Mashup Sighting

Via the Hype Machine blog, I just found one of my mashups, Gblinker, mentioned in a textbook called Business Driven Technology. Chapter 14 has a section on mashups, and here’s a photo of the page. Judging by the other entries on the page, it looks like this section was lifted from the speek geeking page from the Mashup Camp III in Boston.

The idea for Gblinker was simple. At some of the conferences I attended, Google handed out some fun blinky LED pins as swag. I thought it would be a cool idea to rig one up to a computer and have it blink whenever I received a Gmail message. So to be lazy I decided to reuse what I could find instead of writing a program from scratch. I knew there was a Gmail widget for the Yahoo widget engine (formerly Konfabulator), so I started there. In the documentation, I discoveded that Yahoo widgets could make COM calls–what luck! So I wrote a simple dll in C# to flip on and off the serial port’s RTS bit, and modified the Gmail widget to call the dll. That’s all there was to it. The fun hack ended up winning 5th or 6th place at Mashup Camp in Boston, and as far as I know, was the first hardware mashup from any of the camps. The prize: a copy of Visual Studio 🙂

It’s always fun to see things you’ve done pop up out of nowhere, especially in dead-tree version. My favorite surprise was when my TagCloud prototype ended up in the book Yahoo Hacks. Coincidentally, the free sample chapter (PDF link) just happens to be the one on TagCloud.


About John Herren

John Herren is a developer and technical consultant with focus on web applications. He currently serves as Director of Development for Primetime US, the company behind the hit movie and book The Secet. John was formerly staff writer and developer community evangelist for Zend Technologies. Along with founding neat experiments like, John is an active member in the mashup community, working with API providers and speaking at conferences. He is a published author of Linux certification study material. John enjoys using open source software like PHP and Ruby on Rails to bend the web into exciting new chimeras of hyperlinked goodness. View all posts by John Herren

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