Friday, April 24, 2009
I've had to learn the hard way that whenever you're taking a business trip (or a leisure trip for that matter) there are certain essentials that you have to bring with you, such as your towel. While having a laptop with your familiar environment and your favorite tools and music can make your life easier, it's not absolutely essential, given that you probably have an Internet-accessible box at home or at work. What is essential is a quick, straightforward way to get the job done. You need to be able to link your bits with their bits and measures. A simple way to patch your technological know-how into their system. Thanks to Microsoft et al deprecating "legacy" serial and parallel ports, now there isn't any simple, immediate way to interface stuff directly to a PC-class computer. You usually interface stuff directly to a microcontroller-class computer, but even that needs to be PC-linked to be programmed. So even if you're certain that you can find all the needed parts on-site, you still must always bring your own USB AVR programmer.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I see more and more people embedding phrases such as "Please consider the environment before printing this email." near the end of their e-mails. I can only agree: please consider the environment before printing anything. For instance: energy/cut trees/oil/whatever needed for printing the document versus energy spent by you turning on your laptop to read the document while traveling (by train, of course). Stuff spent for printing and reading by daylight (or by incandescent light (inefficient) or econo-bulb (mercury-containing)) versus reading on LCD (or CRT) monitor, in darkness or in lit room. Think before you (don't) print. If I could be bothered to dig up the data, I'm sure I could find at least 8 cases in which it would be more "environmentally responsible" to actually print the fucking paper. I saw a documentary about loggers recently. Their company administers a huge area of forests, cutting down old trees and planting new ones instead, continuously. They claimed that younger trees absorb more CO_2 than old trees, therefore they're actually helping the environment. So there, when you're feeling lonely and depressed and nobody likes you because you're an environazi drone, go print a nice flower or something.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I had a Digital Computers course where we had these logic design and implementation lab classes. We had to implement various modules in Verilog and run them in a low-end FPGA. But during the first lab we weren't yet familiar with Verilog, so we were supposed to enter a digital schematic graphically. The schematic was designed the hardcore, old-school way, by building a state machine on paper, assigning bits to states, writing equations, translating them to flip-flops and gates et cetera. The state machine was for a (famous with past and current students at our faculty) "coke vending machine". It never worked as supposed and I suspect (being too lazy to prove though) that the equations suggested in the lab documentation were wrong. Years have gone by and, while having a break in the faculty hallway, I found that maybe one of our graduates, now employed at a vending machine company, has finally got it working: