Archive for December, 2010

Katla activity

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Ooooh lots of activity again around the Katla volcano (big sister of the unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull volcano). It does this more often, but each time I wonder if it’ll blow as predicted.

For live monitoring ->  head over to the Icelandic Meteorological Office

Sending the authorities after spammers

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

For once I’m happy with regulations. Every now and then I receive spam targeted at my domain’s main contact address. I’m not talking about your regular Nigerian-Viagra-penis-enlargement spam, but B2B spam. It’s illegal for businesses to send spam in the Netherlands, so time to try something new. I’m calling in the authorities. They’ve managed to get spammers convicted before, so I’m hoping they can pull it off again. Each convicted spammer is worth 10 sunny days :)

OPTA: Klacht indienen (only valid if you’re a Dutch citizen)

Using a SPI DataFlash

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Memory chips used to be a pain with all their address and data lines, but no more. Today I hooked up the 32 Mbit DataFlash (an Atmel AT25DF321A in case you skipped my previous post) to the Bus Pirate and I can barely believe how easy it was. Here’s a shot of the entire setup:

All you need to do it hook up the SPI lines and apply 3,3V power. As a first test requesting it’s manufacturer and device ID seemed logical:

SPI>[0x9f r:4]
/CS ENABLED
WRITE: 0x9F
READ: 0x1F 0x47 0x01 0x00
/CS DISABLED

Only 4 bytes are returned, but it indicates the chip is working as it should be. The first byte (0x1F) means Atmel is the manufacturer. The 2nd and 3rd byte hold device information and exactly match the datasheet (AT25DF series with 32-Mbit density). The last byte is optional according the JEDEC standard and appears to be unused. Well this confirmed things were working, so next would be reading and writing data.

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Upgrading musicplayer’s storage capabilities

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Something that’s been bothering me is the limited storage capabilities of SD cards (from a FLAC player’s perspective). According the SDHC spec 32GB is the max. Beyond that SDXC must be used which, as far as I know, is not supported by currently available microcontrollers such as the STM32. Offcourse 2 SDHC cards could be used to double the capacity, but I would like to try a different route. Also there’s another reason why I’m not adding more card slots, but we’ll get to that another time (offloading FAT handling to a different chip).

Using a harddisk was out of the question due to the noise it makes (aka the moving parts), although the massive storage capabilities are nice. For a while I’ve been drooling over SSD’s, but didn’t pursue that option because prices needed to come down first. Recently prices dropped under €100 for an OCZ 64GB SSD, so time to explore that option again (I consider that price the max I want to spend on this and the capacity a minimum for FLAC storage). Funny thing is that SD cards are actually more expensive than SSD looking at cost per GB and on top of that SSD is much faster and can, also be used in your desktop pc/server/seedbox/etc if you ever want to upgrade to a bigger drive.
Anyway, since IDE is pretty much dead these days, SATA is left as the only option. Directly interfacing SATA devices is a bit of a pain, so the 2nd best option seems to be using an USB adapter. Last month I already looked at a cheap USB SATA bridge. These adapters are easy to obtain and use so I’m going to ignore their use in this post.

Sooo this leaves us with the problem of interfacing USB. Thankfully there are a lot more viable options for this. We’ve got various controllers with an integrated USB interface and there are various separate solutions. The latter is what I’m going to experiment with.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re familiar with FTDI Chip. Until now I’ve only used their USB device devices, but that’s about to change.  On my desk lies a V2DIP2-32 module. This module has FTDI’s Vinculum II chip and offers USB host functionality. Nice extra is that the toolchain offers bulk mass storage with FAT32 support (see page 324 of the Vinculum II User Guide).

What does this mean for the musicplayer? Well, simply put the idea is to replace the SD card using SDIO with this module and connect it to the STM32 using SPI or 8-bit FIFO. Speed-wise it both interfaces should work, although actual numbers are a bit sketchy since FTDI only provides numbers for the 1st generation devices transferring data to a monitor port. We’ll see how this plays out.

Another addition is an Atmel 32Mbit DataFlash. It’ll mainly be used for storing trackinfo. Given the large file storage and poor embedded FAT32 performance this should be a useful addition. Will do some quick testing soon.

Don’t order components while sleeping…

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

… or the right one is what you get, while you were expecting something sized like the left one. LOL

Back in 1990

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Now for something completely different… do not click this. And if you managed to get through that one, do not continue here.

Aaah those were the days :D

Microsoft’s lagging behind (as usual)

Friday, December 10th, 2010

It’s no secret LOIC is an easy to use tool that could be used to protest against ever more disappearing freedoms. As of today Microsoft Security Essentials flags it as a threat. No way this is coincidence. Also how does LOIC qualify as a hacktool? It just pings, nothing is hacked and it’s pretty sad a security tool does not seem to know the difference (well probably some idiot manager made the decision).
And as always Microsoft is lagging behind the facts. At least with Amazon, Paypal, Mastercard, etc you knew pretty quick when they started screwing you.

Why WikiLeaks should remain

Monday, December 6th, 2010

For the past week I’ve been bringing up the subject of WikiLeaks to friends and family without ever wondering why. Why is this story important enough to pass on? And it’s not only about the diplomatic cables currently in the news, but all releases in the past and in the future.

I’ve been raised with what I think is a good sense of what’s good and what’s wrong. I also strongly believe every human is born with a natural sense for this. Only after years of intentional and/or unintentional influencing/manipulation will this change. One might not even be aware of it, because when you grow up in a certain place you’re always surrounded by grown ups who act and believe in a certain way. If you start walking down the wrong path, this is due to the above or you suffer from a malfunctioning brain (I place murderers, fanatics, rapists and bankers in this category).

Anyhow, for years you could just see the world go down the drain with the US leading the pact. There are lots of facts out there supporting this, but that’s beside the point. I’m talking about feeling. Whether it’s politics, economics, the environment, etc, you can feel something is wrong. It just doesn’t add up and if we continue like this things will go extremely wrong. Maybe it’s already too late for some things (e.g. the environment), but that’s a subject for another time.

This is where WikiLeaks comes into play. What they’re doing is spilling so much wrongdoings that have taken place over the years. I feel this is needed and can only change things for the better. It gives more insight in how despicable governments operate and how normal some people think this is. The response of some politicians is disturbing and the means they have at their disposal and how they use those are scary. Especially the US is guilty of these practices and they have absolutely no right to do so. Simply put their motto seems to be it’s ok to do the worst kind of things to others, but if things blow up in their faces all hell breaks loose.

I’m hoping people will see what’s happening and stand up to this. Already we’re seeing mirrorsites popping up everywhere which is good. But more importantly, keep the movement going, especially when things die down. Governments, banks and companies need to be taught a lesson they’ll remember the rest of their lives. We should not be afraid of them. Instead they should be afraid of us the people. They are accountable to us and not the other way around.

Swiss Wikileaks host

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

WikiLeaks site’s Swiss host dismisses pressure to take it offline

Swiss host Switch says there is ‘no reason’ why WikiLeaks should be forced off internet, despite French and US demands.

About time someone stands up against those idiots. Lots and lots of kudos to Switch!

On a sidenote, what I’d really want to know is who is behind those large DDoS attacks and how.

Btw, I’d love to see Dick Cheney’s face on Interpol. And he should be then be hunted down as much as Assange. Oh wait… Cheney’s a US citizen and as such you can kill whomever you want  and live the rest of your days in the good old land of the freeoppressed and brave.