Adding Open Flash Charts to my home monitoring


As mentioned previously, I’ve built a home temperature monitoring system on top of the beer fridge controller that Doug and I built over Christmas. I later added a hygrometer and whole of house power measurement using a Current Cost. There is also a simple server which provides a UI for the system, which previously used PNG graphs generated from Google’s Chart Server API.

I was checking out Jon’s car hacking the other day, and was impressed by his flash graphs. However, as best as I could tell he’s using a commercial flash charting tool, whereas I wanted something open source. I dug around and found Open Flash Charts which was exactly what I wanted.

Why flash charts by the way? I wanted a richer presentation than I could get with PNG, and I am unaware of a way of doing interactive graphs with HTML5 apart from writing massive amounts of javascript. I look forward to someone educating me about an alternative, but until then I will view flash graphing as a punishment for all those overly smug iPad users out there.

So, first off here is an example of a flash chart. This one is power usage at my house from Friday, compared with Wednesday:

Open Flash Charts is actually really simple to use. First off there is some javascript to load the flash component:

    <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
    <script type="text/javascript">>
      "", "2010_04_23_2010_04_21_Watts", "600", "400",
      "9.0.0", "expressInstall.swf",

This javascript relies on a couple of resources being available on your server, which I’ve put into a directory called local. You find these files in the Open Flash Chart .zip file, although you could just snarf them from my server if you want.

Then all you need to do on the HTML side is include a div with the right id where you want the graph to go. For this post, that looks like this:

    <div id="2010_04_23_2010_04_21_Watts"></div>

Then you just need to write the JSON which represents the graphs content. That’s well documented on the Open Flash Charts site, but you can find the JSON for my graph at;2010.04.21/Watts if you want to see it.


A Separate War & Other Stories


This is a short story collection. I like anthologies, and this one was pretty good. The stories are:

  • A Separate War: the end of The Forever War told from the perspective of Marygay.
  • Diminished Chord: love and music on an old harp like instrument.
  • Giza: genetic engineering to enable space mining.
  • Foreclosure: let’s get rid of those nasty squatters.
  • Four short novels: eventually it came to pass that no one ever had to die…
  • For White Hill: artists as collateral damage in an interstellar war
  • Finding My Shadow: biological warfare in Boston.
  • Civil Disobedience: global warming in a post Bush world.
  • Memento Mori: a very short story about modern medicine.
  • Faces: life as a draftee on a planet with a noxious atmosphere.
  • Heartwired: viagra for the soul.
  • Brochure: a badly polluted Earth reopens as a Disney resort.
  • Out of Phase: a shape shifting alien learns about power on Earth, to the detriment of the Earthlings.
  • Power Complex: the same shape shifting alien learns about real power.
  • Fantasy for Six Electrodes and One Adrenaline Drip: a script involving love (or at least sex) and murder in a world with immersion entertainment.

[isbn: 9780441015177; 0441015174]


Forever Free


This book isn’t as good as The Forever War and Forever Peace, which makes it a pretty big disappointment. The book revolves around disaffected characters from The Forever War living on the planet reserved for them by Man. Almost all of the book is William Mandella complaining about how hard it is to live on an arctic world, with some minor plot development along the way. The book often ruins surprises by Mandella mentioning them before they happen. The ending of the story is particularly disappointing, and I am left wondering why Omnis were introduced at all.

[isbn: 0441007872]