Sunday, April 27, 2008

Trenton Computer Festival and my HA Presentation

So this last Saturday was a pretty good day for the TCF. It was cloudy, around mid-60's, threatened rain and windy. But we had no rain and it really was a comfortable. The 'Junk Yard' (the place where they sell used equipment) was small and many of the vendors lamented that it wasn't as nice as it has been in the past. Some blamed the management but I blame the PC (but not as the sole culprit). Before the PC became the standard, used equipment was varied and very interesting but as the PC became the standard less of everything else became less available. Now we throw out more PC than we can sell. I'm not saying that the PC is a bad thing just that the 'Junk Yard' can't be geared towards used PCs. Maybe they can convince more HAMs to come out and sell their used equipment. The problem is there aren't more people who build their own equipment (I don't mean PCs). That's become the embedded market and it seems to be limited to the professionals. Of course it's not completely gone but it's difficult to get a large group. We still have Circuit Cellar (my personal favorite), Nuts And Volts, Silicon Chip (Australia), Elektor, and Everyday Practical Electronics (thanks Jinx for the last three). So there is hope that there is a future for the DIY folks out there. Or a better choice is to interest the robotics enthusiasts to come out and play. They are today's hobbyist and that's who I remember the 'Junk Yard' being geared towards.

So what did I get in the way of good 'junk'? Well I picked up a Tektronics 2336 100MHz oscilloscope (no probes or manuals). It passed a quick set of tests (powered up, trace is visible, crisp and clean), a quic! k test w ith a battery operate square generator produced expected results. I picked it up $120, a bit more than I wanted to pay but I think I may have been a bit unrealistic. I looked at eBay and found the same model for $150 as parts and greater than $400 for an operating scope, hmm, not a bad deal really. I also picked up two more Linksys WMLS11B for $20! That was an excellent deal. Later I did my presentation (more on that in a minute) and I think I sold a few more. :-)

Well I did my big HA presentation for the TCF. I was presented with a nice plaque for my presentation, I got into the entire show free and we got a good parking spot. The room where I did my presentation was small and we had a packed room. Several people arrived late and left (there was no more room and no more seats. The room was a bit stuffy and a few people fell asleep (it was a two hour presentation). I messed up a little bit as I didn't do a good job of showing Misterhouse and that caused me to get out of step. I ended up finished 15 minutes early (I also started a few minutes late). If I do this again next year I'll break the presentation into two parts. The intro in the first hour and the advanced in the second hour. That would work better for everyone involved.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

That sync'n feeling ...

Finally, I have the ability to sync (at least partially) between my Pantech C810 Duo+ with my Linux server and Thunderbird. I'm using Funambol on my home automation server. So far I have the contacts syncing properly and I need to work on the calendar and tasks. I'm getting partial syncing with Calendar but nothing with tasks yet. I'm not going to sync my email as I might as well use my IP connection to directly send my email (I have an 'unlimited' data plan, I think. Hmm, I'd better check). Anyway now I'll be able properly sync my information and keep it with me. What I've done is to install Funambol on my phone, install the Funambol server, change it's listening port (changed in serve.xml) and as a plugin for Thunderbird. Actually I had to uninstall the plugin once I found that the synchronize -> configure -> account settings were blank and couldn't be save (there's also a Javascript error that it can't create some @mozilla component but you had to start the error console to see it). I then linked to (I'm still running Fedora 6), added the Thunderbird path to /etc/ and issued the command ldconfig. What's happening is that Thunderbird can't find and You can find this out by typing ldd while the plugin is install in your ~/.thunderbird/<profile>/extensions ... / directory (sorry, had to break the line in two, also change profile the whatever directory you have as your profile directory).