Some Design Mock-ups!

February 23rd, 2014 by A_Porcupine

I’ve not posted much on my project recently, and that’s because I’m doing research. The research is a lot harder than I expected due to there being very little papers or credible sources relevant to the area I’m doing my project on. I’ve taken a break from that today and done some design mock-ups for the Cloud Interface (which will be running on App Engine). I used Google Drawings to create these and utilised some templates provided by Morten Just, which you can find here.

GitHub Repos live & General Project Update

February 10th, 2014 by A_Porcupine

Right! Github repos are up and Live! (ignore the current 3 or 4 commits, I made some edits to the Readme files).

I’ve made it an organisation so I can keep the two parts of the project, the cloud UI and the Raspberry Pi Application, separate. This makes it easier to both view and edit the two sections as they both run on different platforms etc.

I’ve also made some changes to the design document from the feedback provided by my supervisor, added all the titles and subtitles to my report and revised my Gantt chart! This means I have a basic overview of how my project is going to run. I’ve given myself around 6 weeks programming time, with other work also being done at the same time, hopefully this won’t overrun. In my previous post you will see that I’m also using MoSCoW prioritisation, this should ensure that I have at least a basic working solution early on and will work on the additional features for as long as I have time.

Draft Cover Page! (Mainly Procrastination)

February 8th, 2014 by A_Porcupine

I thought I’d make a pointless draft cover page? Why? Mainly just procrastination!

Cover Page

Draft Design Document

February 7th, 2014 by A_Porcupine

I’ve completed a draft design document for my project today. This is basically an overview of what I want the project to be, but remember that this is by no means finished and is simply an early draft. Any suggestions on features or additions please feel free to contact me

Final year project experimentation

February 5th, 2014 by A_Porcupine

I’m doing some experimentation to decide on what to research for my final year project. Here’s a vine, enjoy the test-cat!

The First Week of My Final Year Project

February 4th, 2014 by A_Porcupine

Right! It’s finally time for me to start my final year project!
As you may or may not know, I’m currently in University studying for my final year. Part of the final year involves working on a project / dissertation that will make up 35% of my final mark. I’ve just finished all of my taught units and exams so it’s now time to start working on my project!

What is my project on?

When I joined the university I originally opted for the degree title Forensic Computing and Security however, the final year project must be related to the degree title chosen and I honestly couldn’t think of any (and didn’t really want to do any) projects related to this degree title. I therefore moved to the general title of Computing, this opened up an array of different project areas that I could choose from and I decided that I wanted to do something related to Raspberry Pis. I’ve also always been interested in home automation and multi-media solutions so decided to combine this interest with my interest in Raspberry Pis to create a Low-Cost Multi-Room Streaming Audio Solution!

The idea behind this project will be to have a solution for listening to audio seamlessly between rooms in an home (or possibly business) environment that makes use of existing audio systems (that have a line in). Each raspberry Pis will be nominated as either a master or a slave and the audio will be streamed over the network to each device. If I have time I will also be looking at making this stream Bluetooth audio and audio sent via Airplay & UPnP.

When will this be completed?

The hand-in date for this project is mid May, so I will hopefully have this completed long before this time. Once authorised by the University I will also be releasing the code under an open source licence of some sort (something GPL related probably) and this will probably be available on my GitHub. If you’re interested in this project and want to contact me in any way, just send an email through my contact form.

Why am I blogging about this?

I thought it might be fun to write about how my project is going and will provide me with a record of how things where progressing. It may also be an interesting read for others!

I’ll write about my progress, what’s new and any major blockers or breakthroughs.

Wish me luck!

HP Chromebook 11 WiMax? And nice asset tag.

November 1st, 2013 by A_Porcupine

Was looking to see if anyone had done a taredown of the HP Chromebook 11 yet, and found the HP disassembly instructions on their website, whilst looking through this I noticed a couple of things:

A: In this picture we can see what appears to be some kind of asset tag similar to the leaked Nexus 5 we saw recently. Something to do with Google perhaps?

Asset tag

B: There is a section labelled “Removed WiMax Board”. This is a bit weird, as there doesn’t appear to be WiMax, LTE or 3g in any of the models around at the moment. Mis-translation perhaps? Probably, but this may just be a hint to another version.


Anyway, whilst the images are pretty low resolution, it’s still a taredown and worth a read, hit up the PDF here:

How I code on my Chromebook!

October 30th, 2013 by A_Porcupine

I love to code, and spend as much time as I can working on personal or university projects, for a while now I have used my Macbook Pro for development, this was running Linux Mint and my text editor / IDE of choice was Sublime Text 2. I recently received my new HP Chromebook 11, and had to find a new way to work on my coding. Whilst I was an intern at Google I relied on internal tools to code on my Chromebook, but these are not available to the public. At the moment I am working mostly with Appengine so this post will focus on the development of Appengine Apps.

I tried a couple of different solutions to this problem, the second best solution for me being Codenvy. Codenvy works with Appengine straight out of the box, you can run a development server and deploy directly to Appengine. The IDE is also pretty full featured offering integration with git and many more features, but I personally found it a bit clunky and in some places it lacks important features (such as being able to view the development server’s logs!).

I ended up settling for Cloud9 as my IDE of choice. It not only has a huge expanse of features, but it’s pretty, theme-able and for me, just feels right! There are two ways to use Cloud9, the normal way is to go their website, sign up for an account and start coding away. However, this is not the only choice, you can also grab the code from their GitHub repository and run it yourself! By default the normal Cloud9 does not offer Appengine integration, but you can deploy directly to appengine using git.

I’m a massive Linux fan and therefore chose to run Cloud9 on a cloud server using Amazon’s EC2. This means that I can connect to my server via SSH to start Appengine development servers and deploy code via command line as well as edit the code stored there using Cloud9. The Amazon EC2 instance that I am using is running Ubuntu 13.10, and I plan to try installing this on one of my Raspberry Pis too.

Here are the steps that I took to get Cloud9 up and running:

1. Install the requirements:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install git npm libxml2-dev

This should install all the requirements including nodejs. There a quite lot of packages to be installed so it may take a little while.

2. Add a symlink pointing nodejs to node.

When trying to complete step 3 I got the error “sh: 1: node: not found”. This is due to there being a package for ubuntu, unrelated to nodejs, called node, therefore node is installed as nodejs. To resolve this we can simply create this symlink:

sudo ln -s /usr/bin/nodejs /usr/bin/node

3. Grab cloud9 and install it!

git clone
cd cloud9
npm install

This should create a folder called cloud9 and set it up! You may see some warnings during the install process, these are mostly warnings about readme files and can be ignored.

4. We’re done! Give it a test!

To star cloud9, we need to run which is located in the ‘bin’ directory, you can do so by running the following command:

bin/ -w ~/my_project/

-w is the root folder of the code that you want to edit

By default cloud9 will only listen on localhost, you can either forward the local port using Secure Shell (you can see my configuration here) or you can run cloud9 with the -l argument:

bin/ -w ~/my_project/ -l

However, be aware that anyone will be able to access cloud9 if you start it like this, see the documentation here for information on available authentication methods.

Screenshot 2013-10-30 at 20.57.36

Finally, some info on my setup!

To run the appengine development server and deploy to appspot I simply use the scripts provided in the sdk.

One other thing I have done is to create a Chrome Bookmark app, pointing to my cloud9 instance, this simply allows me to launch it in it’s own window, rather than as a tab. If you want to do the same you can grab the unpackaged app from here, extract it, change the link next to “web_url” to the url for your cloud9 instance, then go to chrome://extensions/, click “Load unpackaged extension…” and click on the folder containing the files.


HP Chromebook 11 Unboxing and First Thoughts

October 23rd, 2013 by A_Porcupine

When I saw that HP where releasing a new Chromebook I knew I was going to buy it. There’s a couple of reasons for this: Firstly I’ve wanted a little laptop for a while as it would be easier to take into University than my sizeable 15″ Macbook Pro, then there’s the fact that I fell in love with ChromeOS whilst I was an Intern at Google, and finally, it looked pretty! I suppose the fact that I only paid £209 for it is also a benefit!

I’m going to give a brief overview of the specs just to give you an idea what we’re working with. The first thing to note here is that this is not a powerful laptop and neither is it meant to be, it uses the 1.7 GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Dual SoC has 2GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD and an 11.6″ screen.

So Here we go!

It arrived in a big brown box!


And it looks like they used the world’s strongest tape here. Waiter’s friend to the rescue!


Once I had managed to get into that box I found another box. Just from looking at it I thought this was made out of Polystyrene (Styrofoam) but it’s actually made out of some kind of card.


The attention to detail is pretty nice!


And here it is!


But we’re going to put that to one side for now and see what else is in the box.


All the box contained was a little welcome card, the charger and a quick start manual (3 or 4 pages) which of course I ignored.


A quick look at the charger. Obviously this is the UK adapter, it provides 3 amps to the Chromebook to charge it via Micro-USB. It feels strange powering a laptop with Micro-USB, but it’s also kind of cool!


Right, back to the laptop, the first thing I noticed when taking it out of the box was just how light it was. It’s the lightest of the Chromebooks on the market weighing in at 1 kg, yet it gets away with this without feeling cheap.


After removing the plastic wrapping we can admire it in it’s shiny glory. :P
First a view of the back, with the big rubber pads. I expected there to be more HP branding but it seems that the logo you can see on the bottom is the only one on the device.


A quick look at the ports on the device before we crack it open. From the left we have: The Micro-USB charging and Slimport video port, two USB 2.0 ports and a combo Microphone/Headphone port.


Now to crack it open!


A close-up here looking over the keyboard. When opening it up I felt that it was actually better looking than I expected it to be. I gave the keyboard a good bashing and it felt really nice to use. (I’m typing this on it right now!)


Time to connect the power and turn her on. Handy little charging light on the side, standard thing, orange while charging, green when full. Interestingly, when I tried the 2 Amp charger that came with my Nexus 7 I discovered that it actually lost charge with heavy usage.


And finally a view of the device on! It’s hard to show the screen quality here, but I was very pleasantly surprised at the resolution (1,366 x 768) and how bright the colours look.


Within the next couple of weeks I may post a long-term review to go through what I feel about the laptop after using it for a while. Until then, bye!

P.S. If you want more information or want to buy one, head here:

I’m back!

July 12th, 2013 by A_Porcupine

Hey everyone!

I’m back! Well I say I’m back, I’ve never really been here to start with!

In 2009 I started this blog, in 2010 I made a couple of posts and since then I’ve ignored it. This is terrible I know, and I’m about to change that.

What I’ve been up to

A lot has happened since I started this blog, I’ve spent two year in University and have also completed a year long industrial placement! Currently I’m in between the placement and going back to Uni and am moving back again soon. I’m Uni I started studying Computer Forensics and Security and…. got a bit bored of it, so when I go back to uni I will simply by studying “Computing”.
One of the primary reasons for this is that I really did not want to complete a project on Forensics or Security and would enjoy actually building something a lot more.

So, for the last year I’ve been living in Dublin, Ireland working for Google. This has been….. awesome I’ve learnt so much, met so many great people and my drinking tolerance is through the roof! Google Ireland LogoI spent the year working as Internal support in the European HQ and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. In my time I visited the following offices: London, Zurich, Irvine (Southern California) and Mountain View! The whole experience was awesome and I’m currently waiting to hear whether I’ll be going back after Uni! I think the thing I’ve learnt the most about in Google is coding, I’ve always quite liked it, but have an even stronger interest in it now.

One of the other newer things in my life is something that has been since January 2011 and is Anna! I met Anna when I went home for Christmas and we’ve pretty much been together ever since. we spent a short amount of time long distance and then moved in together! She’s everything I could have ever asked for and more! :)

Well that about wraps it up for now, I promise I’ll start posting now and the new theme that I’m working on will be up soon! Hope you enjoy reading!