The end of the (phone) line

PhonesThey were just sort of there, a legacy from a past barely remembered. If only they had just sat there quietly they probably would have been allowed to hang around collecting dust for ever. But no. The scam artists, scumbags, political organizations (also scumbags), the IRS (not really, just more scam artists) etc that kept calling made them a target for the axe. Comcast only allows 25 blocked numbers – that’s nowhere near enough! Now relegated to a plastic bin, they join all kinds of other archaic objects in the basement such as big desktop PCs, Blackberries and VGA monitor cables.

So long phones – your annoying and pointless rings will not be remembered fondly.

Avoiding USB serial port permissions problems on Ubuntu

One of the most annoying things about Ubuntu (and Linux in general) is that USB serial ports can only be accessed in superuser mode unless something is done. The result is that you can see the port as /dev/ttyXXXX but can’t open it. While there are other ways, adding your user name to the dialout group will usually fix this:

sudo adduser <username> dialout

Then log out and log in again to kick in the new setting.

Delayed by mountains of snow but the Raspberry Pi 2s have finally arrived

Pi2An appropriately snowy theme considering the situation in the northeast USA right now. A bit delayed but worth the wait. The performance of the Pi 2 is just phenomenal. Simple things like setting up a new memory card with raspi-config are now a pleasure rather than a bore. When compiling anything of any size, using something like “make -j4” cuts compilation time massively.

RTIMULibDemoGL, which implements 9-dof fusion for IMUs with an OpenGL display for visualization, can quite happily run at 500 samples per second now using the Pi 2’s desktop.

It’s going to be tough to go back to the original Pi…

Raspberry Pi 2

Just ordered a couple of the new Raspberry Pi 2 boards from MCM Electronics. The Pi 2 looks like absolutely amazing value for $35. It’s going to be very interesting to see what this new quad core board can do. It will (somewhat unexpectedly) also run a free copy of Windows 10 at some point. This is part of Microsoft’s Windows Developer Program for IoT. All very interesting!

Oculus DK2 image

OculusImageThis image needs some explanation! I was trying to get a photo of how the display really looks using the Oculus DK2 HMD. The real quality is vastly better than the photo would suggest as it’s really tricky to get everything lined up correctly for a photo. In particular, it seemed to be necessary to use a very small aperture on the camera which makes sense in terms of trying to minimize distortion – after all, the whole system is set up to deliver a corrected image to the human eye which has a fairly small aperture. The most important point is that the DK2 is actually very effective at creating an immersive effect. In particular, when you try the basic office desk demo that’s part of the config utility, it’s very bizarre looking down and seeing an empty chair where your legs should be!

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