It turned out that I couldn’t use a big red button to lock my desktop because other people wanted to push the big red button. I recycled the big red button into a new project, an exercise in code text-to-speech and accessing public APIs.

Urim is FaaB: “Fortune-telling as a Button”, or, an experiment in BUI: “Button User Interface”. An Urim is a Raspberry Pi built into a big red button; push the button to get your fortune from a random fortune. For example: the next sunrise at your location; the next rocket launch; how many people are there in space? When and how will you die? Modular design for adding new fortunes. Speech synthesis by Google. Raspberry Pi project.

When the button is pressed, the speakers say something randomly picked from this list:

  • A date and time in the next 40 years, and a manner of death selected randomly from a weighted list of causes of mortality in the United States
  • A date and time in the next 40 years, and a happy prediction from this list
  • The asteroid to pass closest to the Earth today
  • Today’s date in the Bahá’i, Coptic, or French Republican calendar
  • How many people are in space right now
  • A cow mooing noise
  • The next publically announced rocket launch
  • The number of seconds until the next sunrise
  • The number of days until the next MLB baseball season
  • The current time in a random city
  • The 47th most popular English Wikipedia article today

See Urim source code and hardware setup on Gitlab