New hardware: 13″ MacBook Pro

Pictured on the left: yet another brand new, fully-loaded 13″ MacBook Pro. This time it’s a 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7 with 16 GB and a 500 GB SSD. On the right is my mid-2014 13″ MBP, quite possibly the best computer I’ve ever owned. RIP all of my awesome stickers.

And, with that being said, the new MBP on the left is surprisingly not awful. I put the upgrade off for quite a while because of the reported keyboard issues. My experience thus far is pleasantly the opposite; I find the keyboard quite good and enjoyable to use. I’ll need to track down a wired secondary keyboard that offers an equivalent experience.

Previously: 2014, 2011.

First Arduino project: distance alarm

Amazingly, our refrigerator doesn’t have an alarm for when you accidentally leave the door open.

In the last six months, we’ve left the refrigerator door open overnight three times. Because the light stays on when the door is open, another horrible design decision, the refrigerator thermometer hits 107°F by the time I notice it in the morning.

At yesterday’s inaugural PDX Raspberry Pi and Arduino meetup, I prototyped my solution to the problem: an alarm for accidentally leaving the refrigerator door open.

Using a Parallax Ping Ultrasonic distance sensor, the Arduino board detects its distance to the nearest object in front of it. If there’s nothing within 2 inches for greater than 5 seconds, then the Arduino board uses a piezo buzzer to make some noise. The system resets when an object is placed within 2 inches again.

On a whole, I was surprised how quickly I got up to speed on Arduino. My “Hello World” project, blinking a LED diode, took about 10 minutes to complete. This distance alarm only took 20 minutes beyond that, with a little bit of guidance on what hardware to use and access to tutorials on how to use it.

Up next: figuring out how to miniaturize the entire setup so I can put it in a small housing and deploy to production (aka use it in my home).

New hardware: 13″ Macbook Pro

While I didn’t really need it, I finally decided to upgrade. Pictured on the left is my new, fully-loaded 13″ Macbook Pro. Retina, 3 GHz i7, 16 GB RAM, etc. Pictured on the right is my old, yet reliable, 13″ Macbook Air. It’ll take a while to collect a similar set of awesome stickers.

Largely because of the SSD and (lack of) weight, my 2011 13″ Macbook Air has been the best computer I’ve owned. But, I’ve been envious of the battery life with newer Macs. And, countering the trend of netbooks / everything running in the cloud, I’ve been regularly maxing out my 4 GB RAM.

This Macbook Pro won out over the mythical 12″ Macbook Air coming in 2015 because one always needs to be wary of first generation hardware. Using my handy crib notes from October to get everything configured.

Boom: iPad!

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The logic that finally pushed me over is that I can use it as a second screen while traveling.

Which apps do I need to install?

Status

This old house: wifi router mysteriously craps out every morning at the same time. Restart, and everything is fine.

Status

Primary media hard drive is down for the count. All I can hear is a ticking noise. Damn.

New kit: MacBook Air

After much deliberation: 11″ screen, 128 GB flash drive, 2 GB memory. Initial observations: it’s so light and applications load in half of a heartbeat. Here’s hoping for an epic battery life.