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Chumby – FIrst Impressions & Ponies I'd Like

I got a Chumby in the mail yesterday. Here’s my virtual Chumby:

From what I can tell, it’s a little linux box with a touch screen, wifi, and runs Flash widgets. Seems like there’ll be a good reason to play around with Flash.

The Chumby is this little, soft bound screen that plays widgets. Mostly RSS feeds dressed up fancy now, but there’s some games that you can use the touch screen with.

With things like this and people like me, the first thing you get is a big bucket of “wouldn’t it be great if…?”

Chumby as a Travel Buddy

What’s I really like to code up is a “widget” that displays clocks in multiple time zones. Then I’d like to use it as a nice travel alarm clock. The Chumby isn’t really portable as it requires the plugged in Power. that kind of cuts down on travel help like finding wifi networks.


It’d also be great to be able to put music on a USB stick, plug it into one of the two USB ports on the back, and play the music. It’ll play music off your iPod once you plug the iPod into the Chumby, which is pretty damn cool actually: the speakers aren’t too shabby.

Using the Chumby as iPod speakers could be nice, though it has limited browse functionality – it only plays the play lists you have and doesn’t let you control playback via the iPod (that I can tell).


The power supply is going to be a weird problem in that you have plug it in for it to work. I mean, I understand that it’s a little computer and needs power, but maybe it could run off USB power? There’s actually a 9-volt battery hook-up on the bottom, but the help pages ay battery power doesn’t work. We’ll see.

More Local Network Utility

At the moment, in general, the Chumby doesn’t really do much with being a local network. What’s this mean? A “local network” is essentially “all the computers in your house.” “Doing something” on the local network means sharing music, video, files, or functionality between all those devices. For example, being able to watch movies stored on one of your computers on your TV. Most local network sucks and requires a studied geek or using all the same software from the same vendor (Microsoft or Apple) on all your machines to sort out.

Anyhow…that’s too much analyst for a Saturday morning. On to the “wouldn’t it be great it…”

What with the USB drives on the back, it’d be nice to use the Chumby as a little NAS – plugging in USB drives (or chaining them together) would result in network mounted drives.

A USB printer server, like my AirPort provides, would be cool too.

And, if I could use the Chumby as remote speakers in iTunes – as you can AirPort Expresses that are hooked up to speakers – that’d be awesome.

More Personalization

Anyhow, now that there’s more of them out there, I’m hoping some Make-types will start whipping all sorts of fun things. So far I like it, it just needs more widgets that are personalized instead of just pulling headlines and other “general” information. I’ve used the general RSS one to pull in the updates from people I follow in Twitter which is pretty nice. Hopefully the Twitter folks will make a widget as fancy as the Facebook one – wherein you could read direct messages, see replies, etc. I could see that the Twitterific people might be interested in porting it to the Chumby – at least, I’d like that 😉

Update: just to slip in one cool thing. I added in the RSS feed for my contact’s flickr photos – and the Chumby loads the photos! That’s pretty damn awesome.

Update 2: if you want to add me as a “chum” (a “friend”/buddy in Chumby), my username is cote.

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Categories: Community, Ideas, Marketing, The Analyst Life.

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14 Responses

  1. It has that nice round shape that will make it so easy to throw against the wall when it drives you crazy.

    I was wondering why all the pictures of them, on their web site, showed a cord coming off it's beehind. Now we know.

  2. Yeah, the cord is annoying. It really needs a battery pack, even if it just runs for 10 minutes: I’d least like to be able to take it to different parts of the house.

  3. I read that "wouldn't it be great if you could move it around the house" comment…

    What if you could buy a device that was simpler and so inexpensive that you wouldn't think twice about putting one in every room?

    That's what I've been working on for the last year:

    Let me know what you think! I could use some feedback right now before I go ahead and build a whole bunch of them.

  4. Dorian: looks like fun. If I could use them as remote speakers I’d really be in to that. Also, using them as WiFi print and file servers with USB printers and drives would be great.

  5. As you already wrote, the Chumby has a connector for a 9V battery. With the battery you have enough juice to move the Chumby around the house and/or survive brief power outages [more than 10 minutes].

    If you have spare power bricks [it is a fairly standard connector and is very accommodating of various voltages] then you can just keep one power brick by the bed, another in the den etc. Though a power strip would be a nice idea to avoid wasting electricity.

    Much more info is available on their wiki 🙂

Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] reading cote’s blog post on the chumby, I got intrigued.  The chumby is a small linux device, specifically designed to run flash […]

  2. […] also talk about the Chumby I recently got and how that fits into the idea of […]

  3. […] Ward) and what Flex in the enterprise world means. We spend some time talking about Coté’s Chumby and then wrap up by talking about the release of Visual Studio […]

  4. […] interest and that Teknision is doing a lot of mobile. He talks about Flash Lite 3 and some of the Chumby applications that he’s seeing. He and Coté talk about different ways to use the […]

  5. […] I’ve had a Chumby for sometime. It was actually great fun to play around with and setup, but I must confess that I haven’t even turned it on for several months. I sort of liked it for a Facebook and Twitter screen, but I couldn’t ever find the killer application for it. Tony MacDonell and I discussed some ideas in RIA Weekly 004. […]

  6. […] wrote up his thoughts on Chumby and we also discussed it in our very first RIA Weekly podcast. I think the Chumby is a great […]

  7. […] lead here on Blurays), or whatever “devices” has some need for programming in it, like Chumbys. Adobe’s Flash technology serves as the common ground and foundation for this desire. […]

  8. […] also talk about the Chumby I recently got and how that fits into the idea of […]

  9. […] interest and that Teknision is doing a lot of mobile. He talks about Flash Lite 3 and some of the Chumby applications that he’s seeing. He and Coté talk about different ways to use the […]