Use your keyboard more! Start with this neat setting

I try to find ways to use only the keyboard to navigate around my OS, so the only thing that initially held me back from switching to OSX was my inability to use the keyboard completely.

By changing this setting, you can use your keyboard to tab through buttons in dialog boxes and windows. Keyboard power!

  1. Go to Keyboard settings in System Preferences
  2. Click ‘Shortcuts’ tabScreen Shot 2013-11-17 at 2.44.03 PM
  3. Change setting “All Controls”
    Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 2.44.13 PM

Now you can tab through buttons!

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 2.49.58 PM Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 2.49.51 PM

 

– Rob

Wantickets.com stores passwords in plain text

After using “Forgot Password” to login and renew my hosting account, I remembered in the past they had stored my password in plaintext. Luckily, they seem to have fixed this, at least by not sending it plain text in an e-mail. Curiosity led me to search my e-mail for some of my most commonly used passwords, and I found one site, Wantickets.com, that seems to store and e-mail passwords in plaintext. Thanks Wantickets.

Wantickets Plain Text

 

With the countless number of articles I read about passwords being compromised, you’d think it would be a high priority for developers. Apparently not at Wantickets.

For Sprint, unlimited data = unusable network

Back in 2012, I decided to give AT&T the middle finger and save a bit of money in the process. Sprint had just released the iPhone 4S for its network, and after analyzing their pricing, decided to make the plunge. Frustrated with AT&T, I broke my contract early, sold my old phone, bought a new Sprint iPhone 4S, and made a small profit in the process.

Knowing Sprint’s iPhone network was new, I gave them a pass, for a few months, for having slow data. As you can see, it never improved:

IMG_5732

IMG_5731

Last time I checked, it was 2013. 2013’s data speeds aren’t supposed to be like 1995’s dialup. This is not acceptable for a modern wireless company. I’m not able to do basic tasks like stream music, radio (iHeartRadio), or even use my Google Maps to get directions.

Traveling is almost impossible. Any time I travel to Bakersfield, Las Vegas, or neighboring town, data is even worse. Instead of 3G, I mostly have a Circle (No 3G), and data is mostly unusable.

To top it off, phone call quality is absolutely terrible. I can barely understand the person on the other end. I had a phone die on me a few months ago, so I was able to rule out the phone as the cause. Do they have ANY satisfied customers?

Frustrated, I had a friend call Sprint and work his magic in an attempt to get them to break my contract, without fee, in order to switch. He was able to get them to credit me $25 over the course of 4 months, which is a small token for the almost useless service I have. I just want out, and they keep jerking me around to do so.

I’m writing this blog at the peak of my frustration. I just got off the phone with Sprint tech support. I insisted they not try to diagnose this issue as being related to my phone, as many others seem to have the same issue.

If you’re in LA, never get Sprint, and if you’re frustrated like me, I highly recommend breaking your contract and switching to T-Mobile. I have a lot of friends in LA that have been posting screenshots of speedtests with amazing results. In some cases, it’s faster than my home internet.

Simple Script to Toggle DCS-930L Motion Detection

A while back, I would enable my DCS-930L webcam when I was away to check on my cat, see if maintenance had entered, or in case an intruder decided to come in. I had to manually turn it on and off when leaving, or just set it down so it couldn’t see. Because I’m lazy and forgetful, I made a little PHP script that runs continuously to automate turning on and off the motion detection on the camera. The LED on the DCS-930L will switch on and off depending on whether the device is present.

I have a Tomato router and D-link DCS-930L camera, but you may be able to adapt this to your setup:

Cheers!

– Rob

LED Suit Updates

ELLO MATES!

Haven’t updated in a while, but great things have happened in the LED suit area. I managed to finish the suit pants, front only:

I have also built another suit type, a simple grid, which is much easier to put on and wear.

The Grid evolved from a need for a simpler lighting setup that I could easily put on and removed if necessary. Additionally, the power consumption of the previous suit was prohibitively high and drained the battery in about 4 hours. My predictions on the new design show that it can last around 12 hours with my current 5000mAh battery, which means I can get a much smaller battery for just The Grid.

There are still some comfort issues to work out with The Grid, but I’m considering selling it along with some custom suits. I’m teaming up with various fashion nerds in my area to make this possible, so check back for updates.

The main challenges currently include:

  • Slimming down the computer size
  • Keeping the grid from shifting too much
  • Dummy proofing entire setup and hardening it for the average user
All in all, it’s been a WILD ride and huge ego trip. The amount of joy that it has brought to people was entirely unexpected, and the fun had has been worth every minute of work gone into it. If you’re ever interested in what it’s like to be a celebrity and have people constantly looking at you, build an LED suit :)
Cheers!

 

Hindsight

Norman is a fine example of the average person.

I often hear about people complaining and invoking the desire for government to step in to help them in their disposition. Many times, after persistent questioning, I find out the situation they are in is often self induced. People are often quick to shift the responsibility from themselves to others in an attempt to cope with their situation. This kind of mindset is unhealthy.

First, attempt to analyze the situation objectively and determine what YOU could have done to avoid it. Try to assign blame fairly, as most often, the situation was brought upon by you. But don’t torture yourself over it — ‘hindsight is 20/20′ in many cases, but understanding where the blame lies and what parties are responsible for what helps improve hindsight and prevent future mistakes.

Don’t be a dickhead for yourself and others, and accept responsibility for your decisions.

LED Suit – First Post

I’ve put off writing about my suit for a while. I reach a point where something loops over in my head too much for me to ignore — and here we are! I fully plan on releasing the suit as a purchasable kit, and the source code to the public for improvement.

LED Shirt @ Escape from Wonderland

It all started with an Arduino Nano that had been collecting dust in my drawer. I’ve always wanted to explore electronics more, and the Arduino approach seemed like a great starting point — and it was. It allowed me to approach this as a programmer, and learn about the electronics components as I went along. I didn’t encounter a project that stimulated me enough until a friend of mine started going to raves — I noticed that so many were using LEDs to compliment their outfits, and me being competitive, decided to take it to another level — I wanted my first rave to be a splash.

I found a supplier in the US that sold an LED strip that is addressable,¬†meaning each individual LED can be controlled using a microcontroller or device capable of 1-wire communication. I had it up and running in minutes and the ideas started to pour in — a belt, a partial light shirt, a leg wrap — but I quickly realized the strip wouldn’t be enough for a full suit, or even a shirt.

3 LED WS2801 “Pixel”

I searched more and found a 3-LED pixel with a better chip to address the LEDs. The chip is a WS-2801 chip that is highly compatible. Thanks to the folks over at Adafruit, a library for the Arduino makes this easy to implement (under 5 minutes after I received my pixels). After some rough calculations, I decided that around 100 pixels would be enough to completely cover the front of me, with some extra just in case. I found a supplier in China and made an order. The shipping was steep ($30), but much to my surprise the package came 2nd day from Shenzen! Anxious to see a working prototype, I laid them out and tested them:

That marked the beginning of a long month of discovery, exploration, and headaches. But all in all, it was worth the happiness the suit provides to people, and more importantly, me (muhaha).

Mounting them was interesting. I decided to use iron-on Velcro to attach the pixels to a thin, athletic undershirt, so I could wash the shirt after use (dancing + raves + hot environments = sweat) and diffuse the light with an over shirt. The velcro has held up very well, only requiring a spot repair here or there.

First night @ Nocturnal Wonderland

After taking my suit at Nocturnal Wonderland, I quickly realized that music response would be a great addition. I had already thought about doing it before, but it was fully realized when at the rave. I started to experiment and finally took it out for a spin at Escape from Wonderland a month later (10/27/12):

Currently, the suit is just a shirt. I have created the pants portion, but have to work out issues with it not working with more than 57 LEDs. I believe it’s just a limitation with the SPI driver I’m using, but if not, I’ll just use two data lines.

Pants Rough Prototype

Not pictured or mentioned here is an Android app I had developed to control the suit via Bluetooth, but I unfortunately fried my Bluetooth module while out one night.

Wii Nunchuck to control LEDs

A friend of mine (thanks Sean) brought up the idea of using a Wii Nunchuck for a controller. I was originally focused on the Android app so I didn’t plan on implementing it. The Nunchuck is much more responsive, and lets me do light shows for folks. The interface is simple to use, tactile, and can control every aspect of the suit. If you’d like to use a Nunchuck in your project, here’s the code for my Arduino. It’s a combination of public code and a class I wrote to wrap it:

Library: http://pastebin.com/HP8nJ93T

Sample Arduino Sketch:

#include "Nunchuck.h"

Nunchuck nunchuck = Nunchuck();

void setup() {
  nunchuck.begin();
}

void loop() {
  nunchuck.read();

  if (nunchuck.cPressed() == true) {
    // Change pattern ... etc
  }
}

I’ve been through a lot to get it to where I am. All in all, it’s been about a month of real time, and about 10 days of work time. Additionally, I’ve had a hell of a time getting the suit to be durable enough to dance in. I ruggedized it for my most recent outing at Escape from Wonderland, but unfortunately I had one loose connection that was solved with a healthy bit of electrical tape. I’ve fried two Arduinos, one Bluetooth module, produced lots of magic smoke, and broken a few LED pixels. Luckily glue and electrical tape have been by best friends in the field.

My long term goal is to make the suit durable enough to be sold to dancers and performers. I want it to be less constricting and not have to constantly worry about disconnection. Because I have fried so many Arduinos (don’t put a 12V line into a 5V line :x), I decided to spruce up the electronics a bit:

Latest revision w/ capacitor and DC rectifier

The addition of the DC rectifier circuit and capacitor has allowed me to take my mind off of the Arduino. Making everything more static on the breadboard has also reduced margin for error. A bunch of jumper wires inside was confusing in the field, especially when trying to make repairs in the dark. I didn’t touch the inside at all during Escape from Wonderland, and had no issues with the computer.

I approached this project almost no electronics knowledge, other than common sense, so I’m sure I’m doing some things odd. Thanks to friends and Google, I have arrived at a well functioning alpha. I always love new ideas and exploring new options, so throw a comment below! :)