Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Fixing my Zyxel NWA1123-AC

October 6, 2017 Leave a comment

My home network is pretty advanced. I have a PFSense home-built router (based on Zotac ZBOX CI323) that connects to my modem, several smart switches (Netgear JGS524E), and 2 wireless Access Points.  The two access points are both made by Zyxel; an NWA1123-AC and an NWA1123-ACv2.  I thought it would be prudent to upgrade the firmware of both devices this week but ran into a problem.

Since both need different firmware, I first downloaded the firmware for the v2 device, and then did the v1 device.  Somehow I managed to download the NWA1121-NI firmware for the v1 device, and then applied it. As I was doing some configuration on the device, I saw I was missing the 5 Ghz settings, which lead me to figuring out I had flashed it with the wrong firmware. I thought it would be easy to revert back since I was able to go one way, but that proved wrong! The device wouldn’t accept the correct firmware.

I did some hunting around the internet, gave up quick, and submitted a technical support request.  Zyxel got back to me the following day saying I would have to RMA the device, sending it back to them, assuming it was in warranty. After some following correspondents,  it was determined that I was out of warranty/support. I turned back to the internet.

I found, on Zyxel’s website (PDF), they had directions on how to have the device pull firmware from a TFTP server before the router fully booted. However, there were some critical steps missing.

  • There’s no serial port on the AP; WHAT?
  • How do I unzip a bin file? And how do I unzip what comes out of that?
  • What software do I use to TFTP?
  • What software do I use for a terminal?

Zyxel support insisted that this KB article on their site did not apply to my AP problem, and there was no way I could recover the device without sending it in to them.

I did some more hunting and found someone over at the site posted the internal parts of the NWA1123-AC AP, as well as some serial port details. I also found a page for serial port specifics saying I needed a USB TTL adapter.  The same page had details on the pins to connect the adapter to on the AP (see: Router with serial port / header / pins). Turns out Amazon and my local MicroCenter both carried a USB to TTL adapter, for use with RaspberryPi devices. I biked over to MicroCenter, and picked one up.

Once I got home, opened up my AP, connected everything, downloaded and set up Tera Term and TFTPD64, and starting going through the KB article. I used 7zip to extract the contents of the bin file, and the contents of the subsequent file. I ended up with the files shown in the KB article, so even though 7zip said there was extra contents that wasn’t extracted, I figured I was on the right track.

Everything seemed to work great, and got my device flashed with the correct firmware! Sadly, Zyxel’s poor design required me to clear my browser cache to get the AP’s config page working correctly, but if that was the only hiccup, I wasn’t too angry, and I had been stupid enough to flash the wrong firmware on the AP in the first place.

Access Point saved from certain death!


Amazon Alexa Skill – Electric Price

July 26, 2017 3 comments


I was sick of opening up my phone to check the ComEd hourly price of electric supply, so I decided to make an Alexa app for my Amazon Echo!

It took about 2 hours. It was strange I had to set up both an Alexa skill and the AWS Lamda function, then link the two. I ended up copying most of the code from someones reference code on checking stock prices. Changed the regular expression function which found the stock price to a substring of the ComEd API returned text. Works pretty well! Only problem I’ve had is when the ComEd API is down. If it happens too much, I guess I’ll have to update it with some error handling.

Alexa Skill: Electric Price

Ask: “Alexa, ask Electric Price for Current Price.”

The logo is crap, I know.  And I couldn’t use the ComEd company name in any of the program details/functions, so its a bit generic.  But pretty good for my first try if I do say so myself!

Raspberry Pi CTA Tracker Kiosk

February 9, 2017 Leave a comment



I purchased a Raspberry Pi 3 about a year ago and finally got around to creating a fully functional CTA bus/train tracker out of it.

Parts Needed

Raspberry Pi 

Micro SDHC Cards


Cable (Cable that came with screen was defective)

Keyboard and Mouse (any will do, but I like this)

CTA Tracker URL:

Create your specific CTA Tracker URL and save it for later

Read more…

Generating XML in PL/SQL

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment

At work we have historically been using concatenation for generating XML Data. I stumbled upon these XML functions the other day, and thought it was worth sharing. They seem to be the proper, and I’m sure more efficient, way to generate XML using Oracle PL/SQL. I’m dumbfounded that our developers didn’t use this method, but who am I to judge!

Oracle Documentation:

Easier to Understand Guide:

Example Query for Delivery Lines

Should produce XML for a Delivery with its lines, where lines contain the Item Number, Description, Shipped Quantity, and Requested Quantity.

 msib.segment1 AS "ITEM_NUMBER",
 FROM wsh_delivery_assignments wda,
 wsh_delivery_details wdd,
 mtl_system_items_b msib,
 mtl_system_items_TL msibTL
 WHERE wda.delivery_id = wnd.delivery_id
 AND wda.delivery_detail_id = wdd.delivery_detail_id
 AND wdd.inventory_item_id = msib.inventory_item_id
 AND msib.organization_id = WND.ORGANIZATION_ID
 AND wdd.inventory_item_id = msibTL.inventory_item_id
 AND msibTL.organization_id = WND.ORGANIZATION_ID
 FROM wsh_new_deliveries wnd
 WHERE delivery_id = :delivery_id))
 AS xmlserialize_doc


Sending ZPL to a Label Printer Using PL/SQL

January 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Oracle’s WMS package has some label printing capabilities, but the functionality is quite poor, and requires knowledge of XML Label printing.

XML Label printing, generally, is the ability to send an XML file to a label printer, where the XML file contains the label format to use, and the data/variables to print on the label.  This allows you to have one label “template” which can be reused for printing similar data.  Printing a shipping label for example.  The label format never changes, but the data does.  The standard solution requires a ZPL Template to be stored on a Zebra printer’s flash memory.  That ZPL template can be coded by hand, or by using Zebra Designer software.  One drawback to this solution is that templates must be downloaded to every printer which will be used. Centralized label template storage would be ideal.

There are several third party solutions that bolt onto the Oracle functionality and allow for a centralized label template, but they also have their own drawbacks, and can cost several hundred thousand dollars to implement, in addition to the ongoing maintenance and server costs.  Even with the third party solutions, the user is still left with quite a few deficiencies with the Oracle WMS feature set.

There is an alternative to the template centralization problem which I think is ideal.  Store the templates on the server which will be generating the print requests.  Instead of having the Zebra printer or third party add on tool merge the XML with the ZPL template, have the same server that is generating the label print requests merge the template/date.

I’ve come up with a simple PL/SQL script which allows a programmer to send a string of text to a label printer through the network using TCP/IP protocol.  It uses the same function that Oracle uses to send the XML to the printer when printing without a third part tool, but instead of sending XML, one can send ZPL.  This script can easily be added to a procedure that splices data with a ZPL template.

The strange thing about this function is that it has multiple outputs and cannot be used in a SELECT statement like most functions.  I’m not sure why Oracle decided to use a function rather than a procedure, but here’s how you can run it:


 l_return_msg           VARCHAR2(3000);
 l_printer_status       VARCHAR2(3000);
 l_return               VARCHAR2(3000);
 l_zpl                  CLOB;
 l_printer_ip           VARCHAR2(20);
 l_printer_port         VARCHAR2(10);
 l_zpl :=’^XA^FO50,300^A0N,125,125^FDTEST^XZ’;  –String to send to printer
 l_printer_ip      :=’′; –IP Address of printer
 l_printer_port    :=’9100′;
        p_ip_address => l_printer_ip
    ,   p_port => to_char(l_printer_port)
    ,   p_xml_content => l_zpl
    ,   x_return_msg => l_return_msg
    ,   x_printer_status => l_printer_status

Oracle WMS Cycle Count Bug

December 5, 2016 Leave a comment

We recently completed a Physical Inventory using Oracle WMS Cycle Count functionality and some custom programming. It was a arguably a success. I’ll post something about that in the future, hopefully, but here is something that is really aggravating me at the moment.

Two of the biggest problems we had appeared to be bugs with seeded forms/functionality. We had two different symptoms, that seemed like seeded (built in/out of the box) functionality was broken, and it took us quite some time to identify the root cause.

  • The Approve Cycle Counts form would not show us a portion of the cycle count entries
    • The counts were in the database
    • The counts were in our report
    • The counts would not show up on the form
  • Recounts would not be given to users
    • Initial counts would be made
    • Recounts would be manually queued to users using the Warehouse Control Board
    • As soon as the user would go to the telnet Directed Cycled Count Tasks screen, the task would go directly back to pending
    • The user would never see the task to work on

I logged two separate SRs with Oracle.  Both made little progress for several weeks.

Luckily, one of our developers identified the commonality between the records. There was an EXPORT_FLAG on the MTL_CYCLE_COUNT_ENTRIES table which was set to 1 for the offending records.  I updated the two SRs with these details.

Read more…

Oracle Value Set: Allow Only Alphanumeric Values

November 10, 2016 Leave a comment

We have a problem at work which required us to only allow alphanumeric values in a DFF.  No spaces, punctuation, or special characters.  Here is what I came up with:


Function (WordPress will change quotes to smart quotes, you will need to change back)

FND PLSQL “declare

l_value varchar2( 150 ) := :!value ;
l_valid NUMBER := NULL ;
SELECT (LENGTH(TRIM(TRANSLATE(REPLACE(l_value,’ ‘,’.’), ‘abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0123456789’, ‘ ‘))))
INTO l_valid
FROM dual;
fnd_message.set_name( ‘FND’, ‘FND_GENERIC_MESSAGE’ ) ;
fnd_message.set_token( ‘MESSAGE’, ‘Value must be alpha-numeric’ );
fnd_message.raise_error ;

Regular Expression Version:

FND PLSQL “declare
l_value varchar2( 150 ) := :!value ;
IF REGEXP_SUBSTR(l_value, ‘^[a-zA-Z0-9]+$’) IS NULL THEN
fnd_message.set_name( ‘FND’, ‘FND_GENERIC_MESSAGE’ ) ;
fnd_message.set_token( ‘MESSAGE’, ‘(‘||l_value||’) must be alphanumeric.’);
fnd_message.raise_error ;