Results tagged “Personal”

As already hinted last time my next electronics project will be a monochrome 8x8x8 LED Cube.

I chose this from a long list of possible interesting projects because its construction involves many of the areas in which I intended to work on something at some time.

  • Raspberry Pi programming
  • enhancing my basic electronics and soldering skills
  • beef up my electronics prototyping set
  • interfacing an uC/SBC with external hardware/components
  • creating an electronic circuit without step-by-step instructions
  • understanding and using an IC
  • designing and creating a PCB, maybe even etching it myself

LED cubes in particular striked my attention a few years ago but at that time Ialways repelled by the sheer complexity and number of components in most of the LED cube building instructions. But when I saw some another building plan for a LED cube I realized that I could use my Raspberry Pi to create a much simpler control circuit. And so the decision was set.

My plan for the next steps is to build a prototype (3x3x3) to test my whole concept, get comfortable with all the stuff and then scale it to 8x8x8. At first I'll set up everything on breadboard and maybe, if I'm sure that everything is finished on the hardware-side, make a permanent and smaller control PCB version. Probably as a Raspberry Pi shield.

The progress of this project will of course be documented on this blog.

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As I've already hinted on in the past weeks I've tackled and completed one of my planned mini-projects.

I assembled the Ice Tube Clock from Adafruit Industries:

From Building Ice Tube Clock
This kit has been on my list for some time now, I stumbled over it on the internet two or three years ago and since that time I regularly checked if it was still available. After I finished my university degree the time was due and I ordered it the instant when there was one available at one of the distributors. When it arrived a few weeks later I prepared my soldering stuff and equipment and built it during two nights. As my last soldering has been already quite some while I decided to practice a bit with the [Pi Cobbler][5] which also arrived with the same order.
From Building Ice Tube Clock
When I was comfortable with soldering again it was time to unpack the parts of the clock and check if everything was complete according to the parts list.
From Building Ice Tube Clock
The soldering and building of the clock was pretty straightforward and easy. I carefully read the [build instructions][6] and had no trouble with the bending, soldering and checking the intermediate results. So here are just a few impressions from the build process. I also tried the suggestion to cut the wires of the VFD tube in different lengths, every wire a bit shorter than the preceeding one, before trying to thread them into the connector PCB. I think that this really helped a lot and made it much easier to finish.
From Building Ice Tube Clock

The last final steps could be completed similar to the previous ones. I only had some slight difficulties with the casing because I initially did not recognize the seperate page for the enclosure-assembling on the webpage but puzzled around a bit and eventually built it correctly without instructions. Manuals are for wimps ;)

From Building Ice Tube Clock

Setting the time and date finished off this neat project. Nice :)

A few mini-statistics:

  • 6h effort in two nights
  • 43 parts assembled
  • 1.5m solder needed
  • 1 solder-accident (although easy to fix)

Some possible improvements are still possible. Although I ordered the kit from a distributor in Italy it still contained only an american 9VDC power adapter. In my opinion shippings within Europe could already contain a proper european power adapter to spare the need for a US/EUR converter. Furthermore the assembly instructions on the webpage do not reflect the process 100% accurately but seems a slight bit outdated. For example there has been a change on the layout of the PCB as the capacitors C5 and C6 have a slightly different placement on the board than on the images in the solder instructions. Also the screws and nuts are not made of metal but of black nylon.

In the end I enjoyed this mini-project very much. It's comparable to the experience I had some time ago during finishing my Master thesis, where I had to code some stuff and had the feeling that I missed real deep code-writing at work. I also missed tinkering with stuff and crafting small things. Since finishing the clock I did also some mods for my mother. Enhancing an electronic candle which ran on a single CR 2032 for ~5 days to use two AA's instead, running now the second week on the first cheap pair of batteries and still pretty bright.

Currently I'm already planning my next electronics project. This time I will not take a kit which can be assembled by following instructions. Instead it will be something where I will have to deal with electronics, ICs and integration with my Raspberry Pi. And it will be not something which is build after instructions but will be designed by myself.

But more on that in a later post...

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I've just finished one of my postponed small projects and when I began preparing the posting of the results here I hit the issue that I'm not sure how to share photos into this blog.

In the past my solution was to upload all my photos I wanted to share to Flickr and cross-link the images in this blog. But the times have changed and I'm nowadays much more integrated with Google's services which also includes a photo hosting service. Furthermore also Flickr has changed its policies on photo reuse so that reusing images from that platform is not as easy anymore as it had been in the past. But that's also not really much easier with Google Photos as it involves some non-intuitive access to the images for sharing. But it would greatly ease up the uploading and processing stage for images and also allow much easier download of the collections in case I wanted to transfer it again to another platform.

Another point to consider is that up until now I have (more or less) successfully been able to seperate this "anonymous" blog from my real names and more personal social media interactions. Looking up my real name wouldn't reveal contents from this blog and vice versa. Using images from Google's platform would require to include a link back to my Google+ profile, making it easier for others (advertisers, stalkers, search engines?) to connect this blog to my real world presence. I'm not really sure if I'm ready to take this dent in the freedom of this blog or add the influence of the information contained in this blog to my professional life. But that's another issue I've been tinkering for some time already...

Well, for now I think there is no clear conclusion for me yet. I'll think a bit more on that and also the privacy-issue mentioned above. Maybe I'll post an update for the project in the meantime using Flickr even if I'm undecided but no guarantees on that.

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YES.

Last Thursday I took the final step in my current education and science activities and finished the Masters' degree exam. This was the goal I've been working towards for the previous two years. Especially the last six months have been pretty tight on time as I have been writing my diploma thesis and preparing for the additional two complementary subject exams which are part of the degree exam.

Well, as the topic already gave away, I have succeeded and passed the exam. With that job done the only remaining duty for me at the University is to attend the Graduation Ceremony in mid-October.

As this now frees up my spare time from almost everything I've been using it in the last years, I can finally begin to flesh out the many small plans I've collected over the years for "the time after University". These plans are manifold and cover topics spanning from finally watching movie recordings over a reboot of sports activities to even tackling some electronics projects. Also more regular activity in this blog is on the agenda.

I'm still unsure on the order of the stuff I'm starting to burn the reclaimed leisure time. But I think I'm not in a hurry currently and may even continue to sleep late :-)

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*knock*knock* Someone here?

Yes I know, this blog's heartbeat is currently beating very quiet and slow. But I can assure you it's still beating. It is just one of the many victims of my extremely tight schedules both at work and in my personal life. But things will change soon. I'm in the last stretch of my professional education at the university and I'm pretty busy writing my Masters Thesis.

If everything works out as planned the schedule of my private life will receive relief at the end of September. Then I think I'll relax for some time and after that I try to recover many of my suspended projects and activities from their zombie states. There's quite a list of stuff which I have planned to do after I'm finished with university, a pile of books to read and many people to have a beer with after a long time.

And of course one of the bullets on my list is to resume regular blogging :)

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I finally received my Raspberry Pi which I've ordered in the first quarter of this year. It's an interesting piece of hardware and even smaller than I expected.

Sadly I'm still unable to spend more time with this. I just took some nights and compiled OpenELEC and put it on a newly purchased class-6 SD card to boot. I chose a self-compiled OpenELEC because initially I only had a 1GB card available and it seems that there is no precompiled image available which fits on cards smaller than 2GB. (In the meanwhile I've purchased some additional cards with reasonable sizes.)

It took some attempts for me to be able to control the XBMC media center on my flatscreen TV but on the second day I've been successful to play some HD videos from the little gadget. The issues I had to deal with were

  • a dependency error in the OpenELEC sources (should be fixed by now)
  • unexpected long build duration on my machine
  • correctly partitioning the SD card manually, configuring the boot-parameters file
  • me not recognizing that the TV should be set to HDMI before turning on the Pi

But these were already all of the issues and since development for the Raspberry Pi is extremely fast I expect things to become faster and easier day by day. And this is currently just for my goal of getting a media center up and running, I wonder what will be possible when developers are going to put these GPIO pins into top gear...

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Since my accident two years ago physical training has not really been one of my priorities. While I initially planned to catch up again at latest in autumn 2010 that didn't quite work out. This may or may not have been influenced by my continued University studies but at least it's a better excuse than plain laziness. There have been a few tries that year and 2011 again but in the end I didn't manage to come up with a regular schedule for any activity.

Nevertheless. A few weeks ago the announcement for the Business-Marathon was sent out in the company's email. I was asked by some people of my team and without much consideration I've been in a group of 8 who were to run 5.25km each. The marathon was still many weeks ahead and so a training plan was set up for two 5km-distances each week. As it's with every plan it also broke down (weather, work and other reasons) and in the end I had about five training rounds before the marathon took place.

During these rounds I experienced a buildup of my endurance which I haven't experienced this visibly ever before. The first time on the 5km I only ran for a few hundred meters before I had to slow down to walking for a break. And I had some serious muscle aces for the following two days. But already the on next run I could extend that distance quite a bit and had no muscle issues afterwards anymore. This tendency kept up all the time and during the marathon itself my first (of two) walking-breaks was at about 3.5km. It took me 36:10min for the 5.25km distance during the marathon btw, not a great time for a regular runner but a pretty good time for my 6th run ever I guess.

In the end I'm pretty happy with the results. During the training rounds I shortly thought of a personal goal to finish one full round without having to take a walking-break but I skipped that when it became clear that I could not take more training-rounds.

Currently I'm still in the mood to continue with this or a similar physical workout but what I need for that is really somebody else who joins me and leverages my motivation to the point where I actually get moving. I'm a group person and while it's possible to motivate me to almost any activity with others involved it's a rare occourence that you see me doing something on my own and alone...

Seems that I have to find some folks who are willing to join me and prevent me from falling back into laziness mode again.

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The past week has been a very interesting and productive one for me.

In terms of education this week is the last week where I've been busy with a project assignment at the university where we had to check a webshop for security. To make it short, the webshops walls fell after roughly 2 hours of work. This was my first real attack on a webserver and I never expected it to be so easy. After this I'm more surprised not of the simplicity of the breakin but that real hacks on other webpages do not happen more often than it's visible in the media. Since these two hours would not be worth a lot of project work we continued with our efforts and tried to find other holes in the server. The second hole took a bit more time and research but nevertheless it was worth much more doumentation. Some more attacks were also unsuccessful or not applicable because we had to target a virtual machine which was not completely reserved for us. Nevertheless, this project work was a very interesting one and we even had fun during the process.

The second interesting topic is that this week I was finally successful in compiling my own working kernel from scratch for my LG Optimus 2x smartphone. In the end it boiled down to having the wrong compilation options for my environment which was resolved when I received some help from an experienced kernel modder in the forum. I also created a small guide on how to set up a compilation environment for compiling stock kernels for the LG2X. Maybe it can help others in also taking up some development on this phone. What I already recognized in the kernel is, that it is compiled with a lot of unneeded features and fully turned on debugging features. Nothing which is really needed in a production environment and therefore leaves quite some room for tuning.

The last thing I've been busy with was the launch of the Raspberry Pi. This is a nice little computer on a PCB which provides HDMI output at an incredibly low price. This new device was so hyped and limited (only 10k pieces) that the webservers of both worldwide electronic component distributors went down within moments after the official announcement that they will be responsible for selling the thing. I also participated in this "DDoD" but was (as most others) unsuccessful in the morning. Later in the evening one of the shops was reachable again (more or less) and I could place a preorder. The other shop only allowed a "registration of interest". Just received a confirmation of this an hour ago :) I hope that I don't have to wait too long for this to be available for me. As if I had time to play with it...

Ah yes, one more thing. I got promoted at work, finally. I hope it also materializes well on the paycheck and not only in officially increased responsibility.

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In the past weeks I've become less and less active in the social networks I'm in. I'm not exactly sure why I'm currently leaning just to passive consumation of the information stream from those channels.

Maybe there is just to much on my mind. Maybe it's the other way around and I'm just trying to concentrate on some things while fighting procrastination with more our less success.

What has become more clear to me is that if I have stuff to do, it's much more probable to get done if I'm not alone but there is someone else around who also had work to do. One motivates the other. And while this approach is quite effective, at last for me, it is impossible that there is always someone available for providing mutual motivation when I need it until my studies are finished. So I still have to somehow manage to get my stuff done on my own.

Nevertheless, I'd like to thank those people who spent many hours on the past few weekends togheter with me working on our stuff and helping me with getting my stuff forward. THANK YOU!

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Oh wow, when did it turn 2012? Well, I hope you had a nice Christmas and a good ride into the new year.

Last year hasn't been very productive for this blog, no excuses. I won't make any promises for the upcoming year but my current intention is to make more regular postings, probably some more technical ones. Nevertheless my priority #1 is to finish the university, #2 is my team at work. Since both of these are currently quite time-intense there isn't much time left for other stuff. But that'll have an end at some point and I hope it'll be one of the better variants :)

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For one month now I'm in charge of a team as a ScrumMaster. To be fair, it's not really a month because in the first week I've just been passively in the new team while we've been still working on our previous projects. My personal conclusion so far for the past 1 1/2 sprints? I think I'm doing a good job as a ScrumMaster. In the first retrospective which in fact was the first real retrospective for this team in a long time. The critic points could obviously be summarized to a lack of Scrum consequence in this team. At the beginning of "my" sprint I immediately began introducing a lot of the things I've been learning, experiencing and using in the last few years in fully integrated Scrum teams.

I did leave out some (admittedly important) aspects at first intentionally because I think I should guide the team back to Scrum step-by-step avoiding a shocking big-bang approach for the team-members. So for example we skipped the estimation meeting because there were no defined userstories yet and we concentrated on the work which had to be done anyway. For the next sprint I already organized a correct estimation and planning. And I think my approach worked out quite well because in our last retrospective almost all of the previous critique points have been resolved. Even better most of them came back as positive responses.

So, what's coming up in the future? Well, the project will be finished in a few weeks. I still have a sort of special position because I'm no exclusive ScrumMaster but also actively developing on the project. Of course it's not easy to keep the balance between ScrumMaster responsibilities and development tasks but for now it's in a green state. I still don't know in which direction I want to continue because I like doing active development but it's also very interesting having Scrum responsibility for a team. I'm also participating in the offered ScrumMaster trainings (upcoming week there'll be a ScrumMaster certification) and it's fun and interesting but I still don't know whats best for me and also my career development. From the feedback I got from my superiors I'm pretty sure they would appreciate it if I keep the ScrumMaster direction. Have to figure that one out, the sooner the better...

On to the personal stuff. This week the 3rd of four semesters of my masters degree started. Some surprises already awaited us, for example some deadlines which were so far completely untold to us. But not a big problem so far. Nevertheless I have still to finish some courses from the last semester and these examinations are already quite near. Some of my former bachelor degree colleagues also started to study on a masters degree. Their and my study situation are a bit different and furthermore I'm a year ahead with the studies but currently we all have the same feeling that our bachelors degree was something special and it seems we're all just comparing our current classes withAn the one from the bachelors degree. Currently the winner is clear (and for me the picture won't change much anymore I guess) but things could still change for my former colleagues when they have had more time in their semesters. Well... good ol' times... And one final thing, yesterday my old car which was still standing around and waiting for someone interested in buying it, found a buyer and was picked up yesterday. No more new memories with this old buddy anymore... farewell.

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This is the 6th posting in this year now. My output so far is quite below of what I expected from myself. While I blame stress and lack of time for that until the beginning of July, there should have been some time for an update since then. So the only thing preventing postings has been my own lazyness... Ah well...

Ok, what's changed or noteworthy in the last months? Maybe the most important thing for me personally is that I've purchased a new (used) car. I've been passively looking for potential new cars for quite some time now although I've been very pleased and happy with my car so far. But this time the costs for the required servicing and repairs approached almost 2k Euros without a guarantee that the costs will be lower for the next service intervals. So I decided to take the lemon, say goodbye to my old loyal and reliable companion and pick up something with lower regular costs. Welcome my new car, a blue Fiat Grande Punto 1.3 JTD Emotion with 90 HP. It's in excellent shape and I hope it'll be an as good escort as my previous Fiat which carried me over 180k km in the the almost exactly past 6 years.

The next noteworthy news is that this year I'm a contestant in the Zw�lfkampf which is organized by some friends. It is a series of twelve games where an overall winner is calculated over tracks of 4, 8 or all 12 games. The main event on Sep. 24/25th is preceded by some "sideevent" games in which I made a not too bad impression but they don't count for the finale ;)

Communication is the next topic. Back in May I purchased a new smartphone, the LG Optimus Speed (or P990 or LGOS/LG2X). While It worked for some weeks without a hitch at one day it began to show a very special defect where I could not place or receive calls when I'm registered in the 3G network of my provider. I borrowed some other SIM cards from different providers but the problem only exists with the network of mine. Since I'm denied service for it at my provider (it doesn't have this phone in its portfolio) I have to handle everything myself. Currently (yes, it's August now!) it's on its 4th trip to the LG service from which I hope it will eventually return completely replaced. The previous three times the device was only "serviced" and at one occassion the mainboard (without baseband module) and the camera module (wtf?) were replaced. Of course without effect. At the moment my seller and I are just hoping that LG just relents to sending me a new phone instead of useless servicing of the defect one.

On to the university stuff. Not much to report here, since the last exam in July and last hand-in also in July I pretty much left everything in a standby mode. But I'm warming up already as the next key-dates are approaching and there is still a bit of work to do, exams to prepare for and documents to hand in.

Some holiday-related stuff now. I took two weeks summer holiday at the end of July. Originally I planned to use that time to firstly do the car stuff and to finish building some concrete walls for a terrace behind the house. The car business took sadly longer than expected as my first seller let me down and sold the car to somebody other. I could get my hands on another one as you already read above and retrospectively this was a lucky coincidence as my first candidate car was not in an as good shape and more expensive. The wall works also could not be finished in these two weeks because the bricks we ordered took longer to deliver than planned and also it rained the whole two weeks but for two days.

And finally the work news. Project work in the company is running as usual with maybe some changes for me personally in the near future. But as it's not complete determined, this is all I'd like to say so far. After my holiday I returned in a modified team with three new people and it's still changing as soon one of our colleagues will change to another team and tomorrow we'll receive assistance with another new team member. Yeah, bit of change ;)

Well, that's it for now. I hope that I can raise my posting interval in the future again but I wouldn't bet on that as it didn't work in the past six months....

P.S.: Ah yes, I'm on Google+ too meanwhile. This time with my real name, those who know me are of course invited at any time to show me their presence ;)

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Yes, it's been a long time again. Seems that the period for my postings is not anymore in the day- but in the months-range. Sorry for that, but you have to believe me when I say that I thought of it several times and just had no time or computer near to put my thoughts down.

University is stressfull as ever (only a slight easing in the recent days, but don't let my colleagues know!) and my work duties get harder and harder the closer we come to a certain release date of our project.

So, anything I can find time for currently is to quickly give you a list of some videos I can recommend to relax and recharge your batteries.

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And another month went by without much news from me. There haven't been many changes anyway. University is stressful as always, the amount of work at my employer keeps at a high level and there is only little spare time for relaxing.

Furthermore over the last week, my laptop computer has been suffering a slow death wich I tried to prevent by repairing the failing operating system several times. Eventually I had to give up when the point came where the installation of some Windows updates rendered several subsystems (networking, graphics, ...) unusable.

I took the bitter pill and bought a new hardisk and installed a new OS from scratch. Currently I'm in the process of transferring all of my data from the old Hdd to the new Win7 installation. This will still take a few more days until I'm again at the point where I can effectively perform real work again but I'm slowly approaching that point.

And what's slowing this down too is the fact, that I'm sick since Friday and in bed since Saturday. Happy Easter, ha ha :/

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Last Saturday was the last lecture of this term. There is still some work to do and some exams lie ahead but the stress has lowered a bit nevertheless. So far the exams and projects went quite ok and I hope the upcoming ones stay within the trend.

I have to admit, that I underestimated (again) the required effort for studying in parallel to my day-to-day work. It wouldn't have been such of a problem if my project environment would have stayed the same since I started studying. But it changed and we got very challenging projects which needed more attention and time than I expected. Today another project started which promises the same requirements, which would be sort of good because it plays in favour of our team. Nevertheless now I hope that I'm a bit better prepared for what lies ahead and I'm confident that I can pull through.

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Yes, the last posting is more than a month in the past. Just giving a sign of presence here, nothing more. I'm very busy and exhausted because at work the pile of stuff to do hasn't gotten smaller and on the university side there is the same situation. I just occassionally find (or rather take) time to have a fast visit to the cinema and relax a bit. The end of the term is coming near and the exams happen and projects and works have to be finished, not much time to think of an appropiate topic which I can quickly type down and post here.

Suggestions for quick writedowns are welcome but I make no promises for their realization ;) Don't know, when I'll actually have some more spare time again.

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Merry Christmas to everyone! I wish you all relaxing days and a nice time together with the people you love.

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Whew, what a month. The absence of new postings was mainly caused by the fact, that I've been extremely busy on several fronts at once. Most importantly I've been busy writing my second Bachelors Thesis which had to be handed in until last night.

Granted, I started quite late working on the thesis, but the fact that there has been a several weeks long internet-outage at my place excuses a bit, that after I finally started I couldn't progress as planned. Furthermore at work there have been several big changes for me.

I changed the team, shifted my focus to a different project and, as I'm one of the most experienced persons in that area, have been working a lot to meet the tight schedules and keep the team together and focussed on meeting all deadlines. Furthermore, for these changes I also had to move my workplace which took also some time to finish up completely. I was able to take some days off by short notice but progress was not as wished in this time.

Well, the main part of the stress is now over and I hope that I can cope well with the remaining stuff. Which is preparing for the bachelor exam on October 1st. For that, some presentations need to be created and practiced and also the preparation and learning for three areas of expertise has to happen until then so that I'm able to pass.

But at least I can breathe a bit better now. For now at least...

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Just a lightning-fast update that I got a call last week already that there has been a seat reserved in the Masters course for me :)

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