Home automation with Raspberry Pi and Arduino

admin.schemaInstructable user electronichamsters has a very detailed instruction manual on how to create a home automation system that can:

  • Notify you when the mail arrives
  • Track your dog’s poop and bark locations
  • Monitor for people in different parts of the house
  • Check for water leaks
  • Alert you when the dog runs away
  • Not only check when the washer or dryer is finished, but also if someone has been there already
  • Watch the temperature and humidity in different rooms
  • etc. etc.

using a Raspberry Pi, a few Arduino clones, some cheap sensors from eBay, and openHAB as the brains of the operation.

Head over to Instructables instructions and get started with a cheap but very advanced home automation system.

How to disable WPS on the Netgear N600 router

Recently a vulnerability in the WPS wireless network setup was discovered. I will not go into great detail on that vulnerability here, but will simply show you how to turn this off on the Netgear N600:

  1. Start the Netgear maintenance tool by going to http://www.routerlogin.net. This takes you into the setup tool installed during initial setup.
  2. Locate the Advanced Wireless settings
  3. Make sure the check box next to “WPS disabled” is checked.

Normally the “WPS disabled” option is checked when the router detects an intrusion attempt, and you can clear it here. In this case, we do the opposite – we disable the WPS by telling the router it is getting hacked.

New Chromebook videos

Google has just released a set of Chromebook videos, just in time for the holiday season. The purpose of these videos is to show how easy a Chromebook is in set up, use and maintenance. I experienced the ease of maintenance this morning, while during a meeting I:

  1. received a notification that a new ChromeOS version was available
  2. applied the update, which requires rebooting the machine.
  3. was back in business after about 15 seconds.

Consider a Chromebook for your family members, who do very little besides surfing the web. I heard Chromebooks work great with Facebook…:-)

Lady Gaga uses chrome…?

A promo video from the Google Chrome team, showing how Lady Gaga is using the web to create a larger fan base. It makes you wonder what Madonna would/could have done if the web was in place 20 years ago…

Get Cr-48 camera working again with YouTube

I played around with the Cr-48 camera a few weeks ago, and noticed that you can easily upload video to YouTube. Today I noticed it was broken – YouTube said that no camera was detected.

Luckily the fix was only a Google search away. It turns out that on the about:plugins page there are two Flash players shown. Disable the one that has version number, path /opt/google/chrome/pepper/libpepflashplayer.so. Reopen the YouTube upload page, and all should be well.

(Thanks to Google Groups, Cr-48 Test Pilots)

Latest updates for Google Chrome OS

Last week a few updates came through for both the Chrome OS and the Chrome browser, and for the Cr-48 netbook.

Two major changes made are the change to use the click functionality of the Cr-48 mousepad to eliminate the problems with the tap, and the capability of the Chrome to accept voice input.

The ‘click’ functionality is actually a change to the default settings in the Chrome OS. The initial installation of Chrome had Enable Tap-to-click enabled as far as I remember. The new default for this is disabled, which prevents accidental clicking by resting the mouse of your hand on the mousepad. I feel the disabled option is working a little better.

The biggest thing is that Chrome OS is now capable of speech recognition. Currently there are a few fields that are enabled for speech recognition, mainly simple text fields. This is new functionality being developed in HTML5, and is a preview from the HTML Speech Incubator group. I have the Speechify plugin enabled, which shows a little microphone next to any field that allows speech input. I can’t wait for it to be enabled on multi-line text widgets, so I can dictate blogposts… 🙂

A minor change is the Chrome logo, which has become a little simpler: the old logo sported a 3D look with a small reflection on it, the new logo sports a more 2D look with clearer colors.

Why the Internet is not like water or electricity

Picture by raybdbomb

I came across this interesting article, arguing why the Internet is not like water or electricity. Basically, the argument is that there is no direct, measurable cost involved with Internet traffic, as there is with electricity or water. Also, the amount of Internet traffic received is not directly controllable – consider the email with a 100 Mb video attached.

I agree in broad lines with this article. If I’m downloading a 1 Gb file, it doesn’t cost my ISP more money than when I download a 1 Mb file. What would cost them (and me) more, is if it want that 1 Gb file faster than what I’m receiving now. So the differentiator between an occasional user and a power user is the bandwidth he uses. And most services, if not all, handle lower bandwidths pretty good: even Netflix is still watchable on a busy network, because it scales back the bandwidth it uses, in favor of a faster response (i.e. same amount of frames per second).

So, added bandwidth requires more/higher grade equipment at the ISP’s end. If I order double bandwidth from my ISP, I assume I’m using twice the amount of room on the uplink, and twice the amount of room on their internal network infrastructure. However, if this is true, why oh why is it still the case that ISPs advertise with “download speeds UP TO 3 Mbps” or comparable. Where is the ISP that advertises with “download speeds of AT LEAST 500 kbps”, based on the amount of equipment and uplink they have. Do they not have enough equipment to adequately support their user base?

And don’t use the argument that the speeds advertised are not sustained speeds. More and more people are using VoIP and streaming video, which are sustained applications. So you’d better make sure you have the sustained bandwidth available.

So here’s a call for the ISPs: what is the minimum speed you’ll guarantee your users? It could be a great advertising opportunity!

Twitter suspends UberTwitter, twidroyd, reinstates them again

Last Friday, the 18th, Twitter suspended two applications for violations of their policies: UberSocial (formally known as UberTwitter) and twidroyd. It never really stated in public what the exact violations were.

In a thread on Quora the CEO of UberMedia (parent company of UberTwitter) Bill Gross states that the problems involved:

  • a third-party service (tmi.me), used to split tweets longer than 140 characters, was posting private messages on a public website
  • UberCurrent (another twitter client of UberMedia, for the iPhone) was changing links that were part of an affiliate program to their own
  • the name UberTwitter

UberMedia has remedied these problems and now is back in business.

I personally used UberTwitter until I started getting error messages that just said “Forbidden”. Switching to the “official” Blackberry client cured the issue. But I wasn’t the only one using UberTwitter. A lot of celebrities such as Lance Armstrong were using it, and went silent over the weekend.

I’m not sure if I’ll switch back to UberTwitter. That, and the fact that Twitter can suspend clients in a heart beat, shows once again the danger of building your business on another company’s platform. Whether that’s Twitter, or Apple, or Google, or Microsoft…