Arduino, wow, cool stuff!

arduino_logo2I have recently become familiar with the Arduino project, an open source board and CPU design for hobbyists and beyond to build all sorts of neat things with. I have seen people build robots, remote controlled lawn mowers, music playing computer hardware and all kinds of things. I got myself one of these nifty boards because they are wicked cool to work with and not expensive at all. If you are into electronics, and/or love to or want to learn to code (in C and C++) then I highly recommend getting one of these boards and going to town. Being an open source project there are lots of resources on the web, and there is tons of information practically everywhere. I’ll be sharing what I know and learn and what I run into that helps like books and stuff. So stay tuned and come back to see what new pops up.


Oracle Sun Microsystems T2000 (and similar) ALOM/SC Password Recovery

ServerSo today, I am working on a nice little Sun Microsystems T2000 server. It was purchased used by my customer and I am setting it up. Right away I ran into a snag, naturally, because I didn’t have the ALOM (Advanced Lights Out Management) or SC (System Controller) password for this machine go to this web-site. According to the person that sold the server, it was pulled from a working environment, the drives were wiped and it was sent out to be sold. This means that I had no way to get the old password from anyone, therefore I had to get past it myself.

Let me lay it out for you. In this situation you can’t really recover the password or see what it currently is. The only option at this point is to go in and clear out or erase the ALOM NVRAM so that you can then get access and setup a new password. In order to do this, you will need to connect your laptop to the serial management port. You can do this with a laptop or PC or whatever but for the sake of this article I am going to just use laptop. You will also need access to the power cords, because you are going to have to physically cut the power to the server to get started. OK, ready? Got everything in order? OK, let’s begin. Continue reading

DVI De-Mystified – Dual-Link DVI versus Single-Link DVI Explained!

DVI Dual vs SingleToday I was doing some spec hunting for my PC, trying to track down exactly what make, model and frequency were supported by the Wi-Fi card that came with my machine. As I was doing so, and eyeballing the rest of the specs, I ran across the information for my video card. One thing that caught my eye was the description of the video or DVI port. Specifically it mentioned that the DVI port was a ‘dual-link’ DVI port. Well now, I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about computers, including hardware, but I hadn’t heard of a ‘dual-link’ DVI port before. Now, in my defense, I have spent the last many years concentrating on hardware by Sun, Hitachi, NetApp and the like. Things you will find in a full up data center, not at home in your desktop PC. I haven’t been knee deep in PC tech for a while, but I have kept up with most things.

So, naturally, I had to find out what ‘dual-link’ meant. I did some searching and found a wonderful article that explains what ‘dual-link’ is, what ‘single-link’ is, the differences between them and more. I am going to give you a brief summary (I don’t want to keep everyone in suspense), but I am also including a link to the original article, go read it and really get learned up.

Basically, the way I see it (the quick version) is like this:

  • Dual-Link DVI
    • Has 24 pins in the plug instead of 18
    • It uses two TMDS digital signal transmitters instead of one
    • It can transmit data faster using 8 wires instead of 4
    • It can support much higher resolutions up to 2560×1600
    • There is an increase in signal quality and refresh rates


  • Single-Link DVI –
    • Has 18 pins in the plug instead of 24
    • It has one TMDS digital signal transmitter
    • It transmits data of 4 wires instead of 8
    • It cannot support resolutions beyond 1920×1200
    • Basic signal quality and refresh rates are observed

And there you have it, a run down of the basic differences between ‘dual-link’ and ‘single-link’ DVI. I think finding out and learning information like this is way cool. I love to learn new things and figure out how stuff works, it’s a lot of fun in my book – but then, more than a few people have called me crazy because a day of fun to me is sitting and coding all day! LOL

DVI All Types

DVI Plugs
All Types
(Click to enlarge)

DVI - All Types of Plugs

DVI Plugs
All Types
(Click to enlarge)

Now, for the sake of completeness, even though this doesn’t really apply to the dual-link or single-link question, I wanted to include another image or two that show other versions of the DVI plug. Since you are likely to run into one or all of these plugs out there somewhere, I figured you might want to know what you are looking at. These two pictures (click to enlarge), show you that aside from the digital DVI-D plugs, there are also DVI-I plugs that are analog and digital, plus some other older plugs. Of these older plugs, the Super-VGA there on the bottom is very common and one that you probably will see a lot. It was used for many years before the DVI option became common. I have seen many video cards that have DVI and VGA on the same card.

Check out the article on DVI dual-link versus single-link here.

Anoying RAID messages in logs on Debian

Recently I ran into an odd recurring message in the log files of some 64-bit Debian servers I had setup, and although it wasn’t causing me any problems per se, I hate for things to just go on like that and not know why and what to do about it. Now, these were virtual machines (VMs on ESX 4), running the latest Debian Linux 64-bit, and therefore being virtual they had to specialized RAID hardware or anything like that dedicated to the servers themselves. The servers just had your regular virtual SCSI disks as if it was a physical box with single drives in it.

What I noticed in the logs was an error pertaining to mpt-statusd, and that it was detecting “non-optimal” RAID status. Well, duh, there’s no RAID in it! Of course it won’t be optimal. Here is what I was getting, and you can see from the time stamps of this snippet that I was getting quite a few:

Aug  3 18:58:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status
Aug  3 19:08:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status
Aug  3 19:18:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status
Aug  3 19:28:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status
Aug  3 19:38:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status
Aug  3 19:48:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status
Aug  3 19:58:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status
Aug  3 20:08:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status
Aug  3 20:18:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status
Aug  3 20:28:36 mail mpt-statusd: detected non-optimal RAID status

After I did some digging into this mpt-statusd package, I found that it’s main purpose is to check on the RAID status out of mpt and other controllers, which explains why it was complaining since as I said above, there was no RAID installed. Here is the full description of mpt-statusd:

“Description: get RAID status out of mpt (and other) HW RAID controllers The mpt-status software is a query tool to access the running configuration and status of LSI SCSI HBAs. mpt-status allows you to monitor the health and status of your RAID setup. Tag: role::program”

The fix for this is to uninstall mpt-status, assuming you don’t have RAID setup on your server. Once I removed the package, my log files where free from the unnecessary clutter!  I still don’t know what the trigger was that got it installed in the first place, but at least it was easy enough to remove once I found out I didn’t need it.

Your Shader Model And You

As technology moves ever onward, getting more and more complex, it becomes more and more important to know what you have and what it can do.  In this case I am talking about graphics cards and figuring out what Shader Model it supports.  I am seeing more and more games that have not only memory and processor requirements listed, but also things like what Shader Model and DirectX version your hardware supports.

I ran into this recently and although the DirectX version is easy enough to find out, the Shader Model was a bit tougher.  So, after working through the problem and gathering some information from around the ‘net, I have put together some instructions and a handy reference chart for you that should make figuring this out a bit easier. Continue reading

Love the iPhone, but not the battery life?

That’s me!  I love my iPhone, but I don’t consider myself to be one of those blinder wearing fanbois either.  I have had various and sundry mobile phones over the years, with one of the best being my Motorola Timeport.  That thing lasted me five years and could still get better reception than anything else around it.  To bad it finally came apart one too many times for me to put back together, gravity is a bitch lemme tell ya.  Anyway, I made the move into “smart” phones with a Blackberry (didn’t everyone else when they came out? LOL).  I had, had PDAs before, but this was my first adventure with a PDA/phone combination and I was hooked, I mean I loved it.  I went through several Blackberry models both at work and with my personal ones.  Including a stint with a Blackberry storm at work, man did that thing suck, it was awful.  I had wanted an iPhone and had almost gotten one back in my Blackberry days, but I really figured that they were all pretty much the same.  Boy was I wrong!  I finally switched from a Blackberry to an iPhone (3GS) and I am never going back.  It is an amazing work of art, both the hardware and the software that goes with it, although I am not a big fan of iTunes (not on a PC anyway).  Even when I compare it to the Droid side by side, I just don’t see the iPhone killer that everyone talks about.  However, that discussion is for another day.

I said all that to say this, the one thing that does bring me down a bit about the iPhone is the battery life.  I know, you thought I was gonna say AT&T but that’s not a bad thing either, I already had AT&T and the service is great, way better than Verizon, and the prices are nice too.  No, the only thing weak on my iPhone is the maybe 24 hour lifespan of the battery.  My Blackberry Curve that I had could go a freakin’ week on a charge, it was awesome!  So, to help this, I just ordered a nifty little product called a Mophie Juice Pack Air.  It’s essentially a hard shell case for the iPhone with a battery incorporated inside that is supposed to double my battery life.  While not a week, I’ll take 48 versus 24 hours any day.  Once I get the little rascal, I’ll put up a proper review for anyone who might be interested.  If you have one, or have used one, drop a comment and let me know what you thing about it.  There are a few options available nowadays, but this one seemed like the best fit for me, and the prices have come down a lot compared to when they first hit the street.

So, check back in a  few days, and hopefully I’ll have a cool review and maybe some pics too for ya.  Later …