Wednesday, December 26, 2007

X61s laptop power 2

After uninstalling all the 'crap' that comes installed with this laptop, I noticed that the power used by this laptop would go up. I was regularly drawing 12-13 watts. So I used the recovery partition to get the laptop back where it was at.

5+ hours later, the laptop was again drawing 8.7 watts if it was idle. Now I'm slowly seeing what I can uninstall and still keep a low power draw.

Sorry to my friends at Symantec, but your products are always the first to go. Norton starts many different programs, and slows system startup to a crawl. The cure is almost worse than the disease.

As for Linux, the 2.6.24 kernel is a lot better than the 2.6.22 kernel. But my custom kernel doesn't have all the features that the default Ubuntu kernel does. I'll need to try an 8.04 alpha 2 install and see if that helps the power usage. I'd really like to see Linux power usage to be at least comparable to Windows.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

X61s laptop power

I've had to run Vista on my laptop while working with Codewarrior to do embedded systems work. Unfortunately, I've found my experience seems to match this post. Linux uses way more power than Windows on this laptop.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Testing out the sensors

Last night I dropped by my friends and We managed to do the following:
  • Program the Freescale development board (started with a blinking LED)
  • Created a program to adjust a lightbar based on the amount of light hitting the board.
  • Adjusted the board to the program work with a gyro. So as you rotate the gyro, it can tell how fast you are doing it.
  • Adjusted the program to work with the inertia sensor. So as you change direction, the board can tell
  • Adjusted the program to work with a sonar, so it can measure distance.
I'm worried about how sensitive the gyro will be to a helicopter's vibrations. The sonar seems a bit flaky. Both will probably require some programming to dampen things out. The gyro might be able to be mounted with some shock absorbers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Toys for Christmas

Oh, Santa has already been by my office. A fancy "soldering station", a power supply, gps on a chip, gyro on a chip, sonar, embedded systems development board, and other fun toys. Hopefully tomorrow I can begin to learn how to use them.

I also managed to get replacement parts for my Esky Lama V4. With new landing skids and an upgraded inner shaft for the rotors, it is flying much better now. I just need to wait for all the students to leave so I can fly it around the Carver atrium.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

ACM Account Verification

As part of Simpson's search for a new computer science candidate, my job is to find possible candidates via the ACM's resume database. (ACM has apparently partnered with "Jobtarget" to do their job website.)

So before I can do search resume's, I need to verify my account:

From the Jobtarget website:

Validation is required to view the resumes on the site. This process takes only a few minutes: simply fax a copy of your business card, or company letterhead, or a business license, or a trade name certificate, or other documentation that verifies you represent an organization. Please send that fax to 860.447.4562. Include your name, phone number, and email in case we need to contact you.

What does this prove, exactly? Anyone could make up their own business card or letterhead. It would also be easy to forge a legitimate company's information.

It is bad enough that any company would consider this 'verification', but this is the ACM! They have published hundreds, if not thousands of papers on security. This is just sad, even if the website is developed through a partnership, and not by the ACM.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Creating a UAV

I've wanted to create a computer-controlled helicopter for about 25 years. Now, finally, is the time to start on the project. Embedded computers are cheap, rc helicopters are cheap. Plus, a lot of other people have been successful at creating UAVs for academics, hobby, or business.

I'm really enjoying my Esky Lama V4, and I think it will be a good platform to try this idea out.

So I went over to my friend who runs the chembal website, and he showed me what I needed to get started. Here's the list:

Development kit: ($85)

Logic analyzer: ($79)

Gyroscope: ($74)

The next two are from the same vendor:
Ultrasonic distance sensor: ($25)

GPS: ($72)

Wires: ($17 & $12)

Breadboard ($32),_3260_CONTACT_.html

One of these soldering stations, but not both!

Powersupply ($188)

Some of the equipment is ordered. Since it comes from different vendors, the division chair got tired of registering and ordering from so many different sites. So the rest will be on its way later.

Simpson is a Hiring Computer Science Tenure Track Position

Simpson College is hiring a tenure-track faculty position in computer science. Go ahead and apply!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Simpson College Commercial

Simpson College now has their own commercial.

Taking the furminator too far

In an earlier post, I said how impressed I was with the Furminator. Well, I took it a bit too far. Now one of our cats has a bald patch!

I will use extreme caution the next time I pull out the Furminator.

Java Cheat Sheet

This is a Java Cheat Sheet I created for my students. The source for the sheet is available here as a LaTeX document. I created this by using a latex cheat sheet I found on the web as a template.