Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

2008 Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Writeup

April 16th, 2008

I actually had a great time and talked to lots of interesting people at the ESC conference.  I did notice two trends that seemed prevalent — not that they have much to do with my project, but that I still found interesting.

First, the massive interest in capacitative touch sensors.  It seems as if a number of big players from Silicon Laboratories, Atmel, Cypress, etc. are really promoting their touch sensor products.  Atmel bought Qmatrix which was the original player in this space, and it seems as if other vendors developed their own tech.  I didn’t see much of the guts of the Silicon Labs product, but I did get a demo board of the Ateml product.  It doesn’t work very well.  The Cypress guys seemed to have a neat product — it seems as if they’ve incorporated FPGA-like logical blocks that you can configure on the fly — as well as assign any pin any function (or so it seemed).  Though I can’t really recommend them as they made me sit through a 10 minute long speal which was really 20 minutes long – was boring and conveyed no information for the promise of a dev board to play with — only to walk away with a tshirt instead.  *Grumble*

The second big trend is in using 2.4Ghz transiever ICs for zigbee, zigbee variants, or for propriatary devices.  All the products seemed quite low power, small form facture, required a minimal of extneral components and promised quite a range.  Atmel’s new Raven product demos software developed by some company up in SF which lets you put an IP stack on one of Atmel’s transievers.  They were able to ‘ping’ a remote device which was really nice.  I like the idea of being able to telnet to my wireless peripherals.  The guy I talked to was an eecs major from Cal.

On other notes, they had some other interesting stuff going on.  They took apart a $2000 10″ OLED display to show the innards, but it was fairly boring.img_0028.jpg  Supposedly they took apart a space-suite the day before but I missed that.  They supposedly had beer, but it was all gone by the time I got there.  I played with some real oscilliscopes that made me drool with envy — seems doing real time decode of various serial protocols is the new big thing in that catagory.  Of honorable mention is a company that makes hardened memory that looks like physical keys, and a company playing this video on one of it’s demo boxes of an elephant painting.  I have no idea what they were selling, but was blown away by the video.  It make me seriously respect elephants.

Finally, I had a nice talk with the people at TI and they mentioned how Harvard, and Rice University came out with a nearly identicall device as the Tricorder we are working on.  Here’s a photoimg_0025.jpg of the rice device.  It’s the same size if you exclude the antenna at the top of our device, has the same microcontroller, and uses the same instrumenation amplifier.  We started our project almost 2 years before we posted anything online — I’m not sure what the harvard groups device looks like, but I would imagine it to also be simmilar.  It makes me think of the quote by the inventor of PCR (who is a surf bum from my understanding).  He said something to the likes of his discovery was a natural consequence of several discoveries that preceded it.  I wonder if this device is just a function of the technology becoming mature. They did introudce a new processor that’s 2x faster, has more memory, and uses less power when it’s in a suspend mode.  Given that it’s pin for pin compatible with the processor we’re using, I hope to implement them on the next version (which I hope to get out this weekend).

I also went to a tasty Thai restaurant afterwards with Corpse and Taner.  Super tasty food.  I’m not telling you were as I dont like places getting popular; I find that popular restaurants get complacent and the food starts to suck.  Happened to Thep Phamon. img_0030.jpg

Electronics, HealthMonitor, Recreation

Oil spill & Ft. Funston

November 13th, 2007

So I took my dog to Ft. Funston last Sunday, which would have been much better had I not forgotten about the oil spill in the bay. It wasn’t too bad, but there were still drops of oil everywhere. I didn’t wear my flip-flops there, and as a result, got some oil on the soles of my feet that will not wash away with anything I’ve tried, including abrasives.


This explains why the beach was a bit more barren than I’m used to. Kepler’s on the right…

The funny thing was that the ranger put up a warning sign about the oil spil as we were leaving, a good 5 days after the spill. *sigh*

Personal, Recreation

Folsome Fair 2007

October 1st, 2007

I went with some friends to the folsome fair a few blocks from my house and walked around a bit.  For those not in the know, it’s a huge BDSM fair with lots of “interesting” people walking around, and some even more interesting booths, such as this one where you pay to be flogged (it goes towards a charity)…


Though I found most of the time was spent waiting for people in the group I was with (of which I only knew one) to move  — or else trying to navigate the crazy crowds.  There were quite a few exhibitionists out and about, mostly male, but there were a few good looking female ones.  Kepler got to say “hi” to a pair of them that were kind enough to pose for a photo


It was interesting, but the density of the crowds make it a lot less fun…

Personal, Recreation

Backpacking in Emigrant Wilderness

September 5th, 2007

Kepler avoiding the sunI had a great 3 day weekend in the Emigrant Wilderness camping with Kepler, Andy, and his two high school buddies. Let me just say that Andy is not human — he sprints with a pack that weighs more than he does uphill.

My favorite part was chilling at Deer Lake, eating yummy fish, and enjoying a massive fire. It was nice not thinking about work for a little while.

Kepler did manage to cut his right front leg at some point (I imagine it was due to him running down a cliff-face after a ball), but he had a good time. I even cut my old sleeping bag in half for him to sleep in — which was better than him trying to crawl into mine like the last time we went camping in the Desolation Wilderness outside Tahoe.

You can find more photos here.