Bobbie Smulders Freelance Software Developer

Repairing a greyed-out disk on OS X

A request I recently got was to fix an external USB disk. This disk appeared to be broken beyond repair, as all options on OS X’s Disk Util were greyed out. Both on OS X and the recovery boot system. Luckily, I was able to restore the disk. Unfortunately, I was not able to recover the contents.

Screenshot

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Automated backups from DirectAdmin to Synology NAS

Synology Task Scheduler

For the past couple of years I’ve been a customer of Antagonist. I have a shared hosting package from them that is running on DirectAdmin. DirectAdmin has an option for manual backups, but as this option takes a lot of time and manual labor, it would be better if we could automate it. To automate it I came up with a three step process:

1. Create a full backup from DirectAdmin and store it locally

DirectAdmin has released a script on their website to automatically create backups. This script works on accounts that do not have admin rights (typical on shared hosting servers). Follow the instructions up until step 5. I have set up the cron job to create the backup at 04:00. This is how my cronjob looks like in DirectAdmin:

00 04 * * * /home/USERACCOUNT/backup.php
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Reverse engineering the KPN IPTV recording system

KPN REST API

A while back, I visited my parents to replace their current digital cable setup with an IPTV setup. This had some great advantages, as the set-top boxes only needed network cables instead of coax cables. I used power line communication so that I didn’t have to lay any cable. In the end, every TV-set in the house was able to watch high-definition television, and every iOS and Android device was capable of watching standard-definition television.

The provider (KPN) has an interesting approach to recording television. When you record a certain program, whether it’s currently on or in the future, you don’t record anything on the set-top box. It is recorded on their servers, and if you want to play it back, you can stream it from their servers to your set-top box. This complicated process is all brilliantly hidden from the user. The advantage of such a system is that a recording on one device can be played back on all devices in the house. Every set-top box can display a list of recorded programs that is retrieved from the server. Another advantage is that you can start a recording from the provider’s website or their mobile application, even when you’re not at home. And you don’t need to have your set-top box running 24/7, which saves power.

But there was one rather large issue with scheduling a recording…

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Playing Dance Dance Revolution with a neural network

Screenshot of StepMania

I recently finished a project I did for the Artificial Intelligence Research Seminar at the Media Technology MSc Programme where the assignment was do to something with artificial intelligence.

As a continuation on the research I did on automated gameplay with pong and Doeo, I decided to try to play Dance Dance Revolution using a neural network. The project had two research questions: Is it possible to use a neural network to play the game Dance Dance Revolution? And can we do it without having (full) knowledge of the game?

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