Search Results: "diego"

26 November 2020

Jonathan Dowland: Touched by the Hand of God

picture of a vinyl record
In honour of Diego Maradona (RIP), this morning's cobweb-shifter is New Order's "Touched by the Hand of God"

2 November 2020

Vincent Bernat: My collection of vintage PC cards

Recently, I have been gathering some old hardware at my parents house, notably PC extension cards, as they don t take much room and can be converted to a nice display item. Unfortunately, I was not very concerned about keeping stuff around. Compared to all the hardware I have acquired over the years, only a few pieces remain.

Tseng Labs ET4000AX (1989) This SVGA graphics card was installed into a PC powered by a 386SX CPU running at 16 MHz. This was a good card at the time as it was pretty fast. It didn t feature 2D acceleration, unlike the later ET4000/W32. This version only features 512 KB of RAM. It can display 1024 768 images with 16 colors or 800 600 with 256 colors. It was also compatible with CGA, EGA, VGA, MDA, and Hercules modes. No contemporary games were using the SVGA modes but the higher resolutions were useful with Windows 3. This card was manufactured directly by Tseng Labs.
Carte Tseng Labs ET4000AX ISA au-dessus de la bo te "Plan te Aventure"
Tseng Labs ET4000 AX ISA card

AdLib clone (1992) My first sound card was an AdLib. My parents bought it in Canada during the summer holidays in 1992. It uses a Yamaha OPL2 chip to produce sound via FM synthesis. The first game I have tried is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I think I gave this AdLib to a friend once I upgraded my PC with a Sound Blaster Pro 2. Recently, I needed one for a side project, but they are rare and expensive on eBay. Someone mentioned a cheap clone on Vogons, so I bought it. It was sold by Sun Moon Star in 1992 and shipped with a CD-ROM of Doom shareware.
AdLib clone on top of "Alone in the Dark" box
AdLib clone ISA card by Sun Moon Star
On this topic, take a look at OPL2LPT: an AdLib sound card for the parallel port and OPL2 Audio Board: an AdLib sound card for Arduino .

Sound Blaster Pro 2 (1992) Later, I switched the AdLib sound card with a Sound Blaster Pro 2. It features an OPL3 chip and was also able to output digital samples. At the time, this was a welcome addition, but not as important as the FM synthesis introduced earlier by the AdLib.
Sound Blaster Pro 2 on top of "Day of the Tentacle" box
Sound Blaster Pro 2 ISA card

Promise EIDE 2300 Plus (1995) I bought this card mostly for the serial port. I was using a 486DX2 running at 66 MHz with a Creatix LC 288 FC external modem. The serial port was driven by an 8250 UART with no buffer. Thanks to Terminate, I was able to connect to BBSes with DOS, but this was not possible with Windows 3 or OS/2. I needed one of these fancy new cards with a 16550 UART, featuring a 16-byte buffer. At the time, this was quite difficult to find in France. During a holiday trip, I convinced my parent to make a short detour from Los Angeles to San Diego to buy this Promise EIDE 2300 Plus controller card at a shop I located through an advertisement in a local magazine! The card also features an EIDE controller with multi-word DMA mode 2 support. In contrast with the older PIO modes, the CPU didn t have to copy data from disk to memory.
Promise EIDE 2300 Plus next to an OS/2 Warp CD
Promise EIDE 2300 Plus VLB card

3dfx Voodoo2 Magic 3D II (1998) The 3dfx Voodoo2 was one of the first add-in graphics cards implementing hardware acceleration of 3D graphics. I bought it from a friend along with his Pentium II box in 1999. It was a big evolutionary step in PC gaming, as games became more beautiful and fluid. A traditional video controller was still required for 2D. A pass-through VGA cable daisy-chained the video controller to the Voodoo, which was itself connected to the monitor.
3dfx Voodoo 2 Magic 3D II on top of "Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II" box
3dfx Voodoo2 Magic 3D II PCI card

3Com 3C905C-TX-M Tornado (1999) In the early 2000s, in college, the Internet connection on the campus was provided by a student association through a 100 Mbps Ethernet cable. If you wanted to reach the maximum speed, the 3Com 3C905C-TX-M PCI network adapter, nicknamed Tornado , was the card you needed. We would buy it second-hand by the dozen and sell them to other students for around 30 .
3COM 3C905C-TX-M on top of "Red Alert" box
3Com 3C905C-TX-M PCI card

21 July 2020

Bits from Debian: New Debian Developers and Maintainers (May and June 2020)

The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months: The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months: Congratulations!

2 August 2017

Markus Koschany: My Free Software Activities in July 2017

Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you re interested in Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you. Debian Games Debian Java Debian LTS This was my seventeenth month as a paid contributor and I have been paid to work 23,5 hours on Debian LTS, a project started by Rapha l Hertzog. In that time I did the following: Non-maintainer upload Thanks for reading and see you next time.

1 March 2017

Brett Parker: Ooooooh! Shiny!

Yay! So, it's a year and a bit on from the last post (eeep!), and we get the news of the Psion Gemini - I wants one, that looks nice and shiny and just the right size to not be inconvenient to lug around all the time, and far better for ssh usage than the onscreen keyboard on my phone!

29 January 2017

Elena 'valhalla' Grandi: One Liberated Laptop

One Liberated Laptop

Immagine/fotohttp://social.gl-como.it/photos/valhalla/image/5a480cd2d5842101fc8975d927d030f3

After many days of failed attempts, yesterday @Diego Roversi finally managed to setup SPI on the BeagleBone White , and that means that today at our home it was Laptop Liberation Day!

We took the spare X200, opened it, found the point we were on in the tutorial installing libreboot on x200 https://libreboot.org/docs/install/x200_external.html, connected all of the proper cables on the clip and did some reading tests of the original bios.

Immagine/fotohttp://social.gl-como.it/photos/valhalla/image/77e61745d9c43833b7c0a4a919d17222

While the tutorial mentioned a very conservative setting (512kHz), just for fun we tried to read it at different speed and all results up to 16384 kHz were equal, with the first failure at 32784 kHz, so we settled on using 8192 kHz.

Then it was time to customize our libreboot image with the right MAC address, and that's when we realized that the sheet of paper where we had written it down the last time had been put in a safe place somewhere

Luckily we also had taken a picture, and that was easier to find, so we checked the keyboard map , followed the instructions to customize the image https://libreboot.org/docs/hcl/gm45_remove_me.html#ich9gen, flashed the chip, partially reassembled the laptop, started it up and a black screen, some fan noise and nothing else.

We tried to reflash the chip (nothing was changed), tried the us keyboard image, in case it was the better tested one (same results) and reflashed the original bios, just to check that the laptop was still working (it was).

It was lunchtime, so we stopped our attempts. As soon as we started eating, however, we realized that this laptop came with 3GB of RAM, and that surely meant "no matching pairs of RAM", so just after lunch we reflashed the first image, removed one dimm, rebooted and finally saw a gnu-hugging penguin!

We then tried booting some random live usb key https://tails.boum.org/ we had around (failed the first time, worked the second and further one with no changes), and then proceeded to install Debian.

Running the installer required some attempts and a bit of duckduckgoing: parsing the isolinux / grub configurations from the libreboot menu didn't work, but in the end it was as easy as going to the command line and running:


linux (usb0)/install.amd/vmlinuz
initrd (usb0)/install.amd/initrd.gz
boot



From there on, it was the usual debian installation and a well know environment, and there were no surprises. I've noticed that grub-coreboot is not installed (grub-pc is) and I want to investigate a bit, but rebooting worked out of the box with no issue.

Next step will be liberating my own X200 laptop, and then if you are around the @Gruppo Linux Como area and need a 16 pin clip let us know and we may bring everything to one of the LUG meetings

yes, white, and most of the instructions on the interwebz talk about the black, which is extremely similar to the white except where it isn't

wait? there are keyboard maps? doesn't everybody just use the us one regardless of what is printed on the keys? Do I *live* with somebody who doesn't? :D

the breadboard in the picture is only there for the power supply, the chip on it is a cheap SPI flash used to test SPI on the bone without risking the laptop :)

disclaimer: it worked for us. it may not work on *your* laptop. it may brick it. it may invoke a tentacled monster, it may bind your firstborn son to a life of servitude to some supernatural being. Whatever happens, it's not our fault.

(edit: added tags)

#coreboot #libreboot

15 November 2016

Antoine Beaupr : The Turris Omnia router: help for the IoT mess?

The Turris Omnia router is not the first FLOSS router out there, but it could well be one of the first open hardware routers to be available. As the crowdfunding campaign is coming to a close, it is worth reflecting on the place of the project in the ecosystem. Beyond that, I got my hardware recently, so I was able to give it a try.

A short introduction to the Omnia project The Turris Omnia Router The Omnia router is a followup project on CZ.NIC's original research project, the Turris. The goal of the project was to identify hostile traffic on end-user networks and develop global responses to those attacks across every monitored device. The Omnia is an extension of the original project: more features were added and data collection is now opt-in. Whereas the original Turris was simply a home router, the new Omnia router includes:
  • 1.6GHz ARM CPU
  • 1-2GB RAM
  • 8GB flash storage
  • 6 Gbit Ethernet ports
  • SFP fiber port
  • 2 Mini-PCI express ports
  • mSATA port
  • 3 MIMO 802.11ac and 2 MIMO 802.11bgn radios and antennas
  • SIM card support for backup connectivity
Some models sold had a larger case to accommodate extra hard drives, turning the Omnia router into a NAS device that could actually serve as a multi-purpose home server. Indeed, it is one of the objectives of the project to make "more than just a router". The NAS model is not currently on sale anymore, but there are plans to bring it back along with LTE modem options and new accessories "to expand Omnia towards home automation". Omnia runs a fork of the OpenWRT distribution called TurrisOS that has been customized to support automated live updates, a simpler web interface, and other extra features. The fork also has patches to the Linux kernel, which is based on Linux 4.4.13 (according to uname -a). It is unclear why those patches are necessary since the ARMv7 Armada 385 CPU has been supported in Linux since at least 4.2-rc1, but it is common for OpenWRT ports to ship patches to the kernel, either to backport missing functionality or perform some optimization. There has been some pressure from backers to petition Turris to "speedup the process of upstreaming Omnia support to OpenWrt". It could be that the team is too busy with delivering the devices already ordered to complete that process at this point. The software is available on the CZ-NIC GitHub repository and the actual Linux patches can be found here and here. CZ.NIC also operates a private GitLab instance where more software is available. There is technically no reason why you wouldn't be able to run your own distribution on the Omnia router: OpenWRT development snapshots should be able to run on the Omnia hardware and some people have installed Debian on Omnia. It may require some customization (e.g. the kernel) to make sure the Omnia hardware is correctly supported. Most people seem to prefer to run TurrisOS because of the extra features. The hardware itself is also free and open for the most part. There is a binary blob needed for the 5GHz wireless card, which seems to be the only proprietary component on the board. The schematics of the device are available through the Omnia wiki, but oddly not in the GitHub repository like the rest of the software.

Hands on I received my own router last week, which is about six months late from the original April 2016 delivery date; it allowed me to do some hands-on testing of the device. The first thing I noticed was a known problem with the antenna connectors: I had to open up the case to screw the fittings tight, otherwise the antennas wouldn't screw in correctly. Once that was done, I simply had to go through the usual process of setting up the router, which consisted of connecting the Omnia to my laptop with an Ethernet cable, connecting the Omnia to an uplink (I hooked it into my existing network), and go through a web wizard. I was pleasantly surprised with the interface: it was smooth and easy to use, but at the same time imposed good security practices on the user. Install wizard performing automatic updates For example, the wizard, once connected to the network, goes through a full system upgrade and will, by default, automatically upgrade itself (including reboots) when new updates become available. Users have to opt-in to the automatic updates, and can chose to automate only the downloading and installation of the updates without having the device reboot on its own. Reboots are also performed during user-specified time frames (by default, Omnia applies kernel updates during the night). I also liked the "skip" button that allowed me to completely bypass the wizard and configure the device myself, through the regular OpenWRT systems (like LuCI or SSH) if I needed to. The Omnia router about to rollback to latest snapshot Notwithstanding the antenna connectors themselves, the hardware is nice. I ordered the black metal case, and I must admit I love the many LED lights in the front. It is especially useful to have color changes in the reset procedure: no more guessing what state the device is in or if I pressed the reset button long enough. The LEDs can also be dimmed to reduce the glare that our electronic devices produce. All this comes at a price, however: at \$250 USD, it is a much higher price tag than common home routers, which typically go for around \$50. Furthermore, it may be difficult to actually get the device, because no orders are being accepted on the Indiegogo site after October 31. The Turris team doesn't actually want to deal with retail sales and has now delegated retail sales to other stores, which are currently limited to European deliveries.

A nice device to help fight off the IoT apocalypse It seems there isn't a week that goes by these days without a record-breaking distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Those attacks are more and more caused by home routers, webcams, and "Internet of Things" (IoT) devices. In that context, the Omnia sets a high bar for how devices should be built but also how they should be operated. Omnia routers are automatically upgraded on a nightly basis and, by default, do not provide telnet or SSH ports to run arbitrary code. There is the password-less wizard that starts up on install, but it forces the user to chose a password in order to complete the configuration. Both the hardware and software of the Omnia are free and open. The automatic update's EULA explicitly states that the software provided by CZ.NIC "will be released under a free software licence" (and it has been, as mentioned earlier). This makes the machine much easier to audit by someone looking for possible flaws, say for example a customs official looking to approve the import in the eventual case where IoT devices end up being regulated. But it also makes the device itself more secure. One of the problems with these kinds of devices is "bit rot": they have known vulnerabilities that are not fixed in a timely manner, if at all. While it would be trivial for an attacker to disable the Omnia's auto-update mechanisms, the point is not to counterattack, but to prevent attacks on known vulnerabilities. The CZ.NIC folks take it a step further and encourage users to actively participate in a monitoring effort to document such attacks. For example, the Omnia can run a honeypot to lure attackers into divulging their presence. The Omnia also runs an elaborate data collection program, where routers report malicious activity to a central server that collects information about traffic flows, blocked packets, bandwidth usage, and activity from a predefined list of malicious addresses. The exact data collected is specified in another EULA that is currently only available to users logged in at the Turris web site. That data can then be turned into tweaked firewall rules to protect the overall network, which the Turris project calls a distributed adaptive firewall. Users need to explicitly opt-in to the monitoring system by registering on a portal using their email address. Turris devices also feature the Majordomo software (not to be confused with the venerable mailing list software) that can also monitor devices in your home and identify hostile traffic, potentially leading users to take responsibility over the actions of their own devices. This, in turn, could lead users to trickle complaints back up to the manufacturers that could change their behavior. It turns out that some companies do care about their reputations and will issue recalls if their devices have significant enough issues. It remains to be seen how effective the latter approach will be, however. In the meantime, the Omnia seems to be an excellent all-around server and router for even the most demanding home or small-office environments that is a great example for future competitors.
Note: this article first appeared in the Linux Weekly News.

3 October 2016

Markus Koschany: My Free Software Activities in September 2016

Welcome to gambaru.de. Here is my monthly report that covers what I have been doing for Debian. If you re interested in Android, Java, Games and LTS topics, this might be interesting for you. Debian Android Debian Games Debian Java Debian LTS This was my eight month as a paid contributor and I have been paid to work 12,25 hours on Debian LTS, a project started by Rapha l Hertzog. In that time I did the following: Non-maintainer uploads Misc

22 September 2016

Zlatan Todori : Open Source Motion Comic Almost Fully Funded - Pledge now!

The Pepper and Carrot motion comic is almost funded. The pledge from Ethic Cinema put it on good road (as it seemed it would fail). Ethic Cinema is non profit organization that wants to make open source art (as they call it Libre Art). Purism's creative director, Fran ois T chen , is member and co-founder of Ethic Cinema. Lets push final bits so we can get this free as in freedom artwork. Notice that Pepper and Carrot is a webcomic (also available as book) free as in freedom artwork done by David Revoy who also supports this campaign. Also the support is done by Krita community on their landing page. Lets do this!

29 August 2016

Zlatan Todori : Support open source motion comic

There is an ongoing campaign for motion comic. It will be done entirely with FLOSS tools (Blender, Krita, GNU/Linux) and besides that, it really looks great (and no, it is not only for the kids!). Please support this effort if you can because it also shows the power of Free software tools. All will be released Creative Commons Atribution-ShareAlike license together with all sources.

20 May 2016

Zlatan Todori : 4 months of work turned into GNOME, Debian testing based tablet

Huh, where do I start. I started working for a great CEO and great company known as Purism. What is so great about it? First of all, CEO (Todd Weaver), is incredible passionate about Free software. Yes, you read it correctly. Free software. Not Open Source definition, but Free software definition. I want to repeat this like a mantra. In Purism we try to integrate high-end hardware with Free software. Not only that, we want our hardware to be Free as much as possible. No, we want to make it entirely Free but at the moment we don't achieve that. So instead going the way of using older hardware (as Ministry of Freedom does, and kudos to them for making such option available), we sacrifice this bit for the momentum we hope to gain - that brings growth and growth brings us much better position when we sit at negotiation table with hardware producers. If negotiations even fail, with growth we will have enough chances to heavily invest in things such as openRISC or freeing cellular modules. We want to provide in future entirely Free hardware&software device that has integrated security and privacy focus while it is easy to use and convenient as any other mainstream OS. And we choose to currently sacrifice few things to stay in loop. Surely that can't be the only thing - and it isn't. Our current hardware runs entirely on Free software. You can install Debian main on it and all will work out of box. I know I did this and enjoy my Debian more than ever. We also have margin share program where part of profit we donate to Free software projects. We are also discussing a lot of new business model where our community will get a lot of influence (stay tuned for this). Besides all this, our OS (called PureOS - yes, a bit misfortune that we took the name of dormant distribution), was Trisquel based but now it is Debian testing based. Current PureOS 2.0 is coming with default DE as Cinnamom but we are already baking PureOS 3.0 which is going to come with GNOME Shell as default. Why is this important? Well, around 12 hours ago we launched a tablet campaign on Indiegogo which comes with GNOME Shell and PureOS as default. Not one, but two tablets actually (although we heavily focus on 11" one). This is the product of mine 4 months dedicated work at Purism. I must give kudos to all Purism members that pushed their parts in preparation for this campaign. It was hell of a ride. Librem11 I have also approached (of course!) Debian for creation of OEM installations ISOs for our Librem products. This way, with every sold Librem that ships with Debian preinstalled, Debian will get donation. It is our way to show gratitude to Debian for all the work our community does (yes, I am still extremely proud Debian dude and I will stay like that!). Oh yes, I am the chief technology person at Purism, and besides all goals we have, I also plan (dream) about Purism being the company that has highest number of Debian Developers. In that terms I am very proud to say that Matthias Klumpp became part of Purism. Hopefully we soon extend the number of Debian population in Purism. Of course, I think it is fairly known that I am easy to approach so if anyone has any questions (as I didn't want this post to be too long) feel free to contact me. Also - in Free software spirit - we welcome any community engagement, suggestion and/or feedback.

21 December 2015

Diego Escalante Urrelo: Stallman on happiness and perseverance

What does happiness signify to you, I asked him, if it isn t based on wealth and comfort? Happiness for me is a combination of feeling good about myself and having love, he said. And to feel good about myself, I have to do things that convince me I deserve it. ( ) The point is, even though it s sad to see people being foolish, there s no use giving up. Nothing good can come of giving up. That just means you lose completely, right away.
Richard Stallman on the 30th anniversary of the GNU Manifesto. It s amazing to think that a broken printer lead to the creation of the Free Software movement which, many years later, would give me a professional career, an education, and incredible friends around the world. Which reminds me I still keep the sticker Richard personally handed at the end of his first talk in Per , back in August 2003:
DSCF9847-web

GNU & Linux: the dynamic duo.

Bonus: Enjoy The Free Software Song by The GNU/Stallmans.

6 December 2015

Elena 'valhalla' Grandi: Blocked by indiegogo because of blocked javascript?

Blocked by indiegogo because of blocked javascript?

I usually browse the web with javascript blocked, for obvious security reasons and slightly less obvious free software reasons https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.html, adding sites to a temporary whitelist when absolutely needed.

I know that this hurts the revenue model of many websites, in some cases I'm sorry, in other cases I pay a subscription so that I don't have to be sorry, and in other cases I just don't care, depending on the service they provide.

One thing that I hate are websites that require javascript even to show their basic contents: I understand why some of them are doing it, but less so when they aren't getting money from ads, but from actually providing a paid service, such as indiegogo.

This morning I was browsing a campaign on that crowdfunding site, grudgingly allowed javascript from their domain to be able to see the campaign description and suddenly found this:

Immagine/fotohttp://social.gl-como.it/photo/dde1ddaa79d831ffbc2bee30110a2497.png

So ok, they want me to confirm I'm a human, ok, I'm fine with that, but asking for personal identification? just to be able to browse your site securely? No thanks. The support page linked in that says that this company also support just asking to fill a captcha, which is probably not as effective, but also much less intrusive.

I was browsing a campaign for an (apparently) open hardware encryption device, which is probably enough these days to get you somewhat under the radar (luckily, I am already, and I have a t-shirt to prove it :) ), so being asked to identify myself before I could even start considering whether the device was interesting enough to support (in a public-ish way) was expecially bad.

So, if you are working on something like that, maybe you could consider using a different crowdfunding website, one that respects more their users?

31 October 2015

Andrew Cater

Ken Starks (Helios) of Reglue could use your help

I'm not normally one to respond to online appeals for money: there are often far too many of them. Ken Starks is a well known Linux personality who set up a charity to provide needy local people with Linux and recycled machines. He's also a good guy who works hard for this as something he believes in: this is no scam. The Helios Project (from before his own charity merged with another known as Reglue) is also still an SPI project as far as I know

Ken is currently holding a fund raising drive to replace his vehicle used for the Reglue project on Indiegogo. This is probably most of interest to US readers who may be able to treat this as charitable donation - the things he's offering in return for donations are most readily shipped within the US and Canada.

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.


2 August 2015

Benjamin Mako Hill: Understanding Hydroplane Races for the New Seattleite

It s Seafair weekend in Seattle. As always, the centerpiece is the H1 Unlimited hydroplane races on Lake Washington. EllstromManufacturingHydroplaneIn my social circle, I m nearly the only person I know who grew up in area. None of the newcomers I know had heard of hydroplane racing before moving to Seattle. Even after I explain it to them i.e., boats with 3,000+ horse power airplane engines that fly just above the water at more than 320kph (200mph) leaving 10m+ (30ft) wakes behind them! most people seem more puzzled than interested. I grew up near the shore of Lake Washington and could see (and hear!) the races from my house. I don t follow hydroplane racing throughout the year but I do enjoy watching the races at Seafair. Here s my attempt to explain and make the case for the races to new Seattleites. Before Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, etc., there were basically three major Seattle industries: (1) logging and lumber based industries like paper manufacturing; (2) maritime industries like fishing, shipbuilding, shipping, and the navy; (3) aerospace (i.e., Boeing). Vintage hydroplane racing represented the Seattle trifecta: Wooden boats with airplane engines! The wooden U-60 Miss Thriftway circa 1955 (Thriftway is a Washinton-based supermarket that nobody outside has heard of) below is a picture of old-Seattle awesomeness. Modern hydroplanes are now made of fiberglass but two out of three isn t bad. miss_thriftwayAlthough the boats are racing this year in events in Indiana, San Diego, and Detroit in addition to the two races in Washington, hydroplane racing retains deep ties to the region. Most of the drivers are from the Seattle area. Many or most of the teams and boats are based in Washington throughout the year. Many of the sponsors are unknown outside of the state. This parochialness itself cultivates a certain kind of appeal among locals. In addition to old-Seattle/new-Seattle cultural divide, there s a class divide that I think is also worth challenging. Although the demographics of hydro-racing fans is surprisingly broad, it can seem like Formula One or NASCAR on the water. It seems safe to suggest that many of the demographic groups moving to Seattle for jobs in the tech industry are not big into motorsports. Although I m no follower of motorsports in general, I ve written before cultivated disinterest in professional sports, and it remains something that I believe is worth taking on. It s not all great. In particular, the close relationship between Seafair and the military makes me very uneasy. That said, even with the military-heavy airshow, I enjoy the way that Seafair weekend provides a little pocket of old-Seattle that remains effectively unchanged from when I was a kid. I d encourage others to enjoy it as well!

Benjamin Mako Hill: Understanding Hydroplane Races for the New Seattleite

It s Seafair weekend in Seattle. As always, the centerpiece is the H1 Unlimited hydroplane races on Lake Washington. EllstromManufacturingHydroplaneIn my social circle, I m nearly the only person I know who grew up in area. None of the newcomers I know had heard of hydroplane racing before moving to Seattle. Even after I explain it to them i.e., boats with 3,000+ horse power airplane engines that fly just above the water at more than 320kph (200mph) leaving 10m+ (30ft) wakes behind them! most people seem more puzzled than interested. I grew up near the shore of Lake Washington and could see (and hear!) the races from my house. I don t follow hydroplane racing throughout the year but I do enjoy watching the races at Seafair. Here s my attempt to explain and make the case for the races to new Seattleites. Before Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, etc., there were basically three major Seattle industries: (1) logging and lumber based industries like paper manufacturing; (2) maritime industries like fishing, shipbuilding, shipping, and the navy; (3) aerospace (i.e., Boeing). Vintage hydroplane racing represented the Seattle trifecta: Wooden boats with airplane engines! The wooden U-60 Miss Thriftway circa 1955 (Thriftway is a Washinton-based supermarket that nobody outside has heard of) below is a picture of old-Seattle awesomeness. Modern hydroplanes are now made of fiberglass but two out of three isn t bad. miss_thriftwayAlthough the boats are racing this year in events in Indiana, San Diego, and Detroit in addition to the two races in Washington, hydroplane racing retains deep ties to the region. Most of the drivers are from the Seattle area. Many or most of the teams and boats are based in Washington throughout the year. Many of the sponsors are unknown outside of the state. This parochialness itself cultivates a certain kind of appeal among locals. In addition to old-Seattle/new-Seattle cultural divide, there s a class divide that I think is also worth challenging. Although the demographics of hydro-racing fans is surprisingly broad, it can seem like Formula One or NASCAR on the water. It seems safe to suggest that many of the demographic groups moving to Seattle for jobs in the tech industry are not big into motorsports. Although I m no follower of motorsports in general, I ve written before cultivated disinterest in professional sports, and it remains something that I believe is worth taking on. It s not all great. In particular, the close relationship between Seafair and the military makes me very uneasy. That said, even with the military-heavy airshow, I enjoy the way that Seafair weekend provides a little pocket of old-Seattle that remains effectively unchanged from when I was a kid. I d encourage others to enjoy it as well!

8 May 2015

Gunnar Wolf: Guests in the Classroom: Felipe Esquivel (@felipeer) on the applications on parallelism, focusing on 3D animation

I love having guests give my classes :) This time, we had Felipe Esquivel, a good friend who had been once before invited by me to the Faculty, about two years ago. And it was due time to invite him again! Yes, this is the same Felipe I recently blogged about To give my blog some credibility, you can refer to Felipe's entry in IMDb and, of course, to the Indiegogo campaign page for Natura. Felipe knows his way around the different aspects of animation. For this class (2015-04-15), he explained how traditional ray-tracing techniques work, and showed clear evidences on the promises and limits of parallelism Relating back to my subject and to academic rigor, he clearly shows the speed with which we face Amdahl's Law, which limits the efficiency of parallelization at a certain degree perprogram construct, counterpointed against Gustafson's law, where our problem will be able to be solved in better detail given more processing abilities (and will thus not hit Amdahl's hard ceiling). A nice and entertaining talk. But I know you are looking for the videos! Get them, either at my server or at archive.org.

15 March 2015

Gunnar Wolf: Crowdfunding call: "Natura" short film

My good friend Felipe Esquivel is driving a crowdfunded project: the first part of the "Natura" short film. I urge every reader of my blog to support Felipe's work! Felipe, the director for this project, is a very talented Chilean-Mexican animator. He has produced short animated films such as A duel and One fine day. Not only that: It might be interesting for my blog's readers that a good deal of the work of Cham n Animation's work (of course, I am not qualified to state that "all of" their work But it might well be the case) is done using Free Software, specifically, using Blender. So, people: Go look at their work. And try to be part of their work!

8 February 2015

Diego Escalante Urrelo: Link Pack #06

The story of Mel Blanc being saved by Bugs Bunny
Such a fantastic and romantic story. Mel Blanc, voice of half the Looney Tunes characters was in an car crash and hanging from a thread in a comma. And it took his characters to save him. It s a very interestingly edited podcast too:
( ) a crazy story about Mel nearly dying in a crash on Dead Man s Curve on Hollywood Boulevard and about the moment two weeks later when Bugs Bunny emerged from Mel s coma before Mel did. In fact, according to neurosurgeon Louis Conway who attended to Mel at the time, it seemed as though Bugs Bunny was trying to save his life.
The audacious rescue plan that might have saved space shuttle Columbia
This is probably the best documentary/kinda fiction article I have read in a long time. It s a long read going over the hypothetical, and nail bitting, plan to rescue the Columbia if it ever got in trouble. It s really intense, and something to sit down and read fully focused, book style.
But imagine an alternate timeline for the Columbia mission in which NASA quickly realized just how devastating the foam strike had been. Could the Columbia astronauts have been safely retrieved from orbit?
Ocean Gravity: Riding sea currents
Cool video of a sea diver running through seafloor currents, really cool and fascinating :). El chavo del ocho en el infierno
This one is in Spanish, and it s a funny take on El chavo del ocho and how it follows some classic models and myths of literature. Chespirito was very fond of classics, so this would make sense. But, of course, the whole article is written on a tongue in cheek style.
En El Chavo del Ocho, Bola os, o el Camus azteca, cre su propia versi n del mito de S sifo. El chavo y compa a est n condenados a empujar por una empinada colina todos los d as esta piedra enorme que siempre regresa, obligandolos al tormento del eterno retorno. La piedra de Quico es cuadrada, no rueda, se desliza. Es c mico, a pesar de tr gico.

Go for some more Link Pack, it s sugar free

24 January 2015

Diego Escalante Urrelo: Link Pack #05

Lever Rukhin Photographs Los Angeles From His Car
Lever Rukhin shoots the sketchiest parts of Los Angeles from his car, taking a really unique perspective that helps you perceive what LA looks like, if you were in a car An experience that is apparently common to all LA people. People drive too much in the US :-). It s a very interesting interview that goes well with his full site: Lev Rukhin. What I love about this, besides the whole premise, is that Lev went the extra mile and actually hacked his car to make the images he wanted:
Phoblographer: It looks like many of these images have artificial lighting in them. What s your gear setup, and how do you introduce so much light into the scene from your car? Lever: About 9 months ago, I affixed a Mola beauty dish onto the roof rack of my 75 Volvo and juice it with a profoto bi-tube. This takes a bit of practice, as making a turn changes the light completely, which I always try to keep balanced. The Canon 5D3 with a 24mm f1.4 is set up on a tripod. The strobe has allowed me to capture more detail as well as creating a somewhat surreal feel to the sets.
Lev Rukhin Lev Rukhin http://www.levrukhin.com/
The Invisible Woman: A conversation with Bj rk
Bj rk is that Icelandic singer we all hear about but never really pay much attention to because her music is too smart for our simple ears. In this interview she goes over how her latest album is a very personal work, and unexpectedly (?) ends talking about how problematic it s been to be a female auteur in her generation. I have seen the same problem she denounces about people assuming that the male members of a team did all the work while the women just sticked to making coffee and sandwiches. I ve worked with exceptional women that don t get enough credit, but I ve also worked with potentially exceptional women who don t give themselves enough credit. It s a very interesting read, specially since it comes from someone who couldn t be higher in the art food chain. Bj rk is god-damn Bj rk. Only thing that bugs me is that Pitchfork decided to hold back most of the interview for publishing next month. I ll try to go back and read it in full, but I wonder if the technique works for them or if perhaps they are missing the opportunity for a bigger impact. But I digress.
Pitchfork: The world has a difficult time with the female auteur. B: I have nothing against Kanye West. Help me with this I m not dissing him this is about how people talk about him. With the last album he did, he got all the best beatmakers on the planet at the time to make beats for him. A lot of the time, he wasn t even there. Yet no one would question his authorship for a second. If whatever I m saying to you now helps women, I m up for saying it. For example, I did 80% of the beats on Vespertine and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn t do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album. [Matmos ] Drew [Daniel] is a close friend of mine, and in every single interview he did, he corrected it. And they don t even listen to him. It really is strange.
In Defense of the Selfie Stick
Miguel proposes a different take on the consequences of the selfies stick:
When you ask someone to take a picture of you, technically, they are the photographer, and they own the copyright of your picture. ( ) All of a sudden, your backpacking adventure in Europe requires you to pack a stack of legal contracts. Now your exchange goes from Can you take a picture of us? to Can you take a picture of us, making sure that the church is on the top right corner, and also, I am going to need you to sign this paper .
I don t know what s with the selfie stick hate. Let people have fun, it doesn t hurt. If anything, it prevents them from asking you to take their photo, and if we already established you are the kind of people not a big fan of strangers, all the better, right? Why Top Tech CEOs Want Employees With Liberal Arts Degrees
Here s a small extra. When I decided to pursue a humanities/art formal training, I got many naysayers telling me that I was screwing up not specializing even more as a formal (titled) engineer. I argued then, and now, that if I was gonna pay for training, I might as well pay for training outside my comfort zone. The result resonates perfectly with this article. Of course, it s not like the thing is settled, but I can back the various quotes in there. Working with purely technical/engineering types can be an echo chamber, and having trained myself in the humanities and arts I have become incredibly much more sensitive to the human factor of things. I used to think I was already good at this (because we hacker types have lots of confidence), but studying humanities like human communication, social conflict and development, film language, etc; it all has made me a much more capable hacker of things. There s also a nice argument to be made about joining the arts when you are already highly skilled on technical matters. Like Robert Rodr guez s teacher (mentioned in his diary/book Rebel Without a Cause, which I also have to review soon) used to say (generous paraphrasing here): the world is of those who can be their own creative and their own technician.
Both Yi and Sheer recognize that the scientific method is valuable, with its emphasis on logic and reason, especially when dealing with data or engineering problems. But they believe this approach can sometimes be limiting. When I collaborate with people who have a strictly technical background, says Yi, the perspective I find most lacking is an understanding of what motivates people and how to balance multiple factors that are at work outside the realm of technology.
Interesting food for thought, specially if you know an engineer that ditches the arts as of little value for personal growth in their careers/life.
Read more Link Pack, you ll love it

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