Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Yet another OTA HDTV antenna.

Revision3 was touting this one antenna that sells for thirty five dollars. Seems like a pretty uncomplicated design. Went to the site to see if they had the specifications. In some ways it was like antennas I have already made, That antenna tech has prior art so to speak for sure.

Looking at the picture, I thought I could create something like it fairly easily. In about an hour a recreation was made. Anything but professional looking. Worked well, but not as good as what I have already made. It would not get the station with "The Big Bang Theory". So that was an immediate fail.


In any case I have another antenna plan that can be easily implemented if I need to build an antenna on the fly. Details at: http://www.instructables.com/id/Cheap-wall-antenna/

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chromecast the video streaming receiver. $35

One of the latest little gadgets to come out on the market is Chromecast. You can push out media (video) from almost any device that supports the Dial protocol (https://sites.google.com/a/dial-multiscreen.org/dial/). Commercials show users sending their video from laptop, ipad, iphone, and etc to the unit when the unit is attached to the back of a tv set that supports hdmi.

There may still be some security issues to work out (i.e. http://blog.gtvhacker.com/2013/chromecast-exploiting-the-newest-device-by-google/) , but software can always be upgraded in some cases. Third party developers say that it is easy to program media to the unit using HTML5. The future of web browsing.

Originally some free time with Netflix was included. Google has allegedly now taken that part of the deal off the table according to news reports. At only $35, if you have not purchased a media streaming device then certainly consider it.  I will probably stay with using XBMC on the Raspberry Pi. 



Chromecast the video streaming receiver. $35

One of the latest little gadgets to come out on the market is Chromecast. You can push out media (video) from almost any device that supports the Dial protocol (https://sites.google.com/a/dial-multiscreen.org/dial/). Commercials show users sending their video from laptop, ipad, iphone, and etc to the unit when the unit is attached to the back of a tv set that supports hdmi.

There may still be some security issues to work out (i.e. http://blog.gtvhacker.com/2013/chromecast-exploiting-the-newest-device-by-google/) , but software can always be upgraded in some cases. Third party developers say that it is easy to program media to the unit using HTML5. The future of web browsing.

Originally some free time with Netflix was included. Google has allegedly now taken that part of the deal off the table according to news reports. At only $35, if you have not purchased a media streaming device then certainly consider it.  I will probably stay with using XBMC on the Raspberry Pi. 



Saturday, July 27, 2013

Monitoring linux servers for beginners.

Wanted to have a no frills way to show what basic linux commands do without using or going to the command line. Slowly but surely the program is becoming more and more of a linux server monitoring tool. This is not the latest version, but you get the idea. This project is becoming more and more popular.  Could easly be adapted for the bsd based Fruit operating. Sure it could be modified for the Microsoft based operating systems, but I will let someone else do that.






Also sort of became a management tool for non linux professionals. for example you can get the amount of disk space available with a touch of two buttons. Letting management know when to budget for a larger hard drive.







You may just want to know what version of the operating system you are running. Time to upgrade yet?

Of course these menus are hidden from the public with only permissions for the appropriate personnel. To get more information about using this type of script see: 
http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-linux-commands-from-a-web-page/


Monitoring linux servers for beginners.

Wanted to have a no frills way to show what basic linux commands do without using or going to the command line. Slowly but surely the program is becoming more and more of a linux server monitoring tool. This is not the latest version, but you get the idea. This project is becoming more and more popular.  Could easly be adapted for the bsd based Fruit operating. Sure it could be modified for the Microsoft based operating systems, but I will let someone else do that.






Also sort of became a management tool for non linux professionals. for example you can get the amount of disk space available with a touch of two buttons. Letting management know when to budget for a larger hard drive.







You may just want to know what version of the operating system you are running. Time to upgrade yet?

Of course these menus are hidden from the public with only permissions for the appropriate personnel. To get more information about using this type of script see: 
http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-linux-commands-from-a-web-page/


Chumby cloud services are gone.



Allegedly, the Chumby cloud services were discontinued earlier this year. Since the Chumby is an open source device you can explore other options tto keep it in use. In fact, I had been using the web browser for the chumby more than I ever used the cloud services. Check out http://hackaday.com/2013/07/25/making-a-dropbox-with-a-chumby-and-bittorrent/ for additional options for the Chumby. A bit outdated, also see http://forum.chumby.com/viewtopic.php?id=6411:

Update:  http://www.chumby.com/ is back up.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The simple drawing program.



Simple drawing programs can actually do many tasks in terms of art. For most diagrams, can be done without the fancy expensive software. One free program I like to use is Tuxpaint. (import exiting pictures with

usage $ tuxpaint-import filename.ext
 $ tuxpaint-import neatpic.png

There are many others depending on the computer platform you use. Of course you can do simple artwork.









You can even make prototype drawings like was done in drafting class such as a boat or even a cabinet.  Actually built both of the units.








You can even do simple electronics diagrams such as a connection for an adapter or say a connection of parts to an Arduino for a TV.out adapter.




Then you could use the drawing program to describe simple or even more complex processes such as making beer.






Last but not least, you could draw an interpretation of a local area network.

Hope you will go back and look at the simple drawing program your system uses and put it to work. If you can dream it, you can draw it. If you can draw it, you can build it.  Look at all the drawings Leonard Da Vinci has done.

Android development starter.

Traditionally if you wanted to build an application for Android, you had to install a set of programs on the desktop computer. Doing so could cause a majority of problems. Now there are Android application environments now for direct use on Android such as the Nexus 7.  Such an application is called AIDE (Android integraded development environment).




You can get Aide directly from Google play and download it directly ot your device. Now lets build a simple hello world program. Everyone's first program is usually the "Hello world" thing.  This will be a different experience from the days of:

$ gcc progname.c -o progname

or

$ ./config
$ make
$ sudo make install

1. Get AIDE. It can be downloaded from the Play™ store.

2. Open up AIDE and it will ask to create a new project.
AppName: HelloWorld
PackageName: com.meetdageeks.HelloWorld

3. Goto MainActivity.Java and add the three lines (without the comments!).

package com.HelloWorld;
import android.app.*;
import android.os.*;
import android.view.*;
import android.widget.*;
public class MainActivity extends Activity
{
    /** Called when the activity is first created. */
    @Override
    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState)
 {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
   //setContentView(R.layout.main);
                //<<<<<<<<  Add these three lines <<<<<
                TextView text = new TextView(this);            
  text.setText("Hello World, Android");          
  setContentView(text); 
                //<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< 
        }
} 
 
 
4. Click the 3 dots (or dashes) in the top right and hit run.  It may ask you to allow installation from unknown sources.  Done!

And you can check it from the installed apps lists.
Written from the same Android that created the project.

Note You still can develop html, javascript. and css applications without a compiler.


More coffee maker goodies

Though using a coffee maker is not technically computing, we did talk about making pasta in a coffee maker in an earlier article.  You can do other things with a coffee maker such as make, beer, cheese, oatmeal, and even hard boiled eggs. You definitely want to upgrade your geek skills in this area.




For details see: http://www.instructables.com/id/Coffeemaker-meals-and-etc/

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

System administrator day.

Friday July 26, 2013 is system administrators day.

Yes, take care of present and former (if you want to find out if there are any backdoors) system administrators.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Coffee maker part II.

Though using a coffee maker is not technically computing, we did talk about making pasta in a coffee maker in an earlier article.  You can do other things with a coffee maker such as make, beer, cheese, oatmeal, and even hard boiled eggs. You definitely want to upgrade your geek skills in this area.



For details see: http://www.instructables.com/id/Coffeemaker-meals-and-etc/

Monday, July 15, 2013

First Android application.

Traditionally if you wanted to build an application for Android, you had to install a set of programs on the desktop computer. Doing so could cause a majority of problems. Now there are Android application environments now for direct use on Android such as the Nexus 7.  Such an application is called AIDE (Android integraded development environment).



You can get Aide directly from Google play and download it directly ot your device. Now lets build a simple hello world program. Everyone's first program is usually the "Hello world" thing.  This will be a different experience from the days of:

$ gcc progname.c -o progname

or

$ ./config
$ make
$ sudo make install

1. Get AIDE. It can be downloaded from the Play™ store.

2. Open up AIDE and it will ask to create a new project.
AppName: HelloWorld
PackageName: com.meetdageeks.HelloWorld

3. Goto MainActivity.Java and add the three lines (without the comments!).

package com.HelloWorld;
import android.app.*;
import android.os.*;
import android.view.*;
import android.widget.*;
public class MainActivity extends Activity
{
    /** Called when the activity is first created. */
    @Override
    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState)
 {
        super.onCreate(savedInstanceState);
   //setContentView(R.layout.main);
                //<<<<<<<<  Add these three lines <<<<<
                TextView text = new TextView(this);            
  text.setText("Hello World, Android");          
  setContentView(text); 
                //<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< 
        }
} 
 
 
4. Click the 3 dots (or dashes) in the top right and hit run.  It may ask you to allow installation from unknown sources.  Done!

And you can check it from the installed apps lists.
Written from the same Android that created the project.

Note You still can develop html, javascript. and css applications without a compiler.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Web based OS (operating system).

Handhelds are really nice, but you get away from the traditional desktop we are all familiar with.  Some people have coined the icon based tablet interfaces as being made by Fisher-Price (a toy manufacturer).  Also too, people are wanting to lower the system requirements for computers being used primarily as terminals. One way to do that is to only have the basic operating system on the machine with just the browser as a single application. How useful is that?  You can use a web server to dole out applications as I  indicated in a previous article.


You now have operating systems that work from the web. You can push out desktop operating systems  based on the traditional commercial software, but that gets into to some real heavy use. That requires a lot of heavy lifting (i.e. system resources). Now people are trending towards native web based operating systems that can be doled out with just a web server. Traditional virtual machine servers become less a necessity.

Went to Sourceforge.net to look at candidates. By the way, you are expected to log now to access their site. Fortunately I already had a login.  After logging in, randomly chose three web based desktops that can be run from the web to be featured. Eyeos, I have talked about before. but it does not hurt to mention it again, The two others are eXastum and w3OS. Wanted to see how it displayed both on a desktop and on a handheld.





EyeOS is discussed in more detail at: http://www.instructables.com/id/eyeOS/. Server install instructions included.  I have been using the free version for a while and I really like the fact I can prepare spreadsheets, office type documents, and even presentations. Pretty snazzy for something that does not have to be installed on your personal computer. Like all the following software can easily be used from a tablet. EyeOS seemed to scale well to the table and to the desktop.





EXastum is pretty much still beta and not for a production platform.Found it hard to use on the tablet, but then I did not examine all the possible settings. One advantage of eXastum is that it does not use Adobe Flash or Java. It is mostly HTML5. All you have to do to use the software is just point to where is is located and boom your up and running. Perfect for an alternative for a whole OS such as Ubuntu. Nothing to root or take up too much space. eXastum did work well on the desktop. To install it on a server all you have to do is copy the files to it's own web directory and set the appropriate permissions. Will want to see what additions are made to eXastum. Certainly there will be challengers that will also use HTML5.



W3OS looks real interesting. They have a standalone version including the web server primarily for Microsoft based machines and then they seem to have a tradtitional version for web servers. Did not have time yet to install it to give a review. In fact the picture is from their own archive and not my system. Update: I looked at the instructions for installation and they are a problem. Had to read the documentation several times to set the gist of it, Also too the install page came up in French. Not good.  Maybe the install will fix that.


Note: I would like to thank the author of eXatum for commenting on the article.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Port of call.

One thing that is good for an network administrator is to be able to see if a web server is up without having to load a browser. Of course the web browsers usually run on port 80. Here is a short script to do that.

Grab a root webpage and save the code. Great for seeing if a server is up.
Usage:  ./webpageget.sh site outputfile
./getwebpage.sh oesrvr1 oesrvr1_rootpage
rm: cannot remove `oesrvr1_rootpage’: No such file or directory
<html>
<head>
<title> Offshore Educators (Main Page) 1 </title>
<base href=”http://oesrvr1/oe/”&gt;
</head>
<FRAMESET ROWS=”15%,*”>
<FRAME SRC=”title.html” NAME=TITLE SCROLLING=NO>
<FRAMESET COLS=”20%,*” FRAMEBORDER=no>
<FRAME SRC=”tools.html” NAME=SIDEBAR noresize>
<FRAME SRC=”notes.html” NAME=NOTES noresize>
</FRAMESET>
<NOFRAMES>
<H1> Offshore Educators</H1>
No frames? No Problem! Take a look at our
<A HREF=”plain.html”>no-frames</A> version.
</NOFRAMES>
</FRAMESET>
</html>
<code>
exec 3<>/dev/tcp/$1/80
echo “GET /” >&3
rm $2
cat <&3 > $2
cat $2
</code>

A while back I mentioned that you could find what systems are connected to your network with ./pingalll.sh (aka finding what homes are on the block)

 $ ./pingall.sh
You are using network 1.
64 bytes from 192.168.1.1: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.746 ms
64 bytes from 192.168.1.31: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.404 ms
64 bytes from 192.168.1.99: icmp_seq=1 ttl=255 time=4.84 ms
64 bytes from 192.168.1.115: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.064 ms

Now let's go one step further and find out what ports are accessible (i.e. 80 if the web server). This is also a first test to see how vunerable your internet faced systems are. Sometimes this is known as penetration testing (pen testing) at it's most rudimentary level. This also the first step most hackers will use to see of they can get into your system(s).

Simple port scan (aka finding out which windows and or doors are open or unlocked at a particular home.)

Usage portscan.sh host firstport lastport

$ ./portscan.sh  oesrvr1  1  1024
“22 open”
“25 open”
“80 open”
“110 open”
“111 open”
“143 open”
“993 open”
“995 open”

<code>

#!/bin/bash
IP=$1
firstport=$2
lastport=$3
function portscan
{
for ((counter=$firstport; counter<=$lastport; counter++))
do
(echo >/dev/tcp/$IP/$counter) > /dev/null 2>&1 && echo “$counter open”
done
}
portscan
</code>

If a port is not open that maybe while you can not access a particlar service such as the web server. After looking at the numbers enough, you will know what the most important ones do. In this case you know there is a mail, ssh, web and etcetera. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Software as a service. (SAAS)

Talked about IAAS a while back, now here is another part of the cloud.

From Wikipedia - History of SAAS:

Centralized hosting of business applications dates back to the 1960s. Starting in that decade, IBM and other mainframe providers conducted a service bureau business, often referred to as time-sharing or utility computing. Such services included offering computing power and database storage to banks and other large organizations from their worldwide data centers.
The expansion of the Internet during the 1990s brought about a new class of centralized computing, called Application Service Providers (ASP). ASPs provided businesses with the service of hosting and managing specialized business applications, with the goal of reducing costs through central administration and through the solution provider's specialization in a particular business application. Two of the world's pioneers and largest ASPs were USI, which was headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area, and Futurelink Corporation, headquartered in Orange County California.
Software as a service essentially extends the idea of the ASP model. The term Software as a Service (SaaS), however, is commonly used in more specific settings:
  • whereas most initial ASPs focused on managing and hosting third-party independent software vendors' software, as of 2012 SaaS vendors typically develop and manage their own software
  • whereas many initial ASPs offered more traditional client-server applications, which require installation of software on users' personal computers, contemporary SaaS solutions rely predominantly on the Web and only require an internet browser to use
  • whereas the software architecture used by most initial ASPs mandated maintaining a separate instance of the application for each business, as of 2012 SaaS solutions normally utilize a multi-tenant architecture, in which the application serves multiple businesses and users, and partitions its data accordingly
The SAAS acronym allegedly first appeared in an article called "Strategic Backgrounder: Software As A Service", internally published in February 2001 by the Software & Information Industry's (SIIA) eBusiness Division. 
DbaaS (Database as a Service) has emerged as a sub-variety of SaaS.

Saas is a big responsibility. Not only do you have to have virtually a 24/7 service, but you must also protect data and access. So more than likely you will see a two level or tier setup. That separates the client data from the direct web access for more security. Since there are several web servers usually set up in a cluster formation. if one goes down the rest of the servers can take up the slack until the downed server can ber resolved. To the web user, it will seem like they are just accessing one server.
SAAS advantages are you do not have to have the infra structure  and IT support a larger business might need. All you need are systems that can access the web. Reasons why the touchpads are so popular. For example a doctors office could access a specific web application running on an SAAS  server such as EMR to keep all the records. So whether the doctor is in the hospital or at a patients home, all the medical data is at the doctors fingertips. (As long as you have internet access).






You could also use a generic application where word processing , spreadsheets and etc are at your finger tips. Eyeos for example runs on the server. No software to install and keep updated on a client machine except the web browser. (http://www.instructables.com/id/eyeOS/)


SAAS is not just for business, you can also serve out home applications also. That means applications such as games or even a web based recipe program can be at your fingertips.



Businesses and home users do not have to depend on big business to have their own SAAS. In some cases, it is more secure to do so (with proper setup).  We have our own server and you can see some of the applications that we have installed at:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Uses-for-your-own-private-cloud/

Probably means you will need some kind of IT support to have your own server. We use older hardware for servers running open source software which allows us to recycle our own equipment saving many dollars.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Instructables I like.





Untitled Document




The instructables




Spiral antenna.
Just a simple bipolar antenna that has no scientific basis for how it was done. O… posted on Jun 17, 2013




Let's get wired.
Almost but not quite. Had to replace the ethernet cable from the bridge (aka mode… posted on Feb 20, 2013




Cheech and Chong computing.
Why do I call it Cheech and Chong computing, because they do not need no stinking … posted on Jan 26, 2013




Raspberry Pi simple blog server..
Hopefully you already have your basic Raspberry Pi already set up with the Debian … posted on Oct 25, 2012





Three tool electronics kit.
This kit is three simple electronic tools. A continuity, polarity, and logic teste… posted on May 18, 2013





Create animated gifs easily.
Use free software to convert a series of pictures into an animated gif is real e… posted on Feb 19, 2013





Reuses for legacy computers III.
Use that old composite monitor with your Arduino using the TV.out software. Use an… posted on Jan 16, 2013





The Antenna experiment.
We are going to test the feasability of getting electricity from the atmosphere. W… posted on Mar 27, 2013





Google Nexus 7: first thoughts.
People are saying the palmtops and the touchpads are the new desktop. I sort of ag… posted on Jan 29, 2013




No solder vga extension cord.
You need a longer vga cable for what ever reason. (Note you have to be careful as … posted on Dec 15, 2012