Microcontrolled madness

This is craziest thing I've seen in long time. Linus Åkesson (lht) made crazy demo running from a microcontroller based on the Propeller chip from Parallax. External I/O consists of stereo sound (at line level) and a VGA signal. 32 bit processors, 48k of ram. and 32k rom. The Propeller is used in many industries including manufacturing, process control, robotics, automotive and communications. I got two left hands and I suck with soldering iron, but I really admire folks who are into electronics. If you want to try Parallax out, you can get Parallax demo board and download the eeprom file of the demo and try it for your self.

Checkout Turbulence by lft:

(turn on your speakers because music is great!)

Oh my – C64 Twitter Client

As a great fan of 8 bit computers, when I see enthusiasm like this I get really excited! Back in my 8 bit days days I remember using Final Catridge extension for all my assembler needs. What would I give to have this baby - MMC Replay extension catridge which adds SD card reader and - ethernet controller to C64! Crazy! :)

Anyways, get your c64 from out of the closet, wipe dust and check out C64 Twitter client here.


All Your iFRAMEs Point to Us

aybabtuDefacing a website is least form of site hacking these days (please, don't deface us because of this statement :) ). Defacing usually means changing the hacked website's xhtml files on server or in transport between the server and the client. Completely defaced website attracts attention for a limited number of time, and the whole deal is quickly forgotten. However, defacing a site by silently injecting a 1x1 iframes, javascript or massive amount of links/subpages can be more lucrative for spammers (link building, visitor stat fraud, malware spread etc.), more horrifying to your business (you will loose visitors while you are blacklisted) and worst of it all - it can't be that easily detected.
Continue reading All Your iFRAMEs Point to Us

Freaky notebook LCD brightness control problem with Nvidia Vista drivers

This is rather note to my self then a post. If you are using modded inf to install new workstation (180.x) GeForce drivers to a notebook (from for example here), brightness control via function keys will behave strange. Strange as in - it won't fade at all or will fade, but in strange steps. You can notice hard screen flickering when dimmed.

Solution is to add this to nv_disp.inf:

;Smart Dimmer Controls
HKR,, EnableBrightnessControl, %REG_DWORD%, 1
HKR,, PanelPWMFrequency, %REG_DWORD%, 210
HKR,, PanelPWMDutyRange, %REG_DWORD%, 0x03E80096...

When I first noticed this behavior I thought that my laptop is dying in slow and horrible death. I updated really old drivers packed with laptop with new modded ones. Late in the evening I use to dim my screen a bit, but after driver update brightness control via function keys would fade the screen in such a nasty way which definitely reassembles laptop screen dying. Beside the brightness problem, the Powermizer would dim the screen to black (instead of a very dark but visible setting), and screen wouldn't lit up after laptop has woke from stand by.

New modded drivers didn't contain above three laptop manufacturer specific settings and that caused all the problems. It's also interesting to note that brightness control in Vista's original VGA driver works flawlessly. So to completely rule out hardware failure, test your screen with those drivers.

Each time I update drivers in such a manner, I am happy that my hardware doesn't melt. And yes, I've tested above settings on Samsung and Asus laptop and brightness control worked as with original driver set. Hooray! )

Orientation, Navigation, Geolocation!

I was not so good at geography at school, but I always liked maps. Especially the old vintage antique ones, and sea maps. Also, I like to travel and I think of my self as one of those people who can easily orientate in space (although I could never imagine my self navigating a sea ship at stormy night using nothing but sextant). Going to place you have never been before - be it a new continent, a street in foreign city or a dirt road leading to an gourmet restaurant in Istria is always a challenge.

The challenge which by little help of modern marvel becomes a walk in the park. Originally developed by US Dept. of Defense, GPS and can now be found in cameras, phones even arm watches. My trusty Garmin nüvi 760 packed with maps of Europe and best set of maps for our region - AdriaRoute and SCG ROUTE never let me down so far. Even my last phone Noka E71 is A-GPS enabled device. Nokia Maps (or Yahoo Maps and Google Maps for that matter) have really bad coverage of streets in Croatia so are basically useless for navigation. But Garmin Mobile XT runs on Symbian very well and you can use the same maps as mentioned above. Since my mobile phone is internet enabled too, with the help of GPS device the possibilities for navigation and orientation are practically limitless. Right? Right?

Wrong. Why? Because browser (Opera Mini) and Flash Lite 3 can't communicate with GPS device. Actually Flash Lite can communicate with GPS trough KunerLite S60 RAD, and Opera Mobile (because it supports javascript) can communicate with GPS trough similar expensive middle-ware called GPSGate, but all that is far far away from becoming a standard.

Good news is that couple of days ago Mozilla Labs released experimental geolocating plug-in for Firefox called Geode which would help websites locate you. All that conforming to the W3C Geolocation specification. Beta plugin uses single hard-coded location provider (utilizing proprietary Skyhook’s Loki technology) to map your local Wifi hotspot or cell towers GPS location in your area to your location. If this started to freak you out, fear not - users can decide what level of location information they want to reveal to a website, 'exact location', 'neighborhood', 'city' or 'nothing'. None of this obviously doesn't work in Croatia so it's NOTHING by default for us. If you are reading this from other part of the universe - check the demo here.

Mozilla says that in final version location will be provided by one or more user selectable service providers and methods, e.g. GPS-based, WiFi-based, ip2location, manual entry, etc. What is even more interesting is that this plugin will be in core of the upcoming beta releases of Firefox 3.1, as well as alpha releases of Fennec (Mobile Firefox).

This is pretty good damn news from Mozilla because proprietary solutions like Skyhook's XPS or Garmin Communicator (plugin which enables your browser to talk to Garmin GPS) don't provide enough user coverage for worldwide usage.

When I touched standards, it have to mention a new standard proposed to IETF this year called HTTP Enabled Location Delivery (HELD) which proposes a standardized way to ask the network (Location Information Server (LIS)) for the location of the device. This is still a proposal, and years away from worldwide implementation, but if nothing, I at least expect Jack Bauer to catch criminals by "hacking the HELD" in new season of 24. :)

Garmin Mobile XT

Nokia Maps

Sony DSLR A900 preview

Two days ago Sony presented new 35mm full-frame DSLR camera A900 in Student Center here in Zagreb. It’s first full-frame 24.5 MP DSLR with stabilization in body!

I had a few shots with it and camera is great. View finder with 100% coverage is excellent, big and bright. People complained that camera is heavy but I found it ok with 895 g, it is after all a full-frame camera. Bad points go to position of Auto focus points which are too close to center.

I tested it only a few minutes so a have only a few shots but here they are (right click -> save as):

ISO 400, 1/90 sec, RAW converted to JPEG in post processing (16.2 MB)

ISO 800, 1/125 sec, RAW converted to JPEG in post processing (16.9 MB)

ISO 1600, 1/200 sec, RAW converted to JPEG in post processing (20.2 MB)

ISO 6400, 1/3000 sec, RAW converted to JPEG in post processing (27.7 MB)

All shots are made with Zeiss ZA Planar T* 85mm f/1.4 ( Sony SAL-85F14Z ) at f/1.4.

As you see there is no visible deference between ISO 400 and 800:

ISO 400 vs 800

At ISO 1600 and 6400 noise is visible:

ISO 1600 and 6400

ISO 6400, lots of grain, but still, it’s 6400 and the need for it is just in very special occasions.

More test and specification can be found on dpreview.com Sony Alpha DSLR-A900 Preview

R.I.P. G9 – Logitech demise (the saga continues)

G5 - final goodbye

Unfortunately, it is my duty to report another Logitech G9 failure.

Before I begin, here is some sweet talk, just to put things in perspective. Now, generally I love this mouse; the ergonomics fit's my hand far better than G5 (harassed that one for years), looks like a 7of 9's breast implant - combining both sexy and super geek. The precision is noticeably better than G5, and the left mouse click just makes you want to ... well, click it. A winner on paper statistics for sure.

For those following our rantings, u should be familiar with Daemon's initial post describing the issues with trashy grip problem also known now as the „G5 skin disease affair“. I am sure many of you returned to more closely inspect the Hi-Res images, and documentation presented in the post.

As we expected, we where contacted by Logitech representatives, the mouse was replaced, and all was well (with a little help from some sticky grips).

4 months latter, the disaster strikes again!

after all, I am not sauron...

This time the left mouse button stopped working and started irritating. Daemon says it is no surprise since he can hear me stomping on it in from the other room, but i know he is just sticking his head out for the love of Logitech. The truth is – there should be no excuse for a 6 month old Logitech G9 to cancel obedience.

I design, I click, I play Quake, I play TF2, and on average, Nivas Design crew spends 12 hours a day hard-core clicking, and yes.. I do believe the harder you press the button, the faster the bullets will fly (almost, a scientific fact, ask any gamer), but you don't buy G5 if you don't know your mice.

Fact is, my colleague is still pounding away on my old Logitech G5. The same G5 which passed a proper Guantanamo treatment in my hands for about 1.5 years, and now 6 months in his hands - and it is still working flawlessly!

What in the name of Christ and all that is holy and unholy, is wrong with this product?! Logitech G9 is seriously best mouse on the market while new. But durability of that mouse is just awful! How can they be called "Gamer grade" mice, when they cannot withstand hard core usage? Logitech PLEASE don't make me go out and buy Razor, 'coz we all know they look like a truck ran over a squid.

Daemon edit: to answer your question, yes, Nivas designers do work with Hand of Sauron

First contact

Much has been said about the notorious iPhone. Well, today it hit Balkan grounds and I must say; it’s damn fine. Clearly the first broad audience device that made me feel like the future is here… well if not the future, at least the Federation. Just holding the device made me feel like I can teleport from the crappy mall I was in, on to my superfly spaceship high in orbit. The build quality, the design and the overall futuristic feel of the device, make it a worthy acquisition. You may think it’s retarded, hell I might even agree, but it’s the mother of all hi-tech bling. And that’s a cold fact.