a man, a plan, a cake: nirvana

MEDC 2006

I just got back from Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded DevCon. It was hosted at The Venetian in Las Vegas. On Tuesday night they had Tao, this nightclub in the hotel, reserved exclusively for MEDC; it must have been the largest nerd conglomeration in a nightclub ever! We entered the SumoRobot challenge, where we had to program the AI in a Parallax SumoRobot modified to use the new .NET Micro Framework. I lost one of the IR sensors on the way into the ring and the poor robot was never the same after that.

Oh well. So CE6 looks like it will be very interesting. We got betas of it and the big news is they've ditched the 32/32 limit of past CEs (up to 32 processes each with a 32Mb 'slot' of virtual address space); in CE6 each process gets its own 2Gb of virtual address space and up to 32k processes can be running simultaneously. Addressing of physical RAM is still limited to 512Mb, but DLLs now go in a shared 512Mb region of virtual address space, instead of eating from the 32Mb ceiling on down like before. That should mean worrying about DLL crunch when developing applications for PPC/WM is a thing of the past, at least for a little while.

On the whole I was glad I went. Most of the sessions were enlightening to one degree or another, although there were a couple of nightmares. One session included the pearl of wisdom "the emulator is good for emulating things". Boy, I'm glad my manager was at that one instead of me.



I hadn't touched a soldering iron in years, but reading Make Magazine inspired me to pick one up and start playing again. I read an article about this persistence-of-vision kit. It uses an Atmel ATtiny2313 Microcontroller to cycle a bank of 8 LEDs through a pattern at about 400Hz. When you waggle the board from left to right, the persistence of your vision causes you to be able to read the message encoded therein. The kit is from Lady Ada, and I highly recommend it if you're new (or really rusty like me) at the old electronics game. It was cheap, fun and quick to build, and it didn't need any expensive tools. It is also reprogrammable, so you can tweak the C code, with free tools, and update the firmware from the parallel port of your computer. Not only that, but once you're bored of the POV thing, you can reprogram the microcontroller to do something else.