Microchip ICD 2 and Windows Vista x64

While on Christmas break, I purchased a few things to get started on the stock clock project.  First was the Explorer 16 development board, which is the same one that I used while an a co-op (internship).  I bought this particular one since I was already familiar with its features and the processors that came with it (a PIC24 and a dsPIC33).  To save on costs, I bought the In Circuit Debugger from ebay (a Microchip one, not a clone) for about half the cost of a new one.  After playing with it for several hours, I could not get it to work.  Reading through the Microchip fourms brought something to my attention.  The old ICD2 modules do not work in Vista x64 but the newer ones do.  This left me with a problem, as I no longer have a 32-bit install of Windows.  I’m not willing to change my Vista install on my desktop, so this left me with a few options.  I could install Windows 2000 on an old computer, but I would rather not have to boot another computer every time I want to work on this project.  It then hit me that maybe Virtualbox could forward the USB connected ICD2.  So my current setup is running Windows 2000 with the Microchip software as a Virtualbox guest with a Gentoo host.  This also has the added bonus of not making me reboot into Windows Vista on my desktop (dual boot Gentoo and Vista.  Vista is used for games.).  I’ve only done some minor testing, but I have gotten MPLAB to talk to the board without any additional issues.  Depending on how much free time I have, I should actually make some progress on the stock clock in the coming months.

Linux and Dvorak Update

After using Dvorak for several months now, I am quite comfortable with the layout. Far from my initial struggles, I am no longer annoyed at the layout, but rather enjoy its benefits. I am faster than my Qwerty days, but am not quite to the level of touch typing. I was never much of a typist to begin with, so perhaps being faster in not that much of an accomplishment. Currently, I cannot see myself going back to Qwerty.

On the Linux front, my total conversion over to a Linux based desktop is going along great.  All of my computers currently run Gentoo,  as I just switched one of my servers from Xubuntu to Gentoo.  I do still have my Windows install around so that I can play the occasional game and get a file or two when necessary.  To maintain as much connection to my home computers as possible, I have started to make extensive use of SSH.  Thus, even when I am stuck in the computer labs at school, I can SSH into my box and get all the functionality I would normally have.  Cone has proved to be an excellent command line mail client (with POP and IMAP support) and naim is a functional command line AIM replacement, two common programs that I like to use.  mp3blaster is also a nice program to listen to music.

With the quarter winding down, I should be able to get back to my neglected projects, and maybe start some others.

Switching to Linux

After several years of dabbling in Linux and a few months of server administration, I’ve decided to make the switch and use Linux, specifically Gentoo, on my primary machine.  Although I do still have my Windows XP x64 install, it will be used only when necessary.  Based on my experiences running Gentoo as a server, I think the transition will not be as harsh as some changes I’ve made recently (i.e. Dvorak, and still using it).  Since I already have a familiarity with Gentoo, the main issue will be learning alternative programs for what I used on Windows.  My current frustration is finding a music player that compares to iTunes.  Rhythmbox works, but lacks some of the features that I liked about iTunes, like automatically organizing my music library.  I’ve heard good things about Banshee but have not tried it yet.

In terms of games, two excellent games run natively in Linux: Unreal Tournament 2004 and Quake 4.  With Gentoo, installing them was easy as pie, just emerge ut2004 and emerge quake4-bin and follow the instructions.  I might try to install Counter Strike Source under WINE, but that will be a project for a later date.

Windows is Back

Now that I’ve had some time back from vacation, I decided to do a full investigation into what could be causing my primary Windows machine to fail. After a few hours of experimentation, I’m quite certain that the power supply is what was causing the issues. I currently running it from another 500 watt power supply that was being used in a different machine. The old power supply works, but doesn’t seem to be able to output the same amount of power that it used to, thus causing the problem.

Since I enjoyed using Ubuntu with my flagship hardware, I instituted a dual boot setup on my primary machine, using different hard drives for each OS.

On a different front, I’m contemplating buying a decent video card for the Myth box so that I can get that up and running again with decent hardware. Looking at current prices, one of the fanless GeForce 7600 cards looks appealing. Depending on how the cash situation turns out (aka need a car), that may not happen anytime soon.

Bye Bye Windows!

The motherboard in my one and only Windows machine (aka ompy) has threw in the towel after a few months of agony. The Asus A8N-SLI Premium motherboard has had problems coming online from a cold boot. When I try to turn the machine on, it only stay on for about 5 seconds and then shut off. It will keep doing that , but once in a while it will start. Once the computer boots, everything is dandy, which makes me wonder if theres a flaw in the motherboard itself causing a short early in the boot sequence. Its also possible that the system is drawing too much power too quickly, causing an in-rush current spike, and tripping the built in short circuit protection. I haven’t had the time for do a proper investigation of the problem, but from what I’ve been reading on various forums its a problem with one of the motherboards power regulation transistors.

Since that machine is down and out, I decided to give my main Ubuntud Linux machine (aka gizmonic) a little boost with the EVGA GeForce 7900GT video card that was in my Windows machine. Gizmonic was using a very old PCI video card that was laying around, but after experiencing Beryl with a good video card, I may just have to buy a new card for Linux use only.

Of course the main reasion I was anxious to get a computer up and running was the fact that I just bought Supreme Commander and was really looking forward to playing. Wine was the next best thing, but the install would error after about 95% with the cryptic “Error 25”. I’ve looked around Google, but no one else seems to have tried to get it working under Wine. The only good news is that I sucessfully got Counter Strike Source working.

Since I don’t know when I will have a Windows machine running again, I’m going to take this opportunity and work exclusively with Linux. At the very least, I’m going to turn my main desktop into a dual boot machine so that Linux too can bask in the glory of dual core FX-60 goodness. I plan on putting all my media onto a network storage machine, so that my music, movies, and other fun stuff will be available to both systems, as well as my servers. I want to implement RAID 5 for my network storage, but the good RAID adapters go for $350+. More on my homemade NAS in a later post.