Andreas – Joakal

December 19, 2010

Free home surveillance with computer + webcam

Filed under: Personal Life — Tags: , , , — Andreas Markauskas @ 6:48 pm

I lost my keys at Evatt House so I needed some kind of security to make sure no one nicks my stuff. So I came across this article on webcam motion detection security [1]. However, where can I get a ftp server? Preferably free? I came across Dropbox [2] that easily solved the issue by uploading the security 'footage'!

DropBox and Drogem free webcam security

  1. First grab and install Dropbox
  2. Look for the Dropbox Folder Location by right-clicking dropbox icon and selecting preferences
  3. It looks something like this: "C:\Users\Joakal\Documents\My Dropbox"
  4. Start Drogem (or install it first if you haven't)
  5. Follow the instructions first here: [Dropbox] (Handy with pictures explaining)
  6. Once familiar with above, we're going to use Dropbox as a free service
  7. Click Store Settings -> Filename
  8. Change it to the dropbox location which will be something similar to this: "C:\Users\Joakal\Documents\My Dropbox\Photos\drive-cam%G%g.jpg" where the %G%g becomes date and time. For example: "drive-cam20101219191001.jpg" (the current year – the current month, day, hour, minute and second)
  9. Ensure the setting is at 1 second interval (raise it if you want pictures taken less often)
  10. Click Ok, Click Close
  11. Now would be a good time to ensure you have a screensaver with a password. This prevents a random person from stopping picture uploads at least. A reasonably technical person can bypass any password to a computer.
  12. Set the screensaver to darkest or something because the auto-capture works best when there's absolutely no change.
  13. And set screensaver to 1 minute. If you have a laptop or powersaving programs, you should tell them not to turn off the computer or similar parts, however turning off the monitor automatically works pretty well.
  14. Point the laptop to the entry point like the door.
  15. When ready, check the auto-capture and run out of the door.

What happens

Drogem software begins comparing 'frames' in the footage. If a frame is found to be different to the next frame, it's saved into that directory where you likely had the Dropbox folder. As soon it's saved into the Dropbox folder, Dropbox software automatically uploads it to the Dropbox server.

You can even access the pictures anywhere in the world by going to your Dropbox account.

All for free! If they helped you, you could provide help back through simple money or help somehow at their websites.

Tips

  • Can be used to watch over you while you sleep.
  • Cover the webcam light so anyone seeing it won't suspect that they are being recorded.

Problems

Takes so many pictures!

Try turning off the light and make sure the laptop screensaver only goes black or doesn't change.

But they can delete the files off my computer and account!

If you set a password that comes up when the screensaver appears, it should solve most of your problems. As of this time, Dropbox does not require a password when automatically connecting to Dropbox account online and deleting it. However, there's still a password requirement to changing password or email. So you're pretty safe.

But the group agents could d/c the power/internet

That's scary! My solution can't help at all with surveillance unless you're very technical and can rig something better like sateillite internet but even then, that could get jammed.

Source:

May 21, 2010

Food life part 2 @ Newcastle

Filed under: Personal Life — Tags: , , , , , — Andreas Markauskas @ 10:25 pm

This is the second dish (part) of the Food life part 1 @ Newcastle series. When I first moved into Evatt House, I was faced with cooking noodles for everything with occasional frozen pizza from woollies. All this seemed pretty expensive and wouldn’t satisfy me! I’ve remembered that NUSA had veggies offering when I grabbed a snack. From the first week I sought them out, it was simple as paying $10 for a random box but I wasn’t disappointed with what I collected the next day. However, I got the dilemma of having most random variations of fruits and veggies every week to which it meant a lot of difficulty to look up recipes for. With no wife/girlfriend to easily cook for me every time, I decided to cook for myself. D:

However, since I generally find cooking a boring and lonely chore, I decided to cook a big meal which meant I only cook about twice a week. Re-heating leftovers in the microwave on other days.

Recipe

Here's how I cook and barely avoid burning the kitchen down. I had been to a lot of events offering free food lately (Free pizza!) so I did not eat as much which delayed my cooking a lot. Hence, below is what I took from Week 10 and 11 boxes rather than one week.

Ingredients - Veggies

  • 1 1/2 Zucchinis
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1/2 Broccoli
  • 1/2 Green capsicum
  • 2 1/2 Avocado
  • 1/2 Bunch of Silverleaf Spinach

Cost $2.50 (Based on 50% of $10 fruit/veggie box, and using 50% of available vegetables even though I used a bit extra this week)

Ingredients - Extras

  • 250 g Pasta. Staple food, $0.54/packet
  • 1 tablespoon Peanut butter. For taste, $3/jar
  • 3 Chicken sausages. Meat, $5/kg
  • 3 Eggs. Meat, $2.29 for a box of 12 Extra large eggs
  • Several drops Chilli. For taste, $10 Louisiana hot chilli
  • A lot of Pepper. For taste, $2.39/jar
  • Oil. For taste, not really needed if you have a non-stick pan but I added anyway, $13.61/1L Bertolli

Cost: $3.18

Tools

  • Stove (Gas, electric, wood, nuclear radiation, whatever)
  • Rice cooker
  • 30cm Large Non-stick pan (If you don't have one, seriously get one or use a lot of oil to prevent it sticking which means a lot of cleaning up if you don't have a kind partner!)
  • Microwave
  • A big knife for chopping (and scaring annoying people)
  • Chopping board
  • A big container to store the cooked food in (Try keeping those big containers)
  • Blender (optional)

Recipe Instructions

First phase - Meat/Pasta

First thing I did was to begin cooking the frozen chicken sausages on highest heat in the big saucepan until it can be easily cut into small pieces (takes a couple minutes).

  • Optional: I filled the rice cooker with pasta, and add water to a level of one and half of the present pasta and put it in the microwave (15 minutes). I find that the pasta cooking on the stove takes an unpredictable time to cook and needs to be watched often. So I just put it in the microwave and ignore it until it sends annoying beeps.
  • Optional 2: Add oil to the pan if it's a non-stick pan (If it's not a non-stick pan, expect a lot of time to clean it).

Second phase - Hard vegetables

The hard veggies which are; Zucchini, Carrots and Broccoli. You must first wash them first! If there's any dirty bits that can be washed, clean it until it looks clean. Carrots; people peel carrots to ensure it's clean, but I don't since I washed it thoroughly. Except for broccoli, chop off both ends of the carrots and zucchinis as butts aren't tasty (or so I hear). Next, cut up the hard vegetables, to as small as about 2.5cm sizes (or as big as you want, but it'll get harder to stir later). However, in this case, I use the blender because it would otherwise take a long time to cut up the vegetables into small pieces.

By the time the veggies are cut, the sausages can easily be cut up to small pieces (2.5cm again) on the chopping board. Do this a vengeance, chickens stole my ice cream when I was 3! Then re-add it to the pan along with the hard vegetables. All this should cook until the meat is done at least (grey/brown inside compared to red/pink) to as late as when the vegetables are starting to turn a little black. You must ensure the evil sausages are not pink after this stage.

Third phase - Medium vegetables

While it's cooking, we do the avocado and capsicum shown in picture (wash capsicum too!). I classify them as 'medium' vegetables, that if done at the same pace as hard vegetables, they'll burn and taste as horrible as burnt cake in the microwave (I did it once, nothing compares to the taste though).

To prepare the capsicum, cut out the stem from the top with a knife doing a circle cut. Slice the whole thing in half, take out the seeds and slice-cut the inside white walls. For avocado, the skin and the pit inside is not to be eaten (pit is apparently toxic to eat). The avocado was the most hardest vegetable I ever cut up, be warned. My only tips for avocado is to cut it in half and in as many pieces possible until the skin can easily be cut off.

Cut the capsicum and avocado up again into small pieces that can easily be stirred as shown. Again, I used the blender as I'm efficient! (and lazy). When the hard vegetables and sausages appear almost cooked, add the avocado/capsicum mix.

  • Optional: I added the eggs for meat and flavour.

Fourth phase - Pansy stuff

I prepare the spinach with a wash and take out the bad ones. I cut from the bottom sides to clip the wings so to speak. I didn't bother blending it up but instead cut it as small as possible to add to cooking.

  • Optional: The spinach, pasta, some sauces, etc can burn easily. So I suggest turning it down to low heat.
  • Optional 2: My wonderful partner added pepper, chilli and peanut butter.
  • Optional 3: I added pasta.

Final phase - Crossing the finish line

Well, not quite done yet, let it cook a bit until it makes your whole building envious and it tastes good. Then voila, it took about 30-45 minutes to cook many yummy dishes.

After phase - Storage

After eating, spoon the contents into the big container before placing it into the fridge. You have enough food for about 4-6 dinner dishes at least (If you're not as big as me, it's probably 6-8 for you, lucky).

Microwave phase - Nuking food

With lots of leftovers; when you return from class, you can retrieve the container to put leftovers on a plate. Just run it in the microwave for a good couple minutes until it's hot. During that time, you could go unpack and relax until it's done.

Results

  • Meals: 6
  • Cost per meal on a plate: $0.95/meal

Other tips and tricks

  • If there's time while it's cooking, try cleaning up a bit and amaze others.
  • For soft-feeling vegetables like tomatoes, add it between medium and pansy vegetables. Some people like tomatoes well-cooked, some like it more raw, others just throw it at others. It's up to your preference really.
  • Noone's perfect; you may not get it perfect the first time (if you do, I'd like to meet Mr/Miss perfect you!), but since you awesome people are in university, I believe you can adapt and adjust to perfecting to reach the perfect meal. For example, if you attempt to add garlic with sausages first, the burnt garlic taste may be bad so you could add it later with medium vegetables for example.
  • There's many websites on how to handle and prepare fruit and vegetables, just type "prepare [vegetables]" into a search engine. For example "prepare avocado" can list useful results.
  • Since university can be pretty lonely despite thousands, why not send an email or ask people if they wish to join you for dinner? Perhaps they would like to offer a dinner in kind. If that person doesn't know how, you could introduce them to this article or offer to teach them how!
  • If you didn't have a non-stick pan and cooked anyway. You may have noticed stuff sticking to the pan. Put hot water in it and let the hot water soak up the dry sticky bits for about 30 minutes.

April 25, 2010

Food life part 1 @ Newcastle

Filed under: Personal Life — Tags: , , , , , — Andreas Markauskas @ 10:05 pm

I've lived at University of Newcastle for two years, and of this, I spent one semester cooking for myself at Evatt House and have enjoyed it since. As a result of having to cook for myself, I developed a pretty good system to minimising food costs, time spent and never get bored from it. Here's the detailed information from my experiences.

Buying

Food purchases are done at two places: NUSA and Jesmond Stockland Mall.

NUSA

Every week up til Wednesday 4pm, they take money orders for co-op food produce of fruit/veggies. On Thursday, they go to the local farmers market and buy fruit/veggies in bulk from the orders. With the savings, there's more food per buck compared to buying individually at markets or supermarkets. By 12pm, they have sorted the fruit/veggies evenly into yellow plastic boxes for the people that have ordered and are available for pick up. I suggest picking up your fruit/veggies as soon as possible to get the best pick of the boxes as some may look too bad, scratched, etc. And as a bonus incentive to pick up the fruit/veggies, from 12pm til 1pm (or 1:30pm?), there's a free NUSA BBQ of beef sausage or veggie patties for vegetarians.

Here's what I got for the last couple weeks:

Week 7 (18th-24th April)

Item Total
Plum 6
Lemon 2
Corn 3
Apple 5
Zucchini 2
Cucumber 2
Banana 6
Orange 4
Silverleaf Lettuce 1
Butternut Pumpkin 1
Carrot 1
Tomato 4

Week 6 (11th-17th April)

Item Total
Capsicum 1
Melon 1
Corn 3
Apple 6
Zucchini 2
Banana 5
Orange 4
Carrot 2
Tomato 3
Bok Choy 2
Garlic 1
Green Long Peppers 1
Onion 2
Pear 3
Kiwi Fruit 5
Costs

Box: $10 ($15 if you're not a NUSA member) paid by Wednesday 4pm.

Upsides
  • Free breakfast if you're a NUSA member.
Downside
  • Free breakfast not available on weekends (NUSA isn't open)
  • Bulk purchases are random (you may not get what you want. But why not trade it with others? I've traded some unwanted veggies for fruits in the past.)

Jesmond Stockland Mall

Why Jesmond Stockland Mall and not the fancy Westfield shopping mall at Kotara or the small open shops at Mayfield? It's because there's a provided free Jesmond shuttle that loops from the bus stop outside International house, to Edwards Hall, to Barahineban, to Evatt House and then to Jesmond mall before going back to International house. I've timed the loop to be 20 minutes starting at 5:30PM until 9:30PM (I think) on Thursdays, for example the bus could arrive again at 5:50PM, 6:10PM, 6:30PM, etc.

My ingredients needed

  • Oil (I use olive, extra virgin)
  • Brekky (Breakfast)
  • Meat
  • Staple food

For brekky, I've found it cheapest to buy cereal + milk, there's also the exciting toast. But toast is great with bacon and eggs on top.

For meat, I find buying sausages most nourishing even if it has stuff added. I also buy eggs.

For staple foods, I always buy small spiral pasta as it's the cheapest per gram (eg $0.12/100gram).

Bargain hunt tips

  • Familiarise yourself with all open stores (Not just inside the Stockland Mall. There's shops outside including KFC, Hungry Jacks, Fruit/Veggie market, Pizza Hut and an Asian food market.)
  • Remember your previous purchases (See if there's a store that sells them cheaper)
  • Use awesome maths skills and follow the helpful $1/1kg, $0.10/100g to find the best price per gram

Costs

  • Meat (Chicken Sausages + Eggs): $5.30
  • Staple food (Home brand pasta): $0.60

Overall

  • Fruit and veggies: $10
  • Meat + staple food: $5.90
  • Total: $15.90 per week

Next post will talk about what I eat and how I made or cooked it.

January 22, 2010

January Update. Politics, holiday, fun.

Filed under: Personal Life — Tags: , , , , , — Andreas Markauskas @ 11:40 pm

Sometime in December, I decided to devote my energy to the politics project, this included not applying for any jobs for this period. This is due to high requirements for Yaneh project which is proving to be time-intensive to develop. But mostly it was "due Aug 2010 to April 2011, likely Sep-Oct 2010" according to this calculated piece. My political website will have a back-end of Joomla with several custom features manually added including slider to indicate party positions (eg Most For, Most Against or in between), specific electorate parties (You don't want to hear about the parties you're not voting for) and more.

Best estimate of completion? Mid-Late February hopefully.

More political links of interest:

Holiday fun

Otherwise, I've been swimming in my pool, playing some Puzzle Pirates occasionally. I hope you've been having fun too! Well, not much to add to bore you with so here's some fun links.

Came across some fun links:

October 26, 2009

Problems in pursuing funding for projects

Filed under: Personal Life — Tags: , , , , , , — Andreas Markauskas @ 7:58 pm

Reading an article of $400m towards Australian research, I wondered what the process was like to apply for funding at the ARC. I found, from my basic research, that to be eligible for funding; one needs to have at least a post-doc and that itself is the 'Early researcher'. The funding also wouldn't go to groups or individual researchers but the institution which must be a university.

The high intellectual requirements continued to frustrate me, as I had looked at viable scholarships and internships, some which I would be interested in the results and further establish me as research. But with an IT undergraduate degree, I could only find that one place seemed to offer something. However the Credit GPA requirement dissuaded me back from applying due to my poor GPA. Since the start of the year, I have now dedicated my ability towards university work over private projects instead of following the assumption that I would only need a 'piece of paper'.

Going back to research funding, I had several dilemmas:

  • I don't know who to ask for advice. This caused me to make some bad decisions to proceed since I could not get feedback from others.
  • I don't know how to get helpers. From a businessman: "Sure, you may get funding from others but remember that no one will want to work for nothing"
  • Lack of capital. From a preliminary analysis of some scientific projects, I came across a common issue, lack of capital.
  • My IT degree means I'm not considered. I'm doing IT because I am generally good with computers and it seems like a good profession. However, my projects require a broader area of knowledge and expertise such as ecology, physics, etc which I am readily absorbing. This puts me outside of the eligibility criteria of scholarships, internships, etc. For example this internship requires an undertaking of Materials Science and Engineering.

Due to several dilemmas, I find it quite difficult to attempt to pursue funding as an aspiring researcher on the academic side. However, for the business side, there is more potential for research funding and potential revenue from successful development. However, the business would be based on results, not open hopeful research. Alternatively there's the government grants which I'm researching at the moment. One particular quiet project sticks out: "Healthy Soils for Sustainable Farms".

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