week 7

In order to increase actual usage of my Freerunner, I’m actually looking to get my hands on a SIM card. I’m on a family plan with Verizon, and the phones we’re using aren’t equipped with SIM cards at all. I toyed with the idea of switching carriers but can’t really justify having the whole family go through the transition just for my experimental pursuits which are sketchy at best at this point. Though my dad brings up a good point about the hardware on the phone being perfectly usable without access to calls, it seems like I am not really utilizing what I have at this point because I can’t treat it as it essentially is: a phone.

This week I will hunt for some info about activating a SIM card somewhere somehow. I think there’s a cell phone place on my way to class from the bus stop I get off at during the week.

A friend of mine mentioned some time ago that the phrase “I wish I knew more about…” could be finished in so many ways, and I totally agree with that. Which is why I will adhere to a reading schedule starting this week. My intent was to absorb stuff like a sponge but so far it hasn’t been happening as I envisioned at the end of winter vacation a few weeks back. So I will keep a notebook close and the bookmarks in place.

This week I’ll aim for consistency, hope to get more than 50% on the to do list I made up on joesgoals.com.

Yes, the tutorial for Octave I promised last week has still not begun to write itself. I will get a move on it.

week 6

Fun in electronics class

We built our first circuit on the breadboard in electronics class, nothing too exciting, just an LED. What was cool was playing with the function generator and the oscilloscope, supposedly the most important piece of lab equipment we’ll use this semester. Also, my lab partner taught me an unforgettable way to read off resistor codes:

Bad boys rape our young girls but Violet goes willingly

This colorful mnemonic corresponds to this color sequence:

Black Brown Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Violet Grey White

which associates to the numbers 0…9. Put it together like this:

(digit)(digit) * 10 ** (multiplier)

Octave Plotting Revisited (with updated functions)

It seems that gplot and gset commands are deprecated. I never realized in the past two weeks following tutorials online because I was following along with Octave 2.1 on my Gentoo box. It wasn’t until today that I tried gplot on Octave 3 on Ubuntu that I got very confused. Apparently gplot still exists but it is some sparse matrix function that makes no sense to me. I didn’t realize it was a different function until I compared versions on both computers.

After that, I searched online and found that the gplot and gset functions that hook up with gnuplot had been renamed __gnuplot_plot__ and __gnuplot_set__ respectively. Rather odd move, don’t you think? I tried it and it worked, but it also gave the deprecation warning that the functions would be removed in the next release. So I was pretty surprised as I thought this was the standard approach from all the tutorials I’ve found.

Fortunately, reading the friendly manual led me to an alternative method, simply called plot, which does what I want. I also found print, which saves to file in one neat line that saves me from manually setting the output terminal, etc. I’m still going to write up the tutorial.

Whispers of SoC

The first guy opened his mouth about SoC on the OM community list today. It’s mid-February and yes, that time is just around the corner. I *still* have no clue what I will do, having just scratched the surface, subscribed to some mailing lists and browsed some issue trackers.

After spending some time observing, as well as from what I’ve heard from discussion, the motivation to contribute to OSS for the sake of personal use and improving personal experience seems most reasonable and sustainable. Of course I wonder about that because I also want to make some impact and the stuff I personally use is pretty removed from the average-joe mainstream ie. geeky. But I guess that would be the wrong reason for doing things. Anyways, I’ll keep my eyes open and scope out some other potential sponsors.

More to come!

week 4

GDB is pretty cool. Inferring from what I learned in CS47 with the debugger demo, I poked at an executable with GDB and found some equivalent commands, plus more. Of course, I believe it’ll be much more valuable to learn GDB than DOS’s DEBUG, I’m going to follow along in class. Assembly was something I always wanted to dive into but never really found the front door into.

My friend’s going to bring me on board one of his projects using CakePHP, so I’ve been reading up on that. CakePHP seems pretty easy to understand, though I’ve just been reading the manual. I did get the AMP set up on treebeard, my old AMD Athlon PC, which was pretty simple. I also set up sshd on the computers that I use around the house while I was at it. When I get some time, I’ll follow the blog tutorial.

As always, I learned something new sitting in front of a Linux box, and this time it is X forwarding. It’s simpler to get set up than to actually understand conceptually, sort of like tunneling crap through SSH. Well, you run an instance of a program which gets forwarded to a remote computer for them to use. It reminds me of VNC, but instead of sharing a screen, you share program instances. It’s not really shared, actually; I think the remote host has exclusive access to the forwarded program. Cool, nonetheless.

One of the discussions I had in school was about the Kindle, and this weekend I found epdfview as an alternative PDF viewer. Turns out it’s also packaged in SHR’s repository, so I now have it installed on my Freerunner. It’s not landscape oriented like in the screenshot, and scrolling is weird when I press down on a page with links to other pages, as if clicks get triggered instead of drags. I think it’s otherwise very usable and has some potential for when I’m waiting around at the bus stop.

More posts to come. Promise!

week 3

Frustration is this week’s theme.

XP/Vista Networking

  • Goal: Connect from Vista to printer shared on XP
  • Problem: XP box not detected
  • Went through the Windows troubleshoot list with no success
  • Installed LLTD responder on XP. Result: XP shows up on Vista network map but still inaccessible
  • Gave up after searching a dozen threads to no avail

I wonder if it’s just my attitude to Windows that made me give up, or that it was the declining quality of the threads the further I searched. It’s also one of the few times I actually touched Vista, so maybe I’m too quick to make excuses and quit.


  • I still can’t grok the algorithm of lexicographic permutation, though I understand how C++ STL’s next_permutation could be used
  • Have no idea on how to tackle the crypto problem. I will at least get something runnable coded up before Wednesday.

weekly report 2

Another eventful week went by; I can only hope this keeps up when school starts next week.

I’ve tried building FSO, an Openmoko distro where lots of development is focused on. Relatively low-level stuff goes on there (playing with dbus) and hope to get that working. I haven’t yet built it since my system partition is too small, so I nuked my FAT32 partition, turned it into ext3, and am in the process of setting up the build there. We’ll see where the next week takes us.

Meanwhile, I had a little fun trying community apps, even took a hand in coding a little dice game applet. Reading code and getting feedback on the mailing list was pretty fun. Let’s hope I can contribute something useful as the year goes by!

There’s a Topcoder SRM in the coming week, but I won’t make it since I’m taking my grandma to San Francisco. There’s also a Marathon match, something encryption related, that started on Wednesday, which will run until the following week. I think I’ll take a pick at that and post my thoughts next weekend.

And of course, Spring 2009 at SJSU begins Thursday! I’m especially looking forward to a great semester, specifically Prof. Horstmann’s open source development class as well as partial differential equations (hopefully not too merciless).