technology

reviewing logic according to saleae

This isn’t really a review, so ignore the title.  It’s just musings and thoughts.

I’ve been playing with a new toy.  I MEAN, A TOOL, NOT A TOY.  To engineers pretty much all tools are toys.  For work, I got a LeCroy Waverunner oscilloscope/logic analyzer.  It’s delicious.  Really.  Not only is it amazingly functional, but it’s aesthetically about as breathtaking as lab equipment gets.  Just look.  I’m already sidetracked though, because this isn’t the toy that I’m talking about.  Here’s a picture of the LeCroy unit anyway.  Why yes, the screen rotates into portrait mode to help you out when using it as a 32 channel logic analyzer…


What I meant to start talking about is the  Saleae Logic logic analyzer.  Hopefully, proper capitalization doesn’t confuse you regarding the name of the device and its function.  It’s about as sexy as a tiny USB analyzer can be.  It’s like a tiny Mac Mini, or Apple TV, in black, with one connection on each side.  Pictured is Logic16, which is the LARGE version.  Both the Logic and the Logic16 are pretty tiny.

Putting aside the fact that it works, the software is sleek, elegant, and intuitive.  At first, I was put off by the lack of menus, options, and configurability…and then I realized, it was in the Apple class of it just works*.  Disclaimer: I don’t like Apple, and I don’t feel for me that it just anythings.  The plan is to use it for some personal projects, but I brought it with me to work to check out some CANbus stuff, and see how the serial decoders work.  I just like calling it CAN, normally, but its really hard to google for the acronym Controller Area Network, because “can” is a pretty common word.  So, you’re welcome, googlers, for helping you get here.

I was overwhelmed with sadness when the unit initially would not read or decode anything on CAN bus.  So much for just working.  But, fear not oh ye will vote for me in the 2028 presidential election…Saleae seems to love open source, so I downloaded the source for their CAN serial analyzer.  Within a few minutes, I found that my data stream was inverted from typical applications…something I’ve known for awhile, but always basically ignored.  My setup is nonstandard, and Saleaa’s analyzer had it the typical way.

Not only was the source available to me, they also provide clear instructions for setting up and compiling with a ready-made Visual Studio project.   In under an hour, I had edited the source and recompiled for my particular application.

This was a triumph of open source.  It was great to be able to quickly and easily modify their application to suit my needs.  Customer service is quick and knowledgeable…alright, customer service is mostly the engineers who designed it.  It’s a big plus in my book.

Bottom line; if you are looking for an inexpensive hobbiest analyzer, pick up a Saleae Logic for $150-ish.  Do it.  If your budget is more in the $15,000 range, I’d suggest a tricked out Lecroy Waverunner.

 

i <3 interweb

Everyone once in awhile, I’ll smile a lot at what the internet enables.  A few similar things have happened before, but the latest one is personally the most moving.  The picture below is a snippet from the Kickstarter page.  Kickstarter is a crowd-source funding platform.  If you want to, say, make a documentary on lemmings, you can post a project and dollar amount you need to start, and individuals/whoever pledges to donate in whatever amount they see fit.  This allows the general internet public to decide on projects they feel worthy, and fund them.  There’s some art projects, media, hardware…lots of interesting, boring, great projects.  I’m not 100% sure of all the details, but if your goal is not hit, then everyone’s money gets returned.  If you need $50k to fund your lemming film endeavour, and you only get $10k in donations…those people haven’t lost anything, and only cough up the dough if the project hits their goal within a deadline period.

Anyway, this is it:

I know, those of you voting for me in the 2024 elections may be unfamiliar with the words described above.  In less than 24 hours, the internet community contributed more than $1 million dollars to fund a developer with a history of fantastic games.  So what?  This is what.

Games need developers, publishers, distributors, all of these things.  And when a brilliant (and sometimes not brilliant) development studio wants to make a game, someone needs to pony up the dough.  More and more often, a big studio like EA (Electronic Arts), Activision, etc will fund them…but having the wallet means you can dictate some of the process of development.  Furthermore, just like recording artists get screwed by their production companies, development studios can see very little return while their publisher rakes in the dough from a successful game.

Something like Kickstarter allows this model to be circumvented.  People can choose who to support, donate directly, the developers can work on their art in a much purer sense.

Another example of this is Louis C.K.  Instead of going through the usual channels, he self-produced a comedy album (is it called a comedy album?), and distributed it online for $5.  He’s well known and popular enough for the internet to take of the marketing for him…but cutting out the middleman allowed a lot of dollars not to be burned doing nothing.  I understand this is a poor way to “stimulate the economy”…but really, it’s a much more efficient way of working in the internet age.  If his experiment failed, the studios could point and laugh…but he made over a million dollars.  I’m not here to toot anyone’s horn, but he donated nearly $300k of this to charities.  I don’t see publishers giving away 30% of their profits.

I’m not saying everyone has the capabilities to produce things themselves, but the big media companies are becoming increasingly obsolete.  Services like Pandora and Spotify make music free/inexpensive, which cuts into the big studio’s profits.

Keep being independent.  Keep crowd-sourcing funding when necessary, and pour back whatever profits you can back into the community.

What I’m saying, dear 2024 election voter, is that I believe the big studios are wasteful, and corrupt their art, whether it be music, video, games, or other things that I can’t think of right now.  I’m sure this effects books and physical media (painting and such) as well, but nobody looks at art anymore, and only girls read books…and only Vaginal Fantasy Novels.

phoneRage

“new” phone?  i have a samsung stratosphere now.  it replaced my original droid. it’s not as particularly hackable, but i got a splenditudinal deal on craigslist.

this leads me to my lack of sleep last night.  around midnight, i installed an update for my launcher.  something got horked.  it sort of, kept locking up on the homescreen, but not in a way i’ve ever seen before.  it made me think the battery was dead.  the screen went dark…but not COMPLETELY black.  it looked sort of stained.  the tried to start again. and kept choking.

what i’m trying to say is, i cannot get a good night of sleep if my phone isn’t working. and if my computer is having issues…fuggedaboudit.  had to stay up til 2am until it was working smoothly again. this does not help my sleep issues.

nuculur pwr

I go through brief moments when I question electricity.  Do we need it?  Is it useful?  SHOULD we have it?  All our modern first-world lives depend on electricity.  Every job I’ve had shut down when the power went out.  In college, when power went out (or the internet was down…) everyone shambled out of their rooms and actually socialized a bit.

Even our tiny luxuries are tied to electricity…industry, mass production, and even the design of modern products depends on computers for design, email for communication, telephones…even if we feel like we could live off-grid, we still have some form of generating power (and those solar cells don’t manufacture themselves, nor grow on trees.

Although leaves grow on trees, and trees seem to do ok…).

Then there’s the damage that  burning fossil fuel does. I don’t have any numbers here, but I’d encourage you to use your Google-fu to find some statistics.  Global warming, pollution, chemicals dumped into water, dinosaurs slaughtered in cold blood with no regard for their hardworking ways.

I think about getting off the grid.  Then I realize, there’s not necessarily anything wrong with ELECTRCITY.  I like having the AC on when the temperature approachs 100° F.  I like my computer.  I like the internets, and being on them.  I don’t particularly like how our architecture is based in opposition to what nature wants to do, but that’s a whole other train of thought.

Anyway, the point being, power generation can be “easy” and pretty safe.   It might not get that way for awhile, but we have to try.  I’m pretty sure the answer is nuclear power.  Go here [world-nuclear.org] for some info on the economics, and browse around wherever you’d like

–delay several days–

Well, I started writing this on June 17th, and now its June 23rd.  I guess I’ll finish up, but I probably forgot my point if I had any to start with.

I’ve talked before (at least in my head) how I question things like, bringing electricity to third world countries.  Refrigeration can be great; it can also remove a culture from the concept of fresh food.  This isn’t necessarily a universal truth…I’ve been told many Europeans are much better with the fresh food concept than Americans are.  It can make life in regards to food a lot easier, but does that make it BETTER? I don’t know.

The BIGGEST issue regarding electricity is the amount of pollution and ecological damage it causes.   No, I changed my mind.  The earth is pretty resilient.  It can recover from pretty much any disaster we throw at it in, max, 50 years or so.  The biggest issue regarding electricity is the source.  Fossil fuels won’t last forever; then where do we go?  It takes fossil fuels and rare earth metals to create solar panels…that needs to be played with and come to a point where we can build solar panels based purely on solar power, otherwise it will never be a long-term solution.

The medium term solution is, I think, nuclear power.  Except then, we’re out of uranium.  So maybe, solar long-term.  So the question isn’t renewable energy generation, it’s energy storage.  Batteries are hard to make though,  and require power and non-renewable resources.  So we need alternative forms of energy.  But we haven’t thought of anything yet.

Nevermind, I give up.

 

this is what chernobyl is really like

ssh

I’m not shushing you.

I need to get my servers running at home in optimal shape so I can pull pictures off of them to post while I’m at work, since that’s when motivation usually strikes.

Yesterday Meg got locked in her apartment, which is pretty scary.  I thought she was being silly girl who somehow forgot how to open doors because, how do you lock yourself in your apartment?  She thought she was being silly girl too.  She wasn’t, she was legit locked in through either some screwup in the lock mechanism, or some screwup in the lock mounting on the door.

So I was  a HERO and came and let her out.  Hooray.

But then last night I took apart the lock and “broke” it.  At least, I removed the mechanism that can lock her inside, which was super fly and fun to do. I want to post a picture of the inner workings of the lock, but I can’t do that til later, since I’m lame and never set up my server at home to really work.  I might bit the bullet and buy a NAS enclosure, even though that’s the easy way out.

hmmm

i think the real answer is: i need a vacation.  but vacations really don’t help; the instant you’re back at work, the stress level is back at its typical work level.  i don’t much care for it.

the idealist in me is truly slaughtered by the whole work-stress problem.  there’s really no need for it.  no one WANTS to be stressed at work; everyone would rather be happy and work and play and balance.  but, the work culture has taught us a different paradigm, and by the time you’re in a position to change that thinking, you’ve usually become completely enveloped in it.  this is just a generalization.

the manager doesn’t want to make the employee miserable (usually); they merely respond to pressure from middle management, who responds to pressure from upper management.  ps, who needs all these artificial levels of management?  bureaucracy does, and thats the corporate life we live…

keep it small. keep it simple. bigger is not better.  technology is a fascinating celebration of the gifts given to us from on high and man’s ability to delve into and comprehend the universe gifted to us.

but these are all fringe.  i gots to keep on enlarging my sphere of love, my sphere of understanding, and the sphere of caring about those around me.  its ALWAYS the people around you who bring out the vibrancy and joy in life.

however, i’m long overdue for some alone time and gaming.

i am also in love.  i don’t much talk about personal things here.  i don’t believe in advertising my personal life.  but i miss talking about my personal life in a coffee shop with those people.

copyright FTW

The Congress shall have Power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

U. S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8

This is the foundation of of copyright law.  Copyright is to STIMULATE creative ideas; if I invent a helicoptor, you’re not allowed to build my helicoptor.  Originally, just for 14 years…then it was possible to apply for a 14 year extension in some cases.  The intent was NEVER to build a helicopter, then retire for the rest of your life on your helicopter income, and never let anyone else own your intellectual property.  The concept of intellectual property didn’t even EXIST until recently.

Now, the idea of copyright and intellectual property is driven primairly by Teh Beig Eveels.  The RIAA, MPAA, Telecoms, etc etc…copyright is a form of ownership to drive profits through licensing.  It stifles progress of science and art.

mp3

Guitar Hero used to be a creative idea. Then we got GH2. GH3. GH4. GH4.  Rock Band. And so on.  EA is publishing upwards of 50 rhythm-based games.  All the music in these…licensed by Teh Eveels.  Why? Because EA is big evil too, and can afford to.  People want to hear/play familiar sound tracks, so only a beeg eveel can compete in these markets, because they’re the only one that can afford to.  This stifles creativity to an extent; the small guy can’t compete in the big guys game, at all.  Doesn’t matter how much better his product is; he can’t afford to license all that stuff.

The little guy isn’t down and out, by any means.  There’s intensely creative, original work being created.  Look at games like World of Goo. Fabulous.  And there’s plenty of independent artists looking to make creative works…the problem is the methods of distribution are caught up in the copyright game.

Something extremely practical that you don’t even know about…the x86 architecture.  It’s what’s (most likely) running your computer.  Most people don’t know it was there.  People didn’t know a few years ago their CPU was PPC if they were running an Apple machine, and now its x86.  It’s transparent to the end user…but the copyright by Intel on that architecture stifles development.  EVERYTHING runs on it; I’d call it a commodity.  But Intel won’t let you design based on that architecture unless you pay them licensing fees.  Through a series of cross-licensing maneuvers, AMD is allowed to compete in this domain and develop their own chips based on this architecture.  The majority of user software is built for this architecture.  Practically speaking, we’re locked in…but there is NO room for a third party to develop this architecture.

I get tired of the Justic System Industry pumping copyright law for money.  Yes, pirating music is “wrong”.  No, the RIAA shouldn’t get to charge people $1.92 million against Jammie Thomas-Rasset in the name of the Almighty Copyright, no matter how much music was stolen.  No creativity was stifled.  No SCIENCE or art was shortchanged.  It’s not a copyright violation.  It’s a theft.  If you steal a few CDs, it’s not a felony, nor can you be hit with damage like that.

We need to examine the REASON and ROOT behind our laws, rather than building monstronsities on top of monstrosities.  Just like they did with the x86 architecture…