I've managed to have a whole list of items that I have been meaning to post, which I will try to summarize here, now..
When Smart Homes actually become Smart
I have been playing around with X10 stuff for quite a long time now. In my house I have about 90% of the lighting controlled by X10, many of which are motion lights. Walk into a room or hallway and the lights just work themselves. Quite handy, but annoying in the wrong room or with the wrong setup.
I also recently purchased a product which will monitor all X10 commands. I personally added the ability to log all events to a database. I then wrote up a script which will summarize all data captured and, when turned on, it will reply the average events every hour. I call this "Holiday Mode". Sometimes the wife and I will go on holidays for a few weeks at a time. I wanted a way to be able to emulate our beahviours (visually) to the community of theifs (call me paranoid). So when in holiday mode the lights will turn on and off based on the history of logged events. This not only includes the lighting, but also DVD's, music, etc.. which we typically do during the course of the week. Kind of creepy when you are home and you turn on the Vacation mode. Things just happen randomly on you...
I had put much thought into the term "smart home". Since the lighting in my house simply responds to my movements is it really smart? I dont really think so. Adding this Vacation mode allows for a perception of slightly more intelligence at the very least. The cool factor is quite high though.
I recently purchased a Nokia N800 Device. It is what you call a Ultra Mobile PC, or UMPC. These things are great. It runs a flavor of Linux (Maemo, with Hildon as the UI). It really demonstrates how to do UI on a small form factor device. It has a full email client, and all the standard PIM tools you would normally expect. RDP, VNC, and internal Radio tuner, MP3, and a bunch of ther audio and video codec's, streaming radio, support for word and excel documents, Opera with the Flash plugin is on the device as well (more here). If your looking for a really handy UMPC to carry in your pocket this thing will do the trick.
I have recently switched my primary laptop over to Ubuntu. IMHO, this is the first non-Microsoft (and non-Apple) OS which the general population can actually use. The UI is very friendly and layed out nicely. You dont need to be a shell nerd just to manage the device. You will need to know a bit more of the OS at a core level once you get out of the more common functionality. And if you are impressed with the Vista UI feature, take a look at Beryl and Compiz. I probably have the lowest-end video card in my laptop and this stuff just works. Quite impressive.
I'm currently using Feisty Fawn (7.04). Gutsy Gibbon is coming soon (7.1) which I would recommend most waiting for - they are promising a better UI to manage the Compiz feature set. Heck, get the Live CD if your just wanting to check it out without destroying anything on your machine. Live CD's are a great way to get a good quick look and feel of the OS.
The OS, comes pre-loaded with Gaim (multi-protocol chat- MSN, Yahoo, etc..), Open Office (you have to do some special steps for it to support DOCX formats) and plethora of other goodies. Performance really kicks ass as well.