Category Archives: Technology

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New adventures with the fabulous Raspberry PI

So in the last 6-7 months I have become really interested in electronics. When I was a kid (14-15) I built an FM transistor radio out of a kit that my dad bought me,  but I really didn’t learn any electronics. Maybe some basic soldering, but that was it.

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With the arrival of the Raspberry PI, a small credit card sized computer at only $ 35.00, my interest in electronics and programming were rekindled. So I bought a few of those machines and started playing around with them. Pretty soon, I understood I needed to buy some peripherials, as just tinkering and watching results on a terminal screen wasn’t fun enough.  So I decided to buy to screens from Adafruit. One 2.8″ TFT touchscreen, and one RGB 2×16 character LCD screen with buttons. The products arrived unassembled, which was part of the idea. So out came my soldering iron and I actually had to do a bit of trial and error before I got the hang of it!

IMG_1231The smaller 2×16 LCD screen was actually the hardest one to solder together! It had a total of 96 points to solder!

Once soldering it, I needed to see if it was working. There is a cool software utility for the Raspberry to identify equipment attached to the GPIO ports, called i2c-tools ( “sudo apt-get install i2c-tools“). At first run, i2c-tools didn’t find the screen, so I had to check it over in search of bad solder points (I found 4 in total). After re-soldering them, I ran i2c-tools again and got this: 

raspberry_pi_i2cdetect

The “20″ at line 20, was proof that I succeeded. The screen was being recognized! After that it was just a question of downloading example libraries and go loose on the screen!

The second screen, the TFT touchscreen was way easier to assemble, actually. Only 52 points, not counting the optional 4 buttons (another 8 points to solder). With that one, I can boot the PI into the console on the screen, and even use the GUI with my fingers!

tft screen

My nest project is to try to add some wireless capability to the Raspberry. I already have a wifi dongle connecting this magnificent little computer to my network, but I am thinking more of 433MHz wireless connections, like the ones existing in  countless gadgets (weather stations, alarm systems, electric garage doors, etc).

RunKeeper – possible the coolest app for the iPhone

I downloaded RunKeeper (www.runkeeper.com) for my iPhone the other day. It’s free if you can stand some ads. For the ones that don’t like ads there is a $10 (USD) version with more functions.

So, what does RunKeeper do? It tracks your exercise on your iPhone. If you like running, just start the app and stop it when you are done. The built-in GPS tracks your every move, speed, elevation changes, etc. When you are done, you upload the information to RunKeeper’s website and you can also make your training efforts public (I don’t, just yet). It even pulls maps from Google Maps to show where you have been moving around! It even shows the amount on calories you have burned, based on age, weight, and type of exercise. This is simply said a completely brilliant application and I recommend it warmly to anyone wishing to get training motivation.

RunKeeper

Pirate Bay verdict… what’s next?

The people behind The Pirate Bay were convicted and sentenced to jail (apart from a ridiculously high amount of damages to be paid)… but what happens next?

They have all appealed, and the appeal (which probably will be accepted and taken to a new trial) will take place in about a year… so – for now – the convicted won’t have to face jailtime.

Now, it seems the judge that handled the case might have been biased. He is member of two organizations: The Swedish Copyright Association and the Swedish Association for Industrial Legal Protection.

This makes him – in my eyes at least – totally biased and not suitable to judge in a case involving copyright. But if Judge Norstrom was truly an impartial, brilliant, expert judge, might he have not offered the following quote: “This is a sensitive case. So before I agreed to hear it, I asked some of my fellow judges whether they considered that I would be in a position of conflicting interests. Two judges said absolutely not. While a third said he wasn’t quite so sure. I went with the majority.”

This says it all, doesn’t it?

On another note, the people convicted actually had a website much like google (albeit much much smaller).. their site (www.thepiratebay.com) contains a search engine and listings to torrent files. They don’t host files. They were convicted for “facilitating” torrent files to the public. So what does Google do? The exact same thing.

That’s why some clever guy registered the name thepirategoogle.com. Where he (or she) uses google to search for torrents. This website has the exact same functionality as the Pirate Bay – it uses Google’s search engine to “facilitate torrent files” to people searching for torrents. It seems, however, that media companies are a bit afraid to sue Google, aren’t they?

iPhone or HTC Touch Pro?

The HTC Touch Pro has just been released to rave reviews, and has also been dubbed an “iPhone-killer”. I generally both like and dislike Windows Mobile more than OSX, so I guess it will have to be tested before I give a verdict. Seems the speed troubles that bogged down other WM-based phones have been fixed here. Navigation seems to be smooth and it seems to work pretty well. Besides, you are allowed to install whatever software you want on it, not something Apple has “approved”, which makes it worth it just because of that.

HTC Touch Pro


Man made global warming – a total myth

Just finished watching an English documentary called “The Great Global Warming Swindle“. It’s a documentary that aims to prove that the idea of man causing global warming, is a myth that is used politically. I tend to agree, after seeing this documentary. Generally, global warming is said to be caused by humans releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. However, there is no correlation between temperatures and CO2 levels.

Only 0.054% of the Earth’s atmosphere consist of CO2. To say that humans – that release about 8% of what the oceans release of CO2 each year – contribute in any way to global warming, is a complete hoax.

�The period between 1945 and 1975 is when the greatest amounts of CO2 were released into the atmosphere by humans. Global temperatures, however, fell during this period.

Then what is causing the global warming? Studies show that the sun is responsible for the historical fluctuations in global temperature. Apparently, intense solar activity increases global temperature, as no solar activity cools global temperature.

�That said, I am of the opinion that we should take care of our environment and the Earth. But to use global warming as a reason to do that, is not right.

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Most wanted cellphone ever?

HTC P4550 (Kaiser)

No… not talking about the Iphone… I believe the Iphone – albeit its’ cool GUI – sucks. No 3G, no flash for the camera, so-so resolution, etc. No, the phone I’m talking about is the cryptically named P4550 from HTC. This is the mother of all mobile phones. Don’t believe me? It has everything the Iphone doesn’t (except for the camera flash?):

  • Slide out keyboard – who wants to jot sms messageson a screen that – if you just happened to eat junk food – just gets greasy?
  • 3G
  • 3MP camera
  • Built in GPS

It looks to be quite cool when it’s released by the end of this month. Pricewise it will be way cheaper than the Iphone – around 800 bucks WITHOUT any contract. So you can expect to find it for a couple of hundred with a contract included.

Worst customer support, part 2.

Last tuesday, my ADSL connection stopped working. Apparently the modem gave up due to some electric discharge or something. I called it in wednesday, and the “helpful customer representative”, told me it would take between 24 and 72 hours for the problem to be resolved… Friday I called again, and they said that the 72 hours would end by saturday. Nothing happened, of course. I called saturday to ask what about the solution of the problem, and another “helpful customer representative” told me that the 72 hours are counted as working hours… so, for instance 24 hours are 3 working days. 72 hours are 9 working days. :-D The obviously don’t work weekends, and this tuesday is May 1st, socialist holiday. So no work then… we’ll see when I get internet access back.

Telmex sucks. Prodigy sucks. Unfortunately, there are no options to Prodigy. Carlos Slim should use some of the 60 MUSD he makes EVERY DAY to make the service better. But he doesn’t care about the people that made him rich. Why should he? We can’t do anything about it/him anyway, since there are no ways to make him give his customers better support.

Telmex / Prodigy blocks VOIP

They have finally done it. The ADSL monopoly company Prodigy (owned by the landline monopoly Telmex) here in Mexico have begun blocking VOIP services now. I have 2 Swedish VOIP accounts, both of which ceased to function as of today. Looking in the setup page for my PAP2, which handles both accounts, the equipment de-registers continually from the SIP servers. The system manages to register every 15 seconds, but just for a couple of seconds at a time. Talked with people that also have VOIP services, and they have the same problem.

Now, as they say – they are in their own right to block such services (they name VOIP specifically) that “compromise the quality” of the ADSL service. What does that mean, exactly? According to this, you can’t use the ADSL service for VPN:s either (another premium service from Telmex). Wouldn’t it be better to say in the user agreement that they can’t allow any competition, since Telmex themselves live off the phone conversations of other people and sell VPN services?

The biggest problem might not be the fact that they actually do this. The biggest problem is that there is no place to turn to. Mexican consumer advocate groups have no power basically, and Telmex have an excellent standing with the government, given that they have spent millions in restoring Mexico City’s old town, infrastructure projects, etc. So basically they can screw the consumer as long as they don’t screw the government. That sucks.

Now, Telmex/Prodigy are into starting to send TV through the Internet. They have already acquired the necessary licenses. Is their next step to make Youtube illegal? Will they slam down on anybody downloading movies / television content? I think Mr. Slim needs a better team of advisors regarding his IT strategies… Mr Carlos Slim already owns most of CompUSA (which is, as I heard, struggling), and of US Prodigy. He should sit down and see what he wants to do with the extreme power that comes with purveying 80% of all Internet infrastructure to Mexicans.

It has caused quite a bit of a stir at ALT1040 Mexico’s (?) most prominent tech blog. Read [here]