Websites, Propellers, and Sweet Music!

Well, I’m sure that you’ve noticed the new layout and domain name for my blog. Over winter break, I decided it was silly to have both a blog site and a school website. So, I purchased this domain (www.samkerr.com was taken) and am now going to host both sites here. My web host, A Small Orange, has a really good deal on a years worth of hosting for only $25, so Idecided to go with that. So far, it’s performing much better than my old site. If you’re in the market for a new web host, I’d appreciate you signing up through the previous link, since I get a referral bonus.

Parallax Propeller Logo

Propeller Time!

Anyways, at Christmas, I got a starter set for the Parallax Propeller microcontroller, an 8 core, 32-bit microcontroller. I really like to work with hardware and embedded type stuff, so I was really excited about this. I’ve played with AVR chips before, but this chip has a lot more power built-in, but it won’t require as much work as using an FPGA either.

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Posted in Code, microcontroller, Science | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

PUFs are just so cuddly!

As I wrote a few entries ago, I have been using FPGAs this semester in my research group. Since it’s the end of the semester and the paper has been submitted, I thought I would talk to you about my research some. The group that I do research with is mainly concerned with identity management and information security and this project was no exception. Specifically, the project I was working on was using Physically Unclonable Functions, or PUFs, to identify users. PUF device

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Posted in FPGA | 3 Comments

Intel Developer Forum shows off some cool stuff!

This year, the Intel Developer Forum has some pretty neat stuff to talk about. I’ve been reading their site today and the article from AnandTech about it.

The move from 4 to 6 cores with Gulftown.I’d highly recommend reading the AnandTech article since it has a lot better description (and pictures) than I could do, but the one thing that I’m really excited about is the new 32nm Gulftown chips. There supposed to have 6 cores and will come in 2010. Even better, they will drop right into my X58 motherboard after a quick BIOS update. That will save me a lot of money since I won’t have to buy a new motherboard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my quad-core i7 cpu, but 6 cores is better than 4, right?

Posted in Science | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

First steps with an FPGA!

For my research group at Purdue, we’ve decided we want to do some work with FPGA (or Field Programmable Gate Arrays). These are essentially chips that you can use to program very complex, very fast circuits. They are superior to other sorts of chips, such as DIP integrated circuits, because they are smaller, relatively cheap for all the power they have (~$10-$20), fully customizable, and FAST.

This is Xilinix Spartan FPGA, the kind I'm using.

This is Xilinix Spartan FPGA, the kind I'm using.

This was my first foray into FPGAs and it drove me crazy getting my tools all set up properly. I thought I’d post some thoughts.

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Posted in Code, FPGA | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Ciphers, Beaufort, and Bears… Oh my!

In my cryptography class, we’re starting to learn about various ciphers, and for a homework assignment, we were tasked with doing some ciphering by hand.

These rhinos are hot on the trail of some cryptography!

These rhinos are hot on the trail of some cryptography!

I find the task very interesting, but I quickly got tired of coding even a 10-letter “sentence”. Then I thought to myself, wait, I can program! This specifically seems like something that could quickly be done with a Python script. So I decided to spend a little time typing, and 5 minutes later, no more ciphering by hand! Below are the results for your own amusement!

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Posted in Code | 1 Comment

I've passed under the Linux Arch!

Last time, I wrote about how I was working on installing Linux on my computer. The main question with any Linux install though is, what distro do I use? I’ve used many different distros before, such as the popular Ubuntu, Slackware, and more recently, Mint and Fedora. I even tried to tackle (somewhat succeeded) Linux From Scratch. Each distro has its strengths, but for some reason, I was never happy with any of them. One didn’t give me enough control over my system and did everything for me, while others *cough* LFS *cough* provided me with next to no help, leaving me in over my head.

My new distro of choice

My new distro of choice

Well, that’s when I discovered the wonderful Arch Linux. I don’t plan on looking back.

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Posted in linux | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Back to school!

Dear Readers,

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t maintained my previous post frequency. My apologies, but this is because school has started, so I have now have classes and homework. Boo, right?

6a00d8341cc30c53ef01157160d6e6970c-450wiWhile my posts will most likely occur less frequently, I am in no way ending my blog.

I moved into a new apartment and have had to re-setup my computer and office. While hooking my computer up, “Isn’t it a little hypocritical that I promote Linux, but don’t have it installed on my computer?” Well, the answer is yes, so these past few days, I’ve been hooking up my computer for Linux.

I’m trying to find a new distro other than Ubuntu, since I find it somewhat cliche, even though it’s very good. I ran into some hardware recognition problems with Fedora and now I’m currently using Mint, but I don’t really like the look of it.

I expect that I’ll spend some time browsing distrowatch.com to find a cool new distribution to use; I’ll let you know what I find!

I’m taking compilers, cryptography, and differential equations this semseter, so I expect to post the intersting things I find out in these classes. Stay tuned!

Posted in linux, Rant | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Could it be? The TI-83+ public key cracked?!

I was perusing reddit and came upon a posting that claimed to have cracked the TI-83+ calculator’s public key. This allows anyone to write and “sign” their own code so that the calculator thinks that it is legitimate code from Texas Instruments. This opens up a lot of interesting possibilities. TI83PLUS

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Posted in Math | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I've got my head (and data) in the clouds!

I’m about to move into a new apartment in a few days and have noticed how much computer related crap I have to move. I’ve got my computer, a NAS, a few external hard drives, routers, CDs, and about a million cables to with everything else. This got me thinking, what would happen if I lost all of my equipment? How screwed would I be?Clouds_320

After thinking about it, pretty bad from a financial point of view, but as for my important data, really not that much.

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Posted in General Computing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Time to Organize the Book Collection!

I consider my book collection to be pretty large. I make genuine efforts to read through all my books, but by the time I finish one book, I’ve bought two more.

While I like curling up with just one book and reading straight through it, I’ll often find myself working on reading three, four, or more books at the same time (not the exact same time, but switching between them). That’s about the time when I notice my lack of bookmarks (or maybe just my inability to use them reliably). I’ve lost my place, so I put the book down saying I’ll come back later. Well, Crime and Punishment is still sitting on my dresser two-thirds done, and I’m not about to re-read 500 pages just to refresh myself with the story.imgres

Fed up with losing my place and abandoning books, I’ve decided to use this as a time to learn some web programming and make a dynamic website that will keep track of what books I own and how far along in each one I am. Not only this, but it will have bar graphs! Yay!

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Posted in Code, Utilities | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments