I’ve activated my black leather Chumby named Robusto, and as I write this, it’s downloading a software update through wifi.
First impression: This is a breakthough device, kind of like the Cobalt Qube was in the mid-late 90s.
1. They use BitTorrent to distribute updates. There was 1 seed and 1 peer when it downloaded my updates. Very good use of BitTorrent, and it’s smart to build it in there from the beginning.
2. Whoever did the animation was doing acid in the 60s, disco in the 70s, coke in the 80s and a dotcom startup in the 90s. It’s really outrageous, really good and cool and funny. It makes you laugh out loud. Can’t say the iPhone made me do that. The Qube, while it wasn’t trippy, did too. (Update: Susan Kare did the design. No wonder it’s so great!)
3. They have a built-in RSS reader, not sure how it works, but I configured it to display Scripting News.
4. I changed the clock to a cuckoo clock (from a plain blue analog clock). The device checks back with the website periodically to find out if it’s been reconfigured, and now without me doing anything else, the clock has changed. If I tap on the door the bird comes out! 🙂
5. They have a Flickr widget that is very webservice-ish, and clever and complicated. I tried to configure it to show my friends’ pictures, but the authentication window never appears in Firefox. Great idea and I can’t wait to try it when it works! (It’s similiar to something I’m doing with a Mac Mini as a settop box.) Update: I needed to tell Firefox that it was OK for the Chumby website to pop up a window, and when I did, the authentication worked. 🙂
6. It would be nice to have a USGS earthquake widget. It could be two-way since the Chumby has motion detectors.
7. JY Stervinou sends a pointer to a page that shows you how to turn the Chumby into a web server. That’s what I’m talkin about!!
8. What’s playing on my Chumby right now.
9. A comment from Steve Tomlin, CEO of Chumby.
10. Phil Torrone, via email: “One thing that i have been trying to tell folks about this device is that it is a great example of open source hardware, Chumby has released the schematics and files needed to improve. I think many people will use the Chumby as a low cost Linux computer for all sorts of amazing projects.”
Summary: I got it set up and running my widgets within an hour and it was fun! I love this device, it just reeks of potential. And they did a beautiful production job. It’s easily as innovative as the iPhone, but it isn’t getting as much attention. Take a look you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve been limping along here the last couple of days running on a shared EVDO connection, which is nowhere near as much bandwidth as I’m accustomed to. The problem was my DSL modem, which had burned out and needed to be replaced.
One of the side-effects of the outage was that the nytimesriver site stopped updating, as Jim Goodman noticed. Sorry for the outage, but I’m glad to see it was missed. My next task is to see what if anything I need to do to bring it back online.