A Brief Moment of Magic

Sunset in Cardiff

And So It Has Begun

Cardiff University Main Building

I've kept this very low profile for a long time as it wasn't clear whether things would work out as planned until the very last minute. But now it's official: I'm in Cardiff where I will be studying at Cardiff University for the next two semesters as part of the Erasmus Programme.

New toys for the RoboCup community

I noticed today that the Four-Legged-League has been renamed to Standard Platform League and will be using a new humanoid robot at future competitions. There isn't a whole lot information available about the Aldebaran Nao but it definitely makes me wish I was starting with my 2 year project now (rather than being almost finished) so I could join the local team.

Why is a standard humanoid platform so exciting? If you've ever worked with robotics hardware and prototypes in particular, you'll know only too well that you rarely get to do the stuff you want to. There's always one hardware component or another that fails on you, not to speak of the usual pain of (systematically) incorrect sensor readings. A standard platform makes sure that everyone has the same starting point and (ideally) allows people to concentrate on algorithmic work rather than developing and fixing hardware.

GNU Octave

I've recently been doing algorithm prototyping in GNU Octave. Although not fully compatible with Matlab, it usually interprets code written for Matlab correctly. Some functionality (specialized functions) is missing but usually slightly different but equally capable replacements are available.

I must say I'm impressed with how quickly you can develop mathematical algorithms in Matlab/Octave. Basically, you're all done at about the same time you'd start debugging your matrix library in any other language. It's definitely an approach people in computer science in general and robotics in particular should use more often.

Octave uses gnuplot for plotting but hides the gory gnuplot details from you which is really pleasant. On the other hand, if you're used to computer algebra systems such as Maple or GNU Maxima it feels a bit odd to plot a set of points rather than a (symbolic description) of a function. Considering the internal representation of a function in Matlab/Octave it does however make sense the way it's implemented.

Now on to the next algorithm on the list of algorithms to evaluate...

Minimo 0.2

I've finally got around to updating our Minimo recipe (plus patches) for Minimo 0.2. The resulting package is available from the Familiar unstable feed.

Nassler & Schneider

I saw Nassler & Schneider in concert on Thursday. It was just amazing. Two classical/latin guitars, some percussion elements, mild use of synthesizer and live recording/playback effects, and a unique mix of classical, spanish, latin and jazz influences.

If you ever get the chance to see these two masters of the guitar in concert, don't hesitate to go!

Kernel Hacking for Fun and Credit Points

...is one of the things I'll be doing at university this semester (although I don't actually need the credit points). There are various other interesting courses, but I haven't made a final decision on which of them to take. Anyways. Good times :)

Etch is out

Of course I'm a bit late to blog about this... Etch has been released. It's working well on several of my machines. Congratulations to the Debian project for a successful release!

DevJam Pictures

Kurt Gramlich put up some pictures of the DevJam meeting. Make sure to check the main wiki page for more subpages containing pictures Kurt is uploading right now.

GPE Screenshot 0.4 Released

I've just released GPE Screenshot 0.4 which is the first public release.

GPE Screenshot allows the user to save a screenshot to the local filesystem or upload it to http://handhelds.org/scap/. Thanks go to Russ Nelson for adding PNG upload support to the cgi scripts on handhelds.org.

Screenshots are taken from the X server using some code from gnome-screenshot which is part of gnome-utils. With minor modifications to the source code it is, however, also possible to use external applications such as fbgrab or import to grab screenshot images.

Source code is available from the usual place, a .bb is in OpenEmbedded already, and binary packages will follow soon.