• Category Archives Computers
  • Back but busy

    We are back from our 8 day church retreat. It was a good time away, Freddy and I managed to ballance it with social time, quiet time and together time. All in all, very profitable for the mind, body and spirit.

    We are still busy at work with the Inductive Automation Exam. Going to be at it for a few more weeks. The stress of getting it done is overflowing into home life, so we have not been, nor will we, be blogging much till we get it out of the way I suspect.
    I want to tinker with a few things, but lack the energy and mental focus till we are done with it.

    For personal reasons our year starts and ends at different times, so for the most part, we are looking into a new year from here.
    Goals for the coming year.
    I want to get two robots sorted this year, it’s been too long for them sitting in the garage. More will be said when we get to them.
    I have a double deck fridge in the lounge room that Freddy and I want to get running under Opto control, the idea is to see if the smaller (but dual temperature range) fridge can take the contents of the wine fridge in the garage, then we can sell that one and make some more storage space.
    Want to get the solar batteries and inverter moved from the back patio to the Drone Room and running the computer gear.
    Lastly, I want to get the doors sorted out on the Smart Car (aka, make them lighter).

    In among all this we hope to plan a road trip to Canada.

    So that’s the plans for this year. I’m sure, without a doubt, that there will be many things that will spoil these plans, hopes and dreams, but eh, gotta start somewhere.

  • Inductive Automation

    One of the things that has kept me REALLY busy at work for the past…oh… 5ish weeks is getting up to speed on Inductive Automation’s software package called Ignition.

    I don’t want to get too hung up on exactly what it all is and why we (Opto) are doing it, but enough to say that it is a suite of software that allows communication with different hardware controllers (like Optos) and it itself has scripting built in (Python), so can do some control and it also has a slew of visual designer software (like groov), alarming, logging, historical and database options.

    The learning process is what is keeping me busy.
    They have this amazing on-line training program.
    Each section is broken down into videos, at the end of the section there is an ‘exam’ or test.
    Since my end goal is to become certified in the software, I must get 100% on each sections exam. At the end of all the sections, Opto sends my 100% result in and they then send me the written exam. Once I do that, we send it back, they grade it, and if I pass, I am certified in their software and we are done. If I fail, I have to retest (since the end goal really is to become certified).

    There are 22 courses, you can see them here. https://inductiveuniversity.com/courses/all
    Lets take a look at one at random and see what its like….
    Go ahead and click play. You don’t have to watch the whole thing, just a get a taste.
    The guys do an amazing job of breaking down what each function does and how the software glues it all together.
    At the bottom of the video list on the lower right is the exam link.
    The exam is multi choice…. Here is where I have a few comments…..
    I have never been through a process like it…. Benson said it is ‘critical thinking’ testing.
    For example…. They will ask if something can not be done in the software, true or false.
    This really makes me have to think. True it cant be done, or false, it can be done. The double negative really throws me.
    The other question style is each answer is an un-ordered list, so you have to work each answer into the right order, if you even can, and then figure out if it is the right answer for the question.
    The other ‘tricky’ thing they do is ask if you can do a function in the software… and you are sitting there going ‘wait.. I watched the video, but I don’t remember them mentioning that….??’ I tended to doubt myself a few times, so you go back and re-watch the video only to come away sure that they did not mention it and so the answer is no, you cant do it… So yeah, they test you on what they did not show you. Phew.

    So, yeah, now you know what has been keeping me super busy at work.
    I got the written exam this morning, and its pretty intense.
    Will let you all know when we get the results. I’m confident I can pass, just need to take my time and be sure I answer it correctly.

  • Seismograph – Part 5

    No more tweaks to the vault, so this is about how things are just working really well.

    Sadly, due to a software bug, I lost the actual page of the big quake off the coast of Mexico, so here is the photo I happen to take of the screen that morning.

    Just a massive quake that ran for many minutes and then picked up a bit half hour or so latter.

    Now, as for all these, I truly am sorry to say that I have been super distracted (massive (or not) blog post coming – relax, it’s really geeky techo stuff) and so I just have not been keeping up on exactly which quakes all these traces are from.
    I guess my point in showing them all is that the system is working really well.
    The last point I want to make is that RaspberryShake guys are working on a system that sends an email as soon as a big quake is detected on each of our seismographs, so I will be able to keep track of them much better.

    You can click on each image, then your browser should let you click again and you can pan around, so you can see the dates and could go back through the USGS website and link all these up.
    Impressive that 2 of the pages have 2 quakes on them.
    The new vault seems to be working well?

    Till then, here are some amazing traces from my station in Temecula.

  • Interesting price structure

    Well, I will give it some credit at face value… This is could really shake things up in a good way.
    Well done Aussies, well done.


    The 150MW solar tower and molten salt storage plant to be built in Port Augusta has been made possible by a ground-breaking pricing and contract structure that could help completely reshape Australian power markets, including the end of “baseload” power as we know it.

    The South Australian government announced last week that it had signed a deal with US company SolarReserve to build the 150MW solar tower with molten salt storage project – to be known as Aurora – just a few kilometres from the now closed Northern coal-fired power station.

    The output of Aurora will be around 500GWh – roughly the same as the annual consumption of the state government and the various assets it owns.

    But it is the unique nature of the contract that explains the difference between what the government will pay SolarReserve ($75-$78/MWh), and what SolarReserve will receive, and will likely serve as a template for more “dispatchable” renewable energy projects in the future.

    Essentially, Solar Reserve will provide the S.A. government with some of its needs from other sources in the market when demand and the price is low. Aurora will cover the government for energy and prices when the government’s demand is at its highest, around the middle of the day.

    But because the government can and will get some cheap power elsewhere, Aurora will be able store its solar power in its molten salt storage tanks so it can sell into the market at the system peaks, in late afternoon and early evening, when the market prices are highest, boosting its revenue.

    In English. They have made a really sweet win win deal.
    Aurora will sell their electric at the price set by the government at the times the government needs it, at all other times, they can do what they want.
    The government wins because they get renewable energy at a price they can afford, Aurora win because while they cant make money at the government price, they can sell it latter (or any other time) at a price that will make them money. Thus the project gets funded because the base-load price is ‘guaranteed’.

    Nice work guys. Love it. Hope it works out in practice as well as it sounds.

  • GPS spoofing

    I have been sort of keeping my eye on this topic over the years, for no real reason other than its pretty interesting how the whole GPS system works.
    (Very VERY accurate clocks for a start).

    I blogged a few days back about a software hack on a drone to make it think it was somewhere else according to its GPS.
    This is pretty straight forward. You need to download the hacked firmware into your drone, a third party can not do it while its flying for example, and its simply an offset from the GPS on the drone. The drone still flys where it is flying, it just reports to the software that it is somewhere else.

    This – this is something else entirely. This is super scary.


    Reports of satellite navigation problems in the Black Sea suggest that Russia may be testing a new system for spoofing GPS, New Scientist has learned. This could be the first hint of a new form of electronic warfare available to everyone from rogue nation states to petty criminals.

    On 22 June, the US Maritime Administration filed a seemingly bland incident report. The master of a ship off the Russian port of Novorossiysk had discovered his GPS put him in the wrong spot – more than 32 kilometres inland, at Gelendzhik Airport.

    After checking the navigation equipment was working properly, the captain contacted other nearby ships. Their AIS traces – signals from the automatic identification system used to track vessels – placed them all at the same airport. At least 20 ships were affected.

    While the incident is not yet confirmed, experts think this is the first documented use of GPS misdirection – a spoofing attack that has long been warned of but never been seen in the wild.

    We have read about this a bit. A Raspberry Pi and two USB dongles is enough to do this.
    Where I first picked it up was with the ADSB aircraft tracking beacon spoofing. A proof of concept was done where a small aircraft was spoofed in front of a large jet liner and the aircraft was diverted around what it thought was a real plane.
    Similar deal here I guess, they could have changed the course of one or more ships.
    Its hard to imagine just how much we all use GPS. Even if you don’t think you do, or if you dont own a GPS mapping unit – your life is still dependent on GPS working cleanly.

    If what they are saying happen really did happen…. this is super scary.