Caffeinated Bitstream

Bits, bytes, and words.

My furnace's control board. The "C" terminal has no connection to the thermostat in this picture. (The white wire on the C terminal goes to the A/C.) I connected the unused blue wire (bottom center) to the C terminal. The Nest now confirms the active "C" wire. I recently bought and installed a Nest Learning Thermostat to replace my old non-networked thermostat.


A Technical Look at Google Fiber

While visiting Kansas City recently, I decided to investigate Google Fiber, Google's ambitious new residential gigabit Internet service they are building in Kansas City, Kansas, and central Kansas City, Missouri. While they haven't connected residential customers to the network yet, they have provisioned service at several local businesses. They also opened a showroom called "Fiber Space" to demonstrate the service to potential customers. My first stop was the Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffeehouse, a neat coffee house in a historic area of Midtown Kansas City.


Last year, I wrote an Android app called Valence that allows the user to remote-control the mouse and keyboard of another machine. Always looking for new challenges, I recently decided it was time for Valence to broaden its horizons beyond Android and support additional platforms to reach a wider audience. In the following video, I demonstrate this exciting new release: Yes, it's Valence for the Commodore 64.


Lua and Squirrel overhead

I've been researching the idea of using embedded languages in mobile applications as a way of reusing business logic across platforms. I haven't found a lot of information about how much an embedded language will bloat an app's size, so I decided to see for myself. So far, I've written simple "Hello, world" apps for both Lua and Squirrel. Lua is a simple language that has been heavily used in video games for years.


I'm trying out Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) on a PC with a Mac keyboard attached. I made a few hacks to make the keyboard work smoothly and in a (very roughly) Mac-like fashion. I figured I'd make a few notes here for my own future reference. (Note: I'm using a U.S. keyboard. If you are using a different kind of keyboard, your mileage may vary.) Goals Make the function keys (F1.


Apple Remote Desktop quirks

While developing Valence, an input-only Android VNC client for remote controlling a computer, I've encountered several notable quirks in Apple Remote Desktop, Mac OS's built-in VNC server. Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) is based on VNC, a system developed in the late 1990's for controlling a remote computer, and its Remote Framebuffer (RFB) protocol. Generally, standard VNC clients can interoperate with ARD. An ARD server reports use of version "3.889" of the RFB protocol, which isn't a real version of RFB, but this version number can be used by clients to know that they are talking to an ARD server and not a conventional VNC server.


Rapid DHCP Redux

I was surprised at the amount of attention attracted by my recent post,"Rapid DHCP: Or, how do Macs get on the network so fast?". Between the 27 comments on my post and the 180 comments on Hacker News, a lot of interesting insights surfaced about the Mac's approach to DHCP. Information that would have taken me a week or two to research arrived within hours from people with experience in these matters.


One of life's minor annoyances is having to wait on my devices to connect to the network after I wake them from sleep. All too often, I'll open the lid on my EeePC netbook, enter a web address, and get the dreaded "This webpage is not available" message because the machine is still working on connecting to my Wi-Fi network. On some occasions, I have to twiddle my thumbs for as long as 10-15 seconds before the network is ready to be used.


NOTE: This post discusses a specific problem which is solved by disabling Nagle's algorithm. Do not try this at home: Nagle's algorithm is implemented in TCP/IP stacks for a reason, and I'm told that 99% of programmers who disable Nagle's algorithm do so errantly due to a lack of understanding of TCP. Disabling Nagle's algorithm is not a silver bullet that magically reduces latency. While developing an input-only VNC client for Android to act as a remote mouse and keyboard, I noticed that mouse pointer movements were particularly jerky when connecting to a computer running TightVNC.


Android Network Information

While developing Android applications, I'm often juggling lots of Android machines, both real and virtual. Since I often need to connect to these machines over the network with adb connect, I found it useful and educational to write a small home screen widget that always shows the device's IP address. This is a pretty dumb application, but I decided that it would be a good opportunity to learn how to publish apps on the Android Market.