Monday, 11 August 2014

Smart Charger: automatically backup your photos

[This is the second post about Arietta: the first is here]

The project
The idea behind this little project is to have a system that charge my phone and automatically backup the photo of my android phone while it is connected.

First of all, you need to attach an usb female adapter to Arietta and connect an usb (powered) hub to it: Follow this page

In order to get the photos on the android phone from Arietta you need to use MTP protocol and there are 2 ways:
a - install mtp-tools packages from repository
b - activate mtp filesystem

For my project the first solution is easier:  launch apt-get install mtp-tools

The solution b was better, because it allows you to mount the phone filesystem and copy files from it with normal linux commands like cp,rsync,mv.. but it's harder because you need to rebuild the arietta image.

External Usb Storage
The Arietta will copy my photos on an external storage instead of the internal sdcard of arietta because this helps to improve the life of the sdcard.

To automatically mount an external storage in a predefined directory:
- use blkid command to obtain an id that identify you external usb storage for the system
- change /etc/fstab and insert a line to specify where the storage mount point

My external usb storage is a simple pendrive formatted with fat32 with UUID FC4D-37AA.
At the end of /etc/fstab I've added this line to mount it on /mnt everytime is plugged in:

UUID=FC4D-37AA /mnt vfat defaults,umask=007,gid=46 0 0

The Backup Script ...
I've created a script called that use some commands from mtp-tools package to copy and delete jpg photos from the phone:


#check if external storage is present or abort
checkmount=`mount | grep /mnt | wc -l`
echo $checkmount;
if [ $checkmount -ne "1" ]; then
        echo "Usb External Storage not mounted...exiting";

echo "Usb External Storage Found";
mtp-files | grep .jpg | awk '{ print $2 }' > lista.txt
while read F ; do
    #there is enough space on device
    spacecheck=`df -h | grep /mnt | awk {'print $5'} | tr -d '%'`
    if [ $spacecheck -gt "95" ]; then
        echo "Not enough space left on device..exiting";
    mtp-connect --getfile $F /mnt/$F # copy the file
    mtp-connect --delete $F          # delete the file from the phone


- it checks if Usb External Storage is mounted or it aborts the operation
- it creates a list of jpg files (supposing these are all photos) lista.txt

... and for every photo:
- it checks if there is enough space left on the Usb External Storage
- it reads the list of photos from lista.txt and it uses mtp-connect to copy file to the /mnt/ directory and it deletes the photo from the phone

..and the UDEV Rule!
In order to call everytime you plug the phone to the hub you need a udev rule.

Create a script 98-my.rules with this content:
SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="22b8", MODE="0666", RUN+="/root/"

and copy it on /etc/udev/rules.d

Now everytime you attach the android phone to the hub, while the phone is charging, arietta copy your photos in the external pendrive, if present.

In the next article we will see how to add a led to monitor the status of the operation.

Friday, 8 August 2014

How to hack Clash Of Clans: Unlimited Shield [UPDATE]

*updates on the bottom
I've played for over a year with Clash of Clans: a very nice mobile games.
Day by day, the game become more and more difficult to play without spending money.
It's the classical in-app purchase free game mechanism: pay to survive.

The hack
During the game you have a limited shield, that can save your village from attacks for others player for a max of 16 hours.
Of course you can extends the shield with money.
When you have no shield, the others people can't attack you if you are online and connected.
My first attempt was to put the display of the phone in a "never sleep" mode and leave the app open but this was not a working solution, clash of clans see that you aren't do nothing and it disconnects.

Later I was thinking about an hardware solution with arduino, that could simulate at least the swipes on the touch screen, something like this hack for another game: but there was an easier solution.

UiTesting with UiAutomator
One of the android's tools is called uiautomator it is used to test UI on apps, so it is possible to write test/programs that simulate click, swipe and other actions on apps running on the phone.
What I have done, it has been write a simple uiautomator test that:

1 - it presses home
2 - it searches clash of clans in the list of apps
3 - it launches clash of clans
4 - it waits 15 seconds for the app to start
5 - it does swipes movement
6 - it waits some seconds
7 - it repeats from 5

I tested the app on my phone (no root required) and my village was opened for over 10 hours(see update #) without any disconnection and of course, none attack! :)

Update #1: 18 Aug 2014
Yesterday I posted on reddit this post, to understand the reaction of some players and what they are thinking about it.
On reddit I've discovered that after 6 hours of game, Clash Of Clans automatically disconnect the client for 5-10 minutes... but, my hack (I'm lucky) keep on try to reconnect during this period and at the end of this period it is correctly reconnected.

I have also discovered there are some hacks out there that works with rooted phone and works in similar way.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Experimenting with Arietta: little & cheap embedded linux board

I bought this board months ago when there was a preorder offer on just 10 euro!
It's a 400 Mhz board, 256 mb ram, with usb support that runs a reduced sized version of Debian Wheezy: Specs Here.

First of all you need to:
- prepare a micro sd-card: follow this or buy one ready
- plug arietta with a microusb cable to your windows/linux computer (no mac support ..but of course you can use a virtual machine )
- configure Network on your computer: follow this

When arietta is connected to your PC, it is recognized as a RNDIS/Ethernet Gadget.
On my Linux Xubuntu PC launching ifconfig from a terminal I have a new network interface device "usb0".
After the setup you can use "ssh": ssh root@  with username root and password acmesystems and you have a shell on arietta!

Install Packages
Install new packages on arietta is simply apt-get!

To let Arietta reach internet you can:
1 - connect an usb to ethernet adapter to Arietta, and configure it
2 - use your PC as a gateway to forward the traffic of Arietta through the USB connection

For step 2 this is what I did on a xubuntu machine:
- change sysctl.conf and uncomment from the line to forward packages "net.ipv4.ip_forward=1"
- launch the following commands: the eth1 is the NIC connected to internet

echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth1 -j MASQUERADE
iptables -A FORWARD -i eth1 -o usb0 -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
iptables -A FORWARD -i usb0 -o eth1 -j ACCEPT

(Of course everytime you reboot the machine the iptables rules are lost.. unless you change iptables setup)

Now you can connect again to arietta with ssh:
- update repository /etc/apt/sources.list
- apt-get update
- apt-cache search
- apt-get install

Topic of the next article: arietta, libmtp, udev, photo backup... and "juice jacking"

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Showing my heart rate while playing a scary game: Slender Game

 Yesterday, I've done this video:

Watch fullscreen

It shows me and my heart rate while playing Slender (
With arduino, and some scripting I was able to monitor my heart rate.

Normally when I'm calm, my heart rate is around 50 BPM.
If you want to watch the most funny part of the video, go to minute 14 and watch how the BPM changes.

It's not hard to reproduce something like that.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Summary of the last months

These are some of the topics where I put some efforts in the last 3 months:

Leap Motion
I've played with Leap Motion and their javascript library...producing a sort of Flappy Bird Clones that use leap motion as Controller: it's just javascript and it's pretty simple how it works. Just check the soure code. You need a leap motion to play

Unity 3D
I've started learning Unity 3D: it's a great tool to create 2D and 3D games.... It' pretty easy and very powerful: you can create a game that runs in the most popular desktop and mobile platform. My impression is that it is a tool thought more for 3D modellers but good for anyone: I spent some night trying to move my objects in the Scene in a particular way.. thinking about the math...than I found a function that it did just what I was searching for. I've created a 3D game called Apocalipto for BlackBerry10 using just the free assets on the Unity store. It was started as "Zombie and Shotgun" but there is no free 3D zombie in the assets store, so they become Skeletons... than it was hard to bind a shotgun correctly to my main character and it become just Apocalipto ... :D

an old version of the game.

This game support bluetooth joypad connected to the BlackBerry smartphone. BlackBerry sent me 2 really good joypads just for adding the Gamepad support to this game:
Think what you want... but the BlackBerry efforts and support to developers is really great.
I think I will publish this game also on play store... I hope soon.

Bluetooth LE and the iBeacon world
It's a pretty interesting topic.. 
Bluetooth Smart will be a huge adopted tecnology in the Internet of Things world(another hot topic): so I've started learning and experimenting this tecnology in multiple platform: OSX, IOS, BlackBerry and Android. 
I've bought and played with different device: bluetooth 4.0 dongle attached on linux, the Texas Sensor Tag and the Coin (an arduino mini pro with a bluetooth 4.0 chip attacheda also able to simulate an ibeacon/estimote).
I spend a lot of time testing IBeacons: you can use a product like estimote, or you can use just a simple bluetooth 4.0 usb dongle with Bluez and some tools.

Google App Engine
Another thing where I spent some of my late night time.
I think GAE is an incredible backend for services or apps.. it is easy, powerful and easy to scale.
But the first reason why, I've choose to learn it, it was Google Glass.
Google Glass can use apps called glassware, part of these apps are software that talk with glass through google cloud.
So, I've started to learn it, just to be ready for the time when I'll create a glassware.
I've created a couple of services with python just to understand how to store data, add authentication and show pages to user.
Anyway, it's the kind of service you can rely on, if you create a great app.

Chrome Web Apps
I've built a simple quiz/game for a contest on opendata:
The game is called "Europeana: guess who?":
Nothing revolutionary...
The interesting things are:
- you can use html and javascript (with some restriction) to create your extension
- the extension easily become desktop application and with this, I mean, it can be launched from your windows or osx launcher (I didn't try it on linux) and they appear like a normal application.
- transform a chrome extension into an android and ios app (not ready for ios right now): it uses cordova. I've tested the tool to transform my extension into an android app, it works but you have to built an extension with a design that runs well on very small display(phones) but also on very large display(desktop).

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

I believe in a thing called Drone

Yesterday, Amazon did a big announcement: soon (in the next years) drones will be used to delivery package to your door.
Amazon is not the first one with this idea, but just the fact they have said that (for advertisement o not), it is an incredibly recognition that we are near to the drone's revolution.
I'm a huge fan of drones for civil use... because I'm geek.. you know, geek loves these things.

After this news, a lot of skeptics came out with only one sentence in mind a "I know how drones work dude, this is not possible"

Problems exists, obviously
Every new thing bring with it problems.. problems are everywhere, in every aspect of every project.
And when you have a problem you have to find the right solutions, the best fit solution to the problem.

There are 3 category of drones's problems:
  • Technical Limitations: The drone's expert say for example, that drones don't have enough autonomy to carry something and come back: for all of them I just want to answer, you need research and moneys (like amazon or google?yes) and you can create something that is not available today but tomorrow and of course better. The tecnology change everyday. so I don't bother about these aspect. Your experience is not the only one solution.  I think the answer to question like "what if a drone broke and fall down?/what if a drone crash with a bird/What if a drone crash with another one" will come out.
  • Privacy Concerns and Legal Aspects: these are the real problems. A lot of problems, for example, the FAA is worried about both violence to and from drones...because there are crazy persons who wants to shot to drones... but apart from that, again, I think laws will come out as for every new thing. At the beginning we will have place where drone delivery will be available and other where not. 
Revolutions need time and of course other problems when the first drone will deliver a package will come out.. but for me it just a matter of when not how.
If you are not able to do today something it doesn't mean someone, with a team of expert can do it somewhere in another place soon :)

Finally, you need to dream, dream it is necessary, because if you just stop to this phrase "this is not possible", nothing it will ever change, and this is not just for drones, but for anything.
Call me a believer!
I believe in drone.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Plot a graph with Arduino Yun

This is a short article, some "tips&tricks" if you need to plot a chart with data generated from the Arduino Yun.
I report it here, just to report my work.

This article starts from this: that explain how to use the Bridge to capture data from a temperature Sensor and make the data accessible from a web page inside an sdcard on the Yun.

Plot a chart
My scripts, it helps to plot the last 5 temperatures.
You have to change a little bit the script on the page and replace some files.

1 - I've added this at the beginning of the arduino script:
float lastTemp[5];
to save the last 5 temperatures
2 - Replaced  this part
      client.print("Current time on the Yun: ");
Current temperature: ");
      client.print(" degrees C");
This sketch has been running since ");
Hits so far: ");
with this one:
      lastTemp[hits%5] = temperature;
      for(int i=0;i<5;i++){       


So the page from arduino now it retuns all the data plus the last 5 temperature read, separated by ";"

3 - I've replaced the files in /arduino/www/TemperatureWebPanel with the ones HERE: it uses jquery and jflot

This is the final plot:

This is not the rightway
My script plot the last 5 request read from the sensor, but the right way is to leave the arduino part to ciclic fetch the temperature and save it on a file on the sdcard.
The html/js page need to read the same file and plot the temperatures with the data from the file.
I will update it later with a new solution.