Finding hardware

Computer

I’m looking for a small embeddable device, with enough computing power to do logging and reverse geocoding.

The beagleboard is an excellent device for this purpose. It’s powerd over usb, or a 5v adapter, has an arm processor, 512mb of ram and most importantly numerous io ports. And besides that, the design documents and specifications are fully open source. So I could start mass producing these units later.

It has 5 serial ports, so next to a gps receiver i could also very easily add an LCD display later on.

I ordered the beaglebone. This was a mistake, I actually wanted the beaglebone black, which has more cpu power and memory. I’ll start with this device and see how it goes, might swap it out later.

Alternatives to the beagleboards are off course the raspberry pi, an arduino or panda boards. But none of these devices offer bothe the computing power and expandability as the beagleboard.

GPS receiver

I just want a good receiver that connects via serial and outputs standard nmea messages. Connecting via serial means i dont have to write drivers or anything fancy, nmea messages are standardized so there must be softwarelibraries available to handle these messages.

Thanks to the excellent sparkfun GPS buyers guide I found a good GPS module with a stong antenna and fast fix.

Creating a GPS logger for fun and profit

What am I building? and Why?

When driving a company car in the Netherlands you can get a tax reduction if you can prove you do only use the car for work related trips. This is be done by logging all your trips in an administration which complies with the dutch tax service format. Until now i’ve been doing this manually, writing down the milage and address at the start of each drive. This is a tedious, error prone, time consuming process, a good candidate for automation!

Commercially available tools are either expensive (monthly recurring fees) or require regular manual download of data via USB, or smartphone apps.

I’m looking for a system that allows me to comply with dutch tax rules with the least effort while using, as autonomous as possible and without monthly fees.
This rules out the cheap systems which require recurring connections via USB to MS Windows, this rules out smartphone apps, because I must remember to always startup the app when driving, this rules out web based systems which require monthly fees.
As my requirements are not met by any off-the-shelve system i’ve decided to build my own simple GPS logger that does some reverse geocoding and trip detection.

How’s it gonna work?

triplogger overview

Basically as follows, i think;

  1. Get a GPS source
  2. Filter out noise and unneeded points
  3. Store points somewhere
  4. Detect when I start and end a trip
  5. Find the start and end address of the trip (dutch tax authority won’t accept coordinates)
  6. Create a text based summary of the trip
  7. Calculate the length of the trip
  8. Store all trips in a file

I want to do this on a small, in car, embeddable computer, which will introduce some constraints in storagespace, memory and cpu power.

I expect to be able to do the filtering and maybe trip detection in real time. I will probably use a queue runner to schedule asynchronous tasks like the geocoder.
Getting the geocoder to run on a minimal embedded device will be a challenge. The two largest open reverse geocodes based on OSM data, Nominatim and Gisgraphy seem pretty resource intensive.

What’s next?

Get some hardware, and start integrating!
The project to me is about integration, and using hardware i’m not familiar with. I’m not trying to write the best or fasted code, i’m trying to integrate and hack together a workable solution as fast as possible.

 

Maildrop aliases added to Mailcleaner

MailCleaner is a full email filtering gateway. It can be used as a replacement for current spam/content filtering mechanisms without much reconfiguration of the current email infrastructure. Mailcleaner is a complete appliance, based on a debian OS and various open source products like Exim, Spamassassin and ClamAV. Mailcleaner comes in a free and paid/supported version.

We have a central LDAP in which emailadresses and aliases are defined. Aliases are defined as postfix maildrop attributes in LDAP. Mailcleaner doesn’t read these attributes when using LDAP as an authenticator for the webinterface, so you cannot access the quarantines for your aliases. I’ve created a patch which adds support for maildrop attributes as aliases in LDAP.

This patch has been accepted by Mailcleaner, and will be included in the next mailcleaner version.

Image uploading fixed for WordPress IOS-app

We are using WordPress in a not so common configuration: our installation is hosted with a self-signed ssl cert, and behind http-auth. With this setup image uploading fails when using the IOS app.

I’ve created a patch for the app to fix this behaviour. The patch was accepted revision 1427.

Small bugfix of wordpress plugin

In the wordpress CMS, a thumbnail can be added to a post. You have to add this thumbnail manually to a post, even when the post contains an image.

The ‘Automatic Post Thumbnail‘ plugin automates the addition of thumbnails to posts.

I’ve created a small bugfix patch, which is part of this plugin since version 3.2.2.

Quarters added to Org-mode

Org-mode is part of the emacs texteditor. It is a versatile ToDo-list manager, project planner, life manager. Org-mode has the ability to show information grouped by day, week, month or year. I added grouping by quarters to this list.

My patch is accepted and is part of org-mode since the 7.4 version and is in the general emacs distribution since version 23.

My patch can be found on the org-mode development mailinglist.

InPlaceRichEditor autosize patch

The 1.3 version of InPlaceRichEditor, a script which enables TinyMCE to be used as edit in place editor, lives a patch I created.

This patch assures the TinyMCE editor is the same size as the text to be edited.

InPlaceRichEditor is made by Sébastien Grosjean and can be found in the download section of his site.