Other projects

2006-06-26

I've found that the most difficult part of the Summer of Code has been refraining from working on too many other projects at the same time in order to keep focused. However, I have a few projects in mind that I am planning to put some time into when I get back to RIT. My class schedule for the Fall has no classes on Friday so I figure that will be my project day.

I spent a good part of the weekend catching up on Hak.5 and am really pleased with the progress they've made since the first episode. It has also gotten me thinking about a vidcast that I would like to produce. They spend a lot of time on Hak.5 showing software and projects that you really need a solid home server/network setup to get anywhere. It has come to my attention that the knowledge of how to get a geek network running is not widespread. Following that thread, I want to produce a vidcast that shows how to setup and maintain your own network for geek related activities.

I envision the first few episodes being about selecting network equipment and running cables in order to get the infrastructure up and running. Following that, I'd start with good network security on the cheap (read: OpenBSD) and a few cool tricks like VPNs and possibly an IPv6 tunnel. Next, I'd start building servers... One Linux box, one Windows (or a virtual server setup). The Linux box would run a basic LAMP setup (done right) and the Windows server could run game servers and possibly SharePoint.

That would complete "Season One" Season Two would build upon those basic components to do increasingly cool things such as a MythTV box, a Jabber server, rolling your own web environment for the cost of an internet connection. Hosting a blog, building a community (using something like Drupal or a Wiki), setting up an authentication server, etc. A show like this could probably go on indefinitely.

If somebody reads this and thinks it's a good idea, drop me a line and we might be able to get something going. I could probably get started on my own but I just don't have the time/skills/resources to do that sort of production in a reasonable amount of time. Not to mention that this sort of thing is always more fun if you've got friends involved. Perhaps some other CSHers would be interested in helping out?

Switching to another train of thought, I've ordered parts to build a CMoy pocket amp in preparation for getting a decent set of headphones (Something in the range of Sennheiser 555 or 595 if I can afford it). The CMoy design is simple and shouldn't be too difficult to get working. Just in case, I ordered enough parts to build at least two of them. I'd like to build one of the more complicated amps at some point, but we'll see how I do with the CMoy design first.

Yet another project I've started is a Hipster PDA for the purpose of collecting all of these random thoughts and other scraps of information that have become important. I used the "Classic" size (half a letter sheet) because my handwriting tends to be sloppy and I like to have lots of space to work. My primary motivation for doing making a Hipster PDA was because the Stickies app that comes with OSX was really starting to clutter up my desktop and most of the information is only useful when I'm away from the computer.

Moving along to the next idea, I saw the FTIR Touch Sensing display and was inspired by the simplicity of the design. I'm planning to build something along those lines eventually...

I'm also trying to come up with a good way of building a portable server/network setup. I ran into some pictures of an audio rackmount case filled with some 1U servers at HOPE and thought it was a pretty good idea. The problem is that most of my boxes could not be transplanted into anything smaller than 2U so I'd probably have to buy new hardware. Unfortunately, new hardware tends to get expensive fast. Still trying to come up with better ideas here. Perhaps I could machine some custom cases...

Other projects I've had on my mind: A hex editor for EEPROMs built out of bunch of seven-segment displays, fix the formatting of &thinsmp; in the Gecko engine, an open source implementation of the Atom/XMPP stuff coming out of the atompub working group, a magstripe reader built out of a cassette tape head, and a RJ45 jack that lights up the connector with an LED when certain conditions are met (DHCP acquired, HTTP request received, etc) instead of just putting the LED next to the connector.

I hope you enjoyed this core dump of ideas... Perhaps you might be inclined to take the initiative and do one of them?

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