Thursday, 24 January 2013

Heart Rate Monitoring

I saw the Neptune Pine making headlines today, I was waiting for smart watch to surface! The Neptune Pine runs Leaf OS (derived from Android) and has a heart rate monitor built-in which is great news!

Recently two athletes lost their lives during a local endurance race... I was pondering the idea of a 3G device to send heart rate updates to which will allow for instant alerts to be generated in case something goes wrong... I'll add a heart rate monitoring feature to the Android app client for this soon!

Essentially a nice spec smart phone can now be on your wrist, check the specs out at:

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Unboxing Intel Extreme Board DZ77RE-75K

Hidden inside a plain brown paper box we discovered the beautiful Intel Extreme Desktop Board DZ77RE-75K. John (my uncle) ordered the board after doing a lot of research into the perfect board for his new gaming PC. Truth be told I was impressed with the amount of features Intel has included in this board, some are included below:

1. 1 x LGA1155 CPU Socket
2. 4 DIMM slots with max 32GB DDR3
3. Onboard graphics with HDMI out

Additional details of this board are on the Intel Ark, click here to view them...

Included in the box was all the usual, ie. backplates and specifications sticker however this board also comes with a very slick looking mouse pad and a module which provides bluetooth and  wifi!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Yubico YubiKey

I ordered a YubiKey last night to play with, while waiting for shipping etc I started looking for details on the API and images to use on my site I was interested in how much I found by just surfing... Nothing of immediate concern but for a company who's business is security one would expect them to be extremely security conscious, yet so far:

 1 version behind on Apache release and display version details, server OS details etc

The wiki server is also a few versions behind. In addition the MediaWiki version used is 1.12.0 while version 1.20.2 is the latest... quite a few versions ago...

Have a directory listing enabled on another server:

The static content sync script contents with nice details in... Hi Jas?

The servers mentioned above and the main site also have ssh open to the world:

Makes me wonder what other things are open, behind in versions and how secure the "YubiKey OTP Validation server" really is?

I'll post more when I received the key, looks like a very cool device with amazing possibilities, they might just need a new sys admin!

Friday, 18 January 2013

bwm-ng csv fields

Needed to check bandwidth usage on a server today using a script, thought of running bwm-ng, it might be time for them to change the ng to nng - new next generation as it does need some work...

To generate csv: bwm-ng -I wlan0 -o csv -c 1 -T rate

The fields it produces are hidden in some "README" not readily available as it's with the source code, anyhow the details of the fields:

Unix Timestamp
Interface Name
Bytes Out
Bytes In
Bytes Total
Packets Out
Packets In
Packets Total
Errors Out
Errors In

Fields are split by ; character but this can be changed using the -C option...

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Receipt printer udev rules

We use the Epson and DigiPOS line of receipt printers for most of our retail customers as both use similar lingo and could possibly be the most reliable printers I've ever encountered (Epson being the best in my opinion but more expensive).

The printers work perfectly in Linux except for when they are plugged out and back in, often due to the permissions changing and not allowing direct access to the device from a normal user access, a chmod 666 /dev/usb/lp0 usually fixes this for the time being.

To add a udev rule to always have a eg. 666 mode on the device:

lsusb <- run lsusb
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 0525:a700 Netchip Technology, Inc.  << The printer in my case
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 04f2:b272 Chicony Electronics Co., Ltd Lenovo EasyCamera
Bus 002 Device 003: ID 0489:e00d Foxconn / Hon Hai
Bus 002 Device 004: ID 0bda:0139 Realtek Semiconductor Corp.

Open /etc/udev/rules.d/15-printers.rules and add the line:

Make sure to change the idVendor and idProduct to the lsusb values eg. 0525:a700 in my case, ie. 0525 being vendor ID and a700 being product ID.

Reload the rules (you can also: restart udev):

udevadm control --reload-rules

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Amazing e-mail sending rates...

We sent out over 10,000 e-mail's recently and pushed to get the maximum amount out in the shortest amount of time, we managed to push 35.79 Mbps or 4.47MB/s in bandwidth usage, not to bad, effectively delivering 9 mails every second to a remote server even with all the different SPAM (not that this was) filtering techniques found in the wild!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Why Linux simply rules!

I often encounter Windows users than love to spew hate toward Linux although they themselves often think it's an application you can install, isn't graphical at all, is dead for the desktop, can't run more than one CPU at a time, is only used for servers, or doesn't follow standards - what a joke!

So to all those people, here is a blog entry just for you... Linux powers 850K new Android devices per day, most of 700K new televisions purchased per day, 8 out of every 10 financial trade, 9 out 10 world's supercomputers, the $10B CERN large Large Hadron Collider, Lockheed Martin's Nuclear Submarine, Japanese high speed train, and the US air traffic control system.

Most website are powered by servers running Linux and opensource, these sites include Google, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, Travelocity and Amazon. In actual fact in recent years 8000 developers from 800 companies have contributed to the Linux Kernel. Red Hat (a billion dollar company) just focuses on Linux for business, both server and desktop, same goes for Novell with SuSE.

Linux has a few full GUI desktops to choose from and thousands of applications, including the ability to run many windows applications. So who uses Linux as a desktop? Google has 10K, City of Munich 14K, IC bank of China changing to Linux in 20K branches, Czech Post 12K, France's police dept to have 90K by 2015, Macedonia Education has 180K, Germany students with 550K, Novell 5.5K+, Peugeot 20K, DreamWorks has 1K, FNB Bank (the most innovative Bank in 2012) run 12K, to name but a few...

In 2009 Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated that Linux had a greater desktop market share than Mac, stating that in recent years Linux had "certainly increased its share somewhat". Just under a third of all Dell netbook sales in 2009 had Linux installed.

That is an insane amount of business powered by Linux, at the end of the day using what works and being able to change with technology will highlight those IT people worth their weight in gold!

Linux developers also follow international standards like the RFC documents, if this was not the case Linux would have been an isolated and limited operating system, something it definitely isn't. Linux often has to even adapted to accept non-standard methods simply enforced by other companies.

Some other devices which run Linux you might be using/interact with: ATM machines, Kiosks, Slot machines, ADSL/Cable modems, Traffic Lights, Carrier Class Network Equipment, VoIP Phones, IP CCTV cameras, car computers/radios, fridges, and many many more! 

All stats are from places like wikipedia and other trusted sources, if you find a wrong figure or want something added to the above please let me know...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Water Damage Indicator

It took a device or two being sent in to a local service provider only to be told they wouldn't repair it due to the phone being water damaged... this was quite unfair though as phone we took in had a software related bug and required new firmware, the water damage just got them out of any obligation.

With all the years in IT the chances are that you've washed or wet something electronic, left it to dry and found it to be working perfectly!

We were lucky enough to find out with the last visit they disclosed how they knew it came in contact with water, the answer being a seemingly insignificant tiny white dot. When it comes in contact with water it quickly changes, I found one on my 3G dongle and decided to peel it off and feed it some water (pictures below).  It may very well be worth your time to check for the dot before taking your device in for a service...

Raspberry Pi - New 512MB memory model B revision 2

After months of waiting for my Rasperry Pi to arrive I was pleasantly surprised to find it waiting at the post office today...

I ordered a model B but with all the waiting it was upgraded to the 512 MB version (model B revision 2), which is great news as it was one of the low points I experienced with the original model B.

The 512MB memory upgrade allows for easier running of Android ICS (I'll give it a try and report back soon).

The CPU however is still lacking and also requires an upgrade, combined with how easily the IO saturation point is reached and the often I was able to crash the Pi doing mundane tasks makes me continue to look for alternatives like the Hackberry A10.

The size of the board is also exactly the same and fits nicely into the official Raspberry Pi case. The case itself looks very nice and finishes the Pi off perfectly while also making it a much easier to handle!