The Big Move: Weather Station BACK!

..well, mostly.

Over the last week I’ve managed to run some power to a nearby cupboard where the La Crosse WS2300 LCD has been sitting and I’ve now got a PC in there gathering the data, and spitting it out to the Weather Page via a very slow WiFi link.

The biggest stinker about this is the external temperature/humidity sensor is not producing data, giving me a flatline of 10.2 degrees C, which I assume can only be a remnant of the last data held when the station was disconnected back in June 2009 in preparation for the house move. So, while there is some data being delivered, it’s not quite 100% – or that interesting due to the lack of the outside temperature.

I’ve raised a ticket with the excellent folk at Scientific Sales where I bought the unit and hopefully, they will be able to suggest a remedy which won’t involve too much expense. Until then, bask in the oh so interesting data of wind direction and speed, as well as the temperature inside the cupboard in which the data logger is stashed.


“If something seems too good to be true…

…it probably is.”

It’s an old, well-worn saying for sure, but it holds as true today as it did way back whenever the anonymous, cynical, amateur philosopher came up with it.

Recently in New Zealand, there have been an increase in phishing attempts trying to get people to open email attachments which then deploy malware onto the computer, and recruit your PC into a global network of compromised machines.

A few weeks ago, there were a number of emails arriving to various mailboxes I hold claiming to be from DHL or UPS and containing details of a package delivery, over the last few days, this threat has evolved to include messages purporting to be from Amazon and including details of a paid order.

The short version of this post is simply:

Don’t open attachments from people you do not know”

…but we can also extend this advice to “Treat any attachments or links from people you think you may know with a healthy dose of caution”.

For those who are interested in a little more information

The biggest risk around phishing attacks is they take advantage of our human nature of curiosity, implied trust of people (especially those we believe we know) and, dare we say it – greed. These “social hacks” are useful in that it’s relatively simple to change the appearance of an email so it looks like it comes from a friend or colleague, or to obscure a link to make it appear that is comes from your bank, or favourite social networking site.

It’s human nature…

The very nature of how we as humans operate is once we recognise a name we believe we can trust, we instinctively lower our defenses to being scammed and are often convinced to click that link, or open that email attachment.

The best defense against such attempts is a healthy dose of skepticism, look closely at the link, does it look long and complicated, does it redirect through a web domain that you don’t recognise?

Scan your email attachments – and, if you are in any doubt, contact your friend/colleague to check on the attachments validity. Or, visit the website directly rather than clicking on the link within the message – if it is your bank contacting you, you’ll still be able to access the information directly from the bank website, if it is a message from Facebook – you’ll also be able to get those updates direct from the site.

Protection at Home

In terms of viruses and malware, we don’t have anything near the same level of protection that we may enjoy on a corporate network. It’s up to us, whether we’re at work or home, to make the right decisions when dealing with any communications which may expose us, our machines, our data to risk. Email, Instant Messenger links, Social Network links/messages/applications, the list goes on – they’re all targets

The best advice I can offer is:

  • Keep your operating system and applications updated with the latest patches as they are released
  • Invest in a good anti-virus/anti-malware program, keep it updated daily – and use it to perform regular full scans on your systems, as well as checking out those suspicious files
  • Access websites from your browser rather than via emailed links
  • Perform regular backups of your important files (don’t forget your digital photos & video)
  • If you think you may have been compromised, scan your systems, change your passwords and seek help.

Above all, employ a healthy dose of skepticism when dealing with communications that you are not expecting, even when you believe you know the sender – and be careful out there…

Setting Up a Virtual Environment

So, since we’ve moved into the new place, I’ve been wanting to consolidate my technology somewhat and make things a lot easier to administer. To this end (and forgetting for a moment the lack of structured home cabling – which I’m still working on) I’ve decided to resurrect one of my lower powered (in wattage, not horsepower) machines – and turn it into a Virtual Server from which I will run the multiple hosts which have been sitting on independent hardware until the move.

Things haven’t exactly gone without a hitch, but I’ve learned a lot along the way – which I probably could have learned if I spend more time researching before I spent time doing, but meh. I’m a kinisthetic kinda guy, so – here’s what I’ve learned in my ‘travels’ hopefully it may be of some use to you.

Continue reading “Setting Up a Virtual Environment”

The Big Move: Part II – Planning the Cabling

Home LAN Loom (not from the new house)Well, it’s taken a week – but the initial plans (PDF 268K) are now drawn up for the cabling required in the house. The plans are pretty close to the minimum we’ll require to get things up and running again, and only the difficult access areas have received anything over and above what is immediately required.

Because the move has been a little more expensive than initially projected, it looks like the cheapest option will be for me to do the installs myself – of course, without the right tools this may present it’s own set of challenges – but, I’ll endeavor to document the process for your amusement.

I’ll be crawling around this weekend getting some measurements and then it’s off to the interwebs to see where I can get the bits and pieces I’ll need.

The Big Move: Part I – Moving In

HouseMoving_Flkr_ShareskiSo – we’ve now moved in, the boxes are (mostly) unpacked – I’ve even managed to organise the garage enough to fit the HondaBus into it (who knows, maybe being an internal garage with light, heat and power may see the Carputer get installed finally?).

So – with the vitals out of the way (and by vitals, I mean the stuff my Wife and kids need, not what *I* consider vital), it’s time to settle in and get the technology humming (and no – that doesn’t mean the Weather Station is back up yet 🙁 )

To recap, the Interwebs have gone from this:


to this:


But (as we found out 30 minutes before the All Blacks test on the first Saturday in the house), that’s not all – the Sky dish is connected, but not to any known cable in the house, the UHF is connected, but orphaned via a hole in the garage wall – and don’t even get me started on the gel crimp frenzy that is the phone cabling… We have 2 working phone ports – and only one of those will connect to the DSL service, of course THAT port in in the boys room, so we’ve currently got an old school ‘phone’ extension cable running from their room through to the home office.

So, in summary – I’m either looking for an installer (or two – surprisingly hard to find via web search without a word of mouth recommendation!) or will be tackling (at the very least) the following work via the good old Kiwi DIY Self Install:

  • UHF / Sat: Connected and split 4 ways in ceiling space, routed to Lounge, Master Bedroom, Downstairs Rumpus and Office
  • Phone Patching: Retain Master Bedroom + Shift Boys (working) port to Office for DSL
  • Network: Basically, all remaining phone ports could be converted to wired network either via re terminating with RJ45 or (where the existing cables are a mess) using existing as a draw wire to pull fresh cat 5. This would give a minimum of:
    • Lounge x2 (1 for IR)
    • Master Bed x1
    • Downstairs Rumpus x1
    • Office x 4 (min)

The options then are terminating all network cables centrally in the garage and patching from there (fed from 1 or 2 in the office) or pulling a loom into the office.

From what I’ve learned from our previous house, I think the central loom in the garage will suit best as it’s out of the way and allows noisier / hotter equipment to be located away from the living spaces.

Of course, the above is my minimum requirements, I’ve also planned an optimum structure – but me and Visio will need to spend some quality time together before I can post up that plan…

The Big Move: Weather Station DOWN!

I’m on the move… the last few weeks have been a steady extraction of the technology which is running here, and last nights victim was the Weather station

Weather Station Offline
Weather Station Offline

Those of you following my Twitter stream will probably know that I’m on the move from Casa de Rob to a new abode…

So – the last few weeks have been a steady extraction of the technology which is running here, and last nights victim was the Weather station which was showing live weather here. Of course, once we’re all moved into the new house I’ll be reassembling what I can, but there is much negotiation with the Wife before everything can get cabled up… Until then:

It’s winter in Auckland, New Zealand – it’ll either be cold and raining or cold and crisp.

Stay tuned 🙂

Health Monitoring 2.0?

Sensewear DeviceSorry about the headline, the 2.0 tag is getting waaay too much air time of late – that aside, I was reading an interesting article on some of the technology advances in the realms of health monitoring.

A few years ago I was researching some of the advances within medical monitoring and how the devices could be integrated into a connected home*. At that time we were looking at near field communication devices which would upload via Zigbee or a similar low range, low power technology, as well as a concept toilet in Japan which measures and reports on glucose levels detected in ones urine.
Anyway, with the advent of specifically addressable devices thanks to IPV6, as well as advances in near-field and Personal Area Networking (PAN), the reality may well be closer than we thought.

The self-care market is hotting up, especially in this difficult time where concern about the economy and ones future financial well-being may well be impacting on peoples immediate, and long term health.

Some of the more interesting companies making headway in enabling health monitoring are:

  • Proteus Biomedical who have just released their platform for body monitoring dubbed ‘Rasin’

Proteus ingestible event markers (IEMs) are tiny, digestible sensors…Once activated, the IEM sends an ultra low-power, private, digital signal through the body to a microelectronic receiver that is either a small bandage style skin patch or a tiny device insert under the skin. The receiver date- and time-stamps, decodes, and records information such as the type of drug, the dose, and the place of manufacture, as well as measures and reports physiologic measures such as heart rate, activity, and respiratory rate.

All of the data collected by the Proteus system can be sent wirelessly to the doctor for remote monitoring.  The system is currently in clinical development.

  • Body Media have their Sensewear device which allows “monitoring of calories burned, dietary intake, duration of physical activity and sleep”. It’s USB connected, which is fine, but I’d prefer to see a device that automated the processes for more ‘real-time’ monitoring and feedback possibilities – all in time I guess and the biggest issue will be size and battery life, just like every other mobile device.
  • The Toumaz device recognises the ‘you must remember to upload your data’ issue, and has created their ‘Sensium’ device with the capability to stream the data to a logging device (within ~5m). This is the kind of thing I’d be looking for, but would want to incorporate into a meshed network within the bounds of a home (or health-club) to make truly useful.

Of course, with my day-job hat on as a Security type person, the biggest concern, given the very personal nature of this data, is how security will be treated. Recent reports attribute [a potential link to] cyber terrorism, with the ability to cause widespread blackouts. Whether that threat is credible or a causative action with the cited 2003 US blackouts is debatable. What isn’t up for debate however is the fact that as more systems which control or influence our lives become network aware, the more this risk profile will inflate. How we deal with this is something which needs to be built into the monitoring protocols from the outset – especially with the potential to link into the online health record repositories being toyed with by big players Google and Microsoft.

Comments?… Fear? Uncertainty? Doubt?

*A ‘connected home’ is what marketers refer to as a ‘future home’ – a term which I really hate as I agree with William Gibson “…the future is already here. It’s just not very evenly distributed…” (time code 11:55).

Home Networking – the Why (not the How or What)

The first of what may become a series of presentations covering the home networking space. This presentation covers WHY you may want a home network, and what considerations need to be top of mind during planning.

I’ve just finished a presentation on Home Networking, The first of what may become a series of presentations covering the home networking space.

This presentation covers WHY you may want a home network, and what considerations need to be top of mind during planning.

Home Networking 01 Why Not How

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: home network)

Obviously things in this space change fast, so please feel free to comment and correct me if things get out of date, or if you plain don’t agree!

Installing Ubuntu 8.04 on the ASUS EEE

Okay, so I did a painless upgrade from 7.10 to 8.04 LTS while it was still in pre-release, but now that I’ve been playing around with the system for awhile, it’s apparent that my needs are changing and the easiest way to cater to these needs is a full reinstall from scratch, putting in place the learnings I’ve gained since initially getting the EEE and blowing away the default Xandros installation.

Update 19/05/2008: Added a few more applications to the HOWTO

Update 22/05/2008: Added a ‘Weirdness’ Section after having problems removing files from Trash.

Continue reading “Installing Ubuntu 8.04 on the ASUS EEE”