Akom's Tech Ruminations

Various tech outbursts - code and solutions to practical problems

Code and Hacks Blackberry Pearl Causes Windows XP to freak out with USB Device Not Recognized

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, October 7. 2008 • Category: Code and Hacks
This was annoying. Whenever the blackberry was plugged in (USB), windows would ding and show a baloon saying "USB Device not recognized", and this would continue forever, repeating about every 10 seconds! Clicking the baloon would show you the USB device tree, with a very helpful "Unknown Device" shown in bold. It took some time to figure out that it's happening only when the BB is connected. It sort of seemed as if someone is rapidly connecting/disconnecting the USB cable.

Well? Turns out that this is sort of what was happening. It was a bad cable. OK, perhaps not a bad cable, but one that the blackberry didn't like. And, unlike what some people suggested, having it plugged in through a hub is not the culprit. Interestingly, the cable that was malfunctioning was heavy duty, with ferrites. The cable that works is thin and flimsy.

Code and Hacks Firefox 3 Uber SSL Security madness for Self-Signed Certificates

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, October 7. 2008 • Category: Code and Hacks
Or the infamous "Or you can add an exception" thing.

Apparently since Firefox 3, if you stumble on a site with an invalid SSL certificate, be it expired, self-signed, or bad in any other way, you are greeted (as before) with a warning. Only this warning requires 8 steps to bypass, not all of which are intuitive to the normal power user. Moreover, in my experience, Firefox will prompt you again and again once your restart it, despite the fact that you checked "Permanently store this exception". And why do I need to "download" the certificate anyway? The browser must have already retrieved it by now since it's warning me about it.

I actually considered downgrading to Firefox 2... but I found a solution.
Here is what you do:

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Toys Sapac Pitts S2A electricals and motor replacement

Posted by Akom • Monday, October 6. 2008 • Category: Toys
I killed the motor. Apparently ramming into pavement at full throttle (don't ask. From now on, when something goes wrong on takeoff, I abort) is not such a good thing for a long thin shaft and a firmly bolted prop. A few flights later, the motor died and started singing instead of spinning. One of the windings seemed to be busted (based on measuring voltage with a drill).
Measuring Current

Anyhow, I did some measurements when it was all good, and here are some specs: With the stock Sapac 2830 motor and the 3-blade 9x8 prop, the battery put out as much as 12.5A at full load (my measurement, massive analog meter). The battery is 10C, 1200mAh, meaning that 12.5A is about as much as you could ever expect it to put out, in other words - running dangerously high. I also got a 10C 1800mAh battery and the plane had noticeably better thrust (haven't measured the current), so it actually did want more than 12A!

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Code and Hacks Old Hard Drive, New Motherboard and the Windows Stop 0x0000007B error

Posted by Akom • Saturday, September 27. 2008 • Category: Code and Hacks
My old motherboard finally died, so I managed to free up another one and threw it in. This is one of my very few windows machines, dual boot Win2K/XP. Neither one worked with the new motherboard - 2K gave me a very nice bluescreen with the infamouse Stop 0x0000007B error, while XP simply quietly rebooted.

The old board was the wonderful (back in 2001) Gigabyte 7VRXP (1.1) sporting an Athlon XP-1800+. The "new" board is a NVidia based A7N8X-VM, complete with an Athlon XP-2000+. I managed to downgrade my server to an Intel Atom low power setup (see separate post), so this one was available, moreover - it has n AGP 8X slot and the old board - only 4x. Yes I know this is ancient hardware, but I have no interest in spending hundreds on all new hardware when all I want is something to run Nero and Realflight. (And occasionally, Blackberry JDE).


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Reviews Gentoo Linux on D945GCLF with Atom 230

Posted by Akom • Friday, September 26. 2008 • Category: Reviews
I decided to downscale my asterisk server (currently Athlon XP2000) to something that's not quite as power hungry. The server barely does anything most of the time, but consumes just over 100 watts.
The Atom 230 on the D945GCLF

$70 later I was staring at this very cute little green square, complete with a chipset fat/heatsink and a very naked CPU (needs no cooling at 5 watts). It looks hilarious in my small tower case, hides entirely behind the vertical ATX power supply (I realize I can run this off a Pico PSU)
Power improvement? (Same case, power supply, hard drive) A7N8X-VM with Athlon XP 2000+ : about 100-110watts at idle. D945GCLF with Atom 230: About 45 watts at idle. (At this rate, the power savings will pay for my expenses in 10 months, roughly - including the $30 for the 2GB DDR2 RAM)

The following is a small list of issues and solutions I've come across while migrating my Gentoo server over to this thing.

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Toys Exceed Pitts S2A third flight (wind and broken rudder)

Posted by Akom • Tuesday, September 9. 2008 • Category: Toys
I finally have a fully charged battery so I'm off to have a nice long flight. Or so I thought.

So there was some wind this morning - not too much, I figured - I can handle this, I've flown with wind in the simulator. Went out to a different field today - more open, less wind cover. Took off from a sandy path, plane rolled easily and I pointed it into the wind for takeoff. It took off before I even asked it to, and the fun began

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Code and Hacks Syncing, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Blackberry, Outlook, etc

Posted by Akom • Monday, September 8. 2008 • Category: Code and Hacks
As the CTO of Namaste Holistics and Nutrition 4 Entrepreneurs (see links in nav above), I was dealing with a progressively more dissatisfied CEO, and with good reason.

She is dealing with an overcomplicated email/calendaring/contacts setup that's somewhat... imperfect.

The following is the setup and what was done to improve it.

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Toys Exceed Pitts S2A second flight

Posted by Akom • Sunday, September 7. 2008 • Category: Toys
The broken wing was dry this morning (see previous post) and the wind was almost nonexistent, despite the hurricane that went through overnight.

I'm off to fly! This time around I moved the servo pulls to the second hole, making the controls slightly more sensitive (I have been getting better with the simulator, and the last flight it felt a little unresponsive). I also set the elevator to fully horizontal position - I had it pointed down slightly last time, also out of caution, but this morning it didn't even want to take off this way.

It flies!

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Toys Exceed Pitts S2A first flight (and crash)

Posted by Akom • Saturday, September 6. 2008 • Category: Toys
First flight! Yay! I guess I consider myself good enough after playing with the simulator for a while.

After a little trimming (adjusting the servo pulls with the tiny allen wrench they supply) I got on my runway (a paved road on a park slope) and (with some trepidation) pushed the throttle forward. It took off, with some effort, and flew!

I think it flew with what others have described as a tail-heavy tendency - it seemed like I was always pulling too hard on the elevator - or maybe I was, in the turns, I'm not sure. In any case, all I had to do was push the nose down every so often and it would avoid stalls... which it survived just fine anyway, just taking a small dive and recovering. I circled the area for about 2 minutes, and then just as the plane was getting away from me to the point of "a bit too far", it suddenly disobeyed...

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Reviews My Review of the Innovatek 362 DTM Head unit with DVD,TV,MP3,Rear View Camera

Posted by Akom • Friday, September 5. 2008 • Category: Reviews
I got this thing for our Conversion-Conversion Van. I wanted it to do everything for me. (Also take a look at our Wanna-B-RV(ers) blog entry on this)
The innovatek box
Overall I can't say that I'd recommend this unit, but for some specific applications (such as ours) it seemed to work out.

The breakdown:

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Toys Assembling the Sapac Exceed Pitts S2A 4ch R/C plane (and some improvements)

Posted by Akom • Friday, September 5. 2008 • Category: Toys
I have to admit, I've never owned a real R/C plane before, so the following may be painfully obvious to someone who has. When I say real I mean hobby grade. OK I admit it, I had a Hirobo Shuttle nitro heli for a while, but I crashed that so many times that I'd rather not go there. What I learned in the process though is - simulator software is not optional. So this time around I borrowed a friends' copy of Realflight G4 with the controller. I am steadily getting better.

Anyway, so I bought the RTF version, which, I have to keep reminding myself, stands for Ready-To-Fly. Raidentech.com is one of the few places that sold it at the time and I found a free shipping code (CJFREESHIPPING) on somone else's blog. It eventually arrived, in a very large box (OK so I should have expected that, the plane has a 3 foot wingspan). On to assembly...

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Java Convincing JAX-WS on Axis2 1.4 to handle overloaded web service methods

Posted by Akom • Saturday, August 16. 2008 • Category: Java
This week I found myself in one of those situations...

I had initially implemented corporate web services in Axis2 1.2, using ADB data binding, starting with a WSDL. Only problem is - the WSDL I had to reimplement came from .NET, sometime around 2001... when overloading must have seemed like a good idea. Since then it's been abolished by just about everyone, including of course the current WSDL specifications. Moreover, the WSDL was most likely auto-generated by .NET with no regard for how manageable it would be. Yes, this is an experience infused with "ArrayOfAnyType", <anytype xsd:type="string">, and other such pearls.

I can't say that ADB handled overloaded methods

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