Categories
General

The Nexus 5 Camera app is rubbish

They say the best camera you have is the one that’s with you. This is where the Nexus 5 fell down. I had to take a couple of quick photos of my niece, who generally is only still when she’s sleeping. My iPhone 5 normally handles this task with ease. Every now and then, there will be a blurry movement where she was standing, but generally the photo before or after captures a picture in pretty sharp detail. The Nexus 5 introduced a delay after trying the auto focus or tap to focus. This meant that when pressing the volume up button to take a snap, the delay introduced, although minimal, stops perfect snaps being taken. After this, I called Google and arranged a return of the phone.

Categories
Electronics Equipment Raspberry Pi

A case for my Raspberry Pi!

Heres a quick 7 minute video about a case I purchased for the Raspberry Pi that only cost £4 from eBay!

Categories
General

Handy Tidbits: Create lots of files on linux quickly for testing

dd bs=1000000 count=20475 if=/dev/zero | split -b 4095 -a 7 -d – foo.

foo. (filename), 4095 = filesize (in bytes).

Taken from a comment by klode at
http://www.askdavetaylor.com/how_can_i_quickly_create_millions_of_tiny_files_in_linux.html#eb8sC3UpjoMBX0U1.99

Categories
Electronics notes PHP

OSX 10.8.2 localhost directory & MySql / PHPMyAdmin

You know, just because it will bug me again at some point:

If for any reason you don’t want to use the “sites” folder for your web development, you can head to

/Library/WebServer/Documents

and upload code directly into your http://localhost folder.

to install PHPMyAdmin, just plop that PHPMyAdmin folder just downloaded right into the above folder.

To Install MySQL however, follow these steps:

Download the .dmg MySQL installed from MySQL.com

Run the first installed, then the auto-start installer, and finally the Preference Pane add-on.

Run this code in terminal:

sudo cp /etc/php.ini.default /etc/php.ini

and then load /etc/php.ini and replace any instance of

/var/mysql/mysql.sock

with

/tmp/mysql.sock

Start the MySQL server using the preference pane add-on, then run the following in Terminal:

/usr/local/mysql/bin/mysqladmin -u root password PASSWORD

Replacing PASSWORD with a password of your choice.

The last thing to do is head to the PHPMyAdmin directory, and copy the config.sample.inc.php to config.inc.php and edit that file, replacing the

$cfg['blowfish_secret'] = 'RANDOM BLOWFISH CHARACTERS'; /* YOU MUST FILL IN THIS FOR COOKIE AUTH! */

RANDOM BLOWFISH CHARACTERS part with random characters!

Finally, head to http://localhost/phpmyadmin and your good to go!

Categories
Electronics General GitHub PHP

Using only PHP to save Google Starred items to Pocket!

So, based on my last post, I wanted to see if I could do everything with PHP. After a bit of google-fu and using the php.net manual, I’ve managed this beauty. Use at your own risk! This works with my Google Starred items, and you still have to obtain the starred.json file from the Google Take Out service (See my last post for more information).

If you have any tips on how to improve this, drop me a comment!

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />
<title>Instapaper: Export</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1>Unread</h1>
<ol>
<?php

// First off, we start by opening the file required (starred.json),
// Then we set the $galbool paramater (This is used where sites have
// given a "Gallery" URL (To make it more cosmetic, it appends the
// text [Gallery] to the end of the description.

$file_handle = fopen("starred.json", "r");
while (!feof($file_handle)) {
    $galbool = FALSE;
    $line = fgets($file_handle);

// This is our first check. We run through the json file and look for
// lines that contain the text "href". If it does not have that text,
// we are not interested, and set that line to be blank.

    $preg = "(\"href\")";
    $urlcheck = preg_match($preg, $line);
    if ($urlcheck !== 1) {
    $line = "";
    } else {

// A cheeky little bit of coding. Whislt we are in the loop, and
// I know that this is a URL we are intersted in, I'll have a look
// at the last character. If its a ",", I also want to delete that
// line. Looking at the JSON file, if a line contains a URL and
// ends with a ",", it means its not the *ACTUAL* URL we want, so
// we continue our ruthless streak and set that line to blank!
// (This was included ot deal with hackaday.com URL's, which for
// some reason doubled up, and this was a quick and easy way to
// get rid of them!

        $preg = "(,)";
        $clean = preg_match($preg, $line);
        if ($clean !== 0) {
            $line = "";
        }
        }

// Now we trim the whitespace and other non-needed characters, and
// we remove the first bit from the string thats not needed. This
// takes us right to the http:// part of the link, which is what we
// need! We also remove the trailing slash from the link as well.

        trim($line);
        $line = substr($line, 16);
        $line = substr_replace($line, "", -2);
        $string = $line;

        $check = $string[strlen($string)-2];
        if ( $check == "/"){
            $string = rtrim($string);
            $string = rtrim($string, "/");
            $desc = $string;
        }
        $check = $string[strlen($string)-1];
        if ( $check == "/"){
            $string = rtrim($string);
            $string = rtrim($string, "/");
            $desc = $string;
        }

// This is just a quick check to see if the URL passed is a gallery
// URL. If so, we set the $galbool value to true, and then do our
// usual URL cleanup. I have removed the /gallery part from the URL
// This is personal preferance, and I've not had any adverse effects
// from either taking it in, or removing it. It has to be removed
// just now to make figuring out the link text easier though.
// We can add it back in later if required.

        $gallerycheck = str_replace("/gallery", "", $string, $count);
        if ($count == 1){
            $galbool = TRUE;
            $string = rtrim($string);
            $string = rtrim($string, "/gallery");
            $desc = $string;
        }

// And now for the (almost) finale! We take everything after the
// forward slash in the URL, remove that forward slash, then we
// run through and replace every "-" with a space. This makes the
// end HTML page look nice, and it keeps with Instapapers Export
// option. If the $galbool value is true, we create a [Gallery]
// tag.

        $desc = strrchr($string, "/");
        $desc = str_replace("/", "", $desc);
        $desc = str_replace("-", " ", $desc);
        $desc = ucwords($desc);
        if ($string != "" ){
        if ($galbool == TRUE){

// you can add back in the /gallery link here again if you need it!
// Just uncomment the relevant line and comment out the other!
//        -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

//        $formatted = '            <li><a href="' . $string . '/gallery">' . $desc . '[Gallery]</a></li>';

//        ----------------------------------***OR THIS LINE***---------------------------------------------

        $formatted = '            <li><a href="' . $string . '">' . $desc . '[Gallery]</a></li>';

//        -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        } else {
        $formatted = '            <li><a href="' . $string . '">' . $desc . '</a></li>';
        }
        echo $formatted;
        }
    }

// We now close the file (good housekeeping), and finish up
// the script.

fclose($file_handle);
?>
</ol>
</body>
</html>

 

Categories
Electronics GitHub PHP

Using the terminal & PHP to save Google Reader Starred items!

*MAJOR UPDATE* – USING PHP ONLY WITH NEW CODE! Please view this next post for more information!

So. Google Reader is closing down. I’m not going to get all high and mighty – It’s Google’s product. They do with it as they wish! There are several places that let you save your feeds from Google Reader, but I wanted to add all my Starred Items from Reader into Pocket. It turns out it wasn’t the easiest thing to do! After a few terminal commands and some PHP, this is what I came up with!

Firstly, head to Google Reader, and use the Data Takeout feature that Google provides to save your Reader Data only. The outputted ZIP file should contain a folder entitled “Reader”. Within that, there should be a file named “starred.json”.

*UPDATE* – I have saved these 2 files to GitHub! Go, Grab!
https://github.com/nickwebcouk/pocketimport

Now the fun begins! To make it easy (and quick) I used the Terminal on Mac and ran these commands within the above folder. I used two files (new.txt and newnew.txt) just to keep track of what was happening. There are easier ways of doing this! I ran the following commands from terminal:

grep -a1 "canonical" starred.json > new.txt
grep -v "^\--" new.txt > newnew.txt
grep -v "} ]," newnew.txt > new.txt
grep -v "\"canonical\" : \[ {" new.txt > newnew.txt
grep -v "\"updated" newnew.txt > new.txt
grep -v "} \]," new.txt > newnew.txt
cat newnew.txt | rev | cut -c 2- | rev > new.txt
cut -c 17- new.txt > newnew.txt
rm -r new.txt
mv newnew.txt url.txt

The “grep” command looks through text files for specific expressions. “cat” outputs a full file, “rev” reverses items, “cut” cuts text, “rm” removes files and “mv” moves files.

To make this easier, I created a Shell Script (Tested on OSX 10.8.2 only)

#!/bin/sh

clear
grep -a1 "canonical" starred.json > new.txt
grep -v "^\--" new.txt > newnew.txt
grep -v "} ]," newnew.txt > new.txt
grep -v "\"canonical\" : \[ {" new.txt > newnew.txt
grep -v "\"updated" newnew.txt > new.txt
grep -v "} \]," new.txt > newnew.txt
cat newnew.txt | rev | cut -c 2- | rev > new.txt
cut -c 17- new.txt > newnew.txt
rm -r new.txt
mv newnew.txt url.txt

You can run that file by saving it to the same location as the Google Reader folder, and running the following in terminal first:

chmod 755 script.sh
./script.sh

the first line tells the computer to allow script.sh to be executed, and the second line executes the script.

I then moved the url.txt file that had just been created to my www root folder (for me its under /users/~name/sites/), and created the following PHP/HTML code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />
<title>Instapaper: Export</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1>Unread</h1>
<ol>
<?php
    $file_handle = fopen("url.txt", "r");
    while (!feof($file_handle)) {
        $galbool = FALSE;
        $line = fgets($file_handle);
        $string = $line;
        $check = $string[strlen($string)-2];
        if ( $check == "/"){
            $string = rtrim($string);
            $string = rtrim($string, "/");
            $desc = $string;
        }
        $gallerycheck = str_replace("/gallery", "", $string, $count);
        if ($count == 1){
            $galbool = TRUE;
            $string = rtrim($string);
            $string = rtrim($string, "/gallery");
            $desc = $string;
        }
        $desc = strrchr($string, "/");
        $desc = str_replace("/", "", $desc);
        $desc = str_replace("-", " ", $desc);
        $desc = ucwords($desc);
        if ($galbool == TRUE){
        $formatted = '			<li><a href="' . $string . '">' . $desc . '[Gallery]</a></li>';
        } else {
        $formatted = '			<li><a href="' . $string . '">' . $desc . '</a></li>';
        }
        echo $formatted;
    }
    fclose($file_handle);
?>
</ol>
</body>
</html>

This provided me with a HTML page, which if saved as instapaper-export.html allowed me to head to getpocket.com and use the Instapaper import option.

584 starred articles and 2 seconds later, I received this wonderful little message!

getpocket import

 

Categories
Electronics General

Custom Invitations using PHP!

People often don’t realise how versatile PHP and its add-on’s, including Imagik can be. I’ve used the following code in the past, and again recently, and I always receive comments on how nicely created invitations are. Its the personal touch that does it!

Firstly, I created an invitation using the awesome Pixelmator for Mac. You can use Gimp or Photoshop, or whatever takes your fancy, but what your looking for is a nice invitation with room for peoples names, like this:

Pre-PHP processing

(I’ve saved this as a PNG file)

Next up, some pre-processing work is required. I’ll go into this stuff in more detail in future blog posts, but what you want to do is set up a LAMP install (Linux, Apache, MySql and PHP). Make sure you have Imagik installed. You then want to install PHPMyAdmin, and create a database and one table with 2 columns (ID and Name).

ID Name
1 Nick T
2 Mr. A. N. Other

You can then plop the following code into your root directory, customise as needed, and away you go!

<?php
$con=mysqli_connect("localhost","USERNAME","PASSWORD","DATABASENAME");
// Check connection
if (mysqli_connect_errno())
{
echo "Failed to connect to MySQL: " . mysqli_connect_error();
}
// Database connection has passed, now to select ALL the data from the Table "NAME"
$result = mysqli_query($con,"SELECT * FROM name");
while($row = mysqli_fetch_array($result)) //Grab everything and put it into an array
{ //Start the loop
$image = new Imagick('siteinfo.png'); //The name of the background image
$draw = new ImagickDraw(); //Tell imagick were going to draw on this image
$draw->setGravity (Imagick::GRAVITY_CENTER); //Centre our Text
$draw->setFillColor('black'); //Set the font colour to BLACK
$draw->setFont("/var/www/skia.ttf"); //Load the font we want to use
$draw->setFontSize( 40 ); //Set our font size
$text = $row['name']; //Place the name into a variable
$image->annotateImage($draw, 240, -150, 0, $text); //Write this name into the image at the location specified
$image->setImageFormat('jpg'); //Tell imagick were going to save it as a JPG
$name = $row['id'] . ".jpg"; //Give it the file name of its ROW in the database
$image->writeImages($name, TRUE); //Save it to the root folder (where the script was ran)
} //Lather, Rinse, Repeat!
mysqli_close($con); //Close the MySQL connection
?>

One of the important functions in the above script is the

$image->annotateImage($draw, 240, -150, 0, $text); //Write this name into the image at the location specified

Using the awesome documentation online at PHP.net, you find out that the 3 numbers, in order mean X position, Y position and angle. Angle is set to 0 because I don’t want the text angled. A nice straight line of text. The X position relates to where in the image the text is placed horizontally, and the Y relates to the vertical position. There was no hard and fast way to figure out those numbers, so I played about with them until I was happy. There is more than likely a function already created, or you could write your own that works out the exact location, but for my needs, a little bit of guessing with a small sample yielded pretty good results!

After running that PHP file, you get this at the other end:

Image 1
Image 1

and

Image 2
Image 2

The above took less than 1 second to produce, once the script was ran. I used this to create over 60 invites, and that took around 10 seconds of script execution time! (If I remember, I’ll put in a timer to see how long exactly it took. Bare in mind this was completed on the Ubuntu Laptop – which isn’t exactly a powerhouse!)

I’m fully aware that there was probably a workflow for Automator on the Mac which I could have used – but its nice to keep the PHP skills going for little things like this!

UPDATE: Using the 2 names above, the script was executed in 0.74 seconds – This is on a Dual Core Intel(R) CPU T1400 @ 1.73GHz with 1Gb of RAM.

UPDATE 2: Using 59 names from the database, the script was executed in 6.01 seconds. Not bad!

Categories
Electronics Equipment General

Using a Windows 7 Upgrade disc with Bootcamp fresh install

I came across a problem when installing Windows 7 to my Mac using Bootcamp. I purchased my copy of Windows 7 when I had my older Windows PC  meaning I was eligible for the upgrade pricing. Using a Mac, however meant I couldn’t use the upgrade disc. Seeing as I don’t use my Windows PC anymore (it’s since been wiped and Ubuntu installed) I think I’m entitled to use the software I purchased on my Mac! The installation runs fine, with no issues, except when you enter your Product Key in. Windows gives you a nice error during install saying the Key is Invalid. It still allows you to install Windows 7, but you must reactivate within 3 days.
The quickest, and easiest way to activate Windows 7 using your own Product Key is to do the following:
1- Open up regedit (Click the Start Orb, type regedit and press enter)
2- Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Setup/OOBE/
3- On the right hand side, double click MediaBootInstall and change the value to (from 1)
4- Close regedit, and start a command prompt as an administrator
5- Enter slmgr /rearm and wait for a message box telling you the command completed successfully
6- Reboot your Mac
7- Click Start, and type Activate Windows
8- Enter your Product Key and click OK.

Easy as pie! Special Thanks to Justin Kerr of the MaximumPC blog for the information. Their site has pictures that can also be followed!

Categories
Electronics Equipment General

Quick Note – Development Enviroment

As well as creating the blog, I also have to create a development environment. There are plenty of ways to do it, and no way is right, but in my circumstances I have chosen to use a late 2012 Mac Mini running OS X 10.8.2 and using Bootcamp with Windows 7. I also have Ubuntu running on a nearby laptop, as well as a Virtualised image on OSX.

The set up of everything went relatively smoothly, excluding using the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad in Windows 7. My specific issue resolves around both the mouse and trackpad appearing “jittery”, as if te batteries were dying and the full smooth movement of the mouse was not being sent to the computer. This has annoyed a lot of folk online, and as it turns out after lots of Googling, you have to do the following:

1 – Head to Device Manager, Then Network Adapters
2 – Right-Click the Broadcom 802.11n
3 – Choose the Advanced Tab.
4 – Locate Bluetooth Collaboration from the drop-down list, then choose “Enable”

A quick and simple fix! Many thanks to Kemal Kocabiyik and his blog for assisting me with this one!

Categories
Electronics General

Flashing LED’s

I ordered 20 cheap (what I thought was) slow flashing LED’s. To test them quickly, I hooked them up to my breadboard, threw in 10 resistors, and wired them all to the same + and – terminals of 4 AA batteries. I’ll explain how all this works in a different post, but this is just to show that by taking 2 minutes of your time, you can have something relatively good looking set up!

Comments, questions or queries? Fire away!

Nick