Do things in a modern way

Recently I was on a short trip. Of course, I tried to find some geocaches. As I forgot to load some them into my GPS device at home, I had to do it on the road. With a good wifi and a modern Android tablet it should be no problem. But:

  • The tablet refused to write files to the GPS (attached via USB cable). It was recognized OK but it was read-only for some reason.
  • It is not possible to write anything to a MicroSD taken from GPS and inserted into the tablet (it is possible only into the Android/*** directory – which is not that the GPS device expects…).

Gosau See

So I had to enter the coordinates manually and save the help as a POI note. Thats’ really user-friendly :-(

Next time I will know that carrying of a tablet is pointless.

Do things in a modern way

Some BASIC programming: Gauss ellimination

During my attempts to test the MK-90 I have written a simple (thus ugly and ineffective) BASIC code for the Gauss Elimination Method. The data (a left-side matrix and a right-side vector) are located in the DATA statement.

REM Data input:
10 DATA 3 1 2 3 2 1 3 3 3 7 5 5 5
25 LET N = M-1
30 DIM A(9,9)
35 DIM B(9)
36 DIM X(9)
40 FOR I = 0 TO N
50 FOR J = 0 TO N
60 READ A(I,J)
90 FOR I = 0 TO N
95 READ B(I)
100 NEXT I

REM Forward run:
300 FOR J = 0 TO N
310 FOR I = J+1 TO N
320 LET C = A(I,J)/A(J,J)
330 FOR K = 0 TO N
340 LET A(I,K) = A(I,K) - C*A(J,K)
350 NEXT K
360 LET B(I) = B(I) - C*B(J)
370 NEXT I
380 NEXT J
390 LET X(N) = B(N) / A(N,N)

REM Backward run:
400 FOR I = N-1 TO 0 STEP -1
410 LET S = 0
420 FOR J = I+1 TO N
430 LET S = S + A(I,J) * X(J)
440 NEXT J
450 LET X(I) = (B(I)-S)/A(I,I)
460 NEXT I

REM Results:
500 PRINT "Results:"
510 FOR I = 0 TO N
520 PRINT X(I)
530 NEXT I

It should work in the old PDP-11 BASIC, and with the old Soviet BASIC (DVK computers, MK-90 and so). It is not suitable for the MK-85 because it supports only 1D fields (and also because it wastes the memory with unnecessary stuff which is a problem for the MK-85).

Elektronika MK-92 with MK-90

And, of course, it is compatible with the Bywater BASIC which I recently have compiled for all my main computers (the SGI O2, the NanoNote and for the Linux-based Zauri)

Some BASIC programming: Gauss ellimination

What is in my bag?

There is a group at the Flickr which is called “What is in my bag”. Some people are showing their stuff here and sometimes it is interesting that people can take with them. I’m not a member of this group. But I find that an evolution of so-called necessary things can be very strange.

My current equipment (which is in my shoulder bag) is quite simple:

  • keys and a wallet (no surprise here, I think),
  • two pens (a Rotring Tikky II and a combined laser-light-stylus one),
  • small notepad,
  • iPhone 3G with a wired headset,
  • a calculator.
  • The calculator is actually a BASIC-programmable pocket computer (the Elektronika MK-85 or the Casio FX-700P). It is usefull when I want to compute something. The phone is good for music and as a calendar but there is no good programming environment nor the calculator for the 3G (I mean one that can actually be installed and can really work here). Also the calculator has battery life which can be measure in weeks or years, unlike the phone.

    If you are curious why I carry so less devices with me, there is a simple reason: I travel to my work by walk (one way is less under 3 km) which makes no use for any reading/browsing device. And at work I have a deskop so I can do most of work on it. If I need to work outside my office then the phone and the calculator i usually just enough. That’s it. For longer trips I usually take a tablet or the Zaurus, of course.

What is in my bag?

Some random thoughts

I’m still trying to find an optimal software and hardware for me. Of course, it is a never-ending process because the needs are constantly changing.

I was a (relatively) long-time user of the remind calendar program. It’s a CLI program with huge possibilities and it was more than optimal for me for a long time: it is small, and extremely flexible. It has only one disadvantage: it is meant for personal use – it means than it is not so easy to synchronise it between several different devices and it is very hard to convice non-UNIX users to use it, even for read-only use (rsync and diff are not options for everyone…).

Thus I was forced to use the WebDAV protocol and the tools that are available on different platforms that I use online:

  • Mozilla Lightning on IRIX (that’s extremelly slow on my SGI O2)
  • Thunderbird on Linux or W7 (at work)
  • default calendar app on iOS/Android

Honestly, all these tools are far inferior to the remind. The only advantage is that the calenar can be shared with other people.

For programming I still use the Vim (or vi if necessary) plus a command-line C compiler (the GCC in the most cases). I started to use the BASIC to be able to program my older machines (Elektronika calculators or Atari Portfolio) but I still tend to program the stuff in the C first and then to rewrite it to the BASIC. It’s a strange approach but so far it forks for me. To test BASIC codes on a desktop I use the ByWater BASIC interpreter. Older versions of this interpreter can be easily compiled on the IRIX.

And I still use the GNU Octave for math stuff and for work-related utilities. It’s easily available and it works well (at least for me).

That’s all for today…

Some random thoughts

IRIX software news

It may be unexpected but it is really welcomed: there are still emerging new or updated programs for the SGI IRIX (development of the IRIX was cancelled in 2006).

Firefox 3.0.19 on IRIX

The first thing to mention is an optimized build by diegel from It does not look like a big progress but it runs noticeably faster on certain SGI boxes (including my O2).


The second thing is even more interesting: it’s a bidding tool for the eBay. It’s writen in Motif and it is IRIX-only. That’s pretty interesting.

IRIX software news

Hardware Failures…

Unfortunately, recently I have experienced several failures of not-so-old hardware:

  • the Ultra 20 stopped to work (looks like power source problem),
  • the SL-C760 Zaurus started to recharge very rapidly and now it refuses to start at all (no idea about the problem),

Sun Ultra 20 Workstation (2005)

Ben NanoNote vs Zaurus SL-C7600

Also the Elektronika MK-90 refuses to start (there are some strange sounds, probably some recapping will be needed). But it is much older than the other machines (it’s from 1990).

Portable PDP-11 computer

Hardware Failures…

Paladin re-iterated

I have tried to resuscitate my old tablet: the Ainol Novo 7 Paladin. I stopped to use it near before two years because I thought that it is damaged.

First I tried to run it without microSD card (and it worked), then I added spare card to it and then I have started to optimise the installed software. After removing of about 90% of applications the tablet have started to be snappy and responsive. Some problems have remained – a random effects (ghost presses) on the touscreen are the most annoying.

MIPS Tablet

Some of software cannot be installed at all – it’s a MIPS device and it is not able to run any native ARM code. Thus the C:Geo and many others are out of the interest here. The device also does not have GPS, nor Bluetooth  so navigations and the Pebble cannot be used here. Also, there is no camera so no photos can be taken and no barcode or QR-code stuff can be red.

It can run the FBReader, the WordPress, the Evernote and also a Gopher client (the Overbite). So the most important stuff is available. Also on-line LaTeX and Octave clients are available (Anoc/VerbTeX).

It can be a nice device for places with higher risk of loss or damage. I have an increasing feeling that most of my pocket devices are too precious to be carried to such places (Zauri, Palms, Psions) so an availability of a cheap, small and light tablet is a good thing.

Paladin re-iterated