mai 2

Infamous GMA500

Ore: 14:33 - Tags: Geek

I’ve been lucky enough to get a deal on a nice Dell mini 1010. This Netbook is not the latest generation which now use an Atom N450, but the specification and the features that it offers was great enough for me to spend a small amount of money on it. It’s second hand, the person that had it before barely used it finding that for him an iPhone was more useful.

This little machine have 1 Gig of RAM, 160 Gig of hard drive, an HDMI port, a nearly full sized keyboard, a 6 cell batteries, an integrated positionning system, a Z530 chip which is an Hyper-Threading cpu seen has 2 processors by the operating system and a GMA500 graphics card. This graphic adapter is one of the first of the new generation of graphic chips integrating an hardware video decoder. (VAAPI) It’s Intel’s response to the NVIDIA ION platform.

As a Linux guy, I was trilled to put and try Ubuntu Netbook Remix on this little computer. I expected it to work pretty flawlessly as everything was based on Intel and this company is a great contributor to the open source community. Unfortunately, even though the GMA500 is branded by Intel it as been developed by Imagination Technologies and use a PowerVR core. These two companies did not provided a proper driver documentation and API agreement to Intel, therefor the Santa Clara company is tied and can’t really provide implementation notes to the open source community due to legal stuff.

A lot of people bought a Netbook with a GMA500 and amongst these people there are a quite a big chunk that want to use Linux on it. Dell was selling the mini 10 with an option to get Ubuntu installed by default. Unfortunately, it was shipped with a binary driver compiled for Ubuntu 9.04 that has also been ported to be used on 9.10 but there is still no luck for the very new release of Ubuntu, Lucid Lynx.

Some folks are currently working on a way to get the driver to work on Lucid, but the big problem is the new version of Xorg shipped with Lucid. The old driver was developed following the API of Xorg 1.6 and some functions that was called are not existing anymore in the Xorg 1.7 of Lucid. Some Mandriva guys have created some patches to make it work with 1.7 and some Ubuntu users are already integrating them so a driver for Lucid be possible soon. But still, if you are going to buy a Netbook soon, make sure to avoid this GMA500 chipset.

Comments: none

mai 2

Embedded developer old habit and Java

Ore: 12:07 - Tags: Embedded,Geek,Software,SONIA,Tech

The Java programming language is what most are calling « the new COBOL« , many companies have adopted it in their intranet, DB communication infrastructure and internal system such as employee management and payroll. It’s used have widely spread over the last few years and many school are making it their « default choice » for teaching programming principe and Object Oriented concept.

One domain among which Java is not widely spread is the embedded device market. Yes, I know that many applications can be developped for a smartphone and that the Squawk Virtual Machine is meant to be used on very small electronic devices. I also know that some Java specification are written and implemented for the real-time/embedded world, this article is very complete and interesting on the global subject of critical embedded application and Java. But when it comes to an experimented embedded developer to develop in Java, it may become extremely difficult by the simple fact that Java doesn’t have a simple way to do direct bit manipulation. An habit many embedded developer are used to…

My friend J-F Im, which happen to be one of my ex-team mate in the SONIA project, may have found a good way to reduce the hassle for embedded developer to adopt and use Java without losing their habit of using bits manipulation. He created a library called BitIO, bringing easy bit manipulation to the Java language. I did not try it and I must admit that its bean a while now that I’ve program something in Java since many of the work I have to do at Novariant is either related to a Linux driver (coded in C) or to the C++ application that run in Novariant’s ParaDyme embedded computer. But, knowing J-F Im, I’m pretty sure that the library he developed can be useful to a lot of peoples.

Comments: none

jan 25

Nice 360° Haïti …

Ore: 22:49 - Tags: Geek,Software,SONIA,Tech,Uncategorized

An earthquake is never something that is fun to live, it’s even more true for the people in Haïti right now. Every media is talking about it and even if it’s really a sad thing, I strongly believe it would be a good idea to move on… BUT, it certainly is a good thing to get our little internal voice to tell us that there is peoples with a worse day than the one we just had at work…. I wish the best to every people in Haïti and hope that everyone will stand for each other, instead of killing their neighbor as a desperate move for survival. A group is always stronger than an individual.

Now, lets move on to the main subject of this post. It was showed to me by a colleague today, he saw it on Cyberpresse.ca… that took it from CNN… that use the technology of Immersive Media.

Wikipedia have a description of the technology that is surely better than what I could summarize here, so why not simply quote them :

An immersive video is basically a video recording of a real world scene, where the view in every direction is recorded at the same time. During playback the viewer has control of the viewing direction, up down & sideways. Generally the only area that can’t be viewed is the view toward the camera support. The material is recorded as data which when played back through a software player allows the user control of the viewing direction and playback speed. The player control is typically via a mouse or other sensing device and the playback view is typically 4:3 window on a computer display or projection screen or other presentation device such as a head mounted display.

It’s an interesting technology, the video are interactive and let you see what you want while the video is still running !! Awesome !

Here is a video of what it looks like:

Seeing this today remembered me of a night passed at the SONIA lab with my friend J-F Im where he was trying to do stereoscopic vision with 2 development webcams … Awwwwh so good memories!

Comments: none

jan 24

New Router…

Ore: 01:26 - Tags: Geek,Perso,Tech

The title of this post was though to go in the line of my previous entry of the night. It was related for me changing this website theme so no big deal here. This one is to share my experience with the new router I bought some time ago.

I was having a hard time getting connection stability with my previous DI-524 from D-Link. Last week I opened it to see if the stability issue could come from an hardware problem and I discovered that 3 of the 5 capacitor of 1500uf was cambered. I was planning to change my router anyway to get wireless N capabilities, but though I would wait for the WNR3500L that was announced in October. This router is supposed to be a fully open source router which can be flashed by open firmware like DD-WRT and have a USB port on it to connect an external drive for network storage.

My DI-524 broken, my lack of WIFI inside my own apartment and the no availability of the WNR3500L in store or online made me start searching for an alternative. The website of DD-WRT contain a database of all the routers supported by the project and in the list was an even better router than the WNR3500L, the WRT610N from Linksys/Cisco. This router also have N capabilities and USB support, having previously use DD-WRT on older Linksys routers during my years at SONIA project, I knew that I would be satisfied and the router was in sale at FutureShop, so I bough one.

Its the second revision of this router, so DD-WRT was supported, newer revision are not yet supported at the time of this writing so I have been a bit lucky. I started by using the original firmware that came with it but I was experiencing some connection drop with my IPod Touch and sometimes it would not accept the WPA2 pass-phrase and constantly asking for it. So, last night I followed this pages to put DD-WRT on my WRT610Nv2. The upgrade went well, but I must admit that during the process I got nervous, I would not have like to destroy the router and throw 150$ to the trash.

The first version of the firmware that I put on it was not very stable tough… the router was rebooting by itself at an interval of about 3 minutes. I had to use the « hold button reset for 35 seconds » to make it work and for me to return to the web interface. I passed a couple of hour trying to understand what could go wrong but based on the 3min delay before the reboot and my experience with Linux Kernel development, I assumed that it was having a « kernel panic » that rebooted the router. I though of that because the default delay for a kernel panic to reboot is 180 seconds… (well on a powerpc, don’t know if it’s the same for this router but I simply guessed) and I though it would make sense. But I can be wrong.

After looking at the router database entry concerning the WRT610Nv2, I saw that the firmware linked there was from a previous revision of DD-WRT. This revision is 13401 instead of 13575 proposed in the other page. After trying this one, the router was very stable.

When I bough the router, I also bough an external 1.5TB USB hard drive. I formated the drive as ext3 and hooked it to the router, I activated some options inside the WebUI of DD-WRT and the drive was accessible through the network as an FTP share… I did not like this way of doing so I started to look on the DD-WRT forum and discovered that some user are going with Optware to add functionalities to their router. I followed this page and after installing some packages to the router I had the SWAT interface to configure a samba share for the attached 1.5TB of storage. That’s nice because samba shares are seen in Windows, Mac and Linux !

Now I have a very good router, WIFI is back and now more secure in my home and 1.5TB is available as a storage on my local network ! Sweet!

Comments: 2

jan 24

Nouveau Style…

Ore: 00:02 - Tags: Uncategorized

Bon, je viens de changer l’apparence de ce site web. Il n’y a pas grand chose d’extraordinaire la dedans puisque j’utilise un thème déjà existant. Je dois avouer que le thème a des couleurs dans la même palette que Windows Vista … mais bon il faut avouer que ce n’est pas la couleurs de Vista qui en a fait un échec… selon moi.

Comments: none