February 19, 2010

Scroll Relief for Apple's Magic Mouse

Ever since I got Apple's wireless magic mouse, I've been conflicted about the touch-sensitive scrolling. It really works great, but horizontal scrolling can be a problem. In Design applications I use (e.g. Adobe Illustrator), the canvas twitches everytime I click. I'd turn scrolling off in mouse preferences, but that affects both horizontal and vertical scrolling (I *like* vertical scrolling.) Thus, the conflict.

Tonight, I was trolling the internet and finally found the solution. There's a post here that explains how to use a Terminal window to disable horizontal scrolling only. Turns out it works great!

For those less command-line comfortable, I wrote a small Applescript application that does the same thing. All you do is run the application; click the preferred setting; then restart your computer (or, turn your mouse off/on) and, viola!, settings changed.

Maybe there will be an official solution to twitchy scrolling, but in the meantime this workaround has made me a happy camper!

Click here to download the application for OS X. It's in a .dmg, so when you double-click it, it will open to show the application within. Drag the app to your desktop and run it.

Note: not to damper any enthusiasm, but I have to say the application works fine for me, but, of course, is supplied as-is without any warranty of any kind.

Posted by bob | 2:20 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

February 7, 2010

Tutorial: Assembling the SparkFun MegaShield


The Arduino is a popular, in-expensive, open-source microcontroller board and software development enviroment. Arduino boards come in a variety of styles and are available from numerous suppliers including SparkFun Electronics. One recent version of the Arduino is the ArduinoMega. The "Mega", just as it's name suggests, is an Arduino, supersized. More digital I/O pins. More PWM outputs. More Analog inputs. and 4 UARTS (hardware serial ports). And, if that wasn't enough, more memory.

Despite the Mega's larger size, it actually still fits Shields designed for the smaller Diecimila and Duemilanove Arduino board. However, if you've got the expanded Mega, why limit yourself to a standard shield? SparkFun sells a MegaShield that's deisgned specifically for the Mega which provides access to all of the Mega's pins and makes for a handy prototyping platform (SparkFun also sells the Arduino Mega if you need one). Unlike the standard ProtoShield, however, it is bare-bones. It includes a dedicated reset switch and power LED, and only a single LED hard-wired to digital pin #13 to use in experiments. But, that also makes for a board that's easier to assemble and more flexible. Even though assembling the MegaShield is pretty straight forward, there are a few things that might not be totally obvious, so here's a short tutorial to help you through the process.

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Posted by bob | 10:15 AM | permalink | Comments (0)

February 2, 2010

Tutorial: SparkFun ProtoShield for Arduino Assembly, Updated


The Arduino is a popular, inexpensive, open-source microcontroller board. The software development enviroment is also open-source and freely downloadable. Arduino boards come in a variety of styles and are available from numerous suppliers including SparkFun Electronics.

Shields are extension boards that attach to a standard Arduino board to extend it's capabilities. The ProtoShield kit from SparkFun is such a shield designed to facilitate prototyping and breadboarding projects. It includes a grid for components along with two LEDs and a switch. An optional solderless breadboard makes the ProtoShield a very handy prototyping tool.

When the V1 ProtoShield was released by SparkFun, I created a tutorial showing how to assemble and use the board. Since then, an updated shield has been released. Some of the differences between the two shields are:

  • Stacking headers are used rather than separate sets of male/female headers. This reduces the number of parts and means you can stack multiple ProtoShields on top of each other if you want.
  • The reset button on the V2 board is now connected to the reset pin exposed by newer Arduino Diecimila boards. Again, this makes for easier assembly, but means that the reset button won't work with the older NG boards (making it impossible to upload sketches). The trick to making it work with NG boards is easy, though, and described in this tutorial.
  • The data pins from the BlueSMiRF socket (for an optional BlueSMiRF bluetooth module) are routed to the TX/RX pins on the Arduino (in V1 they were rounted to pins 2/3, I think) which makes it easier to manage communication.

All said, the V2 board is a nice update that's easier to assemble, and is really an excellent experimenting/prototyping tool for the Arduino, well worth an updated tutorial.

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Posted by bob | 11:37 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

June 2, 2007

DiggX, Hacked Firmware for the Digg Button (youTube and Instructables)

adafruit industries makes a very cool and simple electronics kit called the Digg Button. It's an offshoot of the Digg.com social filtering news site. The Digg Button just counts the number of times it's pressed, or dug. A measure of esteem. It's based on an Atmel AVR2313 microprocessor and the original firmware was published on the ladyada support site for adafruit. DiggX is my hacked version, available here. The .zip file has the "hex" file which can be downloaded to the Digg Button. It also contains the source files (in C) so you can mod my mod if you want. Opensource, of course.

It changes some behaviors and adds some features:

  • Longer scrolling and selfish message ("digg me" rather than "digg")
  • A short button press increments the counter and plays the "dug" animation
  • A long button press resets the counter to zero and returns to scrolling
  • A timeout after 2 minutes of no presses returns the Digg Button to scrolling (but doesn't reset the count) ... kind of a screensaver mode that helps attract diggers
  • A long timeout after 5 minutes of no presses puts the Digg Button into sleep mode to conserve power. Pressing the button wakes it up again

I've posted a short youTube demo at:

And, finally, I also created an Instructable (at instructables.com) that shows how to create a removable interface cable for the Digg Button.

Check 'em out.

Posted by bob | 2:58 PM | permalink | Comments (0)

YouTube and Proxies

Another of many insights I've gained only after long hours of confusion was that I needed to enable proxy access on my firewall before I could upload videos to youTube. Without this, it would appear to work, but hang after some random percentage has been sent. I finally changed this setting for no other reason than it was something I hadn't tried (i.e. act of desparation).

There was no word of this ANYWHERE I searched.

Posted by bob | 2:54 PM | permalink | Comments (0)