Charnell Lucich

The Chumby: toss it in your bag and go!

Posted on: October 24, 2007

The Chumby is a compact device about the size of a GPS that allows you to access the internet using your wireless internet connection. Instead of lugging around your laptop or always searching for a public computer to access the Internet, you can just toss this little baby in your bag or in your purse and go.

My first thought when reading about this neat little gadget was, “cool idea, but what’s the cost?” They boast that the cost is less than $200.00 which is a great deal, especially since it includes FREE access to the Chumby Network. No subscriptions, no plans, it’s all paid for by Chumby and sponsors who send you widgets to use.

The only downside that I see for this neat little gadget is that you always have to have AC power. The reason for this is because it’s always on; no sleep mode. Luckily they say it takes less than 30 seconds to power up if it shuts down for any reason.

They say that “the Chumby is “open” for tinkering in every way: hardware and software specifications are available online, plus the pattern for crafting new cases.”

I’ll be checking one of these out just as soon as it’s available for me to purchase.

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2 Responses to "The Chumby: toss it in your bag and go!"

I want to get one or two of these for the office to indicate status of various sub-systems, ticker tape, ticket queues, etc.

could be interesting exploration of status indicators. Could be something simple as RED is bad, yellow is eh? and green is All Systems GO! A step above would be real-time graphs of some activity. but keep it simple, use little or no words at all and meaningful colors so you can glance at it, understand it without having to stop, focus on it, read it, interpret, react and then resume whatever you were doing before.

unfortunately, people seem to think complicated widgets are more meaningful; it’s not really, it’s just more conscience effort is expended to understand it. To be fair, complicated widgets are pretty to look at, which is part of their appeal.

“Complicated widgets” is an oxymoron .. a widget should just be a single element or box that does a simple task. If your “widget” starts taking on the life of a full-blown application, it is time to refactor. The company I do R&D for is currently rebuilding their CRM and Intranet into a widget-based web application .. each individual function is a widget, and people get different widgets based on department and function plus some customizable widgets. So many people downplay the importance of good user interface design these days .. sigh.

The Chumby looks pretty cool, but it needs a battery and a sleep mode. It looks about the size of my GPS, which has 4 hours of battery life without sleep mode, so it shouldn’t be difficult. It is a good step in the direction of ubiquitous computing though. I imagine Google might take notice of something like this in the near future (if they have not alerady).

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