mobileled md-550 led board fun

13 09 2013

i recently acquired this device at our local goodwill outlet world for a whopping $3.45. the board itself is made up of bright green leds, and it’s connected to a keypad by a lengthy db-9 to 6-pin mini-din cable. the keypad has a 99-message memory, but only 60 of the slots can actually be used. the rest are filled with annoying messages that are extremely specific to vehicular usage. it is programmable via rs-232, though, provided that one can actually find something with a serial port. it also supports standalone data entry, but that is a much more tedious process. the programmer is a functional but somewhat poorly designed windows application, and it supports configuring every aspect of the board’s settings, including brightness and power on state. it doesn’t have any interest in running under wine (all characters are blank boxes, no serial port recognised), but it’s content with my windows xp virtual machine, which is perfectly sufficient for my needs, especially since i already had it around for cdma workshop and qpst. once i actually found a usb serial adapter (this one is actually a laptop dock of sorts, it has ieee1284, rs-232, ps/2, a 10/100 nic, and a 2-port usb hub all in the same case), the programmer recognised it without issue and i was able to start playing with it. as of yet all i’ve done is program in some fun messages, but i’d like to try and reverse-engineer whatever protocol it uses for programming and write a native linux implementation. i’ll update this post later with pictures and perhaps a pdf of the manual that came with it (i can’t find documentation anywhere online). for now, here’s a link to the programmer for anyone else who has one of these but doesn’t have the software.

So Hey Guys You Should Look At KDE4 Again

21 03 2012

Yeah, I know, slap me. I wrote a post a couple months ago extolling the virtues of GNOME3 and claiming that KDE4 is a nearly worthless crashy pile of shit.

I’m writing this post on my laptop, in KDE4.

It’s really gotten a lot better… Nearly nothing crashes, it’s fast, it’s pretty, and it’s usable. I do still like GNOME3, but KDE4 has moved back in to claim the position of “ultraviolet’s desktop environment of choice”.

Yup, that’s about all.

IOS236 Installer Pro-Piracy Edition

13 12 2011

So, Dr. Clipper and/or davebaol is/are being (a) total asshole(s) to any and all pirates who use their installer. (Man, that was a lot of ambiguity avoidance.)

The installer makes it seem that it can also install something to assist in running pirated games, but really uninstalls itself if informed that you would like it to do so. It also prevents you from running it again, though this can be circumvented.

I’m not really a fan of (read: I FUCKING HATE) this behaviour, so I modified the code to remove it. You can find my modification (and its source code) here:

Enjoy it.

afraid-dyndns Rev2

8 12 2011

I stripped the broken debug functionality and renamed a couple variables to make more sense. Also removed a q in the wrong spot that was fucking up $Revision and syntax highlighting. I’m going to email Erick and ask if I can take over the project, as he doesn’t seem to be taking care of it himself.

Go nuts.

So Hey, GNOME 3 is Fucking Awesome

29 11 2011

I haven’t really blogged about it, but I spent several months looking for a new desktop environment. You see, while I greatly enjoyed KDE 3, and KDE 4 is pretty, there are a bunch of problems with KDE 4. First and foremost, it’s the crashiest pile of shit to disgrace the world of GNU/Linux in quite a while. Okay, so that’s an exaggeration. A very very SLIGHT exaggeration. Plasma crashed daily when I was using it, and sometimes apps would simply refuse to launch until I restarted X… not a very appealing concept. I also had problems with GTK apps segfaulting for no apparent reason… I’m still not sure why that happened. KDE 4 also tends to take a LOT of CPU time… all the way up to 25% per core on my desktop, a Core 2 Quad Q9550 at 3.65 GHz (overclocked). Those two factors alone were enough to persuade me to leave, but there were also other annoyances, such as the prevalence of applications which supposedly integrate with each other but do no such thing in reality. Essentially, KDE no longer could fulfill my needs, so I began searching for a new desktop environment. This search brought me through all sorts of territories, such as XFCE, Openbox, miscellaneous other standalone window managers, and GNOME. When I first tried GNOME 3, I was still a devoted KDE user, and it was quite rough. The shell was slow and crashy, nearly no applications had GTK3 support, and it was generally a mess. When I revisited it, however, it had improved greatly. GNOME 3.2 had just been released, and it really lived up to its claims. I absolutely love the user interface, especially with the Mac OS X Lion-like implementation of multiple desktops, the beautiful panel at the top, and the well-integrated applications grid. In many aspects, GNOME 3 and Mac OS X Lion are alike, as several of the same user interface concepts are implemented. Returning to the panel, it completely abandons the notification area and indicator applet specifications, preferring to implement perfectly-integrated GNOME 3-specific applets of sorts. NetworkManager, bluez, PulseAudio, and acpi all have icons, so it’s easy to check your battery’s charge, connect to a WiFi network, or adjust your volume from a very pretty interface. If you still need to run a notification area application, the bottom of the screen integrates this nicely, with a gradiated pop-up taskbar containing current notifications and notification area icons. The notifications themselves are beautifully implemented, with small black pop-ups appearing in the bottom-center of the primary screen and remaining until clicked. IM notifications provide a place to type a response, and notifications for which there is an associated action provide a button for that action. Those are just a couple features, however, so I thoroughly recommend you try it yourself!

Rape Apps?

20 11 2011

So, Caleb and I were talking… and the phrase “Rape… there’s an app for that” came up…

So there was Google.




afraid-dyndns Fork

17 11 2011

I forked afraid-dyndns… I removed the notification function and config file support, mostly because I don’t understand how to fix it. It now uses WhatIsMyIP to figure out your IP, and the cache directory and AccountHash are both set within the script itself. I also made it a tad more verbose, printing the IPs at several points. It is, in my opinion, rather a kludge… but it does work perfectly. You can get it here:

Don’t forget to replace <your_hash> with your AccountHash!

Original here, 90% of credit for this goes to him:

Shit They Didn’t tell You About DRI

11 11 2011

Extra-short post, stemming from my general annoyance at the difficulty with which I enabled DRI on my latest laptop. You see, there are MANY factors that all come into play, many of which are described in detail at the DRI wiki.. I, however, had to spend an annoyingly long time reading to get it working. Here’s a quick step-by-step for getting it working on a clean (with X) Arch install:

  1. Install drivers! Package names for X drivers are formatted as such: xf86-<class>-<driver>. For an Intel video driver, for example, it’d be xf86-video-intel. That should grab DRI packages for that driver as well. For Intel, that’d be intel-dri. In case you forgot or something, you’ll want to install it with pacman -Syu <package> as root.
  2. Break out the text editor! Run your editor of choice (nano, vi, gedit, mousepad, etc.) as root, then paste the following in:
    Section “DRI”
    Mode 0666
  3. Save that file as /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-dri.conf, then quit your editor.
  4. Run gpasswd -a <user> video, where <user> is your username, as root.
  5. Reboot!
  6. Start X!
  7. Play Minecraft or similar, revel in the rendering!
  8. Profit?

Hope you enjoyed it, and I hope it got you working… leave feedback in the comments!

New Laptop

11 11 2011

The title of this post is actually rather misleading, as one might assume that it refers to the first new laptop I have acquired since my last post to this blog. That, however, is not the case. I have actually acquired several laptops, of varying age and performance, since my last post, but I shall save the complete list for a future post. This post shall be dedicated to my latest acquisition, a Dell Latitude D610.  Many of my readers may immediately recognise this as a model that is seemingly ubiquitous in schools and corporate workplaces, and indeed it is to an extent. For example, approximately 20 feet behind me and to the left is a similar laptop, owned by the school. Most of this school’s laptop fleet is made up of this model of laptop, and both of the schools I attended before Compass had similar fleets. Now, for a moment, I’d like to focus on the reason for this model (or, more accurately, series’) apparent ubiquity; its IT-friendliness. The entire Latitude D series is made up of laptops that have many interchangeable components, are easy and fast to disassemble and reassemble, and have relatively inexpensive replacement parts. These factors are, of course, just as attractive to me as they are to IT departments, albeit not necessarily for the same reasons. I enjoy the flexibility of upgrading offered by these laptops, the potential for modding, and the robust stock feature set, as well as the comfortable form factor and wide range of peripherals available. IT departments enjoy the speed with which they can return laptops, working, to their fellow (non-IT) employees, the ease with which they can return a laptop with a failed part to the field, often by simply swapping the part out of another laptop. They also appreciate the fact that they can simply move a “dead” laptop’s hard drive into a “live” laptop to keep all of its data without having to reinstall drivers or reconfigure any part of the operating system (in the case of windows, at least).

Now that I’ve covered some of the advantages of this laptop series, I’ll proceed to my specific laptop. First, the specifications:

  • 2.00 GHz Pentium M (Pentium 4 Based)
  • 2 GB RAM (Upgraded from 1 GB)
  • 80 GB HDD (Upgraded from 40 GB)
  • 14″ 1024×768 LCD
  • Intel 915 GM Express graphics
  • Broadcom BCM4306 a/b/g WiFi
  • Dell Bluetooth adapter
  • DVD-R/RW Module
  • CD-R/RW/DVD Module
  • Floppy Module
  • Dell Latitude D/Dock
  • ~2 hour battery

I swapped it for an iBook G3 14″/900 MHz with 576 MB of RAM, so I believe it was an excellent trade. The only real downside is that I don’t actually have a power cord for it, so I have to charge it on the docking station. To tell the truth, however, the docking station itself is enough of an upside to justify the loss of convenience.

When I first got it, there was an admin password on the BIOS, which was a significant reason for the ease with which I obtained it… I quickly removed the password with the help of the absolutely amazing Dogbert, whose blog can be found at

I’ve installed Arch Linux on it, as per usual, and it runs GNOME-Shell marvelously. As of now, it’s yet to stutter on any task I’ve put to it, and I believe it’s a very well-specced laptop. I’m sure I’ll be posting more about it in the future, but at the moment I believe I shall conclude this post. Farewell, and please do look forward to my future posts, which shall hopefully become more frequent.

— platnicat

Music on Slow Computer

4 10 2011

Music on Slow Computer