I published a new iOS app: Allowance for YNAB!

My wife and I have been using YNAB for several years now and really enjoy it. We have our ups and downs with it, but on the whole it’s been a great addition to our financial lives. The main problem we have with it is just getting off the rails sometimes and not checking our balances before we purchase things (ahem, more groceries). I’ve wanted a way to make certain category balances appear more prominently in places where I’m likely to passively see them. »

I made a thing: Flying Toasters + Clock Screensaver

Other than memories of early computer gaming and getting interested in software development, I don’t have rose colored glasses for the Windows computing days of yore. Seeing where we are now and where we were, it’s hard for me to muster up much nostalgia. There are a few things, however, that do evoke that feeling. One of those things was After Dark screensavers. In particular, the Flying Toaster screensaver. It exists on the web still in various forms for most platforms but seeing as how screensavers are a technology of the past, you don’t see them too much and most people don’t put much if any thought into them. »

Our Binary Puppies

I haven’t really posted much that’s too personal on my blog yet, instead opting for more techy topics. I thought earlier it’d be nice to post some pictures of our puppies, Ichi and Zero, and realized I could split the uprights and hit both personal and techy in one post! Before we bought our house, I had always wanted to have a dog named Zero. At the time, my wife and I were studying Japanese for a trip we planned to take to visit a friend who was studying abroad in Tokyo (here are a few pictures from that trip). »

Sideload an Urban Dictionary Alexa skill, because who doesn't want to hear Alexa cuss?

Several months ago, Amazon ran a promotion where they would give you a free Echo Dot if you wrote and published (read ‘had approved’) an Alexa skill. At the time, we were part of a D&D campaign with some friends and, as D&D campaigns are want to do, things often got off the rails. On more than one occasion someone would make a joke about something lewd and one or two of us would run to Urban Dictionary and, as you can probably guess, the game would come to a grinding halt once the definition was read aloud. »

I made a thing: gpio-to-mqtt

I’ve wanted to formalize this project for a while and just recently got some free time to do so. gpio-to-mqtt is a Go application that monitors state changes to GPIO pins on a Raspberry Pi and relays those changes as JSON messages to an MQTT broker. That’s a mouthful. Hear me out though. Say you have an old alarm system in your house that you aren’t using. You have the little magnetic reed switches on your windows and maybe some door jamb switches that all run back to a central security system box somewhere in a laundry room, garage, basement, or wherever. »

Tinkering With The Amazon AWS IoT Button

In my last post about hacking Amazon Dash buttons, I mentioned there were some hiccups you would run into when trying to make an ordinary Dash Button work for IoT purposes. Namely, you would get an annoying popup on your phone about how you haven’t configured an item to ship when pressed. Annoying… Sure, there were ways around it, but the tradeoffs weren’t things I was willing to deal with. »

My Experience Hacking The Amazon Dash Button

A lot has been written about how to hack Amazon Dash buttons to do your bidding. When Amazon announced their AWS IoT buttons, I immediately preordered one but I also purchased a regular Dash button to play with in the interim. My first thought about the whole ordeal was “Why buy the $20 IoT button when you can just get a regular dash button for much cheaper and hack it?” Turns out, there is at least one reason… »

D&D Backstory: Kyrell Amari

A few friends of my wife and I have started a D&D campaign recently. I’ve played once before with some friends but I honestly had no idea what I was doing at the time which means I missed a lot of what makes D&D fun. With podcasts like The Adventure Zone and web series like Titansgrave, it ignited an interest in playing amongst a few of our friends. Now with a better understanding of the game, I was excited to tackle creating a proper character. »

Author image James Miller on #D&D,

Alfred Workflows

One of my favorite apps on OS X has always been Alfred. The number of things you can do with it is crazy and for someone who likes to fiddle with things and streamline cumbersome processes, it really is a godsend. Over time, I’ve found some workflows that have been pretty useful and also created some of my own. A lot of them are pretty pointless to share (who wants a workflow to download their kid’s daycare pictures? »

I made a thing: Goboom, a Go port of Boom

The other day, while playing around with some Alfred workflows, I had the need to store small bits of data between workflows in a key/value fashion. In the past, I’ve used either environment variables to do so or something like boom by Zach Holman. I don’t really like defining tons of environment variables for stuff like this, so boom was a natural fit. After creating the workflow and adding boom to it, I ran into some issues related to running Ruby via an embedded Alfred script. »

Author image James Miller on #Go,