Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!



Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

hamster_nz Been there, done that.... (191 comments)

We had a 7.1 10 kms (6 miles) down the road...

We had plenty of food and water, we were a bit cold as we didn't want to light the woodburner until we checked it out properly. Had a nice BBQ with the neighbours and enjoyed a bit of quiet time and early nights as power was out for three days.

It hit at 4:35 am. However I still don't sleep approriately attired for running out of the house in the night, nor do I have shoes by the side of my bed for walking over broken glass. Most probably the two most important lessons right there (oh and don't put your bed beside a brick chimney, not that we do...).

about three weeks ago

Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

hamster_nz Re:Open FPGA? (136 comments)

Can you give one example of Open Source Hardware that is "open hardware all the way down"?

If I could make an "Open Source Hardware" design using the actual propeller chip, then sure this makes that design "even more open", and so is a good thing IMO.

about a month and a half ago

Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

hamster_nz Re:Limited utility. (136 comments)

Sure, but it is a big bonus for people who need a few custom periherals and a nice, open, stable controller with a good toolchain.

Video processing? Audio processing? Driving oodles of servos? Driving oodles of Neopixels? Does your design need really tight feedback loops (e.g. high speed power control)?

about a month and a half ago

Math, Programming, and Language Learning

hamster_nz I think that they are two overlapping domains. (241 comments)

The best book I have ever read on DSP is "The Scientist and Engineer's Guide to
Digital Signal Processing" - pdfs are on All of the sample code is in BASIC - yes, BASIC! I have successfully then gone on and implemented many of the ideas presented in many languages, and even in hardware. This highly useful maths can be presented in the what is arguably the worst of programming languages, and it is still very informative,

Some important areas of programming have very little maths at all. For example math does not care if you just name all your variables "aaaaaa" through "zzzzzz" - the answer is just the same.

In short both sides of the argument are wrong. Programming and math sit beside each other, with quite a bit of overlap. When working on problems that are in this overlap, you have a bias towards seeing it as solving maths with a programming tool, or programming with maths as a tool.

about 2 months ago

How MIT and Caltech's Coding Breakthrough Could Accelerate Mobile Network Speeds

hamster_nz Can we update the title please? (129 comments)

"A better coding for data error correction and redundancy than Reed-Solomon" - this is News for Nerds after all.

And why the "oooh - flappy birds on my phone might be faster" slant? I want a faster SAN!.

about 4 months ago

Imparting Malware Resistance With a Randomizing Compiler

hamster_nz Re:Overengineered for it's eventual use.. (125 comments)

It isn't that hard.... there are plenty of low hanging fruit - the classic easy case is the NOPs that are used to align jump destinations. Just find :

and replace it with


You could even patch the PC relative offset if you wanted to...

about 4 months ago

Imparting Malware Resistance With a Randomizing Compiler

hamster_nz Overengineered for it's eventual use.. (125 comments)

Why bother with this at the compiler level?

Just find 10,000 instruciton pairs that can be reordered as they have no interdependancies, and reorder each of the pairs at random during the install phase. That gives you 2^10,000 unique executibles, but all the debugging symbols and so on will remain the same.

I guess that doesn't help you against stack-smashing and so on. But will allow you to fingerprint who leaked your binary onto bittorrent - which would be its eventual use.

about 4 months ago

The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

hamster_nz My concern is far less esoteric (255 comments)

If self-driving cars ceed control back to the real driver when things get "interesting", without all the conditiioning that driving countless kilometers will the driver still be able to react competently? Or will it be like throwing inexperenced learner-drivers into the deep end?

Driving is a skill, and like any skill it needs to be practiced often to stop going rusty...

about 4 months ago

Why Cheap Smartphones Are Going To Upset the Industry

hamster_nz But you already can get good cheap phones... (234 comments)

... it is just that the phone networks don't want you to have them.

I have a 5", quad core, 2GB RAM, 32GB Flash smart phone from Chinavasion. It is much like a Samsung S4, and cost US$250. Unlocked as a standard feature, and with dual SIM, Took five days to from order to doorstep. Plugged in my work SIM and my own SIM and gave back a my work's S3.

A cheap 4" can be had for under $70.

about 4 months ago

Kids Can Swipe a Screen But Can't Use LEGOs

hamster_nz A single data-point (355 comments)

Due to a genetic condition my 7 y.o. son has severe motor skills issues (unable to stand, or hold a paint brush or pencil), He also has profound intellectual disabilities, and is unable to speak. He can however get around his iPad like the best of them - browsing Elmo songs on his youTube favorites, watching home videos, playing "Old MacDonald" and ordering his favourite snacks for morning tea using assisted communication apps. The benefits of this technology for him and others with special needs amazing!

However, even though he can't use a fork or knife, he can still stack MegaBlocks and Duplo... but only because we invest our time by playing with him and supporting him..

about 5 months ago

How a 'Seismic Cloak' Could Slow Down an Earthquake

hamster_nz Earthquake resistant buildings (101 comments)

It doesn't mean what you think- oo practical building can resist all earthquakes. The building standards are more about if a large earthquake occurs the building damage should be it limited to a small area. And it isn't about having a usable building after a quake - it is about not killing the people inside or around it.

Speaking from experience, just because a building stands up during a quake it doesn't mean that the building won't be structurally broken and require significant repairs or replacement before it can be used. The energy has to go somewhere!

about 6 months ago

The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

hamster_nz Why not... (769 comments)

...just supply a better quality, more desirable coffee? Oh no, that would be too hard!

DRM technology to the rescue,forcing users to buy crappy or overpriced coffee.

about 6 months ago

Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?

hamster_nz It is all signed integers. (745 comments)

I have often though about the universe being created from a simulation that is based on twos complement signed integers. At the start they are all assigned completely random bits.

During the initial damping down of the system to a steady state, there will be a little excess of negative numbers, as the mean of random n-bit number is always -0.5 (e.g. the range for 8-bit numbers is -128 to 127), and these is what are interact for the rest of the simulation..

It makes as much sense to me as any other theory of the origins of the big bang....

about 7 months ago

The Problem With How We Think Of Surveillance

hamster_nz Not all humans are social animals. (96 comments)

I'm sure a fair percentage of Slashdot readers would like nothing more than a nice quite room, limted exercise and regular meals. The only thing missing is a laptop, and good wifi github access. ... and please firewall off Facebook and Twitter - pretty please.

about 7 months ago

Yep, People Are Still Using '123456' and 'Password' As Passwords In 2014

hamster_nz Good news! (276 comments)

i'm going to use '123456' from now on. If somebody is knocking doors with that password, odds are they will access else's account before mine.

about 8 months ago

Code Is Not Literature

hamster_nz Re:Similar language, describing different things (240 comments)

I'll pass on that - the reply was to the question "Please demonstrate a basic sorting algorithm that a non-programmer can understand that doesn't perform terribly on large lists". Job done, I'm moving on.

But I agree, if any area of expertise didn't require a lot of learning to understand, then it would no longer be an area of expertise as most people could do it!

about 8 months ago



Frakenchips - Xeon and FPGA doubles throughput but not power

hamster_nz hamster_nz writes  |  about 3 months ago

hamster_nz (656572) writes "Over at The Register there is talk of Intel's new Xeon/FPGA hybrid chips. Looks to be compelling: There's evidence the company may be right. Earlier this week Microsoft announced a scheme named "Catapult". With this system, the company added FPGAs to over 1,600 servers used by its Bing search engine and, in doing so, had almost doubled throughput while only increasing power consumption by ten per cent.

If you want to get in on the ground floor I guess you could always look at a Kickstarter AVR+FPGA hybrid."

Want a FPGA board for your Rasberry Pi or Beagle Bone?

hamster_nz hamster_nz writes  |  about 9 months ago

hamster_nz (656572) writes "Hot topics for the maker community are things such as embedded vision, bitcoin mining, autonomous vehicle control, Arduino, Open Hardware, software defined radio, small ARM/Linux boards and reconfigurable computing, A current Kickstarter project, LOGi FPGA,is touching all these bases, Funding has been reached after just a day, and Kicktraq currently has it projected to reach over $133,000.

As a long time FPGA enthusiast I'm very interested to see what will happen when a thousand keen users get togeather to explore programmable logic."

Ever wanted to starting designing hardware using FPGAs?

hamster_nz hamster_nz writes  |  about 2 years ago

hamster_nz writes "The folks over at GadgetFactory (who specialise in open source FPGA development boards) have just released an add-on board, allowing first timers to explore digital logic without lifting a soldering iron. So if you ever wanted to have a breadboard with half a million logic gates on it, now is the time to get started.

You can even fit the entire hardware of 80s arcade games into them using Papilio Arcade."

Link to Original Source

Divid faster on AMD

hamster_nz hamster_nz writes  |  more than 2 years ago

hamster_nz writes "I've been exploring binary division for implementing in an FPGA, and have discovered that division on my (cheap) AMD P320 laptop is slow, really slow. So slow that for 16 bit unsigned integers (commonly used in graphics and data acquisition) division can be done faster in C! one some tests it is over 60% faster to not use the '/' operator. Check it out..."
Link to Original Source

The nature of programming

hamster_nz hamster_nz writes  |  more than 3 years ago

hamster_nz (656572) writes "Once you have worked in a dozen programming languages things become much "same stuff, different day", but recently I've done two things that have given me insights into programming. While experimenting with VHDL on a Nexys2 FGPA development board I developed a deeper understanding of loops and state machines, and when I porting TinyBasic from 68000 Assembler to an Arduino micro-controller I learnt a lot about the nature of the stack based paradigm that pervades programming — 'gotos' are truely useful. What projects have others undertook which revealed programming insights?"

The Space Shuttle Owners Manual

hamster_nz hamster_nz writes  |  more than 7 years ago

hamster_nz (656572) writes "I've played with Orbiter a while and managed to fly and dock with the ISS, but was left wondering just how hard can space travel really be. Then I stumbled onto an equivalent of the Space Shuttle's Owners Manual. It looks to be very hard!
Great geek reading — just remember to use the switch on panel O8 to turn the right seat/center console lights off when you finish."

Link to Original Source


hamster_nz has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>