AVR Adventures

A while ago, I decided that microcontrollers were interesting. I understate. They're cool. Very, very cool. For a few dollars, you can have yourself a tiny computer, capable of driving surprisingly advanced projects. Windowsill menorah? Check. Wandering pumpkin? Check. LED display? Check.

I decided that I should learn about them, especially after working with the Motorola 68HC12 in Digital Systems II. So, a while back, I bought myself a USBTiny programmer and a pile of AVR's. Weeks back, I soldered the board together and wired myself a target board. I got as far as talking to the chip before classes overwhelmed me again:

[ben@earthbound test$] sudo avrdude -c usbtiny -p t85

avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions

Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.01s

avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e930b

avrdude: safemode: Fuses OK

avrdude done.  Thank you

Facebook Notifications

Yesterday, I set up an account with Facebook. I'm not especially fond of the service, but my girlfriend's abroad, with metered internet, and wants to send me pictures. Facebook lets her upload once, and share many times. I'm also under pressure from other organizations to have a profile there. So I caved and set it up.

One of my fears of the service is spending too much time there, or going often to check that I haven't missed any important messages. I know that there are clients for Macintosh that will pull Facebook notifications to the desktop, but couldn't find a parallel for Linux. There are a few clients, but they're either processing-heavy or just broken.


Last year, before I left for college, my parents bought me a Lenovo SL510. I love the computer - it's passably rugged, ugly as sin, its bezel makes a great drawing surface, and it runs Linux like a champ. (I used to dual-boot, but that's neither here nor there.)

In the back right corner, the laptop has a plug for the power adapter. Over the summer, the power plug broke. The adapter connects to the board with some wire; that remained intact. But the plug broke loose from the computer's chassis and started wandering around inside. Most of the time, it'd move a few millimeters, and I'd drag it back to the proper slot, then plug in the power. Last week, it did something different.

XFCE Workspace Background, redux

As I was writing yesterday, I realized that my code was sloppy, particular to my needs, and nearly unusable. I refactored the script to be more intuitive. When called, the script switches to the desktop specified by the first argument (it's zero-indexed), drops in a new background image list, and updates the background. The background changes a few hundred ms after switching, but it's good enough for me.

Here are directions for using it:

XFCE Workspace Desktop Rotation

Linux offers a wonderful feature called workspaces: I can have an arbitrary number of desktops, and arrange windows however I want. One could have a music player running fullscreen, another can run GIMP, and a third could have a tutorial. Keyboard shortcuts let me jump between workspaces. In effect, multiple workspaces give me four screens for the price of one.


Serenity. Recognize it? Good.
I sketched this in the week I had off from school. Looks pretty cool. It's going on my door.


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vlouh denkhzf zgna. Zw qf cfe sfx whuzt nf em soeifzdz jwlh
ziru nzd tbv qwvgws sfx unyw. Ahpzil, W ooocg rhgl lcbh bb
gsy C crdr mgu, ueg Q uche sfx nvumry kkqf cmt.


What would you do if you saw this message in your inbox?


I'm still looking for a decent logo. Eventually, I hope to use a stylized blue brick. That name has a story behind it, and it evokes tinkering, so I'm keeping it. (This site was Rock Lizard for a spell, cause that's what Evan and I wrote.) One idea I had before invoking the new name way a yin-yang type thing. (As the favicon illustrates, I like little mathematical graphics.)

Radar Display

XFCE (the desktop environment I use) has many neat plugins. Among them, I use a mail plugin that checks all my accounts, a mixer, and a weather plugin to grab a forecast. I'm fond of having a radar display to see what's coming my way, but XFCE doesn't have a radar gadget. So I made one.