it's the archive page, as it were...
This is the old news page..some stuff will eventually move to tech pages..
pages are getting updated (finally!)
didn't get to try any Macallan Ruby whisky this Xmas...(sad..) came home from Xmaxx dinner at sister-in-law's house and finished the last skerrick of the Oban 15yo (happy!)
The Prusa Mendel i2 was finished some time back; it worked sort of, but needs more work - it has been consigned to the shed, while the RAMPS card stepper drivers are updated
finally getting close to finishing my Prusa Mendel i2 3D printer! the RAMPS/Arduino Mega combo works and the steppers are OK: now to setup the print bed and heater..
just server checking..not much news of late..
I hope you all had a really great xmas day and aren't under the weather too much. I got to try my sister-in-law's husband's Macallan Ruby single malt!! simply magnificent drop!
Now https! we have SSL certs from letsencrypt.org for gerbilator.org and cottagecomputers.com.au/net.au domains!
more samba tweaking post upgrade to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS...EmEditor tweak
Weekly server fettling.. just checking this web service.
Linux Mint, a friendly Ubuntu-based linux distro is my Linux desktop of choice! Try it today as a Live CD. They need funding to keep the good work, so donations are gratefully accepted!
The wordpress Gerb's Tech Blog site has been redone..new post.
all external blogs/sites/social media have been deleted where possible..
there may be new content at some time in the future.
added link to John Boxall's new electronics shop site..tronixlabs.com. A brave move in an increasingly competitive
market. John's reputation will garner him many customers, I'm sure.
The great cleanup has commenced, but is proceeding slowly [too much stuff, not enough room, bad leg..]
Microview - a tiny Arduino device with a built in display!! another Marcus and Maddy project that I am backing in a small way!
The Web is 25 years old today!!!
The UT803 DMM I bought on eBay as "not going" was not fixable after some investigation. It needs a new Main board as the special DMM chip (Cyrustek ES51986A) appears to have lost its magic smoke...
Checked Wayback Machine and triggered the slurping of Kanga!!
I think the faulty TDS1012 DSO that I got on eBay may be completely resurrectable - Everthything works bar Ch 1 display, which may be an offset problem; have to do some SMD component checking..The manual suggests possible power supply issues, but it seems OK...
added link to John Boxall's informative site on electronics..Tronixstuff
just noticed a bad link for Goldilocks project! fixed..
Updated the css file to centre the page contents on smartphone/widescreen browsing. Should have done it ages ago..
Goldilocks project is a new variant of the Arduino under development and will be protyped by Freetronics. Goldilocks = Arduino Uno + 1284p + µSDCard is the abbreviated description. John Boxall [Tronixstuff] likes the idea, I have put in $$ to support the Pozible project, and will be keen to see the real thing in July.
Geoff's Easy Software is a neat eBay bidding application for Windows; I have tried it,
gives that last minute edge when bidding!
Geoff also does iPhone and Laptop repairs/support up there north of Newcastle in NSW..
The side links are now "div" ised properly.. now to work on some Arduino LED driver stuff..
Umm, forgot to update the side links!! must fix stuff...
If you haven't tried LibreOffice - get it now! Free, open - works...
The Thinkpad's problem was related to an obscure Win 7 issue fixed by a requestable MS HotFix, it had me going round in circles on my Laptop - couldn't connect to Samba shares or see them at all after an update, did a system restore rollback, it came good for a while then the shares vanished again. the XP virtual machine shares worked fine. Applying the hotfix got rid of hundreds of hidden network devices (6to4 virtual adaptors). They were being created each time Win 7 was restarted. When the hotfix was applied, it fixed the problem instantly after a reboot.
Sigh, another hot day (over 39 Celsius)... The Thinkpad L512, after a Win 7 driver update, refused to see our Samba servers! After a System Restore to undo the driver changes, everything worked again..odd.
I must organise the Ardunii and their brethren. There are far too many breadboards and their associated plugpacks lying about..
Cup Day - replaced Xerox 8400 front door assy - the paper feed door kept flopping open, because the plastic latches
were bent. Works OK now. Must do more clearing out of bits on eBay.
The Asus laptop has found a new home up north. The R61 was replaced with a new Lenovo L512 Thinkpad, which as it has more grunt that my desktop machine has, is now replacing Eeyore as the machine of choice. It has the Thinkpad nipple - much better than the slidey pad thing; on the desk, a wireless mouse plugs in nicely.
The new server cabinet is very handy for parking things on top; have to leave some breathing space for the servers! Have a folding plastic table from Bunnings now as a small workbench; it frees up a lot of deskspace..Fixed the timing on the Phaser 8400 printer which was causing paper jams and ink buildup on the drum during duplex printing; just a small gear adjustment.
All our 1U small servers, (finally replaced all the existing boxen) have been mounted in a brand new 19" Rack cabinet with doors, 1m high. The noise from fans has decreased considerably! Must clean up and build shelves - the cardboard boxes are taking over!!.
The Gerb's web server is now on a proper 1U small server. Wallace has moved to Kanga on another 1U server. The server migration is now complete, now to do other stuff..
Upgraded to an ASUS x81s laptop from the ThinkPad R61, Has Win7 upgrade. Very smooth machine despite some install hiccups.
Updated kanga, tested the LPro again, still working after dropping it! am running out of room - must put more stuff up on eBay..
Finally tested my LPro Rubidium Standard Oscillator that arrived last week (a eBay find..). It works in the check out mode, unlock light goes out, frequency is 10.000 Mhz into 50 ohms on the Fluke 1912A, waveform looks ok on the Tek 2465. It gets hot and will require a heatsink when it goes into a case...
Oops! markup issues! gotta watch those A HREF's...Fixed a recent purchase - Fluke 8050A DMM - U7 and U8 (LM358) had given up, causing display overrange on all settings about 2 seconds after startup...
one of the BBBduino's is done - see the Tech Blog...
Wallace has been resurrected as a SMB server for me so that I don't have to keep copying stuff from Eeyore to the thinkpads. Small (an X40 that has had a hard life) is waiting on a rebuild when the recovery disks arrive. It is a cheap alternative to netbooks and older eyes can read the screen!
Still haven't finished the BBBduino's yet, and the Rabbit RCM3720 has arrived and I must do something about the PIC 16F877A's. The shed needs some attention; the empty drawers have to be installed and filled up.
updated kanga. must assemble BBBduinos!!!
It is 46 degrees C outside; a change (of sorts) is coming. I hope the car will start. The AVRs and the PICs are still waiting!
Slowly getting rid of parasites infesting our servers - Ubuntu ufw is your friend! This is being edited with Araneae 5.0.0 - now even better!!
New Blog location update... it's on WordPress.com
Have fixed the validation again! Really should do it more often..importing links and not checking the code. We have a blog (of sorts)!
It was 40 degrees C yesterday; it is now 37 outside, but the change is coming. The A31 fix didn't really take: it may have other video issues. Finished all 3 (currently) Time's Tapestry books by Stephen Baxter. Another one is coming!
Back to the saltmines on Tuesday next, who knows for how long. My amazon book order for "Designing Embedded Hardware" got lost in the global logistic jungle somewhere;they are replacing them, but I would have liked to have had the read over the holidays..The AVRs and the PICs are waiting!
Another year just about gone..still waiting to be outsourced (the modern word for getting the axe!).
Linux still won't work properly with the SATA drives on Eeyore; tried installs of Sabayon 4.3e and Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop - neither would startup from GRUB or BootPart, reliably. Tried the devel version of Wubi 7.10 and an iso of the Ubuntu 7.10 desktop - just works brilliantly(!) on a large virtual partition on a 500 Mb SATA drive, one stuff had been moved to a 1Tb USB Hard drive. I have even got Xine to recognise the TwinHan MagicBox II usb DVB-T box! But the MagicBox Win32 Software still complains about the internal settings and wants reinstallation of the USB drivers...Grrr.
must catch up on the Arduino reading, and get the Cybot done along with the PIC plcc programmer
The A31 VGA chip issue has been fixed - masked mobo with Al foil and hit chip with Heat Gun with home-made nozzle.. it appears to have fixed the BGA unsoldering issue..
Not much happening electronically, updated everything in sight to Ubuntu 7.10 it just works for humans (tm).
I am looking at the PIC16Fxx range of microcontrollers as an alternate approach to Cybot sensor control. The PICs appear to be well supported and there is a website that did some Cybot surgery a while back that looks interesting. That said, I still like the AVR devices and have used them in other things...
The Tek 442 is being retired, replaced with a Tek TAS 465 (from eBay hunting) along with the correct T6109 probe kit. It has been very useful already, found some narrow spooglies on a power supply rail under load that the 442 couldn't see. Have inherited a Sun Netra server from one of the kids: old by commercial standards, but could be a solid web server...
definition of sloooow - XP running on a ThinkPad 600 (PII/300 132 Mb RAM) - now getting the Xubuntu treatment!!
The Arduino motor shield has been completed and works - there isn't any existing code out there for it, so I am hacking some demo code from Tigoe to make it run. The Cybot is on its back at present, with the motors unplugged from their existing controllers and the Arduino croc clipped on. It works but needs a lot of refinement for control. The plug pack that I am using to test all this is sagging somewhat under load, according to my Tek 442 CRO. A stiffer 9V rail will help.
more minor link fixes; this is what comes of doing a web site by hand!! yes yes, there are tools but they all seem to have little quirks with the the way I like to do things...
I have been out of action for several weeks after some medical intervention; during that time looking for AVR info on the web, I came across Arduino, an avr-based microcontroller system for well, controlling stuff: it is Open Source hardware and software; you can build your own PCBs from scratch (all plans, layouts and schematics/circuit diagrams are available) or buy ready to go modules from people in different parts of the world to hack upon as you wish. There is a small but growing community working and inventing with this device/electronic art/thingy. I am waiting for some modules to arrive from a local distributor Little Bird, this may be a better way to go to improving my Cybot hackage. The existing avr devt. board from Futurlec has some limitations on extensibility and the doco isn't all that it might be; it will not go to waste; I have another little idea for it..driving some steppers in the shed
Ubuntu 7.04 is out! Cottage was going to get a makeover, but mail server issues have squashed that at present. We have Exim 4 at present on Debian; the move to Postfix/Courier proved problematic. Frying a P4 CPU didn't help either...
Shednet is up!! Change of Wifi PCI card to DLink, using newly compiled RT61 modules and hard coding the WPA setup makes it all work. Gnome Network Manager does not work with rt61 drivers at present. (this is in Ubuntu 6.10 desktop)
Ubuntu 7.04 is nearly here! both Gromit and A31neko have been updated regularly and Beryl is now working again - hooray!
The Shed server is broke but the other box, shedpc, will do. Need a better antenna for the WiFi card, though. The old CRT-1000A card that I wanted to revive, was got working partially, but some of the TTL devices are no longer available (the cards were made in US about 30 years ago!). I wanted to connect it up to the AVR Development card.
I have tried out a number of LiveCD distros on Eeyore, which has an ASUS Mobo with a JMicro PATA/SATA controller - here are some results:
Sabayon Linux - just worked - looks very smooth (KDE on Gentoo base)
BackTrack - couldn't find CD device
DSL - couldn't find its file system
GRML - just worked (text start up) has minimal X services
Puppy Linux - couldn't find Boot media
Zenwalk - installer started OK.
A similar problem occurs with recent Linux Format DVDs with the multipurpose GRUB loader
The Shed test worked well and now I need to rebuild ShedServer as it is not driving the local WiFi card properly. For some odd reason, the upgrade-manager method for going from Edgy to Feisty crashed and took Gromit with it. After clearing the busted root partition, and downloading the i386 desktop installer, the upgrade went ahead OK.
It has rained a bit - about 20mm here over the last day or two. We are hoping for a lot more!
Ubuntu 7.04 is now beta - installed it, looks good, beryl not working properly on the laptop yet. The Antenna Kit arrived from IBM; installed it involves following the series of explicit pictures of naked laptop computers! it went very smoothly; only had 3 screws left over! retracing the pictures, found where they belonged (the screws, that is) and put them in. Wifi is now working reliably around the house and will have the shed test shortly.
The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN will be ready soon. The ATLAS experiment to look at almost Big Bang conditions may provide evidence for the Unified Theories (Quantum & Relativity). I spent a small part of my youth working as a techo in Nuclear Physics amongst other departments/schools at ANU, so I have an abiding interest in this area of science.
Atmel AVR Microcontrollers are the go at the moment - I have a devt board from FuturLec with an atMEGA8535L device on board. I have it working with a LCD display, but have robotic stuff in mind. Must see if it works with the old NPC CRT-1000 Card (just found a datasheet - they are nearly 30 years old!!) Still waiting on my A31 WiFi antenna kit...
The pages now validate to XHTML 1.0 Strict & CSS 2again. Today is a bit cooler, maybe it may rain..
I am doing the includes as SSIs with Apache2, but now have validation problems..It is still over 30 degrees C outside..
Another elderly Thinkpad 380Z, now supports Xubuntu with Wifi and WPA. I have ordered a proper Wifi Antenna kit for the A31 from an Ebay store. It would be nice to be able to easily do #includes in XHTML code...
A Hairy Xmaxx to all and for AU, a wet, safe and peaceful New Year - may the drought break soon!
Getting an Intel b/g MiniPCI Card, and adapting a broken WiFi antenna, I now have internal WiFi in the A31 with WPA! Further, after some messing about, backtracking and advice from a work colleague (v. wise in the ways on the Penguin! - thanks John...) Beryl is now working using XOrg 7.1 , the 'ati' driver, and fixing the keymapping and locales. The version is the unstable subversion 0.1.4 dist., which has patched some issues relating to locales.
After some experimenting, the Thinkpad A31 MiniPCI slot works, but the cards I used to test with (Intersil 8xxx chipbased) are not supported in Ubuntu very well. the Prism54 driver works but wont allow WPA to be used. Hostapd didnt make any difference. Now to try Xgl and Beryl if possible...
I have given up on the Lenovo 3000 - one of my not so great purchases...The Thinkpad A31 has been pressed back into service, with a 1 Gb RAM upgrade and an 80Gb 7200 HDD. A reinstall of XP Pro and Ubuntu Edgy and we are on the air again. Still have to use a PCCard WiFi device, there is a Mini PCI slot inside, but it needs a card with a builtin antenna, the HMM for the A31 refers to antenna cables, but I dont have them in this model.
Oops! spoke too soon! the Broadcomm 4319 variant in the Lenovo is not supported properly yet by the BCM43xx driver; it connects but drops out when laptop goes to standby; nm-applet hangs. I have gone back to a DLink DWL-G360 (atheros driver works ok in Ubuntu) after turning off the Broadcomm internal device. More power to the BCM43xx team to improve the driver and maybe Broadcomm should release some more engineering info..it would improve their PR image, at least.
a fix for the wifi issue in Ubuntu Dapper and the Lenovo 3000 C100!!
While I am laid up with a leg problem, I can work on the new laptop..Ubuntu 6.06 almost works "out of the box" on a Lenovo 3000 C100 (new IBM Thinkpad successor). [Celeron/1.5GHz 512Mb DDR2 RAM 40Gb HDD 1024x768 LCD] X display using VESA; dual boot with XP Home SP2, However, to get the WiFi working in Ubuntu, I would have to _not_ use wpa_supplicant because it does not support the Broadcom 4318 Wifi chipset which has the bcm43xx driver. Oddly enough, the NdisWrapper method doesn't work either. I guess we will have to wait for the bcm43xx driver to to work some more magic...
Ubuntu 6.06 works "out of the box"" on an IBM Thinkpad A31! [P4/1.6GHz 512Mb RAM 40 Gb HDD 1024x768 LCD] X display using VESA; dual boot with XP Pro SP2 , now to get the WiFi working in Ubuntu..Update: the native Atheros driver worked for the DLink DWL-G630 PC Card and is supported by wpa_supplicant, although it required some setup in /etc/network/interfaces and a wpasetup.sh in if-pre-up.d with a delay to get the card connected before the dhcp client started..
Yesterday, I got slackware 10.2 working on a Thinkpad 760EL - even X works with fluxbox! [P1/120 57 Mb 2 Gb HDD RAM 800x600 LCD] using ZipSlack [UMSDOS])
This is the new look! a change from the blue and white. Now that Bungalow is working properly (except for the DNS slave issue), I will improve the Gerb content.
yet more of our ADF and AFP are in Timor-Leste, as things turn bad there also. I have moved Bungalow to Ubuntu Server 6.06 LTS as Debian was not updating as well as could be expected. Xubuntu didn't work out on the 380Z (needs 128Mb RAM; 380Z only supports 97 Mb RAM) Update: Using Ubuntu 6.06 Desktop installer then installing Xubuntu-desktop package sort of works...
Updated our supported icons/links. Xubuntu is a nice blend of a really great Debian based distro plus XFCE. I will be trying it out on a older Thinkpad 380Z (PII) soon. Pizza, yum....
More of our deployable folk from Army and AFP to the Solomons, as things turn to shit there again.. DamnSmallLinux v 2.3 can be installed (or run with QEMU glacial..) with a bit of coaxing onto a Thinkpad 760EL booting from GRUB. Looks good, and isn't too slow (Pentium 120 and 56Mb RAM).
We survived OP Acolyte more or less.
And a Happy (+peaceful) New Year to all! Flatbox (old Thinkpad 380Z) was revived with Debian Sarge testing; the sound still doesn't work. The IBM thinkpads have much better keyboards than the Compaqs.. There are dependencies with udev: it doesn't like the stock testing kernel (2.6.8) and requires a bit of messing around to fix the stuck dependencies, even apt couldn't sort out. As usual, Google provided the answer. One wonders how we would manage without it?
The riots bordering on civil insurrection in Sydney recently are an alarming event: most people here didn' think that this 'sort of thing' happened in Oz... However, they are a direct consequence of right-wing dog-whistle politics, political correctness and media shockjocks being given far too much freedom. A spell of serious 'porridge' for sedition or incitement might straighten these motormouths out. the young men of whatever flavour (irish, anglo, german, greek, lebanese etc etc) would probably not get into these rucks without evil stirrers inciting them. The Prime Minister (much wedded to Sydney) should be loud and unequivocal in stating that there is no room and no tolerance for racist statements/activities and push for severe penalties for incitement to be applied to anybody involved including clerics, shockjocks and politicians.
Ubuntu Breezy 5.10 is working on evobox (old Compaq evo n600c notebook with new battery, 60 Gb Toshiba HDD, and 512 Mb RAM). It dual boots with XP SP2. It took several installs; I killed it the first time because it wouldn't enable the Wifi Card. Tested other Distros: Suse 9.2, nice but would not detect/work the Wifi card, Debian Sarge (my default distro) clagged on the ATI Radeon Mobility video adaptor, Fedora Core 4 got stuck trying to partition the HDD, None of the LiveCD's would detect / activate the Wifi card either.
After a lot of cursing and late-night tweaking, I tried Ubuntu again as a totally clean install; selected the detected wireless card (TI ACX-111) as the primary network interface; didn't plug any cable into the ethernet port and away we went. The problem of not being able to sudo system menu stuff was overcome by setting the etc/sudoers file up with visudo following the man page. The wireless was being detected but not connecting; the etc/network/interfaces does need to be done just right!.
iface wlan0 inet static address 2188.8.131.52 netmask 255.255.255.0 network 2184.108.40.206 broadcast 2220.127.116.11 gateway 218.104.22.168 # wireless-* options are implemented by the wireless-tools package wireless-mode managed wireless-essid <your network essid> wireless-keymode restricted wireless-key2 <insert your hex key here> wireless-defaultkey 2 wireless-rate auto # dns-* options are implemented by the resolvconf package, if installed dns-nameservers 222.214.171.124 2126.96.36.199 dns-search example.com.au auto wlan0
Have YOU had any seditious thoughts today? If you have, call your local counter-terrorism agency or ASIO on the 'Man of Steel' hotline now!!!
I have been using FireFox since it was called Phoenix...These guys are really pissed with IE!
LNAG has been updated here. XP finally clogged up Eeyore completely. Much faster with complete reinstall.
Now that the 'man of steel' has control of the Senate, who knows what horrors await? There is no opposition...
A little Linux (fits on a business card sized CD) RIP (Recovery Is Possible) is just the thing for rescuing a bent or broken system from the command line..
Debian Sarge has (finally!) been released (3.1a) It is working very well on Gromit as a workstation and upgrades to Wallace and Cottage2 as servers.
Today the conservatives gain control of the Senate. the ALP Opposition have gone, fragmented in to a rancorous, tired muddle. Time for a split, or a new party of the centre-left...
A little hint/trick; when using GRUB with older gear, and you are using the whole disk for linux, set the BIOS to NORMAL not LBA ; this will make the GRUB boot process work correctly see this ref: Ubuntu Wiki
The installation on older hardware of various Linux distros goes on; I am still testing to see how many newer distros will really work at a reasonable speed on older boxes with 128Mb RAM and slower CPUs i.e., PII 233. So far, SimplyMEPIS has been tried and found wanting. You really need to heed the site warning about using 256Mb of RAM when booting from a liveCD. Even then, any adjustment to X configuration causes problems. I suspect that KDE is still the chief culprit; I like it but it needs a lot of RAM! Ubuntu is now being installed to see if another simple installer with Gnome as the back end will perform better. DSL (Damn Small Linux) boot CD worked very well on the Thinkpad 380Z
This is another go with nVu - it takes a little while to get used to it...LMD have released new version of their Delphi tools. Al Grassby, the Minister of a thousand ties, has died..
Debian Sarge is getting closer. the Netinst CD is doing a great job and Sarge pre release is working quite well (reinstalled) on an old Thinkpad with XFCE4 and Gnome 2.8.
fixed the links page - updated 'our friends' menu after doing Uni OS stuff.
Umm, I just checked for valid XHTML 1.0 Strict , and failed!!! This is the repaired page..
I finally got the date working properly! I have been trying a number of Linux distros from the ease of installation on older hardware and handling of errors. - very interesting, so far only Xandros has worked reliably; more to come
This page has just been edited with Nvu, the cross-platform HTML editor/Web IDE - free and well worth a try!!
After a bout in hospital, I am able to update the Gerb (instead of finishing an assignment!). We have a copy of the LNAG on the box now..its a very handy document.
Hooray! We are back on the Net properly again! We can see all the Internet now Our servers are visible again. The good folk at Flow were advised that there was a Telstra internal routing problem, but it has been rectified. Unfortunately portico (RAS server) died - hard disk finally succumbed to repeated power outages. It's UPS time!
We have had some network horrors of late! We can only see half the Internet (which half depends on whether you have an odd or even IP address!!) Our servers aren't very visible either. The stalwart folks at Flow's NOC are working on it but it is now over a week... Jbuilder9 PE is out for the Java fans.
Woops! It wasn't quite as valid XHTML as I thought! However, Ben was here and a quick tweak and back to Validator Goodness.. Testing your HTML with the W3C can be a sobering experience. Octane is coming to Borland..
C# Builder PE (the free one) is here!!! Download from Borland or wait for a mag CD.. (it works!). A quick impression: it's very Visual Studio like..
some bits from the past..
There are a zillion HTML/Web tools out there... I have been using/testing some of them. Some thoughts on them are here.
Delphi 7 is here!!! Delphi .NET Preview is out also (it works!). More Delphi-related links soon..
One of my favourite Web items is The Jargon File...
Is George dubya really gunna do it to Saddam? Will the UN inspectors really find pieces of a top-secret Iraqi time-machine?? What about all that oil? Does any care about the Kurds? Will young Alex get some new ties? stay tuned...