Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Productive Weekend Home Sick

I spent the weekend cooped up inside with a cold, but I actually got some things done. The wife's laptop was hit by a drive-by virus, so I took the drastic measure of installing Ubuntu on it. She doesn't actually use any Windows apps and all her docs are done on Google Docs anyway. I set up all her Windows shares with CIFS and installed her printer driver and that's all she needs. She seems happy with it. I liked it so much I loaded my old Acer Aspire One netbook with Ubuntu Netbook Remix. The kids' netbook has already been running a flavor of Ubuntu - they've been using Jolicloud on their Dell Mini 10. So it was easy to add the printer driver and network shares to their machine. I don't really like Jolicloud a whole lot, especially since version 1.0 seems to have slowed everything down. I would have preferred Ubuntu Netbook Remix, but for some reason, it can't deal with the Dell Mini's graphics chip. Jolicloud works flawlessly with the Mini's graphics and even supports an external monitor. Couldn't do that with the Remix.

Monday, September 20, 2010

xPLGVoice is Out

Ok, I've decided to toss it to the masses. Go get it!

Quick Post - xPLGVoice Preview

Here's a quick screenshot of my new xPLGVoice app. It allows control of some aspects of Google Voice via xPL messages - specifically, sending SMS, initiating calls and enabling/disabling your forwarding numbers. I hope to release it soon.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

BlueBlabber Released

The first release of our hybrid bluetooth tracker with IM is available here. Follow the link for more information.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

BlueBlabber Coming

I just wanted to post an update on something new I'm working on called BlueBlabber. I tweeted about it earlier today. It's a bluetooth proximity app like BlueTracker and BlueTrackerScript. BlueBlabber mixes BlueTracker and Blabber together, removing the xPL component, and communicating via IM.

I built this to use at work. At my previous job, I used BlueTrackerScript and scripted up HTTP GETs to my webserver - one URL for when it detects my phone and another for when my phone disappears. I figured I'd try out this method since I've been IMing status between homes. I've been tweaking it the last couple days and I should be releasing it shortly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

EventGhost Disappearing From Our System

Given my latest effort to bridge our remote network via IM, I've started scaling back our usage of EventGhost on the remote thin client and our HA server. This weekend, I started converting the automation code on the remote thin client over to xScript. I've had it running overnight and it's been working so well I've shutdown EG. It hasn't been running on the HA server for a few weeks since I extracted the network sender/receiver plugins to Python scripts. The server actually seems more stable. I've always suspected EG of having memory leaks that force me to reboot the HA server and remote thin client periodically. At one point, I had 3 machines running EG and now I don't have any. EG is also facing an uncertain future as the developer is planning to stop work on it, and now seems like a good time to transition away. This also means I will probably stop maintaining the xPL plugin. There aren't any outstanding problems with it and I haven't touched it in over a year, so it's not a big deal.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bridging xPL Revisited

I originally talked about bridging xPL across the Internet using EventGhost in this post. More recently, I wrote about pulling the sender/receiver plugins out of EventGhost here. I did that but haven't gotten around to cleaning up the code. The problem with either of solution is that it's not very secure, so I've always tunneled them through SSH. If either Internet connection goes down, I have to manually restart the SSH session (since leaving my password and keys lying around so I can automate the login probably isn't a good idea).

Instead, I've decided to bridge the connection using IM with our Blabber app. I just set up 2 GMail accounts, one for each house, and added one to the other's chat list and fired up the local and remote Blabber apps. I wrote a script to capture certain xPL messages and embed them in an xPL message sent to Blabber. On the receiving end, the xPL message generated by Blabber is parsed out in my xPLSCU scripting engine.

The big advantage is there's no need to manually set up SSH tunnels as the messages go over Google's chat server encrypted with TLS. If the link goes down, Blabber will just keep trying to send messages until the link comes back up. No manual intervention necessary. I've had it running for a day now and it seems to be working out well. I've already had the remote ISP connection go down for about an hour, and when the cable modem was automatically restarted, the Blabber conversations continued on their own. Very cool! For added security, you can also encode your messages before sending them to Blabber.