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First Arduino Attempt

Inspired by Joergen Geerds, I decided that during the coming travel I will play with an Arduino to control my camera. Before departure I needed to:

  • get the necessary hardware
  • assemble and test it
  • get the integrated development environment (IDE) up and running

The user interface was the critical bottleneck of the process. Joergen uses a single button and a Nokia LCD. Besides that I could not find the parts close enough to be delivered in time, I wanted something more expandable. I found the TouchShield Slide from Liquidware. The rationale behind buying a touchscreen (and the bigger of the two available) is flexibility in designing the user interface.

The guys at Liquidware have been very helpful. Justin Huynh made an extra run to UPS for me, to get the hardware delivered in time. Mike Gionfriddo patiently helped me on the learning curve with very fast reply to my email support requests. When I had an issue with the IDE Christopher Ladden  helped me understand the errors and correct them. Liquidware, highly recommended!

In the end, rather than using the downloadable binary IDE for OSX and Windows, I built it straight out of github. This had the extra bonus that I could build it for my Ubuntu notebook as well, although I have not had time to test the Ubuntu build – the “hello world” was all done on a Windows workstation.

TouchShield Slide

Assembling the hardware went OK despite me having two left hands. I had not done soldering work for years. The difference between my setup and Joergen’s is that I put a 10kOhm resistor on the transistor’s base, and I put it on pin 12.

A quick “hello world” on the touchscreen before packing. Too bad there was no power outlet in the plane, so I’ll have to wait for the next free moment to start coding.

Right now this hardware is just for an intervallometer. Beyond this, there are many shields in the Arduino universe and my intention is to use a few of them.

There is a shield to control stepper motors. One step closer to an automated pano head.

There is a USB host shield. With a little bit of digging and/or reverse I hope for finer control my Canon dSLR via USB.

There is a GPS shield for geolocation, and a wireless shield, and an ethernet shield, and… the sky is the limit. Open Source hardware, so great!

I was finished just in time for packing. I did not have a neat box for it, though. It will be fun at border control, with all those wires.

Metadata Shmetadata

So I got back from LGM and inserted my media card into the reader of my workstation that has been freshly updated to Ubuntu 9.04:

insert_mem_card_468

Then I open the file browser:

media_in_file_browser_468Allocating a .cache folder is different from “do nothing”? A little bit of search on the web and I bump into the “Gnome Metadata Storage Daemon“. And in Xesam.org, the Tracker Daemon and other stuff running on my Ubuntu system. Is there a simple way to disable them all?

These things surely help people who need help organizing their desktops, their file systems, their emails. Not me. I have my tried and tested filing system, now spanning over two terabytes of data, and I have never felt the need for any kind of desktop search. I know where my files are: On the server, in the cloud. On the other hand, I’m always running short of storage space (the 2TB disks are still too expensive but I’m likely to bite the bullet next month when I get home with plenty of media to store and process).

I understand why these daemons are on by default, and they should be. All I ask is for a simple way to disable all of these “helpers”. A Control Panel. No fiddling. No surprises at every update. All I found were the Desktop Application Autostart Specifications and this advice to add Hidden=true to the end of the relevant *.desktop file in /etc/xdg/autostart and ~/.config/autostart.

Further digging brought me to  ~/.config/tracker/tracker.cfg which seems to be set by default to eat what resources are available. The default options I would set in there are:

LowMemoryMode=true
Throttle=20

Actually for myself I’d go further than that:

EnableIndexing=false
EnableFileContentIndexing=false
EnableThumbnails=false
IndexThunderbirdEmails=false

And I am still not sure if I deactivated all of this stuff…