Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Back to blogging

It's been a busy semester, but it's over now. I'm returning to blogging as a way to trying to be more organized and to share interesting things with others.

The first question: does this make any sense? Who really cares what my to-do list is? I like having a place to store hyperlinks, since that's where I keep a lot of my ideas. Hopefully, that will be helpful. I'll keep lists in my gmail tasks and see how that works.

Interesting things:

  • The ideas behind the quantum leaps framework are excellent. The book introducing these concepts is excellent if you can survive the introductory chapter (the "fly-n-shoot" game isn't a very motivating example).
    • An annoyance: the examples tend to compile and run in DOS mode on a free compiler. That's just not very appealing to me. It would be fun to "port" the framework to run under Python, since the framework is pure C, making it multi-platform.
    • The framework doesn't include a library for a particular processor. That would be very helpful, since some of the implementation details aren't clear to me. I'm considering creating just such a library for the PIC24. There is a TCP/IP stack implementation, which looks interesting; perhaps a good starting point.
    • The author's blog makes for very interesting reading.
  • Get your Starkville weather updates from Doug Gillham, an excellent meteorologist. They're particularly helpful for severe weather (more tornadoes, anyone?).
  • A book from the National Academies Press, The Future of Computing Performance: Game Over or Next Level?, gives a great explanation of why power limits growth in computing performance. High-performance computing = low power computing, which is a very different paradigm.
  • NASA posted a draft of their robotics roadmap. Now, if I could only find the interest to actually read it...
  • I'm still looking for a good platform for Intro to Robotics. Some good finds: either the Stinger or the Dagu Rover 5 look good. Both have encoders in addition to DC motors, wheel/tracks, and gearing. However, both probably draw more than 1A for the motors, so I'll need a beefier H-bridge. An L298 would work, but needs external diodes and doesn't seem breadboardable. It looks like there's a nice product with all the necessary parts. As a second alternative, there's the Sparkfun motor driver, which contains a micro to do the PWM.
  • An amazing paper on what computer science really is. A lot of Biblical references also provide me with insights on how my faith can be expressed in an academic context.

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