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The Internet of Things: A New Frontier

How would you feel if your coffee maker texted you, telling you to replenish its supply of coffee beans? Yes, this might very well become commonplace in the near future.

Although most people are using manual coffee makers, the Mr. Coffee Smart Optimal Brew Coffeemaker with WeMo is a household appliance that is being made as part of the Internet of Things. This Internet has many devices rooted into it currently – smoke alarms, thermostats, washing machines, refrigerators and even toilets!

One of the leading companies in this field is Nest, a subsidiary of Google. It turns everyday products into smart products. And the chief of Nest is predicting that everything will be data-oriented in a decade’s time.

Some years ago, this would seem an impossible dream. Today, however, computers are tiny and cheap. Wireless Internet isn’t something rare, which is why technology experts are trying to integrate nearly everything into the Internet.

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Such technology may seem frivolous at first, but most new technology seems that way at first. You don’t really need a coffee maker to text you when it needs more water or beans, but by the same logic you don’t really need a TV.

Silly or not, these devices are going to change the way the world works. Much as we can hardly comprehend how our forefathers survived without modern amenities, our great-grandchildren will probably wonder how we survived without intelligent devices.

Cars have already become ‘smart’. They can tell you when they have a flat tire or when you’ve left a car door open. Our homes will soon follow. When the thermostat will get a problem, it’ll tell you that something’s wrong. But let’s hope that there will be some good technology for all these devices. If they keep crashing every week, this dream will turn into a nightmare pretty quickly.

Another advantage is that your devices will adapt themselves according to your routine. If you order a cab every day at eight in the morning and you don’t do so one day, you’ll get a message asking you if you’ve forgotten to order the cab. There are already a few devices that do this, albeit in a much simpler way.

The ultimate dream is to have a smart home that can run itself. If you’re out of milk, the fridge will order milk through a shopping app, which will have the milk delivered to your doorstep. The house knows when the delivery is coming through and will automatically allow him to enter. You’ll reach home and receive a reminder telling you to put the milk in the fridge.

Unfortunately, implementing these devices into current houses won’t be easy. Most existing houses don’t have modern wiring systems, so adding any ‘smart’ device will require the services of an electrician and a hefty sum of cash.

If any of these devices crash, you’ll need to make a maximum of two visits to have it diagnosed: one for software and one for hardware. More components in the gadgets mean more ways that they can go wrong.

Moreover, devices like the coffee maker are a long way from being even semi-automated. You still have to clean the machine and supply everything needed. The only part that is automatic is the easiest part: making the coffee.

And then there’s the problem of hacking. Connecting every device in your house to the Internet might make your life easier, but it will also add hundreds of entry points that a hacker will be able to use. Scary thoughts come to mind. Will robbers be able to lock you in your own house while they steal from you? Will hackers be able to record your conversations from your thermostat?

The real draw of connected devices is that they make your smartphone more useful. Sure, you already use it as a phone, calculator, research aid, fitness aid, and many other uses. But with connected devices, your phone will be much more useful. You’ll be able to wake up and brew coffee, increase the room temperature, turn on your music system, and call a car, all from your bed.

You may not believe it yet, but wait and watch; this is the future.

 

YouTube Conversion Website Fighting Google Blockade

Some time ago, YouTube-mp3 was threatened by Google. YouTube-mp3 is a Germany-based service and is one of the most popular websites that offer services called ‘streamripping’ by some. According to Google’s statistics, there was a point that the website received nearly 1.5 million visitors daily. But Google didn’t take the existence of the website lying down; they threatened the website with consequences if they didn’t stop operating against Google’s Terms of Service.

Google’s lawyers gave the website an allowance of seven days to change their mode of operations and make it more acceptable to Google. However, in those seven days, the search engine giant did not stand back idly. It added a blockade to YouTube-mp3 which made it impossible for the website to access YouTube’s servers.

But the owner of the downloading site has decided to step forward and fight for the website. Philip Matesanz, who studies applied computer science, has decided to fight Google on this matter. At the least, he wants the case to go to court so that he can get a fair hearing, which Google didn’t give him.

He met with several lawyers and asked them how a fight against Google would go. Philip will be working together with two lawyers to help him better understand the circumstances and where his website stands in relation to the Terms of Service of YouTube.

He pointed out the fact that his website uses neither the Google nor the YouTube API, and so his website is considered exempt from any contracts that have been created which relate to those two APIs. In fact, there is no segment in YouTube’s Terms of Service that disallows the activities that his site makes possible, which means that Google has no legal grounds to threaten his website.

This is a bit of a legal gray area, but in reality, it isn’t considered illegal to download streamed content that hasn’t been encrypted.

It is unfortunate that Google has not responded to any of Philip’s accusations and has kept completely silent on the matter. As most people will notice, this is a huge David-and-Goliath situation, but in this case David is highly unlikely to win.

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Philip has realized that Google will not listen to him when only his voice can be heard, so has started a change.org petition to further his cause. The petition has garnered massive momentum and has nearly a quarter of a million signatures already.

Google will now have to decide whether to continue attacking YouTube-mp3 or find a middle road that will make all the parties happy.

Interestingly, Google appears to have relaxed its grip on downloading YouTube videos. It has now created an app for Android that allows users to download videos for offline viewing. After this new development, it hardly seems fair to continue attacking sites that provide the same service. We hope that Philip isn’t left hanging on a few slim threads of hope for much longer and that a solution to his problem is found as soon as possible. Let’s continue praying that YouTube to MP3 conversions become legal sometime in the future!

 

Buying land? Please, do your research

Usually, a person who buys a block of land is fulfilling one of their lifelong dreams. You have to try as hard as you can to make sure that you aren’t hurt by some common land block pitfalls.

The location of the estate where you’ll buy your house is pretty important, but the position of the land in the estate is important too.

You do not want to be staying too far away from amenities like parks, shops, transport facilities and schools. However, you also want to stay a bit far from infrastructure like freeways. If the amenities are not present, try to find out when they will be set up. Keep in mind that what is planned and what happens is not always the same.

The orientation and size of the block is also important.

If you want to build a house that is around 200 square meters, you’ll probably need for a plot that’s about 450 or 500 square meters with frontage being a minimum of 10.5 meters if you want a garage that can hold two cars. Boundary setbacks must also be accounted for in your calculations.

Blocks that are aligned north to south and have a north-facing background are more popular. If a block is aligned north-south, you’ll need to find a different design to position your home perfectly.

It’s also best to avoid blocks that are very near the entrance of the estate. Buying a block there will mean that you’ll have a lot of traffic.

Courts and cul-de-sacs are usually very popular because they create a sense of oneness in the residents. However, houses built on such blocks will probably suffer from highlighting, as headlights from cars coming in will shine directly through their windows.

Blocks located close to parks usually cost more. Blocks that have a view, and sometimes blocks located on higher sides of streets that are sloping also cost more. In the second case, you’ll also need to take care, since it can cost you more to build on a slope.

The most popular blocks are usually corner blocks because people perceive them to cost more, be less secure and less private, and experience high traffic. However, if you’re looking for an investment, a corner block might be good for you since such blocks can be subdivided easily.

After you select your block, check the adjoining blocks for anything that seems odd. If you have a vacant lot next to yours, find out what is going to be built there. A very large block might indicate concentrated development on that block.

It’s also advisable to look for a professional to advice you before you buy the block. That way, you’ll be able to ensure that you’ll not find any nasty surprises waiting for you. Don’t rely on what the developer or agent tell you, since it’s in their interest to sell.

Before you buy, also make sure you conduct a soil test on the block. A soil test will help you know whether anything can be built and how much it will cost. Sandy and loose soils, for example, will cost more to build on because extra-strong foundations will need to be built.

Make sure you also check that all utilities can be made available in the area. This may not be a major issue for those buying in urban centers, but it is important for anyone buying in rural areas or outlying suburbs to check with utility companies.

Only buy the block after you’ve done a lot of research and are completely satisfied with the block. You could also check online for land deals. There are many wholesale land dealers that you can find on the Internet.

Silverstripe 3.0.2 Grid Fields With Thumbnails

Silverstripe 3 has been out for a few months now, and most the big bugs have been fixed… This tutorial describes the code required to set up a grid feild to manage ‘Has Many’ relations. Eg – a staff page that lists many staff members.

Also, we’ll add in some code that will make the table list in the CMS display a wee thumbnail of each staff member – making it much easier for CMS users to manage the content.

silverstripe

Create the Staff Page

Create StaffPage.php

This is the page on your site that contains all the staff page. Eg, one ‘staff page’ -> ‘has many’ -> ‘staff members’

<?php

classStaffPageextendsPage{publicstatic $has_many = array('StaffMembers'=>'StaffMember');publicfunction getCMSFields(){
   		$fields = parent::getCMSFields();
		
		$gridFieldConfig =$gridFieldConfig =GridFieldConfig_RecordEditor::create();
		$gridfield =newGridField("StaffMembers","StaffMember", $this->StaffMembers, $gridFieldConfig);			
		$fields->addFieldToTab('Root.Staff', $gridfield);return $fields;}}classStaffPage_ControllerextendsPage_Controller{}

Create the Staff Member Object

Create StaffMember.php

This is the object that contains data about each staff member. They belong to a Staff Page

 

<?php

  classStaffMemberextendsDataObject{publicstatic $db = array('Name'=>'Varchar','Details'=>'HTMLText');publicstatic $has_one = array('Image'=>'Image','Page'=>'Page');}

 

In the code above, we simple create a DataObject, and define two feilds, a name, and a details.

We also attach the DataObject to an image object (allowing us to add an image) and to a page – this forms the connection with the Staff page it belongs to

At this stage, upload the files, run a dev/build and create a ‘staffPage’ in your CMS. You should be able to see a datagrid and start adding staff members and photos.

Displaying Thumbnails in your Grid Field in the CMS

However, the grid field will probably just list your items by their ID – which is a bit meaningless.

// Summary fields publicstatic $summary_fields = array('Thumbnail'=>'Thumbnail','Name'=>'Name');publicfunction getThumbnail(){return $this->Image()->CMSThumbnail();}

By adding the code above into the StaffMember.php file,  we can define the fields (summary_fields) that are shown on the summary table in the CMS.

The function getThumbnail takes the attached Image, and creates a thumbnail to use in the summary fields.

Using Silverstripe 3

Using Silverstripe 3

Using Silvestripe 3 is ideal for website owners and admin users who have had a site built for them which uses the Silverstripe CMS. This book won’t confuse you with technical, back end details – but it does clearly, and simply describe all the main features within the admin area of the CMS. We’ll also discuss what kind of things you can expect to control via the admin area, and when you’ll have to go back to your web developer to get them to adjust something.

Topics Include:

  • Pages – creating, moving, removing
  • Editing text content – the best approach
  • Publish and draft
  • Page settings and page history
  • Understanding page types and templates
  • Working with documents and images
  • Working with ‘data lists’ (the DataGrid)
  • Adding Links
  • Adding other admin users
  • Known bugs, browser issues – and how to get round them

About the Author

Jon Shutt has been building websites for well over 10 years, and has been using Silvestripe for around 3 years. He has built a range of websites from simple, single pages sites to highly interactive sites with custom features and hundreds of pages. Jon owns a web design business called ‘Futureweb.co.nz’ and often works with design agencies around Wellington, making their designs into live websites.

As well as building sites, Jon also offers one to one training to Silvestripe users: “I’ve noticed that many people get stuck with similar issues, but with a few pointers can quickly get the hang of the CMS. I started writing up notes to help with trainees, and clients – and reaized the info here could help thousands of SS3 site owners around the world”

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