Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category




  • Finnix, ‘Finnix is a self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution (“LiveCD”) for system administrators, based on Debian testing”; I came across this while looking at what common distros were out there for PowerPC since I recently acquired an iBook.
  • Open64, the Open Research Compiler, “an open source, optimizing compiler for the Intel IA-64 (Itanium), AMD Opteron and Intel IA-32e architecture”
  • GCC UPC – extensions to GCC to provide a compilation and execution environment for Unified Parallel C
    • “UPC is an extension of the C programming language designed for high-performance computing on large-scale parallel machines, including those with a common global address space (SMP and NUMA) and those with distributed memory (eg. clusters).”



  • Awesome MIPSy stuff:
    • Lemote Fulong miniPC (Linuxdevices story) – powered by a 666 MHz Loongson 2E
    • Rather similar to the $150 YellowSheepRiver “Municator” (Another Linuxdevices story) based on a 500 MHz 64-bit Godson-2
    • Lemote YeeLoong, a laptop with completely free software (including BIOS and firmware) and a power usage of about 12W, based on an 800 MHz Loongson 2F; Richard Stallman supposedly uses one of these

2008.08.22 – 2008.09.26 or something like that


Reference stuff

Technical stuff

Music, demoscene, and other shiny stuff

  • Future Crew – Second Reality – very impressive demo from 1993 (actual program for DOS here)
  • ChibiTracker – portable Impulse Tracker clone (i.e. “a small, compact music composing application that is easy to learn and powerful enough to sound good”); GPLed and runs on Windows, Linux, MacOS, BSD, and BeOS
  • Map of Science – trying to visualize connections between various sciences… Flash-based and interactive and kinda neat



2008.07.10 – 2008.07.26 debris




  • The Future Freaks Me Out – album from a band my friend Shannon likes
  • Jamglue – remixing for the masses… I haven’t looked at it in much detail. but Corina uses it
  • John Walsh – local (as in Cincinnati) punk/hardcore band that Joc likes
  • The Seedy Seeds (and also here on Myspace) – another local band (electronica?) that Joc likes

Shiny stuff

  • Dafont – site full of categorized fonts for download (free for personal use)


Hippie & Political Stuff

  • Joc showed me this: Freecycle – “It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.”
  • The Problem with Music by Steve Albini
  • Courtney Love’s commentary on record label profits, Napster, music, and piracy
  • Order of Death on Youtube – someone told me I should watch it. I haven’t yet. There’s a high chance it’s complete BS.

Software stuff

  • Bart’s way to create bootable CDs – very handy
  • Squeak – VM (open source) implementing Smalltalk  (this FLOSS Weekly talks about it)
  • Seaside – “framework for developing sophisticated web applications in Smalltalk”  (this FLOSS Weekly talks about it as well)
  • Squeak by Example – pretty good book (available as a PDF for free, or as a printed copy from for $20.10)
  • Early History of Smalltalk by Alan Kay – it is from 1993, but is still a very in-depth paper
  • Smalltalk: Getting the Message – article more focused on the “why” and “how” of Smalltalk than its history
  • SliTaz – a Linux distro designed to run out of RAM and still have a usable desktop; current version is only about 25 MB
  • Rocks Clusters – a CentOS-based Linux distro designed to make building and managing clusters a lot easier (mentioned in this FLOSS Weekly)
  • Webconverger – “open source web kiosk”, or basically a Linux distro designed to boot quickly into Firefox
  • VR Juggler Suite – some sort of open source virtual reality suite
  • Englab – open source mathematical platform, similar to MATLAB, in very early versions right now
  • Quotes about C and C++ and Programming Quotes which are mostly good for being funny rather than useful, or for pissing people off

Hardware stuff (DIYish)

Hardware stuff (non-DIY-unless-you-have-a-fab-or-a-CNC)

  • Loongson – general-purpose CPU made at Chinese Academy of Sciences; MIPS-compatible and used in some small devices like this


  • 3D holographic display at USC (uses projector + rapidly rotating mirror)
  • Lest We Remember: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys  –  research from Princeton about how information can be recovered from memory after a system is powered off, and how to utilize this to defeat most encryption systems because they leave their keys in memory.

Video game-related

  • FIFE engine – open source 2D engine designed for isometric and top-down views
  • XGameStation video game development kit – looks like they have various kits for programming games, old-school style, and a lot of user-submitted programs

Alix.1C board & Edirol repair


I guess I’ll repeat what some other people do, and put up blog entries about what they do with hardware…


My Alix.1C mini-ITX board just arrived, hopefully to replace the server that’s sitting in the closet collecting dust, and making a lot of noise and heat due to having 5 hard drives (all of which could be replaced by a single drive for about $30).

This board is a 500 MHz AMD Geode with 256 MB RAM onboard; it uses about 5 watts and runs from 12VDC. It has a CompactFlash header onboard, so right now I am running Linux from a 128 MB card.

Alix.1CAlix.1C other view

Edirol PCR-M50

My brother got me an Edirol PCR-M50 keyboard about 16 months ago. When I used it recently to mess around with Reaktor 5 I found that a number of the keys had stopped working. I figured this was probably because for the past several months I’d used the MIDI keyboard primarily for putting books on top of rather than any music-related purpose, due to being in a dorm room with nowhere else to put the books. But after some online searching, it looks like a number of people have had the same issue. and it’s due to some corrosion/oxidation/dirt on the contacts that the keys activate.

Some said they’d taken it apart and cleaned it to fix it. So I figured that would be easier to do than try to memorize which notes didn’t work. I took some pictures… mainly for my own reference in case I forgot how things were supposed to go back together… but I am putting them up here too:

Front cover off, after removing like 50 screws:

Edirol keyboard 1Edirol keyboard 2

So I started the process of removing keys because I could not see any other way to access the contacts. They grey part on the left in the first picture looks like about the same mechanism as a keyboard or older joystick pad. There are two pads for each key rather than just one, and my guess is that the one nearest the fulcrum is hit slightly sooner than the further one, and the time elapsed between the two hits is used to guess the velocity with which they key was struck.

Other than that, just a pretty easy-to-understand design. Each key is held up by a tension spring on the opposite side, and keys slide in and out pretty easily once the springs are gone. The only annoying part was all the white grease everywhere that kept getting all over my hands.

Edirol keyboard 3Edirol keyboard 4

And it’s just connected electrically with a ribbon cable, normal 0.1″ pitch, like an IDE header.

Edirol keyboard 5

So I proceeded to remove the first dozen or so keys by pulling out the springs, then white keys and black keys.

The PCB in the next pictures looks almost black, but it should be more of a dark green. The lines are dust that came between the keys. In any case, these show the rubber(ish) part on top that the keys strike, and the gold PCB contacts beneath them.

Edirol keyboard 6Edirol keyboard 7

Conveniently, there are four rubber sections (one per octave). Each two gold pads correspond to a key, and the holes between each are where the rubber section is secured.

I removed the first section completely, but fully re-seating the rubber took awhile. What I eventually did was lift up just the portion enough to get to the PCB contacts underneath. As only a few keys were problematic, it was just a matter of pounding the keys or rubber to hear which ones didn’t respond right. Electronics are really supposed to be turned off when you service them, but it is much easier to audibly hear the response of a key/contact to determine how well it’s working, so I had it plugged in… oh well, the electronics are all low-voltage.

From there I just needed to clean off the contacts underneath the problematic keys with some rubbing alcohol on a q-tip. I didn’t exactly need to remove all 48 keys to do this, but I wanted to clean the keys off anyway.

Yay. Keyboard is working well again.