Digital Logic

Technology

Happy New Year!

by on Jan.03, 2012, under Computer Science, Games, Leisure, MMOs, Personal, Technology

Well, the holidays are officially over and I have no excuse to avoid writing here. This term I’m taking three courses at the University of Waterloo, two of them being distance education and one of them requiring me to make the trip to campus. The three courses that I’ve enrolled in this term are:

  • ENGL 109: Introduction to Academic Writing (Online)
  • PHIL 215: Professional and Business Ethics (Online)
  • CS 447: Software Testing, Quality Assurance and Maintenance

It may seem like an odd course selection for a 4B Computer Science student, but I haven’t taken an English course in a long time and it’s never a bad time to improve one’s communication skills. I’m really hoping that the philosophy course will tie in nicely with the software engineering content that I’ve been learning over the past few terms. From what I understand, the typical software engineer is responsible for not only designing software, but designing good software (as in, software that makes sense from a design and usability perspective). PHIL 215 is also one of the courses recommended by the degree requirements checklist for my year.

CS447 is the final course in a series of three software engineering-related courses (the first two being CS445: Software Requirements and CS446: Software Architecture). I’ve found myself being extremely interested in the design philosophies of software from the software engineering perspective. This is kind of surprising, given the attitudes of many of my classmates towards these three courses (generally not positive). The courses have also been some of the highest marks I’ve received at the University of Waterloo, and their content has been extremely useful in some of the side projects that I’ve been working on lately (more on this later).

On the lighter side of life, I have been playing BioWare’s new Star Wars game with a few of my friends and have been thoroughly enjoying it. As a former World of Warcraft player (clean and sober for 2 years now, thankfully) it’s fairly easy for me to nitpick the small flaws with SW:TOR, but I have to admit that the holiday launch was one of the smoothest I have seen from the MMO genre. One of the major ideas that the player community is missing is that many of the features that they take for granted in mature games like World of Warcraft were not present at launch, and time will only improve the technical quality of the game.

I also recently upgraded my computer’s graphics hardware by installing two XFX HD6950 cards in a CrossFireX configuration. This is my first multi-card installation and from what I have seen so far, it works pretty well. I did have some minor issues with screen tearing (even after enabling vertical sync) which I will attribute to the 3D engine not working well with multiple graphics cards, but installing Catalyst Application Profiles seems to have fixed the problem. Additionally, I did have to install an additional 120mm fan on the side of my case (which is obnoxiously loud) in order to regulate the temperature of the cards under load. Because of the layout of my motherboard, the video cards sit right next to each other, causing the top one to suck in hot air from the bottom one. Before the fan was added, the temperatures of the top and bottom cards were 95C and 80C, respectively (a little too hot for me). Adding the fan reduced the temperatures to 75C and 65C; these are well within acceptable bounds given that they’re powering a 1440p display.

That about wraps it up for my life right now. I’m still planning on writing about (potentially) interesting facts on a daily to weekly basis. Once I determine the load that classes and work are placing on me this term, I will decide how much time I can devote to this blog. Until then, I’ll be posting here whenever I have something to say.

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The Internet You Need!

by on Jan.21, 2011, under Comedy, Technology

Just came across an interesting flash video that clearly explains net neutrality to those who may not fully grasp the concept (or have no idea what it is).

Check it out at http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/559221

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Summer Development

by on May.17, 2009, under Personal, Technology

Just wanted to make a quick post outlining what I’m going to be working on this summer. I think I’m going to be brushing up on my PHP skills. I’d also like to learn a bit more about SVN and source control in general.

In addition, I’ve decided that I’d like to take my other web skills to the next level. I’ll be integrating URL rewriting and new CSS rules into my project. I’ll post more about the project once I’ve determined exactly what it’s going to be.

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Interesting Read: HD Preprocessing Lag

by on May.08, 2009, under Games, Technology

Came across an interesting article today regarding an issue that I’ve experienced regarding the HDTV and video games. It’s fairly easy to understand for people who may not be totally tech savvy, and even provides some tips on how to improve those response times. From personal experience, I’ll say that the Sharp Aquos line of HDTVs has a fairly good set of tools for dealing with the delay. Even in the case of the Nintendo Wii, the games are much more playable than on other brands.

Anyways, on to the article.

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Time for an Update

by on May.05, 2009, under Personal, Technology

Well, I haven’t been here for a while, so let’s give a quick recap of what’s going on in the world of Warren.

First, I’ve moved! I’m now in a much nicer housing unit living across the hall from my friend Dave and down the street from another one of my coworkers, Jake. I have to say that I was very impressed with the state that this particular appartment was left in, and our landlord has been nothing less than incredible.

Business is still going strong, and for anybody interested in having their computers fixed or purchasing home electronics, you can feel free to send me a message. I’ve got a few new clients here and there which may lead to me actually having a positive income this year from my business partnership, Edgelink Consulting.

Work-wise, I’m back at RIM for the summer, returning to my roll as a BIS Tools Developer. The work isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but I plan to put a few Warren-themed changes into the system. (No, Jake, I won’t break anything.) I’m planning on starting my Work Report early this term so that I have plenty of time to review it.

School-wise, the winter 2009 term went really well. I ended up with (what I think) are pretty decent marks in my CS and Human Resources class, and an okay mark in statistics. With any luck, this means that I might actually be in good standing with UW (which I’m told is not an easy feat). Over the summer, I’ll be taking another Professional Development course (Problem Solving), which should be, um, enlightening….

I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do with my free time this summer, but I’m going to try to focus on learning some C++ or Perl, and I should probably brush up on my PHP skills (check back later for an article on getting PHP running on IIS).  I’d sort of like to update this site with some sort of software, but I don’t have any ideas as to what to actually make.

I think that pretty much does it for now, but I’ll try to update this thing once in a while.

- Warren

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Doing Things the Hard Way: Debian GNU/Linux

by on Dec.04, 2008, under Technology

So in the midst of panicking for exams and living in my crapshack, I totally forgot that I actually have a blog sitting here. Somebody even commented on it, but got blocked by my spam catcher.

Anyways, over the last few days I’ve been struggling through getting a working installation of Debian on my server box. For those of you who don’t know me, let me give you an overview of my knowledge of the wonderful world of Linux: little to none.

So, while I won’t bore you with the details of actually installing it (basically you put the CD in and press go), I will regale you with some of the adventures I have had setting up and configuring this system. I’ve been working exclusively from the command prompt.

First of all, what exactly am I working with? Well, the important parts are below:

  • Intel E2160 Dual Core CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 2x500GB storage drives (I haven’t finished formatting the rest) and a 250GB boot drive.
  • Antec 900 Case

Static IP in Debian

Alright, first things first: I hate networking. I don’t really know why some systems don’t want to communicate with others, but that’s the way it is. I like my servers to have static IPs because I find that the hostname is often unreliable. In Windows XP, which is what the system used to have on it, it’s a simple 4 or 5 clicks followed by an OK to get you set up. In Debian, this appears to be a much different story. It shouldn’t be a shock to anybody that you need to be root to perform these operations.

The file that you’re looking for here is: /etc/network/interfaces

In the file, you’ll probably see some auto-generated information about your current interfaces. Now, for me, my ethernet card is eth1. eth0 was mysteriously stolen by the firewire interface I didn’t even know I had. In order to set a  static IP for eth1, I had to enter the following (I really wish I had a code box):

iface eth1 inet static
address 192.168.1.20
netmask 255.255.255.0
network 192.168.1.0
broadcast 192.168.1.255
gateway 192.168.1.1

This tells eth1 to use the address 192.168.1.20… somehow. I hear that broadcast and gateway are both optional!

Configuring Programs to Run at Boot in Debian

This is something that sounds a hell of a lot easier than it actually is (at least the first time you do it). First of all, you need to write  a shell script that goes in the /etc/init.d/ directory. I’ll post the one that I use to start SABnzbd+ at boot. Feel free to correct me if there’s something wrong with it, but it works and that’s really all I care about.

— sabnzbd.sh —

#!/bin/sh

case “$1″ in
start)
echo “Starting SABnzbd.”
/usr/bin/sudo -u warren -H /etc/sabnzbd/SABnzbd.py -d -f /home/warren/.sabnzbd/sabnzbd.ini
;;
stop)
echo “Shutting down SABnzbd.”
/usr/bin/wget -q –delete-after “http://192.168.1.20:1200/sabnzbd/shutdown”
;;
*)
echo “Usage: $0 {start|stop}”
exit 1
esac

exit 0

— end of file —

So essentially it launches python to start running SABnzbd+. You can start and stop it manually by typing:

% /etc/init.d/sabnzbd.sh start/stop

In addition to placing this script in the directory, you also have to make the necessary symlinks to have it run at boot. To do this, I simply type the command:

% update-rc.d sabnzbd.sh defaults

Hooray. Done.

I’m sure I’ll run into other adventures with my setup and I’ll be sure to post anything educational here. Either way, I’m pretty happy with the fact that it’s actually up and running now, and I hope it stays that way….

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High Latency During BitTorrent Downloads

by on Jun.02, 2008, under Technology

No, I’m not talking about slow torrenting, I’m talking about what effect BitTorrent has on other applications and services on your network. George Ou has a very interesting article on how the BitTorrent protocol and its packet blasting nature can disrupt VoIP and online gaming protocols.

Since I have recently moved into a new house and have at least one roommate who frequently torrents large amounts of data, I’ve noticed this latency first hand, I’ll watch as my ping climbs to 900ms or higher and my Skype calls deteriorate into nothingness.

Enabling QoS on the router has almost no effect:

Now it is possible to solve this problem on the network level by prioritizing VoIP and gaming packets in the home DSL modem upload queue. Unfortunately, I don’t have administrative access to the modem and implementing VoIP or gaming prioritization on my home router seemed to have no effect.  Packets in the home router get forwarded as soon as they arrive with 100 Mbps Ethernet on both ends so there is nothing to reorder in the queue.  More advanced business-class routers like those from Cisco will allow you to configure the speed of the FastEthernet connection to match your DSL throughput so that the queue will migrate from the DSL modem to the router but this isn’t very practical for most people.

Very interesting read. Until a permanent solution is found, it looks like I’ll just be yelling at my roommates to turn off uTorrent.

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