Hello World

Hi, I’m John, but most of you out there on the net know me better as jdong. I am the resident open source geek, so feel free to ask me random tech questions. I am an undergrad student at MIT, class of 2010, with the most random set of interests. I like operating systems, particularly Linux and UNIX, I like cars and radar detectors, and a host of other random things I won’t disclose now.

I’ve got a couple tech reviews up my sleeves. First of all, I am working on a project with Benjamin Mako Hill this summer, and last week he gave me a shiny copy of the new Ubuntu book. I have read through half of it, and intend to do a book review.

Also, I have ordered a Whistler XTR-690 radar detector based on a lot of hype from the company and experiences of owners. I am going on a driving trip later this month, so I’ll do a review on that. Already, I expect the review to be positive. I spoke with a Whistler tech the other day and he offered to stick enhanced alpha firmware on my detector, AND send me a pack of better suction cups for both my detectors, FREE. This, folks, is a company that takes care of its customers — whatever it takes. And you simply don’t see this level of care these days from many other companies.

In my spare time, I’m working on an undisclosed video related project, and also working on petitioning FIRST Robotics to have better (rather, any) Linux and Open Source support. During my years on the team, I’ve spent a lot of time on Linux support for FIRST as an unofficial project. This includes:

  1. Patched builds of WINE that allow the Windows based compiler (Microchip MCC18) to execute. Since then, the needed patches are in WINE already.
  2. A set of scripts that turn mcc18.exe and its linker suite into UNIX commands by wrapping them with WINE.
  3. A Makefile generate that produces GNU Make compatible Makefiles for projects.
  4. A Python and C based reverse engineered flasher for the robot board.

I don’t expect #1 to turn into a native Linux solution anytime soon. Microchip is a huge company and they are not gonna write a Linux compiler. (Interestingly, their compilers for higher model chips are actually gcc, which is good.) However, FIRST could help us with 2,3,4 by providing us with more documentation and also official hosting resources that can be coordinated with kickoff. So far, FIRST has expressed some interest in offering Linux support, and I’d be more than happy to help them out on that.

Oh well, I’ve already ranted way too much. Until next time.


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