Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

35 Dollar Indian Pad? Go Indians, Go!

Jul 28, 2010 GMT

 By now you probably have heard about the “pad” computer designed in India that is being touted as costing thirty-five U.S. Dollars to manufacture. While there is very little in the way of technical details about it, some information has been published that says it consists of: An ARM9 Architecture Processor from Freescale (I.MX233): 5 USD  Memory: 3 USD  WiFi b/g: 4 USD  Other “discrete” components: 3 USD  Battery: 5 USD  7” 800x480 resistive touch screen: 15 USD  for a total bill of materials: 35 USD, and rumors that in the future this will drop to 20 USD and even 10 USD. The system is “Linux based”, but does not say if it is...
Taiwan Motherboards - NOT!

Jul 20, 2010 GMT

I was visiting a friend of mine, Dennis Jensen, while I was in Florianopolis, Brazil. During my visit I started telling Dennis about the period of 1975 to 1978 when some people were building computers from kits by soldering integrated circuits with hand soldering irons to the printed circuit boards. Many of my computer friends built these types of kits, including me.I remember one kit in particular, purchased by my supervisor at Aetna Life and Casualty, where the directions on how to assemble the system often did not match the circuit diagram, and neither matched the holes in the printed circuit board. This led to some late-night head-banging, trying to figure out which of the three...

Jul 12, 2010 GMT

 Last month I briefly blogged about my love affair with old automated musical instruments such as the player piano, player reed organ, nickelodeon, wind-up phonographs and my long association with the Automatic Musical Instrument Collector's Association (AMICA). June, 2008 was the first time that I was able to physically attend a local chapter of the AMICA, and I enjoyed meeting other people who collected and played these ancient instruments. One of the downsides of collecting the older paper-driven instruments is that in a lot of cases the paper, sometimes made with an acid-based wash, is deteriorating and some of the members are trying desperately to preserve this old music by...
Conferences for July, 2010: FOSSED, FISL and Linux Symposium

Jul 01, 2010 GMT

 July has two conferences where I will be presenting, but first I will remind people that the Ohio Linux Fest has extended their call for papers another week to July 7th. Since I have already submitted the abstracts for my Ohio Linux talks, on July 6th I will be leaving for the FOSSED conference in Bethel, Maine on July 7th to 9th. My good friend David Trask has been putting on this conference for eight years now, and has helped hundreds of school teachers learn the benefits of FOSS for teaching. Lately some of these same teachers have come back and are sharing what they know. Very practical courses in networking, use of Moodle, LTSP systems and more. I will be teaching two...
ASCAP: John Phillip Sousa Incarnate

Jun 30, 2010 GMT

Sometimes you run across something so discouraging you want to just hang your head. That happened today as I received a letter from the folks at Creative Commons stating that The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), one of the groups that supposedly represents artists by licensing their music and paying the artists royalties, had sent out letters to their 380,000 members asking for donations to fight against the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Public Knowledge and Creative Commons (CC). These groups were portrayed as being “against the interests of music creators”.This letter, signed by their President and Chairman of the Board, Paul Williams, asked...
Some you lose, some you have to keep trying

Jun 29, 2010 GMT

 This past weekend I visited my family who now lives in Pennsylvania. My mother and father are long retired and living in a retirement community. This weekend was their 68th wedding anniversary. My brother retired from the telephone company a long time ago, having been an electronic technician and lives with his wife. Once a year my brother and sister-in-law attend a big family reunion that mostly centers on her family, since my side of the family is very small (and destined to get a lot smaller). I participated in this reunion and mostly stayed with my aged parents while my brother and sister-in-law orchestrated the reunion that drew about 60 people from around the...
Kernel Issues - The "Hurricane Katrina" of programming

Jun 27, 2010 GMT

Last week I spent two days that the Red Hat Summit in Boston. Unlike a lot of conferences I attend, I actually spent much of my time in technical talks listening to some of the things that Red Hat was going to be putting into RHEL 6.0 which is due out in a short time1.I enjoy listening to technical talks, particularly ones talking about kernel issues since I used to teach operating system design. I taught other types of programming (database, compiler design, networking, graphics) but in my opinion most application-level programming (including libraries) is a “calm sea” versus the “Hurricane Katrina” of kernel programming.One of the areas of interest to me was the various file...

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