Saturday, June 25, 2011

Various Updates

I've been working on a number of projects off & on the last few weeks. A few weeks ago, I tweeted about this app called GTalkSMS. It has a lot of potential for automation. I played with it a while, downloaded the source and modified it. I wanted my HA system's Jabber interface to be able to interact with GTalkSMS. It was using Jabber-NET, but for some unknown reason, that package isn't able to communicate with GTalkSMS. I found another free Jabber library, agsXMPP, and tried that out. It was able to talk to GTalkSMS so I ripped Jabber-NET out and replaced it with agsXMPP. For the most part, it was easy to swap libraries.

Next, I decided to replace the Jabber-NET client in Jab2Twit with agsXMPP because it's not able to communicate when you chat with Google's talk gadget (like in Chromebooks). I also finished up IM'ing new tweets and tweet filters. That's about wrapped up and ready for release.

I did a little work with Kinect, eventually moving to Windows as I couldn't make much headway in Linux. That's been backburnered as Microsoft recently released their official beta SDK for Kinect. I haven't had time to really play with it.

We also had our annual pilgrimage to the Southern California theme parks and in preparation for our trip, I set up a mini mobile camera viewer. It's just a simple web page with JQuery and AJAX. Since the cameras are on different servers (or are IP cameras), rather than set up SSH tunnels to each IP address, I basically proxied them through Apache - so I only had to tunnel one port. I used this technique I've used before. One other issue I had was I couldn't view MJPEG streams of certain IP cams with the AJAX technique I implemented. I found this PHP code to return a single frame from a stream.

I also picked up a Kindle Special Offers because up all the deals they've been handing to owners (such as 20% off HDTVs!). It's the first e-reader we've had and I have to say it's pretty cool, whenever I can pry it out of my wife's hands.

One more thing I got was an Aeon Labs ZStick to use with the handful of closeout ZWave modules I scrounged from Radio Shack months ago. There's a particular area of our house where UBP and X10 just don't work reliably and I've given up trying to figure out the noise source that's causing problems. I figured the ZWave modules would be perfect in this situation and took a stab at using the Open ZWave project. It was really easy to build and I slapped an xPL interface onto the demo .NET app and was controlling the modules in about 15 minutes. ZWave is now fully integrated into our system - using this hacked app. Our needs for ZWave are simple, just turning on & off modules, no scenes or other complexities. Maybe if I can find more closeout modules, I might expand its features.

Finally, I picked up a couple Lepai T-Amps from Parts Express via - just $20 + S&H. These are nice little amps that I'm using in conjunction with a couple Squeezeboxes I have lying around. I'm starting to phase out our remaining 3 Rio Receivers with gen 1 Squeezeboxes and SliMP3s I've found on Craigslist.

My next project I plan on working on is expanding the capabilities of our system's IM interface. I would like to increase its capabilities of interpreting text into commands usable by the system. With all the voice capabilities built into Google apps and Android phones, this could be a simple way to have reliable pseudo voice control from anywhere. The idea is to use the voice to text features of our Android phones, for example, to dictate to the IM client. Then pressing send and let our system regex the text to extract useful commands and perform them. Easy enough right?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

More Tweeting, Less Blogging?

I remember seeing an article some time ago about a guy who was a really prolific blogger. He posted about how Twitter has rendered blogging obsolete. I started on Twitter in July 2009 and the frequency of my blog posts has tailed off considerably. For me, Twitter let's me write about more useless things and things off the top of my head, things I wouldn't necessarily blog about. I think I'm less interested in writing much these days, but I can tweet little bits. Also, I tend to spend more time with blog posts, editing wording and grammar, but with Twitter I don't care about editing other than fitting in 140 characters, so it saves me time. I'll continue to blog when I feel the need to add more detail, but if you don't mind a bit of noise, you can follow me over on Twitter.

I've got a number of projects I'm working on at the same time, multi-tasking or ADD, depending on how you look at it ;) Too many to make any real progress on any one of them. I've been updating my Twitter clients (xPLTweet and Jab2Twit) and working on my Facebook bot/scripting engine. I also started Android development and have loaded my first app on my phone that just has 2 buttons and does nothing yet. Finally, my Kinect came yesterday and I spent last night configuring a Dockstar to get X windows running so I can play around with libfreenect. As a big hoops fan, the NBA finals are distracting me from making progress. It's good to be busy right?