Jan 09

## First Evening with ThingM’s blink(1)

I’m not sure where or from whom I heard about this little device, but when I saw it and read some of the possible uses, the geek in me would not rest until I had one. So last week I finally ordered one of the new blink(1) LED USB devices from ThingM.

It came in a nice little (magnetically closed) box, inside a padded envelope, inside another padded envelope. Not much too it, so open it up, plug it in, and… search for the next step as there are no directions in the box

Snooping through their online documentation led me to a download site which contained the blink1-tool application, compiled for 64 linux. So far, so good. Downloaded it and unzipped it. Running it without arguments offered a variety of options, so I tried a few. Surprisingly, all failed with the “no blink(1) devices found” error.

A bit of searching on the web led to various posts of folks with the same error, several of which indicated that the issue might be caused by the fact that my user did not have permissions to the device. After trying several of the command with sudo also failed, I gave up on that course of action.

Another poster indicated that compiling the blink1-tool led to a working version, so I promptly cloned a copy of their git repo and after reading their brief help info, saw that libusb-1.0 needed to be installed. No worries:

Running ‘make’ at this point showed that ld could not find several libraries. I tried to cherry pick the necessary libs, but in the end I simply installed Fedora’s Devlopment Libraries group:

Running ‘make’ again yielded the following:

building for OS=linux
gcc pkg-config libusb-1.0 --cflags -fPIC -std=gnu99 -I ../hardware/firmware -I./hidapi/hidapi -I./mongoose -g -c blink1-tool.c -o blink1-tool.o
gcc pkg-config libusb-1.0 --cflags -fPIC -std=gnu99 -I ../hardware/firmware -I./hidapi/hidapi -I./mongoose -g -static -g ./hidapi/libusb/hid.o blink1-lib.o pkg-config libusb-1.0 --libs -lrt -lpthread -ldl blink1-tool.o -o blink1-tool
/usr/bin/ld: cannot find -lusb-1.0

At this point, after finding no on-point answer on the web, I tried symlinking both ‘libusb.so’ and ‘libusb-1.0.so’ to /usr/lib/libusb-1.0.so.0 (the lib installed above). Nada… same error. More searches, no answers.

Finally, after running through all of the steps again, I noticed that there was another libusb1 devel package available: libusb1-static (at this point, all of the C programmers are going, “well duh”). Installing that package and trying make again led to a successful compile!

So while I still need to tweak udev to allow a normal user access to the device, (see below) at least blink1-tool is able to properly cause the device to light up (and change colors). On to trying to write something useful for it now.

So, hoping that others who may run into the same issues might be saved a bit of time and frustration, here are what I believe are all of the necessary steps to compile blink1-tool on Fedora 17 x64:

Install required libraries (note: I do not know if glibc-devel and/or glibc-static are included in the Development Libraries group, as I installed them as part of the cherry picking step – How does one list the packages in a group?)

Clone the repo, change into the directory and begin compilation:

Test:

Anyone with information on the proper udev (or other) config to stop the ‘sudo’ requirement is appreciated. Many thanks to larcher for posting the link to the udev file. I hadn’t looked there yet. So for those who reached this point, to allow a regular user to control the device, the steps mentioned in his comment should work for you. Here are examples of the commands I used:

Good luck!

N.B. These instructions were written using Fedora 17, but they should work with most distros, e.g. RedHat, Ubuntu, etc by simply changing the necessary installed package names to those used on your system. I was unable to build this on Fedora 18 beta as it looks like it is not possible (today) to install the Development Tools group due to issues with the included rpm package.

Jan 13

## Ubuntu Precise Pangolin Update Issue with LibreOffice

If you are among those brave (foolhardy?) enough to have already updated systems to Ubuntu’s Precise Pangolin, you may have encountered the following error while updating your system over the last 24 hours or so:

Errors were encountered while processing:
/var/cache/apt/archives/libreoffice-core_1%3a3.5.0~beta2-2ubuntu2_i386.deb
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

Fortunately, there is a relatively easy fix. I am not sure exactly what is causing this, but it occurred on two of my systems yesterday, and still this morning on a third. Initially I thought it might have occurred on the one system because it has been upgraded through several releases, but when it started occurring on freshly installed systems that idea went out the window.

Regardless, the following commands should help get your system back on track.

Good luck!

Jul 29

## Verizon 4G MiFi Quicktest

Got my hands on a Verizon 4G LTE MiFi device to test today, so of course the first thing I did when I got home was a quick Speedtest.net check on it.

First, a test of my Time Warner RoadRunner:

Not bad on the download side, though one important thing to remember is that this speed is largely based on the burst technology Roadrunner is using, and that speed is only good for the first 16 seconds of a download or so, at which time it drops to roughly half that speed. Therefore, since this download fits within those 16 or so seconds, the speed is greatly inflated over what a larger download would have shown.

And not unexpectedly, the speed test shows the anemic upload speeds which has plagued Roadrunner connections from the very beginning. I was actually surprised to see even this number.

Now for the Verizon numbers:

Verizon 4G LTE Speed Test

As you can see, the download speeds are roughly equal, which in reality is an amazing feat given that this is wireless broadband versus a cable connection. The other thing to remember is that these speeds seem to hold steady across an entire large download and do not drop off like the Roadrunner speeds do.

On the upload side, the Verizon MiFi simply crushed the Roadrunner speeds. Given that we plan to use these to upload mobile video, this will be a critical number if it holds steady throughout the region.

I gotta say, I am really impressed by this thing, though we’ll see how true that is after I test it in a variety of locations.

May 07

## SBIRS Geo-1 Launch

This afternoon, the United Launch Alliance had another successful launch of the Atlas V vehicle, this time carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geo-1 satellite into orbit. The first of a new breed of missile launch detection birds, this platform will provide near-constant monitoring capabilities, as opposed to q 10 seconds capability of earlier models.

SBIRS Geo-1 Launch aboard Atlas V

This will give the USAF Space Command one more bird to control and those of us from SeeSat-L one more to track.

SBIRS Geo-1 Mission Patch

Mar 20

## Farewell Odin – Good Job

Something almost sad about taking a server out of circulation after all this time. But time for a new version of Ubuntu or Arch Linux.

ss@odin:/$uptime 14:36:37 up 762 days, 3:39, 1 user, load average: 0.15, 0.03, 0.01   ss@odin:/$ cat /etc/lsb-release DISTRIB_ID=Ubuntu DISTRIB_RELEASE=7.10 DISTRIB_CODENAME=gutsy DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="Ubuntu 7.10" 

Jan 01

## 7435*2^749431-1 is prime!

I started participating in the Free-DC Prime Search early last week, and early last night I received a Notifo popup on my iPhone that the computer currently checking for prime numbers had found one:

$7435\times 2^{749431} -1$

This yields a number which is 225606 digits long and which currently (though likely not for long) is in 1543rd place on the list of the 5000 largest primes.  The prime has its own page on that site and bears the registration number 97197.

Prime Registration

Nov 07

## The New Sherlock

Two men who couldn’t be more different — united by ADVENTURE! Blowing away the fog of the Victorian era, the world’s most famous detective enters the 21st century.

If you are even a modest fan of the Sherlock Holmes character, you owe it to yourself to catch the new episodes of Sherlock now playing on Masterpiece Mystery!

Set in modern London, the young chap playing Sherlock is one of the best I have seen, and he has captured the essence of a younger Sherlock perfectly. While I was at first leary of a modern Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock) has swept aside all concerns and brings something to the role that I didn’t think was possible since the passing of Brett.

If you liked the movie, this may not be for you. But if you like the Rathbone or Brett Sherlock’s, then give this a try. Series 1 consists of three episodes, the last of which is playing tonight (7 Nov 2010), but I believe they are also already available on DVD.

Jun 13

## STS-133 Artwork Released

NASA have released the artwork for the forthcoming STS-133 shuttle mission. The patch pays homage not only to the shuttle Discovery which will be completing its stint as a flying shuttle soon, but also to Mr. Robert McCall, longtime artist for NASA:

The STS-133 mission patch is based upon sketches from the late artist Robert McCall; they were the final creations of his long and prodigious career.

For additional information including an explanation of the imagery, please see the NASA Spaceflight website.

Apr 03

## National Park Week 2010

National Park Week will run from April 17th through the 25th this year.  Entrance to all 392 national parks will be free for that week, so now is the time to start finalizing plans for that great expedition.  Throw on the backpack and mosey on down a few miles of trail, or break out the Trek Light Gear hammock and cosy up to a couple trees for some R&R time amidst the sounds of nature.

Mar 14

## Happy Pi Day

For those who understand such things: Happy Pi Day.  I rarely jump on the bandwagon of all of the various X-days that have come and gone recently or which are coming, e.g. 10/10/10, but since Pi is such an interesting beast, it just needs to be celebrated on its day.  Question is: How does one properly celebrate Pi Day?  Sit down with your favorite math book?  Hug a math nerd?

Anyway…  I really like some of the other suggestions for Pi Day proposed on the Real Pi Day site.  Hopefully a consensus will be reached and banks and government employees can begin to have a day off in honor of the holiday.  And in case anyone is listening, I vote for the day/time when the sun has travelled 1/pi from perihelion.