In this day and age where everything is measured, recorded, and available remotely (via a REST API most of the time!), it really bothered me that our heating oil tank measured the remaining gallons of oil by a crude plastic dip stick. It’s not accurate, there is no historical data, and there is no way to audit (for honesty, accuracy, or problems/errors).
So the problem is simple enough: Find a quick and easy way to remotely monitor the number of gallons of heating oil in a home, and alert at pre-set intervals (let’s say 75%, 50%, and 25%) of remaining oil in the tank.
After looking for commercial solutions, the cheapest one I found is $120 with a $10/year fee. In my view, that’s simply ridiculous. I decided that I could build something better for 1/3rd of the price ($40), without an yearly fee.
You need to connect to a Cisco AnyConnect (or Juniper Pulse Connect) VPN, and you cannot stand the default client for a variety of reasons (slow connects, crashes, unable to start, pointless pop-up notifications, crashes, pid-loss, etc), and so, you look for alternatives.
You find OpenConnect – the perfect solution, only to realize that the 3rd-party GUI is basically broken and actually doesn’t work (last checked on 8-14-17) with 2-Factor authentication (ex: Duo).
At this point, you can run OpenConnect from a terminal, which works, but you have to keep the terminal open and you have to wrap the long command in a shell script.
Or, you can use my little solution which seems to work perfectly.
Using Swarm with pre-generated static tokens is useful, but there are many benefits to using a service discovery backend. For example, you can utilize network overlays and have common “bridges” that span multiple hosts (https://docs.docker.com/engine/userguide/networking/get-started-overlay/). It also provides service registration and discovery for the Docker containers launched into the Swarm. Now lets get into how to use it with service discovery – which is what you would use in a scaled out environment/production.
Again, assuming you have a bunch of servers running docker:
vm01 (10.0.0.101), vm02 (10.0.0.102), vm03 (10.0.0.103), vm04 (10.0.0.104)
Normally, you can do “docker ps” on each host for example:
ssh vm01 ‘docker ps’
ssh vm04 ‘docker ps’
If you enable the API for remote bind on each host you can manage them from a central place:
docker -H tcp://vm01:2375 ps
docker -H tcp://vm04:2375 ps
(note: port is optional for default)
But if you want to use all of these docker engines as a cluster, you need Swarm.
Here we will go one step further and use a common service discovery backend (Consul).
Docker Swarm Tutorial with Consul and How-To/Examples
[ updated 10-30-2016 | Upgraded Plex to plexmediaserver-188.8.131.5257-24ffd60.x86_64.rpm and CentOS ]
Recently I tried setting up a Plex server in a docker container. The first problem was the 127.0.0.1:32400 bind which required logging in locally or port forwarding. After doing this once, I realized that you could use the Preferences.xml file, but that meant that you couldn’t truly automate this/deploy it elegantly in a docker container. And what if you wanted to run other servers — for friends? I finally figured out how to do this in the most elegant way possible.
First – Grab your Unique Plex Access Token
Login at https://app.plex.tv/web/app with your username and password
Note the token, which will look like this: “PZwoXix8vxhQJyrdqAbY”
At this stage DO NOT click log out of your account until you register the new server. Otherwise your token will regenerate.
Once you register the server, it won’t matter after that if the token changes.
If you use Docker, you very quickly run into a common question: how do you make Docker work across multiple hosts, datacenters, and different clouds. One of the simplest solutions is Docker Swarm. Docker summarizes it best as “a native clustering for Docker…[which] allows you create and access to a pool of Docker hosts using the full suite of Docker tools.”
One of the biggest benefits to using Docker Swarm is that it provides the standard Docker API, which means that all of the existing Docker management tools (and 3rd party products) just work out of the box as they do with a single host. The only difference is that they now scale transparently over multiple hosts.
After reading up on it HERE and HERE, it was evident that this is a pretty simple service, but it wasn’t 100% clear what went where. After searching around the web, I realized that almost all of the tutorials and examples on Docker Swarm involved either docker-machine or very convoluted examples which did not explain what was happening on which component. With that said, here is a very simple Docker Swarm Tutorial with some practical examples.
Assuming you have a bunch of servers running docker:
vm01 (10.0.0.101), vm02 (10.0.0.102), vm03 (10.0.0.103), vm04 (10.0.0.104)
[updated: March 29th, 2015 | Aman Surana created a great youtube video on how to do this. The main difference is that he is using a plugin (comes as an app which extends Tasker) called AutoNotification. The biggest benefit is that it abstracts the application notification layer into a standard set of variables. This allows you to utilize apps other than the main SMS app (ex: now you can use things like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, etc). It also works with the latest version of Android, which I am starting to get the feeling that my profiles bellow do NOT work with anymore. Anyway, you can find the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=37&v=c-Kp9KynlV4, and read the post here since the idea behind how to do this still holds. That and it’s an interesting way to accomplish this task – no pun ;)]
I walk outside listening to Pandora quite a lot, and today I realized that I miss about half the SMS’ that I get. Either because it’s too noisy, or maybe because the SMS’ are not loud enough and I use a single beep, or because the sound trigger gets interrupted by Pandora, but either way, it’s a bit annoying. I have been considering some sort of a solution that will play incoming SMS messages when my headphones are plugged in for quite some time, but I couldn’t think of an efficient way to do it — that is, efficient on the battery. I think I came up with one today.
The idea behind this Tasker program is the following:
There are two Profiles: ‘Detect Headphones‘ and ‘Play Text Over Headphones‘. Only one Profile has to be actually active at all times – the Detect Headphones one. When you plug in your headset (with microphone, or just regular headphones), the profile sets a variable %HEADPHONES to ‘yes’. It then turns on the second Profile – the one that monitors incoming SMS messages and plays them over the headset if your %HEADPHONES variable is set to ‘yes’.
The general idea behind this is that it utilizes my original Blackberry Sound Profiles for Android and it adds a “timer” element which can be set. Upon setting the timer, it will set a temporary task until the timer runs out. The idea came from one of my visitors who asked me how to do this. At first, I had no idea how to do it. About 30 minutes later I had a semi-working prototype. Another 3 hours later (had to figure out how Scenes worked and interacted with variables and the rest of the system) I had the final version with a working GUI.
Now unzip it and follow the same steps from the original post – grab the “Timed.tsk.xml” file and import it into the the Tasks tab, and then grab the “TimedScene.scn.xml” file and import it into the Scenes tab. Go to your home screen and create a Tasker widget of your “Timed” task. Every time you select this task, it will pop a box which will let you use a slider or directly type in a number. After this, when you hit “Set Profile”, the temporary task (by default “Sleep”) will get activated for the number of minutes you set. After that time period it will go back to the other (by default “Work”) task.
There are a couple of things that Google has drastically changed in ICS 4.0 when it comes to Sound, Vibrate, and Volume.
First of all, they have greatly simplified the Sound Settings. The Volume menu now contains: “Music,Video, Games, and other media” as one volume toggle, then “Ringtone and notifications” as another, and Alarms as a third. Something to note here is that the keyboard “clicking” sound can now be found under the keyboard settings -> under Advanced.
The Second change is the way “Vibrate” has been re-implemented. The new “Silent Mode” controls three things currently: Sound, Mute, and Vibrate. This is important as this was completely broken on 2.3. The next thing to note is the “Vibrate and Ring” option, as this has a negative effect when toggled on via Vibrate (it’s still sticky for some reason, but due to Silent Mode being fixed, we can now un-toggle it via Tasker).
UPDATE: Please check out latest version from my git repo: http://git.vpetkov.net/projects – project name: “pandora”
It seems that Pandora is not putting too much time or thought into how they provide and access music online through their website. I really hope they fix this since it’s irresponsible as far as the the DMCA is concerned. Each song is simply an encoded token, and it’s pulled down directly from, presumably, one of their proxy server. If you look at the stream while playing songs on pandora.com, you will notice something like this (ex: not real):
Some assumptions: the “version=4” is high quality or what used to be CD quality (192 kbps). The “lid=#####” is the “login id”, or your unique user number. The “token=…” is the actual song, encoded. By finding the host of these requests, and putting it all together, where the lid is completely optional, you will have a full request URL to a song.
Imagine putting it together like this: (example as a POC, like this)
"http.request.uri contains token and http.host contains pandora"|./worker.pl
Then having something that parses this “buffer”:
print"Token Already Seen...\n";
print">> New Token Added!\n";
# Code removed in order to prevent Abuse!
One way for them to fix this would be to session encode the requests. You should not be able to make requests that originate from outside of pandora.com directly to the servers. Also, the requests should be authenticated. As an addition, they could potentially be checked against what is “played” and controlled for streaming mechanisms. I really hope this fix this as soon as possible.
[updated: Dec 20th, 2012 | Updated script to deal with new URL and pulling short descriptions now]
UPDATE: Please check out latest version from my git repo: http://git.vpetkov.net/projects – project name: “wordpress”
UPDATE2: Forgot to mention – a MUCH nicer fork of this + many improvements by Droidzone: http://blog.droidzone.in/2013/03/31/automatically-update-all-wordpress-plugins-from-bash/
Please take a look at his version!
I already created a script to upgrade wordpress installations automatically. You can find it here: http://blog.vpetkov.net/2011/06/01/script-to-upgrade-wordpress-to-the-latest-version-fully-automatically Recently, the same general problem came about when it came to plugins. The biggest problem I had is that I had to log-into wordpress, see a number of plugins that were outdated, and then go hunt each one down by generally just copying the name and pasting it into google . Even thought most of the time, the plugin was the first hit, I then had to download the latest version, extract it, and clean it up. Imagine doing this for 10+ plugins for 5+ blogs — constantly. It was just time consuming and frustrating.
Here is my solution in the form of a perl script:
# By: Ventz Petkov
# Date: 06-15-2011
# Last: 12-20-2012
# Version: 2.0
# Comment on last update: WP changed their download URL for plugins a bit
1.) You can simply run it, and it will update everything that you have listed in the @plugins array.
2.) You can give it a parameter of a registered plugin name. This does 2 jobs — upgrades an existing plugin, AND installs new ones.
You can definitely add an extension to this. For #1, you can go a step further by making it scan your plugin directory and populating the list from there. If you want to be even fancier, you can relatively easily keep version tracks of what you have installed and what’s currently available, so that you don’t just blindly download new plugins. For me this is sufficient. If anyone is interested in getting help implementing any of these extra additions, feel free to ask and I’ll help as much as I can.