How to Build Your Own Home Security Camera System

 

Introduction

 

Over the last few years, the market has been flooded with security cameras aimed squarely at the homeowner. You can find any number of cheap, high-spec cameras on Amazon. A lot of these cameras get decent reviews too. Generic/knock-off cameras are quickly bridging the gap with high quality manufacturers like Nest and Samsung. With increased competition continuing to drive down prices in the security camera market, building your own home security camera system has become an affordable DIY project for the average Joe.

Like a lot of people, I started out with the Best Buy special. My first foray into home security cameras was a Swann analog camera 4-pack with a 500 GB DVR for $350, purchased in 2012. Something similar to this:

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How to Disable the Wireless on Your AT&T Router

 

Introduction

 

AT&T has terrific residential fiber optic service, if you can get it. Yes, they are a pain to get set up with. They are a pain to deal with in general. You’ll need to schedule an installer to come out to run the fiber optic cable, and then wait for someone else to come out and bury it. I had to mow my yard twice before they were able to come out to my home to bury the cable.

Installation was just average- nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about either. The installer was knowledgeable, but when he was ready to connect to my network, well, I’m just glad he let me handle that part. With pfSense as my main router, and a Netgear Nighthawk as my wireless access point, I was less than thrilled about having to use AT&T’s router. However, if you sign up for U-verse you have no choice. The fiber gets converted to Ethernet using their equipment, which then feeds into their router. You can do what you want with the signal after that point. But, just because you have to use AT&T’s hardware, it doesn’t mean you have to use their services. Here’s how to disable the wireless on your AT&T router (Pace 5268AC specifically).

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How to Update Maps on the Alpine INE-W940 Navigation Unit

 

Introduction

 

A few months ago, a gentleman stopped by my house to ask me if I could direct him to another home in our subdivision. Our subdivision has been on Google Maps for about two years or so, and I was curious why he didn’t just update the maps on his vehicle’s navigation unit. Then it kind of dawned on me that maybe he didn’t know how to do it. Then it occurred to me that people may not even know that they can update the maps on their in-dash navigation units! This article is specific to the Alpine INE-W940, but other non-internet connected navigation units should follow a similar process. So let’s get to it and learn how to update maps on the Alpine INE-W940 Navigation Unit.

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QNAP NAS- How to Automatically Delete Files

 

Introduction

 

QNAP’s QTS operating system shines in many areas, but there’s one feature that stands out as a glaring omission- there’s no easy way to automatically delete files by scheduling automated clean-up tasks. Since I use my QNAP NAS as a backup server, I do a lot of automatic transfers from my home server to my NAS. While this works great, after a while the video footage from my camera system fills up the storage space.

It’s a pain to constantly stay aware of the storage space remaining on my NAS. Sometimes I catch the red LED on the front panel of the NAS, sometimes I don’t find out until I log in through the web interface. I needed a more reliable way to stay on top of this since my life is a bit hectic at the moment.

What I needed was something similar to Windows Task Scheduler. It turns out that QTS, being a Linux-based distribution, does, in fact, have such a feature. It’s called cron.

The tutorial will show you how to automatically delete files after x amount of days, based on a recurring schedule.

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How to Set Up a Schedule in pfSense

 

Introduction

 

The post is all about how to set up a schedule in pfSense. Not all routers allow you to determine when devices can access the internet. And when they do, it’s fairly limited in how you can control access. For instance, my previous router (an Apple Airport Extreme) allowed time-based access control, but it just wasn’t robust enough to accomodate real life. My options were:

  1. No access
  2. Everyday
  3. Weekdays
  4. Weekends
  5. A single day of the week

Sure, this was good enough for most occasions. The problem was that it couldn’t handle a flexible schedule. I couldn’t tell the router “I want you to block access Monday through Friday, except on Monday, January 15th, because that’s Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday and my kids won’t have school.” pfSense does  have this capability. In fact, I can set my kids’ entire school schedule for the whole year in 10 minutes!

Furthermore, to achieve a schedule close to what I wanted with the Apple Airport Extreme , it look a crazy amount of time to set up. Not only that, but I couldn’t easily duplicate a schedule. If I set up any kind of advanced schedule, I knew I was going to have to do it all over again for Kid #2. This is definitely not  the case with pfSense.

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How to Add a Denon Receiver to SmartThings

 

Introduction

 

Effortlessly add a Denon receiver to SmartThings. This is quite possibly the cheapest way to integrate your home entertainment receiver with your home automation system. Sure, Logitech Harmony is the best (and most functional) way to do this. But some people may not have the budget. Some people might be looking for something a little more basic without all the extra bells and whistles that come along with the Harmony product lineup. If this situation applies to you, keep reading for more details.

The procedure outlined below was tested on a Denon AVR-1912 receiver. It’s based on this SmartThings Community Forum discussion . Others have modified the source code to work with receivers from different manufacturers as well.

This will give you extremely basic control from the SmartThings app, including input selection, quick select options, zone select, and volume control. For automation purposes, however, this is enough to automatically turn on your home entertainment equipment. Of course, you could also use it to turn off the same equipment when going to bed or leaving the house. SmartThings will see the receiver as a switch in Routines.

For Android users who want more in-depth control, you could use Tasker with the SharpTools plugin to also set the input and volume level.

This method becomes even more powerful if you use the receiver’s HDMI-CEC feature to power on/off other devices, like your TV.

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Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC Review

Introduction

The Anker PowerCore Speed 10000 QC is an incredible accessory for anyone who needs to recharge their mobile phones on the go. I do a lot of traveling for work and I've been very pleased with the performance of the PowerCore . No more searching for outlets at airports, or sitting on the ground next to the janitor's closet or bathroom waiting to top off my cell phone battery.

Not only does it support Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 technology, but for its size, it packs an amazing amount of battery capacity. I can charge a Samsung S7 Edge from empty to fully-charged at least twice. It will even charge the phone with the screen on, something my last PNY-branded portable charger couldn't do. With the screen off, performance is maximized- in fact, it can charge my phone from 20% to full on a 1 hour flight if I'm not using the phone. That means I can take a nap and when I land, my phone is ready to go again (and so am I). I no longer have to worry if I'll have enough juice to get in contact with my ride.

I kind of touched on size already, but this thing is pretty small. The charger measures a mere 3.9" x 2.4" x 0.9". That makes it smaller in length and width than my phone, but of course it's thicker. It's easy enough to slip it into my pants pocket if I need to carry it on me. I usually tote this around in one of the small side pockets in my Ogio Mastermind laptop backpack

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Samsung Smart TV- How to Fix “Deleting Expired Apps” Problem

 

Introduction

 

A few weeks ago my wife and I were getting ready to enjoy a movie on the HBO Go app on our Samsung Smart TV (UN60HU8550). The only problem was, the app wouldn’t load. After exiting the app and going back to the Smart Hub main menu, we encountered a message that read “Please wait while 2 expired apps are deleted.” I let the TV do it’s thing. 10 minutes passed. Then 30 minutes. After an hour, the progress bar on the screen never moved. The apps never did get deleted. In fact, nothing happened.

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NxFilter- How to Make It the Only DNS Server on the Network

 

Introduction

 

NxFilter is a great way to make the internet safer for your kids. Luckily, it’s free for home use as long as you don’t need to monitor more than 20 users or devices. It works by filtering DNS requests to each client. No matter what kind of device they are using (a computer or a phone), as long as they are connected to your WiFi you can control what they can access. It’s also a good way to monitor their online habits and see which websites they are visiting. If your not familiar with NxFilter, you can read more about it here.

Not only that, but you can limit their bandwidth usage too. I give my kids 3 GB of wireless data per day, which is several hours of watching videos on YouTube and streaming music on Spotify. I also set up quota limits based on categories, so they can only spend so much time online before they have to get off their devices and find something else to do (like spend time with their family). Once they go over the bandwidth or quota limit, they are cut off from the internet.

In order to achieve this cutoff though, I need to ensure that NxFilter is controlling their internet usage. NxFilter is a DNS server as well as a filter. But setting up NxFilter doesn’t do any good if the devices on the network can connect to another  DNS server- like Google’s popular public DNS servers (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4).

This post is going to cover the two things we need to do to allow NxFilter to do its job. First, we need the devices on the network to use NxFilter as a DNS server. The second thing we need to do is make sure NxFilter can’t be bypassed by using public DNS servers.

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