Category: Sci/Tech

A keyboard design (by )

Ok, so a friend of mine is making himself a custom keyboard - there's a whole hobbyist community of people who design their own, often based on a published design like the Ergodox.

This is related to something I've long wanted to do, which is to obtain myself a chorded keyboard. So I thought I'd write up my current thoughts on the matter, given that they've been brought to the forefront of my mind again!

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A draft specification for IRIDIUM (by )

As discussed in my previous post, I think it's lame that we use TCP for everything and think we could do much better!. Here's my concrete proposal for IRIDIUM, a protocol that I think could be a great improvement:

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TCP sucks (by )

The go-to transport-layer protocol for people to build Internet applications on these days, with the exception of real-time streaming media or a few specialist apps, is TCP.

The problem is, TCP isn't really all that great for the things we're using it for.

I won't go into any more detail on how it works than is necessary to make my point, but let's take a look at how TCP is used by an application. Read more »

Debugging poor home wifi at the Snell-Pym residence (by )

So, we have a fairly complicated network at home - the Snell-Pym Family Mainframe has a dedicated DSL link with a static IP for hosting various Internet-facing things, as well as providing internal services to the home LAN. The home LAN has the usual mix of desktop computers, the laser printer, and two wireless APs for mobile devices to connect to - one in the house and one in the workshop, because one can't get a good signal to both locations. And there's a separate infrastructure LAN for systems control and monitoring.

Now, we've often had on-and-off poor connectivity on the wifi in the house; this used to happen sporadically, usually for around a day, then just get better. The wifi signal strength would remain good, but packet loss was high (10-20%) so stuff just didn't work very well. TCP is poor at high packet loss; it's OK once a connection is open, but packet loss during the initial SYN/SYNACK/ACK handshake causes it to take a long time to retry on most implementations.

I went looking for interfering networks (we live in a pretty wifi-dense urban area) using an app called "Wifi Analyzer" on my Android phone, and it showed a strange network, always on the same channel as the house wifi (as in, if I changed the channel, it would move too). The network never had a name, and the signal strength was about the same as the house wifi; sometimes a bit stronger, sometimes a bit weaker. Read more »

Redesigning my workspace (by )

So, I work from home - and a lot of my hobbies involve sitting at the same desk, as they're computer-based or electronics-based. My workspace is an outbuilding at the end of my garden, with power and Ethernet connecting it to the house. Half of it is a workshop, and the other half is my computer / electronics lab. The workshop end is pretty good since I made my custom welding bench, but the lab end was just made from furniture I had lying around that fitted in, so has been a compromise for some time. I am forming a plan to fix it!

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