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This is a question DIY Techno-hacks

Old hard drive platters make wonderfully good drinks coasters - they look dead smart and expensive and you've stopped people reading your old data into the bargain.

Have you taped all your remotes together, peep-show-style? Have you wired your doorbell to the toilet? What enterprising DIY have you done with technology?

Extra points for using sellotape rather than solder.

(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 12:30)
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Somehow forgot this....
...I suppose we've got so used to it, it doesn't seem out of the ordinary any more.

I mentioned in my other post about the two touchscreens that I managed to make a good one from. It seems that the ailments they suffered are quite common in these models and as such, I found another three in the skip. The same problem as the last two, and the same resolution. I now have one in the kitchen.

Some time ago, I used to work for a large insurance company in London that needed a way of tracking documents throughout their building. To cut a long story short I wrote a program that used the barcodes on the document folder to update a database and as such the whereabouts of every document could be known with a click of a mouse. Whilst I was doing this, I was writing bits of it whilst working from home and as a consequence of this, I had a couple of barcode scanners at home. A few years later and I had left this employer, but I had accidently (and I mean accidently) forgotten to return the barcode scanners, and as such when I moved house I found them again.

This lead me to thinking....if only I could have a database of all the barcodes in the world (or commercial products), I could scan all my shopping into the fridge, larder etc... and I'd know exactly what I had at any one time.

And so it began.

Touchscreen duly screwed into the wall with newly-made wooden brackets, I set about finding an open-source database of UPC barcodes. This being the new-world of teh interweb, this didn't prove all that difficult to find (http://www.upcdatabase.com/ if anyone is interested). Luckily, that very generous chap has a download page where I could download (or indeed, setup a weekly cron job to run a script to download the latest and enter it into my database) all the barcodes.

...and this I did.

I then wrote a nice little frontend - VB.net this time, I don't know why, I suppose I wanted to see how it worked - in which each time a barcode was scanned it would search the database and if it didn't exist it would pop up a screen sking you what type it was - i.e. Meat, Tinned Peas, Tinned Spuds Fresh Peas, bog roll, toothpaste etc... and once pressed on the touch screen it would write it to the DB and remember for next time. Around 95% of the time the code was recognised.

The main screen had two "modes" - 'Add' and 'Remove'. You obviously click on Add when you come home with shopping and for the majority of the time the 'Remove' mode is set and the 'Remove' bar is flashing.

Take a beer from the Fridge? Press 'F' for fosters, then the fosters button. Use an onion, blah, blah....you get the idea. As this updates the database realtime, I can tell from my mobile phone (WAP or Web) exactly what we have in the house.

I took this to extremes: When you click the 'What's for dinner' button, it searches recipes.com in the background for the ingredients that you have in 'stock' and gives you a list of recipes that can be made with the ingredients you have. Press the button and up pops the ingredients and instructions.

This, the misses DOES like.

If we're running low on something it tells us, if we want a shopping list, I click the 'List' button and upstairs (bloody three floors away) the list prints out and off we go shopping.

Of course, this system is only as good as it's input. Sadly, we either frequently forget to tell it when we remove something and/or the kids tell it that something has been removed when it hasn't.

It's still good for around 80% of the time though!
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 15:51, 21 replies)
fucking hell man
you have teh MAD SKILLZ
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 15:56, closed)
I wish
I did.

I was thinking of putting a magnetic switch (I seem to have aquired a large bag of these from somewhere and it seems a shame not to use them for someting) on the fridge and larder doors, so that when it's opened the machine will start screaming at whoever opened it to tell it what it's taken out.

I can't wait for the days when RF ID tags become common place in supermarkets - that way, I'll know when ANYTHING has been removed and subtract it from the database.

EDIT: Talking of RFID you've reminded me of the project I'm sort-of working on (just got back from hols so it took a backseat for a few weeks). I shall post presently!

Probably best to break these up, as to post them all in one post would make it quite possibly the longest post QoTW has ever seen!
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 16:01, closed)
it would do
they are about the right length at the moment.

keep it up and you might just be the first person to have every answer on the best of page ;-)
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 16:04, closed)
VERY COOL :) How about a scanner built into the fridge so once you open the door and put the food in or take it out it scans it( have to have a scanner on every edge though) But iam sure it could be made to work,
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 16:56, closed)
This deserves another click...
Unfortunately I'm going to have to withhold it due to your touchscreen's obvious technical flaws - Fosters should be under 'C' for 'Cat's Piss'.
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 16:05, closed)
ha ha
The Fosters is for guests....honest!
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 16:11, closed)
Why do you invite people whom you despise so to your house?
(, Fri 21 Aug 2009, 11:23, closed)
It's true
The beer Australia imports to the rest of the world- coz no one here is dumb enough to drink the shit.
(, Tue 25 Aug 2009, 3:55, closed)
I like this
You are amazing!
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 16:05, closed)
Will you
be my daddy?

(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 16:07, closed)
Respec' - click !
I have oft wanted to set something like this up but I haven't been able to put it into practice yet - we could do with barcode scanners for food items as my fiance is totally blind and I'm not far off. A barcode scanner, a database, and some screen reader friendly software to administer it and we'd be well away. Kudos to you for actually making this stuff work ! Teh boy got skillz !
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 17:58, closed)
wouldn't be that difficult to set up.

I tell you what, you get hold of a barcode scanner (preferably the older PS2 ones - about 20 quid on ebay) and an old PC (with a soundcard and speakers so it can read back to you what has just been scanned - if you can get hold of a touchscreen so much the better), and I'll write the software for you.
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 18:42, closed)
*geeks out*
You are some kind of technological god.
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 20:07, closed)
only wish that were true.

Most of this stuff is bodged together out of bits and bobs - and a lot of it I had to brain-drain the electronic engineer at work for.

A year ago, I didn't even know what a resister did (although to be fair, I could guess from the name).

I even looked at electronics evening classes recently so I didn't have to make this stuff by trial and error and would have half a chance before I set out, but all I could find were "Soft furnishings" and "Falconry".

No wonder the country us fcked up!
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 20:28, closed)
At this rate
You're going to fill up the front page with no space for anyone else.
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 22:32, closed)
I love this
and by association, you.

As if I didn't already love you enough for helping me claw £1000 back from Natwest...
(, Thu 20 Aug 2009, 22:40, closed)
You share my own passion
for using technology to make life easier. So many geeks get that part wrong.

You'd love the project my mate's working on at the moment. He uses a combination of his iPhone, webcams and home network to automatically switch from in-car entertainment to touchscreen multi-angle reverse-parking assistance when he gets home. It's completely automatic, based on the wifi connection. My favourite feature though? If there's water in it (based on a pressure pad circuit breaker) an X10 unit switches on his kettle so by the time he gets to his kitchen, he can make a cuppa. Genius.

Another *click* coming your way. Keep it up :)
(, Fri 21 Aug 2009, 11:29, closed)

I haven't been on B3ta for ages now but feel compelled to write and tell you what a genius I think you are for your posts regarding your house set up.

I have at one time or another considered every single gadget you have mentioned so far...but that's about as far as it gets with me, as I have the techno savvy of a deep fried urang utan with a badly wiped arse.

Could I suggest (if you haven't done so already) that your 'shopping list' when it is created automatically, is connected to a database that puts the items in order of the location of the goods in the supermarket? thus saving valuable seconds on your trip round?

I have also thought of an 'all in one mail sorter'...you open your mail and run it through a double sided scanner which date stamps the scan, but there's also a keypad for a basic ID label to be attached to the file (in conjunction with the info that the scanner reads), plus a small on board storage (SD card or something) or network link, then an automated feed into a double tray underneath, by which you can choose to keep the hard copy or run it straight down into a shredder?

I know you could make that happen.
(, Tue 25 Aug 2009, 9:02, closed)
Oh my God.
I'd forgotten about that!

I actually did at one point have a similar thing to what you suggest.

I'll post it up as a QoTW answer now, rather than mention it here.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 11:43, closed)
Like it!
"Could I suggest (if you haven't done so already) that your 'shopping list' when it is created automatically, is connected to a database that puts the items in order of the location of the goods in the supermarket? thus saving valuable seconds on your trip round?"

Ooooh - I like that. Sadly though, I don't use supermarkets all that much any more - living in the sticks means that I have no choice but to travel to the bigger one every now and then, but I try for the most part to use the local shops, butchers, green grocer etc... as not only are they cheaper these days, but they are more often than not much better quality.
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 12:38, closed)
Surely as a self confessed
'IT dweeb' you should have some stuff for this weeks QOTW yourself, Pooflake? You've been missed by many!
(, Wed 26 Aug 2009, 14:00, closed)

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