We were very excited to receive our Chumby today in the mail. Chumby is an adorable, squeezable bean bag with a cuddly creature-shaped charm on it. You can hold it, cuddle it, or toss it around the room, though that might not be a great idea because it has a computer inside.
It’s full of beans. Literally.
The device pulls wireless Internatz content through the ether to display a chain of Flash Lite 3 displays, called “Widgets”, that can do anything from displaying the time and weather to updating you on the latest Chuck Norris legends. The designers built Chumby so that owners can very easily develop content for it, which is then uploaded to the Chumby network to enjoy privately or to share with other Chumby owners. Chumby Industries even actively encourages its userbase to hack the device, providing Chumby schematics and specs on their site.
Long before the Chumby was released, i knew it was right up my alley. i’ve long been looking for a device that will run Flash that i could show off to my friends, and the fact that this thing is encased in a cozy beanbag drove it way beyond “Daddy Wanty” on my “Vapid Materialism Metre”. Unfortunately, the Chumby isn’t the answer to my portable device fantasies that i was hoping for.
No device is perfect, and i hate obsessing over the flaws of a device once it’s in my hot little hands, so let’s get this part over with quickly. The trouble with the Chumby, as most online reviews attest, are as follows:
- Unresponsive touch screen
- No hardware volume control
- Wall power required.
This last point absolutely killed me. The Chumby has to be plugged in via its AC adapter and cable to function. My dreams of running through idyllic meadows, spinning my battery-enabled Chumby around in my arms and collapsing into a bed of fluffy dandelions was shattered. The need to plug in your Chumby precludes all kinds of interesting uses, not least of all carrying on a polite conversation with someone about all the magical things you can do, and then proving it by pulling a bizarre touch screen-enabled beanbag out of your pocket and demonstrating your software.
i haven’t owned the Chumby long enough to comment on the missing volume dial, but i immediately noticed that the touch screen was not very sensitive. Regardless, folks with meatfingers like mine are probably best off using a stylus. i can’t even wrap my sausage-digits around the P2 interface to play a lousy song or two.
Damn you, P2, fer caterin’ to wee FAIRY FOLK fingers!
So with its mandatory wall-tether, the Chumby makes for an expensive, gadget-lover’s alarm clock replacement. i’ll wait until the hardware hackers come up with a cool Chumby Mech Suit that lets your little beanbag walk around the house shooting tiny layzzor beams at your cats. Until then, the Chumby can download and play Widgets for free from the Chumby Network.
i’m still in the process of reviewing the 50-odd games available on the Network to figure out where my Chumby ambitions lie. i am excited to exploit the more unusual features of the device, like the squeeze sensor and the accelerometer.
The Cure for the Common DJ
Even if the Chumby is destined to sit dutifully by my bedside for the rest of its life, i was more than thrilled to unplug my old alarm clock and all but hurl it out the window. For the past few months, i’ve been enduring Toronto radio DJ Bill Carroll talking about how much he hates cyclists. Just this morning, he was talking about the current Toronto police campaign to improve cyclist awarness, and complaining about the fact that he’ll now have to signal before making turns in his car just for the benefit of cyclists, because the police are watching. A few weeks ago, after a cyclist was killed when someone opened a car door in his path, Carroll put the blame on cyclists.
As a cyclist who commutes with his 2-year-old daughter to day care every morning, i don’t enjoy waking up to this guy dangerously misinforming his listeners, tacitly defending motorists who maim and murder adults and children on bicycles. Good riddance, Carroll! Say … perhaps the Chumby could use a “Punch Your Detested Morning DJ in the Face” app?
But no! i must not use my Chumby for evil. i will most likely tool up a quick little game get my feet wet with the Chumby, before embarking on something more ambitious.
If i develop anything that can be played properly on your computer, i’ll be sure to make it available on the Untold Entertainment Games Page. If i build stuff that uses the squeeze or motion sensors, you’ll have to consider getting a Chumby!