Not so busy – relaxed busy

A friend in XinCheJian hackerspace Shanghai asked me today what I have been up to. I was thinking not too much, as I have watched quite a few movies (Sleep Dealer is pretty good, Avatar was way better than I expected) and re/read several books & magazines, but then I started to list some of the things I have been doing…….

  • PartTester – built 2nd board with 1% R – did not work, and now 1st one not working – same issue, eventually worked out LCD had partially died on trip home from China.
    • Looking into ways to do improved or auto-calibration
    • As part of above, part of X-bot work discovered that Gerbers used for PCB production have an electrical issue where 328 processor digital ground is not connected. This is only in the Gerbers – the schematic is correct!
    • Red circle in photo highlights difference between “good” gerber (blue) and my gerber with missing ground connection.
    Gerber issue ground not connected to Atmega328 ground!
    Gerber issue ground not connected to Atmega328 ground!
    • X-Bot – learning SMD soldering (old, unrefrigerated solder paste = :(, new = 🙂 )
      • Made a pogo pin ISP connector to easily test if processor was working
    • Playing with el-cheapo Taobao STK500 programmer (good in HV mode, but can’t get it working in ISP mode)
    • Fighting several nasty computer issues
      • XP system freezes for 1/2 to 3-5 minutes yet CPU is at 1% and no other symptoms or errors!
      • XP ongoing anti-virus software instability issues
      • battling security update issues on XP and Lububtu
      • Lubuntu intermittent keyboard & mouse issues – only some keys/buttons work!
      • Lubuntu SMB file copy issues
      • Lubuntu “system problems”
      • Lubuntu restoring backups – path too long
      • Unsuccessfully trying to install Windows 7 to SSD and user directories to different disk
      • Unsuccessfully trying fix injet printer ($$ cartridges, cleaned, factory resets, extra cleaning…..)
      • …..
    • Replacing swimming pool pump (now pool is leaking – think it is drain system)
    • Car window electric winder replacement
    • Fixed front door lock
    • Home Theatre – fixed bad solder joint that stopped right channel working
    • Toshiba SD-K310P DVD player won’t play disks – seems like region free hack has stopped working
    • Dish washer – bottom arm won’t spin .. ongoing effort to fix
    • Backyard jungle:-
      • Getting rid of dangerous European wasp nest
      • Digging ditch for irrigation system repair
      • Hacking away at six months growth (two trailer loads so far), have not even started on the 80+ meters of hedges yet!
      • Watching Cockatoos, King Parrots and Roselas
      • Saw a falling star
      • Cleaning up flood in garage last night due to major storm – we were lucky – could hear clean up with chainsaws nearby.
      Backyard Cockatoos
      Backyard Cockatoos


      Backyard King Parrot
      Backyard King Parrot


Hello Lophilo

No “Hello World”, no blinking LEDs yet, but the Lophilo LEDs are controllable through the example shell scripts!

Lophilo signed board #2 All LEDs on.
Lophilo signed board #2 All LEDs on.
Lophilo signed board #2 1 LED via shell script and button push.
Lophilo signed board #2 1 LED via shell script and button push.








First impressions

  • more in the box than I expected – already almost complete, extremely professional!
  • WOW – signed board #2!
  • it is a very complex PCB
  • it really is a computer (ahem you have to push the on button, not just plug it in “:oops:”)
  • I can’t wait to get stuck into the FPGA – have several projects in mind
  • I can’t wait to get into the cloud9 environment
  • I can’t wait do heaps more

The new Lophilo board has also been run through most of the test procedure successfully. The tests that have not yet been completed are due to my poor Linux skills!

The training that is included with this version of the Lophilo will help fix that and get me up to speed with the FPGA.

Desktop Chaos!

ChaosMy desktop has descended into chaos yet again, partly through my own habits, but mostly from working several times every day on multiple locations on computers that do not have “my data, custom configuration and tools” and with unreliable or no Internet connection using the cloud is not the solution.

 Every attempt to sort out the chaos results only in partial temporary improvements. Each new approach and set of tools is good and can do a lot, but does not work well enough for me to keep up the productivity and keep the chaos at bay. Sometimes it seems like someone is aiming this remote control at me at repeatedly pushing that button!

Struggling with ways to overcome this chaos, has triggered the creation of several long requirements wish lists, which are distilled into this scenario: “go to any device, open up any of my workspaces with all the current projects and files laid out as desired, ready to edit”.

Loosening the requirements as shown below and restricting most editing to text files has provided a passable solution as shown.

Requirement Current “workable” solution
Core save-able workspace functions mostly in one tool Code::Blocks with custom personality, custom command line to the launcher loading selected projects and open files.
Remaining functions mostly in a couple of tools Search = Recoll, LibreOffice,synchronisation is manual at the moment.
mostly portable Working on Windows + USB driveLinux = work in progress (true portability = challenge)Mac – no access at present.
current working data set only USB drive
not reliant on Internet USB drive

I have enormous respect for all the desktop environments and tools that are available and the current ability to share between, but what is the point, if all we get is more chaos and no easy way to productively GTD (Get Things Done), let alone better ways to GTD.

Do I have an answer, no I don’t, but I do have a passably workable solution, that will get better with some tweaking, but this post is already too long, so more on that in next post.

What I do have is a challenge all those involved in creating these tools that are meant to help us do stuff, to always think beyond your own product, think of all the devices, desktops environments and data formats, if your product can smoothly interact with a broad range and provide it’s view of each users desktop with the users core tools and configuration, then not only is it much more useful, but it will be a lot more popular!