It's a sad fact of life that not every job allows for canine companionship. It would be wonderful if everyone could spend more time with their dogs, but since most people have to work for a living, it's impossible to get in all the quality time that both you and your pet desire.
But what if you could feed your dog while you're away with a simple tweet?
This hack comes to you from IT guy Nat Morris, who has developed a tool that will feed his dog a treat whenever certain messages are sent to a certain Twitter account. Here's how Morris describes his machine:
Theres a Nanode microcontroller (an Arduino clone with ENC28J60 ethernet), LCD screen from an old Dell laser printer, the stepper motor mechanism is out of a HP Deskjet 500 from the 90's. The stepper is controlled via a ULN2003 and a 555 timer is used for the buzzer. Theres a pair of IP cameras (ones broke at the moment) and a server process which polls twitter and co-ordinates it all.
And check out this demo of the device in action. Bonus points for the super cute dog:
Although the system was originally designed for Nat and Toby, anyone can now join in and help feed the dog. If you tweet "feed" @FeedToby, the machine will dispense food. Other valid commands include "help," "about," and "photo." Don't worry about over-stuffing little Toby, the machine will only give out food every 15 minutes. Here's what will happen when you successfully feed Toby:
The link gives you an awesome little 9-frame pic of Toby eating the food you dispensed. Morris told the Daily Mail that he's going to have to start watching Toby's figure:
People have been sending him food at all hours of the day - so I had to limit it to between nine in the morning to nine in the evening. I’m thinking of doing an updated version which features a scale to weigh him before he is fed just to make sure he’s not putting on too much puppy fat.
Amateur journalism, comedy, raising awareness for causes: these are just some of the established functions of Twitter. Now, I guess, you can add crowdsourced dog-sitting to the list.