All posts by RandomGeek

Build your own DIY Home Security System with Raspberry Pi

In the age of digital technology and always connected hardware, setting up a home security system should transcend the art of putting an alarm-shaped box on the wall. Securing your home in the 21st century should instead utilise all affordable technology to create a system that not only detects, but also alerts, as well as doing its best to identify.

Such security systems can prove expensive to buy as a packaged option, as well as being a little inflexible. DIY security systems offer us a better degree of versatility, as well as having the added bonus of being less costly.

While a DIY option may take longer to setup, the results can be just as good, or even better, than those available through electronics stores and security vendors.

Demand The Right Key For Your Doors

Old fashioned brass keys can be easily copied with a bit of clay and a dodgy keycutter.

For the modern home security system, you should consider moving forward withan NFC system, which will unlock your property as soon as the correct tag is in the vicinity.

The system could be applied to various locations, from the front and back door to your shed or garage, or even a safe or particular room in the house you wish to keep locked. As with all of the DIY home security projects listed it is worth considering some form of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), in case intruders attempt to disable your security system by cutting the power.

Detect Intruders On Your Property With A Raspberry Pi

Love for the Raspberry Pi here at MakeUseOf is strong, so it makes sense that we should include this versatile little computer – the hub of so many DIY projects – in this list. Since 2013 a small video camera has been available for the Raspberry Pi, small enough to fit inside many Pi cases, and if this isn’t enough then the Raspberry Pi B+, released in 2014, has additional USB ports for additional webcams (although these should ideally be powered from another source).


The Raspberry Pi is small enough to position outside your home as a security camera, and with the right software can be configured as a motion capture system, capable of detecting intruders and even sending photos and video to your cloud storage and sending email alerts to your phone.

We’ve previously covered the steps required for creating a motion capture security system with a Raspberry Pi, but note that since then things have progressed significantly in this area. There’s even a video surveillance distro you can download and install, called MotionPi.

Monitor Your Locked Doors With An Arduino

While the Raspberry Pi solution will check your property for movement, it won’t do much in the way of making a noise. It also isn’t the best way to check if someone is opening and closing doors in your house.

For this, we turn to the DIYer’s other best friend: the Arduino. Several variations on the basic Arduino intruder detection alarm system described previously by James Bruce exist. Here’s a look at it in action:

In this example, James has used a proximity sensor, but it is also possible to setup a laser tripwire system or use a similar setup with a a magnetic door sensor.

Home Security With Your Old Smartphones

No Arduino? Short of a Raspberry Pi? Worry not, as you can use other hardware you might have lying around or in drawers for home security purposes.

One great solution – particularly if the device had a good camera – is to use one or more old smartphones as a network of security cameras.


It makes sense to take advantage of any suitable hardware you already own, and a smartphone is wireless ready. With a wireless system you can position your cameras wherever you need them (preferably indoors) and even alter their whereabouts to fox strangers who might be visiting to “case your joint”.

Using some old Android phones (an Android-compatible Windows Mobile device such as the HTC HD2 could also be used) with the IP Webcam app installed and the Webcam Watcher desktop app for Windows, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to setup, position and start monitoring activity in and around your property.

PC-Based Home Security Project

There is a strong argument for using smaller devices for DIY home security projects, but for reliability you may opt for a dedicated PC.

While the power requirements might be a little OTT (dump the old power-hungry CPU for something more modern if this is the case) a wider selection of apps and strong cross-platform support exists, whether you’re using Windows or a suitable Linux distro.


Ryan Dube has previously illustrated how to build a Wi-Fi home surveillance system using a PC as the main central component, quite similar to the system using old smartphones above. Meanwhile, as illustrated by James, you can configure such a system to issue alerts to your iPhone and notifications can also be setup for other mobile devices.

Note that monitoring apps can prove temperamental at times. Make sure you make the right choice when selecting an app, looking for compatibility and reliability, and ensuring it is capable of displaying images from wireless webcams.

Five security systems that you can make yourself and secure your property, preferably with mobile alerts! Have you tried any of these already? Would you care to suggest something we might have missed? Tell us!

Image Source: Image Credit: Burglar Via Shutterstock, Web Surveillance Camera via Shutterstock


Google Announces The OnHub WiFi Router

Today Google announced that they are moving into the WiFi router market. The new router is produced through a partnership with TP-Link and it’s called OnHub. Google is marketing OnHub as a router that is simple to setup, effortless to maintain, and highly reliable. Much like Apple’s AirPort Extreme, the OnHub is a very tall router in order to integrate internal antennas, and it is managed via an app for your iOS or Android device. The mobile app will also allow you to see which devices are using bandwidth, and to apply QoS rules to limit devices from using too much. During setup it will automatically select the best channel for minimal interference, and can adjust on its own as necessary. Software updates are also automatically downloaded and applied, which makes it essentially self maintaining as long as Google’s promise of reliable connectivity is met.

As far as specifications go, OnHub is marketed as an AC 1900 router which really says it’s a 3×3 802.11ac router that which has a data rate of 1300Mbps on an 802.11ac link and 600Mbps on an 802.11n link. In addition to being a dead simple WiFi router, OnHub also comes with support for the major protocols which will be used by home automation devices, including Bluetooth Smart, Google Brillo/Weave, and IEEE 802.15.4. The OnHub router is available for preorder now from various retailers in the US, and both the blue and black versions cost $199

Source: Official Google Blog



How To Bypass iOS 8 iCloud Activation Lock Screen on 8.1.3

In an unexpected turn of events, an iOS 8 activation lock bypass has emerged. You can now bypass iOS 8 activation lock using a custom DNS server and some glitches. This is not a forever solution but can allow access into the device to achieve the previous owners email for contacting purposes. This will also allow you to make use of the activation locked device and bypass the iOS 8 activation lock and watch movies, youtube or play games. There are many functions to explore with thus bypass method.

This method has been tested with the iPhone 5S, 5 and 4S by me personally all on the latest iOS 8.1.3 firmware. This does also work on the latest iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch 5G models.

Step 1.The custom DNS server you need to enter is:

Step 2. Go to the last activation screen and select ‘Activation Help’, this will boot you over to the custom website. Here you can play games, watch youtube and so much more. If you wish to permanently bypass iOS 8 activation lock, read on below.

Step 3. Go to ‘Applications’ and select ‘Crash Test 1′. This will respring your device.

Step 4. Navigate to WiFi settings once again, click on the ‘i’ and select ‘Manual’ on the ‘HTTP Proxy’ area.

Step 5. Add 30 random emoji icons to the ‘Server’ option and type ‘8888’ in the ‘Port’ option.

Step 6. Click back and then next. As shown in the video above, proceed to slide to unlock and click the language options for a solid 2-3 minutes to finally be booted to the homescreen.

Step 7. Once on the homescreen you can open 3 applications, Phone, Newsstand and Facetime. Note you need to force restart by holding Power + Home every time you open an app to restart your device and the bypass iOS 8 activation lock process.

Step 8. Open the Facetime application and here you can find the email of the previous owner to which you can email and ask that your device be taken off their iCloud account. If you can’t find the email here, restart this process and open the Phone application to see the owners phone number.

Hope this helps you with your activation locked device!

Microsoft loves Linux

But you may ask “Why is Microsoft working with Linux and open source?”, or “What’s Microsoft’s plan going forward?”, or “What does ‘Microsoft loves Linux’ mean for me as a customer?”

At the core, “Microsoft ♥ Linux” is driven by what we’ve heard from you as customers.  You run workloads on Windows.  You run workloads on Linux.   You run these workloads in your on-premises datacenters, hosted at service providers, and in public clouds.  You just want it all to work, and to work together regardless of the operating system.  We hear you, and understand that your world is heterogeneous.  Bottom line, this is a business opportunity for Microsoft to offer heterogeneous support — both Windows and Linux workloads – on-premises and in a public cloud.  Microsoft can add real value in a heterogeneous cloud.

It may come as a surprise, but Microsoft has been working with Linux for a number of years.  System Center Operations Manager has offered Linux and UNIX monitoring since 2009.   Drivers for running Linux guests on Hyper-V became widely available for a number of distros in 2010, and we even have drivers for running FreeBSD guests on Hyper-V.  Microsoft Azure offered Linux VMs on “day 1” of the Azure IaaS general availability in 2013.

We’ve built a significant customer base that is using Linux with Microsoft products.  Several hundred thousand Linux and UNIX servers in production usage today are managed by System Center, with the largest customers managing nearly 10,000 Linux servers.  Customers such as, Equifax, the United Kingdom government FCO Services, and Europcar operate Microsoft clouds on-premises running Hyper-V and System Center with many VMs running Linux.  More than 20% of the VMs in Azure IaaS are running Linux.  Azure is offering the HDInsight (Hadoop) service running on Linux in addition to running on Windows.  And if you look more broadly, Microsoft offers key productivity software such as Office365, Skype, and RDP clients on Linux-based and BSD-based client operating systems such as iOS, Android, and Mac OS X.

What does this all add up to?  Working with Linux isn’t new at Microsoft.  In fact, Linux is already a sizable commitment for Microsoft that is now getting a higher public profile.  We see executing on that commitment as a critical part of what we offer customers.

Linux in your datacenter

Microsoft is making huge investments in the foundational cloud technologies that are described in other entries in this blog series:  Compute, Networking, and Storage.  These investments are informed by our experience with the hyper-scale Azure public cloud.  They are also independent of the guest operating system, so they work for both Windows and Linux.  Great features like storage quality-of-service, network virtualization, and super-fast live migration using RDMA work for Linux just like they work for Windows.  In the product development teams, when we envision and design new capabilities for the cloud foundation, we ask “How does this work for Windows?” and we ask “How does this work for Linux?”   As a result, the Microsoft offering for on-premises datacenters is fundamentally heterogeneous, able to run Windows and Linux guests in a unified fashion.

Of course, some capabilities require the cooperation of the guest OS.  For these capabilities, Microsoft developers write the Linux device driver code for Hyper-V and participate in the Linux community to get the code into the upstream Linux kernel at  Then we engage with distro vendors like Red Hat, Canonical, Oracle, and SUSE to enable full support on Hyper-V for these distros that you are probably running.  As a result, Linux runs great on Hyper-V!

We also invest in the management layer.  We are announcing that the first version of Powershell Desired State Configuration (DSC) for Linux is now available. With DSC for Linux, you can do consistent configuration management across Windows and Linux.  On Linux you can install packages, configure files, create users & groups, and set up services.   DSC for Linux is also an open source project, available on GitHub.

Our enterprise management functionality in System Center Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager manages Linux right alongside Windows so that you can have a single systems management infrastructure for your heterogeneous datacenter.   We’ve taken System Center management beyond just the Linux operating system, and into open source middleware such as Tomcat, JBoss, Apache Web Server, and MySQL.  Also, we have extended our hybrid services to include Linux — for example, Azure Site Recovery between on-premises datacenters (or service providers) and Azure.

Linux in Microsoft Azure

As we’re doing for the on-premises datacenter, Microsoft is making huge investments in the Azure public cloud.  Again, our goal is that everything in Azure works for Linux VMs just like it works for Windows VMs.  Capabilities like the huge “G” series VM sizes, Premium Storage, and Azure Backup for VMs are available for both Windows and Linux, as is a range of extensions for custom scripting, regaining access, and OS patching.  Some capabilities, such as integration with Docker, Chef, and other open source projects, are available to you on Linux before they are available on Windows.

Azure offers a range of enterprise-ready Linux distros in Azure:  SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, openSUSE, Ubuntu Linux, Oracle Linux, and Core OS, as well as community distro such as CentOS.  Or you can upload your own custom Linux image.

If you are consuming Azure services, you want flexibility to access those services from a Windows computer, or from a Linux or Mac OS X computer.  For starters, you’ve probably used the Azure portal, which is an HTML5 web application that works in browsers running on Windows as well as browsers on Linux and Mac OS X.  But as your usage progresses, you may want to integrate Azure into your operational processes.  On Windows, Powershell is the primary scripting and automation interface.   For Linux and Mac OS X (and Windows), Azure offers a node.js-based package of commands for scripting and automating the full lifecycle of Azure services.

In Azure datacenters, Microsoft personnel are now operating PaaS services based on Linux as well as services based on Windows.  The HDInsight (Hadoop) service is the first to be available on Linux, and it makes good business sense for other services using “born on Linux” open source projects to just run on Linux rather than being ported to Windows.  Internal tools for monitoring, diagnosing, patching, and meeting compliance requirements have been extended to include these Linux-based services.


Microsoft is doing a lot of work with Linux – for on-premises datacenters and services providers, as well as in the Azure public cloud.  We know you run workloads on both Windows and Linux.  We’ve made running and managing Linux workloads a fundamental part of our product offering so that the result is well integrated and just works.  Go to learn more about the investments we’re making.  Remember, “Microsoft ♥ Linux”!