Updating an Old Music & Sound Intercom System with Skybell HD (Part 1 of 2)


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Skybell is a video doorbell similar to Ring. These devices are intended to be hooked up to existing doorbell systems. Most traditional wired doorbells have a transformer that drops the high voltage/high amp of household current to lower voltage and amps compatible with your doorbell chime whether analog or electronic. The two wires coming out near the exterior doorbell button lead to the transformer – so for the Skybell you normally need only to detach the wires from your doorbell button and attach them to the Skybell. That way when you push the Skybell button it not only sends an alert to your smart phone but also rings your normal doorbell.
 
 

The Problem – Skybell is Not Compatible with Intercom Systems

 
 
 
Unfortunately our house was equipped with an old 1980’s style Music & Sound intercom system. I had previously equipped the system with a Google ChromeCast audio so I can wirelesssly cast audio from my smartphone to all the rooms in the house using the M&S speaker system. I removed the radio/intercom unit from the wall, tucked the Chromecast to the side of the internal unit, and cabled the wired out the back behind the sheetrock to the outlet below. The 3.5m audio connector plugged into the internal RCA “aux” plug. I also attached a Google Home Mini on the wall above it and a tablet nearby (see my previous post).
 

 
The M&S Intercom has wires leading from the central intercom unit to speakers in each individual room of the house. In addition, wires from the doorbell button run from the front door through the attic, across the house, and down into the wall, coming into the unit and attaching to the chime. See orange and red wires below:

One would think that one could attach the doorside ends of the orange and red wires (now connected to the doorbell button) to the Skybell. But that doesn’t work, as first they won’t power the Skybell, and second, the Skybell button won’t trigger the chime. Watch this video for an explanation as to why intercom type doorbell buttons do not work with Ring or Skybell (I would suggest that you may want to just read the comments and save some time). Skybell does sell a chime adapter but it doesn’t work for Nucom or Music & Sound type intercoms. In fact Skybell has an explicit statement on its site that the Skybell is not compatible with intercom systems.

DANGER: THIS POST IS FOR EXPLANATORY PURPOSES ONLY TO ILLUSTRATE ONE WAY A SKYBELL WAS INSTALLED. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS WITHOUT CHECKING WITH A QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN AND CHECKING WITH LOCAL BUILDING CODE. WIRES AND TRANSFORMER MUST BE OF SUFFICIENT CAPACITY; WRONGLY SIZED, CONFIGURED, OR WIRED SYSTEMS COULD CAUSE FIRE OR EXPLOSION. EACH INTERCOM SYSTEM AND TRANSFORMER IS DIFFERENT AND MOST LIKELY WILL BE DIFFERENT THEN MINE. IT IS VERY POSSIBLE YOUR TRANSFORMER MAY DESTROY YOUR SKYBELL!! ALWAYS TURN POWER OFF FROM THE SWITCHBOX BEFORE WORKING ON ANY POWERED SYSTEMS!ANY ATTEMPT TO FOLLOW THIS POST IS DONE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 
 

Removing the Intercom from The Wall

 
 
After a lot of thought, I decided to do some exploring. I turned the power off, and removed the intercom unit from the wall.  The unit was fitted into a green metal cabinet fixed to the wall. In the right rear corner of the cabinet there was a corner that was encased with a small solid metal removable box to which an electrical plug was attached.

 

 

 


 
 

The Transformer

 
 
I removed the plug, removed the screws holding the sides of the transformer box in place, and revealed the transformer.

The transformer was stamped secondary power “20V 24VA”. This meant that it was 20 Volts AC (or 20VAC) with 24 Volt Amps. To get amps you divide 24VA/20VAC and get 1.2 amps. I’m not an electrician but this fit the power requirements of the Skybell which required 10-36 VAC (my transformer was 24VA so was within range) and 10VA – so max amp requirement was 10VA/10VAC or 1 AMP.

How to hook to the transformer across the house from the door ? I could have installed new wiring. But the wires connected to the chimes were of sufficient guage, and there would be no need for the old doorbell button or chimes any longer.
 
 

Rewiring the Doorbell Wires

With ALL POWER OFF, I unhooked the ends of the orange and yellow wires from the doorbell chimes, pulled the red wires out of the transformer plug (the end on the radio side of the transformer box), connected the one red from the transformer to the yellow wire, and the second red from the transformer to the orange wire, and inserted each wire set back into the plug holes that the red wires came from. Now we had sufficient power connected to the front door.

I then went outside, pulled the old outside intercom/door bell mechanism out of the wall, cut the orange and yellow wires off the doorbell button, and connected them to the Skybell. I did this only after verifying with a multimeter that the voltage and amps were correct.

 

The skybell works like a charm.

 

 

 

 
However there remains a problem – the inside door chimes no longer work, the Skybell is only being powered. While it can send notifications to our smartphones, it is not able to trigger the chimes. In Part 2, I will explain the software side of getting a doorbell to ring inside the house to my Google Home Minis and Chromecast Audio receivers using a Raspberry Pi, Google Notifier  and Skybell Sniffer.

To Be Continued in Part 2 …

Easy Two Dollar Magnetic Wall Mount for Google Home Mini and/or Tablet

Here’s a stable, cheap magnetic wall mount for a small tablet or a Google Home Mini. The big advantage to a magnetic mount is you can easily detach and reattach without any tools. In addition, for tablets, you can use them vertically or horizontally. The mounts have a surpisingly strong magnetic bond and are incredibly stable – I have been using these for a year with an Amazon Fire HD 7″ tablet and a Home Mini. For the wall plate of the Home Mini I used the bottom cut out from a tin can. For the Tablet I used a 1 gang metal plate bought from Home Depot. The metal plate is more attractive and has a stronger hold than the tin can but either will do these devices.

What you need:

  • Large circular Washer from Home Depot or other hardware supplier (not sure of exact part number but looks something like this, mine is 2″ in diameter and has “ASC” Stamped on it) (about 20 cents)
  • 1 Gang Metal Wall Plate or Bottom of a Tin Can (at most $1.60)
  • Large 1 3/4 inch Magnet (about 80 cents)
  • Sheet Rock Screw and Anchor
  • Super Glue

Installation

  1. Optionally paint the wall plates. Let dry well.
  2.  

  3. Attach the metal plate to the wall using the sheet rock anchors. The tin can just needs one screw, the wall mount has two. For a tablet, make sure you install the plate in such a way as to allow the tablet to be mounted or have enough space to orient it horizontally or vertically, the circulate magnet will let you do either.
     

    Tin Can

    Metal Plate

  4. Place the magnet on the plate (you can try superglueing it but I found that the magnetism holds it just as well and the super glue may come off as you can see happened on the tin can mount above).
  5.  

  6. Superglue the Washer to the back of the device.
  7.  

    Google Home Mini

    Tablet

  8. Done.

 
To keep the wires neat as possible and out of the way, I drilled holes above or below the device to run the cables behind the sheet rock to the wall outlet below. For the wall outlet I installed a USB outlet and a small saw brush plate above it (about $6).

One Line Linux Command to Kill Parent Process and Spawned Children in A Group

In Linux, if you’d like to kill a command and all processes spawned by that command do this (in our example the command “parent” is example.py):

This will kill the “example.py” process and anything that it spawned.

How it works:

To kill all processes of a group the command is

To get the group id you do the ps command using the arguments as shown, grep it for your command, but formatting example.py with quotes and using the bracket for the first letter (this filters out the grep command itself) then filter it through awk to get the second field which is the group id. The tail -1 gets rid of duplicate group ids. Yout put all of that in a variable using the $() syntax and voila – you get the group id. So you substitute that $(mess) for that -groupid in the kill command above

Getting Home Assistant, Mosquitto MQTT, and CloudMQTT To Work Together Using an MQTT Bridge

I’ve been experimenting with Home Assistant (a home automation server) running the Raspberry Pi and have found the videos from Ben at BRUHautomation to be a big help. One thing I was having trouble with was getting MQTT to control both my sonoff outlets and track my devices. Home Assistant can apparently only use one MQTT Broker at a time. Ben uses Mosquitto when setting up the Sonoff outlets, but CloudMQTT when using Owntracks to track devices.

To get them both working at the same time with Home Assistant you have to join the two using a bridge. This thread helped but the steps I needed weren’t very clearly posted and summarized. Here is what I did that seems to work.

  1. Follow Ben’s video to setup Mosquitto MQTT and CloudMQTT (in that order).
  2. You’ll end up with your configuration.yaml file using CloudMQTT as its broker (we will later change this below).
  3. On the command line on your server, kill mosquitto, and then edit the /etc/mosquitto/mosquitto.conf file so it looks like this:
  4. Here’s a screen shot of CloudMQTT where you get the user and passwords for above:
  5. After editing start mosquitto. Note that I’ve commented out the log as that will force any debugging to output to the screen.
  6. Hopefully you’ll see something like this (rather than errors such as connection refuse, unauthorized, etc:

  7. Now, edit Home Assistant’s configuration.yaml and delete or comment out the the CloudMQTT broker under the mqtt section. Add Mosquitto as the mqtt broker:
  8. Restart Home Assistant:
  9. If you don’t restart, some of your devices may work but not all. Also, if you are still having issues of inconsistent response (e.g., I had one light respond well, but the other one wouldn’t go off), go to the command line make sure you are not running more than one instance of Home Assistant (pps aux | grep hass) – and if you are kill all of them and start only one instance.

  10. That’s it. Navigate to your Home Assistant control panel and test your local devices and your Owntracks tracking. It should all work.

Google Cloudprint – Cloud Printer Offline

If you have a printer that is google cloudprint compatible but is showing ‘offline’ in your google cloud printers it may be your printer’s DNS settings. I have a Canon Workdforce 3640


I followed Canon’s instructions and registered it with Cloudprint and it worked for several months. Then one day it showed “offline” in the google cloud printer list even though the printer was clearly connected.

To fix it, I had to change the DNS Settings on the printer to those of google’s (for the house I use opendns so that could be blocking or it could be some other issue but changing to google’s fixed the issues).

 

  1. Look in your router settings and determine the ip address of your printer.
  2. Point your browser to the ip address, for example: http://192.168.1.XXX
  3. [Read more…]

Raspberry Pi and Lighttpd

I’m familiar with apache but not lighttpd. There is very little I could find on how to setup lighttpd with ssl. I don’t have time todo a full blog post but here’s my example lighttpd.conf file for those of you who it might help. It has 2 virtual servers both using ssl. It does not listen on port 80 (non-ssl) at all.

I also followed this tutorial from the Nwgat blog to setup letsencrypt ssl certificates (the only one I could find that worked for me). I’m copying the steps below in case that link goes dead:

https://nwgat.ninja/setting-up-letsencrypt-with-lighttpd/

  1. Stop lighttpd
  2. combine files into ssl.pem
  3. Forward Secrecy & Diffie Hellman Ephemeral Parameters
  4. Copy and paste the following into /etc/lighttpd/lighttpd.conf dont forget to change yourdomain to your domain
    or you can put it into /etc/lighttpd/conf-enabled as letsencrypt.yourdomain.conf
  5. now open port and start lighttpd

  6. <pre class="lang:default decode:true " >

    sudo ufw allow 443
    sudo service lighttpd start

Port Forwarding Http/Https to Different Computers Within Your Home Network

So you want to have different web servers on your home network that are exposed to the outside world?  How do you do that?  Most web servers listen on port 80 for non-ssl and port 443 for ssl. 

Say your home network is setup like this:

Home Network Computers
Router: 192.168.1.1 Your Study: 192.168.1.2 (running your personal wordpress blog )

Wife’s Office: 192.168.1.2 (running your personal wordpress blog

Living Room Computer: 192.168.1.3 (Running Home Assistant web server)

1. Setup a dynamic dns service. 

               Go to duckdns.org (super simple) to create a subdomain url for each computer you’d like to access in your internal network from any computer in the world.   I won’t explain it here as the duckdns site does a good job.  In my example you would need to setup 3 subdomains for your home network, I’ll use the following:

Example Dynamic DNS URLs

http://blog.duckdns.org -> your blog in your study

http://wifesblog.duckdns.org -> wife’s blog in her office

http://homey.duckdns.org -> home automation server at

2.  Setup Port Forwarding

                  Normally, if you are outside your home network, say at a coffee shop, and plug “http://homey.duckdns.org” in your browser you most likely will end up either with blank page/unauthorized page or will get the control panel login for your router which is at 192.168.1.1. 

To setup port forwarding within your home network go into your router (192.168.1.1 in my example) and navigate to the port forwarding section. I use ddwrt so in my home network I would point  my browser to NAT/QoS and set the port forwarding as follows:

Port From (incoming set by url, e.g.: http://blog.duckdns.org:202) Ip Address Port To (This is port server is listening on)
80 192.168.1.1 804 (fake port, nothing is listening here)
202 192.168.1.2 80
203 192.168.1.3 80
204 192.168.1.4 8123

Here’s a screen shot of my example setup:

 
Once Saved, you access your sites as follows:

URL -> Server

http://blog.duckdns.org:202 -> your blog in your study at 192.168.1.2 port 80

http://wifesblog.duckdns.org:203 -> wife’s blog in her office at 192.168.1.3 port 80

http://homey.duckdns.org:204 -> home automation server at 192.168.1.4 port 8123

If someone leaves the port out (http://blog.duckdns.org) it would just go to a blank page because it would be forewarded to 192.168.1.1:804  which is a fake port with nothing listening.

In actual practice you should use SSL for each of these,but for simplicity of explanation I’ve left that out. However, it would work the same way. You would turn off port 80 on each of the servers, and substitue 443 for 80 above, with an additional fake port for 443, such as the following:

Port From (incoming set by url, e.g.: http://blog.duckdns.org:202) Ip Address Port To (This is port server is listening on)
443 192.168.1.1 804 (fake port, nothing is listening here)
202 192.168.1.2 443
203 192.168.1.3 443
204 192.168.1.4 8123


Also, if you’re using ssl you’ll need to set up ssl certificates (use letsencrypt for free ssl certifices)

As a final note, if could have all of these sites on one computer (personally I’m doing this on raspberry pi 3 using lighttpd and homeassistent), but you would have to change the default  ports for each server; e.g., instead of your blog listening to 443, you would have the ssl port listen to say 452.  , your wife’s ssl port listening to say 574, etc. .

Multiboot USB with Gandalf’s Win10 PE & Install as Windows Boot Menu

Windows PE distributions are mini-Windows operating systems that one can run from a USB flash memory stick. They are extremely handy particularly when fixing a broken Windows system. I just fixed a PC suffering from a Blue Screen of death by using one.

At the moment, one of the most handy Windows PE distributions is Gandalf’s Win10 PE Redstone. This “Redstone” distribution packs about 4GB of very useful programs and a fully functional super smooth version of Windows 10 into one ISO that can be installed on and booted from a USB drive. This is an example screen shot:

Having this available on a bootable USB stick if anything goes wrong on your windows system is SUPER handy and has saved me countless times.

This tutorial will show you how to build a multi-boot USB stick that will add Gandalf’s Win10 PE distro but is also capable of adding additional operating systems on the same stick. In addition it will show you how to install Gandalf’s Win10 PE on your boot menu. So if your Windows system goes south you have a very useful toolkit available as an option on the boot screen without even needing your USB stick. This tutorial was done using Windows 10 but the steps should be similar for Windows 7 and 8.

Part I Installing Gandalf PE on a Multiboot Yumi USB

  1. Make sure you have at least an 8 GB USB Flash thumb drive that you are ok with reformatting and destroying all data on.

  2. Download Yumi Multiboot
  3. Download the latest Gandalf distribution (I believe there are several, the larger the size the more programs ) Gandalf’s Windows PE
  4. Startup Yumi. Under Yumi’s Step 1, select the USB drive you are dedicating to Yumi. Under Step 2, select “Single Windows PE” option (located near the bottom under Windows PE Builds). Under step 3 select the Gandalf ISO you downloaded. Yumi should look similar to this:

  5. Click Create and let Yumi go to town. It will take quite a while as it will extract the various programs from the ISO and install them on your USB drive. When it is done it should give you a success message. Close the program and verify that it will boot. If it doesn’t see the troubleshooting in the FAQ and How-To’s on the Yumi page.
  6. To add additional distributions to the USB flash drive (anything from countless Linux distros, bootable Dos systems, to other PE systems, etc. – basically anything Yumi lists in its Step 2) just run Yumi again, select the distro in Step 2 in the Yumi program, and download and install the distro. Very easy.
    NOTE: If you want to add Gandalf’s PE to your Windows boot menu, I recommend adding additional distros only after you complete Part II below.

Part II Installing Gandalf PE to the Windows Boot Menu

WARNING: DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK!! In particular, but not without disregarding other things that can go wrong, messing with your BCD files can lead to Blue Screens of death like “Inaccessible Boot Drive” errors. I highly recommend backing up your BCD File and if there are any problems, restore your old BCD. You should be able to do this even if you can’t get into your system again by using the bootable USB drive you created in Part I above.
  1. Create a folder named “Gandalf Rescue PE” on the root of one of your drives (it can be C but preferably another hard drive you have on your system).
  2. Open your USB flash drive and select all the files and folders and click copy:

  3. Now navigate to the folder you created in Part II, Step 1 above, and paste all of the Yumi files and folders into that folder.
  4. Download and install EasyBCD (I used version 2.3). The official site is at Neosmart here (the free/register version works fine), but I downloaded it from Softpedia as the download at the official site was problematic. There’s a free version of EasyBCD for personal use, if commercial use is made, paid versions are available. If you don’t want to use EasyBCD you can use BCDedit (see the example entry below in the last step but I won’t other describe editing with BCDedit as it is too lenghty to go into).
  5. Open EasyBCD (ignore any messages on EFI if you do). Before you do anything backup your existing configuration, by clicking “BCD Backup/Repair” and hitting “Backup settings” after you are satisfied with the path:

  6. Now you’re ready to install Gandalf’s Win10 PE. Click “Add New Entry”. Under “Portable/External Media”, click “WinPE” and under “Type” click “Wim Image (Ramdisk)”. Change the name to “Gandalf’s Win10 PE” and under path, click the browse button and look for the “boot.wim” file found in the “Sources” folder inside the folder your created in Part II, #1 above. Check the box for “EMS Enabled”. Your screen should look something like this:

  7. Click “Add Entry”. Close EasyBCD.
  8. On your PC, open “Startup and Recovery” (type this in your search box) and make sure under “System Startup” the Gandalf distribution is being shown and that there is a delay for “Time to display list of operating systems”:

  9. That’s it. Now reboot and you should see Gandalf’s Win 10 PE show up on your boot screen as an option.
  10. As a final note, if someone desires to manually edit the BCD file using BCDEdit (rather than using EasyBCD),the manual entry looks like this (I don’t have room to explain the below but if you are using bcdedit you should know how to create this entry):

    NOTE ON ABOVE FOR MANUAL BCDEDIT ENTRIES: Substitute your drive letter for “K:” above. Also note the GUID used in the device and osdevice lines are the same as the Identifier GUID.

Fix Disabled or Greyed Out System Restore

I checked my system restore settings (in windows 10 just type in search “System restore”) and tried to to turn on System Protection by going into System Properties and clicking the “Configure” button. But my “Turn on System Protection” option was disabled and I was unable to select it :

This puzzled me for a while until I realized I selected a non-system drive and if you do that Windows won’t let you turn on system restore. So I went back to System Properties, System Protection tab and selected my system drive: 

Then when I clicked “Configure” the option to turn on system protection was available:


Simple, but not immediately obvious and wasted some time. The strange thing is also is that once I enabled it for the C drive it then allowed me to enable for non-system drives. Weird. Hope this helps someone.

Extend the Life of Your Micro USB Cable and Fix Your Loose Android Connection

Here’s a quick fix if you have a loose micro USB connection (for example of the type that is commonly used to charge Android phones).

Have you ever noticed the 2 prongs on a micro usb connection ? These prongs are used to tighten the hold when that end is inserted into the phone. Thee prongs wear out or bend over time so they no longer serve their intended purpose, resulting in a loose and no longer working connection to your phone.

As a quick fix you can raise the surface of the micro-usb end by applying a drop or two of super glue to create a bump or raised layer which will tighten the fit.

Squeeze a a small drop of superglue on the side of the micro usb end where the prongs are:


Be VERY careful not to let the superglue drip into the phone. Your goal is to have the superglue dry into a “bump” on the surface of the micro usb just enough to tighten the fit into the phone as a substitution for the worn prongs. Do the same to the edges of the micro usb but only a small bit.

Let it DRY for at least one hour. You don’t want wet super glue in your phone! When it is thoroughly dry, reinsert. You should now have a supertight connection!

I have done this several times with success. The same method has worked to fix a loose AC adapter plug on another device (raising the surface with a thin layer of superglue to tighten the fit). Note that this won’t last forever but I’ve found it is good for at least several months and almost as long as the prongs lasted.

WARNING: DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK. You could damage your phone if the superglue gets in your phone or inside the micro usb. All liability is disclaimed!!

Break Out of the Virtualbox Jail: Run Linux Graphical Apps On Windows Using Putty, Xming, and VirtualBox

I use Virtualbox to run linux. But the terminal Virtualbox uses is awful so I ssh in when I want to use the command line. I recently discovered you can also do this for the graphical desktop so you don’t have to put up with the lousy Virtualbox console which fits all the linux elements in a hard to scale box. You can have your graphical linux desktop run right along Windows just as it was another MS Window Window. Follow thiese steps:

  1. Download and install Xming Server on Windows.
  2. Setup your VirtualBox running say debian and boot up your virtual box ( I won’t go into that here but check this tutorial out).
  3. At your debian command line edit /etc/ssh/sshd_config and make these lines “yes”:
     

  4. If you don’t have a graphical desktop installed, install some sample programs:
     

  5. Now on your Windows desktop fire up Putty. Add a profile to ssh into your debian virtualbox machine (hint: if you haven’t already, you’ll need to get your virtual machine’s ip address and you can’t get that until you make sure your debian virtual machine’s network setting is set to bridge so it has an ip address on your local network. Follow the steps under Selecting Bridge Networking)
  6. In your Putty profile Go to X11 and make sure forwarding is turned on. Save your profile.

  7. Now, ssh in to your Virtualbox machine and start an x-windows app.
  8. You should see the eerie “xeyes” program staring at your right on your Windows desktop!:

    That’s right, a Linux program running right on top of your local Windows desktop (actually the graphical elements are being forwarded by your virtualbox session to xming). Really cool and the Windows resizing and movements are unlimited by the Virtualbox Console. Try moving the window around – acts like any other Windows program.
  9. For programs that require sudo you have to use the “-E” option:
     
  10. Now you should see something like this – completely cool. I’ve labeled all the windows so you can appreciate the fact that the gparted GUI is running separately from the Putty and Virtualbox consoles:

    And here’s a video:

Enabling 2 Factor Authorization (2FA) on Ebay (No Need to Buy a Security Key)

This method may still work but is no longer necessary; ebay now offers 2 factor authentication in its account setttings. Go to My Account->Security Information->2 Step verification. Change this to “on” and follow the instructinos.

It’s nearly impossible to figure out how to activate 2 factor authentication on ebay but it can be done. The only thing Ebay offers on its website is 2 factor authorization through a purchased security key. But you don’t need to buy a physical key, you can just use the free Symantec VIP Access app.

 

  1. First, before activating, make sure you have a valid phone number in your profile with Ebay. If something goes wrong and you can’t login after 2 factor is enabled, Ebay will need to call you to verify your identity before letting you back into your account. See this FAQ.
  2. On your mobile phone, download the Symantec VIP Access app: Android App, IOS App.
  3.  

  4. Open the App on your phone.
  5.  

  6. On your computer browser, login to Ebay and go to the Ebay Security Key activation page. Using the VIP Access App, type in your Credential ID for Step 1, 2 security codes generated in a row for steps 2 and 3 as described in the following steps.
  7.  

  8. You will see the following:
  9.  

  10. Step 1: Enter Your Credential ID from Your VIP Access APP – YOU MUST INCLUDE THE “SYMC” plus the 8 digits with no spaces so something like the following with the XXs replaced with numbers:
     
    SYMCXXXXXXXX
  11.  

  12. Step 2: Wait until a new security code is generated in your VIP Access page and type in the six numbers displayed into the “Step 2” box on the activation page.
  13.  

  14. Step 3: Type in the very next security code generated in this step. If you miss the timing then you need to start over at step 2.
  15.  

  16. Click “Activate” on the ebay page. You’re done. It should give you a success messsage and put you back to your settings page, warning you that you’ll need to type n the security code each time you login.
  17.  

  18. Questions on your Security Key ? See the Ebay Faq. :

Having Trouble Accessing HTTPS Sites with Firefox ? sec_error_cert_signature_algorithm_disabled or sec_error_unknown_issuer Firefox NetNanny Issues

When NetNanny runs, it monitors https: sites by presenting to the browser the NetNanny certificate instead of the website’s certificate. This may be misinterpreted by Firefox or other browsers (I have found the problem only with Firefox) as a bad certificate.

If you are getting an error stating “This Connection is Untrusted” and one of the above or other errors while NetNanny is active but not when NetNanny is disabled, then here’s the fix:

Import NetNanny Certificate into Firefox:

  1. Options->Advanced->Certificates->View Certificates

    2016-03-11_0-18-56-firefoxadvanced

  2. Click Import
    2016-03-11_0-22-12-import

  3. Navigate to your Net Nanny Install Directory and select the “.PEM” file which should having a name something like “ContentWatch Trusted Root Authority.pem:

    2016-03-11_0-24-23

  4. You should now have the Content Watch Certificate Installed (you may have to click on OK).
  5. Restart Firefox
  6. You should now be able to view any page with an https: link (default google.com page, gmail, etc.)

Hacking the PogoPlug Mobile – Adding Airprint and CloudPrint (Print From ChromeBook without a Cloudprint Printer)

I purchased a Pogo Plug Mobile (Model POGO-V4-A1-01) for $10 off ebay a few weeks ago.

pogoplug-mobile

This version of the PogoPlug comes with the following:

  • 88F6192 Kirkwood ARMv5 NAS system-on-chip running at 800 MHz
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 2.0 USB Port
  • SD Card Slot

I knew it could be used for a file server but did not have much use for it at the time so put it on the shelf. A few weeks later my elementary school age daughter needed to print from her Chromebook from home. Chromebooks are becoming very popular at schools. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and able to be tightly administered by the school. Unfortunately it is very difficult to print from one at home. Since it doesn’t run from windows, you must have a printer that is “Cloudprint” enabled to work with google chrome or keep another computer running with Chrome. Since I had an old Samsung 4521f printer and didn’t want to keep my computer running all day, I decided to get my Pogoplug off the shelf and do some hacking.

Warning: This involves removing the built in software on your PogoPlug and will remove all “stock” functionality that it came with. You will not be able to use the PogoPlug services. This WILL void your warranty. In addition, all these instructions and this post is at your own risk.
  1. Plug an ethernet cable into your PogoPlug, pop an empty 2GB or more SD Card into the SD Card slot, and plug your PogoPlug into the wall.
  2. Using your browser, navigate to your ip address for your router (usually 192.168.0.1 or something similar, see your router manual), login to your admin interface, and look at the connected devices and determine what ip address your PogoPlug is using.
  3. Enable SSH.
  4. To enable SSH, create an account at the PogoPlug website. Activate your pogoplug, then go to Settings in the Web interface, select Security Settings, and then select the checkbox for Enable SSH for this Pogoplog-enabled device. A dialog box will open and ask you to assign a password for the root use.

    Screenshot is at: Pogoplug help.

  5. Using Putty, connect to your Pogoplug.
  6. Login with root/ceadmin.

    To avoid typos, as much as possible copy all commands using your mouse and paste them into your ssh console (paste is usually just a single right click)
  7. Follow these instructions from Qui’s blog post “Hacking the Pogoplug v4 (Series 4 and Mobile) with Linux (Debian or Arch)” but only to “Debian/ALARM Installation on SD Card (or USB Hard/Flash Drive)” – DO NOT do that step.
  8. Also, make sure you install netconsole. He says it is optional but if you have problems you will need it to diagnose them. Also, install “asuc” on your windows computer that is accessing the pogoplug, asuc: A Simple Udp Console. This will let you see what’s going on inside your PogoPlug or at least initial boot without having to SSH in.

    WARNING: I”ll say that again. DO NOT DO “Debian/ALARM Installation” section in Qui’s blog. You will get what will look like a bricked device if you try to install Arch on the SD Card (if you do do this, it isn’t bricked but you will need to install debian on a flash stick and reboot and you should be able to log in by ssh) Only do the debian install onto the SD Card as illustrated in next step.
  9. Ok, now that you are done with Qui’s instructions, install Debian on the SD Card:

    If you have problems, see Qui’s post for troubleshooting

  10. Setup Debian
  11. Install Printer services:
  12. Backup CUPS configuration and install new cupsd.conf.
  13. Make sure your Printer is connected to the USB port of your PogoPlug. If you have a network printer, you can leave it networked but find out what the IP addreess of the printer is.
  14. Navigate to the ipaddress of your PogoPlug, using port 631. Example: http://192.168.031:631

    You should see the CUPS web interface. Go to Home->Add Printers and Classes->Add Printer. Follow the wizard.
    CUPS printer system works with many but not all printers. A printer connected directly through the USB port is easiest for you to setup, but you can also setup a network printer using an IP address. You will need to know how to connect and what IP protocol to use. For troubleshooting see CUPS help (links are ont he CUPS admin interface web page).

  15. Add Print Driver:

    This is what I did to print to my Samsung 4521f printer on my home network which was plugged into a Belkin router running Toastman’s mod of tomatoUSB:

    • Add Printer->Other Network Printers->LPD/LPR Host or Printer ->
    • Entering into connection: socket://192.168.0.33:9100 (ip address that belkin router that the printer connects to).
    • I used the Samsung ml-4500 gdi driver. (I downloaded a gdi from http://www.openprinting.org/driver/gdi/). The driver that was listed in the CUPS in interface did not work.
  16. For security purposes, setup a separate Google gmail account to use that will be the owner of the printers.
  17. Install Cloudprint for Debian

You should be good to go. The trickiest part may be the print drivers.

Record Live Radio Station Stream to Mp3 in WIndows

This method is ideal to record long period of time from a radio station (e.g. talk radio). There are many ways to do this but this uses free tools.

These are very “quick and dirty” instructions that assume basic computer knowledge.

  1. Download VLC: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html
  2. Find a radio station that broadcasts in mp3 audio stream. This is the hardest part. Many radio stations do not but a few still do. The url sometimes ends with a “m3u” or “pls” extension. Like this:
    http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/kmfa/ppr/index.shtml

    Copy and paste youre radio stream into VLC by opening Media->Open Network Stream->copy in the url. If it starts playing, go to Tools->codec information in VLC and make sure it says “mpeg” audio or something similar. In any event if VLC plays it shoudl work. If the url ends with “m3u” or “pls” right click on the link, download the file and open it in note pad and get the real link. For example, in the example above the real link to the stream is: http://pubint.ic.llnwd.net/stream/pubint_kmfa

  3. Open up a text editor and paste in the following making the appropriate changes for your radio stream (using the above as an example):

    The stop time is the number of seconds to record. Here it is set for one hour (60 x 60). The c:\audio line is the path to your output file with some extra batch variables thrown in to automatically add date and time of recording.

  4. Save the text file something descriptive like “Record KMFA Radio Station.bat”.
  5. Open up the Task Scheduler in Windows and Create a new task to run the batch file at the time your program starts.

    I won’t go into details on this but here’s link that gives general instructions:

Also, some written instructions on using the task manager from LifeHacker.

That’s it!