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Automating your Android phone with Tasker : Part 1

For those of you with an Android phone, you need to get Tasker. If you don’t have it, you’re missing out on a truly great application. It’s described as “Total Automation for Android” by the author, but what does that mean for you? Well it’s simple really, your phone does things, you do things in response to that. Tasker can do most of that for you. Let me put that in a few practical examples.

  • You like to disable your Wifi radio to save power, but you want it running when you’re at home or at work. Tasker can do this for you by looking at what cell towers your connected to. (More on this later, but it’s ridiculously awesome and doesn’t burn battery like using the GPS does)
  • You get home, your phone gets in range of Wifi and connects automatically. Normally, you’d want your ringer on and at max volume. Tasker can detect that you’re connected to your home Wifi network and setup the ringer for you.
  • You get into your car and plug your phone in. Normally, you’d want the wifi turned off, 4G turned on, hotspot enabled, and the car panel application started. Tasker can do all of that for you.
  • When you boot your phone, you need your phone setup a certain way. I like mine with the Display Rotation turned off, brightness on auto, display timeout at 30 seconds, WiMax off, etc. Tasker does all of that for me.
  • The Wifi sticks sometimes, but cycling it fixes the problem. Tasker cycles my Wifi for me every night and I no longer have issues.
  • Because I disable rotation, I lose the ability to view the Gallery and Browser in landscape mode. Tasker enables it for me whenever I start the Gallery and Browser applications and disables it when I exit them. This prevents my phone from entering landscape mode on my home screen (which drives me nuts) but lets me use rotation in the applications that I select.
  • Tasker can also create shortcuts/widgets to tasks, this allows you to perform many steps at once, such as my Wifi cycle task. This is also handy for things like my ringer enable task, which also sets the volume levels after it enables the ringer so my phone is always at the volumes I like.

And that’s just the beginning of what is possible with Tasker.

Part of the problem with Tasker is understanding what everything is. Most people probably haven’t read the Tasker manual (tl;dr), so let’s go over some Tasker terminology.

    • Action – A single thing that you want Tasker to do, like Turning the Wifi Radio on.
    • Task – A collection of actions. Tasks can contain one or many actions. An important thing to remember about Tasks is that you can call one Task from another Task. This will come in handy for repeating common tasks.
    • Profile – Profiles are used to define the states of when to execute tasks. Basically, you “enter” a profile when your phone matches all of the criteria of the profile, and you “exit” a profile when it no longer matches. You are allowed to define a task for entry and exit of profiles. This is how you correlate your tasks to what your phone is doing and teach it how to respond accordingly.

In this first article, I’m going to demonstrate my most common uses for Tasker.

First off, go download Tasker from the Android Market. (More links and a QR code at the bottom of this post)

Now that Tasker is installed, fire it up. It requires no real configuration so no need to worry about that yet. The first thing you want to do is change to the Flat view of your profiles. Contextual is great once you get the hang of Tasker, but for now, we’ll go with Flat. So at the Tasker screen, hit Menu -> View -> Flat.

Creating some tasks

The first thing you’re going to want to do is create some common tasks. These are things that you want to do from many profiles, like set the ringer volume. We’ll start by creating 3 tasks.

      • From the main screen, hit the Lightning Bolt icon (It’s the 4th one on the toolbar).
      • Now hit “New Task”. Name it “Ringer Enable”.
      • Hit the check mark and you’ll be at the Task Edit screen.

In my ringer enable profile, I like to set enable the ringer, and then set all of the volumes in one task. This way, the volume is always right. So first, let’s enable the ringer.

      • Hit the blue “+” button.
      • Go to “Audio”, then “Silent Mode”.
      • Set “Mode” to “Off” and hit the Green check mark.

Now let’s set the volumes.

      • Hit the “+” again, go to “Audio”, then “Alarm Volume”, set it to maximum volume (For me, that’s “7″).
      • Hit the check mark.
      • Now do the same for Notification Volume, Ringer Volume, and System Volume.

In addition to this, I like to add a popup notification.

      • Hit “+” again, go to “Alert”, then “Flash”. In the “Text” field, enter “Audio Mode”.

When you’re done, the task should look something like this.

Ringer Enable in Tasker

You now have a task that will setup your ringer the way you like it and notify you that it’s done. You’ll use this task a lot later.

Now create a Task called Ringer Disable, except this time set Silent Mode to “On” and set the Alert to “Silent Mode”. Don’t bother adjusting the volume controls this time. They’re all irrelevant since the ringer is off. Create one last task called “Ringer Vibrate” with Silent Mode set to “Vibrate” and the alert set to “Vibrate Mode”. You now have a base set of tasks to control the sound levels on your phone. For me, this alone was a life saver.

Here is what the other two ringer tasks look like.

Ringer Slient in Tasker

Ringer Vibrate in Tasker

Putting your tasks to work using profiles.

Now that we have some basic tasks in place, let’s put them to work. To do that, let’s create a profile. First off, let’s do a startup profile. In this profile, we’re going to setup the ringer, disable rotation, etc.

      • From the main menu, hit green “+” button on the toolbar.
      • Name the Profile “Startup”.
      • In the dialog box that pops up (First Context), select “Event”
      • Select “System”, then “Device Boot”
      • Hit the green check mark and when the Task Selection dialog pops up, select “New Task”.
      • Name it “Device Bootup”
      • In this task, first add an action to kill display rotation. (Display -> Display Rotation -> Off)
      • Now setup your desired brightness. I like automatic mode so I add an Action for it. (Display -> Auto Brightness -> On)
      • Disable your WiMax (this is handy if you have a phone that has the annoying habit of turning on 4G every time it reboots, thus draining the crap out of your battery for no reason). The action is under Net -> WiMax. Set it to off.

Now it’s time to turn the ringer on. Because we already have a task for it, let’s just call that task instead of repeating the same tasks.

      • Add an action to call the Ringer Enable task. Hit the + button, then select “Task”, then “Perform Task”. Press the magnifying glass that’s about the “Name” field and select your “Ringer Enable” task.

Your phone is now setup to configure itself the way you want it every time you reboot it.

This is what my Device Boot task looks like.

Device Bootup in Tasker

This concludes part one of this article. Next time, I’ll go over executing tasks based on what cell towers you’re near. This is one of my favorite features as it lets me control the behavior of my phone when I’m near home or my office. Used in concert with the “Wifi Connected” state, it allows me shut the Wifi off when I’m not near areas that don’t have it, but turn it on when I get close, and then setup the phone the way I like it for those certain areas. If you have Bluetooth for your car, you can use the “Bluetooth Connected” state to know when you’re in the car and act accordingly.

Enjoy the beginnings of Tasker! Be sure to hit the Tasker site and check out the documentation for more examples, then hit the Tasker Wiki for some really wild examples of what you can do with Tasker. Be forewarned, a lot of the stuff on the Wiki is very advanced, so get some practice under your belt before you dive into the advanced tasks.

Tasker Homepage Link
Tasker Market Link
Tasker Wiki Link
QR Code :
Android Market Link for Tasker

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Linksys E4200 and IPv6

On June 14th, 2011, Linksys released firmware update 1.0.02 (Build 13) for hardware version 1.0 of the Linksys E4200. This firmware contains the long awaited implementation of IPv6 for the E4200!

The good news is, it works! The bad news is, not with Comcast apparently. More on that later. First things first, here’s a screenshot of my current setup.

Linksys E4200 IPv6 Configuration Dialog


The first thing you’ll notice is that I had to disable the Automatic mode. That’s the “doesn’t work with Comcast” part. I put it in place, rebooted it a few times, released and renewed my IP, nothing. It could be my modem, but I doubt it. I’m using a DOCSIS 3.0 compliant surfboard which should be IPv6 compliant. Maybe it’s Comcast, but who knows?

In order to get this working, flip the “IPv6 – Automatic” toggle to Disabled, then put the “6rd Tunnel” to Manual Configuration. (The “Automatic Configuration” of the 6rd Tunnel didn’t work either.) Once you’re in Manual mode, you can head on over to and create yourself a login and a new tunnel. (Note : You’ll have to enable ping in order for Tunnel Broker to work. Go to Security -> Firewall and clear the check box next to “Filter Anonymous Internet Requests“. This will allow ICMP requests to come through and Tunnel Broker will allow you to create a tunnel.) Once you have the tunnel created, enter the “Server IPv4 Address” from tunnel broker into the “Border Relay” field on the E4200. Now enter the “Routed /64” from tunnel broker into the “Prefix” on the E4200. (Note : You need to get rid of the “::/64″ off of the end of the field that tunnel broker gives you.) Put “64” into the Prefix Length and “32” into the IPv4 Address Mask and Save Settings.

Head over to Status -> Router and at the very bottom, you should see “Tunnel Status:  Connected“. If you don’t, hit the Connect button. One thing, I did have to release and renew my IPv4 address for some reason. Probably because I was fiddling with all of the tunnel configurations, trying to get this thing to work.

Good luck and if anyone has any luck connecting to Comcast in Automatic mode, let me know. I’d love to go native instead of tunneling!

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Shameless Firefox Plug!

I’d like to give a shout out to the Mozilla team and show my support for Firefox 4. It’s fast and packed with features. Yet another generation of a great browser. If you don’t like the browser out of the box, grab some extensions. I recommend AdBlock Plus and if you’re really into security, go for NoScript. Stay thirsty my friends.

Firefox Download Button

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Exact Audio Copy and Nero’s AAC Encoder Part 2 : Update for EAC 1.0b2

The boys at Exact Audio Copy have been putting in some OT and there’s now a new version that does cover art available! Actually, it’s been available for quite a while but I haven’t updated because I was being lazy. :)

In my last article, I spent a lot of time talking about what options I had changed and all of that. In this case, most of my setup options upgraded correctly from my old options so I’m not exactly sure what I’ve changed from the defaults anymore. I’ve taken a screenshot of the relevant dialogs for comparison though. Keep in mind that I run a “Insert, Rip, and Eject” setup so I’ve got everything wired to be pretty much automatic.

Here are the dialogs for the general options. The external compression options that I use have changed quite a bit since the 1.0b2 release, so I’ll go into those more shortly.

EAC options - Extraction
EAC options - General
EAC options - Tools
EAC options - Filename
EAC options - Directories

And now on to the good stuff… the encoder options. EAC 1.0b2 changed all of the tag formats, fortunately it converted all of mine when I upgraded so I didn’t have to go figure them all out again. (Thanks to the EAC developers on that, it would have SUCKED) Here’s a screenshot of the configuration dialog.

Compression options - External Compression

Here are my settings for this dialog so you can copy/paste. :)

Use external program for compression : Checked
Parameter passing scheme : User Defined Encoder
Use file extension : .m4a
Program, including path, used for compression : C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe
Additional command-line options : /E:ON /C C:\Tools\aacencode.cmd %source% %dest% “%artist%” “%albumtitle%” “%title%” “%year%” “%tracknr%” “%numtracks%” “%genre%” “%comment%” “%cddbid%” “%coverfile%”
Delete WAV after compression : Checked
Use CRC check : Checked
Add ID3 tag : Unchecked
Check for external programs return code : Unchecked

And now for the script that you need to make it work. I keep mine in “C:\Tools\”. If you put yours somewhere else, adjust the paths above accordingly.

@echo off
REM Use with cmd.exe and the command line of
REM /E:ON /C C:\Tools\aacencode.cmd %source% %dest% "%artist%" "%albumtitle%" "%title%" "%year%" "%tracknr%" "%numtracks%" "%genre%" "%comment%" "%cddbid%" "%coverfile%"
C:\Tools\NeroAAC\Win32\neroaacenc.exe -q 1.0 -if %SOURCEFILE% -of %DESTFILE% 
C:\Tools\NeroAAC\Win32\Neroaactag.exe %DESTFILE% -meta:artist=%ARTIST% -meta:album=%ALBUMTITLE% -meta:track=%TRACKNUMBER% -meta:title=%TRACKTITLE% -meta:genre=%GENRE% -meta:year=%YEAR% -meta:isrc=%ISRC% -meta:totaltracks=%TOTALTRACKS% -meta:comment=%COMMENT%
C:\Tools\NeroAAC\Win32\Neroaactag.exe %DESTFILE% -add-cover:front:%COVER%

Here’s the zip archive of my scripts and tools to make all of this work. You’ll still need to download the Nero AAC Encoder yourself. Check the script to see where I put mine and adjust paths accordingly. I have also included a utility called “min.exe” that goes in C:\Tools. This utility minimizes the window so you don’t have to start at the Nero encoder window. Remove it if you don’t like that and you’re rather see the Nero AAC encoder do it’s thing.

AAC Encoder wrapper script

Once you’ve got all of this in place, pop in a CD and EAC should automatically go out and get the track information from FreeDB or GD3. If you’re using GD3, it’ll get the cover art too. If you’re using FreeDB, you’ll have an option to search for cover art and you’ll have to go select your own. (I also find cover art on Amazon’s CD store if the EAC search doesn’t get it) Now that your album information is loaded and ready, press F4 to do a gap scan, then press SHIFT-F5 to fire off the rip and compress process.

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Exact Audio Copy and Nero’s AAC Encoder

Update 2011/06/11 : I have updated these scripts for EAC 1.0b2, click here for the new article.

Having recently done a significant upgrade to the audio system in my Maxima and finally having an iPod option, I was faced with the dilemma of what format to encode my music in. I’ve got over 600 audio CDs that I’ve purchased over the years and I really wanted to get them into a common format. Seeing as all of my players and streaming devices support it now, AAC was the obvious choice. After several experiments and a lot of ripping, Exact Audio Copy and Nero’s AAC Encoder proved to be the best choice for sound quality when creating AAC files. The problem is that they don’t really work together out of the box…

With the help of my good friend Google, a little scripting, and a lot of patience, I’ve now come up with a way to encode AAC files through EAC in a simple process. Here are the steps I’ve taken to get Nero’s AAC encoder and Exact Audio Copy to play nice together. This also includes tagging the AAC files. :) I’ve attached the script I use to the end of this post.

First things first, grab a copy of Exact Audio Copy and Nero’s AAC Encoder. Install EAC and extract the AAC encoder to the folder of your choice. (For this example, I’ve extracted it to C:\Tools\NeroAAC)

Now it’s time to create a script file to launch NeroAAC. EAC’s “external tools” command line doesn’t allow enough characters to run all of the commands we’re going to run and we’re also passing more than 9 command line parameters so we have to do some shifting and such. Here is the contents of the file I use to execute Nero AAC. I’ve named my file aacencode.cmd and saved it into C:\Tools. If you need to adjust the quality settings of Nero AAC, this is the file where those settings are located. Run the NeroAACEnc utility to see what options are available. This batch file has the quality cranked to maximum. At this level it’s really difficult to tell the resulting AAC files from the original CDs. :)

@echo off
REM Use with cmd.exe and the command line of
REM /E:ON /C C:\Tools\aacencode.cmd %s %d "%a" "%g" "%t" "%y" "%n" "%x" "%m" "%e" "%f"
C:\Tools\NeroAAC\Win32\neroaacenc.exe -q 1.0 -if %SOURCEFILE% -of %DESTFILE% && C:\Tools\NeroAAC\Win32\Neroaactag.exe %DESTFILE% -meta:artist=%ARTIST% -meta:album=%ALBUMTITLE% -meta:track=%TRACKNUMBER% -meta:title=%TRACKTITLE% -meta:genre=%GENRE% -meta:year=%YEAR% -meta:isrc=%ISRC% -meta:totaltracks=%TOTALTRACKS% -meta:comment=%COMMENT%

Now it’s time to configure EAC. Launch EAC and go into the EAC menu in the top left. Go to “Compression Options”, then click the “External Compression” tab. Check the “Use external program for compression” option and select “User Defined Encoder”. In the file extension box, put “.m4a”. In the Program Path, select C:\Windows\System32\cmd.exe. If you’re using a different directory for your windows installation, please adjust accordingly. In the Additional command-line options, use the following
/E:ON /C C:\Tools\aacencode.cmd %s %d "%a" "%g" "%t" "%y" "%n" "%x" "%m" "%e" "%f"
Note : If you’re not using the same script file name or path as me, please adjust accordingly.

Make sure the “Add ID3 tag” is unchecked, the rest of the options are personal preference or irrelevant.
(Just a footnote, all of this configuration was done with EAC 0.99 prebeta 5)

This is what my screen looks like

Now would be a good time to go through the rest of the options in EAC and set up your desired directory structure, file naming conventions, etc. All of this needs to be done before the ripping process begins!

Once this is done, insert an Audio CD into your drive and when the track list comes up in EAC, click the CD icon on the tool bar to get CD information from FreeDB. Once the tracks are titled to your liking, select all of the tracks (use Edit -> Select All if you’re ripping the whole CD), and press Shift-F5 to extract the tracks and use the selected compression tool. You can also use the menus to do this.

That’s it! EAC should now begin extracting the tracks and firing off NeroAAC after each track. Enjoy the show!

As promised, I’ve attached my batch file so you won’t have to depend on copy/paste. :)
AAC Encoder wrapper script

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Another release of the Nikon NEF Codec, another release of “not good enough”.

Nikon just gave us the NEF Codec 1.10.0. Guess what it does for us? It supports their newer cameras of course. It also has a few other tweaks around color processing and distortion control.

Would you like to know what additional operating systems are supported? None! Yeah, that’s right. None! Vista 64-bit was released in November of 2006, almost 4 years ago. Yet still no 64-bit OS support from Nikon. What’s the deal guys? Adobe is all over it, with some of the software in CS5 requiring 64-bit. Where are you at Nikon? Oh that’s right, you’re doing a whole lot of nothing. I suppose you’re going to continue to be as ridiculous as Alpine and Parrot and just keep flogging the dead horse. They’re being stubborn and not supporting the newer platforms either. At least those guys are doing device level programming which can get kinky when you start to mix architectures. File format manipulation shouldn’t have these issues so it’s kind of ridiculous that Nikon won’t upgrade their tool chain and port it. Hell, release the source code, I’m sure it would take some open source developers all of about 3 days to port it for you. :D

So yeah. A new release. Great! I guess we’ll just keep having to buy 3rd party software to view/manipulate NEF files or be forced to shoot the reduced quality JPG. Oh well, whatever. Everyone’s workflow uses 3rd party products now anyway. Thanks for nothing Nikon.

For reference, this is the 3rd post I’ve made on this crap. I’ve been ranting for quite a while on this subject and if you’re tired of hearing about it, feel free to write someone at Nikon. I’m certainly tired of constantly ranting about it Here’s the link to the NEF Codec product page for those 32-bit users who want to download it and so Nikon’s web guys will see this post via the referrer link. :)

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More Android apps!

Since my last post on my favorite Android apps, I’ve found more that I like and decided to share them. I’ll skip the intro and just get right into the meat of things!

Enjoy the apps and thanks for the suggestions last time!

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The return to my car audio days!

At the end of 2008, I purchased a new 2009 Nissan Maxima. Up until that point, all of my vehicles had aftermarket audio systems in them. Some more radical than others, but always something other than stock. When I got the Maxima, I was too busy to care so I left the stock Bose system alone.

After some recent discussions with friends, i’ve started to feel the itch again. I’ve really started to miss the magnificent sound that I got from the audio system in my ’02 Accord. The Bose system in my Maxima is so flat sounding and the only adjustment options are Bass and Treble, and they tend to give it a really harsh sound when increased. It makes me miss the sound system in my Accord more and more every time I listen to it. What I don’t miss is not having a trunk any more! Fortunately for me, times have changed… Amplifiers are significantly smaller now, subwoofers take less airspace, and my Maxima has a nice wide opening between the wheel wells where I can put everything and still keep spare tire access and room for groceries.

With all that being said, i’ve decided to install a new system in my Maxima. Thanks to a little encouragement from my best friend, i’ve decided to go back to my roots and do the installation work myself. This should make for a fun summer project and will help me relieve some stress! I’ve purchased the first part of my audio equipment already. An Alpine CDA-117 leads the line up. I chose it for it’s superior audio quality and Alpine’s flexible AI-NET system that will let me chain processors, bluetooth, HD Radio, etc to the head unit. Signal processing duties will be performed by an Alpine PXA-H100, digitally connected via AI-NET to the CDA-117. I’ve got some Stinger RoadKill Expert to quiet the Maxima up a little and help with sound reflection inside of the door panels. Speaker wire is JL Audio 12awg copper wire. Power / Ground wires are JL Audio 4awg copper. Capacitor duties will be handled by my Phoenix Gold 15 Farad PowerCore. The cap is left over from my old system but it’s in perfect condition and I never had the first problem with it so I see no need to replace it.

Here’s a few pictures of the new equipment.

A comical note from my friend Trea … Bose is actually an acronym that stands for “Buy other stereo equpiment”. I couldn’t agree more.

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My favorite Android apps so far!

I’ve had several friends recently take the Android plunge and ask me what apps that i’m using, so I decided to write them up in a list for everyone to enjoy and comment on. They’re listed in no particular order and I’ve provided a link to them in the doubleTwist app catalog so you can read a description and scan the QR code to install.

If you’re new to Android, this app is the first thing you need to install. With it, you can scan the square bar codes (QR codes) on the app pages and your Android device will fire right into the market and let you install the app. So simple! Check out the description and icon on the following page, then search the Android market on your device and load the one with the same icon. It’s free and it works.

Once you’re ready with that, you’re going to need a good keyboard. I’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again. Swype is the way to go. It’s currently in Beta right now so you won’t be able to get it from the Android market, but trust me when I tell you that it’s worth signing up for the Beta and replacing your old keyboard with the Swype one. Here’s the link to the developer’s site. Give Swype a week as your default input method and you won’t go back.

Now that you’re able to Swype and ready to barcode scan, check out the following links and load some apps!

I hope you enjoy these apps as much as I have. Feel free to comment on them or make recommendations of your own.

Special Thanks to House of The Faculty for providing me with some updates and several of these apps.

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Bracelets for Rylee

It is with great sadness that I write this post. Jon and Melissa Simmons (Owners of Boston Aqua Farms) daughter was recently diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and is undergoing treatment. Jon and Missy have been friends of mine for the better part of a decade and they need all of the support we can give them right now.

The treatment plan is 2 years long and the bills are very high, The family has to travel about an hour to Boston twice a week for checkups and to receive treatments. To help pay the growing list of bills, Missy is making bracelets to sell to anyone that is willing to buy them. These are simple beaded bracelets but they are made with love and care and hope for Rylee’s future.

Please join with me in supporting them! Click here to donate or to buy a bracelet. Bracelets For Rylee

Rylee Simmons

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