Development Work

ZSL Chagos Report

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You’ll no doubt find this on the web via the numerous Hackspaces which were involved in this project, but here is my copy – the report shows the amazing technology and collaboration that presented the project with some amazing results as summarised in the document.

ZSL Approved Blog 20 May 13 PDF Document

ZSL Approved Blog 20 May 13

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Stereo Vision Very Positive Results

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ImageI was asked if it was feasible to automatically size aquatic animals using stereo vision. After doing some feasibility work, it quickly became a homework project out of hours. Stereo sizing has been done usually using disparity maps and blobs, this is a slightly different approach and its very exciting, with some amazing work taking place between me and a colleague in Canada – thanks for your help Doug!

Long Term, Deep Water, Satellite Connected Monitoring System

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ImageOver the weekend I was asked to produce an updated version of the concept of Marine Instant Wild (see previous concept, here) and here we go… this is getting really close to becoming reality and is a very interesting project with so many challenges from both an engineering and software/technology perspective.

Configuring a free windows mail server on AWS

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I have an Amazon Web Services windows server (which costs me a small fortune every month!). I really like the scalability of AWS and what you can do with it.Image
Until recently I was using a Linux VPS with mail I decided it was an additional expense I didn’t need now that I have the windows server… but shelling out for a copy of Microsoft Exchange wasn’t on the cards so I had a look around and decided to try hMailServer as I only have a handful of domains and only wanted a couple of few POP3 addresses.

hMailServer is a free e-mail server for Microsoft Windows. It’s used by Internet service providers, companies, governments, schools and enthusiasts in all parts of the world.
http://www.hmailserver.com/

So where to start?

  1. First things first set up Route 53 with an MX record directly to the public DNS, server IP  [or elastic IP] of the EC2 instance- I found out the hard way that AWS doesn’t support port 25 through the load balancer.
  2. Secondly set up Route 53 with an A record, again direct through to the public DNS, server IP [or elastic IP] of the EC2 instance
  3. Now go to the security group of the EC2 instance and add the POP3 (Port 110) and SMTP (Port 25) ports to your security group
  4. Now within your EC2 instance open windows firewall and add and enable the same ports
  5. Now follow the tutorial here http://www.hmailserver.com/documentation/v5.3/?page=basic_configuration
  6. Thats it everything should be up and running!

Couple of points to note

  • Your DNS might take a while to update, so be patient with your MX and DNS additions and check them with a web based tool like http://www.mxtoolbox.com/ before you give up
  • To check the ports are open and communicating, run the following command from the EC2 instance and your desktop computer
    • telnet [mail IP or DNS] 110
    • telnet [mail IP or DNS] 25
  • Some ISPs block port 25 so you might not be able to send email, your ISP may have a specific SMTP address you need to use

Instant Wild – Hands on some Kit!

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So after an epic house move that didn’t quite go to plan I finally got a chance to head into London Zoo to catch up with Alasdair to hook up some kit.
After just a couple of hours and a few problems (like the lack of a MicroSD card, which was soon rectified) we had the hardware we are prototyping with up and running and taking some pictures.
We even had time to try out some motion detection software on board the Arduino itself and you can probably see Alasdair jumping about in the image on the laptop.
This is a major step forward because from here we can start capturing images and use the Xigbee’s to transfer data across a network, we’ll then get a feel for constraints in the speed of taking the image, saving it and transferring it, the quality of the image and power consumption. It’s a little ad-hoc but this type of rapid prototyping I think will at the very least give us something tenable we can show both internal and external parties and shape a more structured development program.
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QR Code Controlled iPad Brochure App, Arduino Height Sensor and Technology Centre

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I finally see the fruits of my labor in a really nice enclosure for a top client of mine the Tropical Marine Centre. They wanted to stand out from the crowd with there 6 figure (£) exhibition stand at InterZoo, Germany.
They went really high tech and implemented 3 I.T. projects being:

  • An iPad application for showing off brochure information on there state of the art lighting range
  • An Arduino based ultrasonic sensor to detect distance at equate this graphically to the user to show light intensity of their top product
  • A “Technology Center”, an interactive iPhone application that reads their product barcodes and shows full product information, whilst creating a twitter like feed on their home page showing user activity and what people were looking atImage

Futures Band App Launch

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Today saw the launch of the Futures Band iPhone and iPad app developed by myself with the creative input of the band.
The app itself features a number of marketing tools such as

  • the bands blog, which allows the fan base to keep in touch
  • a map for gig/venue dates (allowing fans to quickly find a venue near them) and online booking tool
  • an interface into iTunes so fans can quickly and easily purchase and download the bands albums
  • a QR code scanner that allows the band to put exclusive content on their CD covers and promotional material
  • a mini app for users to take pictures at gigs and upload them directly on the bands website gallery

On top of that the app also allows for push messages to be sent to all the fans, a cheap and easy way for them to keep in touch with new albums, blog updates and band news.

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