Edit: This post is pretty old and Elasticsearch/Logstash/Kibana have evolved a lot since it was written.

Part 1 of 4 – Part 2Part 3Part 4

Have you heard of Logstash / ElasticSearch / Kibana? I don’t wanna oversell it, but it’s AMAZING!

I’ll start with a screenshot. You know you want this. I have to blur a few things to keep some 53cr375 about my environment.

This is my configuration for collecting Windows event logs. I’m still working out the differences between the Windows XP, Server 2008R2, and Windows 7 computers I’m collecting logs from, but this has already proven very useful.

If you don’t know about it yet, you should really go watch this webinar. http://www.elasticsearch.org/webinars/introduction-to-logstash/ I’ll wait.

Managing Google Chrome is a lot easier than Mozilla Firefox was! There are quite a few tools and they’re well documented! This is my cheat sheet. It’s based around windows xp and windows 7 since that’s what I mainly support at work.

Manual installation for all users
Chrome Offline Installer – Alternate Installer for all user accounts – .exe file

Install Chrome for all user accounts – Install Instructions

“After you’ve installed Chrome through alternate installer, users who’ve already installed Chrome in their user accounts will be notified that the browser has updated to a system-wide version the next time they sign in and open the browser. In some cases, they may need to recreate their profile information, such as bookmarks and browsing history, if they were formerly using a more recent version of the browser.”

Silent installation for all users
Chrome Offline Installer – MSI package for all user accounts – .msi file

Just install the MSI

Issues / Gotchas
Unfortunately, nothing is perfect. I had chrome installed under my user before. When I launched chrome after installing the all user version, it removed the install under my user. It did not show a window and would not open when I clicked chrome again. Killing the processes or rebooting fixes it.

Management Templates
Even more fun! Templates for managing chrome settings!

Group Policy Templates

Available Policy List

Of course one of the reasons to love Google Chrome is security! Automatic updates for all user administrative installation doesn’t require user privilege escalation!

Installation / Automatic Update Information

A little more detail in how the silent updates work

Sometimes you have to support older devices. Sometimes doing so is painful with newer equipment. My latest problem was with Windows 7 32 bit and a HP LaserJet 4000TN. I was trying to set up a TCP/IP connection, but Windows 7 did not have the drivers. If windows update works for you, press windows update and the driver will be in the list. This is clearly the easiest way to install it. Unfortunately for me, something wonky is keeping me from downloading the driver list from windows update, so I did it manually. This is also very helpful for an offline install of the printer.

Open IE and go to the microsoft windows update catalog. This is Internet Explorer 6 and later ONLY.
http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/

Search for the printer you want. In my case it was “HP LaserJet 4000” without the quotes. Exactly what I want, at the top of the list!

Title - Microsoft driver update for HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL 5
Products - Windows 7,Windows Driver Testing Client
Classification - Drivers (Printers)


I went through adding it to the basket, clicking view basket, and downloading. I found the folder “Microsoft driver update for HP LaserJet 4000 Series PCL 5” with the file X86-all-4189_1228a7cf7b1aac21346b20cb6e21db409dde9e72.cab and extracted the cab file to a flash drive using my favorite compression tool, 7zip. http://www.7-zip.org/

From here i was able to use “have disk” to install the driver.

I think I’ll keep a copy of this around. It supports many more printers. I’ve extracted a list from the prnhp001.Inf and included it below.

http://ip-webcam.appspot.com/

http://dorgem.sourceforge.net/

http://www.splitcamera.com/

The cameras I’m using were like $10 at walmart and are so crappy they don’t have a website. I can’t recommend using these. Difficulty: the driver for these cameras is so cheap that it will cause windows to bluescreen if you plug two of them into the same computer. Please, I beg you, find yourself something better, like a 2.0 MP autofocus webcam by rocketfish, like$15 on eBay.

I had recently installed mythbuntu in virtualbox on my laptop so I could test my video transcode scripts. It already had apache installed and configured, so i just installed imagemagick and created a symbolic link to my web dir.

raging@mythrage:~/pictemp$ls cam1.jpg cam2.jpg cam.sh montage.jpg pic raging@mythrage:~/pictemp$ cat cam.sh
#!/bin/sh
# Loop forever
while :
do
# grab jpeg frames from dorgem
wget -O cam1.jpg http://192.168.1.5:8083
wget -O cam2.jpg http://192.168.1.6:8082
# cameras are mounted sideways. rotate left 90 degrees
convert cam1.jpg -rotate -90 cam1.jpg
convert cam2.jpg -rotate -90 cam2.jpg
# I’m still not sure about montage, but this seems to be working
montage cam1.jpg cam2.jpg -geometry +4+4 montage.jpg
done # Start over

sudo ln -s /home/raging/pictemp/ /var/www/pic

The mythbuntu VM was at 192.168.1.4, so I set the source of the ipcam to http://192.167.1.4/pic/montage.jpg and had it detect dimensions. I launched splitcam and skype. I have 2 accounts, so i signed in to different accounts and called myself, seeing video in stereo!

If this got any more ghetto, I might be on http://www.afrotechmods.com/

Here’s the live streaming laser kitties
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/raging-computer

They stream live for 15 minutes at the top of every hour. How does such magic happen automatically?

I’m not a fan of doing tedious things over and over, so I try to engineer around the problems, if possible. I’ve sanitized the scripts below a little, but the general idea is still there. We had a medication dispensing cart that didn’t have a bulk user manager, so all user accounts had to be created through the GUI. That would really suck… so I made a list of accounts in Excel, made some autohotkey shortcuts to run a few vbscripts to throw keypresses into a VNC session. I used autoit to handle mouse movements because the recorder tool that comes with it is just too easy to use.

Anyhoo, what follows is a peek behind the curtain.

I’ve been thinking about home automation again lately. I’m not exactly happy with X-10, but the price is close to what I can afford for now. The software has been pretty much reduced to a couple perl scripts calling heyu connected to my CM11a X-10 serial port interface… but I can dream.

I’m quite inspired by these projects.
http://james.lipsit.com/home.htm
http://www.edcheung.com/automa/ha.htm

Both of these programs will do voice control. I really like the open mic setup Jim Lipsit is using.
http://homeseer.com
http://www.automatedliving.com/

I really like the idea of a magic mirror, but I don’t really need the whole magic mirror setup. The second link has a pretty nice updated mirror mirror talking floating head that should work pretty well with TTS feedback from the home automation software. Just to give it some personality.
http://diymagicmirror.com/index.html
http://www.imagineerieing.com/products.html

I also really like the idea of energy monitoring. Homeseer pro has a plugin for TED 1001 w/ Footprints
http://www.theenergydetective.com/

I also really like 1wire temperature monitoring devices. There is a plugin for Homeseer for that too.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Wire

My first attempt at designing a CNC router failed miserably. Perhaps a version 2 can be built with what I’ve learned. But for now, I bought a set of plans.
http://solsylva.com/cnc/13x13x5.shtml

I liked the 3 axis kits available from Keling Technology. 425 in-oz stepper motors, C10 breakout board, KL-4030 microstepping driver, and power supplies. Wired up bipolar parallel, initial runs 1/4 stepping at 1.8A. I was occasionally losing steps on the Z axis, so I increased the power to that stepper a bit.
http://www.kelinginc.net/

Cutting tool is 1/4″ trim router from Harbor Freight and a speed controller.
http://www.harborfreight.com/1-4-quarter-inch-trim-router-44914.html
http://www.harborfreight.com/router-speed-control-43060.html

Software for driving the steppers… I used a demo of Mach3 at first because it seems to be extremely well supported all over the internets, but \$175 seems a bit steep considering EMC2 has many of the same features, a simpler UI, and is completely free. I will have to compare again after I’ve used the machine more.
http://www.machsupport.com/
http://linuxcnc.org/

So how to tell Mach3 or EMC2 what to draw? My first attempt was with cambam. It wasn’t difficult, but could have been easier. I started with a logo, opened it with Paint.NET, converted to greyscale. Then opened it with inkscape, traced the logo and resized and removed parts I didn’t want to engrave. Saved that as a DXF file and opened with cambam. I suspect Inkscape saves DXF files in mm or pica since I had to resize in cambam as well. I removed extra lines, converted arcs to polyline, and joined them to create many fewer lines. I then created an engraving and exported gcode.
http://www.cambam.co.uk/
http://www.inkscape.org/
http://www.getpaint.net/

To make sure it was going to run about how I expect it to, I ran it through a free CNC machine simulator.
http://www.cncsimulator.com/

I wouldn’t have been able to figure out things nearly as quickly as I did without the cnczone forums.
http://www.cnczone.com/

Result: