What if all the devices in your life could connect to the internet? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, speakers, lights, door bells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, cooking utensils, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your commands? It's not science fiction; it's the Internet of Things (IoT), and it's a key component of home automation and smart homes.
Home automation is nothing new, but a recent boom in smart home tech has thrust it straight into the spotlight. Smart home kits, sensors and gadgets have been a dominating presence at CES for the past two years, with big names like Apple, Google, GE and Microsoft right there in the thick of it. That's not surprising, given that market experts predict that the smart home's market share will be worth tens of billions within the next few years.
For now, my pick is the Belkin WeMo Mini, which offers a mature, well-developed system, tons of use scenarios, fairly wide third-party compatibility, and best of all, a price point of just $35. It's a low-risk way to dip your foot into smart home waters, and if you like it, finding compatible gadgets that make it even smarter isn't difficult at all.
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During my three years at Socialtext, I helped maintain a test tooling system through a user interface that was advanced for its time. O'Reilly took it as a case study in the book Beautiful Testing. The team at Socialtext uses the same framework today, although it now has several tests running at one time on Amazon's Electric Compute Cloud. Although we had a great deal of GUI-driving tests, we also had developer-facing (unit) and web services (integration) tests, a visual slideshow that testers could watch for every browser, and a strategy to explore by hand for each release. This combination of methods to reduce risk meant we found problems early.
The Pittsburgh morgue sits in a squat cement building on a street with little light, sandwiched between a bar and a highway. The door was locked and the lobby quiet on Sunday evening; few people were out in the chilly, intermittent rain. A sign on the door instructed visitors to use a nearby phone to reach the security desk. Throughout the night, someone new would be arriving each hour. They were the shomrim, or guards.
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