Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Personal computing history (part 8)

So, I'm working in the exciting world of embedded programming. Things like "shoot a laser beam at an object and figure out how far away the object is". Or "control this motor, and turn on the laser when it is not pointing at a corner on the attached mirror wheel".

While doing this, I am introduced to the world of PIC microcontrollers. I find this very interesting, because of a project that had some notoriaty at the time: the iPic web server.

Besides being a neat hardware hack, this seems (at the time) like a good way to learn TCP/IP. After all, if you can fit a webserver into a 1K instruction microcontroller, how hard can it be?

So, I start playing with the development tools. And soon find that I don't like them (surprise, surprise...) What do I do?

Well, write my own of course. I'd written VIM, so why not an interpreter for a much simpler processor? Well, I didn't realize it at the time, but there were enough differences in chips and limitations to the compiler I was using that I needed to have a family of interpreters, one for each processor...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'm back...

OK, I'm back.

It was a lovely trip.

And I had a lovely bout of bronchitis.

More later...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I'm Off!

But not in the way most people think :)

Off on vacation, You may not see anything from me for a few weeks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Upcoming events...

Tomorrow, I run a 10K in the morning, and have Thanksgiving dinner in the afternoon.

On Monday, I board a plane for a warm, sunny destination.

And, as a followup to Apple Update, I have bought a PMP -- a Viewsonic VPD400. 800x480 4.3" screen, plenty of CPU horsepower, lots of codecs. Only 8GB of flash, but it takes MicroSCHC cards so I can carry all the video I can afford...

I would have preferred the VPD500 (5" screen, 16GB of flash), but while it has been announced it is not yet available.

And, for the curious, it's a lot like the Onda 535 (Yah, that's the 545, not 535. I couldn't find a link to the 535, but they are the same in all respects except a 5" screen on the 545). I considered the Onda545 (or even the 797, with a 7" screen!) but
    1) I'd prefer a brand name (and vendor) that was better known in the USA
    2) I was not sure that mp4nation could deliver in time.

And if you are interested in other PMP info, check out PMP Today.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A day that will live in infamy...

Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday dear me...
Happy Birthday to me.

What, you thought the subject has some other meaning?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not gone and Not forgotten!

This blog, that is.

Right now, it's crunch time at work and I'm getting ready to go on vacation.

No spare time to do anything, including writing blog entries (besides this hastily typed entry).

Sorry, I'll try to make occasional weird comments just to let you know I'm still around...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Personal computing history (part 7)

Despite what we could do with virus scan/removal, the company I worked for (names withheld to protect the guilty^H^H^H^H^H^Hinnocent^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hno one in particular) was losing it's customer base. We did not have a standout "Windows" program, and the business shrank.

Eventually, it folded.

I took a temporary job doing support work (that stretched to a year and a half, I'm lucky that I got out of there without it being permanent).

There was the "dot-com" boom, where I put in my time with a web startup (they were doing tech support via web interface, and wanted a virus scan component). They wound up with most of the rest of them...

Looking around, I remembered what a friend of mine had told me years ago -- that my skills were a good match for embedded programming. So I went after jobs there.

He was right -- while I had to get "up to speed" on the particular embedded controllers, my experience in assembly language and programming in C right down to the bare metal of the computer was just what they were looking for.

I settled in for the long haul...