Viewing posts for the category hardware

Automation of embedded development

I am wondering if there is a standard solution to a problem that I am facing. Say you are developing an embedded Debian Linux device. You want to have a "test farm" - a bunch of copies of your target hardware running a lot of tests, while the development is ongoing. For this to work automatically, your automation setup needs to have a way to fully re-flash the device, even if the image previously flashed to it does not boot. How would that be usually achieved?

Wireless photo workflow

For a while now I've been looking for ways to improve my photo workflow - to simplify and speed up the process. Now I've gotten a new toy to help that along - a Panasonic FlashAir SD card with WiFi connectivity. I was pretty sure that build-in workflows of some more automated solutions would not be a perfect fit for me, so I got this card which has a more manual workflow and a reasonable API, so I could write my own. - installation

So, the price of heating my apartment has gone up significantly since last year and a lot of people have noticed the same trend. As a geek, I want not just any solutions, but geekiest solutions possible to that - enter a Smart Home system. The heating in my apartment is separated from all other apartments with a separate heat meter that measures both heating water flow and the temperature difference on the incoming and outgoing pipes, so if I reduce the heating consumption I will immediately see that in lower heating bills. This particular smart home system is very simple and made in Latvia and also relatively cheap, so I decided to give this a try.

Kā dabūt 100% ātruma drošību uz ceļiem

Auto ātrums nav vienīgais avāriju, nāves, ievainojumu un materiālo zaudējumu cēlonis, taču tas ir šo seku reizinātājs (pat ja auto saslīd neuzmanības dēļ runājot pa telefonu, sekas tam būs jo smagākas, jo lielāks bija sākotnējais ātrums). Ja atrast veidu kā nodrošināt to, ka cilveki ievēro atļauto ātrumu, tad rodas iespēja gan palielināt atļauto ātrumu tajās vietās, kur tas ir jēdzīgi, gan arī atbrīvot policijas resursus citu pārkāpumu vai problēmu apkarošanai. Tāpēc būtu prātīgi atrast kādu vieglāku un drošāku veidu kā nodrošināt atļautā maksimālā ātruma ievērošanu netērējot tam pārāk lielus ceļu policijas resursus. Fotoradari ir labs pirmais solis, taču ar mūšdienu tehnoloģijām ir iespējams sasniegt arī labāku rezultātu.

Cloning or pre-configuring a batch of Android phones

An interesting question popped up in my Twitter stream today - is there an Android alternative to Apple configurator (for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) that allows to create a bunch of identical Apple devices with some added configurations and applications. The best I could come up with is not as polished, but on the other hand much more powerful option - Nandroid backup and restore (also known as ClockworkMod Recovery backup).

You though NVidia was bad, don't try AMD

Remember when Linus Torvalds lambasted NVidia for not supporting their Optimus technology in their Linux drivers for half a decade and counting? Well, I went out and bought an AMD/ATi video card as mu upgrade. And you know what? Its Linux drivers are far, far worse than NVidia.
1. Most of the games I had working fine on NVidia, do not work on AMD. And those that do suffer far more visual corruption, synchronization bugs (like bottom 40% of the screen rendering half a second after the top 60%), strange visual artifacts (weird triangles popping out of everywhere) and crashes, lots of crashes.
2. There were crashes with NVidia too, but NVidia never managed to crash Compiz along with it or crash the whole X server or lock up the system so far that only SysRq works or even lock up the system so far that only powering it off manually works.
3. And then there is the configuration atrocity. Apparently AMD is too good to store its configuration in /etc/X11/xorg.conf. Or even to document the supported options there. Instead they have their own (also undocumented) configuration file in /etc/ati folder. And it is undocumented because it is a cryptic mess and the only supported way to change it is to use their tools - aticonfig and amdccccle. The command line tool is almost reasonable, except it is also barely documented. For example, one of my screens somehow was always stared at 1920x1080@30Hz. There were 3 different ways to specify default resolution, but none of them used or saved the refresh rate. And when I changed it in the GUI tool - the refresh rate did change, but it was never saved. Oh there nowhere is a save button. It 'just works', except when it doesn't. Like: both of my screens for some reason started with huge black borders around the screen, I finally narrowed it down to the GUI setting "overscan" which defaulted to 10%. Ok, so I change it, it works, but next time I reboot, the overscan is back! I had to find an undocumented invocation of the aticonfig that would change the default value to 0%. Why did this one setting not save? Oh and fun note - the refresh rate of that second screen was correct on the login screen, but it then swiched back as I logged in. Fun, huh?
4. Even at basic desktop tasks fglrx if inferior to not only the free driver, but also to the nvidia driver - even simple scrolling of a large folder in nautilus seems to tax the 200$ card to its limits - the bottom row blinks into place almost half a second after I stop scrolling. Another example - with NVidia when I switch my TV to the HDMI input from the card, the sound starts at the same moment as the picture, however with AMD the sound only decides to show up 10-15 seconds later. And sometime it does not show up at all, unless I start the AMD Control GUI tool and only then the sound shows up 15 seconds later (without doing anything in the GUI).

Fun with the new camera

Triple hit!

New camera research

So, I was reading the coverage of the newly announced Canon 650D last week and it so happened that a friend needed a camera, so I sold my old Canon 550D and started looking for a replacement.

Gada beigu izpārdošana

Sakarā ar jaunu hlamu iegādi pārdodu pa garšīgām naudiņām vecos hlamus :)

NVidia Optimus fail

Guys, we have a problem. The name of that problem is NVidia and their Optimus technology. The idea of that tech is quite neat - take a laptop, put two video cards in it, use the powerful card when you need 3D power, use the weak card when you need to conserve battery. The problem is that any laptop with this technology is currently an expensive paperweight on Linux (or rather it was so until a couple weeks ago, see below). And NVidia has no plans for fixing that.

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