I just got a Chumby alpha prototype and am really *really* excited -- big up to Michael Coleman for giving me a chance to play around with it at this early stage!
Getting it up and running was a breeze (once I got hold of my US power adaptor that is), here are the steps involved:
1. plug in the chumby
2. switch it on
3. calibrate the touch screen
4. set up the wifi connection
5. register your chumby id with your account on the website
Now all you need to do is log in to the chumby.com account and start adding Flash widgets to a channel. The Chumby then cycles through these widgets.
Of course what sold me on the Chumby is, apart from it running Linux and being completely open and hackable, it support Flash Lite 2.1 and access to its sensors (squeeze, accelerometer, touchscreen) through ASNative calls. A few features are still missing from this alpha version, most notably external MP3 streaming, but that will no doubt make it in the final product.
In under half an hour I managed to fling together a little widget; as you might have expected from me its an RSS reader for the Adobe XML News Aggregator that cycles through the last 15 blog posts. Just a few things to keep in mind when creating a widget:
- export to Flash Lite 2.1
- set dimensions to 320x240 pixels
- frame rate needs to be 12 fps
- create a background fill if you don't want black
- don't use _root (widgets get loaded into a holder movie clip)
_ fonts need to be embedded
- maximum filesize for a widget is 100kb
When you're ready with that, just use the upload widget form on chumby.com where you specify your widget details, give it a category upload the SWF and a thumbnail JPG (80x60 pixels). There's a checkbox right in that form that allows you to make the widget public so other Chumbians can add it to their channel.
If you're not a proud owner of a Chumby yet, you can start using the virtual chumby when you create an account on the website (see below).
There's much more to cover (SSH to the device, running Python, Ruby, Java, Perl on it etc.) but I'll keep that for another blog post when I've had some more time to play around with my new best friend.
The guys are really awesome with their support and I can't wait to see this device get widely available!
If you didn't already know, the Chumby will be publicly available some time in Spring 2007 with a price tag of around 150 USD... oh, and it has an alarm clock function too ;)