Friday, 21 December 2012


Sometime in the next 12 hours this blog should breach the 50K pageview tally. So 'yay' for me. Anyway, I keep an eye on the stats just to see what's hot and what's not, and i'll review the recent trends.

So last time I did this the main posts hit were to do with performing an FFT in Java. The new king is 'Kobo Hacking'. I'm pretty sure this is mostly people just trying to hack the DRM or the adverts out, but there does seem to be a few individuals coding for the machine as well. And what little organisation there is seems to be centred on the mobileread forums, although it seems like me it's mostly individuals working on their own for personal education and entertainment.

Another big source of pageviews is the JavaFX stuff (actually it's the biggest combined) - and this is only because they were added to the JavaFX home page (it wasn't something I asked for btw). I must admit i've done a couple of 'page hit' posts under the tag, but it's always just been stuff i've been playing with anyway.

The post about the Mele A2000 gets quite a few hits although i'm not sure what people are still looking up (probably wrt the allwinner A10 for hacking). The ARM android tv boxes keep leaping ahead in performance and specifications and it's already quite dated. I still use mine mainly for playing internet radio, and sometimes watching stuff recorded with MythTV (I normally use the original PS3, but I try to save some power when I remember to).

The Android programming posts get regular visits - although I think it's mostly people looking up stuff they should be able to find in the SDK. Last time I had to do some android code I didn't like it at all - the added api to work around earlier poor api design choices, the lack of documentation, and the frustration with the shitty lifecycle model more than made up for any 'cool' factor. I'd rather be coding JavaFX with real Java - actually the fact that Oracle have an android version internally but are trying to monetise it ... puts me off that idea a bit too. You can't really monetise languages and toolkits anymore, there's too much good free stuff (e.g. Rebol finally went free software, least it wallow in obscurity forever).

jjmpeg also contributes a steady stream. Given how many downloads there have been i'm a bit, i dunno, bummed i guess, about how little correspondence has been entered into regarding the work. Free Software for most just seems to mean 'free to take'. Still, I made some progress with the Android player yesterday so it might actually become useful enough to me at some point to be worth working on.

The image processing and computer vision posts have picked up a bit in the last few months, although i'm sure most of the hits are people just looking for working solutions or finished homework, or how to use OpenCV. I hate OpenCV so don't ask me!

I get a good response to any NEON posts containing code - although I haven't put too many up at this point. That's always fun to work on because one only ever considers fairly small problems that can be solved in a few days, keeping it fresh.

I even get a few hits on the cooking posts although I wish the hot sauces had more interest - because I think they're pretty unique and very nice.

The future

So I mentioned earlier how Free Software just seems to mean "free to take" - i certainly have no idea who is using any of the code I put out apart from the Kobo touch software using the toolkit/backend from ReaderZ - which I only found out by accident. Although the code is out there for this very reason, it's a bit disappointing that there is almost zero feedback or any indication where the code is being used - and i'm sure for example that jjmpeg is being used somewhere.

Once you hit a certain point in developing something I find the fun goes out of it - problems get too big to handle casually, earlier design mistakes require big rewrites, and unless you're using the software in anger there's no real reason to work on it at all after the initial fun phase. A lot of the stuff I have sitting in public has hit that point for me and it's not like i'm using most of the applications I come up with (or would even if I finished them).

For me it's about the journey and not the destination. And particularly for anything I work on in my spare time it has to be fun or what's the point? I already get paid to work on software, I don't want to "work" on it for free as well.

It's just for fun

Not sure where i'm going here ... I guess I will amble along and keep doing what i'm doing, mucking about with whatever takes my fancy or is interesting at the time.

So probably not much will change then.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Meat drier

I've been meaning to make a meat drier for a while and I decided not to hang around now i'm on holiday and spent a couple of days putting together a drying cabinet, and then making some content to put into it.

I had some cheap shitty old all-steel screw together shelving unit that I hadn't unpacked since I moved from Perth, and I figured that was about the right size to at least get some parts out of. I originally intended for it to stand upright with the shelving standing up length-wise, but after I got it screwed together I realised I could just flip it on it's side and it also had legs ... which solved one of the problems I had wrt mounting any additional hardware ...

I'm just using a 40w globe for heat/airflow for now, and I'll see how that goes. After a few hot and humid weeks we're back to cool and dry which should be fine.

I also had a fly-screen lying around not doing anything, and by complete chance it happened to fit the width exactly. For now I made a very simple wire clip to hold it in place and have the foam to prop it up a little to make it cover the top.

The only metal I had to cut were the sides and the length of the rails. The sides were off-cuts from the shed, and I only had to cut about 50mm off those. And I had to drill a few holes where the existing ones didn't align. The only other fabrication was to pound down the wider inner seam under the shelving so the 4 panels fit together snugly - a 6" piece of railway line and a hammer did the job. Oh, and bend a few bits of thick wire for the clips and an off-cut for the drip cover.

I already had the coffee-tin bulb holder from previous efforts, and the profile of the steel on the sides provides a ledge for the rails at several heights.

For the biltong, I just did the main muscle in a whole rump (which is the cheapest bulk meat I have handy), which leaves plenty of drying space, although if I used wire hooks it would hang sideways and let me fit more in.

Now hopefully it comes out ok ... I've made it before using a cardboard box, but it's been a while and although the details don't seem to matter much, sometimes they do.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Hacking n garden n stuff

Well, work has finished for another year. The expected JavaFX stuff didn't eventuate, and I spent the last couple of months on a little bit of maintenance and a lot of non-coding work.

So I wasn't in the right mindset for hacking of any sort - ARM assembly, android, video stuff (I noticed that JellyBean now has a Java api to the hardware video codecs though), nor had time to look at the Parallella SDK which I got last week.

Or kobo touch. Although I indirectly found a project that was using my "ReaderZ" code including the widget toolkit to write another frontend for it. I only found it as I noticed the mobileread site showing up in my stats information for this blog.

And I just haven't had the energy or need to work on anything much in my spare time.

So when I do have some time I've been looking after the garden - mostly the lawn, pot plants, and veggie patches. On the whole we had a very cold and dry spring this year so it's been pretty slow going getting some of the plants going, but I now have some well established purple beans, cucumbers, chillies, egg-plants, sweet potatoes, and even some tomatoes which sprouted on their own. Expecting a bumper crop of some purple beans - the vines are growing around 10-15cm per warm day and one is already 3m tall and has reached the gutter on the rear verandah!

Haven't been cooking too much interesting stuff, although i'm slowly working my way through the condiments and frozen curries - the lime chilly marmalade/chutney is the current favourite with a good strong cheese and some crackers.

And when i'm done with all that, trying to get some reading in. Which usually amounts to 2-3 pages to find out where I was, 2 pages of reading, and then waking up half an hour later with the device asleep and my spot lost again.

Now i'm on leave I'll wind down a bit, drink a bit, poke at the garden a bit, try to get out on the bike and visit friends a bit more often, try to at least get started on the shed floor and other junk in the yard ... and i'm sure even find time to hack on something if the inspiration hits.

Friday, 7 December 2012

I don't get tablets ...

But that's ok, they're not aimed at me.

I didn't quite understand how the i(ncontinence)pad took off like it did at the time, but now I think I know why.

Most people really just don't like computers at all (of course, M$ has to take the lion's share of the blame here), but they use them because they like what computers let you do. Obviously there is a not-so-subtle distinction between the two.

Apple sold an appliance, and by a fortuitous combination of technology that matured at around the same time - everything from Ghz class portable cpu's to wireless networks to ubiquitous home-lans to cheap manufacturing centres in China and internet publishing, they were able to make a slick-enough device to finally create an appliance-like machine. After all, similar things had been tried before - many times - and failed, mostly because the technology just wasn't there yet. Too slow, too clunky, too expensive, and so on.

And this is the precise reason the M$ $urface will crash and burn.

It just shows that M$ don't get it in the least.

They're still trying to peddle the "computer" experience - and if anything can be gained by the market in the last 5 years is that people do not want that. Least of all the M$ version of it.

And it's all the funnier because that is precisely their biggest selling point!

A netbook by any other name ...

We had small computers with underpowered cpu's, tiny screens, shitty battery life, and fold-out keyboard years ago - they were called netbooks. And at least they were cheap.