Archives 2007

Friday 7th December 2007 - 10:42:41

Got the day off! And rightly so after working from 8:30 in the morning to 9 at night one of the days last week! Been having a number of PC problems. Game crashes, lockups, freezes. It's mainly my power supply I'd say. I need a replacement. The air coming out of it is very warm, perhaps it's overloaded - but that would mean it's not performing to spec; it's well over-powered (to spec) for what I have in this box. I added some more fans to the case and we'll see how it goes. All of the hot CPU air was exiting the case via the power supply which I guess wasn't helping the situation. I decided, in case it's not a power supply problem, to scan. Found a bloody root kit. How that got in there I don't know. Maybe it was inadvertently downloaded by another user (no names). The virus scanner didn't get it either. I also noticed this "sus" icon in the alt-tab list that has no title. That wasn't, however; a threat. It was the windows nicety that is called "Windows Image Worker" some stupid M$ service that belongs to IE7 (which isn't installed yet?!) besides which, why does a service need to be in the task-list anyway?! It doesn't have a window to "switch to" so why... it boggles the mind and trying to determine the thought process behind it will just hurt my brain... Anyway, until I start using IE7 (which is never) it's set to disabled. So many svchost.exe instances that do lots of different things, unless you have a tool like process explorer you can't tell which instance is doing what. Hows a normal user supposed to work out what the hell this icon was?! The only reason windows is on the box, is because I need it to play games on. The second they port the games I want to Linux; BAM! It'll be wiped. I'd take pleasure in completely removing the partition from the drive and re-creating it in Linux. Just to be sure. Supporting Windows for clients has been very draining of late. It's just painful. Last week was good. I finished off a project to replace a Win2k server with a Linux box that does the lot. It's just a pain in the bum, there's one last printer on the server that is directly connected to the LPT port. Of course, sharing this printer with machines that aren't part of the domain (any more) is a pain in the butt. The client machines keep forgetting their authentication details on the domain (as they aren't part of it - you connect to the server as administrator or something so you can connect the printer). Even though the printer has permission for everyone to access, the clients still need to authenticate on the domain to connect to it. I'm going to stick it on a client machine and be done with it. It's just a pain in the arse re-adding the printer on each machine each time they restart. The grass at the back looks like a miniature African grass plain. It's up to about 1ft at the back. I ran out of petrol last weekend when I was mowing, I got most of it done except this back part.

One line Seach and Destroy


Find and remove in one line. HTML files for example. This prevents bash (or the rm it calls) from bailing when it finds a file with a space in it.

find -type f -name "*.ht*" | while read file; do rm "$file"; done

Web Permissions


This is my little permissions fix script. Its great for folders that apache serves from.

if [[ "$1" == "" ]]
echo "Fix Web Permissions Script - Tim 10/09/2007"
echo "Recursively changes permissions on folders 775 and files 664"
echo "Usage: fixperms <user:group> <folder>"
chown -R $1 $2
find $2 \( -type d -execdir chmod 775 '{}' + \) , \( -type f -execdir chmod 664 '{}' + \)

Continuous Tail Script


This is my continuous tail script. It's good to have running on another screen while you are working on PHP code. You can ct the apache error_log and watch the log as the page is accessed. Streamlines the whole debugging thing.

if [[ "$1" == "" ]]
echo "Continuous Tail Script (50 Lines, 5s Interval). Tim 10/09/2007"
echo "Usage: ct [file]"
tail -n 50 -s 5 -f $1

Sunday 11th November 2007 - 23:08:38

Had a great game of Cyberpunk today. Josh DM'd and Ben also came and played. Had a great bbq too! This was my first game of Cyberpunk. Finally.

Sunday 4th November 2007 - 20:11:03


My blog is looking kinda sad at the moment. Very neglected indeed.

Got lots of work on which is great. Starting to get a few new customers too for service and web design work. I'm still maintaining the webserver. I've got a new one going in soon to replace the current Dual P3 733 HP LH3000. A Quad 2Mb Xeon 700Mhz HP DL580 with 1Gb of RAM and a RAID 5 configuration of four 18.2GB 15,000RPM SCSI hard drives. That will wipe the floor with the old servers. I may look at virtualisation too.

I also scored two NEC 8500-120s 1U dual P3 servers in Ra and an Ed variants. I'm planning on setting one up as a watchdog and maybe a failover server for some of the functions on the LAN such as DNS and traffic monitoring.

Little Liam has learned 'Ta' now when he takes something from someone or gives something to someone. He's doing well. New bub is doing well all the checkups and stuff are clear.

Thursday 18th October 2007 - 09:07:38

*** Tumbleweeds *** Wink

Monday 3rd September 2007 - 08:19:28


What a month. I've been so busy and so tired.

The store is nearly established and I am nearly established for webdesign, hosting and mail. Soon all the live sites will go onto the new hardware in the rack. (Pictures Later)

Sunday 5th August 2007 - 10:59:44


It's been quite a while since I've written anything!

Our large SugarCRM project is nearing it's end. We've cut up SugarCRM up in heaps of places and even added extra modules that we created in-house. It's a great system now. We get a pre-approval into sugar in our custom module passed from the website, after the customer has entered their details and borrowing info. They get a yay or nay. From there the consultants pick up these Pre-Approvals from the list view in our module. We then move through the project (cut up + rebuilt by us) for the rest of the application then into the contact module for the rest. (also cut up and rebuilt).

It's been great. We've implemented lots of great technologies that are really meshing well. We've got SOAP, JSON and YUI. Some other cool tools we're using are Jasper Reports and PDFTK.

One form in particular has roughly 300 fields. It's a monster! About 150 of those are visible. We have so many hidden fields because the modified contact edit view allows you to edit all four related contacts on the one form using a drop down.

The cool bit (which I wrote =P ) is the part where we gather a collection of static PDFs dependent on the data in the application, run a few reports that make PDFs and then glue them all together. We then attach it to a templated email and send it off to the customer. It ends up about 20 pages and 700KB.

I finally had time (and it wasn't raining) to mow the lawn and gardens. Yes, you read correctly. Mow the garden. Two reasons. One the gardens are full of grass and needed to be trimmed/removed. I gave up in the end. They're only bare gardens with grass in them. The last tenant must have removed their plants. So... I mowed them. That way they are still green at least =P The second is in the back yard, one third of the backyard used to be a garden bed for fruit or veggies or something. There was a small rain forest growing on this garden bed because it's such good soil and has obviously improved because it's nice dark loam, whereas the rest of the backyard under the grass is a terrible mix of part sand part clay. The grass was about 1ft high! I nearly stalled the lawnmower in a few places it was that thick! I had to actually run the mower without the catcher to get through it. Otherwise I was emptying it every few meters!

Mum and Dad gave me their old mower and whipper snipper. They worked well. I found out why the fuel hose kept splitting on the whipper snipper too. It was (I theorize) because I cut the hose, when I was re-joining it the last few times it broke, with side cutters, thereby crimping one side of the hose at a very sharp angle. This last cut-and-re-join I did, I used a sharp Stanley knife to cut the hose. It's holding up fine now. All of the white smoke that the whipper snipper was making is now gone too, I guess it was just rubbish in the fuel system from not being run for so long that caused that.

Kel had the idea of using the back beds as a garden for veggies. I reckon it's a great idea and we'll probably go ahead with that. Kel is keen for the usuals carrots, silver beat broccoli and cauliflower etc as well as maybe some tomatoes. We'll have to go down the hardware and see what gear we need. We already have gardening equipment (Thanks Mum and Dad!). So we just need to, I guess, check the soil ph and see what we need to do. Then plant stuff after it's OK. The bed already has walls around it. So all I need to do is pull up the grass and turn over the soil a bit.

It's nearly my birthday. I spent my Ezydvd gift card from last birthday finally. I got Hot Fuzz, Tomb Raider (1 and 2 set), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, A Discovery Channel doco on the C-130 Hercules (One of my favorite planes) and an Elmo video for Liam.

Sunday 17th June 2007 - 18:11:35


Had a nice time on the roof today fixing our TV reception. I couldn't work out why our TV reception was so poor. We have an external antenna in the house we're in at the moment. The problem was twofold. The antenna was connected to a different outlet in the house, not the outlet in the lounge room and the antenna was pointing in the wrong direction!

The first time I got on the roof I checked the connection of the cable to the antenna's balun. It was OK but the connector (an F-Connector) was shoddily done. Instead of being crimped with a crimping tool, this connector had been fitted with a pair of pliers or something, it wasn't round or hex crimped, just crushed. So I took the tape off the mast to release the cable, draped the cable over the gutter and fitted a new connector. I then wanted to test the cable for continuity. For that I needed to make sure it wasn't plugged into the TV. I noticed that the type of cable coming out of the floor in the lounge room (no socket, just a cable out of the floor... yay) was a different type to that which is coming down the antenna mast. So I ended up cutting the connector I fitted off anyway to get the baluns rubber boot back off the cable.

I remembered noticing a stub of coax that had been cut off poking out the side of the chimney cover. I went to check that out next, but dropped the damn thing down the chimney! Luckily it was pretty rigid and folded on it's self in an 'S' shape touching the sides, halting it's descent. I just reached in and grabbed it. I then taped it with a long piece of tape to the mast so it didn't happen again.

The little stub of coax didn't actually reach out of the chimney so I had to terminate it with an F-Connector (Properly crimped!) and then use a joiner and fly lead. I sealed the lot up with tape and connected the fly lead to the antennas balun. The connectors I used were different to what was on there. The type I used were weatherproof. They have a rubber 'O' ring in the bottom of the screw thread to seal the cable end and on the crimp end they are injected with some sort of grease which forms a seal on the other end when you force the cable in.

I drew a map and got the bearing to the ABC transmission towers from here. I copied that line onto my map and voila. I borrowed a compass off Dad and oriented it. I climbed onto the roof and pointed the antenna parallel with my ABC towers line. The nuts on the U-Bolts on the bottom end of the mast weren't budging, so I had to reach up and loosen the U-Bolt on the antenna and rotate it that way which was a bit precarious as I had to use both hands and lean on the chimney.

I don't know how (or if) the other neighbors TV are working. The two neighbors either side have archaic, bent and cracked antenna elements and they aren't pointing in the right direction anyway. Most people in the street must have cable or something because not many others have antennas.

The reception is now flawless! I'm really pleased. It should also do well for my digital tuner card in the home theater PC.

I also started building a shelf in the garage. I ran out of screws though Frown

Saturday 16th June 2007 - 23:07:19


Had a BBQ with Mum and Dad today.

We installed a lock on the garage door finally. Along those lines, we got an electrician today! (Instead of an airco mechanic) He was good, installed a smoke alarm , changed a few light switches and fixed two light fittings. The wiring in the house is so damn old it's insulation is decaying. Not cool.

Have you noticed some of the ads for kids toys these days? Saw a good one thismorning for a transforming wrecking ball crane truck.
The punchline in a COPS style voice was "This is the type of hardware you need WHEN YOU NEED TO TAKE A BUILDING DOWN!" kel couldn't understand what I was laughing at... and then it was "TRANSFORMS INTO (something) TO FINISH THE JOB"! hahahah! The whole way they market this crap is just lame. While in the shot the toy was "TAKING OUT" some grey painted foam buildings where they crumbled and exploded amazingly.

Friday 15th June 2007 - 22:27:05


The weekend at last!

What a huge week! I even did some patch panel work this week. One of our customers (in their wisdom) glued their patch panel to the wall because they could't find any screws. Which is fine, but it's crooked! There is NO chance of getting it off the wall now without taking out chunks of wall. Anyway, my job for the day was to take their blue spagetti soup and turn it into a working LAN, which I did. The annoying part was the patch panel, it wasn't all that spectacular and I ended up having to strip and twist (to make them thicker) the wires to get them to contact the V blades in the punch down. I got it all sorted eventually. The other weird thing was it as a 568B wired panel, which is odd. I've not seen one before. Most of the outlets needed to be re-crimped too. I ended up offsetting the rack-mounted gear on one side by one rack hole so that they were level!

IDE Tape drives. The bane of my existance. We have tried about 8 IDE cards now and they just do not want to play the game. The one that is working is chewing up one whole core when doing a backup, that's crap. Reason is because we can't see the IDE ports on the IDE controller card because it's RAID. The IDE ports aren't shown in the device manager. So, we can't force the drive to use DMA mode. It's annoying because it's going to probably mean a board swap and more down-time for the customer. It's a damn shame too because everything else in the server is perfect, they've done everything right. RAID 5 with a hot-spare, lots of RAM and regular backups. It's a really frustrating problem!

Yesterday and today were coding days. I added a few new features and fixed the interface mainly on our Sugar project. I am really loving the YUI library. It's great. I've used it to do small popup dialogs that grey out the site into the background, you fill out the form then it goes away. This is the *good* kind of popup though, it does stuff for you. It schedules a followup call for our projects when you hit the button. It also updates some other status' that allow us to monitor the progress through a project.

Computers are dropping like flies at home. The HTPC died, and tonight has mysteriously started working again. Which was good because I needed to nick one of it's SCSI drives for the server, which lost a drive in it's RAID 5 array. I booted the HTPC and copied all the data off it. The lone SCSI drive in the HTPC is an U160 drive only 16GB I use for recording to. I've thrown that in the server, replacing the dead one and it's rebuilding while I type now. It's unfortunate because the replacement drive, although quicker, is much, much louder. It's all I've got though. I've gone from a Seagate ST318275LW (18.2 gig 7200RPM Ultra-2 SCSI) to a Seagate Atlas 10KII (18.2G 10000 RPM Ultra-160 SCSI). The other down-side is that drive will far out-pace the other drives in the array, it's kind of a waste throwing a nice U160 drive in with Ultra-2 gear. What I really want is to get another 2 or 4 disk array of 320GB SATAII drives. That would be nice =) The other thing that annoys me about this failure is that it's the other RAID 5 array that has the hot spare! This array doesn't!!! Grrrrrrr.

Hopefully the data is all-good and it's happy when it's done and I reboot.

Sunday 10th June 2007 - 22:23:03


Today I went to Josh's and finished off some of his house LAN. At least now the Cyber-Den is wired for LAN! Ben came over too for some LANnage, but had a nasty piece of spyware that was really difficult to remove. I ended up sticking his hard drive in another computer to delete the infected files. A pair of DLLs working in unison, delete one's entries, the other re-writes them etc... Josh also got a new video card which unfortunately didn't want to play the game =/ Lots of weird graphical corruption.

We had hamburgers for lunch and of course some OLD.

Saturday 9th June 2007 - 13:02:16


Massive week of programming and call-outs.

This week and part of last week, Tape drives were the bane of my existance. This customer's Sony Tape drive just did not want to play the game at all! It turns out the problem was the IDE controller on the mainboard. Most of the new Pentium D chipsets don't come with IDE controllers, so board manufacturers have to 'tac one on' somewhere. In this case they solved the problem by using a USB to IDE bridge on the board as the on-board IDE port. This is all well and good until you introduce tricky things like Tape drives and Retrospect backup. Retrospect backup doesn't play nice with USB-IDE bridges, at least not the old version that the customer has because it says to windows "go away, I'm going to talk direct to the drive" instead of using the windows drivers to communicate. The other problem is, the USB-IDE bridge might not be a full-to-spec IDE port, so, when MS Backup or retrospect tell the drive to do something or request some sort of status from the drive, it falls over.

Once we were over that hurdle I started trying different IDE cards, another boggle in it's self. Most of the available IDE and SATA/IDE PCI cards are RAID by default now. You can't just buy two dumb IDE ports on a card anymore... which sucks arse. So, we get a nice array of 5 or so different IDE and IDE/SATA controller cards and try it. Most don't detect CD-ROMs, the very last one I tried, with an ALi Chipset was already behind the 8 ball as we pretty much assumed it'd not do the job, being ALi. This stupid ALi SATA/IDE controller card was the *only* card that detected both CD_ROMs and the Tape Drive.

OK, so we slap the controller in the server and 'hook 'er up' and it's all happy, except the backup process is now chewing out one whole core of the CPU to it's self and it's slowing everyhing that's running on the server down. Grrrrrrrrrrrr... My current running theory is because the thing is a RAID card, you can't see the individual IDE ports in the device manager. Because you can't see the individual ports in device manager, you can't force them to do DMA mode. Because the Tape Drive is not using DMA mode (god knows why not 'cus it detects as UDMA 5) it chews out a heap of CPU time dumping or reading data to and from the tape. Yay.

It's pouring rain now. It has been for days. I sat down for 5 minutes outside and shot half-a-gig of photos in about 10 minutes. I didn't really achieve what I wanted (frozen motion water drop type shots) but I came close. It's very overcast so I had to bump up the ISO to expose the drops quickly enough to get the "frozen motion" type shot. The other problem I have is my 28-70 f/2.8 lens' Auto Focus is screwed, so I can't set it on AI Servo mode which is a continuous auto-focus mode.

It looks like the changes to the level in the back yard helped a bit but not that much. I cleaned the compost heap, I mean, gutters today. That's why they were overflowing during the rain. The downpipe was clogged and there was about 75mm of muck all the way along the gutter!

Tuesday 5th June 2007 - 19:17:29


Major Down-Time!

Finally I have the net back and we're all settled into our new house! (Except Liam who refuses to sleep!)

Tuesday 8th - Friday 11th May 2007 - 22:19:43


Massive week of code writing, only a few call-outs.

I've got a new toy, well, have here a potentially new toy, I haven't decided yet... A 100baseFX switch. I can interface stuff with the 2924XL-M Cisco with the fiber modules at last. I am having my doubts about it though. It appears to be slow - for example, there is a 50ms ping from the Fiber switch to the Border Router. It's on 100MBit Copper and it's only one hop, technically no hops. I guess that's to be expected with two media conversions in the middle. The other thing that is bothering me is some corrosion on the 100baseTX uplink socket. There is also some corrosion on the inside of the chassis. My primary concern is port 4. It gets "phantom" connections indicating 100baseFX full duplex with traffic (Green and Orange Lights on) with only it's "dummy" (The fiber ends are protected by a rubber dummy that fits into the socket and seals the socket from external dust etc) in. I've been messing about in the switch's configs to try to speed things up, including setting full-duplex, updating via TFTP the onboard software and also configuring some other bits and pieces like auto-negotiation and trunking. Turning all the crap off basically and making it "just" switch the data. I'm going to try some of it's multimedia and streaming stuff later, I believe it has a "low-latency" configuration.

I've been umming and aaahing all week over wether or not to buy it. But as of tonight I have all the info. So, we will see!

Monday 7th May 2007 - 20:23:20


Lots of code on the main form I've been working on in our Sugar project. Finally All the data comes out where it needs to be, now I need to make it save it back in (if its changed). I've done a lot of javascript validation and such, learned a lot. The rest of the forms will be much easier. I love YAHOO YUI though, it would have been much harder to do without it. The events and popups in particular, this is a big-mother of a form for loan pre-aproval. They want to know incomes to underpants colour pretty much, so it needs lots of keyup and lostfocus events for validation.

There are mostly two events per numeric field, blur and keyup. I'm primarilly using keyup for addition and updating total fields, although it validates as well. Blur is pretty much zeroing empty fields so everthing looks nice. YAHOO tooltips. Bloody excellent. I'll definately be using them again in other projects. The really cool bit is you can put full CSS+HTML into a nice looking popup on a mouseover that times out like a real tooltip. This is without crappy CSS based rubbish and DIV hiding and showing that takes about 20 lines of HTML and CSS and JAVASCRIPT. These are so simple, the customer loves them! Simpler code, plus you can stick DHTML in them if you want to. I'm using hard-coded content at the moment for them. 1 line, define the content, 2nd line, define the popup with the ID of the element you want to mouse-over. Beautiful!

Sunday 6th May 2007 - 20:49:16


What a huge week! Finally we're out of the unit. Been so busy I haven't even blogged.

Liam's first birthday today! We had Mum, Dad, Jen and Chris over for a bbq. We got him an Elmo cake because he absolutely loves Elmo! He got a lot of presents too! A nice reversible jacket from Grandma, A big Elmo that talks from us (It's nearly as big as him and he loves it!), Jen and Chris got him some bath toys and another toy. I'm going to have to come back here and edit this because linking people to stuff isn't working. I'm pretty tired! He had a great day too. He was also tired and cranky at home time for everyone... Liam had lots of attention all day. He even managed to snaffle some icing on his cake with a quick grab, he wasn't too fussed on the taste of it (what taste?!). It was that piped on icing that doesn't taste like anything...

The HTPC crapped it's self today after I tried to install .NET framework 3.0 without SP2 on there. I eventually sorted it out though. I'm currently working on installing the software that this whole thing was for! The problem was at first, after attempting an install of the HTPC software, the start menu and task bar weren't started and neither were any of the services. A very broken box. So I tried to install SP2. Same problem. So I did some digging scrying of logs and it seemed that the RPC service not starting was the core of the boggle. So, I checked all the permissions in safe mode and re-booted. It worked. So, now I am going to try the rest of the software and probably another .NET install over the top because I'm not sure if the first one even completed.

Sunday 29th April 2007 - 12:04:28


RC Day today! Josh is coming over with is lunchbox and we're going down the park!

I nearly struck disaster though. My charger would not make a connection to the battery, so, I broke out the other mechanical charger - which was also borked. I took it apart and worked on it. The problem was threefold, one there were a number of dry joints about the place, two the trickle indicator globe was shorted and the ammeter shunt was not actually connected to the board!!! This meant that the charger was trying to charge the battery through the windings of the ammeter! I fixed all of this and re-assembled. It was now fine. The original charger, upon checking wasn't receiving the full 13.8 volts from the power supply - there was a corroded contact on the fuse holder which was to blame. A little scrape and re-fitting of the fuse and we're up again! Two working chargers, now that I have spent the time to fix the older one! I think I will keep the older one as it has a discharge function too. The circuit is also much more robust using a pair of 20W resistors as shunts.

Should be a good day!

Tuesday 24th - Saturday 28th April 2007 - 10:13:00

Another massive week. I just have no time! Today I will probably clean up a bit, there are some bits and pieces that I'd like to gather up and put in boxes so they are out of the way. On the cards is also re-visiting the mechanical speed control in my RC car that I resurected the other week. It seems that I have actually put too bigger resistor on it and it's wiping out the whole voltage and just extending the neutral contact.

Monday 23rd April 2007 - 21:21:02

What a massive day! I'm back up in the office this week working on SugarCRM again.

Sunday 22nd April 2007 - 11:05:58


I resurected my RC Car today. I replaced the shunt resistors and servos. I also had to repair one servo whos limiting wiper wasn't even touching the final output gear - so it was just continuously grinding away agains the mechanical limit (a lug on the final output spur). It turns out that the other radio and servos are OK but I can't mix them - they aren't compatible. I only have one set of crystals though =/

I found a perfect double-tapped resistor in my collection of bits and pieces recovered from old TVs and Stereos. I soldered that in and fitted a spacer to the old mount and it fits clsoe to perfect. Although I can't put the body on properly anymore =/ I will have to remedy that with some creative mounting or some agressive grinding =)

The buggy looks like something out of mad max - all battered and beaten, looks like it's cobbled together out of bits found in the desert!

I also had to repair my charger. It appears to be working but doesn't indicate it is. Well it pulls the current and the battery gets charged so it must be. All the voltage measurements I took worked OK. There are a few blown resistors. Perhaps a short inside - the resistors are only related to the indicator LEDs. The charger is a aligator clip type arrangement designed for a car battery. I hooked it up to my trusty Manson Power supply which can deliver up to 25 Amps at 15 Volts. It's going to come in handy later when I test motors and what not, though they will probably peak above 40A...

Speaking of repairs I came across two beautiful repairs I made about 10 years ago!

Saturday 21st April 2007 - 21:27:15

The Rack

I have assembled my rack and fitted all my gear into it. There was some trouble locating the screws to hold on the rack-ears for the Cisco 2924-XL-M switch though. There was some initial trouble with the orientation of the horizontals on the 19" wide side because they did't mesh with the verticals. So I had to pull it all apart (pain in the butt - friction fit joins) and then re-assemble it.

From The Top:
* Cisco 2924-XL-M with 2 x C2922-XL-V Dual 100 Base FX Fiber Modules.
* 3 Empty RU for Potential Cisco Routers Later.
* 56K Dialup Modem, Billion ADSL Router and Netgear Wireless Router.
* IBM 8045-012 Hub - Used for watching the LAN.
* D-Link 14 Port 10 Base T Switch + 2 x 100M uplinks.
* Cable Organiser
* Cisco 4000M with 2 x NP-1E (Ethernet) and 1 x NP-1RV2 (Token Ring) Interfaces.
* Dell Poweredge 2400 Server.

Tomorrow I am going to go through the bits of RC Car that I picked up from Mum and Dad's today. I had the wrong idea about the bits being together, as in something that resembled a car. It will be interesting to see what I can cobble together with these bits. I have a Tamiya Super Hornet with a smashed front, and cracked gearbox, broken wing. I have a Tamiya HotShot which is pretty slawed too. It's actually not in one piece, got cracked suspension mounts (tricky single-shock suspension) and probably gearbox troubles. I also need to fix the front gearbox and re-install the center shaft so that it does 4WD again... I have two body halves, the gear train, shocks and running gear are all in bits in my container (I'm not usually one to misplace bits - although I can forget where I "organised" them to...). I have an Attack II Control in unknown condidtion with - of all things - a 9v battery snap on it that I have obviously modded in there at some time. Ah the modding started early. I have crystals which is an excellent start and two radio recievers. Now one RX is in the parts box and the other is in the car. I'd say one is dead. Guess which =)

Unfortunately I couldn't find my l33t 13T (that's 13 turns), pretty labelled bright looking, fins at the back and replaceable brushes racing motor. It's gotta be somewhere at Mum and Dad's still. That was good I got it for like $5 years and years ago, we are talking pre-highschool. So, I dunno, maybe 8+ years ago. Bougth brushes and stuck them in and cleaned it all up - but never used it.

I have a lot of small nuts, bolts and washers available from my electronics collection that I am pretty sure I will need! I also need to track down some resistors for the speed controllers - or get an ESC. Probably resistors for now 'cus they're going to be free =) In my wisdom I had removed the resistors and jumpered them, so, it's either full-throttle or nothing on the speed control at the moment. Now that I actually know why they are there and what they do - I think I will put them back, they chew power though. I have a backup remote control that I bought for $8.50 from eBay and also a set of ball-bearings for $9 including the teeny tiny ball bearing in the middle of the diff!!! This will help with run-time. Some of the cheaper upgrades until I get a car working ! If I get ambitious I will make my own ESC, I can probably look at that now pretty easilly. There is a DC Motor Controller Kit from *shudder* Dick Smith that would be easy to modify as an ESC. It's a little bigger than a bought one but will pack lots more punch and would have a better current-handling capacity. If not, there's always eBay Cool

Saturday 21st April 2007 - 10:16:32

Today I'm going to assemble my rack and put all the switchgear in it. I need to take out one of my existing shelves first though. Lots of stuff to move.

Sunday 15th April 2007 - 19:21:13


Today I went to Josh's new house to install a LAN. We managed to get all the cable pulls done but unfortunately it was getting late so I had to go before I finished. The cables for the "Cyber Den" are all pulled though the floor and ready to take sockets though. The patch panel is also neatly finised. I also ran out of time with the phone as there was a dodgy connection in the phone line where the outcoming cable was not following standard. Unfortunately I didn't have time to pull apart the connection and inspect it. The connection is a nasty one by the looks of it. Three cables coming into a bundle of twisted-and-taped type joins. No solder it seems. I will see though apon further insepction.

Saturday 14th April 2007 - 19:20:12

Much vegetation. Not much news.

Friday 13th April 2007 - 19:18:47


It's now burned permanently into my brain!

Pull R9, R10, R11. Break the trace from pin 6 to the +10V rail. Repace R10 with a 3.3KR 1/4W Carbon Film Resistor. Replace R11 with a 33 microfarad 35 volt electrolytic capacitor with negative facing the SCR. Turn the board over. Scrape the broken pin 6 trace on the pin 6 side. Solder a 15V Zener Diode from pin6 trace to ground. Solder a 1n4148 signal diode from pin3 to pin 6. Add a 680p ceramic cap in parallel with C2 on the back of the board. Run a 330K 1/4W Metal Film Resistor in heatshrink from pin 6 to active after the fuse.
Fit the power cord, socket and mounting block. done.

I modified 16 boards in this way - it doesn't seem like it'd take so long. It took me a little over 8 hours. It is delicate work though and must be done accurately or the board will toast it's self. Something different. I did enjoy it - even though I was stuffed after 8 hours of soldering and assembly =)

Thursday 12th April 2007 - 18:53:05

What a massive day! Programming, Electronics and Sales. I'm still working on the supplier pricing updater. I learned a modification to a lighting board that needs to be made on a number of units for an associated company - The actual run of modifications I will be doing tomorrow. I also worked on our other project - the SugarCRM modification.

Wednesday 11th April 2007 - 20:22:40


Today I started work customising the SugarCRM objects that we have chosen that are most suited to hold our customer's data. Other than that it was the sales floor for the rest of the day!

I have acquired an IBM 8245-012 100 MBit Ethernet Hub from my boss. Hub you say? Yes, Hub. Stick a hub inbetween you and the LAN so you can monitor all the traffic - once I set up port mirroring on the cisco switch. This is an inegral part of troubleshooting a LAN at a higher level than just LED on equals link. Slowly I will build up a lab for learning. I really need to get at least a CCNA I think at this stage. The knowledge I would gain would be excellent. I am currently a bit weak on the complexities of routing. I have no doubt I will learn what I need to learn from the "intermanet". I have an audio rack here which will be suited fine for communications gear. I need a few of the higher/medium end routers to work with though. Currently I have a 4000 series router and a shelf that I can use to add it into the rack. It's only 18RU and 450mm deep anyway - I can't add my dell servers into it, besides, they've got no rack rails anyway.

Tuesday 10th April 2007 - 19:40:22


Back to work! Automagic updates of prices from the supplier. The code does it, but needs work on it's mechanics. Getting the pricelist from the passworded area of the suppliers website, loading it up and unziping it all with a few commands in the console issued through a web-interface. I love wget, wget is my friend =)

We started discussing the work we needed to do on the crm + asterisk project we have undertaken. It's going to work well I reckon - just a matter of moulding SugarCRM into something that matches the customer's business logic and work flow.

Monday 9th April 2007 - 22:37:47

The last of my four days of relaxation! I played some WoW and vegetated for the day.

Sunday 8th April 2007 - 19:33:57

Today we went to my Nana and Grandpa's house for an Easter Lunch. Liam had great fun. My Sister Jen and her Boyfriend Chris were there, Mum and Dad and of course Grandpa and Nana.

Saturday 7th April 2007 - 23:32:09

I played a lot of World of Warcraft today. More grinding of skills, but this time mainly with an alt and Enchanting.

Friday 6th April 2007 - 10:32:03

Lots and lots of World of Warcraft. Mainly Cooking and Leatherworking grinding. I then logged on my alt and played that for a while, a lvl 16 enchanter. I was grouped with Azen's (A guildie) alt character which is 23 and quested in darkshire. I died quite a few times because 16 is just too low for that area. I ended up logging on Zag and taking Azen's Alt though one of the harder quests (Killing lots of Plague Spreaders). I also caught up on some more Stargate Atlantis.

Thursday 5th April 2007 - 18:41:21


I didn't get as much coding done as I would have liked today. I had to re-install windows on a customers laptop as well as serve customers on the sales floor for a large chunk of the day. I did manage to create a tool I think will be usefull and reusable in other jobs. Its a simple report on categories for OSCommerce/CRELoaded that lists each of the categories and it's sub-categories with a count of them and it's active products. This will come in handy when debugging for me, but may also be handy for the product content maintainers. You can clearly and easilly see the tree structure of categories of the entire site.

I managed to get a little WoW time in tonight. I levelled up cooking a fair way with a big grind of Cooked Mightfish. I had like 80 of them that I cooked up and raised my skill to nearly 300! I had run out of money by that point and had to stop grinding. I had some leather and thread in the bank so I also made some Fine Leather Pants to grind up my Leather Working skill a bit.

Wednesday 4th April 2007 - 18:22:00


Worked on the price changes and $4/$9 rounding for most of today. It's inter-woven into everything! Because of the nature of our custom system builder the shopping cart doesn't store the contents of the system, so the discount price must be pulled out and calculated on the fly per-section. Probably about 20 files needed changing! But, I've done it and It appears to test OK. I'm going to get a few people to try it out now and check everything with a calculator.

I also went through my phone and found this join that I made on a CAT-5 cable in the ceiling cavity. That was a feat =)

Tuesday 3rd April 2007 - 11:08:29


The joys of OSCommerce. I'm getting a lot better at working with it. It's a lot more familiar to me now. I have been working on a system builder for a customer and a discount must be applied when the condition of a full system is met. Easy right? Well, not really =) It is very difficult to manipulate the price of a product under a certain set of conditions. It works now at least!

Vegetated at home. Not really much got done at all.

Monday 2nd April 2007 - 21:22:32

It's on now! 3 days to write a slew of features for an OSCommerce installation. Should be fun. I worked on a package discount today which OSCommerce doesn't do. I nearly finished it and stayed back a little bit longer. Oh well, tomorrow. I also visited Josh today. We took home the boxes of cable and Patch Panel for his LAN. I'm going to build him a structured LAN for his house.

Sunday 1st April 2007 - 08:01:40

Poor Liam is upset because Bambaloo is not on. At least he has good taste! It's a Jim Henson production.

Saturday 31st March 2007 - 21:44:57


Today I played with Liam most of the day because I don't see him much during the week. He's usually already in bed. I caught up on my Battle Star Galactica Season 3 viewing too. That was indispersed with some Stargate Atlantis. I cooked Kel and I a nice lunch of some Toast, Grilled Tomatos, Bacon and Egg on the barbecue after I cleaned it today.

I got tired of the server noise so I decided, now that it's getting cooler, to cram the second RAID array and brackets back into the case and put the side on. We shall see how it goes. There was a heap of updates that needed a reboot anyway, so the down-time didn't hurt. The thing is just too noisy! That's 11 drives. It's chewing power, 8 of them are 10K RPM SCSI drives so they will by design. After all they aren't meant to be quiet or power friendly. It's only the 2 x 320GB SATA and 200GB IDE drives that even have power saving abilities! Tongue out

Friday 30th March 2007 - 19:38:08


The end of the week! I am so damn tired. I've been doing 8:30AM starts at work and Liam's had a terrible week with his teeth! I'm feeling pretty zombified at the moment.

I've taken over on the OSCommerce job. The source needed separating from the "work in progress". There are lots of full-res product shots and old code snapshots mixed in with the production code. So, in Technogeek style I came to the rescue. Cleaned the source out, documented everything, checked the production code into SubVersion ready for work and documented all the scribblings I could find on the desk and submitted problems with the site. There was a need also to streamline backups, so I wrote a script to do that for me. We will see how it pans out, I may just stick it in a cron job. I also ended up moving my workstation on-site too. The dual-head setup is drawing quite a bit of attention. Something like "This is how the pros do it" comes to mind Sealed

We may soon be involved in another SugarCRM project too - this time tieing it to Asterisk which will be bloody awesome to play with!

Thursday 29th March 2007 - 19:34:58


It looks like I've inherited this OSCommerce project for a computer retailer. It needs a little work on some of the back-end processes like creating products and categories and the such, most of the lower-level work is done though.

Liam has been having terrible nights! He's got 2 more teeth coming through.

Wednesday 28th March 2007 - 19:33:12

More retail work. I'm also mixing it with some online retail in the way of OSCommerce work.

Tuesday 27th March 2007 - 13:24:26

Very little programming done today. I worked on the email thing again. For another company I am now working on a supplier pricelist automatic download and update for a CRELoaded web shop. That should be good, I am helping the existing programmer along who is more familiar with the lower level languages and driver-level type stuff. PHP is not really his Forte.
Back on the sales floor I go for a few weeks!

Monday 26th March 2007 - 06:43:35


Today I worked on the mass emailer again building a page for generating criteria to select the customers we want to send an email to.

I also did some retail work. It was a good day, sold lots of stuff - didn't have to close/open/manage staff =) Much better!

Wednesday 21st March 2007 - 21:04:42


Lots of mixed work today! Routing puzzles for travel agens and all sorts! We're trying to work with compulsary software (wingate) which is required for some other Travel Agent software. We want to route around the wingate but keep it in use for the Travel Agent Softwares traffic only.

Lots of graphics work today too. Product shots and thumbnails for them for one of our customers. I'm getting pretty handy with 'The GIMP' (An open source image manipulation program - GNU Image Manipulation Program...)

Once again, vegetated at home. Didn't really feel like doing anything productive - or even anything un-productive like WoW =)

Thursday 22nd March 2007 - 13:25:27


More backup script work today. I wrote in some contingencies for no connection, can't contact the backup server and also if there is no route to the server.

I also worked on a heap of product shots for one of our customers.

Today I visited Josh in his new house! It's an awesome little house with a massive backyard. We managed to cobble together his PC and a small LAN from all his still-packed gear so we could play some CS. It was a great night!

Friday 23rd March 2007 - 09:50:22


Today I am working on a mass mailer - don't worry, not un-solicited. I wrote the front end today, for the templating part. It allows you to pull up your html email templates and then edit them. This is all done over the internal intranet. So, TinyMCE (A GUI editor for web browsers) to the rescue again!

Once again, we're using AJAX and Javascript to make it feel like a standalone app without too much submit-and-reload type behaviour.

Kel and Liam came home from their visit down the coast today!

Tuesday 20th March 2007 - 19:34:46


With notes in hand I can now work on the backup script again. Brad gave me a few python pointers too. The class I wrote called BackupSource was not a complete waste! Which is good. I made a few quick modifications to it so that It ran "the other way around" (see yesterdays blog) and it runs nicely. I also modified a number of functions so they ran on the windows platform. I am now using os.popen to do the work. The main modifications was the initial setup, instead of making a list of machines to back up it now determines it's own hostname and then looks in the database to see if there are any entries for it to back up.

Monday 19th March 2007 - 21:39:04


Today I built a few POS systems. They are little mini ITX form factor machines. Very cool. They have two hard disks in RAID (which means a little case modding to mount the second - which is good fun). Then you have to play oragami with the two IDE leads to fit them in the case and route them so they don't get severed or anything. I've got building these things down to a fine art now! The reason I was able to build, install an OS, update and patch the OS and configure a couple of necessary tweaks on two machines in a day in parallel with my normal work was because of a small script that I wrote and an internal repository that I built. The script is simple, it downloads the repository config files (.repo) and the keys for the repositories from our webserver that are configured for our internal mirrors. It then copies them to where they are needed, imports the keys (it's FC3 so you have to do it) and then starts a yum update to get all the goodies off Livna, KDE-Redhat and Fedora-Extras repositories for me. It's very quick on a LAN. Blindingly so in comparison to over-the-net updates.

Brad and I worked a little on the backup script together - It turns out I was writing the thing from entirely the wrong perspective! I had little info as to requirements so I guessed a lot of the requirements. I was writing from the perspective of this script running on cron on the backup server and it fetching the files from the source machines - Brad was thinking around the other way - which makes more sense. Multiple machines at once, only one key to share for ssh etc etc. There is a small list now that I have properly considered both ways of doing it. The thing must be decentralised.

Did nothing at all at home. Just vegetated, got a Kebab on the way home =) Yum!

Sunday 18th March 2007 - 22:51:13

I cooked a great steak and veggies on the bbq today. In less than 30 mins! Pumpkin, squash, carrots, brocoli the whole lot and two nice steaks on the bbq.

Saturday 17th March 2007 - 22:49:01


I didn't do much at all today. I played a lot of World of Warcraft mainly. I fixed the vacuume cleaner and started a mod on my Poweredge server. I've decided that I'm going to pull the hot-swap rack out of the bottom of one of the three Poweredge cases I have. It will then go into the main Poweredge server underneath it's existing hot-swap rack. That will mean 12 caddies Laughing If only I had a few 4port SATA RAID cards and 12 400 gig hard disks Money mouth

I also looked at some code and circuits for the weather station platform that I want to build. Solar chargers and Maxim IC 1wire communication is what I need to read up on mainly.

Friday 16th March 2007 - 10:08:58


More office organization, I moved a lot of stuff around for our office. So we can now walk around comfortably. There was a lot of stuff stored in there that didn't need to be in there.

I went out and installed a printer and laptop out north sydney way. A pretty un-eventful day =)

The current project I am workign on is a base for a weather station that will incorporate a SLA and Solar Panel with changer and what not to be used as a foundation to add modular sensors.

Thursday 15th March 2007 - 10:30:58


Today I continued setting up the retail office at Adelong. Lots of shuffling around. I was lucky, the desk that was in the office already only just fitted where we wanted it between the wall and a big steel cabinet full of paperwork. The networking is mostly centralised to a switch in this room, as is the PBX and security cameras. It's going to be nasty sorting out the cabling!

The backup script and web interface didn't get much attention today, I mainly worked on it's implementation documentation.

I had an on-site call today at a travel agency - took me hours to sort out the problem with the booking software they use. It turns out that the software only needed to be patched to make it compatible with IE7! It took 10 mins to solve once I got someone on the phone that knew what they were talking about!

Wednesday 14th March. 2007


Today I wrote the python script to read the database and perform the backups, well call rdiff-backup to do the backups anyway. It reads out all the machine and then all the folders for that machine that it needs to back up. The web interface I wrote yesterday is what creates the records. It will run on cron on the server.

I started work on a rainfall sensor. I figure it's going to be the most interesting. It's going to consist of a tube to collect water from a funnel. It will then internal probes so that I can measure the water level by measuring the capacitance on the probes. This will be done by a PIC reading the frequency that is outputted from a 555 Astable circuit with the timing capacitor being the tube and probes. With a known RA and RB We can calculate the capacitance or for a more simple approch just map the frequencies to the volume of water.

I really should get the receiver working!

Tuesday 13th March. 2007


Today I worked on an addon to an intranset web-app we wrote for one of our customers. This new addition will be used to schedule and monitor backups of various computers on the LAN and or at remote sites. I'm learning a lot of AJAX, we are trying to make it feel like software running locally as much as possible - rather than having to repetedly reload the pages as is the case with standard web forms.

I wrote the front end for the backup today - it needs a little tweak but works enough to implement. The front end writes records to the database detailing which machines need backing up and the paths that should be backed up. Tomorrow I will write the python script to hang off cron and actually read what it needs to backup from the database then do it, updating the status and statistics in the database as it goes. I figured it would be helpful to know when a backup fails or takes way too long, so I added start time, complete time and a status flag to the database as well. We can then see immediately what has failed. To be implemented from the "wish list" (ie stuff that isn't neccessary right now) are the reporting features and also size tracking for the backups. Might even add a status monitor type thing on the RAID server to make sure we're not cutting it too close with disk space.

Small tweaks are often the most handy. I made a very small tweak to the Drupal code that added the title in for me as you read it now - so I don't have to look at the date and type it.

I've completed some more renders and completed the schematic and routing of the TX Board MK2 with the DIP switch.

Monday 12/03/2007


Lots of data entry today! It seems I can't escape entering stock take results! That's OK though, keeps it different - plus I didn't have to stand while doing it like in my previous job. Not to mention that there was only about 1/10th of the amount of stuff to enter.

I also moved around the office a bit to make room for our new photocopier that is imminently arriving.

I collected up all the stuff scored from the recent shop closures too and bagged it ready to take home. Lots of old stuff you just can't buy any more - like 20 and 40 pin DIL to Ribbon connectors for example. I'm sure I'll find a use for them eventually, maybe even in the buggy I want to build. Some other cool mentionable stuff - Lots of old 43XX and 45XX ICs, Some nice 2A circuit breakers that would go nicely in any 240V or power supply projects I might build, a number of bags of 1000 zener diodes in various types - the list goes on Laughing

I am still working on the 433MHz <a href="">Wireless Sensor</a> project while on the train. I've nearly finished the revised TX board with a 4 way DIP switch as opposed to 4 sets of 2x3 DIL headers.

Sunday 11/03/2007


I added lots more photos today. I am currently adding more as I speak. Even the ones from Dolphines Point in Ulladulla where I decided to see "what my gear can do" when I took it out in a slight drizzle near the sea. It was great. The gear survived - as it should, something with that many rubber seals should be nearly waterproof! Some of the pictures are a tad foggy because of the water on the front element of the lens! It made for some entertainment for me anyway! It still doesn't top Dad's mate standing in the surf with his gear and tripod to get a shot.

Went to the doctor today and got something for the rash on my finger at last. Hopefully it will fix it. At least this doctor knew what he was looking at. Contact Dermatitis. Apparently detergents are a common cause. I reckon it was probably the Easy-Off BAM or somethiong that did it, that stuff is terribly caustic.

Played a good few hours of World of Warcraft. I got my character up to level 42 and was finally able to wear some gear that was crafted for me about 8-10 months ago! I've been trying to sort the site out and it appears to be running fine now on the new server.

I got myself a belt today finally. My nice belt I bought for my wedding broke in the weirdest place, you'd expect the belt to pull out of the buckle or something but it broke in the middle of the belt where the holes are. Weird. I have a nasty feeling this $10 belt from K-Mart will last longer than my $69 real leather etc etc belt that I had.

A new week. All of the gear we need is out of both the old Tandy and the David Reid stores which should save us some cash later down the track in shop fittings and consumables. I also partially set up an electronics workshop for the guys down stairs at Adelong which is something different. Next week will probably be setting up of office space for Adelong so that they can get cracking with sales and new business plans and stuff. That shop is going to hammer once the place is a little better organised and separated from its electronics tech business.

I am glad Tandy is gone though. Tandy was a pain, the treatment was poor and the pay was crap. But now, I have a job which far out-strips even a good retail job so I don't really give a shit to be honest... The variety is there which is important, but most important I have a boss that respects me and I am in a situation where I actually want to come to work! It's bloody terrific! He get's his mits on all sorts of work from Security Cameras to Websites to LAN installations for offices. If it's connected to a computer or even just electronic, we probably do it. The main focus of the business is POS (Point of Sale) which is still in development but currently running at a number of stores already.

Saturday 10/03/2007


Played some WoW and watched some Heroes today. Had a nice BBQ dinner - Some propper sausages, a few chicken kebabs, onions and potatoe chips which I cook on the grille.

I also added a heap of photos.

There were also a whole heap of screenshots, some pictures of my PIC work with the 16f877 and MAX232 Serial Chip.

Mods will be back.

Once I import my old blog + articles the mods will be back in here.

433MHz Wireless with PIC Microcontrollers


I have decided to design a wireless sensor system in order to learn about micro controllers, wireless communication and environmental sensing.

I am currently basing my design around a master receiver and wireless transmitter modules. The transmitter is able to select an ID for a sensor and "listen" for a readout. Ultimately the system will use trancievers and will communicate using the I2C protocol.

The design of the wireless sensors will be modular consisting of a transmitter board and a sensor board or only the sensor it's self. This will allow it to be used as a foundation for most types of sensors.

The transmitter module will have a 4 data pin input. This can be expanded with the upgrading of the decode/encode chip at each end. I have selected the SM5162/SM5172 pairs to multiplex, encode, decode, and demultiplex the data. The 4 bit limit on sensors can be upgraded by updating the SM5162/72 pairs to their various models up to a maximum of 6 bits. Addressing the modules is done using the addressing pins on the SM5162/72s. They have up to 12 tri-state pins for addressing themselves. As I have selected the "-4" version of the chips I will have 4 data bits and 8 tri-state address pins. This would be reduced to 6 address pins if the data pins were increased to 6 as in the "-6" model. In reverse; when 12 pins are selected for addressing only 1 data pin is available.

These tri-state pins will only be operated in digital however. When the pins are allowed sit in the third state, or "float" the chip consumes more power. This is not what we want for battery powered wireless sensors! The jumpers that set the address will allow a "float" state to be set but this is primarily to stop jumpering from +5V to ground. This will mean a 2x3 DIL header for each addressing pin. The alternative is using a 4 way DIP switch tied to +5V with pull-down resistors to make sure that the address pins do not float. Any extra address pins will be tied to ground.

The transmitter board will be fitted with an IC socket for the SM-5162, a 6 pin molex header for use with the sensor or sensor board, a 2 pin molex header for power from the battery and a four pin SIL female header. This will be used to fit the transmitter module into. The transmitter board will have a built in +5V regulator on board.. Six pins are supplied to the sensor board/sensor they will be 4 data bits, +5V and ground - This will allow a multitude of different designs to be connected to it. The clock speed of the SM5162 will be set using a 2x4 DIL header and a single jumper to select the appropriate resistor.

The receiver board will consist of a pic16f877, an SM5172, a MAX232 level converter, a +5V regulator and their supporting components. The clock speed of the SM5172 will be set using a 2x4 DIL header and a single jumper to select the appropriate resistor. These will match with the transmitters values as per the clock speed table in the data sheet. The receiver board will communicate with the computer via RS232 Serial.

Data is logged on the computer and inserted into a MySQL database along with an address and a date stamp. Data will then be able to be reported or extracted in a number of ways and/or displayed on a website.

Opening Entry.

Well, I don't know wether anyone will be able to see this today, or even tomorrow. I have switched the DNS over to point to the new server and my re-vamped site therein - which is what you are looking at.

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