Cheap and easy DIY iPhone steering wheel for fantastic driving sensations

The intro story
The brother of Alice (Thanks Math) given to me a 2G iPhone 2 years ago. 
I used it a lot but 6 months later, the Home button stopped to work (it’s a well known problem with iPhone).
I tried to fix it but without success and finally bought a 3G iPhone.
Last week, I decided to retry to fix the first generation iPhone. After some solderings (flex cable of the Home button broken), the iPhone has resuscitated (the back cover is a bit damaged, it’s very hard to open).
Well, what to do with 2 iPhones, a car game and a little boy?
Yes, of course, a multiplayer race. But for my 4 years old boy, the iPhone is not really ideal to hold, specially to play a car game.
Ok, no problem, I decide to transform the iPhone in a real car simulation experience. 
And what you need to achieve this ambitious project? a steering wheel, of course!

Question: How to build a DIY iPhone steering wheel for next to nothing? See bellow.. 

What you  need:
Hardware:
 – a 2G iPhone (can work with 3G)
 – a steering wheel toy
 – an original iPhone packing (here first generation)
 – a bit of scotch-tape
 – 4 screws (for plastic)

Tools:
 – an electric drill (like Dremel)
 – a screwdriver

Duration:
 – between 1 and 2 hours depends how you are good with your hands!

Howto:
1. Find an unused toy with a steering wheel. In this case, annoying and very noisy toy for the parents.
001_m

2. Pull out the wheel (4 screws to remove) and put the iPhone on the center to get to an overall view.
002_m

3. Find the original box of the iPhone (again thanks to Math to have given to me the full package) and get the transparent plastic packing.
Put it in the middle of the wheel, check the alignment and mark with a pen the position of the plastic piece to the wheel.
003_m

4. Use a Dremel tool to cut the unwanted bits of the wheel.
004_m

5. See the result, around 3 millimetres of plastic has been removed.
Now, the plastic packing takes place naturally in the middle of the wheel.
005_m

6. Keep the plastic piece with pieces of scotch-tape and mark 4 circles with a pen. They will be used to attach firmly the piece to the wheel. 
006_m

7. First, use a small drill bit to drill the 4 marks to the 2 pieces (packaging and wheel) and make a larger holes to the packaging.
The diameter of the drill bits must match with your screws (here, 2 millimetres and 3 millimetres). The screws come from a old plastic radio.
Before to mount the packaging to the wheel, put 2 rubber bands in each end of the packaging.
007_m

8. Now screw the packaging on the wheel.
The iPhone attach with the 4 rubber bands on the middle of the steering wheel.
009_m

9. Now, a little video to show how it’s cool to drive with the iPhone.. ok, I’m not really good in game but I’m better with the wheel than without.

10. Enjoy!

New illustration: La MOOouette Pirate for a French article on the website AFUL

20091115_lamouette-pirate

Last week, someone sent to me a request for an illustration with La MOOouette (mascot of the French OpenOffice.org project) for a (French) article.
The subject was why it’s better to use alternatives solutions instead the pirated copies of MS Office in the companies or associations.

Well, idea has been given to create a pirate MOOouette, it’s what I did!

Article url (in French): http://www.aful.org/metamorphose/arretez-diffusion-microsoft-office

Convert a PDF to Epub for reading with your iPhone

It’s a bit frustrating to read a PDF file with an iPhone.

Why ?
Not only because the screen is too small (ok.. it could be is) but really because the PDF format doesn’t offer the needed functionalities for this type of device (no zoom, fixed page width..).
It’ why the formats of eBook exist, of course!

Good but what to do if you have like me some PDF impossible to find in eBook format?
It’s not more a problem since I found this very useful online tool called epub2go (http://epub2go.com/).

In 3 clicks, your PDF file will be converted.
 And more, the website offers the possibility to import easily the eBook in your iPhone via your email.

Let’s go for the (unneeded) howto:

1- Choose if the PDF file is on your computer or online.
2a- if it’s online, click on the bottom button and insert the URL
2b- if the file is on your computer, click on the top button and choose where it is (Browse)
3- After the processing screen, insert your email address and click on “Send to my iPhone

That’s it for the conversion part.

Now to install the eBook on your Iphone:
1- go to Apple Store and install Stanza. It’s a free eBook reader.
2- check your email on your iPhone and open the message from ePUB2Go
3- click (tap) on the link inside the message
4- now the ePUB2Go website is automatically open and in the second after a black screen appears with an icon of a book in the middle of the screen.
5- finally, Stanza is open with your new book in the list!

A good read!

 

Update:
If you want to read your ePub on your desktop, have a look on this list (from fileinfo.com):

Mac OS Mac OS Adobe Digital Editions
Lexcycle Stanza
FBReader
calibre
Windows Windows Adobe Digital Edition
Lexcycle Stanza
Mobipocket Reader Desktop
FBReader
dotReader
calibre
Linux Linux FBReader
dotReader
calibre

Jaunty Jackalope (Ubuntu Remix 9.04) on eeePC 901

Today is the migration day for the netbook of my wife, Alice. After a long time with pleasure and  some annoying things , we’ve decided to migrate the eeePC 901 from Xandros to Ubuntu Remix.
And to be honest, it hasn’t been really painful to achieve this job.

Find here the steps to do the same with your netbook:

1- download the last release from the Ubuntu server:
http://releases.ubuntu.com/9.04/ubuntu-9.04-netbook-remix-i386.img

2- install ImageWriter:
sudo apt-get install usb-imagewriter

3- use ImageWriter to put ubuntu-9.04-netbook-remix-i386.img in the USB key (need a mini. 1Gb usb stick)

4- insert the usb key to the eeePC, start the PC and tape on ESC touch to view the boot menu. Select the USB key in the list.

5- in the boot menu, choose the right language (F2) and the right keyboard map (F3) and Enter
You’ll start the live distribution.

6- when the system is ready, click on the Install shorcut.

7- after the firsts easy steps, you arrive to the screen of partitioning. Here, you have some choices to make. I chose to make 3 partitions: 1 partition on the first SSD (root “/”), 2 on the second SSD (10Gb for”/usr” and ~5Gb for “/home”) all with the new format Ext4 (better results than Ext3).
You have noticed that I didn’t add swap partition, why? First of all, because the netbook has 2Gb of RAM and secondly because after some reads, the writings in the swap seems bad for the life of the SSD (not all people are agree with that but I had to take a decision).

8- after this important step, the installer copies the OS on the netbook.

9- reboot when it’s asked (don’t forget to remove the usb key).

As you can see, the boot is quite quick, under 40 seconds to go to the desktop with the wifi connexion.

Alice uses her eeePC for 4 main usages:
– to stay in touch with our family (in Spain, France, ),
– in the kitchen as a (luxury) webradio
– to make videos of our children or take a picture during cookery.
– to record her voice for her French lessons.

So, I had to install some softs:
– for the video, wxCam (sudo apt-get install wxcam). It has better perfomances than Cheese in video recording mode.
– for the webradio, Rhythmbox with a customized list of French webradios.
– for the webphone, Skype for linux (works better than on Xandros even the webcam). You must specify the sound device to get sound. Go to Options / Sound Devices and choose in the 3 lists, “HDA Intel (hw:Intel,0)”, then Apply.
– finally, nothing to do for the voice, Sound Recorder is already installed on Ubuntu Remix.

To finish the job:
– remove unused stuff like Evolution
– add plugins like Flash (nonfree), Jre (SUN).
You can do this job with the Synaptic Package Manager (in Administration tab).
– remove unused applications started with the system: go to Preferences tab / Startup Applications and unselect “Bluetooth Manager”, “Check for new hardware drivers”, “Remove Desktop”, “Visual Assistance”. Of course it depends of your specifi hardware or preferences.
– add shortcuts in the Favourites tab: simply selecting the shortcut (from its tab for example, Internet) and to glide it into the Favourites tab.

Here you can see the result.

Screenshot

Update (2009.06.13):
Wifi WPA authentication is impossible with the current rt2860 driver. To solve this problem, we have to downgrade the driver.

1) Get the driver from http://www.array.org/ubuntu/dists/intrepid/eeepc/binary-i386/rt2860-dkms_1.7….

wget http://www.array.org/ubuntu/dists/intrepid/eeepc/binary-i386/rt2860-dkms_1.7.1.1_all.deb

2) Go to terminal, and move the pre-installed driver so it won’t get loaded.

cd /lib/modules/2.6.28-11-generic/kernel/drivers/staging/rt2860/sudo mv rt2860sta.ko rt2860sta.bak

3) Install rt2860-dkms_1.7.1.1_all.deb. It will also install dependencies needed to compile the driver.

sudo dpkg -i rt2860-dkms_1.7.1.1_all.debsudo apt-get install -f

If it doesn’t retrieve the right packages, makesure “build-essential”, “linux-header-generic” and “dkms” is installed. Let it run and it should complete without a problem.

4) Restart. The new driver should work automatically.

 

Auto updating security packages with Ubuntu (Debian) system

It’s a bit hard to maintain manually a lot of servers but it’s really
important to keep them updated. It’s why I looked for an automatic
solution and it has been pretty easy to find a good and simple one.

I propose to you to use an utility called apt-cron.

installing it on our system:
sudo apt-get install apt-cron

creating a new security list:
sudo nano  /etc/apt/sources.list.d/security.sources.list

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu hardy-security maindeb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu hardy-security universe


setuping APT actions:
sudo nano /etc/cron-apt/action.d/5-install

autoclean -q -ydist-upgrade -q -y -o APT::Get::Show-Upgraded=true -o Dir::Etc::sourcelist=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/security.sources.list -o Dir::Etc::sourceparts=nonexistent -o DPkg::Options::=--force-confdef -o DPkg::Options::=--force-confold


adding a cron task:
sudo crontab -e

5 0    *   *   *  test -x /usr/sbin/cron-apt && /usr/sbin/cron-apt


To test the auto update process:
sudo /usr/sbin/cron-apt

To check the log:
sudo cat /var/log/cron-apt/log


idea / source from http://www.turnkeylinux.org/

Need a third screen for a better productivity? try this, it’s not a real one but GEQ solution!

As a real geek, I’m working with two screens on my desktop computer. But sometime, I’d like to have another one to keep an eye on Twitter for example!
I found a GEQ solution to my problem!
I discovered recently a software called Synergy. It’s quite old (last release April 2006) but it works fine.

What is Synergy?
Synergy offers to share the keyboard, the mouse and the clipboard between multi computers!

How it works?
Simply to install:
– a server on the master computer (with the mouse/keyboard)
– a client on the other computers (without mouse/keyboard).

How to install it?
You have two ways to install Synergy on Linux system:
1- console mode

  • install the software on each computer, in Ubuntu with the followed command:
    sudo apt-get install synergy
  • configure the server
    sudo nano /etc/synergy.conf
section: screens  my_laptop:  my_desktop:endsection: links  my_desktop:    left = my_laptop  my_laptop:    right = my_desktopend

Here, we have the desktop screen on the right of the laptop. You have to insert the hostname (my_laptop and my_desktop here). To know it, put in console “hostname” (or cat $HOSTNAME).

  • Now, run the Synergy server on the desktop:
    synergys
    the process is automatically loaded as daemon.
  • Finally, on the client side, run by the command:
    synergyc server_ip
  • Move you mouse on the left border of your desktop screen and your pointer is going to jump to the laptop screen, magical isn’t it!

2- with a GUI client:

  • Install a new package called QuickSynergy in all computers:
    sudo apt-get install quicksynergy (on Ubuntu system)
  • Run the soft, in gnome:
    Applications Menu > Accessories > QuickSynergy
  • In the server (computer with mouse/keyboard), choose the first tab “Share” (pict.1)
  • Insert in the left field, the hostname of your client (ex. my_laptop)
  • Click on the Start button
  • Run the soft (see below)
  • In the client, choose the second tab “Use” (pict.2)
  • Insert the server IP in the text field.
  • Click on the Execute button
  • Now, Synergy is ready to use!

Synergy website: http://synergy2.sourceforge.net/
Quick Synergy website: http://quicksynergy.sourceforge.net/

OpenOffice.org 3.0 on native MAC OS-X hits better than Linux!

A great news for all developers of the OpenOffice.org port to native Mac OS-X system,the number of downloads is higher than for Linux system (according with this source: http://www.solidoffice.com/archives/893).

  • “221,230 GNU/Linux users
  • an impressive 320,622 Mac OS X users
  • a staggering 2,449,863 Microsoft Windows users.”

Well done guys, I’m happy for you specially for Eric.