Monday, July 28, 2008

Done Chapter 5 of my Linux from scratch! :D

Done Chapter 5 of my Linux from scratch! :D

Some philosophical rantings:
The reason I delayed doing Linux from scratch (LFS) for quite a long while is because I don't find it enjoyable to just follow instructions, with no creative inputs from my side.
The LFS book has instructions that an LFS newbie has no option but to follow exactly (it's recommended to use the exact, same versions of the software too!). So I was discouraged and didn't actually dip my feet into LFS for about a year.

Now : I decided it's ok to follow the LFS instructions without creatively putting your own inputs. (only at first - remember, only at first as an LFS newbie.). Why is this ok - a few points:
* Admit it, it's hard to do otherwise as an LFS newbie - a chicken and egg problem. You do LFS to a) have your own customized distro b) to learn about how it all fits together in a linux distro. If you don't know how it all fits together, you cannot modify things and deviate from the LFS book instructions !
* Things like glibc and gcc are really complex and if you mess up some compilation options as a newbie who doesn't know how it all fits together, you'll have to start all over again. You know how long it takes to compile stuff !!
* Once you follow the instructions the first time, you never have to do it again! You get the hang of it and you can truly rest happy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

UPS/SMPS - idea for better efficiency.

I was thinking about computer power consumption and was annoyed that with power from a typical UPS battery, even with the monitor turned off and the CPU idle, you could still last only for 20min or so!!

Bad isn't it?

I could not get a quick fix for drastically reducing idle state power consumption of our fairly monsterous x86s (unless we used a clockless processor or at least one of those beautiful RISC machines.)

But I did think about the UPS - the fairly low battery voltage is converted to 240V with some inefficiency and back to 5V, 12V by the SMPS with some other inefficiency, which is multiplied by the first inefficiency (to get the total inefficiency) ... whoa!

If the UPS and SMPS were integrated somehow, the only user of the 240V AC power would be the monitor (well, maybe we could get an LCD monitor to work out of 12V or something? But a CRT can be tough to get to work from low voltages, especially DC voltages, because it needs really high voltages (kV) for the CRTube you know. Anyway they seem to be getting phased out on most desktops now.)

So a 12V battery, with some simpler ciruitry that can both boost and buck this (since battery voltages usually drop as they discharge). Providing 5V, 12V more efficiently. 240V AC only for CRT. Even an LCD monitor should be designed to work with low voltage supplies.
Why, even the speakers / external amplifiers use such low voltages anyway (through their own little transformer).

You save on some transformer/other electronic component costs. You get the computer to run longer during a power failure.

Edit: I just remembered google uses a simplified SMPS (12V output only), getting themselves 85% efficient ones instead of the usual multiple-voltage-output 55% to 65% efficient ones. Their whitepaper (pdf) .
It's also been discussed at Slashdot. Someone even mentioned the UPS /SMPS inefficiency thing there.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Styrofoam (thermacole) vermicompost container.

I made a cheapo container (a rectangular box of approximate dimensions 500mm x 300mm x 210mm) out of styrofoam sheets!

Verry fragile but definitely stronger than the worms inside it.

I have some (100?) eisina fetida (red wrigglers? - compost worms) that I got from my grandmother's village (from cowdung manure that was being vermicomposted as a NGO initiative or something like that).
(Heck no I didn't steal the worms meant for a good purpose of educating villagers. I got these handful of worms from a bucket of compost that was meant to be spread around in their home - backyard and they had a much larger stock of worms in their main composter anyway.)

The worms have actually been in a smaller plastic box for a few months. (maybe 2 or 3 months?). I see a lot of worm capsules ('eggs'). Great!

Yes I did hear about possible toxicity of styrofoam bins (by leaching some volatile vapours or something) but I finally went ahead with it due to these reasons:
* We sometimes drink and eat out of styrofoam
* It looks and smells inert to me ;)
* I am going to expand in the near future (a year?) into a bigger box. I will probably be using untreated wood or something then.

This box I made looks real good (aesthetically - not structurally of course) and I may be able to go further in acheiving the goal of vermicomposting everything non-plastic, non-toxic that would otherwise leave the house.

Nice gEDA tutorials!

I found these and I am going to go through them all !
gschem_warmup gsch2pcb_tutorial
Muahahaha :D

I got the gEDA suite installed at around Aug 21 2007 (file creation dates on the binary) but never got to playing with it because I had other priorities and the gEDA suite is not straightforward and intuitive to use.
(I say it's not intuitive because it's a suite of various software, not a monolithic thing, so. I repeat : There seems to be a negative correlation between powerful software and intuitiveness to beginners. Powerful software/things rarely come without a fairly steep learning curve. Like emacs, blender3d and so on. No gain without pain.)

Now that I also have 3 weeks of holidays left (until Aug 4):

Let my fun begin! :D.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Just had pulav with aquaponic mint (pudina) :D :D

Just had pulav my mother made this morning. She first put my request for pulav off saying there was no mint (pudina) in the house, to which I reminded her of my aquaponic system which was overflowing with it.

This morning I had the pulav and...


I don't know if it was due to other ingredients or due to the AP(aquaponic) mint, but I sure think the mint is the one that has made this pulav so good.

+1 for aquaponics :D

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Boring log : Cleaning up things for passing time away

I have a month of holidays until Aug 4th.

Today I actually ended up labelling and archiving everything on my gmail inbox.
This was because I read-up Gmail Tips: The Complete Collection from head to toe.

Now every mail has at least one label. Yeah (personal opinion) folders are inferior.

You know, I once had such an idea for a filesystem or a user level program where users attached tags (keywords) to files, each one they created, which would keep things organized/searchable. There would also be folders, so you could have the best of both worlds.

Why, a filesystem is complex to hack, but one could easily make a user-level program that just needs to
* Maintain a database of filenames and tags
* Provide a search for paths given tags as the search keys.
* That's it :D