TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Aug 98 Online

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 8
Column Tag: MacTech Online

Danger, Will Robinson

by Jeff Clites, online@mactech.com

When I sit down to program, I always know, somewhere in the back of my mind, that my efforts are ultimately targeted to the screen, the disk, or (if I'm feeling adventuresome), the network. But in the end, it's a very passive endeavor. My programs produce information -- maybe images or sound -- but, not action; they don't make things move. But they can. This month, we are going to find out about hooking your Mac up to the outside world, in a more visceral way than just attaching a printer. It's a hands-on subject, so roll up your sleeves and get ready.

Make Your Own Friends

Robots. They're as close as you can get to a computer with legs, and they can have almost as much personality as a Macintosh. I first saw a fun robot called CHiP at Macworld SF in January. It's a little blue car with two wheels and two sensing bumpers, which you can program and then run either tethered to your Mac or autonomously. The Hyperbot web site has a QuickTime movie of CHiP navigating a maze, to give you an idea of what he is like. There are also facilities for attaching additional sensors to CHiP, so for instance you could attach a light sensor and have him hide in the shadows. CHiP is still under development at the time of writing, but when finished it should be available through BeeHive Technologies, the makers of ADB I/O, reviewed elsewhere in this issue.

Hyperbot
http://www.hyperbot.com/
BeeHive Technologies, Inc.
http://www.bzzzzzz.com/

Another fun place to get your feet wet is with LEGO® robots, built from LEGOs® augmented with a few electronic parts. The Caltech ICOBotics(tm) site has Macintosh software which lets you write programs for your robots, using an iconic language. ICOBotics(tm) is intended to be an educational tool, and it would be a great way to introduce kids to programming, letting them learn the fundamentals (control structures, subroutines, etc.) while seeing very tangible results.

ICOBotics(tm) for LEGO Dacta® Home Page
http://www.micro.caltech.edu/icobotics/

There are also a number of pages on the web devoted to those seeking a more hands-on approach. Some of them are specifically geared (no pun intended) to the hobbyist roboteur, but the same general principles apply to building any sort of device which moves -- so even if you don't want to build R2-D2 a brother, you still might have fun adding computer control to your doggie door. A good place to start is Dan O'Sullivan's Physical Computing page, a hand-illustrated guide to the various components involved in hooking a computer up to the outside world, focussing on communication through the serial port and targeted toward artists. Matthew McDonald has a large compendium of useful information on hobby robotics, and there is a well-organized FAQ for the comp.robotics.misc and comp.robotics.research newsgroups. For the latest news, stop by Robotic.com, which prominently displays a "made with Mac" logo.

Physical Computing
http://www.itp.tsoa.nyu.edu/~alumni/dano/physical/physical.html
Info on Hobby Robots
http://www.cs.uwa.edu.au/~mafm/robot/index.html
Robotics FAQ
http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/robotics-faq/TOC.html
ROBOTIC.COM
http://www.robotic.com/

For further technical information as well as supplies, start with FerretTronics. They sell controllers for servo motors, and their web site has a step-by-step guide to using their package to build the circuitry of a robot or other device, including Mac-specific information. They also have free Java-based Mac software for interfacing with their controllers, and examples showing how to drive them from AppleScript or Future BASIC.

FerretTronics
http://www.busprod.com/ferrettronics/

For programming of embedded microcontrollers, Crossbow by Peripheral Issues is a Macintosh cross-assembler and IDE which allows you to target a wide range of chips, and Interactive C by Newton Research Labs is a programming environment created for the MIT LEGO® Robot Design contest, and it can compile instructions on-the-fly for quick development. You will also want to look into the Handy Board, developed at MIT as well. It's a controller board for experimental mobile robotics, and should be programmable in either of the above environments. By the way, it was designed on a Macintosh (don't forget to tell your PC buddies), and they provide links to the circuit-design software used.

Crossbow
http://www.periph.com/crossboweb/Crossbow.html
Interactive C
http://www.newtonlabs.com/ic/
The Handy Board
http://lcs.www.media.mit.edu/groups/el/projects/handy-board/

For the rest of the parts you might need, the Internet Robotics Sources page has an extensive list of commercial (and other) links, and the Mondo-tronics' Robot Store claims to have "the world's biggest collection of miniature robots and supplies," and is worth visiting just to see their cute web design.

Internet Robotics Sources
http://129.79.254.195/l/www/robotics/world.html
Mondo-tronics' Robot Store
http://www.robotstore.com/

Now, when you tell you friends, "my Mac can beat up your Mac," you'll really mean it.

Respect for the Elderly

If you are anything like me, you hate to give up a good Mac which has served you well, even after you've purchased a new one. So you've saved Old Faithful, but what now? Fortunately, there's a lot you can do with an old Mac -- from the silly (yes, we've all heard of the Macquarium) to the practical. Jeff Weitzman's Great Ideas for Old Macs page has a bunch of suggestions, such as using old Macs to set up email and ftp servers for an intranet, or using them to run a book tracking system in a school library. To find software for your early Macs, go to Jag's world, which has an extensive list of shareware which runs on older Macs, and even has instructions for "How to Get Your Compact Mac on the Web." Finally, there's the Low-End Mac page, which has all sorts of information on older Macs and also tracks current Mac-related news.

Great Ideas For Old Macs
http://weitzman.net/classicmacs/
Jag's World
http://www.eden.com/~arena/jagshouse/jagshouseone.html
How To Get Your Compact Mac On the Web
http://www.eden.com/~arena/jagshouse/GetYourCompactMacOnTheWeb.html
Low End Mac
http://come.to/lowendmac

Just Because

While we are on the subject of the fun and unusual, I have to point out the Oddities Curios & Rarities for Macintosh web site. It has nothing to do with programming per se, except to drive home the point that necessity is not the only mother of invention. It is full of all sorts of downright weird software -- things such as Sim-Tofu, Psychomatic, and Kant Generator Pro. It all makes you wonder what you would do with that much free time.

Oddities Curios & Rarities for Macintosh
http://www.mac-curios.com/

These and scads of other links are available from the MacTech Online web pages at www.mactech.com/online/.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Garmin Express 4.0.18.0 - Manage your Ga...
Garmin Express is your essential tool for managing your Garmin devices. Update maps, golf courses and device software. You can even register your device. Update maps Update software Register your... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.6.4 - Organize your digita...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more
jAlbum 12.6.4 - Create custom photo gall...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.16 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
Spotify 1.0.4.90. - Stream music, create...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
djay Pro 1.1 - Transform your Mac into a...
djay Pro provides a complete toolkit for performing DJs. Its unique modern interface is built around a sophisticated integration with iTunes and Spotify, giving you instant access to millions of... Read more
Vivaldi 1.0.118.19 - Lightweight browser...
Vivaldi browser. In 1994, two programmers started working on a web browser. Our idea was to make a really fast browser, capable of running on limited hardware, keeping in mind that users are... Read more
Stacks 2.6.11 - New way to create pages...
Stacks is a new way to create pages in RapidWeaver. It's a plugin designed to combine drag-and-drop simplicity with the power of fluid layout. Features: Fluid Layout: Stacks lets you build pages... Read more
xScope 4.1.3 - Onscreen graphic measurem...
xScope is powerful set of tools that are ideal for measuring, inspecting, and testing on-screen graphics and layouts. Its tools float above your desktop windows and can be accessed via a toolbar,... Read more
Cyberduck 4.7 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more

This Week at 148Apps: April 20-24, 2015
The Apps of April How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out above the many... | Read more »
Discover Your Reflexes With Minimalist G...
Discover O, BYOF Studios, may look simple at first with its' color matching premise and swipe controls, but as you speed up the task becomes more daunting. [Read more] | Read more »
Here's Another Roundup of Notable A...
Now that the Apple Watch is publically available (kind of), even more apps and games have been popping up for it. Some of them are updates to existing software, others are brand new. The main thing is that they're all for the Apple Watch, and if you... | Read more »
Use Batting Average and the Apple Watch...
Batting Average, by Pixolini, is designed to help you manage your statistics. Every time you go to bat, you can use your Apple Watch to track  your swings, strikes, and hits. [Read more] | Read more »
Celebrate Studio Pango's 3rd Annive...
It is time to party, Pangoland pals! Studio Pango is celebrating their 3rd birthday and their gift to you is a new update to Pangoland. [Read more] | Read more »
Become the World's Most Important D...
Must Deliver, by cherrypick games, is a top-down endless-runner witha healthy dose of the living dead. [Read more] | Read more »
SoundHound + LiveLyrics is Making its De...
SoundHound Inc. has announced that SoundHound + LiveLyrics, will be one of the first third-party apps to hit the Apple Watch. With  SoundHound you'll be able to tap on your watch and have the app recognize the music you are listening to, then have... | Read more »
Adobe Joins the Apple Watch Lineup With...
A whole tidal wave of apps are headed for the Apple Watch, and Adobe has joined in with 3 new ways to enhance your creativity and collaborate with others. The watch apps pair with iPad/iPhone apps to give you total control over your Adobe projects... | Read more »
Z Steel Soldiers, Sequel to Kavcom'...
Kavcom has released Z Steel Soldiers, which continues the story of the comedic RTS originally created by the Bitmap Brothers. [Read more] | Read more »
Seene Lets You Create 3D Images With You...
Seene, by Obvious Engineering, is a 3D capture app that's meant to allow you to create visually stunning 3D images with a tap of your finger, and then share them as a 3D photo, video or gif. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Final day for Best Buy’s 4 Day Sale: Up to $3...
Best Buy has the new 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $799.99 through April 27th. That’s $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this new model from any reseller. Choose... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $50 off Mac...
Take an additional $50 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through May 9, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take advantage of... Read more
Save up to $300 on a new Mac, $30 on an iPad,...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
Zoho Business Apps for Apple Watch Put Select...
Pleasanton, California based Zoho has launched Zoho Business Apps for Apple Watch, a line of apps that extends Zoho business applications to let users perform select functions from an Apple Watch.... Read more
Universal Stylus Initiative Launched to Creat...
OEMs, stylus and touch controller manufacturers have announced the launch of Universal Stylus Initiative (USI), a new organization formed to develop and promote an industry specification for an... Read more
Amazon Shopping App for Apple Watch
With the new Amazon shopping app for Apple Watch, Amazon customers with one of the wearable devices can simply tap the app on the watch to purchase items in seconds, or save an idea for later. The... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for up to $260 off MSRP
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $260 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2799, $200 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3719.99... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available for...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for $100 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $199, $100... Read more
Intel Compute Stick: A New Mini-Computing For...
The Intel Compute Stick, a new pocket-sized computer based on a quad-core Intel Atom processor running Windows 8.1 with Bing, is available now through Intel Authorized Dealers across much of the... Read more
Heal to Launch First One-Touch House Call Doc...
Santa Monica, California based Heal, a pioneer in on-demand personal health care services — will offer the first one-touch, on-demand house call doctor app for the Apple Watch. Heal’s Watch app,... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* iOS Specialist - TCML (United States...
AppleiOS Specialist Senior Apple /iOS Administrator/Engineer responsible for configuration and distribution of desktop, laptop and mobile devices to State Employees Read more
*Apple* Client Systems Solution Specialist -...
…drive revenue and profit in assigned sales segment and/or region specific to the Apple brand and product sets. This person will work directly with CDW Account Managers Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Support Technician IV - Jack Henry a...
Job Description Jack Henry & Associates is seeking an Apple Support Technician. This position while acting independently, ensures the proper day-to-day control of Read more
*Apple* Client Systems Solution Specialist -...
…drive revenue and profit in assigned sales segment and/or region specific to the Apple brand and product sets. This person will work directly with CDW Account Managers Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.