Never loose my keys again!

These came in the mail today. Simple little units.  Takes 20 seconds to join them to your phone.  Never lose your keys again, right?  What did I do almost immediately, lost one!  Put one in my pocket to show a friend at dinner last night.  It must have come out of my pocket as I pulled out my specks.  The good news is – now I get to go back to my friend’s place and look for it!  In fact, I am going to ask him to load the app and see if the global mesh network of apps finds it for me.

Time passes… the below will be written after I get over to my friend’s place.

[Currently intentionally left blank]


What could you possibly use 8 relays on a board for?

I’ll be honest, today is payday and, I’ve been thinking about improvements to existing projects, surf’n the web looking to buy!  Then I thought of my binary Christmas tree display.  I remember seeing an 8 relay board on the web a long time ago, and thinking what could I use THAT for?  I had to come up with an excuse to buy it of course.  I convinced myself I could build a holiday light display with a twist.  I decided I’d flash the lights in binary.  Check it out if you have not watched it yet.

Now that was a fun project.  How do I expand on that in the context of “the farm”.  There’s a solar array in the field  – ideas?

I can’t say I bought this one below – but they all look about the same.  When you are just having fun with an Arduino you can afford the 8 pins to drive these things.  I suspect some have a BCD to relay decoder chip built in.  That would reduce the number of pins you need to dedicate.  Or you can use a shift register (those are fun. Look em up if you have not considered them in your project yet).

5V Eight 8 Channel DC 5V Relay Switch Module for Arduino Raspberry Pi Arm AVR | eBay

So now you’ve got a project for yourself to figure out.  The code for an Arduino to do the above binary tree display was fairly simple.  You can get fancy if you want.  Where you’ll want to be careful is how you wire up the high voltage side of the system.  I took a lot of care modifying a power strip.  This had the advantage of 8 sockets ready to plug into.  Go for it – be safe.

The perfect way to actually get and be rich

I am a keen (if not recently) fan of saving money for the long haul. In the past, my objective was to pass away with the most debt possible so as to maximize the present. A cheeky goal of course – not terribly practical. In fact, when I review, I’ve not been THAT good at accumulating the massive debt needed to “be rich”. While on a staycation this week I’ve put a lot more thought into what money is and what money does. I even read a few books. Here’s the simple answer, start saving now. You are not saving for a car, or a new this or that, you are saving for your life without chains. Savings are not a nest egg to spend later. They are invested to work for you when you no longer want to work. The sooner you start saving the sooner you can choose not to work. The horizon for that moment in time will seem very far away to some today. You may be thinking a savings plan is maybe for my kids, and it is, but you too can benefit from taking definitive action (either for yourself or your kids). I realize I have been saving for a long time by side effect (RRSP, 401k, ESPP and other work benefits). Now I am saving with intent. When you can quantify your goal you get far more value from the effort of saving. And it is an effort. Let’s make it automatic, a part of the cost of living today, and a habit.

This book got me started thinking in this direction. It may or may not help you. It may or may not be right. What it did do is open my thoughts to possibilities I had not considered. At the least I found it empowering to know that the amount of saving you need to retire is, in fact, quantifiable – hence goal worthy.

Once you’ve read the book – well now – bookmark this link (my personal invite to you) – it’s a simple site where you can start those investments now.

Here’s the link to the book on Amazon – if you don’t get it now put it on a wish list for later – reading it now is, of course, my personal recommendation.

Project North Pole – “doe a dear”

So far all I have is a wish list on Sparkfun that will someday reflect the entire bundle of parts I plan to use.  The object is to control 8 strings (or more) of lights as a simple display for the front yard around December or Late October (with the right music).  I’ll need at least a year from now I imagine before I get anything running.


Coffee Shop login v1.8 stable

v1.8 has been out for a while – we are pleased to say that there have been no complaints. If you have some issues you have been holding back on please email us and we will look into them (

For a week there in February we let the app price fall to free.  This was to help out those international guests attending the Vancouver 2010 Olympic games in Canada’s west.  We are happy to have helped out (and the McYork Dot Com staff volunteered for various events at the Olympic Games).

Coffee Shop 1.8 in the pipe.

Yet another update – and yes we are not happy that there was yet another significant change to the portals.  The good news is that every time the portals change we get the opportunity to think about how we can also improve our code base and make it more flexible and robust.

If you have been watching, version 1.7 logs you in just fine – but fails to dismiss the please wait popup.  The final login page and how we detect it is now more robust in version 1.8.  We just posted it to the iTunes site and the approvals can take up to 14 days.

Please use 1.7 and just close it once you see that the login has been done behind the popup – you are on the Internet.  Opening the program a second time will load your session page and you can logout when you need to.

Coffee Shop Login 1.7 now on-line

This version will now properly bypass the Bell iPhone prompt for your Bell phone number. We don’t have a Bell phone and suspect most of you also don’t (yet). We now detect this annoying page and move on to the normal login page. iTouch users will not have seen this issue because it looks like Bell is able to tell the difference between a phone and a touch.

If anyone with a Bell iPhone can tell us what happens (how the login proceeds and if it remembers you next time) we’d like to try an enhancement so you can use this app too (if/when you switch from Rogers).

Get the new version now in the app store by checking for updates.  Buy it now if you don’t have it (opens iTunes).

Starbucks / Bell portal change – working on a fix.

The Canada Starbucks portal now detects iPhones and presents a new intermediate page.  This page is intended for Bell iPhone (and maybe Bell smart phone) users.  We of course currently all have either Rogers phones or somehow got out of jail.  So this page does not help us at all.  The current plan is to try and detect the detection and submit the “other” choice and then continue with the login as was done before.

The good news will be we should then be saving you one more swipe and tap.

The McYork Support Team

Home page now out of Beta – Content growing

It has taken a while to “bite the bullet” and move from just html (back) to WordPress.  We realized we are not building the ultimate web site (shocking I know).  We need something we can use and update often and without complex tools installed on everyone’s machine.  It was settled on to use WordPress.  Once we found a theme that worked out of the gate – we could lift the veil off the Beta version.  Yes it is all fairly simple and less than customized.

Part of the theme re-formats the site for the iPhone – we thought that may be a good thing considering we sell iPhone apps now.  There is room for improvement here and getting our tags and categories setup may help navigation when the site is viewed on the iPhone.

Overall there are three important sections (that will get refined edits as time passes):

  • Products
  • Projects
  • News

Products will be the place to start.  Here you can get the scoop on our current iPhone applications and anything else we put together.  Most products are of course for sale and you should buy one for yourself.

Projects is a place we (and mostly Ian) will post pages about some of the hobby electronics that involve much of our spare time (in bursts).  These project pages will be edited and re-edited until one day it reads well and the project is complete (one hopes).

News is what you are reading now – a more dynamic feed that will have posts as things change on the site or McYork has something to say.  We are not too chatty so you will want us in your RSS feed reader to catch the new postings when they come out.