Sunday, September 30, 2007

They're starting to ship the OLPC

The rumour is that you'll be able to buy them in the west but you'll have to fund the purchase of one for the third world - fantastic! I can't wait to get my hands on one.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Julie Lee - Stillhouse Road

I saw Julie supporting the Vigilantes of Love a few years ago and really enjoyed her self-financed CD "Made from Scratch" - however, it wasn't until I had a few record tokens burning a hole in pocket a few weeks ago that I bought her first label-recorded album. It is splendid with much better versions of "Jesus, he's my man", "Many Waters" and "Your Love" on it as well as ten other songs that I'm quickly falling in love with. Kenny Hutson (who played on and off with the Vigilantes) plays pedal-steel. If you like the alt-country/Americana sound them you'll be good with this.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Best RS422 tester EVER!

This is the most useful piece of test kit I have ever made! I often have to buzz out RS422 machine controls and since every wireman gets the screens correct (pins 4 & 6 for the Tx & Rx screens) you can rely on them being where you expect. After that it's just a matter of having a 2k, 3k, 7k & 8k resistor on the appropriate pins and you can stick it at the end of the run and see where the pins are missing/swapped over by connecting your multimeter across pins 4 & 6 and the signal pins. I always have one handy (and they often get nicked!)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The crisis in Burma

Sarah and I have a special interest in Burma - see the Hand in Hand link in the right hand bar. I thought I'd collect some of the clips I've put up on YouTube over the last year.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Upgrading a Tek WFM7100

I demo Tektronix monitoring products and today I had to upgrade our loaner WFM7100. I'd done software on these chaps before and you can either do it over the web interface or via a USB stick on the front panel. In the case of this version 3.0 update (from the previous v1.25) you have to replace the front control panel, update the boot loader over the network and then use the USB stick to upgrade the instrement.

It's quite a change - it's made it into a WVR7100!
It seems a lot more stable and quicker. Also - it's not a touch-screen any more - it has the same front panel button set as a WVR (but arranged around the display). Using the Java app to control it you can't tell it apart from a WVR. Amazingly Tek ship this upgrade kit for free - given how well made the new front panel is I imagine they are taking a hit of hundreds of pounds per customer update.

I was tickled to see the attached label on the USB stick - you might kill your machine by doing the upgrade and if you do we'll bill you to fix it! I can report the update was entirely successful!
Actually - Tek upgrade procedures are always entirely straighforward and the instructions never leave anything to chance.

Another cool feature is that (being a dual-link HD-SDi machine) it now supports dual live inputs (at YUV 4:2:2, not RGB 4:4:4!) so you can be monitoring two video signals at once!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bottled Water Boom is Hurting the World’s Environment

"...around the world, factories are using more than 18 million barrels of oil and up to 130 billion gallons of fresh water" and that's just to make the bottles, "Another 41 billion gallons of water is then used to fill them." So why are we using more water to make the bottles then the actual amount of water being put into the bottles? This sounds incredibly wasteful.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Funny Linux commands and responses!

% cat "food in cans"
cat: can't open food in cans

% nice man woman
No manual entry for woman.

% ^How did the sex change operation go?^
Modifier failed.

% make love
Make: Don't know how to make love. Stop.

% sleep with me
bad character

% got a light?
No match.

% man: why did you get a divorce?
man:: Too many arguments.

% !:say, what is saccharine?
Bad substitute.

% \(-
(-: Command not found.

$ PATH=pretending! /usr/ucb/which sense
no sense in pretending!

$ drink matter
matter: cannot create

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sumitomo fusion splicers

This is a clip I shot on my 'phone yesterday showing the automated alignment of fibres in the new style fusion splicer. We've had this machine on hire for a week to try and break the back of a couple of fibre jobs that have run on a bit longer than they should.
It really is very impressive - the software does a very accurate alignment every time and as a consequence you can do a lot more circuits in a given time. The only donwside is the £30k price tag!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Busy, busy

I've been really bad at blogging recently - I am snowed under with work as I currently have four decent sized project running simultaneously. Although I had the weekend of Simon's wedding off I have pretty much worked every other weekend going all the way back to the start of July.

I did manage to get yesterday off and I spent a couple of hours helping Joe (my eldest, fourteen) with a new programming project. He's getting into DarkBasic which is procedural language that can be interpreted or compiled and has a bunch of libraries for addressing DirectX functionality. Yesterday we were writing a converter to go between UK, European and US shows sizes - not a hard project but he's just getting use to integer, real and string types so it's all good.

Anyhow - here are just a few notes from the last week or so;

  • The new BBC1 sitcom Outnumbered is very funny.
  • I'm forty today and was very pleased that my Mum sent me the complete Faulty Towers (amongst other things!)
  • The BBC's new iPlayer application is so DRM laden and buggy that I'll stick with UKNova - until they make it that easy and pleasant to use they're onto a looser!
  • The new iPods - the iPod Touch is nearly what I'd like! The only thing missing is being able to sync content over the WiFi - I know you can buy tunes over the 802.11g connection but I like to copy podcasts onto my device while I'm having my porridge.
  • Version 3.5 of Skype don't work with my MacBook/Vista combo - had to downgrade to 3.2

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Simon and Emily's wedding

My good friends Emily and Simon are getting married today at Chalk Farm Baptist Church at 15:00 BST. I have known Simon since he was a young teenager and for the last few years he's often worked for me in between his studies (he's a recent PhD) - and he's now working for me at Root6 full-time and making the fibre optic and high bandwidth (10 gig ethernet) side of the business his own. Emily is a friend who has worked with Sarah on the Burma charity and is on the verge of a big publishing deal.

Anyhow - you can listen to the ceremony on the live audio stream or watch on a camera we're rigging. Live webcam (both links now dead).