I had a few days off work to recharge the batteries and was looking forward to heading to the beach, but ended up taking a rain check due to the bad weather. Sydney just had the wettest Summer in years, which was good in a way as it ended up breaking the drought and putting water in the dams. So to make the most of my time off I decided to build my own USB Sensor Bar so that I could get a Wiimote working with my laptop.
If you followed my previous post on getting the Wiimote to work with Ubuntu, then you should be able to move the cursor around using your Wiimote, and using the A and B buttons as left and right clicks respectively. However, using the accelerometer alone for moving the cursor around does not make for a great user experience. To enable the Wiimote to work more effectively you need to setup a point of reference that can be used by the Wiimote driver to calculate the directional movement of the Wiimote accelerometers. This point of reference for the Wii is the Sensor Bar that sites on top of the television set. So you can either buy a battery powered Sensor Bar or make your own USB Sensor Bar. I ended up doing the latter by following the instructions at Terbidium.
To get started you need a USB cable, four infrared LEDs, LED holders, aluminium tubing, electrical tape or heat shrink tubing, and a laptop.
The USB Sensor Bar is a simple serial circuit that consists of four infrared LEDs that are grafted to an old USB cable.
You may need to add a resistor into the circuit if your LEDs don’t produce a voltage drop of 5 Volts, which is the standard power source for USB devices. It is worth testing your circuit design on a circuit board as shown below.
The circuit is then squeezed into a tight-fitting aluminium tubing that is cut to about 30cm in length. The USB cable hangs out one end of the tubing, and the LEDs sit in LED holders that have been positioned into some neatly drilled holes. The completed USB Sensor Bar is pictured below.
The silly season is over for another year and if you were fortunate enough to get a Nintendo Wii in your stocking then this article is for you. If you were like me then you probably played a bit of tennis or tenpin bowling to learn and adapt to the new Wii controller. The Wii controller is definitely an innovative and novel approach to more interactive game play. After a few more hours of Wii baseball youâ€™ll be swinging the Wii controller around and hitting home runs like Babe Ruth in next to no time.
Eventually your inner geek takes over and you exit Wii sport and proceed with connecting your console to the Internet. It took a little while to configure the Wii for my wireless network at home, but I eventually got the Wii talking to my Airport Express. You need to configure your Airport Express so that it uses the first channel option, and not the default automatic setting, especially when you have set up a secure network. Most routers have multiple Channels, but the Wii is only capable of using the security key in the first channel. Eventually I got round to browsing Slashdot and reading my email in Gmail using the Opera web browser on the Wii.
The next thing I got working on the Wii was Mingle. I was inspired by the YouTube video of Agile 2007 where Studios was demonstrating Mingle on a Wii to the conference attendees. All I had to do was point the Wiiâ€™s Opera browser to an instance of Mingle running from my laptop on the local network, and lo and behold Mingle was right there on my Wii. I was amazed with how natural the Wii controller was with navigating Mingle. You can even grab a story card and move it around like you would with a real story wall. I guess the Studios guys and gals really werenâ€™t using their Wii for playing games.
Having experienced how easy it is to install Mingle and get it running on a Wii, I wouldnâ€™t be surprised to see a Wii and data projector included in every Quick Start Kit in the near future. Imagine how many trees we would save from not having to use any more index cards!
Seriously though, it could be used as a tool for enticing client developers to attend and get involved with iteration planning sessions. It would also distinguish ThoughtWorks projects from other consultantsâ€™ projects on the client site. Imagine walking into a showcase with a Wii and data projector and running through the Mingle reports before showing the client what you have developed in the last iteration. You will just blow their minds.
In my opinion coupling Mingle with a Wii will give you the Purple Cow of Agile project management tools. Throwing Lara Bingle into the mix and you get: so what the bloody hell are you waiting for? Go out and try it!
Connecting the Nintendo Wii to the Internet is quite easy, especially if you are connecting to an Apple Airport Express. However, if you don’t properly configure the Airport Express, then you will suffer slow downloads and constant timeout errors on your Wii. All you really need to do is configure the Airport Express so that the Channel option is set to 1 instead of Automatic in the AirPort tabbed page, then update the configuration of your Airport Express. Simple as that.
If you want to add security, then use WEP. Either 40 bit WEP or 128 bit WEP works with the Wii. Remember that 40 bit WEP requires a 5 character password key and the 128 bit WEP requires a 13 character password key. If you want to lock down your wireless network to a list of MAC addresses, then retrieve the MAC address of your Wii from the Internet settings, and add it to the Access Control of your Airport Express.