ApacheCon Europe 2007 keynote

May 7th, 2007  |  Published in hardware

Last Friday I had the great privilege of giving a keynote talk at the ApacheCon Europe conference in Amsterdam. My topic was the new possibilities for software hackers coming from cheap, scriptable hardware prototyping. I illustrated the path from the desktop via my work in Second Life, and showed how it translates into physical computing.

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Connecting First and Second Life

January 11th, 2007  |  Published in hardware

I’ve been interested for some time in the possibilities offered by bringing external data into virtual environments like Second Life. This data might come from the web, but it could also come from the real world – from physical sensors and interfaces.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed playing with the Arduino hardware prototyping board. This week’s open-sourcing of the Second Life client came at exactly the right time for a new experiment.

Here’s a video demonstration (people reading the feed, start your web browsers). On the left you’ll see an Arduino reading analogue values from a potentiometer and feeding the results in via the USB-serial interface to my Mac. On the right, you’ll see a modified version of Second Life that is feeding those values in via my avatar’s chat channel. An object in the Second Life world is reacting, with perhaps a half-second lag.

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More notes on installing Debian on a Dell Latitude X200

April 1st, 2004  |  Published in hardware

Last year I bought a Dell Latitude X200 laptop, which was a wonderful machine. In October it was stolen from my flat in a break-in. I made do with a refurbished HP Omnibook 500 but I wasn’t happy with it. When a 2nd-hand X200 came up on ebay last week at a good price, I couldn’t resist snapping it up. In the time since I last installed linux on one of these machines, there have been a few developments and new releases that make installation and configuration easier.

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The PL2303 serial-USB adapter and Linux

September 21st, 2003  |  Published in hardware, linux

A short note to fill in for something I couldn’t find via google on getting a PL2303-based serial-USB adapter to work with linux…

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Ericsson Bluetooth phone as remote control

August 3rd, 2003  |  Published in hardware, python

After seeing Richard Clamp’s excellent talk at a london.pm techmeet on using Ericsson phones as remote controls I went away to code something similar (but less fully-functioned) in python for my own use. My code plugs into the Twisted framework and listens for phone keypress events. It uses the AT commands defined in an Ericsson PDF for the R320 phone, and it works with my T610.

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Installing Debian on a Dell Latitude X200

March 9th, 2003  |  Published in hardware, linux

UPDATE: more notes written recently

My new laptop arrived this week – a Dell Latitude x200. And it’s marvellous. Wonderfully lightweight, good battery life for such a small box, good keyboard and a really clear bright screen. After a quick look at Windows XP, which I’d never seen properly before, I set about installing Linux on it. The Linux on Laptops Dell page has links to some useful bootstrapping information, but there were a few things I found pretty hard to work out. Here are my notes on those things.

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Cron is my TiVo

January 20th, 2003  |  Published in hardware, linux

One thing I’d like to do with a silent PC is make a homebrew TiVo-alike. Well, I would if I watched any TV. Which I don’t. But still, the idea interests me beyond any use I’d actually make of it. Anyway…

In the past, this idea has been beyond my means since recording analogue TV to MPEG on a hard disk in realtime requires a great deal of CPU (or dedicated encoder hardware). The general availability of digital TV in the UK now means that the MPEG encoding is already done for you by the broadcasters; you just need a way to get it out of the airwaves or cables and into a PC. Happily, there’s now a range of cheap digital WinTV cards for cable, terrestrial and satellite. I’ve been checking out a NOVA-t (terrestrial) card on a linux box this week.

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Making a silent, tiny, diskless PC

January 7th, 2003  |  Published in hardware, linux

For a while I’ve wanted a home PC that I can leave on all the time without the noise bugging me – I’ve become quite sensitive to machine noise over years of working with computers. I’d use it to play MP3s off my network, then I’d think up other projects. It wouldn’t need a monitor or a keyboard. It would just sit attached to the network, appliance-style, in the manner of a slimp3 but with the flexibility of a full linux system. Now the off-the-shelf hardware I need to make such a thing is available.

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MAC-address logging/blocking for linux iptables

January 2nd, 2003  |  Published in hardware, linux, wireless

Here’s a little script I wrote that checks incoming wireless requests for a known MAC address. I’ve been using it on my Linux gateway/router/wireless-bridge.

If it doesn’t know you, it transparent-proxies all your outgoing port 80 traffic to the local webserver’s port 81, where you could put a redirect to a polite message or something.

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