my first package in the official debian repository

I have created deb packages for a couple of years now. Primarily for software that I created myself, or was somehow involved. But sometimes I also packaged stuff that I just used, and wanted to be able to conveniently install and upgrade on different systems. One of these was printrun, a host software for reprap 3d printers. I packaged it, and provided packages for ubuntu in my ppa, and packages for debian in my own little repository. Then one day, Scott, a debian developer contacted me, asking if I was interested in getting the package to a state ready for inclusion in the official debian repository. The debian standards are very high, and so far, my packages didn’t need to meet those standards. But I wanted to improve my packaging skills anyway, and that looked like a great opportunity to learn from someone experienced. Continue reading “my first package in the official debian repository”

locally encrypted remote storage

Unlike the ordinary users, tech savy people are well aware of what can happen to your data, if you store it on cloud services such as dropbox. There are services that promise to encrypt your data locally, so that they can’t access them, a prominent one being wuala. On one hand, I don’t know if their client is open source, thus if you can check that you are really the only one capable of decrypting your data. And on the other hand it’s a paid service.

Usually, you can do almost everything that commercial products or services offer, free of cost but with a little investigative and manual effort on linux. This one seemed harder than usual, though. Continue reading “locally encrypted remote storage”

switching the christmas tree online

The first time I got interested in home automation, was when browsing the arduino libraries. That was all about X10, which communicates over power lines. There are switches that can replace the regular light switches and are pretty cheap in the US. If you want such switches here in Switzerland, you’ll be surprised how expensive they are. And routers with X10 to make it accessible from your smart phone start at CHF 400. But what is easier to get here are the plugs with 433Mhz rf controllers. I got a set with one remote and three plugs for CHF 15 at hornbach. Then I ordered two different transmitters from China. One with the nRF905 chipset and an SPI interface. And one for sort of bit banging. I thought the one with SPI was going to be easier to use. I also found some code to interface it. But first I had to know what I need to send.

My first Idea was to use the DVB-T dongle with GnuRadio to sniff the rf protocol. Continue reading “switching the christmas tree online”

accelerated ray tracer

In all the great online classes I attended over the last year, there was one topic missing. Finally I found an offering for a Computer Graphics class. After all, that’s the field I ‘ve been working in for the last five and a half years. The class is offered at edx.org and is from Berkley. It’s the first class I’m taking from edx, and the style of the class is comparable to coursera and udacity.

The first part of the class was concerned about OpenGL, and we implemented an interactive scene viewer. Although I didn’t work directly with regular OpenGL before, only with WebGL which is based on OpenGL ES, it was mostly repetition. But nonetheless it was good training for working with homogeneous coordinates and matrices with different orderings. For grading, we had to produce 12 screenshots from the same scene with different transformations. Once it was implemented I had only to change the order of some transformations to have all images correct.

The second part was concerned with ray tracing. Eventhough I was familiar with the basic concept, working with it was new to me. And in the class, we had to build a ray tracer from scratch.The theory sounded straight forward. But somehow I was not so lucky in implementing it. In every new part I made some silly mistake. I developed it not exemplary test driven, but with unit tests for every key part that I wanted to verify. With that in place I could usually find and correct the problem in time. For grading, we had to produce seven images. Continue reading “accelerated ray tracer”