Ever wanted a butler like Batman? Now you can build your own

Ever wanted a butler like Batman? Now you can build your own

Batman (Character) - Comic Vine

Batman had Alfred, Richie Rich had Cadbury and Inspector Clouseau and the Green Hornet both had Katos…and if you’ve always wanted a butler of your own to manage your household and…well, be at your beck and call, today’s post will show you can finally make that dream come true.


Check out Chives, a robotic “butler” that user Eric Forkosh, an engineer at Narobo.com created. Chives (wordplay on Jeeves, perhaps?) talks, drives, pours drinks and more…watch the video to see him in action. He’s not the prettiest butler in town, but he gets the job done.

According to the video, here are some of Chive’s components:

  • Wheelchair motor base
  • A laptop processor as “brains”
  • Voice-controlled functionality
  • Text-to-speech replies
  • Cool sound effects
  • A built-in mini fridge (I must admit, I like this feature!)
  • Two robotic arms that pour drinks and grip objects
  • Webcam image processing
  • Web server remote control
  • Inputs for sensors such as sonar sensors

Another awesome capability is to control Chives via your Smartphone…much less cumbersome than having to be near a laptop!

So what can you do with your new Robot Butler? Here’s a list of what Chives can do.

  • Voice Commands for weather, time, and temperature (he’s linked to Weather.com)
  • Pour a drink bottle into a cup
  • Manual control with a joystick
  • Cool soda cans in a mini fridge
  • Face recognition and greet people by their names
  • Follow a person wearing a certain color shirt
  • Avoid obstacles
  • Automatically dock to a charger (similar to a Roomba)
  • Sweep the floor
  • Wireless control over the internet
  • Wireless Remote Control from iPod Touch or SmartPhone

And if you want to know how to build your own butler, Eric can show you how over at Instructables.com. Or maybe you’re way ahead of us and have already built your own? If so, I’m dying to hear about it.  Give me a shout out below.…

It’s a Treasure Chest of Technology aboard the Endless Summer

It’s a Treasure Chest of Technology aboard the Endless Summer

The Endless Summer' 50 year box set is pure surfing treasure - Men's Journal

What Yacht Rules the High Seas?

This is Part 3 of a three-part series. Is this your favorite hi-tech yacht? Cast your vote in the comments section below!


Ever wonder what modern day pirates would plunder? My guess, given the relative scarcity of dubloons, would be high-tech equipment along the lines of what’s installed on this 92-foot Paragon yacht. I wanted to take a look at one more outrageously equipped sailing vessel and this one really goes overboard (yes I actually said that) – with an incredible 800 pounds of home theater equipment craftily stowed away in custom racks installed above the pilot house. The equipment list is jaw-dropping to say the least.


Designed by ArchiTechKnowlogy Design Group out of Laguna, CA (who coincidentally has one of the strangest websites I’ve ever seen) and installed by Atlantic Stereo, this system’s build began with the yacht’s construction itself. Custom bundles of cables (CAT 5 high-speed data, RG6 video, and Cresnet home control cables) were provided to the boat builders in Taiwanso the system could be completed back home in California. You can read more about the features of the Endless Summer in the article that appeared in Yachting Magazine.


“What made it complex was that the system had to be installed in a tight space,” says systems designer Xeven Zorra of ArchiTechKnowlogy Design Group, whom Atlantic Stereo called in to plan the system.

Kaleidescape technology supplies the music and movies on demand in all four staterooms, the crew quarters, galley, salon and decks. I like the idea of the waterproof Crestron remotes on the deck (it would be tragic to drop a non-waterproof model in the Jacuzzi) and the iPod dock in the salon allows guests to bring their favorite tunes along to the party. Finally, the captain can access the ship’s controls via a Crestron touchpanel in the galley.

Each of the guest staterooms and the crew quarters has a 20-inch widescreen Sharp LCD, with two Sonance Symphony Extreme in-ceiling weatherproof speakers. In the closet of each cabin and on a stainless-steel bracket is an Xbox 360 game console that can be used as a DVD player. The steel bracket also supports a Crestron Cat-5 room solution box hidden behind the closet wall; it receives the audio/video signals over Cat 5 wire from the central racks. The master stateroom features a surround-sound system with a 42-inch Fujitsu plasma.…

Weird Science – build your own voice-controlled home automation Avatar

Weird Science – build your own voice-controlled home automation Avatar

Voice Controlled Home Automation - YouTubeLast week, we looked at how far home automation technology has come over the past decade, from using simple light-control devices like the Clapper, to incorporating voice recognition to automate your home. And for all of you forward-thinking DIY home automation geeks–you can take it even further and create a face for the voice.

In this video by Brian Baker, he introduces “Stephanie”, a physical interface or avatar, if you will, that he created to receive his voice commands. She’s an ongoing project  that currently controls various lights in Brian’s room, appliances, window blinds, etc. She also can read off the weather and bus times at the nearest intersection.


He basically took a mask from a hobby shop (Hobby Lobby), the geared DC motor out of a Billy Bass singing fish for the animatronics, and added circuitry. He also utilized Microsoft’s SAPI: an API that reads an XML file of your creation and listens for particular phrases listed in it. When it hears them, it notifies your program, and also does speech synthesis. Brian named his avatar Stephanie because the computerized voice sounds like the female version of famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.

Brian’s website gives a very detailed account of how he created Stephanie–and it didn’t hurt that his father is an electrician, FYI.

The video itself is surprisingly not high tech–but what Brian has done is fascinating.  Stephanie’s not quite Kelly LeBrock from Weird Science – but it’s just a matter of time before someone creates a more life-like version and we’ll have our own walking, talking avatars to respond on command.

What do you think of Stephanie? Useful or overkill? Leave me your thoughts below……

What does James Bond have that Home Automation doesn’t?

What does James Bond have that Home Automation doesn’t?

Movies Now curates exclusive line-up of James Bond movies with Bond Voyage,  Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

I’m going to be dropping a ton of James Bond references here. If you’ve never seen a James Bond film before, please do yourself a favor and spend two hours educating yourself on pure badassery. I highly recommend Goldfinger (Sean Connery) or Golden Eye (Pierce Brosnan).

What did you do this weekend? I sure hope it was productive, because you’ll have to make up for me. I “wasted” basically all of Saturday watching James Bond movies. Such classics. Sadly, I haven’t developed any super-spy abilities, or even a British accent. But as I drifted asleep that evening, a thought popped into my head.

James Bond has something that the home automation industry DESPERATELY needs.

No, I’m not talking about Bond girls (although I certainly wouldn’t protest if they started showing up with my Insteon shipments). And I’m not talking about his impressive arsenal of weapons and gadgets, even though I find myself drooling over the MI6 R&D department.

Nope – it’s none of that. James Bond has something absolutely crucial that all of us need — he has Q.

Q, or Quartermaster, is responsible for managing and developing the British Secret Service’s arsenal of high-tech gadgets, and ultimately ensuring that Bond has the right equipment for the mission.

Here’s a sample of Q in action: [click here for video]

He might not get a lot of screentime, but Q plays a major role in Agent 007′s success as a spy. Q carefully develops and curates the weapons and ultimately distills the virtually unlimited arsenal into a handful of items for Bond to actually take into the field. He explains how each item works, and explanations are typically accompanied by a demonstration.

Do you think James Bond sifts through the thousands of MI6 gadgets at his disposal before embarking on a mission? Do you think he sits and reads user manuals for hours to figure out how everything works?

Absofuckinglutely not.

In fact, Bond shows us what he thinks of user manuals in the last 30 seconds of the clip …

(If you didn’t watch the video, Bond tosses the giant encyclopedia of a manual in front of the auto-focus turrets mounted on his Aston Martin. The manual explodes into a million little shreds).

If the metaphor-crunching part of your brain has been active, you know where I’m going with this.


James Bond’s disregard for the user manual results in an explosion (Die Another Day)

The home automation industry is impressive. Collectively, many millions (if not billions) of dollars have poured into R&D to create thousands and thousands of products. There’s no problem at all with the arsenal itself.

But there’s no Quartermaster. As things are now, if you want to get involved with home automation, you have to sift through everything yourself. That means reading through countless forums, manuals, and being overwhelmed with the relentless torrent of options. Nobody will hand-pick and curate the selection for you. And forget about asking anyone to help you piece it together.

From my perspective, it’s downright stupid and short-sighted that the home automation companies out there don’t do more to show us how to use their products. After all, nobody’s going to shell out good money to buy a paperweight (unless you’re actually looking for a paperweight).

It isn’t just hurting the home automation companies themselves. If it were just that I wouldn’t be so steamed about this. It’s hurting the people who want to get started with home automation. The learning curve is so great, the barrier so high that it drives away all but the most determined geeks (and sometimes we have to wonder why we spent so much time looking into it in the first place).…

How to Use and Make Money Off Fiverr.Com

How to Use and Make Money Off Fiverr.Com

Give you all the tools to make money on fiverr by Thomaswakenhut | Fiverr

Fiverr.com is a popular freelancing website for people who provide simple, low-cost freelance jobs online and for people who seek low-cost freelance services. The site offers providers a gross payment of five dollars hence the site’s name.

Fiverr.com was featured as a website where people can showcase their talents like singing, dancing, writing and drawing and provide services based on those talents for a gross payout of five dollars. People who seek to earn extra can sign up to fiverr.com and post ‘gigs’ by:

  1. Signing in.
  2. Going to the Seller Page and adding a gig by clicking the Add New Gig button
  3. Filling in the ‘I will ___ for $5’ field, selecting a proper category and specifying the gig.
  4. Specifying any extra instructions for buyers.
  5. Specifying keywords to help buyers find the gig through fiverr’s search engine.
  6. Stating estimated completion time of the task.
  7. Adding a job-related image and saving the gig.

To make money through fiverr.com

  1. Post gigs that are really of use to business like encoding, writing or transcribing and logo making.
  2. Buy Fiverr reviews
  3. Post unique but sensible gigs.
  4. Ensure that buyers can find your gig by putting the proper keywords in the Tags field.
  5. Give buyers incentives by offering reasonable completion time and deliver on time.
  6. Give quality work so buyers will seek your services again and again.
Top Five Gifts for Your Girlfriend on Valentine’s Day

Top Five Gifts for Your Girlfriend on Valentine’s Day

20 Best Valentine's Day Gifts Ideas for Girlfriend and Boyfriends in 2019

Valentine’s Day is one of the most important day for couples. It’s the day to really show your girlfriend that you truly care about her. But that doesn’t mean getting the most expensive and lavish box of chocolate off of the rack. Showing that you really care means putting time and effort into your special gift for lover, not money. So, try out some of these creative ideas!

  1. Balloons

It’s not as easy and simple as it sounds. Us girls love the little things in life, from the cute trinkets to the aroma of Bath and Body Works products. So, buy around a dozen balloons and fill them up with cute little gifts (make sure the gifts aren’t too heavy, so they won’t sink the balloon). Blow them up (yes, with helium) so you can give them to your girlfriend as a bouquet. The best part about this is popping the balloons to see what’s inside. So fun!

  1. Coupons

Not the ones you get in the mail everyday. You can create some handmade coupons that your girlfriend can use any time. These may include a back massage, or a movie night with friends. Remember to keep the coupons neat and organized. Spend time decorating them with glitter, ribbons, etc. to show that you put effort into the present.

  1. Poem

Ok, you probably have heard of this idea way too often. But it’s actually really romantic if you actually take the time to write one. I know my favorite presents are always poems, because they really make me feel special. Think of some creative phrases, and make them giggle every now and then. Who knows. You may even be able to learn a little something for language arts!

  1. Scarf

Guys can knit too. And it’s an even better gift if it’s coming from a guy. Knit a pretty scarf for your girlfriend, most preferably in the colors pink, red, or white. A guy knitting a scarf shows that they have a nice, sensitive side to them, which is always what a girl wants.

  1. It’s Raining Love

Look for some red, pink, and white construction paper. Cut out as many hearts as possible (the more, the better!). On each one of them, write about a memorable occassion, to show that you really care about your relationship. Then, tape some string onto the hearts and string them onto the ceiling so it looks like it’s raining hearts.…

TV, TV on the wall…you’re the coolest of them all!

TV, TV on the wall…you’re the coolest of them all!

50 Ideas To Decorate The Wall You Hang Your TV OnLast week we looked at some innovative ways to hide your TV, from tricked out under-the-bed wizardry, to some sleek lift options to help streamline your space. But my inner geek got really excited by these high-tech TV hideaways, and I bet yours will too.

Now, even when you’re…ahem…indisposed…entertainment is as easy as looking in the mirror.

Apparently it’s already in use at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, MA:

And in China, check out the way this can be used for advertising–set up with motion sensors so it’s a mirror when you’re in front of it, but an ad when you step aside.

And you can even incorporate this concept outside of the bathroom! This video shows how you can cleverly hide an LED TV behind a two-way way mirror. The custom made frame gives the appearance of a beautiful decorative mirror when the television is off, but it magically transforms once you want to watch your favorite show. Great idea for either a living room or a bedroom, as long as you have the wall space to fit the television inside.…

Home security tips for your family

Home security tips for your family

How to Maintain Home Safety this Holiday: Infographic | Home safety tips, Home  safety, Safety tipsWhile it is true that having your own video surveillance cameras at home creates a stronger sense of security amongst your family members, the real defense lies in the physical and electronic security measures that are supposed to be there beforehand, so the bad guys don’t even make it to the cameras. These are the basic defense structures of a home security system.

“Once this has been accomplished you have taken care of your first line of defense & now you want to think about increasing that level of security by installing your second line of defense. Your second line of defense consists of a home alarm system that protects all entry points into your home.” [top-home-security-info]

Strengthen all your access points with good locking mechanisms and sturdy doors and windows.

The locks you place are your first line of defense. You should make it a point to  securely fasten these from the inside all the time. Should that fail, electronic alarms such as this motion-activated chime alert system from Optex will be an essential line of defense for your home security. These gadgets monitor your entrance points and alert you if anyone crosses into your home.

With these two lines of defense established you may now consider installing a video surveillance system for added confidence in your home security.  Basically, a video surveillance system consists of a motion-activated camera (which only records when it senses motion), a DVR or a digital video recorder, and a computer with monitor. These items are sold separately but may be purchased as a kit. Like most things these days, the system can be either wireless or cabled.

For a small residential set up, there are wireless video surveillance starter kits available in the market. The Logitech WiLife Outdoor Camera Starter Kit is an easy to install system. Setting up is wireless and easy – it consists of just installing the software, positioning the outdoor camera, and then simply plugging the USB receiver into your PC. You may follow this link to watch the installation instructions as well as some details regarding this product.

With the free software WiLife Command Center, you may be able to monitor this surveillance system from anywhere on the Internet. The starter kit has only one outdoor camera which only records when it senses motion; however the monitoring/viewing is continuous. The system can accommodate up to six cameras, which is usually more than enough for the typical home.…

What are Modules?

What are Modules?

Modules tell Joomla where content can be placed in your template.

Joomla needs to know how to display the information on the screen, and the grid of modules within a template gives Joomla the information it needs to lay the information in the correct positions.

The Module Manager

The utility within Joomla that allows the user to tell Joomla how to display module content is called the Module Manager. Each module in the Module Manager tells Joomla:

  • where content is positioned i.e. Module position
  • what content is displayed (many modules have parameters that help you define what is displayed)
  • How the content is styled

Modules for Core Components

When you first install Joomla, it installs modules for the components that are part of the Joomla core. As an example, Latest News is a module that allows you to identify which category of articles can be displayed in a module position on selected parts of the website. We use this module on virtually every website to push promotional information to the home page in a dynamic fashion.

Modules for Extension Components

Sometimes there are modules for extension components that allow you to display component information on a page. These modules are usually available from the same developer as the component, but if one doesn’t exist there, try searching for one made by a different developer. Whether a component has any modules available depends on whether the developer thought it was needed and how much time they have spent in development.

An example of a module for an extension component might be a listed of upcoming events from a calendar. The calendar is a component which you can input upcoming events and group them into categories. After the component is installed, you can view all events in page view. Our favorite calendar component is JEvents, and they have just such a module to display latest events.…

Latest News Module

Latest News Module

The Latest News module is one of the best dynamic features of Joomla. It allows you to dynamically generate a list of the most recent news articles that have been input into your site.

  1. Create a new module

View the Create a New Joomla Module tutorial for instructions on how to create a new module.

  1. Define display parameters

View the Create a New Joomla Module tutorial for instructions on how to define the Details and Menu Assignment parameters on the left side of the screen.

  1. Define Latest News parameters
  2. Count: How many articles do you want to display in the list?
  3. Order: In what order should the articles be displayed?
  4. Authors: You can narrow down the articles to a specific author.
  5. Front Page Articles: Do you want to display articles that are shown on the home page? If you select hide, only articles that are NOT shown on the home page will display in your latest news list.
  6. Section ID: You need to go to Content > Section Manager to find the section ID that you want this list to be narrowed down to. You can find the Section ID in the far right column of the Section Manager list
  7. Category ID: You need to go to Content > Category Manager to find the category ID that you want this list to be narrowed down to. You can find the Category ID in the far right column of the Category Manager list
  8. Module Class Suffix: Do you require a module class suffix to stylize the module the banner is placed in? If you are unsure, check with the developer of your Joomla template.
  9. Click save to save your work.