First Impressions with Spark Core

Spark Core Package

WOW this thing is small! (and that’s a good thing) It’s roughly the size of a USB thumb drive and includes WiFi, 8 analog pins, and 8 digital pins.

 

Spark Core in PackageSpark Core on Board

The initial setup instructions of the Spark Core were all online at http://docs.spark.io/start/. The setup process really shows the strong suits of the Spark Core in the wireless setup instructions as well as communication to the Core through an iOS or Android app. You can also connect it via a computer, but the simplicity of the mobile connection startup was unique.

My troubles with the “Getting Started” process were in the WiFi connection. Since my Spark Core was the uFL connector type, trying to connect to my router from across the room did not work without an antenna. However, once I realized that the problem might be the signal strength, my setup process worked flawlessly after I tried the pairing process with both the Spark Core and my iPhone right next to the router.

After setting up the Spark Core, I was able to toggle the digital pins from the iOS application seamlessly, the only thing to note is that the digitalWrite does not register until after you exit the change state dialog

Spark iOSIn order to push the change to the board, it needs to look like this:

Spark iOS2

The examples are easy to code and run via the web IDE or dev software and SparkJS allows for easy web development through Node.js to connect to and call functions that have been flashed to the firmware on the Spark Core. Overall, the Spark Core provides a true out of box IoT (Internet of Things) device. I’m excited to start using it for some of my projects!

 

First Post via Email

So simple! Plugins are simple to install and activate from the WordPress dashboard.

After signing up for a WordPress.com account and installing the Jetpack plugin, I was able to activate it and authorize it to use my WordPress.com account. Then by generating a special email address that enables me to post via email, I can now send emails to this special email account and it will post them for me!

It allows me to tag the email with special short does which enable categories, tags, delay posting, etc.
Jetpack Info on Email Posting

Why WordPress?

I figured that I should document my reasoning for choosing WordPress for this blog over Jekyll, Octopress, Pelican, or most other popular static site generators. The biggest reason for me was the accessibility of WordPress. I can access the content and update it from my phone or write posts via email! While most static site generators provide a great platform for creating and maintaining a blog via the desktop, very few seem to have the capability to update it when on the go.

Another reason to use WordPress are the themes. The ability to add and switch layouts seamlessly without delving into the code and switching it out yourself makes creating a beautiful blog simple. If you want to make edits to a theme you can (I would suggest using Child Themes so that they are saved between Theme updates). Adding other users who can manage posts or enable comments can all be changed via the dashboard.

Overall, it provides a great platform to blog on for people who don’t want to think about the code behind it.

Hello world!

The first post on my first professional blog.

Going through the process of understanding DNS redirections and the differences between CNAME and A records was a little tiresome. I’ve done this a couple times before with different sites, but unlike before, I am using namecheap.com for my domain registration and azure as my content hoster for the WordPress installation.

I managed to successfully forward from my domain name to the azure website by setting up “URL Forwarding” for the Host Names “@” and “www” to the Azure Website URL as a record type “CNAME”.

An initial problem I had was that the forward only lasted for the initial webpage because all links led to the azure website. This was easily solved by going into the WordPress settings and changing “WordPress Address” and “Site Address” to my anthonyngu.com URL.