PushingBox API: Real Time Notifications for IoT Devices, Applications and Web Services – Part 1

PushingBox is a cloud service that sends notifications based on API calls — you can trigger the service by HTTP request (GET/POST) or email. PushingBox is called from almost anything, e.g., Arduino, Spark Core, IFTTT, email, SmartThings, an HTTP request or your own script. Dozens of services, such as emails, Tweets, SmartWatch notifications, Push Notifications (iOS, Android, WindowsPhone), Windows8 Notifications and MacOS Notifications can be utilized.

In a previous blog post, Revolution11 introduced iBeacons, Apple’s protocol that allows mobile devices (iOS and Android) to pick up signals from small sensors using the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol. The uses for iBeacons are endless, and as our consumption of “stuff” from mobile devices increases, sensors such as iBeacons will deliver rich contextual content from everyday objects.

In this example, we combine iBeacons with PushingBox API and Pushbullet to send notifications to iOS devices and Chrome browser with a FileMaker solution.

Set-Up:

1. Go to https://www.pushingbox.com/ and sign up for an account. Notifications are created from an API call to the services supported by PushingBox. Next, configure the service you are sending the notification from. You can do it at the My Services page.

2. Add a service:

PB1

3.  Select the Pushbullet service:

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The Pushbullet Service dialog box will prompt you to name the service and enter the access token used in the API call.

4. Download Pushbullet at this point by clicking on the link (1)

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5. Signup for a Pushbullet account and Create an Access Token (2).  You can use a Google account to sign into the PushingBox and Pushbullet accounts making it simple and quick.

a. Enter the access token back in the Pushbullet service.

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6. Create a “scenario” and add an action to which the service will use and eventually write the text to send. The action is essentially the customized information you will use in your scenario.

a. Go to “My Scenarios” and give the service a name of your choice and click “Add”

b. This is step is where you will get the DeviceID used in the API call. Select “Manage”

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7. Select “Add an Action” and note your DeviceID:

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Pushbullet or any other scenario you’ve set up will be available to add an action too.

8. Select “Add an action with this service

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From here you can create the message you want to send or use variables if you want to send some customized information with your scenario.

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Here we are creating variables for use in a FileMaker solution, in this example we create variables:

$MessageTitle$

$RSE_Message$

Be on the lookout for our next blog post where we will create the FileMaker solution and integrate it with iBeacons, PushingBox, and Pushbullet Web service. Revolution11 is continually seeking innovative solutions for our clients.

Download a PDF here: PushingBox API

PushingBox API: Real Time Notifications for IoT Devices, Applications and Web Services – Part 1

Using Sensors To Get Information Sent To Your Mobile Device

ibeacon copyiBeacon and Other Bluetooth Low Energy Sensors – Getting Information from the Physical Environment with Mobile Devices


FileMaker recently announced support of iBeacons with FileMaker Go. iBeacon is Apple’s protocol that allows mobile devices (iOS and Android) to pick up signals from small sensors using the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol. In the case of the iBeacon protocol, devices can be associated with “things.” A sensor can be attached, literally, to any physical object, and by utilizing the unique identifier broadcast from the sensor, information about the object is fetched and sent to your phone.

For instance, a sensor is attached to a piece of art in a gallery and users passing by can quickly retrieve information about the specific artwork. You could also place a bunch of sensors on every item on every pallet of inventory on a truck, and the person receiving that inventory could tell if something was missing before even unloading the truck. Unlike barcodes or Quick Response (QR) codes, sensors do not have to be “scanned,” they are broadcast and have a range of about 70 meters, with the range on some sensors being configurable to greater or lesser distances. Users do not have to configure anything or make a connection to start receiving sensor data – simply open the app and nearby sensor information will be delivered to the device.

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While iBeacon fulfills a specific need, it is not the only game in town. Increasingly, these specialized sensors have the ability to broadcast many protocols at once. Google has a competing protocol called Eddystone, which can broadcast four different packet formats (and with some sensors, you can use all four). Additionally, you can take advantage of all of this sensor goodness with a variety of web services:

UID – This is pretty much just like Apple’s iBeacon Protocol where sensors broadcast a unique identifier picked up over Bluetooth for mobile devices

URL – This format broadcasts a URL across the Google platform (in Google Play and in Google Chrome); these URLs are displayed without the user having to download any software

TLM – This format broadcasts Telemetric data such as battery voltage, beacon temperature, light and motion

EID – This format is for more secure implementations requiring a random unique ID, where the meaning is derived from the cloud resolver hosted by Google

It is also possible to broadcast custom packet formats from sensors.

All of these sensors come in a variety of form factors and capabilities. You can get coin-sized sensors, sticker-type sensors, and even sensors that can be embedded in clothing and washed. Imagine the ability to solve many business needs with sensors that can track movement, relay their location, give temperature readings, monitor light and motion, and retrieve information. It is now easier than ever to incorporate data from the physical environment with your business solutions.  The Revolution11 team is excited to incorporate the sensors when solving client needs — the uses for iBeacon and the other protocols are endless.

Download a PDF of this blog: iBeacon Sensors

Using Sensors To Get Information Sent To Your Mobile Device

Utilizing Twilio and ThingSpeak API in IoT Applications

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Rapid Systems Engineering Lets Your Devices Talk To You

Rapid Systems Engineering recently posted about how they combined our solution that utilizes Twilio to automatically send notifications with ThingSpeak API and Infrared Sensors to create automatic messaging and data collection whenever any motion is detected out in the field.

You can read about it here.

Utilizing Twilio and ThingSpeak API in IoT Applications

Introducing Twilio Labs…

Twilio_logo_red

Twilio Labs is where additional features for the Twilio core platform are published.

Twimlets

The projects accessed through Twilio Labs are called Twimlets.  Twimlets are small web applications that implement basic voice application functionality.  They are open source so you can modify Twimlets to suit your needs; they are also stateless so you can pass the URL parameters of execution in when you call them.

Using Twimlets

You can wire up a phone number to the URL of a Twimlet, and they can be combined with your own applications. Twimlets can also be chained based on what happens during their execution.

The Twimlets currently available are:

Forward

will forward a call to another phone number and can forward to a new URL if the call isn’t answered

Find Me

will ring up to 10 phone numbers in order until someone answers the call

Simulring

will dial 2-5 phone numbers simultaneously and the first person to answer is connected to the caller

Voicemail

will ask the user to leave a message and will email the audio recording to a specified email address

Simple Menu

will play a message for the caller and wait for them to press digits that will launch them to a new URL or twimlet based on their selection

Simple Message

will play one or more audio files, say one or more text blocks, or any combination of both

Call Me

a simpler version of Simulring or Find Me that only rings one number and will forward to another URL or Twimlet if no one answers

Echo

outputs TwiML passed in via the URL, which is useful for building completely stateless apps that place outbound calls

Conference

allows you to build a simple conference line

Hold Music

plays hold music indefinitely based on music stored in an S3 bucket

Twimlet Generator

Twilio Labs provides a Twimlet Generator where you can build up and test a Twimlet URL on the website.

Below is the Forward Twimlet Generator and its Configuration parameters using Twilio’s Try It Out! section found in each Twimlet example:

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Twilio Sample File in FileMaker

Within FileMaker, Twimlets can be utilized by HTTP requests and the “Insert From URL” function.  Revolution 11 developed a sample file to send text messages shown in the blog “Twilio Sample PHP & Instructions.” In this blog, we integrated the Hold Music Twimlet.

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By entering a phone number in the “To Phone Number” section and pressing Send SMS button, the phone number you entered receives this SMS text message:

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When we enter the phone number we want to reach and press “Call 1,” the phone number receives a call with music playing.

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Download a PDF of this blog here: Introducing Twilio Labs…

Introducing Twilio Labs…

Merging Your Mandrill Account With MailChimp – Part 2

Adding SPF and DKIM Records and Verifying Ownership of Your Sending Domain Through your Domains DNS Settings or Cpanel.

In Merging Your Mandrill Account With MailChimp – Part 1, we covered the process for merging your Mandrill with a MailChimp account. In this blog we continue to discuss the domain authentication to ensure those transactional emails keep flowing!

How to Set Up Sending Domains

Adding SPF and DKIM records and verifying ownership of your sending domains provides authentication to prove an email isn’t forged. Authentication helps legitimate senders prove that their email isn’t forged, and can help receiving servers like ISPs and corporate email servers control inbound spam. This is important because it prevents you from having to configure settings for different email clients and establishes a positive reputation for your domain. Essentially, it saves a lot of extra work in dealing with the variety of email clients your users receiving your emails use, and avoids having your “sent” emails ending up in junk or spam folders.

There are great articles to learn more about SPF and DKIM and domain verification  in your Mandrill account.

Verify the Domain

Log on to Mandrill and navigate to Settings/Domains/Sending-domains then click “Verify A Domain” and enter an email address for the domain you wish to verify.

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You will receive an email with a confirmation link – click the link and you’ve verified the domain can accept incoming email.

Set Up SPF and DKIM for Your Sending Domains

To add the SPF and DKIM records for your sending domains, you’ll need to add ‘TXT’ records through your hosting provider, domain registrar, or DNS provider usually through a cPanel. We will demonstrate by logging onto our domain (using GoDaddy as an example), navigating to manage DNS settings and the location of files or records stored on the domain’s server.

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SPF Record

If you don’t yet have an SPF record, add one for your domain by using the “Add Record.”

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At a minimum, the value should be the following if you’re only sending mail through Mandrill for that domain:

First Blurb

 

 

If you already have a TXT record with SPF information, you’ll need to add Mandrill’s servers to that record by adding include:spf.mandrillapp.com in the record (before the last operator, which is usually ?all, ~all, or -all).

In GoDaddy this is done through a popup widget where you enter the above values as shown:

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DKIM Record

Repeat the process for the DKIM using the “Add Record”

Blurb 2

In GoDaddy, this is done through a popup widget where you enter the above values as shown:

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DNS Providers

Here are useful links and information for several hosting and DNS providers provided by Mandrill’s help files that can guide you through your set up:

Provider

Links

Formatting Notes

CPanel (general)

Many hosting providers offer CPanel to manage your domain. CPanel instructions are often similar among hosts that offer this option.

Bluehost
GoDaddy

DKIM record typically escaped automatically.

The ‘name’ of your DKIM record should be
where yourdomain.com is replaced by the domain name where you’re adding the record. Most hosts that utilize cPanel don’t automatically add the domain name to the end of the record name.
mandrill._domainkey.yourdomain.com

Amazon Route 53

Route 53 console
Route 53 API

 
CloudFlare

SPF records

DKIM record escaped automatically.

DKIM records

DNS Made Easy

DNS Made Easy

The ‘Value’ field where you enter the content for each record must be enclosed in quotes.
DreamHost

DreamHost

 
DynDNS

DynDNS

The ‘data’ field where you enter the value for each record must be enclosed in double quotes.
GoDaddy

Plesk Panel 9

 

Plesk Panel 10

 
Hover

Hover

 
ZoneEdit

ZoneEdit

 

Download a PDF of this blog: Mandrill MailChimp 2

Merging Your Mandrill Account With MailChimp – Part 2

Merging Your Mandrill Account With MailChimp – Part 1

Is Your Mandrill Account In Jeopardy of Being Disabled?

Mandrill recently announced that it would no longer be offered as a standalone service, but as an add on for paid monthly MailChimp accounts.

As of April 27, 2016 your Mandrill account will be disabled if you don’t have a paid monthly MailChimp account merged with your Mandrill account.

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Sign up for a MailChimp account to avoid the cancellation and your transactional emails will continue to flow! As of March 16, 2016 all new Mandrill accounts will be created and accessed through MailChimp. Read more on the changes via the MailChimp blog.

What Do You Need to Do?

  • If you already have a paid monthly MailChimp account follow these instructions to merge your accounts.
  • If you don’t have a paid monthly MailChimp account, create one at mailchimp.com. We will walk you through the process of merging the accounts:

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NOTE – Starting April 27, 2016 Mandrill will not send any email from unverified domains or domains without valid SPF and DKIM records, including public domains like gmail.com and yahoo.com. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to add SPF and DKIM records and verify ownership of your sending domains. Here’s an article explaining how to do that – we also explain below.

Connecting Your Mandrill and MailChimp Accounts 

Go to mailchimp.com and sign up for a paid account. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be sent an email to Activate Account. In order to continue using Mandrill, your MailChimp account will need to be upgraded to a monthly plan. Any paid monthly MailChimp plan will do – plans start at $10/month.

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Mandrill is a paid add-on for any MailChimp monthly plan in which users purchase “blocks” of 25,000 emails. The price of each block starts at $20, but decreases as you purchase additional monthly blocks. Once you’ve created your MailChimp account and successfully upgraded to a paid monthly plan follow these steps to merge your accounts and convert your Mandrill account to a paid MailChimp add-on:

  1. Ensure that each of your sending domains in Mandrill is fully configured. After merging with a MailChimp account, any mail sent through Mandrill from unverified domains or domains without valid SPF and DKIM records will be rejected.
    Note: See Part 2 of this blog where we explain adding SPF and DKIM records and verifying ownership of your sending domain through your domains DNS settings or cPanel.
  2. Log in to the MailChimp account that you want to connect with your Mandrill account.
  3. Navigate to the Transactional page in your MailChimp account and click Upgrade.

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4. Click Add Mandrill and select Yes, I have an existing Mandrill account.

5. When prompted, enter the username, password, and any multi-factor authentication information (if applicable) for the Mandrill account being linked to authorize that connection. Click Continue with the Linking Process to configure billing for Mandrill.

6. Choose the number of transactional email blocks that you’ll purchase at the beginning of each billing cycle. Blocks expire at the end of each billing cycle. For more information, see How Mandrill Billing Works.  We purchased one block of 25,000 emails.

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7. Configure your account to help prevent any disruption in sending due to exceeding the number of purchased email credits for that billing cycle. After setting a threshold of remaining email credits, you can choose to receive an alert or set up your account to automatically purchase additional top-off blocks when that threshold is reached.

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8. After confirming the billing information, complete the checkout process by clicking Complete Purchase to finalize the merge between your MailChimp and Mandrill accounts. Please note that this step is irreversible—after a Mandrill account has been converted to a MailChimp add-on, it cannot be linked to any other MailChimp account.

Download a PDF of this blog here: Mandrill MailChimp 1

Merging Your Mandrill Account With MailChimp – Part 1

Mac & Windows: Customize Your Desktop Icons

This posting will show you how to quickly create personalized icons on your Mac and Windows desktops in order to more easily locate important files and improve the aesthetic of your workspace.

Mac Tutorial

On a Mac, you can change the icon of an application, folder, or file on your desktop using the following steps:

Step 1: Open an image you want to use in Preview

pinkflower

Step 2: Copy the image

flowercopy

Step 3: Select “Get Info” on the file or folder you want to customize

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Step 4: Click on the folder you’ve selected and press “Paste”

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Result: The old generic folder icon has now been customized

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Windows Tutorial

In Windows, you can change desktop icons as well.

Step 1: Download an image or draw one in Paint and save it as .ico (Microsoft icon)

Step 2: Resize the image to 32 pixels x 32 pixels

windowsicon

Step 3: Right click on a desktop icon you want to change and click “Properties”

properties

Step 4: Select “Change Icon”

changeicon

Step 5: Find the icon you created and select “OK”

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Result: Your desktop icon has been customized

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Download a PDF of this blog here: Customize Your Icons

 

 

 

Mac & Windows: Customize Your Desktop Icons