Saturday, August 18, 2007

Free time, kind of ...

Finally, I finished a rather nasty semester and an overlapping busy time at work. Most of this was my own doing, I could have handled the issues better. At the beginning of the semester I wasn't proactive (sounds like a marketing term) with the handling of my tuition hence hence its handling was botched (my tuition was paid late). Then my books arrived late and further problems were experienced getting my lab supplies even later. The end result was that I started from 3 to 5 weeks late. Since I'm taking online courses at Pace University time management is very important. With the help of my professors (they were very lenient on due dates) I was able to eventually catch up. I was lucky this semester because one course was on material I know well (networking). The other was very interesting but difficult course (Telecommunications II). By the final week I managed to catch up but I needed to take a couple weeks vacation to do it. I received an A in both courses and put a lot of work into getting those grades. Moral to the story is that I need to manage the tuition and assignment schedule better. Don't leave things to the last minute!

Enough about why I've been too busy to do anything with HA. I haven't been totally without some HA research. On the hardware side I ordered a MSP430 USB Stick Development Tool and ez430 MSP430F2012 Target Board (includes 3 boards). The F2012 chip doesn't have a UART but does support SPI and I2C along with ADC and is low power. It has 2K of flash and 128 bytes of RAM. This should be an interesting chip to play with. I've played with the PIC's and the 8051 family. I'm very comfortable with the 8051 family, it's an easy chip to use (C or assembler). The 12 or 14 bit PIC is a difficult chip when using assembler. I'm more comfortable with it when using C or BASIC. The nice thing about PICs is that the selection is flexible and when they were first introduced the tools and information were easy to get. The first MCU I was introduced to was the 6801, though the first CPU was the 6502. I really liked the Motorola chips (the 6809 is still my favorite chip) but eventually so did the Automotive industry and just couldn't get them in small quantities anymore. I've not used a DSP before so this should be interesting. Of course it has more capabilities than your average MCU so I have a bit of learning to do. Of course I have the GCC MSP430 tools for Linux. There are rpms to install the compiler on Fedora but I'll need to compile the compiler suite for Ubuntu. Oh, in case your wondering I have plenty of other boards (like the ZX40a or the s180 used on the HCS II) that I'm not mentioning because I'm that far behind. :-)

On the software side I've purchased 2 books on Perl (Intermediate Perl and the out of print - Learning Perl Objects, References, and Modules ). I'm hoping that this will help with Mr. House and Insteon. I'm very tired of not having my HA up and running (my X10 is not operational at this point, see Everyone Loves Mystery for details). I need to get a module built for to support the Insteon PLC and the Insteon modules. Right now I have 2 dead RS232 PLCs and 2 USB PLCs. I hope that the Insteon folks will take them back otherwise I'll only be able to use the USB PLC. That will require a new module to support the USB HID interface. I'm not sure I'm up to that much of a challenge at this point (a USB OO module and an Insteon OO modules).

PS: I again have a working X10 setup! It turns out the the power strip with my laser printer on it is the cause. In the past I have removed the power from the printer but this time I removed the entire strip. POW! The X10 is now operational. I'll have to check the power usage of the laser printer and see if I can get a filter that will work with it.

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At 8/19/2007 12:22 PM, Blogger Randal L. Schwartz said...

"Intermediate Perl" is the replacement for the out-of-print "Learning Perl Objects References and Modules". We had decided to optimize the title, and also put it in a series so that "Mastering Perl" (just released) would be the final book of the trilogy.

At 8/19/2007 1:48 PM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

Wow that was fast! Thanks for the update, correction and for witting the books but could you have at least waited until I at least read the second one before letting me know about book three. ;-)

I'll have to get "Mastering Perl" next month. My brain is already on overload from studies, IPV6 and all the Perl material I've been reading.

Hmm, I'll have to move some of those Java books out of the library to make room. Then again who needs books on Java 1.0, 1.1 or 1.2. :-)

At 8/21/2007 4:07 AM, Anonymous DarioG said...

Hello Neil :)

At 8/21/2007 10:39 AM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

Dario put more information as to what the link is! Shame on you. For those that are wondering Dario has graciously put his home automation on the internet for all to play with (it's locked down). :-) I'm sure his wife will still love him after his home becomes haunted with the spirits of the Internet (may God rest his soul). :-)

At 8/21/2007 11:29 AM, Anonymous DarioG said...

Sorry Neil , I did not write more details, just wanted to send a greeting to you and let you recognize me :)

I can go into details later.

PS no I'm not married yet, that maybe the reason why I have a home automation system (and/or vice-versa :)

At 8/21/2007 1:50 PM, Blogger Neil Cherry said...

Sorry about that, I jumped to conclusions. I was just thinking of how my wife used to react to my test lamp in my computer room. At first she thought it was haunted (actually that my software was broke). I told here what I was doing and she got nervous that anyone on the Internet would be switching the thing on/off any time of the day. I had to explain that you could only access it via a secure connection, which made her much happier.

BTW, HA may help. My wife has lived through some of my projects (limited to the computer room) and won't tolerate anything less than 5 9's (yes, really). She was happy with the X10 until it went down for several months. She even had ideas as what to automate! She'd ask: "could you put together this ... ?". I hope to get the HA stable again so she'll start asking again. :-)

I find that women in general bring a different eye towards the situation and help to balance things. Just wish they could appreciate the work that goes into it also.

At 8/25/2007 9:46 AM, Anonymous DarioG said...

Yeah, Neil, I agree on that: women do have a different point of view on that, which may add new and nice features... if only they do get propositive!
My experience tells not much that they "can't see the work behind", rather that they simply don't care and have else on their minds...

I always wonder if Marie Curie was so different from other wives... ;-)


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