Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

VMware did it again!

I've upgraded my main desktop machine to Ubuntu 9.10 and one of things I need to get going is VMware's VM Player. I've been pleasantly surprised to discover that the new 3.0.0 version of wmplayer does include a new feature to create new virtual machines. While I had no complaint using easyVMX site I am extremely happy of having this new feature, previously only available on VMware Workstation product.

So, thanks a lot VMware.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

University Talk

Next week, Richard Stallman will give a talk at UPV campus (Conference Hall at building 1H) on Thursday February 4th, at 5:00pm.

Richard has already visited UPV before and can speak Spanish, so I guess that is what he'll use. His views about the software development and ethics are all but conventional. But now that the free sofware concepts have spread open wide many people share many of his points of view.

Not sure, however, if Richard still thinks the Copyright Levy (canon digital) we have in Spain now is fare.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Temperature logger needed

Heating and air conditioning are the cause of much trouble on campus. Yesterday I was asked to make a decission as it was believed one of our buildings was too hot because of the sun. But, as I'd like to make my decissions based on facts I decided to setup a temperature logger. As heating is off on Sunday (but Sun is only off at night) I'll be able to compare the temperature profile of Sunday against all the other days when the heating is on.

Unfortunately no data logger was available so I set up my own one using three simple elements: An arduino board (actually it was an iDuino I had lying around) a Dallas Semiconductor (actually now part of Maxim IC) DS18B20 digital temperature sensor and a PC.

I adapted some code I borrowed from Nuelectronics to read the temperature and I transimted to the PC over the serial port. On the PC side (my office PC is running Windows) I had to program it using VisualStudio, so I created a simple VisualBasic program, whose only purpose is to add the time to the temperature received over the serial port. By redirecting the console output to a file I collect the measurements to a file. Alternatively you can use this code written in Windows PowerShell (remember to save it with .ps1 file extension).

I connected the DS18B20 using the two wires configuration, so an extra 4.7Kohm resistor was needed, but then only two wires are connected to the sensor (instead the three) as this was more convenient to get the sensor located on the right place.

Update: I've got some trouble with PowerShell as it outputs Unicode that some of my scripts are not happy with. In order to change the output I used the out-file cmdlet with -encoding UTF8 and -append parameters instead of the usual stdout redirection operator (>).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New year new toys

During the last holidays I've been playing with a new Linux board that I've found quite interesting. It is an open project developed by a Spanish company which in turn enriched the Beagle Board idea with a lot of cool hardware: wifi, Ethernet, Bluetooh, RS-485, LCD controller, etc. They both share many other interesting peripherals as 3D accelerated graphics board featuring HDMI output, microSD memory socket, audio I/O and DSP,USB port, JTAG port etc.

The so called IGEPv2 (not sure it is a good name as I find it quite difficult to remember, maybe I'm aging) is a cool piece of hardware that comes with a Linux distribution name Poky and it based on an ARM Cortex-M8 processor running at 720Mhz that needs less than 3 watts for the whole system. It can run Ubuntu and many other ARM-based Linux distros. And it costs 140 Euros, which I reckon it is a sweet price.

Put it together with a large HD display and you have a point of information for the public. You may even hide the card inside the HDTV guts. And because it has both Ethernet and wifi it is going to be easy to be networked. Or you can add a hard drive to have a multimedia player box. Or just use networked storage for it.

Given the fact the processor has all the bells and whistles (memory management) it runs a normal version of Linux and not uCLinux. This basically means whatever you can develop on the Linux platform can run on it. Do you want an embedded server? Well, this can be a much better piece of hardware that SheevaPlug.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

International version of Kindle DX

It seems you can pre-order an International version of Kindle DX from Amazon. Same price as US version.

In another front there seems to be more players to the "larger" ebook format, the Skiff and the QUE showing off. But, while some demo new ideas, it seems Apple is about to surprise us (ok, maybe not) with a real device by the end of the month.