Oct 02 2014

Which compression method do we have to choose for our archives?

We usually have to move at a glance a lot of files, and some of them can be very big, from a device to another one. For praticity and to save space we use the so-called compressed archives. A compressed archive is just a unique, big file, that incudes one or several files in a format that allows us to use an amount of bytes that is lower then the sum of the sizes of the single original files. A lot of user don’t stop to think about which format to use because the most widely used is the ZIP format. But this is not the only one nor the most efficient one. Let’s see to do some tests and look around to find other formats that could be better.

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Sep 13 2014

AVRFuses, a GUI tool to modify the fuses of the Atmel MCUs (OS X)

AVRFuses

AVRFuses

Many users want a tool to manipulate the Atmel MCUs easily avoiding avrdude and the terminal. There are several options for the most commonly systems, some of them are also multi-platform. One of these is Avrfusess, that is widely used. Personally, I dislike it because it’s born under Windows and it’s written in C# and uses the .NET framework, forcing to install and .exe file and the Mono framework on non-Windows systems (for those who don’t know Mono, it’s an open source reimplementation of the .NET framework written from scratch that let you execute .NET apps under Windows/Linux/OSX). The tool that I’m introducing today is different: it’s a native Cocoa app written explicitly for Mac OS X. Its name is AVRFuses.

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Aug 26 2014

Manage 3 buttons with just 2 pins

I was standing at my computer, this morning, and had nothing to do, and I was thinking about a new project. I was making the count of how many pins I needed, looking for a way to optimize their usage, just because I had to dealt with some buttons to be pressed by the user, and so a question materialized in my mind: is there a simple way to save pins when we deal with buttons? Usually externa chips are used, such as port expanders or PISO (Parallel In – Serial Out) shift registers, to manage a lot of I/O lines with few pins. But, what about if I would do the same thing without buying such devices, just with the components that usually are in the drawer? The solution that I suggest is as simple as ordinary: with just 2 pins I will able to read 3 buttons. Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 11 2014

Arduino: operations with timeouts

timeoutWhen we’re setting up a program that will interact with the user, we should consider the case that the user could “distract himself” and didn’t terminate the required operation within a certain time. This can happen, i.e., when our project uses a serial communication or an I/O interface with a keyboard and an LCD display between the user and the Arduino. Let’s do an example: at a certain moment, the user is required to insert a number/text or to make a choice in the UI (user interface). But, what does it happen if the user leaves the device and doen’t terminate the operation? The request will remain unfinished, pending, waiting for an input. And what can happen if our device is accessible by anyone? Let’s think about a circuit with an LCD display and a keyboard that has the control of something we’ve built. Generally, this kind of project has a menu with which the admin can configure the circuit itself without the need to program the microcontroller everytime a variation of the parameters is required. Usually the access at the admin menu is protected by a password to avoid that normal users can alter the behaviour of the device. Now, let’s imagine that the admin leaves the device without closing the admin menu? The first person that access the device can alter the whole device! So, it’s a good idea to provide a system based on a timeout so that after a certain time without an input of the user the program will automatically close the admin menu and go back to the user interface.

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Aug 05 2014

LibreOffice 4.3, new GUI with OSX-style

LibreOffice 4.3 has been released recently. Finally, it offers a more integration of its GUI with the style of OSX.

Below a couple of screenshots showing the differences of the rendering between the 4.2.x and the 4.3.x:

LibreOffice 4.2 (OSX)

LibreOffice 4.2 (OSX)

LibreOffice 4.3 (OSX)

LibreOffice 4.3 (OSX)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The app can be downloaded by this page.

Jul 14 2014

Atmega644P/1284P: new core for the Arduino IDE 1.5.7

New core for the Arduino IDE 1.5.7 that add support for the Atmega644P/1284P MCUs. As usual, instructions on how to install it are in the attached README.

Core Atmega644P/1284P for Arduino IDE 1.5.7

Jul 13 2014

(Italiano) Nuova guida per programmare gli ATtiny con l’IDE 1.5.7

Sorry, this entry is only available in Italiano.

Jul 04 2014

Cash Split

iphone3p5_4I’m glad to introduce the new iOS app that we’ve delevoped here at Phoenix SEACash Split. Cash Split is an iPhone and iPad app that can keep track of all the expenses you do when you’re doing a trip with your friends and make the final balance to know who has to refund who. Finally, you will be able to forget the headaches that you had when trying to do the sums to know each of you had spent during the journey, who has to be refunded and so on: Cash Split will do all of this for you. So, at the end of your trip. Cash Split will generate a graceful balance where you’ll find the average expense, the amount of money spent by each participant and who will have to refund who. More info and the link to the App Store at this page.

Jun 22 2014

How to update the Atmel toolchain on Mac OS X

In this article I’ll show you how to update the Atmel toolchain on OS X systems to be able to use the newest compiling tools available. First, I have to say that the compilation of the toolchain on OS X is painful! Thanksfully, we can solve this problem using CrossPack! CrossPack contains the toolchain compiled and ready to use on our system that we can download and install in a couple of minutes. Be careful: CrossPack only runs on OS X 10.6 or newer, this guide has been tested on Mavericks: I think that everything can work on older versions of the system with few (or, maybe, no) changes.

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May 22 2014

On 22, may, 1980, Pac-Man was released

On may 22, 1980, exactly 34 years ago, Namco published one of the best selling games of the videogames’ history, Pac-Man. First released as an arcade machine, during the years it was converted to almost all the home video game platforms and ported to all the 8-bits computers of that time. During the years to follow it was also ported to any game system that was released into the market and today it is still possible to buy it in every major mobile app store.

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