Archive for January 2010

One thing I love about *nix

25 January 2010

I use Xournal all the time on my N800. It allows me to take notes and sketches freehand rather than having to type on a little keyboard. Freehand is messier, but MUCH faster.

When I erase in Xournal I always use the eraser in its ‘delete strokes’ mode. I don’t know why that is not the default eraser mode. Fortunately nearly everything in Gnu/Linux (and other *nixes I think) has configuration files.

Had a look at the Xournal user manual and sure enough “Xournal’s configuration settings are saved to the file ~user/.xournal/config”. So on the N800 “vi ~/.xournal/config” change a “0” to a “2” and tada! Delete strokes is now my default.

Configuration files. I love that about *nix.

GPS, Today & Tomorrow

21 January 2010

A lot of technology comes into general use after being developed or applied for military purposes. GPS is one of these.

I finally got an in-car GPS yesterday. A bit behind the times, I know. I had been making do with OpenStreetMaps on my N800. Yesterday morning while trying to find a customer in an unfamiliar area, with one eye on the road, one eye on a tailgater, one eye on the street signs and one eye on the PDA (and I don’t even wear glasses!) I finally decided I might try a GPS.

At the end of the day most roads in the region were clogged due to a surplus of accidents. The traffic helicopter lady sounded quite overwhelmed and it seemed unlikely that I could get home from where I was. So, I went shopping instead.

Bought a GPS. Should have bought a GPS a long time ago. It can tell me where the nearest Tim Horton’s is and guide me right to it! Most important — I can keep my eyes on the road while it tells me where and which way to turn.

Occasional glances at the screen show me what to expect ahead along with time, ETA, direction, speed, etc, etc. I found that I do like the 3D view better than the 2D view.. After a couple of hours though it occurred to me that a bit more military developed hardware could enhance the GPS.

Drones. A GPS should have an available personal drone aircraft.

The drone could fly over my vehicle and give a birds-eye view of the traffic around me. Particular hazards, such as erratic drivers, could be highlighted in yellow. Animals or pedestrians poised to enter the roadway ahead could be highlighted in orange. Approaching emergency vehicles could be highlighted in red and maybe flash as they get close in case their siren is not heard. Maybe the drone could have a spotlight to deploy when approaching dark-haired, dark-clothed, helmetless, lightless cyclists on dark roads at night. (Do those cyclists not think that being seen is prerequisite to not being hit?)

A driver’s space on the road would grow to include the airspace overhead, and the sky above busy roads would become pretty busy. Drones would have to be able to hover over traffic jams. If each drone remained over it’s associated vehicle though, there should be no (or few) mid-air collisions. Some autonomous obstacle avoidance would be necessary of course, lest trolley wires become the robotic equivalent of bug zappers. With all the military and law enforcement experience with drones in recent years we should be able to adapt drones to civilian use without too much trouble.

I love my new GPS, but I look forward to the drone upgrade.

Freerunner, SHR, WiFi

3 January 2010

Finally got ’round to looking at WiFi on the Freerunner since installing SHR on it. SHR included an application called Mokonnect that looks nice but on my Freerunner didn’t work for WiFi.

Tinkering a bit I got the Freerunner to connect to my Linksys WRT54G with WPA2/TKIP & AES from the command line with…

root@om-gta02 $ wpa_supplicant -i eth0 -c /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf &
(that’s actually all one line)

root@om-gta02 $ udhcpc -i eth0

(of course with a suitable wpa_supplicant.conf file in place. I copied the one from my N800 and edited out the extraneous bits with vi)

That worked. Some time later I picked the freerunner up and it had lost the WiFi connection. A simple “ifup eth0” got it back.

Later I installed an app called NWA. NWA worked too and looks pretty slick, but it wouldn’t connect to my other network’s WRT54G2 using WPA2/AES. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to try connecting from the command line there.