Archive for September, 2010

TeenyChron: A Linux-based GPS-synched NTP server

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

tinychron.jpg

The genesis of this clock stems from one of my other hobbies, Ham Radio. I wanted a reasonably accurate clock that would display both local and UTC time on a large LED display. Everything I could find missed the mark by at least one feature. So I set out to design a clock with the above features, and also with the additional feature of being a stratum one NTP time Server, that is synchronized to a GPS’s pulse per second (PPS) signal.

At the heart of the system I am using a small single board computer based upon an ARM processor running Linux. I actually purchased the board in 2006 for another undertaking that is still in my long list of projects. The TS-7400 Computer-on-Module is built and sold by Technologic Systems. In the configuration I bought the SBC I paid $155 for a single unit. Mine has 64MB of RAM, 32MB of Flash, a battery backed up real time clock (RTC), and runs a 200Mhz ARM processor. I’ve configured the board to boot and mount a file system from a 2Gig SD card. I love this board! It runs a full version of Debian Linux. To date, every standard software package I’ve loaded complies and runs without any trouble.

courtesy of TeenyChron

IBM research on network of earthquake detector and locator

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Computer servers in data centers could do more than respond to requests from millions of internet users. IBM researchers have patented a technique using vibration sensors inside server hard drives to analyze information about earthquakes and predict tsunamis.

“Almost all hard drives have an accelerometer built into them, and all of that data is network-accessible,” says Bob Friedlander, master inventor at IBM. “If we can reach in, grab the data, clean it, network it and analyze it, we can provide very fine-grained pictures of what’s happening in an earthquake.”

The aim is to accurately predict the location and timing of catastrophic events and improve the natural-disaster warning system. Seismographs that are widely used currently do not provide fine-grained data about where emergency response is needed, say the researchers. IBM’s research is not the first time scientists have tried to use the sensors in computers to detect earthquakes.

Seismologists at the University of California at Riverside and Stanford University created the Quake Catcher Network in 2008. The idea was to use the accelerometers in laptops to detect movement. But wading through mounds of data from laptops to accurately point to information that might indicate seismic activity is not easy. For instance, how do you tell if the vibrations in a laptop accelerometer are the result of seismic activity and not a big-rig truck rolling by? That’s why IBM researchers Friedlander and James Kraemer decided to focus on using rack-mounted servers.

“When you are looking at data from a rack that’s bolted to the floor, it’s not the same as what you get from a laptop,” says Kraemer. “Laptops produce too much data and it’s liable to have a lot of noise.”Servers in data centers can help researchers get detailed information because they know the machine’s orientation, its environmental conditions are much better controlled, and the noise generated by the device tends to be predictable. (more…)

Brilliant SCADA System that failed

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

A friend of mine shared an article about software failures. it’s a good stuff to read, where we can avoid some mistakes that previously been made by software developers. there is a SCADA software there – some of the problems that I’ve been encountered too in my life. check this out:

http://images.nakedmaya.com/Troll-Link1-sm.jpgNet-Herald – a monitoring application for water supply companies. It was a complex client server application that would receive monitoring data from specialized hardware and store that data inside a SQL database. The client displays that data in different graphs, provides printable reports or sends alarm messages via SMS if a monitored value is not within its specified limits. I developed Net-Herald as a perfect fit for that specialized hardware that is provided by a local manufacturer. That way, so I hoped, I could profit from their sales leads and would find a smoother way into these water supply companies. The downside of course, was that my software would only work with their hardware. (more…)

Home automation, a buzz word?

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Doing my routine jobs at my workplace, I stumbled upon some articles regarding home automation. It’s an old stuff actually, but I’m sure it will be interesting to read. I’ll share it later with you guys. It’ll be a busy weekend gathering enough points for this issue. There are some criterias to be covered when talking about home automation:

  • efficient energy management
  • security and surveilance
  • news and entertainment
  • drainage and watering monitoring system
  • alternative energy

If you have any other ideas, that some stuff are related to this issue. Just tweet it to me: @diblos