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Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Hardy Heron

Post image Canonical has launched its latest creation; Ubuntu 8.04 Long Term Support codenamed Hardy Heron (and several of its derivatives). This release includes both desktop and server editions.

The desktop edition comes with many new features including Mozilla Firefox 3, the lastest Gnome desktop with all the features, an enhanced photo manager, better phone/camera recognition and better video support.

The server edition comes with advanced network infrastructure applications, integrated AppArmor policies and increased kernel hardening for advanced security. It also comes with integrated host firewalling and LikeWise Open for Windows Active Directory integration.

If you are thinking about giving linux a try at all, I highly recommend getting this version (if you have a previous release you should upgrade). I am already using Kubuntu myself. And if you are afraid of wiping out your Windows installation, do not fret! The ubuntu live cd is a great option to try before you install, and as an added bonus; if you like the experience, Ubiquity (the automatic installer) will resize your windows partition to make room without wiping it out.

The Canonical group is doing a great job at providing a linux version for the linux enthusiast, the power developer and the average user. You can get the versions here:

Programming your own microcontroller

Post image has posted a 20 year old article on Programmable Logic Device (PDL) design that has stands the test of time. This article was released in 1989 when FPGAs were only 5 years old and continues to still be a great read for anyone who is considering PLD design and learning a Hardware Description Language (HDL).

From the article: "Rather than using a general-purpose language to program an embedded processor, you can use an HDL to configure a programmable logic device (PLD). A number of special sets of HDLs are specifically designed to configure PLDs."

Google Summer of Code '08

Post image Google has announced its summer of code '08 event.
From the FAQ:
The Google Summer of Code is a program that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source projects.


In order to participate in the program, you must be a student. Google defines a student as an individual enrolled in or accepted into an accredited institution including (but not necessarily limited to) colleges, universities, masters programs, PhD programs and undergraduate programs. You should be prepared, upon request, to provide Google with transcripts or other documentation from your accredited institution as proof of enrollment or admission status. Computer Science does not need to be your field of study in order to participate in the program.

Link to the FAQ:

And the link to the announcement:

Nvidia's Next-Generation GForce GPU

Post image Nvidia has revealed its latest creation: The GeForce 9600 GT GPU! They are claiming that it is an increase of 116% over its predecessor and for under $199. This comes at the perfect time for me since I am in the market for a new graphics card.

From the Article:

The new GeForce 9600 GT GPU shows an improved performance-per-watt ratio compared to its predecessor as well as improved compression efficiency. In addition to 64 stream processors-each individually clocked at a blazing-fast 1625 MHz-and a 256-bit memory interface running at 900 MHz, the GeForce 9600 GT GPU is designed for the new PCIe 2.0 bus standard and features backwards compatibility with the original PCIe standard.

Check it out: Nvidia News Site

Trossen Robotics Contest Winners

Post image Trossen Robotics have just posted their contest winners for the October-November contest. They graded each project on a scale of 0-5 for documentation, coolness, ingenuity, and creativity. Runners up received a 10 % discount on their next Trossen purchase, while third got a $50 gift certificate, Second got a $100 gift certificate and first place received a $200 gift certificate. The winner was by a member whose alias is kdwyer and his project was an autonomous robot named otto. From the article: Otto is a humanoid/track hybrid droid with an incredible range of capabilities. Kdwyer's mission was to make an autonomous robot that could avoid obstacles, track motion, and interact with people through speech and gestures

Check it out for yourself:

Final Projects

Post image Its that awesome time of year; the time where final projects are now all due, turned in and posted on the web for everyones enjoyment. Cornell's ECE675 final projects all seemed very interesting, (especially the light source motion tracking unit) and are well worth a look. Let us know if you have any final projects that you have just finished and want to show off.

Actual Gibson SG as a Guitar Hero Controller

Post image Now I am a big fan of Guitar Hero and I also play the guitar, but this guy took it to the next level. He turned his Actual Gibson SG into a guitar hero controller, I don't know if that it would be any easier to play but I bet it could be alot of fun. (I am not going to try this one, I'd rather not tear apart my guitars.)

His site covers a step by step picture tutorial which leaves a little bit of guess work but all the more fun. Check it out for yourself and be amazed!

Halloween trickery

Post image With Halloween coming up just around the corner, I've been in setup mode getting LEDs in pumpkins and all sorts of other special effects, so I figured I'd share a little project I found while jumping around today called "Cave Eyes" according to them:

"This is a little microcontroller circuit that has 15 pairs of L.E.D.'s that look like rodent eyes. The pairs of eyes blink in a semi-random fashion. So, what you end up with is 15 pairs of eyes staring out at you with one pair blinking (looks like the animal had to close their eyes briefly) at a time. The pairs of eyes are on wires so that they can be placed around the cave, bushes, etc. Runs off of 4 AA batteries."

Their site has complete schematics and looks to be a project you could complete in a few hours
Check it out

USB Thermometer

Post image While we are on the topic of USB devices, I happen to come across an interesting USB project which is a thermometer, pressure-sensor and relative humidity sensor dubbed the USBTenki. The device is made using a MCP9803 sensor for temperature or a Sensirion SHT75 sensor for temperature and humidity.

The tutorial comes complete with a full set of schematics, hardware list and firmware. This seems like the perfect little project to get back into the lab. Check it out yourself

Talking Alarmclock with a PIC16

Post image I stumbled upon this project while I was looking around for some neat projects to plan for in the future. This Talking time and temperature alarm clocks core is a PIC16F876A programmed in C (with the CSS compiler), the EMIC text-to-speech module and a 4 digit SLED4C serial seven-segment display module. This would be a great project to get back into the some small scale PIC or Microcontroller applications, and will teach you some handy C functions that can be used later down the road.

The tutorial can be seen here:

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