For those that know how to use Visual Studio, you now have it within your power to synchronize your holiday light display with music like the famous YouTube video of the house timed to the Trans Siberian Orchestra's Nutcracker. You can also control your lights for simpler reasons -- like turning them off and on -- with programs that you write. In late October, Microsoft introduced the Micro Framework for .NET which allows C# developers to create software for embedded devices. With the help of increasingly affordable embedded device boards, the Micro Framework lets anyone build their own embedded device, such as holiday lights controlled by a PC.
Microsoft's Coding4Fun Web site details how to execute this holiday lights project. It explains:
"... you can make your lights do most anything in response to an event that happens on the web. You could signal home that you are running late, send the weather forecast to your Christmas tree or explore any number of communication options. You might decide that this is so useful that you leave your decorations up all year round. If you just want to play with the .NET Micro Framework and get a feel for how easy it is to create software for tiny devices you don't actually need to use any extra hardware at all. The project comes with a complete emulation of the lights display so that you can run the whole thing on your computer and learn how hardware and software can be made to work together without burning your fingers with a soldering iron."
If you are the type that love the soldering iron, and you see other things around the house that you wish you could control with your computer (your household lights, your doggie door, your rotating tie rack), then you may want to submit your idea to Microsoft's Dare to Dream Challenge ... but hurry, the initial deadline is today!.
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Julie Bort is the editor of Microsoft Subnet and Network World's Online Community Editor. She also writes the Open Source Subnet blog and is the editor responsible for the Cisco Subnet and Open Source Subnet web sites. If you have an idea for a blog, or a news tip on Microsoft, Cisco or Open Source technologies, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-482-6454 or follow Julie on Twitter @Julie188.
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