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May 17, 2012
about 4 years ago
I don't have the board but I assume the led connects directly to the power rail. If this is the case and there is no jumper then perhaps you could just put a piece of black tape over it. A more radical approach would be to cut the trace but then you won't have any visual that the module is active.
Sparkfun does a great job of providing hardware support for the Particle Photon but I would like to address here is Particle's customer service. ( no reflection on Sparkfun) If you purchase a Photon and want to develop an IOS or Android mobile app and consider yourself a novice, the documentation available from Particle is lacking. Not only is the website documentation not kept current based on frequent changes to Apple's Swift language, but what is available is vague leaving anyone new to Swift programming completely frustrated when attempting a project.
In essence, have you ever tried to learn a programming concept by using a sample program provided by an organization only to find that the program compiles with multiple errors when ran - welcome to Particle! If you're like me the first thing you do is search for a solution and if one is not available you contact Tec support as a last ditch effort. These are the steps I took only to be told in an email that it could be days longer before they can finally get to me because they're a small company. Said another way their time is important mine isn't.
That said, if you understand the basics of MCUs and simply want to turn a relay on and off from a web application the documentation is sufficient. However, if you want to learn a more advanced application such as developing mobile apps utilizing Apple's Xcode environment, don't expect much from Particle's documentation because it's geared toward professional object oriented programmers who can deduce when there is a problem and quickly move on. Not so with the novice, when the instructions are wrong or incomplete the first thing that comes to mind is what did I do wrong? Hours or days later after searching the Internet for answers you finally realize it's not you but the documentation that's at fault, and when Tec support is called and there's no answer everything comes to a halt. Making matters worse Particle uses its own SDK with insufficient instructions as to how it integrates with Swift both conceptually and practically thereby creating another technical nightmare.
There is a halfhearted attempt by some to help beginners on Particle's site but unfortunately basic questions are ignored on the community boards or answered without the needed specificity to help. And as stated, the genesis of the discord is insufficient documentation leaving frustrating gaps when trying to follow along. The lack of support was so hindering at one point that a customer finally stepped in and developed instructions on how to build a "bridging" file and posted it on the message boards because Particle wouldn't take the time to author more explicit instructions. Ironically, they now refer questions about "bridging" to the customer's post.
Quite frankly I could understand Particle's disposition toward the novice if they stated up front that developing a mobile app requires a solid grasp of object orienting programming and that their documentation is geared toward the professional, but their advertisement implies that help is available for a novice from a number of sources if needed. And after initially and ignorantly looking at the available documentation one believes all the steps are there to indeed succeed, that is until you start the process. In other words, their advertisement touts the documentation and customer service so you buy the hardware but after that good luck!
I'm not a disgruntled person but do have an expectation of adequate customer service from a company when a problem surfaces that is clearly the fault of the organization. To be left hanging for days is very frustrating to say the least. Adding credence to my claims are the voices of others on Particle's community boards who expressed the same concerns only to have those concerns fall on deaf ears as well.
From my perspective, the Photon is a reasonably priced module and can be easily connected to Particle's cloud after some basic connections, but if you want to accomplish something useful subsequent to initializing you'll need to understand Particle's SDK object oriented programming concepts. Although redundantly stated, don't expect to learn these concepts from Particle's documentation for the above stated reasons, and don't expect much of anything from their customer service. On the other hand, if you're fluent in all the nuances of OOP you'll probably be able to muddle through.
In my opinion the focus appears to be on organizations that purchase large lots of Photons. In other words, the hobbyist stands on the bottom rung of the ladder. So before making the decision to use the Photon in a project make sure you consider your end state. If you're someone like me who needs thorough documentation as a springboard you'll probably be disappointed. It's too bad because the Photon is promising but trying to go cheap on customer service, ignoring needed updates when Apple switches gears in Swift, and not explaining in detail how to integrate their SDK will leave many scratching their heads. Realistically speaking they are not staffed to keep up with it all and with new IoT modules popping up frequently this could lead to their demise. Some other company understanding the importance of nurturing the novice will come along and fill the void.
Finally, I believe Particle started out of the right foot but it's now obvious that their early success got in front of them. I strongly recommend that they put the needed effort into shoring up its documentation with emphasis toward the novice. Hopefully, they come to realize that this part of the business is what builds a foundation and creates a loyal following. The other side of the coin is a degradation of loyalty and a slow migration to a more user friendly system.
For the record I am a fairly confident C programmer with some basic object oriented experience. I don't expect Particle to be responsible for teaching OOP to new customers. However, I do believe it's their charge to adequately explain how their SDK integrates into Swift along with the necessary examples to make it work. The emphasis needs to be on the lowest common denominator, hence the novice. For example, bridging files, dependencies, importing, file structure etc. These important concepts are the building blocks or springboard for the novice to start from. Without this foundation or put another way without complete knowledge of these basics frustration sets in. OOP concepts can be learned from many different sources but the mechanics of Particle's SDK can only be explained by Particle.
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