have nothing critical/negative to say about the display nor the battery. Both are good! :-)

Despite a few less-than-perfect points above I decided to order a unit anyway. It ‘arrived’ (the postal service in this country is a joke. Hardly anything larger than regular envelopes really arrives at your door. The rest you have to go and pick up at the post office…) last weekend, but I didn’t get around to the unboxing until last evening.

Since the quickguide in the box mentioned that the unit was partially charged but needs at least 24 hours of charging before actual use, all I could do was plug it into a USB-port and wait…
In the mean time I downloaded/installed the required (Windows only) software, which I obtained via the link at the bottom of the el-wifi datalogger page, on my Win7/x64 box.

The download link to the software reveals another interesting aspect: When it comes to these units Lascar Electronics apparently is a reseller/partner. The sensors are manufactuered by Corintech (Contract Electronics Manufacturing Services UK).
It’s a good idea to also drop by the page with firmware updates. In my case I found out that I can update my sensor (firmware 2.46) to firmware 2.50, and get ‘Battery Life Improvements’.
(For those who wonder, on I found the connection: Larasian is a holding company based at Burgate. Owned by Glynis and Brian Currie, Larasian owns 100% of Lascar Electronics and is the majority shareholder of CorinTech)

Day 2:
The EL-WiFi-TH (couldn’t they pick something more pronouncable?) is fully charged, and hooked up to my PC via USB. The configuration program is pretty straight-forward: You select the WiFi network the unit should connect to, give it a name, set the measuring & reporting intervals and set any alarms (optionally). Then you disconnect the USB cable and put the sensor at the measuring point, in my case a pantry.

Day 3:
Here are the first 12 hours or so of readings, with 10 seconds interval. As you can see a nice and stable temperature (3C. We’re talking basement pantry in the southeast of Norway here…).
Tonight I have to hook it up to the PC once more to apply that above-mentioned firmware update, but after that I plan to keep it in the pantry for the days/weeks/months to come.

More to follow

Jun 072012

Time for some Microsoft bashing… err… promoting! Yup, I don’t do that too often, for obvious reasons, in my opinion.

There are plenty of apps out there which let Android users automate tasks, performing their pre-defined actions when specific conditions are met. Microsoft thinks it can do one better than that, though, and has plans for a whole scripting system based on giving its users a large degree of control over just how their phones behave, without requiring lots of custom apps for every given situation.

Called on{X}, Microsoft is first debuting the system for Android, where it uses JavaScript to interpret end-user instructions. In order to make it accessible (despite its rather technical underpinnings), Microsoft breaks the relevant chunks of JavaScript code into triggers and actions, all configurable through a convenient GUI. By stringing together these bits, users create on{X} rules, which can then be shared with others online.

For instance, one on{X} rule might contain the triggers for the time being 8 a.m. and the local weather forecast mentioning rain, with the action that an alert should be displayed on the phone advising you to grab an umbrella. Others might contain triggers that detect when you’re out on a jog and a text message from a friend arrives, letting your phone automatically text back that you’ll respond when you’re done with your workout.

This certainly sounds like a system with great potential, and a lot of flexibility. However, its success or failure could lie with the strength of its development community, and just how appealing the pre-configured rules it shares with other users are.

While on{X} hits Android first, Microsoft hopes to bring it to other mobile platforms in the future. Yes, you read that correctly. on{X} is not supported on Windows Phone!
Hmm, a perfect place to quote Alanis Morissette:

And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think
A little too ironic…and, yeah, I really do think…

May 092012

Move over, Flipboard! Google Currents is here to stay!

As of today, both & are also being published via/on Google Currents. Google Currents is a social magazine application for tablet computers released by Google in December 2011. It is currently available for Android and iOS devices. The application covers a variety of sources and offers a list of featured content that includes Forbes, CNET, ReadWriteWeb, and now the 2 above-mentioned sites! :wink:

I’m not quite the expert yet in Currents Producer, so bear with me…
(Currents Producer is a web-based self-publishing platform whereby publishers can customize the presentation of their content on Google Currents)

Want to subscribe? –> –>
And if/when I ever get > 200 subscribers, I’ll end up in the Google Currents catalog :cool:

Apr 122012

Yup, currently my Nissan LEAF is nothing more but a GPS+radio in a airconditioned metal box on wheels. Auxiliary systems like the radio, Sat Nav & AC work just fine, but the engine won’t start.

I’ve done some Googling, and the problem seems a lot like the one reported in a posting in the LEAF wiki.

Nissan is aware of this issue and issued a technical service bulletin addressing it, NTB11038. The fix is to have the Vehicle Control Module (VCM) reprogrammed by a Nissan dealer. A side effect of the reprogramming is an improvement in the accuracy of the Driving Range Display.
The weird thing is that my LEAF has been in for service at Brennes Auto for this exact software update on March 29th! (I haven’t been told whether the software update was needed/has been applied). After that the car hasn’t been used for a week because of holidays. On April 10th it behaved normally, and yesterday the problems started.

Of course I don’t know for sure whether this is a NTB11038-issue but it almost seems like they went healthy->faulty software on March 29th. If that is indeed the case, they f*cked up big, big time!!

I hope to hear from them today. Hopefully that they have fixed the problem, but at the very least with an estimate on how long it will take. And they’re not done with me until they tell me exactly what was wrong. A ‘well, we dunno what was wrong, but now it works’ will not do.

Day 3 (I’m realistic and excluding weekends in the count)
The peeps at Brennes auto have determined there is something wrong with the ‘big’ battery, tossed my LEAF on a flatbed and transported it to Oslo. Apparently there is the only location with the equipment & expertise to check/fix this…

Finally… Today, on April the 26th, I could collect my LEAF again! :-)

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