Archive for ‘May, 2009’

Flowers, People, Skaters and BMXers…..

datePosted on 21:39, May 30th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Well, I finally got around to edit last weeks outdoor shoot in the backyard. I used strobes on some of the shots, played around with my new/old Lensbaby Composer and my Zeiss Jena 135mm Sonnar lens….

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Next in the queue were the shots from the Toronto Flickr meetup group. The meeting was happening (I guess the spring/summer approach must have ended most peoples hibernation) and the back room at the Imperial Library Pub was packed….

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And last but not least was todays Toronto Strobist Meeting at the Leslie-Cummer Skatepark. The shoot went really well and thanks to the high speed sync I got from my D70S body I walked away with a bunch of nice pics….

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Happy 2nd Birthday N.E.R.D.logger…..

datePosted on 19:29, May 24th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

This week marks N.E.R.D.logger’s 2nd birthday — and we couldn’t be happier about that. It has been a great year for N.E.R.D. with lots of encouraging feedback. We launched on the 24th May 2007 and have seen the site grow, and grow, and grow… Not only in terms of features but members/subscribers aswell. A big thank you to all the community. Your support is really appreciated.

I was looking for a fast small (read: mini-ITX) mobo that had enough power to drive 1080P monitor/panel and I came across Zotac IonITX-A-U board. According to manufacturer’s website:

The mini-ITX form factor ZOTAC® ION combines a high-performance NVIDIA® ION graphics processor with a power-efficient Intel® Atom processor for the ultimate eco-friendly platform that has no troubles handling regular web browsing, e-mail, & productivity and HD video playback tasks.

NVIDIA® PureVideo HD technology harnesses the power of the ION’s 16 high-speed stream processors for high-definition Blu-ray playback capabilities. PureVideo HD technology decodes HD video formats and enhances standard-definition videos with the ION GPU for flawless HD and superior SD video playback.

Sounds and looks very nice and capable. I guess I’d have to pick one up and give it a whirl. Here are the quick tech specs:

  • Onboard Video: GeForce 9400M
  • Onboard Audio: 5.1
  • Model: IONITX-A
  • CPU Socket: 441-ball
  • FSB: 533 MHz
  • Dimensions: 6.7″ x 6.7″
  • Chipset: MCP7A-ION
  • Memory Type: DDR2 667/800
  • Package Contents: 3 SATA cable 1 SATA power cable 1 WiFi antenna 1 WiFi bracket
  • Memory Slots: 2×240pin
  • SATA: 3 + 1 eSATA
  • PCI Express x1: 1 (mini)
  • Form Factor: Mini ITX
  • Video Ports: D-Sub + DVI + HDMI
  • USB: 10 (6 on back panel, 4 via pin header)
  • Power Connector: 24 Pin – 90 Watt PSU included
  • PS/2: 1
  • RAID: 0/1/0+1

mini-itx.com has a nice review and sells the board aswell.

Beagleboard is your friend…..

datePosted on 16:52, May 24th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

The USB-powered Beagle Board is a low-cost, fan-less single board computer utilizing Texas Instruments’ OMAP3530 application processor that unleashes laptop-like performance and expansion without the bulk, expense, or noise of typical desktop machines.

Beagle Board is based on an OMAP3530 application processor featuring an ARM® Cortex™-A8 running at up to 600MHz and delivering over 1,200 Dhrystone MIPS of performance via superscalar operation with highly accurate branch prediction and 256KB of L2 cache. Focal to Beagle Board experience is the high-speed USB 2.0 on-the-go (OTG) port that can be utilized to provide power to the board or to deliver highly flexible expansion. Standard PC peripherals can be connected to Beagle Board using the USB with a mini-A to standard-A cable adapter, DVI-D using an HDMI to DVI-D adapter, or through the MMC/SD/SDIO connector enabling a complete desktop experience. The picture below should give you a good idea of it’s size beside the tiny Pico Projector.

Hardware Specifications are as follows:

  • OMAP3530 applications processor featuring the ARM® Cortex™-A8
  • 128MB low-power DDR RAM
  • 256MB NAND flash
  • USB 2.0 high-speed on-the-go port
  • DVI-D output
  • NTSC/PAL TV via S-Video output
  • 6-in-one 8-bit MMC+/SD/SDIO connection
  • Stereo audio in/output
  • JTAG header
  • I2S, I2S, SPI, MMC/SD expansion header
  • Power via USB or alternate jack

Looks very nice and complete, a good alternative to Gumstix Avero stuff we covered earlier . And did I mention it’s only $149. Perfect for your next project.

Could this be the Google Tablet…..

datePosted on 16:25, May 24th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Not too sure, but the Zoom OMAP34x-II Mobile Development Platform looks too “finished/flashy” to be a Mobile Development Platform (MDP). I guess time will tell……For now we can all drool over the pics….and btw, if you have $1150, you can beat the crowd and own one today.

Out of the box features of the Zoom OMAP34x-II MDP :

  • 4.1″ WVGA multi-touch display with a QWERTY keypad in a landscape, handheld form factor
  • High performance OMAP3430 applications processor that supports up to 720p HD video encode/decode
  • Support for popular leading mobile operating systems, including Android Mobile Platform, Linux, LiMo, Symbian OS and Microsoft(r) Windows(r) Mobile
  • Wireless connectivity technology from TI, including WiLinkTM 6.0 (WL1271), a single chip with Wi-Fi(r), Bluetooth(r) and FM functionality; and NaviLinkTM GPS functionality
  • 8-megapixel camera sensor
  • Optional 3G modem solution, as well as flexibility to support any third party modem through an extension card
  • An optional DLP Pico projection module will be available, taking mobile content from “tiny screen” viewing to a shareable “big screen” format
The DLP Pico projector is a interesting critter. It is literally tiny. The above picture gives you an idea of it’s size compared to the power adapter. You can pick one up for about $350 at Digi-Key.com ‘s online store. The tech specs for this little guy are:

  • Resolution: 0.17-inch HVGA (320×480 device creating a 640×480 projection)
  • Brightness: 7 lumens
  • Contrast ratio: 1000:1
  • Throw ratio: 1.89
  • Processor: MSP430 microcontroller with download port
  • Light source: Solid-state 3 LED
  • Video input: DVI-D 888RGB, VGA 60 Hz
  • Dimensions: 44.8 x 67.4 x 14.2 mm3

Surveyor SRV-1 Blackfin Robot

datePosted on 15:51, May 24th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Wow, this little guy is cool. Check out Surveyor Corporation’s Open Source Wireless Mobile Robot . Very neat little package for just $475. While there, you might also want to check out YARB 1.0 (Yet Another Robotic Blimp) robot, also pretty neat. Here is a bit of a description according to their site:

Designed for research, education, and exploration, Surveyor’s SRV-1 internet-controlled robot integrates a 1000MIPS 500MHz Analog Devices Blackfin BF537 processor, a digital video camera with resolution from 160×128 to 1280×1024 pixels, laser pointer ranging, and WLAN 802.11b/g networking on a quad-motor tracked mobile robotic base.

Operating as a remotely-controlled webcam or a self-navigating autonomous robot, the SRV-1 can run onboard interpreted C programs or user-modified firmware, or be remotely managed from a Windows, Mac OS/X or Linux base station with Python or Java-based console software. The Java-based console software includes a built-in web server to monitor and control the SRV-1 via a web browser from anywhere in the world, as well as archive video feeds on demand or on a scheduled basis. Additional software support for the SRV-1 is also available by way of Microsoft Robotics Studio, Cyberbotic’s Webots, and RoboRealm machine vision software.

Features

  • Open Source design with full access to source code (GPL) and schematics
  • Robot is fully programmable for autonomous operation
  • Extensive software support through 3rd party applications
  • Teleoperate mode to drive robot around via console software or remotely via web browser
  • Host software has built-in web server and video archiving
  • Robot can run programs written in interpreted C and stored in onboard Flash
  • Wireless remote control or viewing up to 100m indoors and 1000m outdoors (line of sight)
  • Robot can be controlled from a terminal/console for easy testing
  • Linux 2.6 support as well as “bare metal” programming with GNU bfin-elf-gcc

Hardware

  • Processor: 1000mips 500MHz Analog Devices Blackfin BF537, 32MB SDRAM, 4MB Flash, JTAG
  • Camera: Omnivision OV9655 1.3 megapixel 160×128 to 1280×1024 resolution
  • Robot Radio: Lantronix Matchport 802.11b/g WiFi
  • Range: 100m indoors, 1000m line-of-site
  • Sensors: 2 laser pointers for ranging
  • Drive: Tank-style treads with differential drive via four precision DC gearmotors (100:1 gear reduction)
  • Speed: 20cm – 40cm per second (approx 1 foot/sec or .5 mile/hour)
  • Chassis: Machined Aluminum
  • Dimensions: 120mm long x 100mm wide x 80mm tall (5″ x 4″ x 3″)
  • Weight: 360gm (12oz)
  • Power: 7.4V 2000mAH Li-poly battery pack – 4+ hours per charge
  • Charger: 100-240VAC 50/60Hz (US plug)

Software

  • Robot Firmware: easily updated, written in C language under GPL Open Source, compiled with GNU bfin-elf-gcc and bfin-uclinux-gcc toolchains
  • Onboard User Programming: interpreter for C language with special robot-specific commands are provided for running user programs from onboard Flash memory
  • Development Tools: GNU toolchains via http://blackfin.uclinux.org
  • Console Software: Java based application, runs on Windows, MAC, Linux. WebcamSat web server module built into console software, allows multiple simultaneous remote viewers via Internet
  • Robot Control Protocol: Published here. Easily used from other applications
  • Third-party Software Support:
    • RoboRealm – http://www.roborealm.com/help/Surveyor_SRV1.php – The SRV-1 can now be directly controlled from RoboRealm, a very popular Windows-based machine vision software package for robots. The RoboRealm extensions for SRV-1 allow creation of scripts that combine image processing on live video feeds from the robot, e.g. color filtering, blob detection/tracking, edge detection/outlining and feature extraction, with decision processing and robot motion control, making it easy to create behaviors such as object location and tracking, obstacle avoidance, motion detection, notification, etc, with a web interface, and control can be scripted from C/C++, Python, Java, C#, Lisp, Visual Basic, WScript and COM through the RoboRealm API.
    • Microsoft Robotics Studio – http://www.surveyor.com/MSRS.html – Drivers for the SRV-1 in Microsoft Robotics Studio are now available. MSRS is a Windows-based environment for academic, hobbyist and commercial developers to create robotics applications across a wide variety of hardware. Key features and benefits include: end-to-end robotics development platform, lightweight services-oriented runtime, and a scalable / extensible platform.
Yeah, now I know what I’ll be doing with my next 500 bucks :-).

Build your own smartphone…..from scratch.

datePosted on 23:13, May 23rd, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

 Yep, you can do it now…..The open source hacker community GizmoForYou is shipping a Linux hardware/software kit for building a modular touchscreen smartphone. Using the OMAP35x-based Gumstix Overo Earth single-board computer (SBC), the Flow phone offers numerous customization modules including GPS, 3.5G cellular, Bluetooth, WiFi, and a camera. At around $1300 for the complete kitchen sink version, it’s not exactly cheap, but since they offer multiple choices for each component, you can pick and choose what you like to have inside your smartphone. Really neat stuff.

For those of you who are not tuned into Gumstix, the Overo line is a new line of Computer-on-Module devices designed by Gumstix based on TI’s OMAP Processor. Overo Earth comes with  the following specs:

Processor: OMAP 3503 Application Processor with ARM Cortex-A8 CPU
Clock(MHz): 600 MHz
Performance: Up to 1200 Dhrystone MIPS
Memory: 256MB RAM , 256MB Flash
Features:

  • Pin-out compatible with future OMAP 35x-based Overo motherboards
  • on-board microSD card slot
  • I2C, PWM lines (6), A/D (6), 1-wire, UART, SPI, Camera in, Extra MMC lines.
  • Headset, Microphone, backup battery,
  • USB OTG signals, USB HS Host

Connections:

  • (2) 70-pin AVX connectors
  • (1) 27-pin flex ribbon connector

Size: 17mm x 58mm x 4.2mm (0.67 in. x 2.28 in. 0.16 in.)
Expansion: Expansion boards for Overo motherboards. Or, custom design from open specifications.

The core of the Flow phone is the Flow motherboard, which is designed to integrate the separately available Overo Earth module. You can also use the more expensive Overo Water, Air or Fire modules. Other modules attach to the motherboard, including a 3.7-inch 640 x 480 Sharp LS037V7DW01 touchscreen LCD and Flow Sharp LCD module.

Connectivity modules include GPS, USB, and a choice between a plain GSM cellular module and a HSDPA-ready 3.5G/GPS/GSM/GPRS module. (WiFi and Bluetooth are already supplied by the Overo SBC.) Additional options include a 1GB MicroSD card, camera, power supply, battery, and enclosure, with various options available on several of the modules. Flow motherboard features include:

  • 2 x 70 pin connectors for the Overo module from Gumstix
  • 80-pin connector for the GSM, GPS, and 3G modules
  • Stereo amplifiers
  • 2 x speakers and GSM audio amplifier for speakers
  • Microphone and GSM preamp for Mic
  • PIC16LF877A UI Init (with Bootloader preloaded)
  • 2 x general-purpose buttons linked to the UI Unit
  • Orientation sensor
  • Light sensor
  • Level translation for GSM serial connections
  • 3G USB HS power supply
  • Luxeon 1W LED for the camera flash features
  • Dual SIM/MicroSD slot (experimental)
  • Camera connector and camera power management
  • Power management circuits fully controllable by the UI unit
  • Additional pins for connecting external power sources
  • Dimensions — 3.0 x 2.6 inches (76 x 65mm)
  • Operating system — Linux

GizmoForYou does not say much about software, but there are a growing number of Linux development platforms supporting the Overo Earth and OMAP35x platforms, and according to a project member, the group is working on an Android implementation.

How to mount your Journalized HFS+ disk in Linux….

datePosted on 20:41, May 23rd, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

This is something that people who deal with OSX and Linux come across everyday. Yes you can format your USB stick or removable HD using FAT32. The problem is that FAT32 does not support large sized files which can cause problems. So how do you solve this…..Easy. Attach the Journalized HFS+ disk to your MAC and startup disk utility. Inside disk utility find the disk in question and click on the partition(s) while holding down the “ALT” key. Keep holding the key down and go to the File menu and choose “Disable Journaling” (command-J). Eject the disk, move it over to your linux machine and hook it up. Linux can now read and write to the disk. Once you’re done, move the disk back to the apple machine and after selecting it in disk utility click on “Enable Journaling” button. Done.

This one is simple…..to set up CalDAV support for Google Calendar in Mozilla Sunbird, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Sunbird application (or under Thunderbird with Lightning Add-on) and select File >New Calendar.
  2. Select On the Network and click Next.
  3. Select the CalDAV format option.
  4. In the Location field, enter https://www.google.com/calendar/dav/username@gmail.com/events and click Next.
  5. Enter a name and select a color for your calendar.
  6. In the pop-up screen, enter the following information:
    Username: This is the complete email address you use with Google Calendar (ie: username@gmail.com). If you’re using Google Apps, be sure to enter your Google Apps email address.
    Password: This is the password you use to sign in to Google Calendar
  7. Click OK.

Your Google Calendar will now appear in the Calendar tab of Mozilla Sunbird, and Sunbird will sync any changes to and from Google Calendar. If you’ve imported your calendar from iCal or another app make sure you go to Edit>Preferences and check off “Show missed alarms” under Alarms tab. Otherwise you’ll be prompted to snooze or dismiss all your old events everytime you start the application.

Enabling Google Calendar in Apple’s iCal under OSX 10.5+

datePosted on 18:08, May 20th, 2009 by Many Ayromlou

Yep, It works I just transfered all my calendar appointments from local iCal calendar to Google calendar in one easy step. First you need to go into iCal and export your current calendar. If you’re starting fresh with google calendar you don’t need to do this.

To set up CalDAV support for Google Calendar in Apple’s iCal, follow these steps:

  1. Open Apple iCal, go to Preferences and then the Accounts tab.
  2. Click on the + button to add an account.
  3. Under Account Information, enter your Google Account username and password (make sure username does NOT have @gmail.com added).
  4. Under Server Options, add the following URL:https://www.google.com/calendar/dav/YOUREMAIL@DOMAIN.COM/user (replace ‘youremail’ with your Google Account username and domain.com is usually gmail.com unless you’ve got google apps setup.
  5. Click Add.

Under the Delegation tab, select the calendars you’d like to add to iCal by checking the boxes next to them. You may need to hit refresh to get the latest list of calendars.

Add your email address to your Address Book card by selecting Add Email. You’ll be prompted to add your email address only if your address is not already in your Address Book. You won’t be able to invite or email guests to Google Calendar events within iCal if your address is not in your Address Book.
Your Google Calendar will now appear in iCal’s list of calendars, and changes you make to your Google Calendar in iCal will be reflected when you sign in to Google Calendar.

If you had previously exported existing iCal events from your local (or other remote) machine, you can now select Import from File menu and choose the file and tell iCal to import it into your google calendar (your google calendar will appear as your full registered name in the import destination list).

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