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Category: 'Hack'

MP3 Player? With hacked macro lens.

MP3 Player? With hacked macro lens.

Over the years I’ve considered developing quite a few fun and interesting cell phone applications. Unfortunately, after developing some software to test and trying a dozen different cell phones some inherent physical limitations proved too large to overcome.

Most cell phones while having adequate resolution, are fixed focus lenses that can only focus about 2 feet away and farther. Much closer than that and the images become a fuzzy mess!

This totally destroys any hopes of some of the cool applications that can be made by barcode scanning products (e.g. price checks, order online) and scanning text (e.g business cards, subscription cards).

Imagine you walk in to a store in the mall and see something you like, but you’re not sure about the price. You scan it, and you phone opens google maps with all the nearby locations that have that product and the prices they charge. Things like this would be possible with the addition of a tiny bit of extra optical help…

Someday…


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Card Printing

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

4up_full1

4up_med

Zoomed in you can see the half tone patterns.

Zoomed in you can see the half tone patterns.

So full reinstall on the server, there were some broken things and wordpress got hacked (yet again) but I think we have it secure for the moment. Meanwhile I made some new business cards and wanted to share.

My friend Jonah had mentioned to me he used Gotprint.comto make some business cards and the quality was pretty decent. Having seen ‘digital’ printing in the past (I have a DTP background) I was a little skeptical, but realized it has been 6-7 years since I’ve tried anything and it has to be better right?

The answer is YES!

The Gotprint.com cards I had made for a paltry $20 are pretty decent! If I were to review them overall they would get the following grades:

A • Convenience
A • Price
A • Cardstock quality
B • Printing quality
B • Diecut quality
B • Speed (unless you pay extra)

Here are some samples from past cards I’ve made. Including some expensive high quality offset cards from around 2000, some medium quality offset (same year), an inkjet print from home and the Gotprint.com cards.

The high quality offset wins hands down, but they are expensive and take a lot more effort to find the right printer. The regular offset are still a hair better than the digital print in line quality but in absolute resolution the digitals are slightly better. So halftones will be smoother but the white lines are a little less solid. The inkjet has a great continuous tone look, but it sacrifices resolution as the same bleed that allows the smooth tones blurs out the sharp edges. I included it merely for comparison the paper quality can’t compare to real cards and cutting them also is an issue.


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Deltran Battery Tender Jr. @amazon.com
Deltran Battery Tender Jr. @amazon.com
Plugged in
Plugged in

Ok, so having a very small battery and not driving your car for a 7-10 days at a time is not compatible. The Deka battery I bought last year in Feb. 2008 was running like a champ when I was driving pretty regularly. Now I’m back in the home office, making much shorter trips and driving Kimmy’s car more and it was starting to be a drain on it.

The great news is for $25 and amazon my problem is solved. The Deltran SuperSmart Battery Tender works like a champ. Its very smart…

“Battery Tender Plus is the most advanced charger/maintainer on the market specially designed for today’s sealed lead acid batteries. The Battery Tender Plus uses micro-processor technology in a four-stage charging profile to charge, improve, and float your battery so it is ready when you are. Constant current charging and regulated voltage patterns allow the battery to be recharged fully and safely without the fear of overcharging.”

I opted for the smaller Jr. model which looks like a standard wall-wart power supply. I wired up the included quick connect cable that came with it and zip tied it near the front air intake (the quick connect cord is pretty short so it may be a problem in some installs) now I just plug in when I know I’m not going to be driving for awhile and I’m 100% sure my car will be ready when I am.


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New Mac Mini’s

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

So apple announced a couple new MacMini’s today. At first I was really disappointed since MacRumors has them both listed as a maximum speed of 2.0ghz (as of 11:40am PST). But, in reality its a 2.0Ghz and 2.26Ghz model.

Engadget also gets a FAIL as of 1:34pm PST, also erroneously reporting only a 2ghz model.

But there is some good news underneath the surface of this fairly standard refresh.

First the basics, support for up to 4GB of memory (up from an unofficial 3GB and officially 2GB maximum), more USB ports (no-hum), 802.11n, firewire 800 and the most obvious big enhancement the 9400M graphics chipset.

The real interesting part to me is the new 1066Ghz frontside bus and the socket that comes along with that (up from 667mhz). I can’t wait for someone to crack one open. It appears to use the Core 2 Duo P7350 which if I’m not mistaken is a socket P. Which means there might be quite a bit of latitude for upgrades.

Model Number sSpec Number Frequency L2-Cache FSB Mult Voltage TDP Socket Release Price
Core 2 Duo P7350 SLB53 2000 MHz 3 MB 1066 MT/s 7.5x 1.00V-1.250V 25 W Socket P OEM
Core 2 Duo P8700 SLGFE 2533 MHz 3 MB 1066 MT/s 9.5x 1.00V-1.250V 25 W Socket P $241
Core 2 Duo P9600 SLGE6 (E0) 2667 MHz 6 MB 1066 MT/s 10x 1.050V-1.212V 25 W Socket P $348
Core 2 Duo T9800 SLGES (E0) 2933 MHz 6 MB 1066 MT/s 11x 1.050-1.212V 35 W Socket P $530
(table data pilfered from wikipedia)
New Mac mini
New Mac mini

So in this table, the P7350 is what I believe the new Mini to be using. This means if the CPU is easily removable at a minimum the P8700 should be a drop in replacement at 2.533Ghz its part of the same exact line. The P9600 has a slightly narrower voltage range and twice the cache, but again I couldn’t see why this wouldn’t be a GREAT drop in replacement at 2.667Ghz. The top of the line would be the T9800, it has a higher total wattage which means a slightly higher chance of running in to trouble but at 2.933Ghz its worth trying.

Personally, I have a Mini that I upgraded to 2.33Ghz. It’s the same 34Watts as the original 1.83Ghz CPU that came with it originally. The only downside is that it does make quite a bit more noise than the original CPU when both cores are running 60% or more. But, if the original mini can handle a 35Watt CPU, the new one just might…

Can’t wait to see the first 2.93Ghz Mini benchmark!

P.S. There are in fact faster versions of the Socket P line of CPU’s but I omitted the 3.066Ghz C2Extreme (44watts) and the 2.26Ghz C2Quad’s (45watts) as just a little unrealistic with the stock mini cooling, but that isn’t to say it isn’t possible. Only time will tell when someone actually tries such a thing…

Update: Ask and ye shall receive (well partially at least), macminicolo.net has an unboxing and disassembly, no specifics on the cpu/socket but it all looks pretty similar to the current model.


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Mazda Key Disassembly

Monday, October 6th, 2008
Mazda Key
Mazda Key

The Volkswagen Key Disassembly continues to be one of the more trafficked pages on my site so I figured I would commit one more selfless act of community service and bring you the all-new Mazda Key Disassembly page. This particular key is from a 2006 MX-5 (aka. 3rd Gen. Miata, or Miata NC), bit will probably work just the same as many similar keys. I’m not even sure if what Mazda might charge for this, but I’m sure its more than the $1-2 cost to replace the battery and 5 minutes of your time. It could also be useful to replace the keychain link or clean the contacts.

Enjoy…


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Fun with security tags

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Tag
Tag
Warning!
Warning!
Connected
Connected
Disconnected
Disconnected

So have you ever purchased something or received a gift with security tag still attached? Quite annoying… well most of the tags were designed in the days where before rare earth neodymium magnets became so popular. They normally use powerful electro-magnets to disconnect these sorts of tags. Internally they are simply a spring loaded clamp that dis-engages with a strong magnetic force. If you don’t disconnect the clamp it will pull a metal pin that when pulled out breaks the two different glass die packs designed to stain whatever you disconnect.

So it took not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 or more of these strong magnets before it came apart easily. Anyway, much easier and safer than trying to Dremel it apart and much more immediate gratification than having to wait for the store to open, driving back and having them remove it.

Oh and be good, this is not for you bad guys out there!


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So being the lucky gal I am, both my parents and I both have FIOS 20Mbit Bi-directional internet connections (actually they may have a slightly lower tier). So after the 50th time I had the conversation “You should really see this movie, tv show, etc…”, I got to thinking it might be cool to connect our networks in order to allow them to share my media library/HTPC.

Unfortunately, getting my father to reconfigure his home network firewall is pretty much a non-starter. So I had to find a more creative solution.

So here it is, a quick how to get Samba connected over a reverse ssh Tunnel on OS X.

SSH Tunnel
sudo ssh -N -p 222 -c 3des user@domain.com -L 222/127.0.0.1/139


-N detaches terminal for ssh tunnels
-p is the port – I’m using 222 because if you use port 22 then you have to disable SSH/remote access on the local machine you are connecting from.
-c encryption type – 3des is the default blowfish is faster if CPU time is an issue remote user/domain

(direct from the man page)

-L [bind_address:]port:host:hostport
Specifies that the given port on the local (client) host is to be
forwarded to the given host and port on the remote side. This
works by allocating a socket to listen to port on the local side,
optionally bound to the specified bind_address. Whenever a con-
nection is made to this port, the connection is forwarded over
the secure channel, and a connection is made to host port
hostport from the remote machine.

Ok, now you have a tunnel, the next step is mounting the remote drive.

Mount command
mount -t smbfs //user:password@127.0.0.1:222/remoteshare /mountpoint


Note: A friend noted you should NOT use root for the mount command or Samba may not mount correctly.

To make this run at login, put it in a text file, chmod it executable and then put it in your login items.

Great! Final step, how to make the connection persistant. Enter launchd.

`launchd` is a unified, open source service management framework for starting, stopping and managing daemons, programs and scripts. It was introduced with Mac OS X v10.4/Darwin v8.0, and is licensed under the Apache License.

Unfortunately, you need to make a launchd plist and launchd is a bit of a bitch, so its much easier to just go get Lingon by Peter Borg it’s free, it works and you won’t have to learn launchd.

Now you have a great persistent remotely mounted Samba title over SSH.

Notes:
1. The mount command is a simple terminal script, but you may need to put a delay in the script if the connection isn’t up before the login runs the mount script. There is probably a way to get launchd to handle this but I haven’t spent the time to figure it out. So if the session disconnects it will automatically reconnect but not remount the drive.

2. The 1.83 GHz Mac mini doesn’t seem to have enough CPU to playback and receive HD content over the SSH tunnel (works fine if you download, then play). I may try to use blowfish to see if it improves playback. Normal SD divx/h.264 seems to be just fine.

I’m interested to know if anyone has any suggestions to improve this setup.

Note: As of somewhere around 10.6.7 IIRC this stopped working. As far as I can tell SMB and AFP no longer accept connections from the same box over 127.0.0.1. I’m really not sure why. As an alternative I’ve switched to using MacFuse, MacFusion and SSHFS which seems to be working reasonably well. I also switched the cipher in SSH to use arcfour in an attempt to eek out a little more performance.


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Bump Key video…

Monday, August 7th, 2006
Click for video
Click for video

So, I was just reading Engadget and I realized I don’t think I ever posted my bump key video.

For those of you out of the loop, locks don’t work. Even a total amateur can break in to some of the most sophisticated locks without any skill what-so-ever. In fact I’ve personally found it EASIER to break in to more expensive locks with this method, than cheaper old ones that are lose inside. Wiki on lockpicking.

I made this key in under 5 minutes with an old key I found in a drawer and a Dremal.

So without further ado…the bump…


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Volkswagen Key Disassembly

Thursday, August 4th, 2005
VW Key
VW Key

Volkswagon, Volkswagen, VW, Beetle, Jetta…ok that should feed the search engines enough variations =P

Ok, need to replace the battery on your VW Key fob? Or need to replace the metal keychain thingy on it? VW will charge you a fortune for either…I made a page a few years back on my personal web page thats pretty popular, so I decided time for some update pictures and add the fix for the broken keychain…

Check out Ralph’s comments for the newer model below!!!
Enjoy the savings!


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The Lazy Tree – Decidedly low-tech

Tuesday, December 28th, 2004
Tree rigging
Tree rigging

Its Los Angeles, we aren’t supposed to have ‘weather’. Oh well, anyway the recent downpour has caused no end of annoyances for me. First the Internet goes out, the comes back on, then off, then on, you get the point. Then finally the power goes out. I give up for the evening and try to go to sleep only to be awoken every time the wind blows as the house is creaking unusually heavily. Kimmy after much effort convinced me to go out in the rain and take a look. I found one of the large oak trees has decided to lean on the house, great…

So this morning (after sleeping in the living room to avoid death by tree) after several failed attempts to get someone up here during the holidays, I gave up and made a temporary rigging. With the help of my father who has no end of supplies when it comes to the right tool for the right job, I did the following…

Tree Gallery

The cable and ratchet are rated for 2000lbs and the chain (which is doing double duty as a backup in case all else fails) is good for at least twice that.

It should hold until I can get a tree guy up here to assess the situation.


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