TheGlide\’s blog

Ramblings, ramblings, ramblings…

Demoscene: screen captures of old DOS demos

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In search of screen captures of oldskool demos I found a very nice site, WurstCaptures. There are a lot of high-quality video captures of old DOS-based demos to download and also very detailed instructions on how to do the same on your own using DOSBox, a DOS emulator. I have to give this a try: there’s also a Mac version available!

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Written by theglide

June 17, 2007 at 7:46 pm

Posted in Demoscene

Dovecot and Getmail updates

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Dovecot v1.0.1 has been recently released (see the posting on the dovecot-news mailing list) and Getmail is now at version 4.7.5. I will soon refresh my two previous articles on configuring these softwares on Mac OSX adding also SSL support for dovecot (a topic I did not have time to add in the first version of the doc).

Written by theglide

June 17, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Posted in Mac

Mac: dealing with Finder (and iPhoto) comments

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I’ve been using Mac OSX for less than a year and only now I’ve started playing with metadata. I’ve accumulated quite a number of PDF documents and I have lots of photos on my hard drive and to me the most natural thing seemed to add comments (actually tags, using the trick to prepend a “&” to each tag for ease of searching in Spotlight) either through the Finder “Get Info” window or through iPhoto’s interface.

The problem is that I often use the Terminal to do a variety of tasks and a lot of the commands that I use on a daily basis do not play well at all with Finder comments: for example if you use cp or mv to move files around, the affected files will not keep their Comment entry. This is because the metadata is not kept with the file (possibly using the extended attributes) but instead is stored in the .DS_Store file located in the parent directory of any given file. Neither rdiff-backup nor rsync (which I often use to transfer files to a Linux server) play well with metadata and you risk that your backup does not properly keep the Finder (or iPhoto) Comment. If instead you move files around with Finder (or use other backup solutions like Super Duper), your metadata will smoothly follow the files in their new location.

For a short while I toyed with the idea to code a cp/mv replacement, either through a bash or python script, but for the moment I decided that I would like at least to be able to create a backup (snapshot) of all the current Finder/iPhoto comments.

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Written by theglide

May 14, 2007 at 7:19 pm

Posted in Mac

Stanford and UC Berkeley lectures on iTunes

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I know this isn’t surely new, but I just discovered that Stanford and UC Berkeley have made available on-line a number of faculty interviews and seminars through iTunes. Actually you won’t find this content directly on the iTunes Music Store but you need to go their respective iTunes U web sites and click a link to be taken to the dedicated area in iTunes. “Stanford on iTunes U” can be reached here, while UC Berkeley’s is here.

The geek in me has already found some interesting content there, notably the Computer Systems Colloquium laboratory at Stanford, with an interesting lecture (available in video) from Professor Dave Patterson on the Berkeley View on Parallel Computing. On the UC Berkeley iTunes site are, among others, the audio recordings of lectures from Professor Jan Rabaey on Low Power Design (some slide material can be found on his homepage at Berkeley). For anyone interested in low-power design techniques, those are a must read!

I’m sure there are many other universities that have their own iTunes U sites. I mentioned the two I researched so far that have the most material close to my professional domain.

Written by theglide

May 12, 2007 at 7:56 pm

A video tour of Intel’s 45nm fab in Oregon

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Just stumbled on a nice video tour of Intel’s D1D Fab in Oregon, where the 45nm process is being ramped up. The guide is Mark Bohr, Intel Senior Fellow and director of the Technology and Manufacturing Group. The video can be found here, and here you can find a little fact sheet by the video’s author.

Written by theglide

May 11, 2007 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Semiconductors

Oldskool: tiled texture mapping

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While reading “Inside the Machine” (see my earlier post), I thought about the times (many many years ago!) when I was doing (demo)coding on my old 486 (then substituted by an AMD K5), using nice little tricks to optimize the execution of inner loops and writing assembly code day and night. In ’97 I wrote a little doc, which is still lying around in my hard drive (and somewhere non the net), on the subject of fast texture mapping by using cache-friendly tiling techniques. Just for fun I decided to restore this doc and put it in this blog. Keep in mind it’s almost 10 years old! :-)

Read on…

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Written by theglide

January 8, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Posted in Code

Book: Inside the Machine

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insidethemachine.png Happy 2007!

The first post of 2007 is dedicated to the review of a book that I’ve read during the Christmas period: “Inside the Machine”, by Jon “Hannibal” Stokes, Senior CPU Editor of Ars Technica. The book subtitle says “An Illustrated Introduction to Microprocessors and Computer Architecture” and I think that it pretty much keeps its promise.

The book contains a detailed review of all the major microprocessor architectures that have seen the light since the early ’90s.

After four chapters where all the basic concepts are reviewed, from the mechanics of program execution inside CPUs, to pipelining and superscalar execution, the author jumps right into the description of one of the most widely know microprocessors from Intel, and a brand which lived for quite a long time: the Pentium.

From there on most of the chapters are dedicated to the description and comparison of the major microarchitectures and microprocessors from Intel, IBM and Motorola. In order:

Especially interesting are the two chapters (7 and 8) dedicated to a detailed comparison of the Pentium 4 and the PowerPC G4e. Those two processors were designed with two completely different strategies, with the Pentium 4 sporting a deep and narrow pipeline, while the G4e a wide and shallow one. Jon goes into great detail on the implications of the two choices and how they impacted other design decisions and the final performance (both in raw speed and power) of the two approaches.

In between the discussion of the G5 and the PentiumM/Core, there are two interesting chapters which introduce the topics of 64bit computing (and how this was addressed by Intel and AMD) and of cache and memory hierarchy.

The chapter about PentiumM and Core/Core2 is in my opinion a bit too short: I hoped there would be more discussion on those 3 microarchitectures, especially in the light of the multi-core versions and how this impacted the architecture of the L2 cache, etc…

Jon has done a pretty good job at describing at a good level of detail some of the most important microarchitectures, always putting them into their historical context and guiding the reader in understanding how the focus of microprocessor designers has shifted from pure raw speed and high clock frequencies, to creating high-peforming low-power architectures.

Reading the book has reminded me of the cover stories I used to find in Byte Magazine which described in great details the new microprocessors as they were introduced in the market. This book helped revive in me an interest in CPU architectures and I hope Jon will consider doing a “sequel”, maybe including some of the CPUs and topis that are missing and that I think are very interesting: Stream Processors (now widely used in GPUs), VLIW processors, IBM Cell, IBM POWER6, HyperThreading and CMP (chip-multiprocessing), Sun Niagara, ARM processors, …

I wish I had such a book during my microelectronics degree courses!

Definitely a good buy.

Written by theglide

January 7, 2007 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Books, CPU