Posted tagged ‘Personal’

Still Here…

May 26, 2014

Sorry for not updating this blog more often than I intended to, lately…

Not a great deal to report on, from a personal perspective, since I’ve mostly being trying to focus on getting through this stage of my course, and am waiting for exam results, so that I can hopefully progress onto my final year. 

Since the last time that I posted about them, my Wireshark dissectors (especially the USB CCID, and NXP PN532 ones) have seen some significant updates, thanks to the much-appreciated assistance of Michal Labedzki, and other members of the upstream Wireshark community.

This means that most of the CCID-specific USB descriptors are now dissected, and the PN532 dissector now not only supports the entire command set, but also supports the custom Host Communication Interface wrapper protocol, used by certain devices.

As a side project, I decided to start a new, L4Ka::Pistachio-based OS project, earlier this month, by branching the official GitHub repository, which as of yet still doesn’t have a name.

This one won’t initially be as ambitious as my prior, failed attempts; and I’ve already made some progress on implementing a C library, using code from the existing “libio“, various versions of BSD, and Solaris; and a shell using the existing driver for serial port, and keyboard. 

The keyboard driver is still pretty buggy (shift key support doesn’t work, for some reason); however, the serial driver works fine in QEMU, and even seems to cope with Unicode characters (the example text is a song title from a Korean band (DOZ), for the curious), without problems, provided a suitable font is available:

Image

I also started trying to implement support for ATA-based hard disk access (using a public-domain driver), and the FAT series of file systems (using Chan’s driver), but this doesn’t quite work properly, yet. 

Also, my C library implementation still has a fairly large numbers of flaws, and missing features (no file support, or streams support are probably the most glaring omissions, right now), so it’s difficult to port things to it.

Anyway, I hope that provides some explanation for my absence for so long.

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日本語 Reading List

April 12, 2012

I thought that I’d share a list of interesting-looking books that I discovered in the university library recently, that may be pertinent to others interested in learning the Japanese language (or at least distantly studying it for other reasons), along with some observations about them that I’ve made.

Obviously, I haven’t read everything mentioned here, so I can’t vouch for the quality or usefulness of some items – and I don’t intend to create an exhaustive list of reading materials, or attributes thereof.

With that in mind, here they are:

Japanese for Busy People, Version 2

  • Published by Kodansha in 1994
  • Authored by the Association for Japanese-Language Teaching
  • University library Call Number: F 495.6 ASS
  • Purchasable from Amazon UK
  • Contains dialogues in Romaji and Kana/Kanji with English translations
  • Seems to be fairly easy, and enjoyable to read – but assumes knowledge of at least the Kana character sets from the beginning
  • ISBN: 4770018843

Kanji for Understanding Technical Japanese

  • Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, and the University of Tokyo Press in 1995
  • Authored by Edward E. Daub
  • Seems to have at least 2 ISBNs – 0299147045, and 4130870521 
  • University library Call Number: F 495.6 DAU 
  • Can be previewed on Google Books
  • Consists mostly of Kanji definitions with Kana readings and English translations, and annotated descriptive paragraphs in Japanese
  • ISBN: 0299147045
The Kanji Dictionary
  • Authored by Mark Spahn, and Wolfgang Hadamitzky
  • University library Call Number: F 039.56 SPA – for library reference use only
  • Purchasable from Amazon UK
  • Can be previewed on Google Books
  • ISBN: 0804820589

Essential Kanji

  • Authored by Patrick Geoffrey O’Neill
  • University library Call Number: F 495.61 ONE
  • ISBN: 0834802228
I also have a few others on my list, which I’ll probably share later – although those either had copies readily available at the time when I compiled it (last month), or seemed the most useful.

こんにちは惑星

February 5, 2012

Since it’s been a while since I last posted anything here, I thought that I’d briefly summarise what I’ve been doing over the past few months. If I get chance, I’ll probably follow up with more detailed posts, later.

I’ll also apologise in advance, if the quality of this post is below my usual standards – since I’m tired, and I’ll admit that it’s been quite a long time since I’ve produced any prose that’s more complex than one of my typical Tweets, e-mails, or IM/IRC sessions.

A Japanese Redux

As you can probably tell from this post’s title (Kon’nichi wa Wakusei/Hello, Planet), I’ve recently decided to resume learning Japanese using new techniques, after a multi-year hiatus – so that I can enjoy, and understand a multitude of content (music, blogs, and technical documentation, amongst other things); along with hopefully engaging in even more insightful and interesting conversations.

I’m already somewhat able to read and recognise text written in Katakana and Hiragana (providing that I’m undisturbed); and I seem to have a decent recall rate, according to the SayJack Hiragana listening quiz – although I’ll need to keep reading, listening and practising, in order to succeed in the long-term.

Obviously, I’m already capable of writing in Japanese using an Input Method Engine (I’m currently using Google’s – but I’ve also got a trial copy of ATOK in my “Downloads” folder), and can sort-of write a handful of characters on paper.  My listening skills are also constantly improving.

I also realise that my Japanese vocabulary leaves much to be desired for – although I’m acquiring words and phrases as I progress; and I guess that it’s something that I’ll continue to do, long after understanding the basics.

The Epiphany

At ~5:03 am GMT, I had an epiphany in comprehending the phrase 「僕は日本語を学んでいます」(Boku wa nihongo o manande imasu/”I have learned [the] Japanese“) , after reading comments on a Google+ greeting post that I addressed to the author of the hiro99ma blog, and looking up the meaning of  「を」 (wo – pronounced “o”).

Collectively concluding that 「は」(ha) is pronounced differently, depending upon the context (it is pronounced “wa”, when used as a particle) probably also helped.

With a hint of irony, I also had to learn the Japanese words for “learning” and “learn” . (「学んで」(mana-n-de), and 「学ぶ」(mana-bu), respectively), in order to actually state “I’m (trying to) learn Japanese”), beforehand.

That aside, I’ll move on to my…

Personal and Commercial Projects

After obtaining an ACS ACR122U RFID/NFC/smartcard reader, I have been performing research into various proprietary, and standardised smartcard protocols; and have discovered a useful hardware modification – which I’ll document at a later date. Some of my research has culminated in writing Wireshark dissectors for the USB CCID class, MiFare, and FeliCa application protocols – all of which have been accepted upstream.

Regular readers of my posts on the OMAP3530 board, who have probably observed that I haven’t said much about it, after my last aborted attempt at getting Symbian^3 running on it might be interested in knowing that I’ve partially succeeded in getting RISC OS running.

I’ve also been working on an Android application, as part of my first ever contacting position – although I can’t provide any more information, right now.

University

As far as university is concerned, my first year was fairly successful. However, I’m having to resit an exam for the Computer Architecture & Systems Software module – since I struggled with my initial attempt, and ultimately failed (despite trying extremely hard, and participating in class/tutorial sessions).

I partially blame a combination of stress and exhaustion – from having to wake up at 5:30am, and spending hours on travelling,  along with the  “rapid-fire” lecture delivery style provided by tutors in cramped theatres (whilst having to cope with aching knees, and inferior long-distance vision (compared to ~10 years ago)), for my failure.

Obviously, that problem was only exacerbated by having to transcribe handwriting in poorly-chosen colours (usually orange or lime green) from dimly-lit whiteboards in “real-time”, along with listening to the lecture content – which meant that my understanding of the rather complex subjects involved was hindered.

I’m tempted to see if I can adapt some of the techniques that I developed for learning Japanese, in order to to make revision easier, and surviving lectures more bearable – although computational mathematics is obviously more of a theoretical subject than language learning, or software development are.

I’m hoping to be more successful at this attempt – since I realise that failure isn’t an option, when my future hinges on the outcome of said exam.

Conclusion

Although I’ve got a lot to say, and I’ve over-egged the pudding a little, I’ll stop here. I hope that gives others a good idea of what I’m doing these days, though.

Here We Go Again

January 13, 2011

As I compose this post, I realise that I’m extremely fortunate to have made it this far through life – especially when considering others living in developing countries, for instance.

After all – although I haven’t got the support of a wealthy, stable family, I’ve still got:

  • Food and potable drinking water
  • Heating, electricity and other necessities
  • A dry roof over my head
  • Broadband Internet connectivity
  • Good friends, and a handful of family members who mean well – even if I don’t always agree with them

In just over 6 months from now, I’ll have reached the 2 decades old milestone – which is somewhat worrying to contemplate; although I’m cautiously excited about future possibilities.

With that in mind, I’d like to reflect on the happenings of 2010, and the beginning of 2011.

In many aspects, 2010 was just another unspectacular, run-of-the-mill year – a monotonic continuation of 2009, to be blunt; although it brought change and progress in many ways.

However…

From a positive perspective, it was a good year for academia, software development, travelling, and personal relationships, amongst other things.

  • I was able to return to London, shortly after my 19th birthday in order to spend some time volunteering at the Symbian Foundation – details of what I did are available as part of my LinkedIn profile.
  • I received a number of references from several people, which were fairly useful (thanks!)
  • I finally managed to obtain a part-time, intensive placement on a 4-5 year long Computer Science course at the University of Bradford – and completed my first semester, shortly before Christmas 2010.
  • I learned the fundamentals of Java, and managed to write a number of C++-based applications using Qt – some of which I published the source code for on BitBucket.
  • Towards the end of 2010, I released a modified version of Sebastian Reichel’s ISI dissector for Wireshark with support for USB-encapsulated packets. I have since refactored the USB handling code and integrated it into the main dissector, in addition to writing new dissectors for the SIM, GSM Stack Server and Supplementary Services resources; and worked with Sebastian on incorporating these changes into his version successfully.
  • I also managed to reconnect with several people whom I haven’t heard from in a while.

But…

From a negative perspective, it was a bad year for older personal projects, family and financial-related issues, injuries, and the Symbian Foundation.

  • The server hosting DNS records for one of my domains (house404.co.uk) and Web services for several projects, which Sjors Gielen generously provided access to for several years finally succumbed to hardware failure – so I’ve lost some old data, some of which was of dubious utility, and some of which was fairly useful.
  • In November, I was unfortunate enough to have been involved in a hit-and-run traffic accident, whilst returning home from the supermarket in Boroughbridge. Thankfully, I sustained only minor injuries (from which I later fully recovered); although the suspect was never identified, after filing a police report.
  • In December, as a result of the harsh realities of the current economic climate, and decisions from handset manufacturers to slowly withdraw from the Symbian Foundation, the decision was made to effectively cease operations – which left community members such as myself to pick up the pieces.

I remain pessimistically hopeful that things improve in 2011.

Thanks to everyone who’s helped in various ways; provided advice and interesting discussion points; and otherwise persisted with me so far.

Hopefully, I’ve been useful to others in some way, too – and I’m glad, if that’s the case.

Lighting the Mines

November 29, 2010

With the recent news of the Symbian Foundation board of directors deciding to gradually reduce the scope of the organisation to that of a mere licensing body, and talk of the community Websites closing imminently, there has understandably been somewhat of an uproar within this small-yet-vocal community.

A case in point being a post and poll from Julien Fourgeaud on his blog, which spawned this frantic discussion on the DevCo mailing list.

Despite reassurances of plans to make content available to the public (including mailing list posts if desired, from what I’ve been told), there’s still a great deal of uncertainty over what the future holds for not only the codebase and supporting resources, but for the incredible community that has coalesced around it over the past 2 years or so.

Because I consider the Symbian Platform codebase to be a rich, valuable resource for learning from and working with; and believe that it deserves to be publicly accessible in some way for both current developers, and for future generations, I have taken an interim step to preserve a large subset of it.

Over the past few days, I’ve started a Google Code project that initially aimed to preserve the “incubation project” repositories primarily, as they were the most vulnerable due to being transient in nature; although it now also hosts copies of the Kernel & Hardware Services, and Classic UI FCL repositories.

There’s obviously no point in listing every single repository here, although the majority of the “incubation project” ones should be covered; and I’ve also provided copies of various licensing documents for future reference.

With that in mind, I’ve kept things open-ended – because I don’t know how others will want to use these resources.

If others feel like working within the repositories and using the project’s wiki and issue tracker resources, I’m happy to open them up.

Of course, if others feel like downloading or cloning the repositories to fork them, I won’t complain – after all, it means that the codebase continues to spread in a healthy manner!

If there’s interest, I’m also willing to work with the Symbian Foundation team on a transition/temporary migration plan, whilst the situation with Nokia is resolved.

All aside, I hope that others enjoy using these resources as much as I did making them available; and I wish everyone involved during these difficult times the best of luck! 🙂

A Quick-ish Update

August 23, 2010

Since folks have asked nicely, I thought that I’d compose a quick post, whilst being in the process of making last-minute preparations for a trip to London.

The grand plan is that I’ll be stopping in York with a relative tonight; and then taking a coach down to London for roughly two days, in order to spend some time at the Symbian Foundation as part of an ongoing volunteering arrangement.

I probably shouldn’t discuss the agenda at this stage, although the arrangement thus far is that I’ll be meeting with either William or Sebastian on the 24th to continue working on enhancing the developer documentation, in addition to doing something (hopefully exciting!) with the build team.

On the 25th, I’ll have an opportunity to catch-up with others, and meet folks whom I haven’t already seen (including Victor); plus I might have time to do some sightseeing on the London Eye.

Finally, I also have some (mostly negative) news regarding my ongoing university application saga to share, upon my return.

It’s the End of an Era

June 25, 2010

Apologies for not updating things here as often as I’d have liked, since I’ve been very busy with other, more pressing issues as of late.

I also wanted to try and get this out sooner, rather than later – but I’ve been dealing with a cold, and trying to catch up on sleep; and ended up procrastinating as far as posting is concerned.

That aside, as of 23/06/2010, I’m no longer an FE student of Harrogate College – after spending roughly 3 years there.

But what does that mean for me, from a positive perspective?

  • I finally get a limited amount of time to relax, recover from stress, and contemplate future plans
  • As I now have more time to spare, I am now open to offers from people/organisations who may be interested in working with me
  • I can finally dedicate more time and attention to projects that I am involved with
  • I may even have slightly more time on my hands to blog – who knows?

On the flip-side, this now creates some brand-new issues for me:

  • I now have to reconsider my initial plans of attending my initial choice of university to study either computer science, or computer security; due to not quite managing to obtain 200 UCAS Points – which means that I’ll either have to plead my case, or go elsewhere
  • Due to the aforementioned problem, and the fact that I’m currently living in the middle of nowhere, and pretty much isolated from the rest of society; trying to find meaningful employment is next to impossible (I don’t care so much about pay, as much as not totally losing dignity, and going insane trying to cope with the menial crap involved with being a supermarket monkey, or a burger inversion specialist)
  • Since I can’t travel very far – at least not without being stranded somewhere else for ages, until another bus arrives, I’ll have to find some other way of occupying the next couple of months…

I hope that gives the curious an idea of what’s been going on, so far. Since this post is getting pretty long, I’ll discuss the college and university situation in greater detail in some follow-up posts.