Using Phinx Programmatically

Phinx is a really cool database migration package that allows you to write changes to your database as code. It keeps track of which changes have been applied and allows you the option of rolling back if you hit an issue. All the documentation on Phinx describes a typical setup where you would run the phinx command to do your migrations. And that is all fine and good in most projects. But what happens if you are integrating Phinx into an existing project that already has a lot of the usual scaffolding in place?

Monitoring for Filesystem Changes using PHP and Laravel

Let’s say you have a Laravel application that does some data processing, and you want to monitor a directory for incoming changes, that you can then process using queued jobs. There are a couple of ways you could do something like this. You could scan those directories on a schedule using a cronjob. It’s doable. But what happens if you want to monitor a few thousand directories for changes? You can use tools like incron. Also doable, but another dependency. But what if I told you you could do it all with PHP. And within Laravel, no less?

New Open Source Code

Launched two new pieces of open source code in the last couple of months. PlayerControls PlayerControls is a macOS Cocoa framework that creates a View containing playback controls for media like videos or sounds. It is written in pure Swift 4 and has no dependencies. SearchParser SearchParser is a parser that converts a freeform query into an intermediate object, that can then be converted to query many backends (SQL, ElasticSearch, etc). It includes translators for SQL (using PDO) and Laravel Eloquent ORM. It supports a faceted language search as commonly found on many sites across the web. It is written in modern PHP. Both are licensed under the MIT license. Go check them out on Github.

Building Meaningful Video Thumbnails Using FFMPEG and PHP

Working on doing some upgrades for one of my clients and I hit on an idea. He has a lot of videos available, but each one only has a static image as a thumbnail, taken at a set point in the video (by default; the owner or and admin can go in and recreate the thumbnail at a different time point if they want.) But what if, instead, we could create an animated GIF composed of several frames from the video? From a user’s perspective, a single frame might not tell you a lot about a video. But ten frames taken over the course of the whole video can tell you a lot more about the video than the single frame would. How would we implement something like that?

Harvesting Nest Thermostat Data For Fun And Profit

Okay, no profit in this, but it certainly is fun! I have two Nest thermostats in my house and, after some teething pains (yay the life of an early adopter) they have been pretty solid. But they’re also black boxes that I know little about. I know they’re collecting mountains of data and sending it back to the Google mothership. Wouldn’t it be nice to get at some of that data and build my own reports?

More collectd and pfSense Fun!

Extending my post from last year, here’s some additional data I’m grabbing from pfSense and stuffing into collectd via a script. I’m now grabbing: DHCP Leases CPU Temperature Thermal Zone Temperature SSD Drive Temperature UPS information (via NUT) Here’s the exec script:

Collecting Data From pfSense Using collectd

So I’ve recently been on a graphing thing, wanting to collect all kind of data from my home network. And collectd seems to be a good candidate for doing that. With a huge number of plugins, it can collect and send just about anything you can think of to a time series database (I’m using InfluxDB for this). But, there’s a significant hole in my data collection: my pfSense firewall. Well, not anymore!

Securely Signing PHP Phar Files With OpenSSL

PHP’s PHAR archives (PHp ARchives, get it?) are a neat development. They’re a way to distribute an entire PHP application as a single archived file that can be executed directly by the PHP intepreter without unarchving them before execution. They’re broadly equivalent to Java’s JAR files and they’re super useful for writing small utilities in PHP.

Merging M4V files on a Mac ... with chapters!

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, one of my projects right now is ripping all the DVDs I own so that I can watch them on my AppleTV (or any AppleTV in the house). Well, one of the problems I’ve run into a couple of times is longer movies that are distributed on two discs. This is usually movies like the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition or The Ten Commandments. Really, they’re one movie, but are distributed as two separate movies because of the restrictions of physical media. Well, digital media imposes no such restrictions on us, so why have two separate movies listed on the AppleTV? So after much trial and error, I finally discovered a way to get everything play nicely together. Unfortunately, this is not an easy problem to solve and even involved me writing a small script that could merge chapter files together because every single method I could find would eliminate chapter markers. So here, in abbreviated form, is the process for merging m4v files together and preserving chapter markers. Note: This tutorial assumes some level of technical proficiency. This is not a point-and-click process (yet :P) and requires the use of multiple tools and the shell. Tools you’ll need: Handbrake or whatever tool you’re using for ripping your legally obtained DVDs. MetaX and/or iDentify Subler remux Quicktime, which is now built into Mac OS X. chaptermerge, a script I wrote that merges chapter files together. The proces: Rip both movies from their individual DVDs using Handbrake or whatever other tool you’re using. Be sure that you’re adding chapter markers. Load each movie into MetaX and download the chapter names. That’s really the only thing you need to add to the file. Save the files with chapter names. Load each movie into Subler and extract the chapter files. To do this, select the chapter track and select File -> Export. Now, open the first movie in Quicktime. Drag the second movie on top of the first one. Quicktime will add the two together. Save the movie for use on an AppleTV. Get a beer or 6, because this takes awhile. While the movie is saving, use chaptermerge to merge the chapter files together. See the docs on how it works. Once the file has finished saving as a Quicktime MOV (it’s actually still h.264 inside the file), fire up remux and convert the merged file back into an m4v. Drag the file into remux, set the output to m4v, and save. Should be pretty quick - a matter of minutes. Load the merged file back into Subler and add the merged chapter track. Drag the chapter file into the Subler window. Save the file. Load the merged file into a tool such as iDentify or MetaX and add the remaining metadata. That’s it! You now have a merged file with both parts of the movie, accurate chapter markers and full metadata, ready to be copied to iTunes and viewed on your AppleTV.