Fork me on GitHub

Well, finals season is upon me. That’s probably why I haven’t been posting much lately (I haven’t even been checking Google Reader - I’ll have to delete a few thousand entries when I get back into the swing of things). I’ve been pretty busy, between studying, projects, and work. I’ll be working 4 days a week through June 20th, as well as taking night classes 4 nigths a week (unfortunately not the same 4 days) through July 3, in an effort to graduate Rutgers on time (after transferring in and also switching majors). Work after June 20th is up in the air - who knows how hard the budget cuts will hit.

My internship as the Sun Microsystems Campus Ambassador to Rutgers is over on May 12th. I got a chance to do the Rutgers IT Vendor Fair with Sun, and met a few cool people - especially including Matt McGrath of Continental Resources, a Sun Strategic iForce Partner, who’s doing some wonderful things with the Sun Education Essentials Matching Grant Program, and Skip Paul, a Linux Systems Engineer for Novell’s Open Platform Solutions group. I also finally cracked open my demo set of SunSPOTs. Wonderful little devices, radio, run Java on the bare metal, and have temperature sensors, accelerometers, and liberal I/O. My first development exereice will probably be making a temperature and acceleration data logger for my truck, but there’s surely more to come. They’re great!

My newest project - which I’m hoping to spend nearly the whole summer on - is the TuxTruck. I’ve been frustrated with the lack of “smartness” in my truck (an 06 Ford F-250), not to mention having to remember my MP3 player so I can listen to podcasts on the way to work, and having so many gadgets in my truck. So, the solution is obvious: a Linux-based CarPC. A nice little Mini-ATX box under a seat, with a 7” pull-out touchscreen in the dash (replacing the factory radio). It’s a big, complicated, and expensive project - but I want one, and I could use some experience with smaller systems.
The major features I have planned:

  1. Realtime GPS navigation
  2. Hands-free bluetooth calls from my cell, with address book, routing to contact address, possibly voice dialing.
  3. Realtime weather
  4. OBD-II interface, for vehicle diagnostics and fuel efficiency/performance profiling
  5. Audio - at a minimum searching and playing MP3s, and automatically downloading podcasts and throwing them in a playlist. Perhaps also an AM/FM tuner

It’s not an easy project. So far, the major challenges seem to be:

  • No full-featured GPS navigation package available. The ones that are available don’t seem to be too easy to integrate into my planned GUI, which will allot them 800x420 pixels (on an 800x480 screen) and requre the bottom toolbar to be always available.
  • How to handle processing of multiple data streams that require near-real-time processing - specifically, GPS with text-to-speech, turn-by-turn directions, plus playing audio, plus responding to an incoming phone call in a timely manner, pausing the audio, and stopping GPS audio but continuing navigation.
  • Whether to install a smaller stereo and use aux input for audio, or totally rip out the stereo, use an amp with the computer as its only input, and then how to control volume?

There will be more to come in the future. For now, take a look at the TuxTruck github.

Update Saturday, March 2, 2013 - I’m in the process of migrating my legacy CVS and Subversion repositories to github.com. The forgotten SVN repository for TuxTruck has been migrated there, and the CVS repository will soon be moved there as well. Tuxtruck.org has been permanently taken offline and redirected to the GitHub repository.

Mediawiki Logging - I recently had a situation where I had to confirm how much work someone had done on a MediaWiki-based project. The Recent Changes page only goes back 30 days, and walking through the History of each page is a pain. After looking around in the database a bit, I found a few tables of interest:

  • Table “users” includes fields “user_touched” (last time the user was updated) and “user_editcount” (a really simple count of the users’ number of edits).

  • Table “recentchanges” holds a lot of data… seemingly the entire life of the wiki


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