Alpha.16.1

Sensor Device Software Updates

  • Large overhaul of ‘get’ sensor readings and ‘write’ to Database code
    • Broke up getting sensor readings into a module per hardware sensor
    • Updated code to be more modular per sensor 
    • Made Raspberry Pi a sensor module for getting system readings
    • Made separate module for DataBase Operations.  
    • Updated SQL write processes for modularity 
  • Changed Update scripts that use http download to get the entire directory, instead of specified scripts from it
  • Major overhaul of installer and update scripts

PC Software Updates

  • Complete overhaul of Graphing Code (For Interval DataBases)
    • Incorporated modularity for choosing Sensors to Graph
      • All recorded Sensor readings have been added
    • Fixed Graphing when some of the records in SQL are invalid  (Continues to graph valid entries)
    • Fixed Temperature offset not being applied
    • Always add at least Sensor Name as a Graph to make sure date time selection is correct
    • Graph window options are now checked for validity & set to default if invalid
    • Gracefully skip graphing if NO SQL data provided
    • Fixed Incorrect timezone adjustments
    • Removed Trigger graphing (Needs to be redone)
    • SQL Get now ignores NULL entries
    • CPU Temperature can now be graphed with no accompanying sensors
      • AKA you can graph with the Raspberry Pi alone
    • Sensors chosen to graph, will be ignored if no data found
  • Complete Log overhaul
    • Converted from my “Home Made” logger to the standard Python logger
    • Added and or updated Logging in most of the code base
    • Now saves a Main and sensor commands log file into the program script location + log/
    • Each log will cycle up to 5 log files @ 250KB each (Deleting older logs)
  • Changed “View Sensor Details” to only show System Information (Data Available on ALL sensors)
  • Changed “View Sensor Details” to “Black Theme” for nicer night viewing. 
  • Adjusted get live data to round database sizes to 2 decimal points on a MB Scale (less noise but still accurate)
  • Updated Version to following a more standard format.  Major/Minor/Fixes 
    • Major = New features, breaks compatibility
    • New = New features, backward compatible
    • Fixes = Bug fixes
  • BugFix – Removed temp offset from being applied to CPU Temp on Sensor Details HTML
  • Fixed Config Check code
  • Updated config Check code for date time, checks against actual date time conversion
  • Lots of Minor code clean up (refactoring, GUI name adjustments, Logging updates)
  • Lots of Misc Bug fixes

p37.0.15

  • Added button to change HostNames of Sensor(s)
    • Hostname is saved to Database already, every time a sensor readings is recorded
    •  Use this name to identify the sensors location during its stay at said location
      • AKA June to Aug is named “Kootenay_Lake”, Aug to Dec could be “Bear_Valley”
      • Makes it easier for tracking where the sensor was for how long. 
    • Updated Sensor code to reflect new option. 
  • Updating code structure for Modular expansion of both different Sensor hardware & Graphing options enhancements 
  • Updated Sensor Install script and program code to be modular.
    • Organized installed files into 3 folders (auto_start, sensor_modules, upgrade)
    • Updated all “Other” code to match new locations
  • Updated Sensor & Motion graphs title (AKA Name on Graphs)
    • Added the hostname recorded on the First Graph Point and Last to title
    • This will allow verifying you have chosen the right time frame, based on setting the Hostname per location. 
  • Changed my “Home Made” timezone change to datetime + timedelta 
    • Works much better and is much cleaner to look at. 
  • Changed temperature DB recordings from ‘int’ to ‘float’ and rounded to 3 decimal points. 
  • Adjusted Time Offset and Temperature Offset in PC Program to ‘float’ for more precision
    • Updated other code to allow float
  • Fixed “Check” network code to close socket properly
  • added SQL Skip and Temp Offset back to Graphing window
    • Tied into Config window options
  • Major Code Cleanup – Applying new techniques learned to keep thing tidier.  – Work In Progress
  • Misc Small fixes

p37.0.14

  • Updated Sensor Details HTML generation
    • Grouped with Table
    • Changed single Template file into 3
      • Beginning File with Descriptions and HTML table start
      • Middle file for all the Sensor Data
      • End file to close Table and HTML tags. 
  • Modified wording and Layout of Configuration
  • Other Minor wording updates
  • Added information to “About” window
    • Version + Explanation
  • Other minor code updates

p37.0.9

  • Added Configuration Section.  
  • It auto generates a config if none exsist, has some recovery ability if invalid Options are set.  
  • Has the following Options
  • Save to
  • Date Range for Graph
  • Database Hours Offset
  • Skip SQL Queries
  • Temperature Offset (HAT, not CPU)
  • Network Timeouts for getting Live Data & Checking if online
  • Enable Sensor Shutdown / Reboot in Sensor Commands
  • Enable “Reset to Defaults” in the Config Window. 
  • Changed Sensor Command to handle spotty network connections better for getting Live Data
  • Minor Colour coding

Updates and “Opps”

Apparently my Zeitgeist Movement Link was out of date, and went to a very … not so pleasant site.  I apologize for that.  The link has been updated to its proper location.  If you are wonder what the Zeitgeist Movement is about, it is a movement advocating the humane use of Science and Technology to create a peaceful and sustainable world for everyone.

I have added a section for a project I started a few months back with creating hardware Sensors with Raspberry Pi’s.  This project has been getting me into some new areas of Technology that I pretty much avoided because I wanted to focus on more practical IT learning such as Scripting, Windows Server, Linux, etc.  However, I’m really getting into some of these new areas, such as Programming, soldering (well.. Maybe I don’t ‘Like’ soldering, but I can do it now), web design and even documentation… well more code comments, but documentation will come later in my help files and walkthroughs.   If Interested, check out the page and click the link to my personal Blog where I have been documenting my ideas, progress and changes.

In other business news, I have downsized my Clientele in order to give myself more time for family and personal projects, while maintaining a high work standard for the clients I have kept.  Thanks to Managed Services, this is working very well.

Wishing all the best,

p37.0.8

  • Change Default Socket Timeout to 5 seconds
  • In Sensor Check online, it temporarily set it to 1, then back to 5 when done
  • This prevents early termination of sending data over the network, if there are packet drops
  • Should fix Sensor Details Generation that sometimes does nothing
  • Changed save locations to use windows system variables (saves to current user desktop)

Passwords & 2 Factor Authentication (2FA)

Passwords

Passwords are hard, and they are getting harder with sites that require lots of upper and lower case characters, multiple special characters and a length of at least 8-10.  I am here to tell you there are better ways to make complicated passwords that are still easy to remember.  Most sites will tell you that creating a password that is very random is best, but it doesn’t have to be truly random, in fact, its best if its not!  It only has to be random for others trying to guess.  So what is the magic formula for creating strong yet easy passwords to remember?  Here it is

Pick a sentence that’s specific to you, such as “my dog is a really big pig”.  Nice, that seems odd, but easy to remember however most places don’t allow spaces and this would be easy for a dictionary brute force attack.  So let’s make a few adjustments “MyD0g!s@reallybigp1g”.  See what I did there?  A few capital letters, changed a few letters to special characters that I can remember and BAM!  That’s a very secure password, but should be easier to remember because, hey my dog is a really big pig.

Another good way to create complicated passwords, is to print out a square sheet of random characters, including special, lower and upper case that has at least a 100 or more characters (like a 10×10 grid, but the more the better.  Try to make it use a lot of different weird characters if possible.  Here is a link to a site that can randomly generate it for you.  How it works is, you remember one of the special characters in the top row and one on the far left column, find the character where the 2 meet and start typing every character from that one, up to however long your password needs to be.  There is your password!  Super random, and you even have the password printed out for you and everyone to see, but only you know where your password is in the big mess of characters!

2 Factor Authentication

Security for computers is important, but the general thinking to keep them and your accounts secure, is to create complicated passwords of length, random numbers and symbols.  This does not mesh well with our inability to remember really complicated passwords with symbols and numbers.  This is where 2FA (2 factor authentication) can help.  It adds an extra layer of security, because not only do you need to have a password (that can be a bit easier to remember) to login, but you also need a 2nd, generally physical piece as well.

There are a few options for 2FA.  Google has had a few for awhile now, such as using your phone as the additional authentication method.  They can either send you a code to your phone through SMS that you enter after putting in your username and password or they even have a new method, where you just hit “Allow” on your phone when you login to your google account (and obviously just deny it when it’s not you).  This works really great for blocking people trying to remotely hack into your account, because it’s a practical impossibility to get the 2nd authentication unless they also steal your phone.

Some other decent methods would be the YubiKey, where you have a physical USB “key” that authenticates with a 3rd party server online to verify your identity.  It also has other options as well, as you can use it to login to windows 10 for example.  Just plug the YubiKey into the USB port, and windows will auto log you in (after the initial setup).  Much easier than trying to remember Passwords.

YubiKey 4 & YubiKey 4 Nano

 

Travel costs changing to regular rate

After carful consideration, I have decided to change my travel rate to my usual rate per hour.  The cost of keeping the car on the road, and raising gas costs are a bit much for me, and the fact I'm only making 1/2 my wage while driving on top of having to keep the car going has been a challenge.  I have NO plans to add additional costs on top of my usual rate for travel as many do (rate + $ per km).  

This will take effect on June 1st, 2014.  

Thank you for your understandings!  

Chromebook

I thought I would mention a little bit about the Chromebook.  Although a bit limited, it has some very practical uses!  I have had one for about a year now and although the one I have is a slower model, it work really well for what it does.  

So when would you want a Chromebook?  If you are just using the internet and web apps such as Google's docs, online radio, webmail, etc then you should really consider the Chromebook.  It is self updating, secured by design and boots / shuts down REALLY quickly, even on my slow model, its booted and ready to go in about 30 seconds from cold boot.  

So it all sounds great, right?  Fast, secure, auto-updates and no worries!  

So when would you NOT want to get a Chromebook?  If you manage a lot of local files, such as your music collection and movies.  Apparently there is a way to upload all your music to Google's drive and stream it, but I have not done so myself.  You may not like a Chromebook if you have unreliable internet access, as most things require a internet connection.  That being said, you can do offline documents through Google docs and email.  Also remember you can NOT buy software at your local store and install it on a Chromebook.  Everything on the Chromebook is done online through the Chrome web browser (which is essentially what a Chromebook is, a computer that boots right to the Chrome browser).  

You may run into issues with external hardware, such as printers, camera's, scanners, etc.  So keep in mind, this is intended as a complimentary device, not as a do everything device like your standard computer. 

In conclusion, this is a awesome product to use exclusively on the web and there are more and more web apps coming out every day.  If you are tiered of your home computer crashing all the time or getting viruses and spyware and adware, then give a Chromebook a try.  Not only is it fast, secure and reliable, but its also fairly cheap.  

Google Apps / Drive

So I have decided to give Google Apps/Drive a decent try. I must admit, its actually pretty cool. If you don't know what that is, its basically Google’s version of Microsoft office and file storage / email / calendar / Tasks, all online and accessed through a web browser.

Not only is it easy to use, but having everything in the cloud has its advantages. Since there is soo much personal information when using it (documents and files) accessible online, I recommend using the dual authentication by means of the mobile phone authenticator to increase security (need your password and a randomly generated number to get access to your account). I'll list some of the features I found particularly useful.

1. No need to install applications – You can get it on ANY computer by simply logging into your account in a web browser. That being said, Google’s own Chrome browser is best suited to take advantage of all the features like offline access.

2. Platform independent – You can use it on your phone (especially with android), Linux, Mac, Windows, etc. If you can browse the web, you can access your docs.

3. Integrated with everything you need for daily use – Having email, calendar, tasks list(s) and documents in one place is really nice.

4. Sharing and collaboration – When working on documents, its really easy to send as an attachment in either Open Document format (LibreOffice / OpenOffice) or Microsoft format. If the person also has a Google account, you can add them directly and give them a link with either view access or view/edit access. If you don't like what they change, you can also see the different versions of the document to revert any changes.

5. Backup / offline access – There is an option for you to download your whole drive (all your files) in a zip file AND convert documents to Open Document or a Microsoft format. Very useful to have a backup, in case something horrible happens, like some one gets on your account and deletes everything or changes your passwords. Also nice if you decide you don't want to continue using google.  In Chrome, you also have the option to sync your documents for offline access, so you do not need an internet connection.

6. Google drive on the desktop – You can download Google drive on your computer to sync files. It's just like DropBox or Microsoft SkyDrive. Anything you put in the Google drive folder, gets synced with all your other devices.

 

Now there are some disadvantages such as needing an internet connection for optimal usefulness, but having offline access and the Google drive installed on the desktop can minimize this. There is also the security concern. Having soo  much personal information online can put people off, but having a good password and dual authentication can help keep your data safe and private.

If you want to give it a try, its free with 15GB of storage! Plenty for documents and email for life. If you have a business, it becomes really nice, as you can integrate your own domain name and get personal emails / user management (get an email like yourname@companyname.com). It starts at about $5 per user for the business side, and gives you 30GB of storage to start.

Being able to cut down IT costs by not having a complicated on site network of computers is a big plus, because if your computer dies, you simply put pretty much any other computer to take its place, and simply login to drive.google.com in the web browser and your working again in minutes! No need for expensive office suites like Microsoft Office or complicated back ends like Microsoft Server.

Take it one step further and try out a chromebook, then you don't have to worry about the anti-virus or computer upkeep either! They auto-update and maintain them selves.

This may be putting me out of a job a bit, but the future is coming, simplicity and cost efficiency is what I look for when finding solutions for my clients. This won't work for every one, but give it a try and you may find it very appealing!