Sunday, December 30, 2007

More Needed Maintenance

We're using the CheaperTronics 8 meter RFID transmitters for vehicle tracking. The problem is they are really sensitive to voltage levels and as the 2032 battery output drops, the transmitters start dropping out. The batteries become useless after several months so today I picked up some AAA battery holders from Radio Shack. I soldered the battery holder wires to the transmitter circuit board loaded it up with a couple batteries and rubber banded it to the case. They work great now. We'll see how long the batteries and reliability last.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back to 2000

After doing the Audrey upgrades, I decided to update the rest of my hacks from 2000. We still have the Series 1 TiVo which was hacked back then when a 30GB drive was added to the 14GB original. Later the 14GB drive died and the 30GB was made the lone drive. This time around I added an 80GB drive to bump the capacity up to 128 hours.

Today, I got rid of Win98 on the I-Openers I had hacked and took out the hard drives. Since I was only using these as digital picture frames, I didn't really need a full OS and all the functionality. I loaded the internal flash with the Midori Linux build from here, loaded pics on a USB flash drive and put everything back. Now, it's much quieter without the hard drive and more reliable given that those HDs were refurbs (they have lasted a long time just fine though).

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Summary of New Audrey Hacks

This is just a note to myself to document the hacks I added to the Audrey:

  • Enable access to Audrey internal web server
    Edit file /config/rm-apps, change this line
    rb,/kojak/kojak-slinger, -c -e -s -i 127.1
    to look like this
    rb,/kojak/kojak-slinger, -c -e -s

  • Installed Plus pack (
    This adds some Unix commands like mv, grep, and especially fs-cifs which lets us mount windows file shares. Added these lines to the bottom of /kojak/ to mount the mp3 directory on our windows server:
    sleep 10 # wait for networking to come up
    /nto/bin/fs-cifs -a //mywindowsservername: /mp3 user password

  • Installed telnetd/inetd (
    This lets us telnet into the Audrey so we don't have to sit typing at it. Made installing all these hacks easy to do from the comfort of a real keyboard.

  • Added the ability to push WAVs by installing playsound_noph from here and added this file (/data/XML/playsound.shtml) to the Audrey web server:

    <html><head><title>WAV Push</title></head></body>
    <!--#exec cmd="playsound_noph $QUERY_STRING &" -->
    Now WAVs can be remotely pushed to the Audrey by loading this URL: http://audrey.ip.address/playsound.shtml?http://windows.server/wavs/abc.wav

  • Installed GUI MP3 Player phplay ( also relevent
    So now we can play music off our server.

  • Created my own icon for phplay and added it to the Audrey Options menu (

  • Installed the Mr. Audrey package manager (
    This is necessary to install the gui-less MP3 player (plaympegaudio_noph) to push MP3s to the Audrey since I couldn't find it anywhere except in an install package for Mr. Audrey. Just transfer this file to the Audrey, chmod +x and then execute it to install the package manager

  • Installed plaympegaudio_noph ( Same thing, transfer it to the Audrey, make it executable and run it. Created /data/XML/playmp3.shtml:
     <html><head><title>MP3 Push</title></head></body>
    <!--#exec cmd="plaympegaudio_noph $QUERY_STRING &" -->
    Similar to the WAV push, the MP3 push can be done by accessing the URL. It can be automated in a script using wget to download the URL.

  • I think that's all. I replicated the changes to 3 other Audreys by dumping an image to a CF and installing it on the other 3. Not bad for an evening's work :)

    Saturday, December 22, 2007

    Shoehorned a High Efficiency PS into the kitchen PC

    I picked up the smaller SPI180LE power supply for this PC. It doesn't fit nicely into the chassis so I dremeled and drilled and wedged it in pretty good. Now it runs about 35 watts in idle. Not as great a savings as I expected but in the long run, it'll add up.

    I'm also working on some long delayed integration of our 3Com Audreys. They've been nice touch screen control panels for the various ASP scripts on our HA server, but I've added some of the more common HA fixes: being able to set the LEDs remotely, pushing WAV files to them, MP3 playing capability and the ability to mount Windows shares.

    The Audrey's blinking LEDs will now signify there is a voicemail in HAL. I added this code to the starCOMUltra hosted script to run a script to blink all the Audrey's LEDs when there are new messages:

    function HALVM() {
    HalNewMsgCountOld = HalNewMsgCount;
    HalMsg = HAL.Phone.Mailboxes.ItemByName("Main").Messages;
    HalMsgCount = HalMsg.Count;
    for (i=HalMsgCount;i<=HalMsgCount;i++) {
    if (HalMsg.Item(i).IsNew) {
    if (HalNewMsgCountOld!=HalNewMsgCount) {
    if (HalNewMsgCount>0) {
    ShellCmd.Run("perl site/scripts/ 1",7);
    } else {
    ShellCmd.Run("perl site/scripts/ 0",7);

    The Perl script just accesses the Audreys' internal web server to toggle the lights:

    `wget "http://xx.yy.zz.1/cgi-bin/SetLEDState?$ARGV[0]" -t 1 -O c:/ftp/audrey_light.out`;
    `wget "http://xx.yy.zz.2/cgi-bin/SetLEDState?$ARGV[0]" -t 1 -O c:/ftp/audrey_light.out`;
    `wget "http://xx.yy.zz.3/cgi-bin/SetLEDState?$ARGV[0]" -t 1 -O c:/ftp/audrey_light.out`;

    I still need to figure out how to take advantage of the WAV pushing feature...

    Wednesday, December 19, 2007

    GTalk Babble Bot

    Ok, this is not HA related but we use Google Talk as our primary chat too. They've just announced that they've created bots that can translate conversations on the fly. VERY COOL. Check it out!

    Monday, December 17, 2007

    D201GLY2 Kitchen PC built

    I've got the kitchen PC built and running Win2k although text is kinda crappy on the Vizio 20" TV. I tried all sorts of drivers and even loaded up XP to see if it would make a difference. Doesn't appear to. Native resolution of the TV is 1366x768 and I can't get the card to do that - best I get is 1280x720. It's OK for now.

    Anyway, it's running with a 160GB HD and 1 GB RAM. I'm leaving the DVD out to save some power. It peaks around 55 watts and idles around 48 watts. I'm hoping to pick up a high efficiency power supply like the SPI220LE to see if I can get the power down even further.

    Sunday, December 9, 2007

    HA Server Rebuild...again

    Rebuilt the HA server yet again. There were some issues I had with Win2k and the hardware combination (E6420 Core2 and ECS PT890T-A mobo). Anyway, with XP it's perfect and all the compatibility issues I was having are gone.

    The kitchen PC is moving forward. I found a good deal on a D201GLY2 board at Cost Central. Free shipping and $5 off with Google Checkout. Beats which doesn't have it in stock and has raised the price about $2/week for the past several weeks. I guess they were noticing lots of page views for the D201GLY2 and even though they didn't have it in stock, they raised their price anyway. Lame. Anyway, I need to get a gig of cheap PC2 4200 memory and I'm all set. I got a nice cheap uATX case here with free local pickup. Total cost should be about $100 less the TV/display as I'm reusing a hard drive and CD. Not bad.

    Saturday, December 1, 2007

    Web content filtering

    Part of my HA setup includes running the Squid proxy/cache. I also run Adzapper in conjunction with Squid to remove annoying ads, popups, tracking bugs and scripts. Lately, there's been a huge uproar over Facebook's Beacon program, which has been found to be very intrusive spying on your web surfing habits. This article looks at the various options to block Beacon and finds that blocking a certain URL pattern will work. So I've added this line to my Adzapper config file:

    AD http://(**.|)**

    Now we're safe from their prying eyes, until they change their URL pattern...