hardware - Dave's Blog


Microsoft Surface: a gentle kick in the teeth of the OEMs | Ars Technica

2012 Jun 25, 12:59

But if Surface is aimed at the OEMs—telling them “we can do this just as well as you can, if we have to”—and setting them a challenge—”your tablets have to be at least this good”—then the limited availability isn’t necessarily such a big deal. As long as the OEMs heed the warning and raise their game, so that Redmond can be assured that bad hardware won’t jeopardized Windows 8’s success, Microsoft could safely keep Surface operating as a small-scale operation, playing the Nexus role without upsetting the PC market.

PermalinkCommentstechnical surface win8 windows windows8 business

Multi-Stream Tuner Cards by Ceton

2010 Dec 8, 5:43This that lets your PC read four digital encrypted cable signals at once with a cable card from you cable company. This is cool although expensive. What frustrates me is the lack of choices in this area.PermalinkCommentscable cablecard hardware pc technical mediacenter

Map/Reduce Tutorial

2009 Oct 6, 3:24The map/reduce tutorial for Hadoop the Apache open source project. "Hadoop Map/Reduce is a software framework for easily writing applications which process vast amounts of data (multi-terabyte data-sets) in-parallel on large clusters (thousands of nodes) of commodity hardware in a reliable, fault-tolerant manner."PermalinkCommentshadoop mapreduce java software programming opensource database distributed google yahoo apache technical todo

The Electric Unicycle

2009 Jul 31, 6:04An electric unicycle controlled in a similar manner as the Segway.PermalinkCommentshumor photo unicycle transportation segway diy hardware howto via:swannman

Infrared Goggles for $10, inexpensive IR filters, SCIENCE HOBBYIST

2009 May 29, 8:49Howto on goggles that block out everything but the small range of IR that's barely visible. "INFRARED GOGGLES FOR UNDER $10, A Human IR Vision Experiment, Sept. 14, 2002 Bill Beaty"PermalinkCommentsir infrared hack howto science photography diy hardware light

Big Mess o' Wires - BMOW 1

2009 May 28, 1:12A homemade CPU and computer. I love the primary colors on the mess of wires. The close up shot is lovely.PermalinkCommentshowto diy hardware computer electronics cpu homemade maker-faire

All Together Now!: 30GB Zunes Failing Everywhere, All At Once

2008 Dec 31, 12:2730GB Zunes are all failing apparently. Its certainly the case with my Zune... sad. They're calling it Z2K9.PermalinkCommentszune fail microsoft music hardware

The diskette that blew Trixters mind - Oldskooler Ramblings

2008 Sep 29, 1:45"So the manual is correct, and this truly is a mixed-format, mixed-architecture, mixed-sided diskette. This diskette has officially blown my mind."PermalinkCommentshack disk hardware history game computer

Big data: Welcome to the petacentre : Nature News

2008 Sep 9, 8:29Article on the data centers that backup the Internet Archive and handle CERN's LHC's data. "CERN embodies borderlessness. The Swiss-French border is a drainage ditch running to one side of the cafeteria; it was shifted a few metres to allow that excellent establishment to trade the finicky French health codes for the more laissez-fair Swiss jurisdiction. And in the data sphere it is utterly global."PermalinkCommentslhc history internet cory-doctorow nature physics network hardware library science cern internet-archive

Revealed: The Internet's Biggest Security Hole | Threat Level from Wired.com

2008 Aug 29, 8:37"Two security researchers have demonstrated a new technique to stealthily intercept internet traffic on a scale previously presumed to be unavailable to anyone outside of intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency." Described fixes all require significant changes to the software and probably hardware doing the routing. UghPermalinkCommentswired article security internet bgp hack networking defcon


2008 Jul 29, 2:40"The Home of the Internet-enabled Home. We are an Open Community in the Home Automation and Domotics space. We believe an Open Source approach can revolutionize the way people create, install, and maintain software in the industry."PermalinkCommentshardware java opensource remote software home automation

The Botanical Twitter Kit is a sound machine for your plant - Boing Boing Gadgets

2008 May 12, 5:05"It uses moisture sensors to detect your plant's well-being, then connects to Twitter via Ethernet jack to send surprisingly human-like messages about the excruciating minutiae of your plant's boring, sedentary life. Tweets about how much water it just haPermalinkCommentshumor gift plant twitter hardware

Zeno's Progress Bar - Stolen Thoughts

2008 Apr 7, 10:09

Text-less progress bar dialog. Licensed under Creative Commons by Ian HamptonMore of my thoughts have been stolen: In my previous job the customer wanted a progress bar displayed while information was copied off of proprietary hardware, during which the software didn't get any indication of progress until the copy was finished. I joked (mostly) that we could display a progress bar that continuously slows down and never quite reaches the end until we know we're done getting info from the hardware. The amount of progress would be a function of time where as time approaches infinity, progress approaches a value of at most 100 percent.

This is similar to Zeno's Paradox which says you can't cross a room because to do so first you must cross half the room, then you must cross half the remaining distance, then half the remaining again, and so on which means you must take an infinite number of steps. There's also an old joke inspired by Zeno's Paradox. The joke is the prototypical engineering vs sciences joke and is moderately humorous, but I think the fact that Wolfram has an interactive applet demonstrating the joke is funnier than the joke itself.

I recently found Lou Franco's blog post "Using Zeno's Paradox For Progress Bars" which covers the same concept as Zeno's Progress Bar but with real code. Apparently Lou wasn't making a joke and actually used this progress bar in an application. A progress bar that doesn't accurately represent progress seems dishonest. In cases like the Vista Defrag where the software can't make a reasonable guess about how long a process will take the software shouldn't display a progress bar.

Similarly a paper by Chris Harrison "Rethinking the Progress Bar" suggests that if a progress bar speeds up towards the end the user will perceive the operation as taking less time. The paper is interesting, but as in the previous case, I'd rather have progress accurately represented even if it means the user doesn't perceive the operation as being as fast.

Update: I should be clearer about Lou's post. He was actually making a practical and implementable suggestion as to how to handle the case of displaying progress when you have some idea of how long it will take but no indications of progress, whereas my suggestion is impractical and more of a joke concerning displaying progress with no indication of progress nor a general idea of how long it will take.

PermalinkCommentszenos paradox technical stolen-thoughts boring progress zeno software math

Miscellany: INSERT COIN

2008 Apr 1, 1:16Change HP printer status LED to read 'Insert Coin': "This little perl program allows you to set the "Ready Message" on HP printers to whatever you'd like."PermalinkCommentshumor prank printer hack hardware howto

Excercise Bike and Tacoma Screw Products

2008 Jan 13, 11:07

Sarah and I got an exercise bike on sale and when attempting to put it together found that it was missing a bag of about ten different screws. The manufacturer website said we could order a replacement bag for thirty dollars (!!) but since the instructions listed the various kinds of screws we needed I figured we could just go to a hardware store and buy them.

We started at Home Depot because I didn't know better. The screws are all listed in metric sizes which is apparently uncommon and a helpful senior worker forwarded us to McLendons whose stock was better but we were again redirected this time to Tacoma Screw Products.

Tacoma Screw Products is great! See them for your hardware needs first! The store has a back area with every kind of screw ever. I felt a little out of place as as all the customers looked like contractors. The employee who helped me explained the various options I had in screws as the bike instructions weren't as explicit as they could have been. In the end I bought all my screws for only one dollar (much better than $30!) and they all fit correctly.

PermalinkCommentsscrew bike personal tacoma screw products nontechnical

Johnny Chung Lee - Projects - Wii

2007 Dec 17, 9:25Johnny Lee has a couple of projects involving the Wii remote. In the first he uses his fingers as his pointers Minority Report style and in the second he uses an LED pen and a projector to create a whiteboard system.PermalinkCommentsblog bluetooth wii wiimote remote free hardware hack ui howto interactive johnny-lee

Windows Media Center and Zune Integration Hack

2007 Nov 28, 1:23One of the new Zune features that had me the most excited was the claimed improved Windows Media Center integration which unfortunately turned out to simply mean support for the Win MCE video format (with an exception for HD). I wanted to be able to pick shows recorded by my Win MCE and have the Zune automatically sync up the latest episodes. However, with the improved podcast support in the Zune software one can easily create a ridiculous hack to accomplish this.

The new Zune software has podcast support which does everything I'd want to do with a Win MCE recorded TV series so the goal is to shoehorn a TV series into a Zune podcast. An overview of the steps: Create an XSLT that converts Win MCE data to a podcast, run the XSLT as a scheduled task every few hours per TV series, setup a Web server pointed at the resulting podcasts and the Win MCE Recorded TV directory, and subscribe to the resulting podcasts in the Zune software.
  1. Reading through the Win MCE data stored as an XML file in "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\eHome\Recording\Recordings.xml" and the spec for podcasts I created an XSLT to convert a series from Win MCE data to a podcast.
  2. I added a new task to the Scheduled Tasks to run my XSLT using my xsltproc.js script. The task runs a handful of commands that look something like the following:

    C:\windows\system32\wscript.exe C:\users\dave\bin\xsltproc.js C:\Users\Dave\Documents\trunk\development\mce-zune\mce-to-podcast.xslt C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\eHome\Recording\Recordings.xml --param title "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" --param max 4 --param baseURI "http://groucho/" --param thisRelURI "tds.xml" -o "D:\recorded tv\tds.xml"

    For each TV series I run a command like the above and that outputs a podcast for that series into my "D:\Recorded TV\" directory.
  3. Zune only allows http URIs for its podcasts so I installed a web server on my Win MCE server. I'm running Vista Ultimate so it was quick and easy for me to install IIS7 but any Web server will do. Then I pointed it at "D:\Recorded TV\".
  4. Once all the above was done I just subscribed to the resulting podcasts via my Web server and viola! Since I'm forced to use a Web server I can even run the Zune software on a machine other than my Win MCE server. You can see a screen-shot above of my Zune software showing my Colbert Report podcast.
PermalinkCommentstechnical xml mce hack windows media center zune windows xslt podcast

BBC NEWS | Technology | Colossus cracks codes once more

2007 Nov 15, 4:03Colossus set to compete against modern PC in decrypting Nazi messages in promotion of museum.PermalinkCommentsbbc article computer cryptography encryption hardware history turing


2007 Oct 17, 10:49Chumby is a hackable little wifi computer. Its like an expensive alarm clock that also shows you stuff off the Internet. I kind of want one.PermalinkCommentspurchase shopping wifi wireless opensource flash design hardware chumby

How-to: Make your own 1920's style bluetooth handset - Engadget

2007 Oct 11, 7:49A how-to on creating a bluetooth handset for your cell-phone. I want this but like a regular phone and without the DIY part.PermalinkCommentshowto bluetooth phone hack hardware article diy
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