Dec 07 2012

Playing Copy Protected Flash Videos In Linux

I’ve been experimenting with Amazon Instant Video this past week, and found that some of my Linux machines were giving me a message that ” flash player needs to be updated” even though I was running the exact same version of flash on computers where Amazon Instant Video worked.

After Googling the problem, I found that I wasn’t the only person having this issue, I turns out that in order to play protected content with flash on Linux the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) needs to be installed.

After typing  a simple command:

sudo apt-get install hal

and restarting the web browser, I was instantly able to watch videos from my library.

References:

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=538

Jul 09 2012

Disabling Voice Control On My iPod

Every so often my iPod will stop playing podcasts for no apparent reason. Every time this happens I’ll pull it out of my pocket and find that Voice Control has been activated. Other times I’ll find FaceTime running even though I have the icon hidden. Still other times I’ll catch my iPod trying to call one of my contacts over FaceTime. The one thing these problems all have in common is Voice Control.

Since Voice Control is worse than useless, I wanted to find a way to turn it off. Apple in their infinite wisdom doesn’t let you do this, even though their users seem to be clamoring for it. So obviously to turn off voice control, your iDevice will have to be jailbroken. Searching the Cydia app store, the only app that I found to turn off voice control was a Winterboard app, which isn’t worth the memory drain.

After wading through the mess of sites that confused voice control with Voice Dialing or Voice Over, I found several sites that explained what I needed to do: go to the /System/Library/CoreServices/SpringBoard.app/ and edit a plist file. For some reason the name of the plist file varies from post to post, but I found that mine was called N81AP.plist Again there are several ways to edit this file, but ssh’ing into my iPod wasn’t one of them since the plist file seems to be a binary format. So I needed a program that understood how to read and edit plist files.

That’s where iFile comes in — you can open the file with the Property List Viewer. Once you’re opened the file you’ll see two choices: capabilities and iconState. Choose capabilities and you’ll get the following page:

Scroll down to the switch labeled voice-control and turn it off. Respring your iDevice and try holding down the home button. If everything worked correctly nothing should happen.

Supposedly you can disable Voice Control without jailbreaking your iDevice with a program called iFunBox, but I use Linux and really don’t want to deal with connecting my iPod to a computer.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=490

Jun 10 2012

Figuring Out Do Not Track (DNT)

Do Not Track is supposed to be simple. And yes if you want to activate it in Firefox it is easy — simply check the box labeled: Tell websites I do not want to be tracked. But if you are using a browser that doesn’t support it or actually want to test if it is turned on (especially if you are using one of the many confusing chrome extensions), that is not so easy. If you try to do a Google search for “test do not track,” you get a Microsoft page that claims it tests if Do Not Track is set, but actually does nothing of the sort. All the rest of the links are useless.

After much searching I finally found a page (donottrack.us) that tells you if your browser supports Do Not Track and if it is enabled — which again is useful if you are using a chrome extension. The only problem this feature of the site isn’t highlighted it’s under an inconspicuous sidebar titled:  For users and it just looks like some regular text and links.

After finding a reliable way to see if a chrome extension turns on Do Not Track, I could finally start evaluating Chrome extensions. I could not find one that simply said turn on Do Not Track, but I ended up settling for one called Do Not Track Plus, which passed the test on the donottrack.us website above.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=481

May 14 2012

Bluetooth Dropouts On An Ipod

I love listening to podcasts on my iPod with my bluetooth headphones. There’s no cord to snag, I have extra controls for skipping ahead or back a few seconds in a podcast, and I don’t have to deal with uncomfortable buds in my ears. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago I started having problems with the audio dropping out anytime I moved around. Previously I was able to have the iPod in my pocket and move however I liked or even leave it resting on a surface and walk almost 30 feet away from it with no problems (although sometimes If I leaned against something metal with it in my pocket it would cut out). I did used to have interference issues with a USB bluetooth dongle I had plugged into my computer (even thought that’s not supposed to happen), but removing that when I wasn’t using it fixed that.

Since nothing had changed and the headphones worked fine with other devices, I knew something was wonky with my iPod. I didn’t think it was a rooting issue, because I was having no bluetooth issues for months after I rooted the device. I have noticed that after I rooted the iPod that I did need to do a tethered reboot every month or so because it would start to slow down, but that seemed like a different issue. Like most troubles in my life it, was time to turn to Google.

I found several a few people had similar problems, but one forum post sounded like my problem exactly. The fix seems to be simple, just reset the network settings. Go to Settings->  General-> Reset and choose Reset Network Settings. This will result in a reboot and you’ll have to re-connect to your wireless network(s). In my case I had to reboot again to do a tethered boot.

I’ve listened to several podcasts and the problem hasn’t come back yet. I’m crossing my fingers.

References

  1. iPod Touch having problems w/ Bluetooth playback, Apple Support Communities, April 30th, 2012, https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3148871?start=0&tstart=0

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=474

May 14 2012

Get Rid Of The Camera Shutter Noise In IOS (Rooted)

When I’m in a store, I like to use my iPod camera to take pictures of items to remember later. Like the other day I saw a cool lathe attachment rack and I wanted to take a picture of it so I could make one in my shop later. Of course when I hit the volume button I got the useless shutter noise. There’s no reason for it other than some countries want to try and prevent perverts from taking secret upskirt pics on the subway.  All it does in the store is make the sales person come running because they think you are doing an online price comparison. Some stores even ban the use of cameras on their premises for this reason.

Luckily there was no sales person around to hear me taking pictures, but I’d had enough of the obsolete the shutter noise. After a bit of googling I found that there were a ton Winterboard themes that I could install to change or remove the shutter noise, but they all required Winterboard, a theming application that can be a memory hog and degrade the performance of your device. So I found a simple hack that you can perform on your device that disables the sound forever.

Choose a method of navigating (ssh, a file managers, etc…) to the folder /System/Library/Audio/UISounds on your device and delete (or rename) the file photoShutter.caf  Simple. Done. Now when you take a picture there is no audio feedback. It even survives a reboot on a tethered root.

References:

  1. How to disable camera shutter sound? SSH only?, Mac Rumors, May 26th, 2011, http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1159491

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=470

Mar 23 2012

WooHoo! Ice Cream Sandwich on my Acer A500

I’ve been waiting for Acer to release Ice Cream Sandwich for my A500 Tablet for months. Tired of waiting, I decided to take matters into my own hands and find a ICS rom to flash on my rooted tablet. Luckily, Acer’s actual ICS beta’s have been leaking onto the internet and some industrious hackers have provided roms based on the leaked version.

The version that I decided to trust was the Lightspeed ROM posted over at the XDA Developers forum. Following the instructions over here at Android Authority, I was able to successfully flash the ICS rom and am now running a fully operational version of ICS on my tablet (with the exception that Fluffy Birds no longer works, but everybody seems to be having problems with that game.)

A few notes on flashing:

  • You need to root your tablet, I rooted my 3.2.1 stock rom with these instructions (thanks timmyDean!)
  • You need to install ROM Manager by ClockworkMod
  • I recommend Titanium Backup to backup all your apps and data
  • You do not need to put the ROM at the root of your (internal) SD card. I put it on my External SD and it flashed fine.
  • For some reason when I was booted into recovery mode, one of the screens warned I was at 10% battery, this was wrong. It was 100% and plugged in.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=455

Jan 18 2012

Dolby Digital Through SPDIF on My MythBox

Ever since an upgrade, I’ve been having problems with the sound on one of  my MythBoxes. It was so bad I was forced to fall back to analog stereo. So today I resolved that I was going to fix the issue. After all I knew it could be done, I had Dolby Digital working before.

After playing for about an hour and reading all I could online, it seemed as though I was going to have to monkey around with the asound.conf file, something that I shouldn’t have to do this day and age, plus I never could get anything to work that way before. Luckily I found this post on Ubuntu Forums that explained the exact setting the person used for Myth 0.23. (I’m running Myth .23 on a 10.04.3 LTS box). Most people have passed 0.23 and gone onto .24 which seems to have a different configuration for sound.

Here’s the simple settings that got me Dolby Digital again:

Alsa:default
5.1

Best
Alsa;iec958:{aes0 0×02}
dolby digital and dts checked

Use internal volume controls off

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=448

Dec 16 2011

Finding Twitter RSS Feeds

Steve Gibson of Security Now fame just created a new twitter account (@SGreads) for posting the stories he finds interesting. Now I could follow him on Twitter, but that is pretty useless. Trying to follow somebody on Twitter is like trying to drink out of a fire hose — most of the posts miss your eyes. People who infrequently post well thought out tweets are missed in the torrent of useless blabbering of people who tweet what they had for supper. To follow people I really like I use Google Reader.

To add a twitter stream to Google Reader used to be as easy as entering the persons twitter handle, but for some reason that just isn’t working anymore. So after a few wild goose chases on Google, I finally found this site that showed my how to get a working rss feed from somebodies twitter stream.

You just enter a URL of this pattern in you address bar:

http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=xxxxx

Where xxxxx is the users twitter name. in this case I used SGreads like this:

http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.rss?screen_name=SGreads

When you verify that this brings you to an rss feed, enter this address into the subscribe box in Google Reader. Be sure to use http:// because https:// doesn’t seem to work right.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=438

Nov 01 2011

Creating an RSS Feed for Your Google +1′s

This week Google dropped the ability to share items within Google Reader, instead they added way to +1 a story and/or share it in Google+. Unfortunately this broke another website I run, I previously used the shared items RSS feed to get a list of these shared stories on website. There is now no easy way to do this.

Of course there are several methods to create an RSS feed of my public post on Google+, so why didn’t I just do that? Well, for one thing I don’t post everything publicly, and two I don’t want to auto-spam everybody that has me circled with articles I’m interested in.

That left the +1 method. The stories you +1 in Google Reader show up nicely in your profile under the +1 tab. That is about all they do. +1 seem to be Google’s bastard child. You can’t get them through any API’s  or any other easy method. You’d think if there was a natural use for RSS it would be for +1s. So I decdied to figure out how to create the missing RSS feed for my (or anybody elses) public +1s.

While I could have tried coding something in PHP, I thought I’d try using a HMTL to RSS service instead and save myself some time. I remembered one such service that let you specify text delimiters for a specific items on a page and even break those items into text chunks that could be mapped to a title, a description, etc. After a long search I finally found the service I was looking for:  Feed43.

When you get to the site, go ahead and click the “Create your own feed link” on the right and follow these steps:

  1. Enter the address of your +1s in your Google+ profile,For instance mine is https://plus.google.com/u/0/110925720791814066383/plusones. You can ignore the box that is labeled encoding. Once you click reload, the site pulls up the worst looking HTML I’ve ever seen, fear not, you can ignore this. I used firebug to parse the feed instead, but if you don’t plan on making any changes you can just keep following the steps.
  2. In the box labeled Globel Search Pattern enter:

    {%}

    In the box labeled Item (repeatable) Search Pattern:

    (Sorry about the image, but if I put HTML into the post it won’t show correctly

    If all goes OK you’ll get green text saying (OK # items found)

  3. In this step you take the elements you extracted and create your feed, for instance this is how I chose to format my RSS feed:

    Clicking on preview will show you what your feed will look like.
  4. Once you’re happy with the way the feed looks, you can grab your new feed URL.

Update: 

In step 2, the expression needs to be updated to <div {*} class=”gr”… Google decided to add the aria-hidden=”true” property before the class definition and it screwed up the filter. I’d never seen any aria- properties before, evidently they have to do with accessibility.  Basically ARIA extends html to allow you to create elements other elements that you normally wouldn’t be able to tab to — allowing you to navigate more effectively with the keyboard.

Update 2:

Google changed the CSS again, I had to change the code in step 2 to this:

Again sorry for the picture, but embedding this code into the post causes chaos.

Update 3:

Evidently I updated my RSS item properties since I posted this. Here is what I have now:

While you’re at it take the {%2} out of the box labeled feed link, and put the link to the feed (eg http://feed43.com/7866848214517258.xml). I’m not sure what I was thinking there.

Update 4:

Google did it again they changed the CSS. Here’s the code in step 2 now:

Update 5:

Google did it yet again they changed the name of the CSS classes.  I’m not going to continue updating this post every time Google makes a change. If you can’t figure out how to change the code from the information I’ve provided above, drop me a line in the comments.

Update 6:

Somebody asked me for the most recent correct code so I’ll post it:

I’ve noticed lately that the feed URL doesn’t always return the feed the first time, sometimes it returns a blank. I’m only noticing it now that I’m using a WordPress plugin which loads the feed each time. When I was using Drupal, the plugin I was using, cached all the feed items and only added new ones when they appeared in the feed.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=423

Jul 23 2011

Applying CSS to Google Calendar Embedded in an iframe

On a Drupal  site I am developing, I wanted to embed a Google calendar agenda view into a sidebar block. There are no reliable modules that do this for version 7, so I just used Google’s method. They make this quite simple all you do is visit your calendar page click on the little down arrow on a public calendar and select settings. Google gives you the embed code right on the setting page, they even allow you to customize the view.

So I embedded an agenda view of a calendar in the sidebar, but discovered that the event titles just ran off the side of the sidebar, they didn’t wrap. This made it really hard to read the calendar. It turns out that Google sets a CSS property “white-space” to “no-wrap.” Using Firebug in Firefox, I set the property to “normal” and the titles wrapped the way the should.  The problem is that you can’t apply CSS to content in an iframe from another domain.

Searching the web I found one solution: Customising an embedded google calendar, that looked promising. Basically use wget to capture the page that is returned in the embeded code and host that on your site, then you point the link in the embedded code to your saved page instead of Google. After following instructions I could get the calendar to show up, but it wasn’t importing any events. Back to searching Google.

Next I found this site: Easy Color Customization for Embedded Google Calendars. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, I knew it must have something to do with manipulating the CSS of the embedded calendar, so maybe I could adapt it to change other CSS properties. What he did was create a custom PHP script that pulls the data from the embedded Google link and allows you to manipulate it before displaying it. Then all you need to do is call the php script in the embed code.

It worked beautifully, but I discovered that the script needs to be in the website root directory or the page tries to download the script instead of running it. Based on the php script, I know I could probably create a custom module for Drupal and integrate the calendar properly, but it isn’t worth the time.

Update:

Oops, I figured out the script doesn’t have to be in the website root, it just has to be in a directory where the .htaccess file doesn’t block scripts from executing.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.electronsmith.com/?p=360

Older posts «