Friday, April 11, 2008

sudo feed cats

So, we've gotten ourselves one more cat yesterday! No, we're not starting a cat farm (although who knows, with the reports of looming recession we might have to start being a bit more economically self-reliant...). It's a cute female cat, and she's still a bit stressed out by the move, but we're hoping that soon enough she'll get used to our place and start feeling at home.

Anyway, with our planned vacation in June drawing closer I've been thinking about getting one of those automatic pet feeders and water supplies, and setting up a web cam to monitor the levels of food and water, just in case :) I typed "automatic cat feeder" into Google, and look what popped up!

This guy set up an elaborate cardboard mechanism that is put in action by an opening CD drive, powered by an Ubuntu Linux computer which also happens to be his Subversion server!
Look what he's done:
The computer runs Ubuntu Linux, so a crontab entry controls the scheduling. The script calls eject /mnt/cdrom to open the CD Rom, delays, and eject –t /mnt/cdrom to close it again. It actually does this twice, as I found it made the portions more consistent.
Since it’s a full fledged Ubuntu system on my wireless network, it allowed for an obscene show of technology. I was able to use my JasJar PDA phone to SSH into the box, and feed the cats on demand just by running the script.

Now I don't know whether I'll be able to match that, but that certainly encourages me in looking into this project further. I'll keep you updated about what happens!

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