Archive for August, 2013


So, I got my first Arduino board, a UNO, on Friday (Thanks Etang Electronics via eBay), costing a smidge under a tenner.

Today was the first time I had to play with it, and the results were good. The free IDE software, downloaded from the main Arduino site here: Arduino on the web is simple and easy to use, and getting my first program uploaded and running was extremely easy.

As a first shot, I simply took some example code from the site, and modified to do my bidding.

The goal was to make the onboard LED flash ‘SOS’, wait 4 seconds, and repeat. My code is below, as it’s good to share 🙂

Go get an Arduino folks, and make stuff, the number of sensors etc is AMAZING! I can see me spending some time with it in the not too distant future.

/*
Blink
Turns on an LED on for one second, then off for one second, repeatedly.

This example code is in the public domain.
*/

// Pin 13 has an LED connected on most Arduino boards.
// give it a name:
int led = 13;

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {
// initialize the digital pin as an output.
pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
digitalWrite(led, LOW);
}

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
//Signalling SOS with on-board LED
//First S
digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(500);               // wait for a half second before moving on to O
//Then O
digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(1000);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(1000);               // wait for a second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(1000);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(1000);               // wait for a second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(1000);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(500);               // wait for a half second before moving on to the last S
//Finally S again
digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(4000);               // wait for 4 seconds before looping again
}

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I have been with 3 in the UK for a long time now, probably going on 8 or 9 years, and I’ll be honest, my signay at home was ‘ok’, but not great, though usable.

Then for a while, we started to lose signal entirely (I say we, as my wife is also with them), to begin with, over the weekends, then during the week, the signal would just be poor, two bars if you’re lucky.

I’d heard from a friend that 3 offered signal boosters that were connected to your broadband, so I decided to call them and see what was on offer.

It took some prodding, and more than one call to speak to the right people, but I was eventually told that I was in a known area. It arrived a fiew days later for bad signal, and that they would offer me a Home Signal device for free. The normal cost if you just ask for one is £130!!.

However, due to the known signal issues, mine would be free. It arrived a few days later, and is the simplest set up you could wish for.

You fit the supplied SIM card in the bottom, plug it into your broadband, and power it up. Aside from telling 3 which numbers will use it (Up to 32 per home address), which you do via a website, that really is it.

We now have full signal, in and around the house, and never miss a call or text.

If you’re in the same boat, I’d advise you to call 3 and see if you’re eligible for one of these helpful little boxes. (Yes, they are really quite small).

3HSignalThere is a post script to this, in that mine started flashing a red warning light at me over the last few days. The problem? Simple fix, remove the SIM card, clean the contacts, and put it back in and reboot 🙂 Happy days!

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I have had an Untangle appliance for some years now, guarding my network from the internet at large. I like to share things like this 🙂

The great thing is, that there is a free version of this prebuilt security appliance that everybody can use, and it really is very easy to set up.

You can download it from here: http://www.untangle.com/ as an ISO file, that you can then burn to CD/DVD and use as installation media.

My original Untangle server was running on an HP DL360 G2, which was more than up to the job from a hardware perspective.

Originally, I used my BT firewall with the Untangle device in bridge mode, but recently I have removed the BT device since moving to BT Infifnity, since Untangle supports PPPOE.

This turned it into Router mode, and has greatly enhanced my security, since the Untangle firewall has a superior firewall to the BT device, let alone the configuration is easier and more flexible.

You can find the differences between Bridge and Router mode here: http://www.untangle.com/untangle/how-to-deploy under step 3.

Untangle also adds a whole host of other features, such as virus scanning, spam ans spyware scanners, ad blockers, so it really does give you a much better patform to control access to/from your network.

As well as recently moving to Router mode, I also retired my HP DL360 G2, on account of noise, heat and electricity consumption. It’s been replaced by a laptop. Yes, you heard right, a laptop.

So, not only have I now upgraded to the 64 Bit version of Untangle, it runs very nicely on a dual core 1.8GHz laptop with 4 GB RAM, a nice side effect being the fact it now has it’s own built in UPS, being a laptop 🙂

The only thing I needed was a second NIC, for which I was able to get a new Cardbus adapter off Ebay for the princely sum of £5.

The whole process was quick too. It took about an hour or so to install Untangle fresh, and then import the settings from the old server.

I really can’t recommend it enough, especially if you have some spare hardware around that meets the minimum spec.

So, go and untangle yourselves folks!

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So, I recently decided to retire my Exchange 2003 server, in favour of Exchange 2007.

There were a lot of reasons for this.

Firstly, my Windows 2003/Exchange 2003 server was an old HP DL380 G3. In itself, a great, reliable server, which cost me only £20 off Ebay, but getting on a bit, and very noisy in my home office, especially combined with the HP DL 360 G2 I was using for an Untangle server, and the newer Dell T105 which was already running Windows 2008 and Exchange 2007.

Secondly, at work we have Exchange 2007/2010, so I had a desire to expand my skills to better enable me to understand the environments I need to support.

Thirdly, I wanted to also migrate a number of sites I ran (OWA, WordPress) over to IIS 7 due to the improved security features, and ease of management.

And last, but by no means least, the two HP servers are making my electricity bill look like that of an actual data centre, so I wanted to retire them both, enjoy the quieter office, and save some pennies.

The migration from Exchange 2003 -> 2007 was really not so difficult, with the only issue being the move of my wife’s mailbox, which reported there may be activesync issues. It would be her account! She did have issues, so I had to re-do the account on both her iPhone and Galaxy Tab, but all was fine after that.

So why, I hear you asking, is it more secure, but more annoying?

Well, certain feature like tarpit are enabled by default, and also it’s more secure when trying to connect over telnet, and it has some excellent anti spam features built in.

Now comes the annoying bit. Many things can be done via the GUI, but if you want to get at all the really neat stuff, you have to visit the Exchange Powershell CLI. Yes, I said CLI.

For example, enabling the anti spam features requires running some scripts from the CLI, as does adding a list of custom blockwords to the anti spam component.

You can add blockwords via the GUI, but it takes FOREVER!!!!

Same goes for blocked email domains and senders.

CLI = power in the case of Exchange 2007 and beyond. I guess I’d better get used to it!!

So, it’s been a while now since I updated to Jelly Bean, and also since the enforced factory reset due to the fact that things just weren’t quite right after the update.

The factory reset really was the charm though, as everything is running beatifully now, and the battery life is nothing short of amazing compared to before.

What I have noticed though, is that my Nexus 7 doesn’t seem to suffer in the same manner as my One X or Galaxy S2 (Work phone).

It has now had 2 or 3 updates with no factory reset rquired, so that does beg the question ‘Do skinned versions of Android have an update issue?’.

I’d certainly like to know, so if there is anybody out there who has a vanilla Android device, has found a factory reset is needed for updates, please comment!

Otherwise it has got me wondering if my next phone will be an unadulterated Google device. Don’t get me wrong, I love HTC Sense to bits (Touchwiz, not so much), but if it means I have to do a factory reset for each an every update that comes through, I won’t be too happy.

My S2 did just get an update to Jelly Bean, and so far seems fine without a reset, but I’m keeping an eye on it. Maybe It’s just the main version updates that need it, who knows.

For now though, happy bunny, lets just wait to see what the next update brings.

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