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  • Microchip PIC

    Posted on February 27th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    Microchip is the manufacturer of the famous PICmicro� microcontrollers. It’s a RISC chip with some 35 instructions. I had worked on this about two years back. And I remember becoming very excited about programming the PIC. So much so that, for quite a few nights, I used to get dreams about the PIC’s instruction set :-)

    One particular favorite of mine was the btfss instruction, which stood for “bit test F, skip if set” – which would basically skip the following instruction (which would almost always be a goto) if a particular bit in the F register was set. Hoo boy. For a complete list of instructions, check here. Some of them are funny.

    PICs have been used in a variety of electronic gizmos. The project I was involved in required the development of a solar charger-cum-controller for street lights. Microchip also provides their own IDE for developing and debugging PIC applications – it’s called MPLAB, and is available for free download from their site.

    I had several ideas for useful products that can be developed using the PIC. At the time, however, I still had my engineering exams. And had to do a project as part of the course. I wish I had done something based on the PIC. I regret it to this day. What did I do for my project, you say? I and a couple of my classmates went to Wipro for the project. Frankly, I do not know what we did there. We did not learn anything there, nor did we do anything practical.

  • UI wars

    Posted on February 25th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    (From The Register’s article)

    Whew! I was never aware of these things. First of all, the Quartz UI is now UIQ, which is being used by Sony-Ericsson in their hugely popular P800 and (now) P900 smartphones. Crystal UI was developed entirely by Nokia for their Communicator series of phones. The interesting part is about the Pearl UI – a one-handed phone UI developed by Symbian, which Nokia took on, and developed the Series 60. (Crystal is now Series 80, by the way).

    I love the 176×208 Series 60 UI. It’s pretty crisp, offers the simple one-handed interface for anything from making calls to T9 (text-on-9 keys) input for sending messages, setting appointments on the calendar, etc. Mind you, I have not actually seen the UIQ in action. I hope to check out the P900 sometime this month or in March. The price of this baby is slated to be around Rs.45,000 ($1,000 approximately). A bit too much for the Indian market, I feel. Then again, there are a lot of people who wouldn’t mind paying so high for the neat set of features that accompany the P900. It is pretty tempting. And no, I’m not planning to buy it, or develop applications for it, as of now :-)

  • Symbian OS v8.0

    Posted on February 24th, 2004 Sandeep 4 comments

    Symbian has released version 8.0 of their operating system for mobile phones. Details can be found here.

    According to the site, the major new features of v8.0 are:

    • the availability of an improved kernel architecture, with hard realtime capabilities
    • significant upgrade to Java including CLDC 1.1 and multimedia JSRs (MobileMedia, 3D)
    • the introduction of a SyncML compliant device management framework
    • Symbian OS v8.0 is provided in application compatible two variants. The first variant, v8.0a uses the legacy kernel (EKA1) as per Symbian OS v6.1, v7.0 and v7.0s. The second variant v8.0b adopts the new hard realtime kernel (EKA2).
    • the addition of the Media Device Framework (MDF) which provides a Hardware Abstraction Layer for multimedia hardware acceleration.

    Great. I am still stuck with v6.1 :-(

  • Shutterbug

    Posted on February 20th, 2004 Sandeep No comments


    O-boy. I just found this amazing site: Shutterbug – Photographs by Tracey. For an idea about the quality of images, see the one on the right.

    That’s right people. Now go over there and check out the rest of her stuff. Now, I am not a good photographer (not even amateur!). I may not be the best judge here. But from what I saw on the site, I think it’s mindblowing. Heck, the only camera I have is an old Mamiya-Sekor 528TL. This antique was sold from 1967 to 1971. (I wasn’t even born then). I don’t know why, but I really like to take black-and-white photographs with it. Sort of, to get the old photo charm, I suppose.

    After looking at Tracey’s pictures, I think it’s time for me to try out a digital camera. Any suggestions, apart from the equipment that she has? :-)

    Check this out! Tracey ranks #1 on the‘s Top 100! Just saw this now.

  • AIX malloc

    Posted on February 19th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    Heh, just discovered this: on AIX (4.3.3 at least), if you try to allocate zero bytes using malloc, it returns NULL. Was working on a defect fix and basically scratching my head as to why this bug existed only on AIX and not the other *NIXes (we work on Solaris and HP-UX as well).

    I wish I knew this earlier – that way I would not have had to spend almost 1.5 days working on the damn bug. Duh, wait. There’s Google for searching out such things. And now Yahoo, back with its new search engine (more on that here).

    Guess you learn something new everyday.

    In other news, Netsky-b is spreading very quickly on the Internet. It’s similar to, but not as destructive as, the Mydoom worm. It comes as an executable attachment to e-mails, and once activated, sends a copy of itself to all the e-mail addresses that it can find. When Mydoom surfaced, I had more than fifty infected e-mails in my Inbox. One of these days, I am going to have to cut off my network cable :-(

    I’ve been mentoring a student who is doing a project at HP. Basically, we require an automated testing tool for our products. He is going to be doing that entirely in Perl. (He was not aware of Python, and I didn’t have the time to teach him Python to get him started on his project). Can anyone please guide me into mentoring a trainee? I am new to this kind of stuff, and any help will be greatly appreciated.

  • Microsoft warns downloaders

    Posted on February 19th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    (From eWeek’s article)

    Microsoft is sending out legal warnings to people who have been illegally downloading Windows source code from P2P networks. According to, the message goes like this:

    To the user at [ip removed]: The unauthorized copying and distribution of Microsoft’s protected source code is a violation of both civil and criminal copyright and trade secret laws. If you have downloaded and are making the source code available for downloading by others, you are violating Microsoft’s rights, and could be subject to severe civil and criminal penalties.

    Microsoft demands that you immediately (1) cease making Microsoft’s source code available or otherwise distributing it, (2) destroy any and all copies you may have in your possession, and (3) provide us any and all information about how you came into possession of this code.

    Microsoft takes these issues very seriously, and will pursue legal action against individuals who take part in the proliferation of it source code. We look forward to your prompt cooperation. Should you need to contact me, I can be reached at the address above.

    Very truly yours,


    Ooh. Makes me pee in my pants :-P

  • Windows source code

    Posted on February 18th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    (From The Register’s article)

    It’s been just about a week since Microsoft’s Windows source code somehow found its way to the Internet, and already a hacker has created an exploit. That was fast. From what I read, the source code is around 203MB, zipped. Extracted, it would mean a gazillion lines of code (and /*comments*/, of course) in 30,915 files. Someone had the time to go through specific source code (in this case, Internet Explorer 5), and set up a program to inject code and run arbitrary programs, allowing the hacker to (almost) take control of your system.

    Seems there is a buffer overflow flow when IE 5 handles bitmap files – so this is the area affected. The leak in source code has been traced back to a company called Mainsoft.

    In the case of Linux, where the source code is available for download, the same hackers will probably be fixing bugs :-)

  • Lack of entries

    Posted on February 17th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    Sorry about the lack of entries. You see that system over there to the left? Well, it’s not with me anymore – at least for the time being. And that’s where I had my whole Firefox+NewsMonster setup to bring me the latest news in the tech world. Without it, I am a dead goose.

    Anyway, with all the SCO bashing and Linux being in the centerstage of it all, I am moving to FreeBSD soon. Planning to get my hands dirty with the 5.1 Technology Preview release. Let’s see how it goes. I am will put down my experience here.

    Meantime, Nokia has gone ahead and chosen Python. This was revealed at the recently held O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference by Pertti Korhonen, CTO of Nokia. MobileWhack has a few screenshots of Python on Series 60 in action. Woohoo!

    I am also planning to move my Symbian development to FreeBSD in the near future. God knows how easy/tough that’s going to be. Yes, for now, I have decided not to do anything with J2ME. There are far too many better people working on this – like Russell Beattie for example. His company has come out with WaveBlog – something that I haven’t yet deciphered.

  • Honda VTEC

    Posted on February 12th, 2004 Sandeep 1 comment

    For the first time in my life, I sat in one of Honda’s VTEC car. This truly marvelous car boasts of 106bhp of raw power, and can accelerate from 0 to 100kmph in less than 10 seconds. To know more about VTEC, I went to How Stuff Works. Boy, I found a lot of information from there on. What impressed me was Honda’s implementation of a seemingly old idea. Damn. That’s great engineering.

    Software engineering (rather, code crunching) is definitely not as exciting as automobile engineering. Of course, I am not trained in either (I studied electronics – another very exciting, yet complex field), so I am not the better person to judge here. What do you think?

  • Firefox

    Posted on February 9th, 2004 Sandeep No comments

    I don’t know why, but they have renamed Firebird to Firefox, and it’s now available for download. Go get your copy now! It boasts of an advanced download manager (much wanted on my wish list of features) and an easy-to-use installer for Windows.

    Having used Firebird for the past few months, moving to Firefox was quite easy. Now, lemme go check out the nice new features. Updates later :-)