In the beginning

I stumbled across The Rascal on 15 Dec in the entries to 2011 Best Open Source Project at Postscapes, a site which tracks the Internet of Things.

I was intrigued by Rascal designer Brandon Stafford’s explanation that he had built it because “I want to connect weird stuff to the internet”. Many of his points rang true with me, particularly the disconnect between hardware and software. For example, you discover a neat embedded board but getting anything useful to run on it has an extremely steep (possibly unsurmountable) learning curve. All I wanted was to control the heating of a remote property over the internet and all I could find were closed, proprietary solutions. I’d bought one which didn’t work properly and there was nothing I could do about it.

Rascal is different. I watched the getting started video and was convinced. I’d noticed that a few beta Rascals had gone on sale in November and emailed Brandon to ask if there were any left. Happily there were.

By the next day (16 Dec) the first international Rascal was on its way from Somerville MA and on 30 Dec it landed safely in Oxford UK.

Postscript

  • I plugged it in and “it just worked” as the video promised.
  • Rascal won the Postscapes Editor’s Choice award for Best Open Source Project. There’s an interview with Brandon Stafford here.
  • I was lucky – the Rascal store is now sold out (but more are on the way).
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