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February 8, 2013

Operation Rebuid

Today begins the official first day of a massive project I call Operation Rebuild. Parts of it were initiated last night.

Operation Rebuild is the nickname I've given to the reconstruction of my desktop, my soft skills, and a rededication to completing several projects on this site that haven't come to fruition yet due to the current hardware I have.

I may have mentioned this several times already, but this site is made possible via a netbook computer I have. Imagine the things I can do with a desktop.

The desktop will run Ubuntu 12.10, and in a couple of months 13.04. I'm not at all happy with using 12.04 LTE because for some reason it doesn't want to update the Linux Kernel like it should. I really wanted to use Linux Mint, but even with Mint's pledge support of Steam for Linux, using Ubuntu will assure quick support should anything go wrong.

But games are not the primary reason for Operation Rebuild. No really, it isn't.

Mathematica is the reason for this build. I consider myself a computer scientist. I might not work anywhere at the moment, and a lot of people mistake computer science as a field where we fix computers. If you want someone to fix your computer, go to the IT Department of your local four year university. If you want someone to break it, go to the CS Department of your local four year university. (Ha ha ha!)

Computer Science is the study of data structures and how to make programs run faster. We spend more time tinkering with the mathematics of computers than we do with the circuitry (like Electrical Engineering) or the repair (like Information Technology). A perfect example of how Computer Science is still very much a mathematical field of study is the issue we have yet to resolve on how to make a computer process matrix structures. Typically, we use a single array, just as row of data values. It wasn't until sometime in the earily 2000s most computers started supporting matrices, which in math-speak is a table of values made of rows and columns, but in CS-speak is an array of arrays. In computer science, one of the unsolved algorithm problems is looking for the fasted algorithm for multiplying two matrices. Other important, yet unresolved issues include completing integer factorization and calculating discrete logarithms in polynomial time. Thus, the deep parts of Computer Science that involve time complexity and Big O notation. It's these issues that we use mathematics to resolve.

Another thing that will more than likely not be installed on the new machine is Provoxy...at least not initially. There is something about Privoxy, which I may have mentioned before, that really gunks up installing new software. Methinks Privoxy was not intended to to be installed on workstations but routers. Of which, I got a spare Linksys Router that I've been eagerly wanted to hack and try things like DD-WRT on, but haven't got the gist of getting into the hardware part yet and applying such tweaks.

Software Defined Radio (SDR) is another project I've been anxious to get my hands on. I'd like to thank the folks at Reddit's /r/RTLSDR for enlightening me of such an affordable project that I've had my eye on for almost a decade. I'm thinking of attending a local HAM Radio organization and sitting through a meeting to learn more about how I can use this technology.

Getting a TV Card to work sounds of interest. I was at Micro Center yesterday and saw a Hauppauge WinTV-HVR-1250 that is supported by Linux with exception for the remote that comes with it. For about $70, it sounds interesting.

It should be noted that the motherboard I chose for the new computer comes with a WIFI PCIE daughterboard, which made paying extra for it so alluring especially with the antennas that came with it.

I'd really like to get my hands on a shortwave SDR and a long cable I can thread outside my window and along the backyard fence to use ans an antenna. It's a shame I can't repurpose the old DirecTV dish on my roof for radio reception and eventually transmission. I need to make friends with an electrical engineer or DXer and see what their thoughts would be on such a subject.

I'm hoping that in the next few months to buy my first HD monitor. My current setup where I hacked together converting the HDMI port to VGA for my current monitor along with Digital Amplifier is alright, but it would be nice to clear up some of the wires on my desk and have my digital amp devoted solely to streaming audio...assuming Last.FM or Android can fix the problem where my phone crashes when I hook up my phone to my Bluetooth Audio receiver. It's funny how this problem never seems to happen when I use my Bluetooth headphones.

Speaking of Last.FM, having this newer machine will allow for more program development including Saigo.FM which I've been dying to get started. Again, Netbooks and software IDEs do not mix.

I'm not really sure I want to continue Java Development with the drama Oracle has presented us. Within a week of the discovery of the major security flaw that Oracle can't seem to fix (because they aren't SUN Microsystems), The Hacker News reported that Java exploits were already being sold on the black market. I'm also glad that Fedora has decided not use MySQL anymore and instead use MariaDB. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The only reason Oracle got stuck with Java is because they wanted to buy MySQL which SUN bought months earlier. I hope Minecraft ditches Java completely and can rewrite their regular software in C like their Pocket Edition. It would be great if it was written in Python.

But out of all the important things OpRebuild will restore is my confidence in my coding ability. You can't code on a netbook very well. You can do it on a laptop, a desktop, even a tablet with the right peripherals. But from these past couple of years, using a netbook to write code or browse the net with about 100 or so tabs open (yeah, I have a habit of doing that), is about as enjoyable as a root canal. As this netbook will be retired, it will be repurposed for media services like Plex on my Roku. I wish I could afford another netbook at least now that I understand how remote computing works with VNC. Netbooks can handle that. But the primary data processing that a desktop can do is extremely slow. I mean, it shouldn't take five minutes to copy and paste a URL into a blog post like this or all day to write one of these posts. So thank goodness this era of programming recession is over!

It's time for reconstruction! It's time for Operation Rebuild!

One more thing, this site now has a Twitter Feed! @JRCharney. Links and perhaps a widget will be added to this site very soon!

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