Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Android Blogger App

Google made an app for blogger.
I found it yesterday.
Looks cool.
Designed for quick posts.
It lets you attach a location and pictures.

LG DU-42PX12X Plasma TV Fix

An acquaintance of ours was getting rid of their LG DU-42PX12X Plasma TV because it had colored bars down the sides.
I consider myself fairly handy when it comes to fixing things,
So I picked it up before they could thrown it out.
This picture isn't very good,
But it had green and red bars,
Occasionally some blue,
Of varying thicknesses,
But usually an inch or more.
A quick Google for the terms "fix plasma tv", turns up this Youtube.

Don't do this.
That's just stupid.

More googleing lead me to then owners manual.
Further use of my mastery of Google Fu turned up this article.
User kdawg22 talks about how he has fixed this problem on th
is specific model multiple times.
He says the issue faulty soldering on the Main Logic Board.
I eventually found Service Manual.

Through more googleing I pieced together that the Main Logic Board looks like this.
Page 15 of the service Manual identifies part as 201 on the diagram on page 14.
It also gives that part number as 6870QCH003A.

Armed with this knowledge,
I dove into the TV.
First I removed the access panel (401 on the exploded view).
This didn't look like the images I found,
And a closer look at the service manual indicates that the main logic board was under these boards.
It became clear that I had to take the main case off (part 400 on the exploded view).
There were screws lining the edges as well as a few scattered in the middle.
There were four screws holding a panel that had the two boards that were visible from the access panel (parts 402, 420, & 560 on the exploded view).
These boards are the inputs for the TV.
In order to take the panel that holds these boards off,
You have to remove the stand (part 430 on the exploded view)
Lat the TV on its face.
There are four big screws that hold it in.
After taking the stand of I left everything plugged in and flipped the panel upside and screwed it into several other holes.
It then reattached the stand and stood the TV back up.
This allows access to the main logic board (part 201 on the exploded view)
All those small chips in a row at the bottom of the board are the ones that control the screen's X axis.
This is where the solder came lose.
I found that by powering up the TV with all the panels open and pressing on the chips on either end of the row,
I could make the vertical bars disappear.
I tried useing a heat gun to melt the solder,
Hoping that would reset the connections.
This didn't work.
We ended up buying a new board.
Since this TV is beyond it's service life,
Parts are hard to find.
We were able to find the board through Amazon.
From this point everything was just put together in reverse order.

It seems to work just fine.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How To Setup Two Step Verification

Google has rolled out a two step verification option for logging into your account.
Here is what you'll need to have ready before you get started.
  • A Google Apps account
  • (obviously)
  • Administrator access to that Google Apps account
  • (unless your admin has already done his part)
  • A phone line of some kind
  • (land line will work)
  • (cell phone with a text plan is better)
  • (smart phone with internet access is the best option)
If you use Google Apps, start here.
If you have a @GMail account, skip the first step.

Start by going to your Google Apps Dashboard.
Click "Advanced Tools".
Make sure the check box labeled "Allow users to turn on two-factor authentication" is checked.
Clink the button that says "Set up 2-step verification".
I have a Nexus One,
So I selected "Android" from the drop down list.
You will have to got download the "Google Authenticator" app.
This app also requires "Barcode Scanner"
If you don't have a smart phone select "Other" and the process will be the same as the backup phone as listed below.
Select the phone that you have and click "Next"
The setup page will generate a QR code.
Open the Google Authenticator app and select the button that says "Scan account barcode".
The app will automatically launch the barcode scanner app.
Point it at your computer screen and fit the QR code in the target area.
Once you phone has captured the QR code,
Click the button on the setup page that says "Next".
The website will now ask you for a number that should appear on the Google Authenticator app.
Enter it in the text box and lick the button that says "Verify".
Once the code from the app has been verified,
Click the button that says "Next".
Your smart phone is now configured.
Click the button that says "Next" to setup a backup.
Now that you smart phone is configured,
You can set up a backup phone.
Do this.
It's just stupid not too.
If something happens to that smart phone and you don't have a backup,
There is no way to get into your account.
Your first set of backups are ten randomly generated codes.
These are one-time use codes.
Print them and keep them with you.
These are incase you can't get cell phone service where you are.
I printed four copies.
One for my wallet, one to keep at home, one to keep in my car, and I gave one to a family member.
I'm not getting locked out of my account if I can help it.
You can clear these codes and generate new ones if a copy happens to get stolen.
Click the button that says "Print codes" (and actually print them),
Click the check box that says "Yes, I have a copy of my backup verification codes.",
And click the button that says "Next".
No you can enter a backup phone number and chose how you want the server to contact you.
I chose "Automated voice message",
But I'll likely change that to "SMS" text message later,
Just because I don't want to get a phone call every time.
I know testing it is optional,
But just do it.
There's no reason not to.
If you're that pressed for time you shouldn't be using a two-step verification process in the first place.
Not testing it just allows for one more thing that could lock you out of your account,
When you're trying to download that super important presentation,
In an area that doesn't have mobile internet.
Murphy's Law people.

Click the button that says "Send code".
Since I had the "Automated voice message" option selected,
I got a phone call.
I have Google Voice with "Call Screening" on.
This meant that the code was played during the time that the call screening asked the caller to state its "name".
So when I answered Google Voice announced "Call from ... (incomplete code) ... to accept press 1 ..."
I pressed one,
But by then the automated voice message was long over.
So I went into Google Voice and looked at my "Received" calls.
I found the number that had just called and labeled it "Verification".
So now when Google Voice announces "Call from ... "Verification" ... to accept press 1 ..." the server still hears the ringing.
I pressed 1 and the automated voice message began reading me my code.
Enter the code in the text box and click the button that says "Verify".
Click the button that says "Next".
At this point Google may tell you that you need to create "application-specific passwords".
This just means that Google will generate a random password so your smart phone can access your mail.
Don't worry about this right now,
We'll deal with this later.
Click the button that says "Next".
All set up.
Now to activate it
You will be logged out of all Google services,
So make sure all you work is saved.
Click the blue button that says "Turn on 2-step verification".
Google just wants too make sure you know that you will be logged off.
Click the button that says "OK".
Go ahead and log into your account.
Enter the code that you get from the Google Authenticator app (or other option) into the text box and click the button that says "Verify".
It's time to create those "application-specific passwords".
Click the button that says "Create passwords".
Enter a device name.
Google will use this to generate a password to be used only with that device.
And now you're done
From this page you can change all you settings.
Use this to update your phone number.
You can also generate new backup codes incase the old ones are lost or stolen.
You should also receive an email with some more information about two-step verification.

Google Used My Idea!

Back in October of 2009,
I suggested the idea of using either an App or a SMS text message to add security.
The idea was that the server would send you a text with a randomly generated number to log in with.
This would prevent others from logging into your account unless they had stolen your phone too.
(you can read the post here)
I also sent Google an email with this idea.

Google started using this concept for their Google Apps accounts a few months ago.
They called it 2-Step Verification.
Recently, they rolled out the option to all Google accounts.
Which means you can set you GMail account to only allow you to log in once they've verified your identity via the possession of your phone.

It is interesting to see how they modified my idea for the phone app.
My original idea was that there would be an encryption program that was based on time.
It would generate a new code every few minutes based on a alpha-numeric key that it shared with the server.
My logic behind this was that you could use a non internet enabled phone.
They instead chose to have the server send the code to the phone upon a request to log in.

In my Oct-2009 post I analysed the positives and potential pitfalls of using such a process.
The obvious benefit is added security.
The obvious hindrance is the added time and step to log in.
There are some not so obvious negatives that would have occurred if Google had not modified my plan.

Scenario1: Your phone is lost/destroyed/stolen/eaten.
You have to contact someone with access to the server,
prove you are the owner of the account,
And they have to grant you access.
Solution1: Add a backup phone number

Scenario2: You are in a location that cannot receive cell phone service. (i.e. the library basement)
Solution2: Randomly generated printable one time use codes.
(Also a solution to Scenario1)

I'm thrilled that Google did this.
It's really cool to see an idea you came up with and submitted actually get used.
The only thing I want to know is this,
Did my blog post or email convince them to do this?
Had they been working on it before I came up with the idea?
Did they just never get my email and came up with it after the fact?

You know what would be really cool?
Getting a letter from them saying something like,
"Hey, Thanks for the awesome idea!
Now our users are even more secure.
p.s. Would you like a job?"
That and a check for $1.
I'd frame it and put it on my wall.

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Random thought,
Idea: Spectrum Filtering Power/Food Production Facility

Plants reflect light in the green wavelength.
which means they aren't using that frequency of sunlight.
I imagine there are other wavelengths that are not visible to humans th
at the sun emits and the plants reflect.
Sunlight can be used to generate electricity.
If we only use the green wavelength,
It would likely take more surface area to generate electricity,
But we could also use the non green light to grow crops.
So if we could create a material that would reflect certain wavelengths,
But allow others through,
We could tweak it to reflect green light to a power station,
And use the rest to grow crops.
I doubt this is cost effective at the moment.
I've never even heard of a material that can do something like selective reflection and selective transparency.
This could be an interesting way to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
with the vast mid west already used for farming,
These types of power plants could be installed on top of the current farms.
Essentially squeezing as much use as possible out of the sunlight we have to work with.