Over the past few weeks I’ve gradually been migrating services from running in LXC containers to
Docker containers. It takes a while to get into the right mindset for Docker - thinking of
containers as basically immutable - especially when you’re coming from a background of running
things without containers, or in “full” VM-like containers. Once you’ve got your head around that,
though, it opens up a lot of opportunities: Docker doesn’t just provide a container platform, it
turns software into discrete units with a defined interface.
With all of your software suddenly having a common interface, it becomes trivial to automate a lot
of things that would be tedious or complicated otherwise. You don’t need to manage port forwards
because the containers just declare their ports, for example. You can also apply labels to the
application containers, and then query the labels through Docker’s API.
I recently picked up a couple of Belkin’s WeMo
Insight Switches to monitor power usage for my PC and networking equipment. WeMo is Belkin’s
home automation brand, and the switches allow you to toggle power on and off with an app, and
monitor power usage.
The WeMo Android app is pretty dismal. It’s slow, doesn’t look great, and crashed about a dozen
times during the setup process for each of my two switches. It also doesn’t provide much
information at all about power: you can see average power draw and current power draw, and that’s
Belkin has provided an option to e-mail yourself a spreadsheet with historical power data, and can
even do it on a regularly scheduled basis, but that’s not really a nice solution if you want
up-to-date power stats. Even if you were happy with data arriving in batch, having to get hold
of an e-mail attachment and parse out a weirdly formatted spreadsheet doesn’t make for easy
automation. It also relies on Belkin supporting the service indefinitely, which isn’t necessarily
going to happen.
Sense is a little device that sits by your bedside and, in
conjunction with a little ‘pill’ attached to your pillow, monitors your sleeping patterns and
any environmental conditions that might hamper them. Android and iOS apps show you your sleep
history, and offer suggestions for improvements.
Sense was Kickstarted
in August 2014, raising over 2.4 million US dollars, and shipped to backers in mid 2015. The
campaign blurb included this snippet:
Building with Sense
You’ll always have access to your data via our API. Take it, play with it, graph it, do whatever
you want with it. It’s yours. That’s important to us.
We enjoy tinkering with and building on-top of other products we like. Sense will let you have
We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you might want to build with Sense, and how you could
directly interact with the hardware, and the data it collects.
Sounds great! But a year after shipping, there’s no sign of an API, and some of us who enjoy
tinkering are getting a bit restless…
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