The Raspberry Pi has been floating in mineral oil for the last week and it doesn’t seem to care. I am not sure why I thought that it would. The Pi runs cooler in the mineral oil but it really doesn’t make much of a difference for anything that I would do with a Pi. For my testing, I only tested the GPU, which is a big source of heat, by playing Big Buck Bunny over and over. If I was doing something different, maybe the results would have been different – I don’t know that much about the GPU in the Pi.

For a week the Pi sat on a dining table with its little notification LEDs providing a nice ambience for the room. This primitive form of notification was nice – I knew I had a problem if no lights were on, red was an indication of a dramatic increase in temperature, blue let me know that my processes were still running and yellow, I don’t know what it did but it was there. Seriously not sure why I didn’t use it. Anyway to my point, it was about day 4 when I realized that I need a simple light system for my life.

Passive Notification with Life Filters

My tech resolution for this New Year wasn’t unique. I need to stop worrying about the email that could be in my inbox and focus my time away from ‘the screen’ on other things and people. The silly LEDs helped me do this with the Raspberry Pi in mineral oil project. From a distance, I knew all was well without interrupting others by whipping out my phone or dashing into the other room for one more check of the Pi’s condition.

My goal became simple – translate important computer events such as email messages from important people into LED lights. Don’t check the computer until one of my passive notification devices has the light on. So now at least when I am home, I am more efficient and less annoying to those around me.

Many people will be thinking – well sure it saves you from checking your computer because now you just keep checking your flowers. I think two things help prevent this habit: The first and unexpected – crowdsourcing. Now I have everyone alerting me of the important things because anyone could view the important trigger and say ‘why is your flower vase freaking out and blinking red’. Secondly, I noticed that since the flower vase was part of the environment and was extremely simplistic; it did not take dedicated attention to understand. I didn’t have to push any buttons to light up the screen and then launch the app or make sure the application had refreshed recently. I can rely on my peripheral senses to pickup the trigger that something needs to be done.

With the same amount of effort, I could add filters so my now meaningless email audio alerts would only relate to important events. But then I would still have the “You’ve got mail” interrupting my thoughts. So for now – LEDs are my latests life changing discovery and I have a couple ‘visual notification devices’ allowing me to concentrate on the important and unimportant things I am doing.

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