Building a (Siri Controllable) Raspberry Pi Thermostat

When it first came out, I was really enamoured with the nest thermostat. The idea of a remotely-accessible, app-controlled thermostat appealed to the gadgeteer in me, but the price and lack of flexibility (it really wanted to be left alone to learn and do its own thing, as opposed to being controlled by a fixed schedule), plus my propensity to tinker, led me to build my own.

For a long while I had an Arduino-based thermostat running in my house, but I wasn’t very happy with it. Writing code for the Arduino isn’t always very fun (for me), especially when you want it to be web-accessible.

Then came the Raspberry Pi.

The Cashflow

In Stephen King’s, The Langoliers, we are introduced to the creatures that consume the past, preventing us from ever returning to it. Merciless devourers, they relentlessly follow us all through time, ingesting history, insatiably pursuing us in an eternal chase.

As the story progresses, the main characters find themselves face to face with these gluttons, and they must do their best to outrun them; winning the race is their only hope.

As a micro-business owner I awake most days with the weight of an awareness on my shoulders; I must to attempt to evade my own kind of Langolier, the ravenous and unquenchable monster of Cashflow.



The first time you feel it your blood goes cold. The hair on the back of your neck might stand up. Your pulse almost certainly rises quickly, which does nothing to help.

You sit perfectly still. You’re probably holding your breath, but you don’t realize it. Like your rising pulse, this also does nothing to help.

You wait expectantly, but nothing happens.

The History of English Podcast

I was recently made aware of the great History of English Podcast.

The author, Kevin Stroud, while not a professional linguist, is a wonderful story teller. Each episode covers a combination of the etymologies of English as well as the history, that is the people, who have spoken this language in its various forms from it’s roots thousands of years ago.

Handling Motion JPEG Streams on iOS

I have several Foscam Cameras around the outside of my house. They’re very easy to setup, tolerate the outdoor conditions admirably, and are incredibly affordable for what they offer.

As with everything else around my house, I like to build software that customizes my view into my home (or in this case, outside my home). To that end I’ve build an app I call Argos that lets me monitor all sorts of sensors on my property.

Build Your Own High Top Tables

We recently hosted a backyard party, and we wanted some high top tables for people to be able to mingle around. We looked around online but nothing was as simple as we wanted (we were going to cover them with table clothes so they didn’t need to be fancy), and the ones we were able to find at all were pricier than we wanted. So, we did what you do when you want something to exactly match your vision: we built them.

Inexpensive Live Streaming For Your Church

Note: This article is from early 2012 and most of the information is now outdated. For an up-to-date look at this issue checkout the updated article I wrote for

Last winter (2010-2011), from January through March, our church attendance was down nearly 30%. Between a few vacations and an intense RSV and Flu season the congregation was knocked down pretty hard. Knocked down and out (of the service), but not completely out of participation thanks to our live stream.

We’ve been livestreaming video of our service since we started 2.5 years ago. When we planted, I couldn’t find any helpful information about livestreaming that wasn’t aimed at large churches with much larger budgets than we were working with. Looking around recently for some equipment I still couldn’t find a good reference. So, here’s a bit of a history of what we’ve done at Grace Church. Hopefully it can be of help!

How To Get Free Topo Maps

I really like a good map. A GPS + Laptop is great, but nothing works like a piece of paper when the batteries go dead or your laptop falls into the lake. Unfortunately, finding high quality topo maps for free is a chore.

How My Wallet Destroyed 4 Hard Drives

(And how yours could too)

Geodesic Distance Function in PHP

I was working on some code to process some GPS track logs and I wanted to be able to accurately calculate the distance between 2 points in the log. I did some searches, but there were no obvious solutions written in PHP. However, I did run across Chris Veness’ version in javascript. I worked through his function and mashed it up as PHP. The result seems to work, but for me with slightly less accuracy than the javascript version. At this point the problems seems to be the limit on the number of significant digits that PHP is using vs. JavaScript. If anyone finds any other problems, definitely let me know.

Build Yourself An iPod Shuffle Charger


The iPod Suffle is a really cool piece of hardware. One of the drawbacks, however, is that it has an internal battery that is recharged via USB power when it is plugged into your computer. This is all good and well except that it requires a good 4 hours to charge the Shuffle from completely dead to completely full. If you’re on the road this can be rather impractical. Thus, there was a need for a batterypack/charger device that can extend the usefulness of the Shuffle. Apple sells such a device but it is rather expensive for what it does. Granted it looks very nice, but I knew I could make the same product for less. And who can give up a chance to solder?