Friday, October 31, 2003

ARRLWeb: High-Speed Digital Networks and Multimedia

In my 'wilder' (*ahem*) youth I got my radio ham license - G7FYQ was my little used call-sign... although I did hang about on the 2mtr band using the cambridge repeater a bit ! (Get your anorak out chap !).

In those days the radio hams were messing around with a system for breaking data down into packets and using effectively a dynamic network of whatever computers happened to be on-air to route packets from station to station...... they set-up bulletin boards etc.. and with a relatively low-power transciever you could access computers all over the world with it.

They even had some mates in NASA..... now apparently your average satellite launch takes some dead-weight ballast up at the same time - to make up the weight.... so these guys got some of their own home made satellites taken up ! Cool.

I believe this network of packet switching effectively became the internet a while ago and *certainly* became the basis of GPRS data communication (used by European cell-phones) - General Packet Radio Services.

Well it recently occurred to me that packet radio would be a *great* way of doing a high power wireless network - if they'd sorted the protocols/interfaces to use the 802.11b standard....

Not only that but I discovered today that they'd *dropped* the requirement to learn morse code to access the really interesting frequencies..... wicked... time to reveive my license....

Anyway - looks like there are a few people who do wireless networking over (cheap) amateur radio VHF gear...... see the link above and the quote below......

By marrying this equipment to Amateur microwave expertise, it should be possible to build broadband data links extending up to 150 kilometres. Links could stretch across states and link hams everywhere with high-speed voice and video. File-sharing and e-mail, network gaming and pop-up chat are just a small sample of what's possible.

Applications abound for public service work too. Amateurs recently involved in the Texas search for debris from the shuttle Columbia used a 802.11b high-speed system on ham radio to link the net control station in Nacagdoches with the Internet.

posted by Mike Foord on Friday, October 31, 2003

Wired News: Mac Supercomputer Just Got Faster

This one's an interesting one... no really ! Dubbed the 'Big Mac' of supercomputing this guy has built (for a university) the worlds third fastest Supercomputer - in 6 months and for 5 million dollars...... and he's done it by networking over a 1000 macs....

Most other machines of its class cost upward of $40 million and take years to assemble.

I bet a few institutes who've just spent thirty million bucks on building a less capable machine... are a bit peed off about this !

The best bit of the article though is talking about his reception at a recent conference ! (Justin ought to like this quote..)
"During his talk, Varadarajan was treated like a nerd superhero. "

Hurrah for the nerd superheros................
posted by Mike Foord on Friday, October 31, 2003

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Wired News: Processing at the Speed of Light

They talk about optical processing from time to time - but it looks like it's starting to become a reality...... The Israelis have got an optical processor working from the sounds of it.... Good old Jews eh (or is that politically incorrect these days ?)... I guess we'll stretch moore's law out for a few more years then....
posted by Mike Foord on Thursday, October 30, 2003

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Wired News: New Ways to Skirt DMCA Legally!

The American government have recognised that their might be legitimate reasons why people would need to 'circumvent' copy protection on devices or digital media........

Basically, those who have a non-infringing, fair-use reason to circumvent copy protections should be allowed to do so.

In non-geek speak - it means that people *might* allowed to distribute their hacks and cracks to copy protection mechanisms under the guise of 'fair use'. If you remember the code to 'crack' DVDs (DeCSS) was originally coded because DVD manafacturer wouldn't release a player for Linux...... of course the main *use* it has been put to is copying DVDs......

posted by Mike Foord on Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Friday, October 24, 2003

Dan Jackson Software

Dan Jackson is the 'cover name' for whoever wrote the oddly named clit software... convert lit that finally broke microsoft readers propietary e-book format.

I've just read on their site that they'll be closing the site down because The UK's implementation of the European Union Copyright Directive means that, starting from October 31st, it will no longer be legal to use or distribute Convert LIT in the UK.

Hmmmm... sounds suspiciously like a UK version of the DMCA..... I seriously hope not :-(
posted by Mike Foord on Friday, October 24, 2003

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Ananova - Molecule-sized circuits 'set to replace silicon chip'

Whilst articles proclaiming new breakthroughs in nano-computing come almost daily.... I still find them fascinating *grin*. Here's another one on molecular circuits much smaller than those capable of being produced by 'traditional' (yeah-right, like it's an ancient craft or something) lithography onto silicon wafers (the microchip).
posted by Mike Foord on Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Wired 11.11: Open Source Everywhere

This article talks about a life saving 'medical' problem (many of the difficulties they faced were engineering problems rather than purely medical) done on a system that models 'open-source' techniques. It talks about the collaborative model being a more productive model than the competitive one (do I sense a political speech coming... ??)

Anyway - it's a great idea and an obvious approach..... but how would the 'markets' react... hmmm.......

Here are a couple of quotes from the article :

"ThinkCycle's collaborative approach is modeled on a method that for more than a decade has been closely associated with software development: open source. It's called that because the collaboration is open to all and the source code is freely shared."

"But software is just the beginning. Open source has spread to other disciplines, from the hard sciences to the liberal arts. Biologists have embraced open source methods in genomics and informatics, building massive databases to genetically sequence E. coli, yeast, and other workhorses of lab research. NASA has adopted open source principles as part of its Mars mission, calling on volunteer 'clickworkers' to identify millions of craters and help draw a map of the Red Planet. There is open source publishing: With Bruce Perens, who helped define open source software in the '90s, Prentice Hall is publishing a series of computer books open to any use, modification, or redistribution, with readers' improvements considered for succeeding editions. "

posted by Mike Foord on Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Microprocessor Forum - Seminars

Now I've heard of everything...... the link above is the forum on extreme processors bizzarre... whatever next.

I came across it as a link on an article for a two-watt cpu that supposedly has almost super-computer maths processing power...... Hmmm... possibly another piece of 'vapourware' that will never *actually* hit the streets - but it seems that another leap in processing power might be round the corner........ Just when we thought things couldn't get any omore crazy - sorry Justin, looks like your new 2.5 Gigahertz laptop is obselete already :-)

Turn your PC into a Supercomputer

posted by Mike Foord on Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Well..... I've just built a new 'windows executable' version of the python scripts I've been creating for Atlantis..... dead easy and straightforward. The more python I learn the more impressed I am with it.

Looks like they've completed work on the pocketpc version of python 2.3 as well - hurrah... I should have it in the next couple of days.
posted by Mike Foord on Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Wired News: Cloaking Device Made for Spammers

The rise of a new breed of mercenary hackers - that this article labels 'Spackers' - who are in cahoots with spammers is the subject of this worrying wired article. These clever but ultimately malicious computer geeks provide spammers and fraudsters with tools to make their websites untraceable - so that normal traceroute methods can't find them. This makes it much harder to close fraudulent websites.

Not only that but the tools make use of thousands of 'trojanned' computers - ones that have been infected with viruses or 'backdoor software' (often included in pirate software - beware - good virus killers ought to detect backdoors too). It seems there's no honour even amongst virus writers these days - lol - they're just in it for the money.......
posted by Mike Foord on Thursday, October 09, 2003

Looks like they're working on the version of Python 2.3 for Windows CE (or TCROPKAWC "the continously renamed OS previously known as Windows CE" as it sometimes called)

Not only that but wxWindows for WindowsCE has been completed.... so a version of wxPython under windowsCE is a serious possibility.

*Porbably* not very exciting for anyone except me - but at the moment I can only write code on my PDA not actually test it (I can run the Python 2.2.3 interpreter still to check whether an idea s right or whatever though).... Now that I've got e-mail and MSN on is I'm really enjoying having a PDA phone.

I looked on the Microsoft Windows CE website and looked for devices using windows OS in PDAs with phones built in - I'd like to upgrade and the forthcoming XDA II looks really snazzy - but at about 600 quid plus a contract very expensive. The list from microsoft was 'concise' to say the least - it consisted of the O2 XDA and... that was it...... Shame - be nice to see some competition do to the prices what the Dell Axim did to the rest of the handheld market.

posted by Mike Foord on Thursday, October 09, 2003

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The Game AI Page: Building Artificial Intelligence into Games

A very useful page :-) I've been looking at different 'algorithms' for finding the best path across a map. Eventually found lots of resources... I'm really enjoying programming. It all spirals out of control though and you end up with lots of code and docs to maintain - even on a small project... how people write whole operating systems I *can't* imagine.......
posted by Mike Foord on Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Friday, October 03, 2003

XDA II - read it and drool

These are the specs of the forthcoming XDA... looks very nice. Theres even an adaptor to allow you to use compact flash cards which are much more stable than the SD cards..... great.

Problem is it will probably cost about six hundred pounds *plus* a phone contract - which is waaaaaaaaaay more than the competition... but I'm really enjoying mobile email *sigh* what a choice.
posted by Mike Foord on Friday, October 03, 2003

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Wired News: Lawsuits Damp Down P2P Audience

Looks like the 'bad guys of the year' - the RIAA - are having an effect. Their high profile lawsuits against P2P music swappers have resulted in P2P traffic slowing by about 40 percent...........
posted by Mike Foord on Thursday, October 02, 2003