Dec 30, 2013

How I increased my free Dropbox space

Taking advantage of a variety of freebies offered by dropbox, I increased my space from the base 2GB to 5.8GB. I'm also working on a potential 1GB increase by two referrals. If they sign up, each party gets 500MB extra.

1) Uploaded photos via the Camera Upload feature in the IOS app: each 500mb photo upload scored 500MB increase. You must do this with an app in IOS or Android to get the space. You can't just copy photos over to your Camera Uploads folder on a computer. So, the process is slow. 

2GB increase to 4.5GB.

2) Completed 5 of the steps indicated in the "Getting Started" guide on the desktop dropbox web site. This gives you another 250 MB. This one was kind of a surprise. I had already done 5 steps by the time I looked into it, just had to hit the option.

3) Downloaded the Mailbox app for IOS (sorry, no Android app yet) and linked it to dropbox. Earned 1GB. After I earned the extra 1GB, I just deleted the app. Still have the space.

Total earned: 3.75GB.

The reason I got started on this was because I had been pretty bummed that Picasa was getting unusable and the upgrade path was google+.

So, I did some googling around about photo sharing apps. Surprise, several reviews and postings recommended dropbox as the easiest, cleanest way to share photos. I tried this out from the IOS 7 App. When I examined it, I liked what I saw. 

Dec 23, 2013

LeoStick Volume Control

I first became interested in building a micro-controller hardware volume control for computers through the tutorial from Adafruit on the Trinket Volume Knob. The Trinket is an interesting ATTINY85-based platform designed by Adafruit. It can, with a little set up effort, be used with the Arduino IDE. 

The basic idea of this kind of volume control is this: turn a rotary encoder, which acts like a volume knob on audio equipment, and the micro-controller sends a keyboard code to your computer, altering the volume level. To do this, the micro-controller has to appear as an HID USB device to the computer.

But, after much effort and for one reason or another, I couldn't get the Trinket Volume Knob to be recognized on Ubuntu 12.04, Mac OS/X 10.7.5 or a Windows 7 64 bit.

My next attempt was with the code offered by Bluebie  on the Digistump/digispark forum. The digispark is also an ATTINY85-powered dev platform, programmable through a special version of the Arduino IDE offered by Digistump. It differs from the Trinket in several ways, notably the choice of the micronucleus bootloader. I got a little farther with this design, I could get the volume mute function working in Mac 10.7.5, but no volume up/down. No functionality in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Bluebie said that the volume control worked for her on OS/X 10.9, which may have functional differences from my installed 10.7.5.

I did some googling on arduino volume controls and stumbled upon the work of Stefan Jones with the Arduino Leonardo. I didn't have an actual Arduino Leonardo, but I did have a Freetroncs LeoStick, which is a nice clone of the Leonardo with some added features, in a smaller form factor.

I installed the LeoStick with the instructions offered in the LeoStick Getting Started Guide  on my Ubuntu 12.04 LTS system, using Arduino 1.0.5 as the base. Once I was satisfied the LeoStick was working in this setup, I  made the changes to the USBAPI.h and HID.cpp as Stefan Jones indicates in his post. I tried the test sketch that alternately mutes/unmutes volume from Stefan's post and that worked fine.

Finally, I used Bluebie's digispark volume knob code as a base for a LeoStick version. The code changes were trivial: 
  • Remove any references to DigisparkKeyboard
  • Add statements for Remote.mute(); Remote.increase(); and Remote.decrease(); as appropriate
  • Add Remote.clear(); at end of main loop to keep from repeating latest function.
That's it!

See the code at GitHub.

This worked for mute/up/down on my Mac and Ubuntu systems. It worked for volume up/down on my Nexus 7 4.4.2 (KitKat) as well, using a USB OTG cable to connect the LeoStick. Unfortunately, I could not get any functionality on Windows 7 with this set up.

UPDATE: Tested to work in Windows XP and Windows 7 64bit Home Premium. I had to remove the LeoStick after installing LeoStick Windows Drivers, available from the Freetronics site. On re-insert to a USB port, the Volume Control had full functionality.