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Connect a Mac to a SMB server - as Guest

One of the things I do in our network is public drives. Every Linux system has a public "incoming" which is mapped to the primary user of the device (if there is one, like for a laptop). And this incoming shared drive can be accessed without password.

This makes it really convenient to copy files around from one laptop/user to another, or from mobile devices to laptops and vice versa, or use the printer/scanner to send the scan job directly to the laptop of the user's device. All in all, the users like this, and use it a lot. There is also minimal protection built-in, it will only work in our home network, access is blocked when the laptop is connected to a different network. But the folders are mostly empty anyway. For sharing files over the Internet we also have a Syncthing instance running, but that's a different story, and not as easy to use.

One thing which I was annoyed about is that by default a Mac will try to connect as a registered user. There is an option "Connect as Guest", but it's not pre-selected. Therefore every time I wanted to share something between Linux and Mac, I had to start "Finder", to to "Go" and then "Connect to Server", then click on the server from the list of last entries, and then also click on "Guest". The built-in help is also not useful, as it only talks about "click on Guest".

But it turns out that one can "pre-select" the Guest user. For this, the username is "Guest", and there is no password. This goes between the protocol and the hostname. Example:

smb://192.168.0.20/incoming

becomes:

smb://Guest:@192.168.0.20/incoming

There has to be a ":" between the username and the (non-existent) password, and the credentials are separated from the hostname by a "@". Using this connect string will auto-connect as anonymous user to the remote share. One click and a couple seconds saved!

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Huginn: Monitor changes in websites

The Huginn software is not only good for monitoring Twitter feeds, it can also be used to monitor websites for changes.

That's actually easy and needs only two agents:

 

 

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Add a Google Calendar to openHAB

openHAB can integrate Google Calendars. The functionality is kind of limited, it can only see the current and the next calendar event, but in my case that is enough. More about the use case in another blog post.

There are three different calendar bindings available, let's have a quick look:

  • CalDAV Personal Binding: this is a v1 binding, which means it will no longer work in the soon-to-be-released openHAB v3. Apparently this works with Google calendars, but has performance issues. It can show the current and next event.
  • Google Calendar Scheduler: also a v1 binding. Needs more work for presense simulation, and additional bindings.
  • iCalendar Binding: v2 binding, should work with v3. It can show the current and next event. That's the one I'm going to use.

 

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git pre-commit Hooks

A very common use case for hooks in git is a "pre-commit" hook. This hook is used to verify the to-be-committed data before it is added to the repository.

One important note: hooks are not part of the repository itself. Everyone can install a hook on it's own checkout of a repository, but by default the hook is not there when you clone/checkout the repository. This avoids security problems by executing arbitrary code during "git commit", or any "git" operation.
Because of this implication it is common that developers install a hook from somewhere in the repository into the ".git/hooks" directory. And in addition, the server side (the repository) can run the same checks during "git push", to enforce the rules.

Hooks in git work in a simple way: whatever program or script is run as the hook has to set a return code. If the return code is "0", git proceeds. If it's not "0", git aborts the operation.

 

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Text-to-Speech in openHAB

In my ongoing endeavor to improve our home, a while ago I added a notification when the washing machine and the dryer are finished. The notification is send to a Telegram channel. Over the summer vacation I added a number new ChromeCast Audio devices (Google no longer offers the Audio CC, if you need one get one now). One is placed in the kitchen. Not only can I listen to music while eating breakfast, I can also output notifications, by using the CC as an audio sink in openHAB.

To make that useful, I decided to use a Text-to-Speech system. openHAB offers a couple different TTS systems, however most of them need a cloud integration, and therefore a working Internet connection. The "Pico TTS" works standalone, and was my favorite choice for this implementation.

 

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openHAB and Tankerkönig gas prices + Telegram integration - Second iteration

In my previous blog post about "Tankerkönig" I explained the details of how to integrate this binding into openHAB and provide a Telegram interface.

Someone on the openHAB community forum pointed out that Telegram bots allow queries, where one can present the user with options, and the user only has to click on one of the options. That makes it easier to use, and less typing is required as well. I went ahead and implemented that.

 

 

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Install openHABian image on Linux

My plan is to reinstall openHABian on a bigger SDcard, and on a Raspberry Pi 4. The latest release (v1.5) supports the new Pi 4, and I decided it's time to do a fresh install, and see if all my Playbooks are still working.

Raspberry Pi 4 with Sectronics Armor (cooling) Case

As always, I'm searching my shell history for the right command how to install the image ... but came up empty.

 

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Improve openHAB Rules response time

By default, openHAB only starts 5 threads to deal with execution of Rules. That's not a lot, and if all threads are busy, rules have to wait until a slot is free. This results in slow Rule response time.

This can be improved.

 

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openHAB: Turn display on and off for a Video ChromeCast

After figuring out if a ChromeCast is currently used, it was time to fix a long-standing problem. At home we don't have TVs, just "dumb" displays, and stream content using ChromeCasts. However a video ChromeCast never really turns off, but keeps the display running, using a "Backdrop" app. This app keeps showing pictures on the display when the ChromeCast is not used otherwise, effectively preventing any powersafe mode.

That's both annoying (who wants to have pictures shown in the living room or working room all night), and consumes energy. It's also intentional by Google. So far we had to turn the display on and off manually, which is inconvenient.

 

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openHAB: detect if a ChromeCast is currently used or idle

We have a couple of Audio and Video ChromeCasts in use. For an upcoming project I need to figure out if any of them is currently used. That is different for the Audio and the Video devices: the Audio just goes idle=ON, the Video devices however load the "Backdrop" app and show pictures when idling. Google for whatever reason does not want the attached monitor to go in powersafe mode. So much for saving energy ...

All of the action needs between a few milliseconds and 2-3 seconds once you start/stop using the ChromeCast.

A previous blog post explains how I add the ChromeCast devices. And I have monitoring in place.

 

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