Vera UI7 on Android….wtf!?

Are you a Vera user? If so, you’ll probably have heard complaint after complaint about Vera UI7 and how many users are not planning on upgrading despite it being released over a year ago. If you’re not a Vera user… stick around anyway!

A quick little background note, I have installed and configured a couple of Vera’s through work for clients who wanted to do alarm integration with it, so I have used both Vera UI5 and Vera UI7, but I’m not going to compare the two (not today anyway). Being a self proclaimed Android developer, I wanted to concentrate on what I see as wrong in specifically the app (though most of my suggestions probably apply to the web interface, and the Apple app as well).

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Rooting Galaxy Note 3 (and Other Galaxy Devices)

After upgrading my Galaxy Note 3 to Lollipop, I ended up losing my root access. That just won’t do, so it’s time to cover rooting the Galaxy Note 3!

What Is Rooting?

Root itself is a user account within Linux that has elevated permissions. It’s similar to an Administrator account when working with Windows. A root account has permissions to read/write/execute any file on the Linux/Android platform and is often required to run any sort of custom rom on the device. The process of gaining access to this account is called “Rooting”

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HTTP GET Parameters with Arduino

For a while now Kevin B has been working on writing a library for communication using the NRF24l01 radio with the Arduino’s. The idea is to use them for home automation purposes. But of course that’s only one piece of the puzzle… what good is home automation unless it’s also internet ready?

I took it upon myself to start looking into that portion, since it’s right up my alley (between server-side scripting such as PHP along with a database such as MySQL, and the API needing to working with Android of course).

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Bias Lighting On A Budget

Over the weekend I decided to pull out some of my cheap strip LEDs and put them to good use with a little bias lighting!

What is bias lighting?

Don’t feel bad, up until a few days ago I hadn’t heard of it either! Bias lighting is the effect that can be achieved by placing a light source behind your television. Surprisingly, this has been around for a very long time but is only now becoming more main stream with things like the Phillips Ambilight+Hue system, as well as more and more manufactures placing some form of lighting directly in the rear casing of TVs. But there’s no need to buy a $2000 TV just for some lights (average price of an Ambilight TV at time of writing).

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Setting up Raspbian on a Raspberry Pi

A while back I made a trade with a co-worker for an old netbook in exchange for a Raspberry Pi Model B+.  In case you haven’t heard of the Raspberry Pi (…what rock have you been hiding under!?!), its a small credit-card sized computer, originally designed as a low cost  and low power solution for schools to teach kids more about programming in languages such as Python. But because of its small platform and low cost, it quickly became very popular in the hacker community as well. My Raspberry Pi has just been sitting on the shelf for a little while now, I figured it was time to blow off the dust and power it up.

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Bypass Installer Lockout on PC5010 (DSC)

I have a co-worker that picked up an old DSC PC5010 alarm panel (for free, you can’t go wrong right…) and since I had fun writing about the Honeywell Lynx Touch Backdoor, I figured I’d give this a go and see what happens. The problem… the panel had installer lockout enabled.

You can tell when a panel has installer lockout enabled because you will hear a distinct 8-10 clicks from a relay when the panel is initially powered up (see video directly below). When the panel is locked out like that it blocks the ability to default the panel back to factory (even by hard wire reset), so unless you have the installer code, you’re SOL…

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Installing Android Studio

In one of my older posts, Getting started with the Android SDK, I made a mention of Android Studio and how it would be replacing the Eclipse ADT plugin. Well sometime since then, it looks like the switchover has indeed happened and its time for me to ditch Eclipse take a leap into Android Studio.

Downloading Android Studio

Now that there is only one option to choose from, Google has streamlined the download process significantly since my last post.

Simply head over to the Android Developer page, and click Download Android Studio. Do your usual reading of the license agreement (you all do that, right?), accept, and you should be downloading all 800MB of Android Studio goodness!

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Temperature Sensing with DHT11 on Arduino

Ahhh temperature sensing, something so simple yet can be integrated into so many different projects. How about a temperature controlled RGB LED? Or perhaps an Arduino controlled thermostat? Heck, even a full blown weather station! Your imagination is the limit.

There are a few different choices when it comes to temperature sensing such as a completely water proof analog temperature probe to digital sensors. I will be focusing on the DHT11 which is a very affordable (~$1) digital temperature and humidity sensor. Its good for sensing 20% to 80% humidity within 5% accuracy, and 0c to 50c within 2% accuracy, which is more than enough for any indoor projects. If you want something a little more capable and accurate, the DHT22 is another option for digital sensors.

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Serial console with Arduino Pro Mini

As I was doing some debugging in the serial console with my Arduino Uno R3, something occurred to me… The serial console is absolutely invaluable for debugging, yet in my first Arduino post (Getting started with Arduino) I did not even mention it at all.

If you’re using the Arduino Uno or Duemilanove for example, the serial console is fairly straight forward as you just use the same USB cable you use to program with. These boards differ from the Pro Mini as they already have a Serial to USB converter on board.

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Build your own Arduino starter kit

I have a friend that keeps asking me about micro controllers and costs associated with getting started. He has no prior programming experience, and doesn’t own a soldering iron. By the sounds of it, he’s a little on the fence (rightfully so) and isn’t sure whether he should try it or not. Totally understandable when starting with something new. So I figured hey, lets break it all down and see just what it would take to build your own Arduino starter kit!

Before I get into the actual costs I just want to point out that while previous programming experience is handy when it comes to Arduino, its not at all necessary! The Arduino community is literally huge (250k+ members worldwide, 2 million posts) which means finding a sketch and wiring examples that do exactly what you want it to do (at least when you are first getting started) is going to be very easy. My recommendation when starting out is to concentrate on small projects with the thousands of ready made examples (blinking, fading, controlling, etc.). This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the platform (uploading, debugging, etc.). Once you have a solid base is when the real fun begins and you can let your imagination run wild!

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