More RAM for your G1

I’m a big fan of the cyanogenmod alternate firmware. It has allowed me to enjoy the latest versions of Android (Froyo!) on the original HTC G1. One of the most notable limitations of this device vs. almost all of the others is the amount of RAM available. The G1 has 192MB of RAM, of which only 95MB is available for programs under CM 6.0. Recently there has been a hack “EzRAM” which enables an additional 15MB of RAM for a total of 110MB. This additional RAM really makes a difference in performance.

Read on for the details of the upgrade process..

Continue reading “More RAM for your G1”

MythBuntu 10.04

Back in 2007 (or so) I built my first MythTV box.  I did it somewhat on the cheap, picking up a refurbished 1.8GHz Pentium desktop machine – adding a Hauppauge WinTV PVR-150 card and a fanless low end NVidia card with TV-Out. My TV feed is a satellite set top box connected to the capture card, controlled by an IR blaster. The TV itself is a standard definition Sony Wega. (yup, totally old school)

In 2007 this machine was one of my first Ubuntu installs, I believe Edgy was the distro at the time. Installing MythTV was a fairly long process, and I needed to recompile LIRC to enable the IR blaster support that the PVR-150 had. Getting guide data required some scripting to connect to the then free Zap2It service that offered up listing information. Somewhere along the way, the free guide service ended and I needed to apply some changes to the system to move to schedules direct which is what I still use today. Other than the initial pain of configuring the machine and refresh to fix the guide data, I had pretty much left it alone.

The one problem is that when I am foolish enough to change my satellite subscription around, getting more (and different) channels – I need to manually go in and configure schedules direct to reflect the channels I actually get (or what to make available on the PVR). Over this last summer I changed my subscription and hadn’t gotten back to fixing the guide data.  I also had a larger hard drive I had been meaning to install into the system. For these reasons I decided it was time to upgrade to MythBuntu.

Initially I tried 10.10 as it was the latest and greatest.  It turns out the hardware I have doesn’t support booting from USB, I did mention this was pretty old school. Not having any blank CDs – I ended up burning a DVD of the iso to do the install. I also had some problems specifying anything beyond the defaults during install (things didn’t work) – thus my recommendation is install using the defaults, then add the nvidia drivers (etc) after you’ve booted the newly installed system.

I will complain here that MCC doesn’t have keyboard navigation controls.  Forcing me to find a USB mouse to connect to the machine to configure things. It also turns out that you want to stick with a screen resolution of no less than 1024×768 as some of the dialogs will not fit on a screens smaller than that.

Sadly it turns out LIRC is horribly broken with the PVR-150 in 10.10. It is a point in time problem hopefully, but it is linked to kernel levels and driver architecture changes. It was a disappointing introduction to MythBuntu, but the PVR-150 while popular is no longer a current product.

Dropping back to 10.04, there are patches available. By the time you read this there may be a solution for 10.10 out there too. Even with this simple guide available for 10.04, I spent a couple of hours trying to sort things out.

Using the mode2 command, I was able to verify that the IR receiver was working correctly.

sudo mode2 --device=/dev/lirc0 -r

This meant that there was an issue with LIRC. In the end it turns out the issue was resolved by getting the correct magic in the /etc/lirc/hardware.conf file. I’ve included a copy of my /etc/lirc configuration files in case anyone needs them. Once you get irw working, you know you’re set.

Somewhere in the shuffle (again I blame MCC) something managed to delete all of the configuration files for LIRC. These reside in .lirc/ and in my case, the root file was valid but all of the data files it points to were empty files. Simply executing

$ mythbuntu-lircrc-generator

fixed things right up.

There was one more stumbling block for me, and that was getting my capture card configured correctly. I had erroneously set a preset channel in the capture card setup. This is a no-no if you’re configured as I am, grabbing bits from a satellite box. This was apparent when I read the embedded description of the field on the setup screen, but frustrating. If I go through this process again I’ll take the time to do a full how-to. If you find this post and are struggling, drop a comment and I’ll try to help.

My primary setup is a combined backend / frontend. If you want to enable additional frontends (as I do), you’ll need to do two changes.

  1. Modify mysql configuration to allow remote access (a security issue, but we’re on my home network so it is ok)
  2. Change the backend configuration to use the machines real IP vs (this is changed in 2 places on the same setup screen)

If you have an iPhone or Android phone, then I’d suggest checking out the various remote control apps. You will need to configure the frontend to allow for network based control. The iPhone app that worked best for me was MyMote (app store link). The Android app I prefer is MythMote.

That’s the tale of about 8 hours of my time sucked into not watching TV, but making it possible to watch TV. MythBuntu does make the whole MythTV install easier, and I’m enjoying some of the newer features that come along with the more recent MythTV builds.


Recently I did some business travel to India.  My day to day work at IBM is with a global team, and a fair number of them are located in India.  I’ve spent the last 2+ years working over the phone with a number of people from the IBM lab there and the opportunity came around to go there in person, so there I was.

Let me lead in with a few travel tips.  For countries like India or Mexico (and a fair list of others) it is a good idea to get the appropriate travel vaccinations.  The City of Ottawa lists a number of travel clinics, I used the one on Centrepointe which happens to be next to the Eclipse office.  I’ve heard mixed reviews about the taste and side-effects of Dukoral – I was fortunate to have zero side effects.  I was a day late taking it, and upon reading the instructions I realized that I could have taken it literally weeks before the trip and still had fair protection.  (lesson here, read the instructions when you get them)

The flight can cost as little as $1500, my ticket was more than that due to the dates I was flying – but I still flew coach / economy the whole way. I left Friday night, returned one week later Saturday evening. The travel was long: 8 hours to Frankfurt with a 5+ hour layover followed by another 8 hour flight, literally 24hrs door to door. At a bit over 6 feet, I barely fit in economy seats (about and inch to spare in front of my knees) – I’m so glad I’m not a few inches taller.

If you are doing a flight like this, consider the portable electronics you are taking with you.  In Frankfurt you’ll be challenged to find an outlet in the airport and it is not going to accept a north american plug. India similarly will likely not have compatible plugs. Bring your adapters. Every gadget I brought could charge via USB, and my laptop is quite happy with 220v input if I can simply plug in somewhere (cheap adapter required). It turned out that in my hotel rooms in India, generally there was one outlet that would accept the 2 prong plug but don’t count on it.

Flying Air Canada / Lufthansa, the Canada to Germany leg was reasonably nice.  Seat back personal entertainment systems. The Germany to India was an older plane, still using shared CRT screens. On my return trip, the Air Canada seat back system was acting up and I only made it through one movie before it became useless. Thank goodness I have movies on my phone.

One of the things many people have pointed out is the traffic in India is quite something. By travelling on off peak hours and staying at hotels close to where I needed to be I avoided the worst traffic. There is no lane discipline, it is quite normal to be driving down the road with the car straddling the dashed line – and traffic lights are just a packing exercise to see how many cars can fit in how small a space. It is quite similar to how people drive in Canada in the parking lots after hockey games – same chaos.  The picture at the top of this post amuses me, many of the license plates start with ‘kaos’ – the KA coming from Kannada.

You’ll also encounter a wide variety of vehicles on the road. Many two wheelers as they are cheap and more agile in the traffic conditions they have. We passed a steam roller on the highway that was nearly going at highway speeds. In town we ran into a group of water buffalo who decide it was time to cross the street – mixed right in with the traffic.

The most exciting driving had to be the U-turns. Many roads have concrete dividers preventing turns of any form, so you’d often have to go a fair ways to find the first place you could double back. The strategy for making a U-turn was wait for some oncoming traffic that was smaller than you, then pull out with enough time for them to stop. You’d inch your way around until you had blocked enough traffic to complete your maneuver.

I was warned away from eating anything that wasn’t well cooked, and to only drink from bottles that were uncapped in front of me. This limited my diet during the week I was there, but meant I avoided getting sick. We ate a lot of Indian food, and it was all excellent. Restaurants were not at all afraid to put a little kick in the dishes.

The biggest surprise for me was how friendly the people there were. The best comparison I can make is to the folks on the east coast of Canada. I spoke at a conference, and at lunch I had a number of informal discussions with people. Many of the people there treated me like an old friend, yet these were customers who were there to hear me (and others) speak.

English is spoken by many in India, and signs are also generally in English as well. There were a few experiences where the language barrier came into play (trying to buy coffee at CCD), but these were few and far between.

Similar to Mexico, the gap between rich and poor is huge.  There are also scanners and extra security at every hotel and most businesses, I believe this is due to the Mumbai attacks in 2008. It is these sorts of things that make me glad I’m only visiting – Canada might be boring, but it’s home.