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Once again, random browsing on Taobao brought the need for me to shop for random crap^Hstuff.

This time, I bought a USB eBuddy (for a grand total of 60RMB including shipping)



The eBuddy is a small MSN / QQ physical avatar that performs certain actions based on its software – e.g. flashing lights, moving its wings, shaking left or right etc.

It looks like a little white angel with MSN color wings.


For a cheap toy, its actually quite cool. Cute too, but cool also.

Out of the box, its aimed squarely at Windows users. As I don’t actually run the devil’s OS, I hooked it up to a Debian box instead.
I was hoping for a little bit of fun integrating it with things, but that was not to be.
There is already a perfectly fine library written in Python that works beautifully to make it dance and sing* here

*Dancing and singing void where prohibited.

The python library is already set to run as a daemon on port 8888, and sits waiting for action out of the box.
The settings below snarfed from the code give an idea of what actions can be given:


# GLADNESS =        00
# FEAR =            01
# FIZZ =            02
# GRIEF = 		04
# FURY = 		05
# QUELL = 		06
# REDHEAD = 		07
# GREENHEAD = 		08
# BLUEHEAD = 		09
# BLAME = 		11
# WHITEHEAD = 		13
# HEART = 		14
# WINGS = 		15
# BODY = 		16
# NOEFFECT = 		17
# ONLINE = 		18
# BUSY = 		19
# DAZE = 		20
# BACKSOON = 		21
# AWAY = 		22
# PHONE = 		23
# LUNCH = 		24
# OFFLINE = 		25

Mostly they consist of flashing various LED’s within the eBuddy on/off and optionally moving the wings or shaking the eBuddy left right.
Simple, but effective.

I use Zoneminder in the office on my Debian based ZFS NAS (HP Proliant Microserver), so thought one fun way would be to integrate the eBuddy to Zoneminder. This also proved to be too easy sadly.

Zoneminder has a wiki entry which gives 99% of whats needed here

I literally had to write 1 line of code to integrate the eBuddy with Zoneminder.

#!/usr/bin/perl -w

use strict;

use ZoneMinder;

$| = 1;

zmDbgInit( "myscript", level=>0, to_log=>0, to_syslog=>0, to_term=>1 );

my $dbh = DBI->connect( "DBI:mysql:database=".ZM_DB_NAME.";host=".ZM_DB_HOST, ZM_DB_USER, ZM_DB_PASS );

my $sql = "select M.*, max(E.Id) as LastEventId from Monitors as M left join Events as E on M.Id = E.MonitorId where M.Function != 'None' group by (M.Id)";
my $sth = $dbh->prepare_cached( $sql ) or die( "Can't prepare '$sql': ".$dbh->errstr() );

my $res = $sth->execute() or die( "Can't execute '$sql': ".$sth->errstr() );
my @monitors;
while ( my $monitor = $sth->fetchrow_hashref() )
    push( @monitors, $monitor );

while( 1 )
    foreach my $monitor ( @monitors )
        next if ( !zmMemVerify( $monitor ) );
        if ( my $last_event_id = zmHasAlarmed( $monitor, $monitor->{LastEventId} ) )
            $monitor->{LastEventId} = $last_event_id;
            print( "Monitor ".$monitor->{Name}." has alarmed\n" );
	    #The Single Line of Code - it sends a flash green signal to the Python Daemon
            system ("echo 8 | nc -q0 -u localhost 8888");
            # Do your stuff here
    sleep( 1 );

I think I’ll be getting a couple more of these, as the integration is easy.
Next up, server load monitoring – I can have a couple of these on the top of my desk for each server, and hopefully address each one separately for load purposes – e.g. flash yellow, red on load average, and shake if queue’s are large.
Gimmicky, but useful.

Here are a couple of shots of the current incumbent in situ –


…and one of it actually working.
(It flashes green if someone comes up the stairs and zone minder triggers.)


I’m quite happy I spent the 60rmb, although I would have enjoyed more hacking. I literally spent 5 minutes getting things running.
Thats not a bad thing, but I was hoping for something a little deeper!

Going to order a few more now.
I got mine here –